Try, Try Again
Our nine year old son is diagnosed with autism and reading delay. We often have to try one thing after another after another before we find just the right thing that clicks for our son. Sometimes, we have to make something of our own design or change up something we already have to fit our needs.
Our biggest challenge has been finding the right reading program. First we tried to teach our son to read using phoenics, both him and I were near tears every day we worked on learning to read. Next, we bought an expensive program that seemed to work at first but after about a month, our son wasn't making any more advances. We tried just about everything and even called the company we had bought the program from to ask for help but nothing was clicking anymore! After seeking advice from other homeschoolers, I still hadn't found the answers I needed and then I remembered my mother showing me a book that had belonged to my grandmother that she had used to learn to read with. Ever hear about the McGuffey Readers? I found them available to download for free on the internet and although he's still having problems from time to time and unsure about his reading abilities, our son is making advances in his reading. I just refused to stop trying something until I found what worked.
We also hit a stumbling block with math as well. A few months ago, our son was having a horrible time learning multiplication. We started with his math curriculum which up until then, he had been doing great with. We tried picking up workbooks about multiplication but they didn't help either. Finally, an idea came to me. I had our son dig out a bunch of his small toys, dinosaurs, toy soldiers, cars, you name it. I also brought out our dry erase board and drew circles on it with an equal sign and a large circle. I wrote a problem at the top of the board and using the toys as manipulatives, showed him how to work out the problem. We did another problem and on the third problem, a lightbulb suddenly went on and he was helping me work out his math problems. You've been there, it was one of those ah ha moments when you know you have reached your child.
Once he understood how to multiply, I knew I couldn't just stop working with him on his multiplication. I did some thinking, some reading, and some internet surfing. Finally, after reading an article, I had an ah ha moment of my own. Our son loves to play games and one day he was begging to play one. After playing, I had the idea of making a game to practice his multiplication. I had a couple trial and errors while trying to figure out a game but finally I had it figured out and with his help, we made a game. Of course, it had to have a dinosaur theme since he's crazy about them. Thank goodness I do scrapbooking so I had all the supplies I needed except stickers for the spaces and we took about a week off most of our studies to make the game but now he was begging me to practice his math! It was just finding the right format to use and he was practicing multiplication.
I learned something, our son learns a subject better or maybe easier if I can encorporate a game into his learning. The games let us take a break from his usual studies and helps him learn although he just thinks he's playing a game. What's really nice about it is that he's still learning but we're both more relaxed, he's learning, and there's no pressure. I've found a few games that have worked for him just as they are designed and sometimes I've had to change a game around a little to fit his needs. When I haven't been able to find a game related to our studies, I get my creative juices flowing and see if I can create one that will help with what he's learning about. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't but that doesn't mean that I give up, it just means that I have to get a little more creative and keep on trying to find just the right way to reach him. I may have to take an occaisional break myself and sometimes I've found that if I give him a chance, he will lead the way to finding a solution to what we need. Just because he has a special need doesn't mean that he can't come up with a really great idea for his own homeschooling.
Just remember, you never know what you try today may help your child. It could be something you tried a while ago that didn't work then, maybe a week ago, or it could be something you hear about tomorrow. It never hurts to try something whether it's new or old or whether it's just new to your child and a big price tag doesn't guarantee that it's the product that will fit your needs. Just remember to try, try again you never know when something may work!