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Posts Tagged ‘right-brained’


(Since my Reviews page is a bit full, I will start posting them here. That way, each review will be available as a separate page, also.)

  A Personal Experience Perspective 

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that my 11-year-old grandson has mild Aspergers and is a right-brained learner. He seems to learn best with visual and hands-on material. He also has developed a strong dislike of mathematics because he can’t memorize math facts, no matter how many times we try with different approaches and materials. I finally decided to just move on and trust that he would pick up more of them as he used them. Besides, he understands concepts and can always use a math chart or a calculator. Actually, he often uses other tricks to figure it out.

I have also read comments saying that many children like him actually do better with higher mathematics than with arithmetic. So in the hopes of convincing him that he is not bad at mathematics, I decided to try “Hands-On Equations” (HOE) and jump right into an introduction to algebra.

We started this past summer and are finishing the third, and last, level now. It worked magic! He now likes doing math and even asks if we can do it before other subjects. He is doing well with it, too.

The program includes a DVD, which we tried in the beginning, but he did not like it, so we stopped using it. However, he loves the use of the flat “scale”, which teaches the concept of equality and reinforces the idea that “legal moves” must be performed on both sides to keep the equation balanced. The two-colored markers for unknowns and numbered cubes for positive and negative numbers have helped him to quickly visualize solutions. Sometimes he simply tells me the solution and I have to go through the steps, or ask him to “explain it” to me so I can check him.

The lessons are short and illustrated in color in the book, then a class worksheet is provided for each lesson, with review problems included. The word problems are numerous and he is working word problems that a few moths ago would have totally confused him. I think he is ready to zip through pre-algebra, at least.

Oh, yes, he usually is able to do the addition, subtraction, multiplication and division required in his head, one way or another. Those he has trouble with are just minor problems, not failure experiences anymore.  And his math confidence is restored! (Perfectionism is good in math, but not the effect it can have on self-confidence and attitude towards math.) I highly recommend “Hands-On Equations”!

 Check out the website here. Or see it on Amazon.com.

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I have been concerned that while my 10 yo can read quite well, he doesn’t seem to read for pleasure and only reads stories when I put it on the schedule. He loves for me to read them to him, however.

Yesterday I went into his room to have a discussion with him about how to help him choose to read on his own. I couldn’t talk with him, though, because he was on his computer reading a detailed tutorial on how to add laser light shows to the fireworks displays on Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 and did not want to be interrupted.

LOL. I forgot that he actually prefers reading for information (reading to learn, not learning to read) and does it when there is something he wants to know. He tests his own comprehension by following the instructions or using what he learns in some unique way. And I had been worrying that he didn’t seem to be pursuing knowledge on his own lately! I just need to remember that what I want him to learn and what he wants to learn are not always the same, but may get him to the same point. For example, he is learning problem solving, logical thinking and physics while he is “playing” at designing and building robots.

Now I just need to figure out how to work enough math into his interest areas!

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Spelling phrases with Algodoo

 The other day it was time for Dana to write some dictated phrases for spelling (and handwriting), but all he wanted to do was work on Algodoo, (his engineering/physics program that I have mentioned several times). Then he suggested that he use the “brush” in Algodoo to write his phrases on the computer screen, so I agreed. He certainly had more fun writing his spelling work and the letters were each in a different color. There were no lines, so they aren’t perfectly even, but we did work on things like writing an h that doesn’t look like an n, and proper spaces between words and he was able to easily correct mistakes. Well, he corrected some letter writing mistakes. I didn’t want to find too many things to be corrected, and using a computer mouse is not exactly the same as using a pencil. It was certainly an interesting way to do spelling and writing! Once he took a short-cut and “mirrored” a letter b to make a d and moved it to the right place, so I know he has no problem with incorrect letter reversals. His spelling and handwriting skills are far below his other abilities and knowledge, so I was happy to encourage a fun way for him to practice. 

Talk about creative homeschooling approaches for the right-brained learner!

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Recently I have been frustrated in trying to homeschool my grandson. He will be 9 years old at the end of this month and is rapidly approaching “middle school” age. Unfortunately, his self-control and behavior has seemed to deteriorate and he is having frequent meltdowns, plus an irritating negative way of communicating the simplest things. (That is “teacher talk” for “he whines a lot and is rude and disrespectful.”) This also is related to a growing resistance to doing any math computation or handwriting. I said resistance, not reluctance! 

