View Full Version : Newbie--HELP!

10-22-2012, 04:14 PM

Get ready for a long post! :)

Hi! This is our first year homeschooling, and I just found FIAR, so we've only started rowing (we're in our 2nd book now). Both of my boys are on the Autistic Spectrum (PDD-NOS), and have very scattered skills. They both have pretty significant fine motor delays, and hate writing. Even the bare minimum is hard. They are also ADHD, so the lessons have to be short. They have been in public school special education since they were each 3. They are now 7 and 8, which is roughly 2nd and 3rd grade, but I have them working anywhere from 1-3rd level. So far this year, we've been fairly happy with our hodge-podge curriculum I've pieced together. They enjoy it, but it's certainly been a recreation of school at home. I have been trying to get them excited about learning, but I still consider us all in the "de-schooling" stage, me included. They are making progress (though still hate writing and anything involving fine motor), but count the seconds that "school" is over.

Enter FIAR! We LOVE FIAR!! It's exactly what I wanted when looking for curriculum. We did Mike Mulligan for our first "row" and are now on The Glorious Flight. Last week, we did it as more of an enrichment. This week, however, we are using it as our main lessons. I can see us moving to just using FIAR, and I plan on using it all the way until 7th grade, if all goes well. Then we'll start adding some formal studies. So here come my questions. Sorry again this post is so long!

I am thinking of just doing FIAR as written for the rest of the year without adding in math or extra language arts. We'll play math games, flashcards, and keep up their basic fact skills, and do lapbooks for each book. I really want to work on getting them excited, and see that it's okay to go off on a different direction and still learn. They are so used to being told what to do and when to do it, that when they have freedom in learning, they literally don't know what to do. Do you think this will completely backfire on me when we start back with math and language arts next year? They are doing 1st grade level math right now, and it's way too easy (I underestimated their math abilities b/c I was going off what their teachers were saying. They don't have math delays once you remove distraction), so this year is kind of "review" anyway.

When we do our FIAR lessons, we're done pretty quickly right now. I try to get the boys to extend, and want to do more, but I get a lot of "so after this, we're done?" "Is this it?" "Can we be finished with school now?" And they are having FUN. I know there is just a learning curve while they get out of the extreme scheduling they have been under and get used to a "looser" style of school. Any tips on how to draw them out a little. I do a TON of hands on activities, and have plenty in mind if they want to do more, but also don't know how much to insist, or how much to let it ride.

If we keep in math and LA, how much time do you guys spend on it? With reluctant writers, how much should I have them do on the lapbook? They enjoy the finished product a lot, and are so proud, so I want to keep it up, but getting them to do the work is already getting draining. Again, I want them to get excited.

I guess I'm really just asking for general advice on how to make FIAR work, and any advice on how to get my kids excited to learn. Homeschool has been such a rewarding leap of faith, and I feel sure that I've being called to RELAX with the boys (I'm a former special ed teacher and also assistant principal myself, so I feel a lot of pressure from EVERYONE and have gotten a LOT of heat for removing my kids from special education services) and enjoy the journey.

Thanks for any input, but, mainly for your support! I've been reading this forum for several weeks while waiting for my order to arrive, and I'm convinced it's the most supportive site on the web!! :group:


10-22-2012, 05:25 PM
My completely average 8 year old is done with school in 2 hours. I supplement his day with audio books, educational computer games, nature walks, chores (life skills!) and dog training.

I also don't allow any electronics till 3pm each day. So, my kids find plenty to do without TV and computers. I really wouldn't worry about how long it takes to finish. I'd worry about the learning taking place and that is all. I read aloud a lot, we listen to lots of audio books, watch documentaries, and do a lot of field trips related to whatever subject we are studying.

For reluctant writers, have you thought of teaching them to type? Using a computer based keyboarding program thwt might be fun as well as educational. Or using some adaptive technology to get them creatively writing? Like speech to text. The person speaks and that is typed on the screen, so the child can write a story.

I would play math games daily. I wouldn't worry about worksheets or workbooks.

I would however work on strengthening their fine motor skills with other activities in preparation for restarting written work.

Your plan sounds fine to me. Just learn to nod and smile and ignore those detractors putting pressure on you and your kids.


10-23-2012, 09:44 PM
To help with the "are we done yet" questions, you could post a to-do list for each day that they check off when each thing is done. It can include all school related things as well as chores and extras.

For the math, you could still follow the math curriculum you have, just play games to cover the concepts instead of having them write the worksheets. I wouldn't give up writing all together though, because you may find it difficult to get them on board with it next year. Try using a large dry-erase board to write a couple problems on each day, just a couple. Most kids love using dry-erase boards. Also, when my ds was young (he had fine motor issues as well) I used number stamps with him. He filled in the answers with the number stamps and stamp pad. It also helped work on the fine motor.

Find extra games/activities that will work on fine motor. Search pinterest boards for ideas, you'll find tons.

Do they like to draw? If so, you can do drawing lessons to work on pencil skills. If not, that's OK... just another idea. My ds didn't like to draw or write at all when he was younger, at least not with a pencil. The dry erase board comes in handy for many things!

Lindsey Carter
10-23-2012, 11:28 PM
I think it is a great idea to keep things simple. In fact if I was in your shoes I'd probably skip the lapbooks, unless your dc really love them. My eldest, who isn't in to fine motor skills, hated lapbooking and it took the joy out of FIAR for him. What we did and I would recommend for you...

-Read the FIAR book aloud each day
-Do 1-2 lessons orally
-On Social Studies day we color a map (usually from Homeschoolshare) and some times read or just look at pictures in a go along book about that area of the world.
-On Language Arts day- we often use the vocabulary pictures(from Homeschoolshare) in a unique way. We review the words ahead of time. Then as I read the story they hold up the picture when they here the word that it relates too.
-On Art day we frequently get out art materials and actually try drawing, painting, etc, that relates to the lesson
-On Science day we sometimes add a video related to the topic or read a go along book.
-Math: I ended up doing Math On The Level/Living Math. We generally played math games and then did 5 written review math problems. I think that is a good way to keep them doing a little bit of writing, but 5 math problems is not such a big deal.
-Phonics, my elder dc struggle here, so this is something we do daily.
-Copywork. Instead of lapbook writing I had my ds write one sentence (usually one from their FIAR book). I often use a handwriting worksheet maker online to create this. My ds had trouble for years with writing, so using the dotted words helped. This one sentence was the main writing he did.

FYI- this generally took us about 2 hours per day.

For your dc I would try to add some fine motor skills activities each day. You might give them a couple of options and let them choose one and then set a time for x number of min. per day. A few fine motor ideas...
-cutting and pasting
-legos/k-nex/tinker toys
-play-dough/ clay/ silly putty
-coloring/ drawing/ painting
-operation board game
-picking things up with tweezers
-decorating cookies
-chalk board/ sidewalk chalk
-model kits
-folding paper airplanes

I also add in some additional educational activities periodically (but these are purely optional extras)...
-read aloud
-listen to audiobooks
-educational videos (my dc love Magic School Bus, Popular Mechanics for Kids, Liberty's Kids, and some Reading Rainbow)
-field trips (museums, national parks, historical buildings, zoos, nature centers, etc)
-board games and card games
-PE activities
-music appreciation (i.e. listening to a wide variety of music)