One of the things I have found frustrating in home educating Noah (6 – with Down syndrome) is that there is no such thing as sitting down with him, teaching him a lesson and him learning the concept instantly.
Often even reviewing the lesson daily does not seem to bear much fruit. Our system for educating him is very hit and miss, and he is the one who decides whether it sticks or not.
Outside of Andres’ learning differences that are probably the result of his Arnold-Chiari malformation, all of my children are pretty exemplary learners – they listen, they learn, they do and they remember.
Much of the homeschool literature, especially that which references Charlotte Mason, Susan Wise-Bauer, or anything related to classical education assumes students will not be so easily taught. An environment rich in educational opportunities is advocated. Across-the-board curriculum is promoted. Teachable moments are to be pounced upon. We do a lot of that, simply because it makes sense, whether my older kiddos need it or not. But Noah, well, Noah definitely requires it. I can teach a concept five different ways, and unless I’ve stumbled across a way that makes it relevant for him, it usually doesn’t stick. What does stick can sometimes seem random, but I know it matters to him. Because if it didn’t, well, he wouldn’t have learned it.
I feel strongly that Noah’s education should be based around, one, learning about God’s creation so that he can catch a glimpse of all that God has done and who God really is; second, acquiring knowledge and skills that allow him to function fully as a member of our family and a member of the community, so that he can do whatever it is that God has created him to do. So as much as I see academic knowledge will be valuable for Noah, I think that living skills will be equally as valuable.
So here we arrive at the meaty portion of this post. If our children are going to assume some self-care skills, it is important that they learn to use a calendar. The day of the week often determines which clothes are appropriate to wear, what time to wake up, what items to pack in a backpack, and information about what to expect for the next 24 hours. Foreknowledge of the events of the day can contribute to a sense of well-being and being in control of one’s life – very important for the mental and spiritual health of any individual.
Calendar skills (days of the week, seasons, months, etc.) are usually taught in preschool and then nailed down in kindergarten. I’ve been working with Bella (4) and Noah (6 – DS) on calendar skills this week, and they are picking it up nicely.
I found this set of free calendar printables along with a complete set at: http://www.ouraussiehomeschool.com/2012/08/pocket-chart-calendar-printables.html.
This is one of the nicest free printable sets I’ve seen. Kudos to www.ouraussiehomeschool.com for doing such great work and then being willing to share it with all of us.
You’ll see I used our magnetic pocket chart, but you can easily use poster board and velcro to do this. In any case, I recommend laminating the pieces.
Just How We Do It: Immediately after breakfast I call the Littles to a spot on the floor beneath our calendar. I have posted a 2013 wall calendar on top and the pocket chart with printables on bottom. Using a thick permanent marker, I “X” through the previous day on the calendar as I talk about what number of the month yesterday was, it’s over now, today’s number is such and such. I also refer to the month heading and the day of the week columns so they learn where to find those things on a calendar.
Next we move down to our printables and pocket chart. I hand out the number card and the today, tomorrow, yesterday cards, and as we talk about the calendar, whatever child has the correct card comes and puts it in the correct place. There is also a season card in the bottom right corner of the chart that we review each day and talk about the things the season brings.
Finally, we get to the songs. My kids are not as enthusiastic about kid songs as I am, but we’ve got a system down now that makes it fun for everybody. For calendar time, we have two songs we sing each day. We sing each song twice; the first time we pat our alternating left and right hands on our knees slowly and sing the song slowly as well. The second time around we pat our hands on our knees frantically and we sing the song much faster. The kids (and me) have started looking forward to this goofy but profitable part of our day. The songs we sing are:
The Days of the Week Song: (Sung to the Tune of Oh My Darling)
There are seven days,
There are seven days,
There are seven days in a week.
12 Months in a Year (sung to the tune of 10 Little Indians)
January, February, March and April,
May. June. July and August.
September. October. November, December.
There’s 12 months in a year.
Any other calendar or season type songs your children have enjoyed?
- Create Your Own Calendar Center at Home! (blogher.com)