Nothing seemed to work, so I tried stepping back and giving us both some time off from the subjects that most frustrate him. He actually loves science and history and reads above his age level. After trying many approaches and a lot of thought about the root cause and the solution, it finally struck me that I had forgotten one very fundamental thing.

 Despite his intelligence and advanced interests, advanced reading ability and his progress in social skills, he still has mild Asperger’s Syndrome, and very likely dysgraphia and a touch of ADHD symptoms, as well as mild anxiety. He is lately exhibiting increasing problems with oral language processing. Not that he doesn’t still talk for long periods of time about some idea he has, but even then, he commonly starts speaking disjointedly, or stuttering, and then says, “Oh, never mind.” He also has increasing trouble explaining in his own words something he read or that I read to him.

So, just when I thought he should be reaching the age and stage when he would be ready for more formal studies and taking on more independent work, I am forced to stop and rethink my expectations and the effect they might have on his learning and behavior. 

Add to that pressure the fact that we are in the middle of remodeling the whole upstairs, which is our upside-down basement, where his room is and his play area and study area as well. He no longer gets upset and runs out of the house when he sees that we have repainted something a different color, but change can still have an effect on him, and this is a big change, and right now a big mess.

I almost forgot to add that he just started 4-H and the robotics project group, both with different structure and expectations, plus the work on the project workbook. That is really a lot of change at one time!

Some conclusions:

  1. Stop worrying about what might happen if he had to go back to public school (a real concern at my age) and continue to concentrate on his current needs and abilities accepting the wide discrepancies in different areas. Forget those ingrained grade level expectations.
  2. Remember that his ability to compensate and his increasing tolerance do not mean that his extreme sensitivities have disappeared.
  3. Be more aware of and responsive to emerging mental processing issues.
  4. When behavior changes occur, seek the cause by examining the pressures and stresses he is feeling subject to.
  5. Lighten up and have more fun, especially while his environment is disordered.

 This may be of no interest to you, my blog visitors, but I suspect that many families with kids like mine go through times like these. This is all common sense, but when we are caught up in a stressful and emotional problem it is hard to step back and look at the situation dispassionately. At least it is for me. So if this helps someone else speed up the process, it is worth posting.

 Comments welcomed. Maybe you have some good ideas to share with me. I listen to a lot of advice, then choose what I think will work for us.

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Welcome to Hilltop Homeschool.  (See dated additions below)

 I am a grandmother and retired teacher raising a now 8 year old right-brained boy who is a creative learner, gifted in some areas, delayed in others and diagnosed a few years ago with mild Asperger's Syndrome. We are eclectic homeschoolers, which means we do what works for us! I would say we are unschoolers, but we are not strictly so, since we use programs like Time-4-Learning (mostly for math) and "Story of the World" for history. His passions are science and building things, so much of what we do revolves around those things. The header shows the trees surrounding our hilltop home. Our woods give us lots of learning opportunities, too.

This blog was created to share some videos and Smilebox presentations with homeschool friends and other parents interested in learning how to share stuff about their kids, and also so I could share some information about educational science and technology "stuff" I use with my own future scientist or engineer grandson. It may expand, but that is the current focus. I keep adding as I come up with new things, so check back often. And please leave a comment to let me know what you want to know about that I just might possibly be able to help with, or to make suggestions of your own. If you ask a question, and choose "subscribe to comments," you will be notified when I respond.

Just call me a "Senior Research Consultant in Child Development and Specialized Education." (in other words, a blogging grandmother raising and homeschooling a child with unique learning needs and interests)

From now on, many new entries will be posted as pages (see the tabs above) or added to those pages. (Technology and Homeschooling has been updated with new photos and links.)

Jan 31, '09 - "Our Science Videos" has a new Smilebox added - "Nature Notebook," and "Technology" has new info and links.

Feb. 01, '09 - "Scrapbook" page added with pictures and "movie" of pages.

Feb. 08, '09 - "Activities & Field Trips" page added with video of old music box & phonographs, and photos with write up about making a Chinese New Year dragon puppet.

Feb. 09, '09 - New link and info on Worldwide Telescope on "Technology & Homeschool" page.

Feb. 10, '09 - New info and link to new "Did You Know" video emphasizing importance of learning how to learn on "Technology & Homeschool."

Special welcome to my on-line friends!

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“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” William Butler Yeats

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