Friday, March 1, 2013

Special Needs Homeschooling for Preschool: A Closer Look

I wanted to share a more detailed post specifically about how I homeschool Baby Girl. Due to her significant special needs, she is more like a toddler than a preschooler; however, because she needs direct instruction in basic functional areas, I intentionally teach her every little thing. For some things, we use certain curriculum or books that I'll share about later in this post. For other things, I make up songs to teach her - just simple little lyrics and tunes, which I will also share in this post. I talk to her about everything that is going on around her, and I encourage her to use all of her senses possible in discovering the world around her. It is challenging, and sometimes it is a painfully slow (or it seems to me) process. Her attention span is quite short, so every activity that I do with her lasts only a couple of minutes. I hope this will improve as she gets older. Truly, she has gained a lot of ground, especially considering that she was born with special needs and then had little to no stimulation in the first two years of her life, which were spent in an orphanage, but we still have a great deal more ground to cover. I am going to now share with you more about what we do. Oh, and after the written information, I've included some pictures of Baby Girl in action.

1. *First of all, here are some lyrics that I sing to a simple little tune for various activities we do daily:

 a. When Baby Girl is getting her hair brushed/fixed, then I sing:
  "(Her name)'s getting her hair fixed, hair fixed, hair fixed
    (Her name)'s getting her hair fixed, oh wee so pretty."

 b. When she is getting dressed, I sing:
     "(Her name)'s wearing a (striped, pink, etc.) shirt all day long"
      Repeat until we've gotten the shirt on completely.
      I do the same little song for her pants, socks, shoes, etc. (just describing the color or pattern of
      each article of clothing)

 c. When we brush her teeth, we say "Brush teeth." Then we sing the "Alphabet Song." And she can
      say her ABC's!

*My inspiration for these little songs comes from this Wee Sing CD. I have this CD playing throughout the day for Baby Girl to listen to as we go about our schooling and activities around the house. Music plays a huge role in teaching her. She is very responsive to it, and she easily memorizes things set to a tune.

2. Secondly, I have the preschool package from Oak Meadow. It contains ideas and a basic outline of a gentle preschool education, as well as the philosophies behind this particular educational method. From this set of books, we got the idea of a Sand & Water Table, which Baby Girl loves. She is a huge fan of water, and textures such as sand and rice are appealing to her as well. We also use the songs included in this package, and we hope to move to the stories and painting portion this upcoming school year. Right now Baby Girl is not developmentally in a place to understand stories or to enjoy painting, but I am hoping that she will soon. I really look forward to that!

3. Third, we have the book Slow and Steady Get Me Ready. I have slowed the pace of the book down, so Baby Girl stays on an activity for 2-3 weeks, as opposed to only 1 week. These are simple developmental exercises that use material most of us have on hand already. These activities are good for Baby Girl. I can't take for granted that she will "get" things the way my older children did, because she won't. I have to give her explicit instruction in every area of learning and development.

4. Fourth, I also do Montessori inspired activities with Baby Girl. I've made a lot of my own materials, as you can see in this post. I have a dry erase board on an easel, which Baby Girl uses. It is easier for her to write horizontally than it is for her to look down at something.

5. Fifth, we use an iPad. My parents were gracious enough to go in with hubby and me so we could purchase this valuable learning tool. Baby Girl's favorite apps are:
 Peekaboo Barn
 Starfall ABC
 Fish School
 Wee Sing ABC
 Piano Pals
 Candy Count
I like (and hopefully one day Baby Girl will be ready for):
 Montessori Crosswords
 ABC Tracing
 Letter of the Day
 Moody Monsters
 Montessori Counting Board
 Dollhouse Math
 Letter Route

6. Sixth, right now we have use of a CCTV that our vision therapist is allowing us to borrow. It is really great because it enlarges things such as books, papers, and posters for Baby Girl. It is very helpful for people with low vision like Baby Girl. This past week we used it to help her see the letters that form her name. Ideally, before long, she will start to identify objects in pictures, such as ball, balloon, dog, etc.

7. Finally, I talk to Baby Girl, and I mean talk..a lot!!! I give her information about all that's happening, what she's doing, what she's hearing, seeing, feeling, tasting, etc.  For instance, we just got a new puppy. Every time the puppy came close to Baby Girl, we told her "Woof, woof, dog." After several days, Baby Girl is now saying, "Woof, woof, dog" when she sees the puppy. So, hooray for progress! Now we hope to see her identify pictures of dogs using her CCTV. (See number 6 above.)

Baby Girl using her CCTV to look at the letters in her name

Baby Girl leans in to get a better view of her name

More work on the CCTV

Baby Girl and the "woof, woof, dog" have some playtime

Baby Girl, all snuggled up with Daddy. He does a great job of teaching her, too!

Writing that Baby Girl and I did on her board

Daddy shows Baby Girl the "woof, woof dog."

Baby Girl studies a flower

Baby Girl learns about "up" and "down" using her seesaw

More seesaw fun


Rita and John said...

It's great that you're finding some learning tools that work so well for your baby girl.

Miranda Brasher said...

The sweet songs you made up for Baby Girl brought tears to my eyes. You are such a wonderful mama! Yay for Baby Girl saying, "woof, woof, dog" and being able to say her ABC's!!! And off the subject of learning, I LOVE Baby Girl's long hair. Beautiful little angel :)

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