Practical Curriculum Considerations and the LD Child

        Have you enjoyed God’s creative gifts lately? He didn’t choose just one color to paint the trees in autumn or one flower to grace the perennials in spring. He doesn’t recycle the same glorious sunset every evening or give a monotonous sunrise every dawn. And He didn’t create just one bird’s song or one baby’s cry. In His infinite wisdom, He has made every person different, too. Not everyone plays the piano; some can only play the radio. Not everyone is tall; some come in small packages. Some are dark and some are fair. Our God is a magnificent God of creative variety.

        Children come with special differences, too. While some learn best by hearing, others learn best by seeing. Some are “movers" or jabber constantly, while others sit quietly by the hour. Some love math, while others prefer a good book. Some love to put their thoughts on paper, while others prefer creating a masterpiece from the recycle bin. Some are compliant and cooperative, while others are argumentative and always challenging your authority. Some excel in sports, while others can’t chew gum and walk at the same time.

        Since you are reading this article, chances are God has given you a wonderful, frustrating, perplexing bundle called a “child.” Nobody else has one just like him. She is one of a kind. Someone has suggested the label of learning disability or ADD or ADHD. Please understand that a learning disability is not a learning inability. Rather, it is a learning difference! Your home schooling mission, should you decide to accept, is to discover the unique way God wired your child. Be forewarned that discovery’s very nature requires trials - and errors - and it won’t happen overnight. And since there is no one curriculum that works for every child, let’s explore some practical, realistic answers on how best to choose the closest curriculum match to your “gift."

        Your home schooling mentor, Susie Q, has been teaching her 42 children for 500 years. Her son, Sam, is just like your son, Jeff. They both play baseball, have shaggy brown hair dangling in their eyes, hate baths, and eat spinach. Should you take her curriculum recommendations as gospel?

        Before you plunk down your money on Susie’s suggestions, take a few minutes to think it through. No one likes making expensive curriculum mistakes.


        Let’s briefly look at how people learn. Information comes into our brain through our five senses - sight (visual), hearing (auditory), touch (tactile), movement (kinesthetic) and smell (olfactory). Most people depend upon one dominant sense, reinforcing it with the lesser others. This dominant strength, or information gathering preference, is better known as a “learning style.”  Once the message arrives at the brain through your preferred "style," it must be processed into meaningful information. This information is then acted upon or stored for a later time.

        Each learning style manifests itself in particular ways. In general:


        Two people must use a curriculum - you and your child. If it doesn’t fit one of you, it won’t work. You want a curriculum that helps you teach, not a task master. Since no one knows your situation better than you, examine your needs first.

        Realistically, what are you able and willing to do for your LD child’s curriculum? Look realistically at the demands on your time - from family, friends, telephone, outside employment, etc. You have other people in your life, not just your special needs child. In fact, many of you have your “quiver full” - and one on the way. Other family members deserve some of your time, talents, and energy, too. And don’t forget your needs - you can’t run on empty.

From your viewpoint, this makes curriculum selection a two choice process:

        1)  Create your own curriculum - Maybe you have lots of time on your hands, are a very creative person, and have resources which tell you the sequence of skill introduction for each grade/age level. If that is the case, God bless you in your efforts for your child.        

        2) Buy someone else’s curriculum package - Most of us don’t fall into the above category, so don’t feel guilty. There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying a set curriculum. Hopefully, we merely supplement and/or minimally adjust these into the best materials for our child.

By knowing what you expect - and need - from a curriculum, you can avoid expensive time and money wasters.


        For most children, when several senses can be used at once, they fare better. This may or may not be true for certain children with learning disabilities. Sometimes the weak links (areas with disabilities) overpower the strengths. But sometimes the strengths are strong enough to overcome the weaknesses. Since you always want to teach to the strengths, it is time to analyze your special child’s curriculum needs.


Now take these personal answers and apply the next considerations to them.


        Is there a program out there that fulfills you and your child’s needs? Probably, but it may need a bit of modifying to suit your home schooler’s special needs. Should you listen to Susie’s 500 years of home schooling experience and go with Program L-M-N-O-P? Only if it meets your needs. You may need more hand-holding than a person with years of home schooling experience. Other than interests, your child isn't ‘exactly’ like hers. God made every child different - even identical twins.

        God gave you wisdom. While it is wise to seek counselors, weigh the options and think for yourself. Be strong enough to go against Susie’s suggestions if it is not right for your home school’s success. Just because “everybody is using it” doesn’t make it appropriate for special needs children.

        And expect a mistake or two. No one knows their child so well that they don’t get surprises occasionally. Your situation may change - chicken pox, death in the family, move to new state, or some other stress producer. Accept it and go on. Looking back, you will see that overall, God did use it for good.


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