Age Is Just a Number

I was recently asked some questions about home schooling by a parent, which got me thinking. The concern was repeating the same curriculum 3 years in a row. As I was writing back, I realized that repeating grades and information is common with kids in public school special education programs.

This has been true in our own family. We had a young man, in high school, who kept repeating 4th grade math. When he finally wanted to join the home school group, he had just one request. He didn’t want to repeat 4th grade math again.

Our answer to him was we would test him and find out where he would be placed in the curriculum, and then he would progress from there. He tested at the 4th grade math level, which is where he started. He never repeated it again. After he finished 4th grade math he continued on with 5th grade math and in the next two years completed 8th grade level math.

What you might ask does this have to do with home schooling a blind child?

I teach my children at the level where they are. Age is a number. Development isn’t defined by age. I teach using a developmental and a logical, sequential approach to building a foundation for future learning.

Don’t be too concerned with grade level. I have been working on many of the same things in different ways for the past three years and they are now beginning to come together for my son. As Vinnie learns some aspect of a task, we then build on that. We keep building on the learned tasks to bridge to new ones.

You start with basic reading and math along with information gained through reading to your child and exposing them to everyday activities in their community. Reading to and with your child is one of the most important things you can do to increase their knowledge of the world around them.

As your child’s home school teacher, there is no new teacher who has to learn about your child each year, so no lapse in services while a new provider gets to know your child. You just pick up where you left off the last year with some review. If your child is sick, you simply pick up where you left off when they are well again. If your child can only tolerate short periods of time on task, you can simply adjust, while trying to lengthen the time on task.

You can read anything you want about what kids who are visually impaired are supposed to do when and get all kinds of answers. Go with your child’s strengths and work on them and build on them. I use the Oregon Project Check List (PDF) to help decide what concepts I want to work on and which concepts have already been learned. I have an actual book, which an earlier TVI gave me for the Oregon Project.

There are many more things that need to be taught besides academics for a visually impaired child; hence the need in public school for Expanded Core Curriculum. My son has to learn to read and write in a different way. It has taken me 4 years to learn braille and become proficient enough to stay ahead of him and keep on learning. I had to learn O&M techniques because we have spent long periods of time without an O&M because mine was out sick, transferred, or they were hiring one. I got it and I get it. I’m still learning right along with teaching my child. You are going to get excuses for your child not receiving services at one time or another.

Now back to the question of repeating a grade. I sometimes go sideways, switching to another curriculum in math or reading to solidify what we are learning. But to keep repeating the same material over and over is only going to bore and frustrate both you and your child. I try to make it fun and interesting. Sometimes, I ask for help from one of my other providers. I find the speech therapist and occupational therapist the most helpful.

I was trying to toilet train Vinnie. I’m not big into pushing kids to go potty until they are ready and want to do it. I find that once kids have all the skills to go to the bathroom and get on the toilet by themselves, this happens pretty quickly.

Vinnie was going to the bathroom, he didn’t pee until I told him to go to the bathroom and go potty. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. He’d be dry, but would only pee in his pull-up. I was frustrated and talked with the speech therapist. Two things factored into this problem. The first was that Vinnie was doing exactly what I told him. He went to the bathroom and went potty (IN HIS PANTS).

The second was I needed to switch him into big boy underwear. Then he was uncomfortable with soiling himself. It was the speech therapist who made me look at what I was requesting. Vinnie follows directions really well. So be careful what you ask. LOL.

I’m Mom and I’m 61. I always get asked if I’m Grandma. Nope, I’m MOM! I am parenting and teaching 3 children of various ages and educational/developmental levels. Age is just a number!