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January 15, 2013

How a Charlotte Mason Education Helps Special Needs Children: Part I

The Charlotte Mason method respects a child's natural limits and is a most useful method of education for special needs children.

I think we all know I love the Charlotte Mason method. But now that I'm truly understanding that we are a special needs family, I realize how it helps us in so many other ways. I believe this method is beneficial to all children, but I've thought of a few ways that it really helps those with special needs.


Living Books Stimulate and Inspire

Children with bipolar disorder and dyslexia have very vivid imaginations. These children can be distracted but are very creative. Giving them books that stimulate their imaginations almost ensures their focus. Many times, it inspires them to do something else such as draw, write their own story or explore something in nature.
Family studying at dining room table


Family Studies

Alexis is 14 and usually a child is reading and doing their work on their own long before this age. In fact, by age 10, they can do nearly all of their assignments independently. 

However, Alexis has dyslexia (a language processing disorder), dyscalculia (a math disability) and dysgraphia (a writing disability). 

Children with dyslexia have no concept of time, have short-term memory problems and a host of other symptoms. Giving her assignments and expecting them to be remembered, much less done in a timely manner, would be asking the world of her.

Fortunately, with the CM method, I am able to teach multiple ages which helps keep her in a group setting. She gains the knowledge but in a way in which she's not left to flounder. I do give her independent assignments but perhaps not as much as others her age. In time, as she has more help from specialists, we'll be able to transition her to more and more independent work.


A happy child

Narration

Narration is one of the foundations of a Charlotte Mason education. It certainly helps children with A.D.H.D., bipolar and dyslexia as these children tend to have co-existing challenges with reading, writing and math. Although I have no children with A.D.H.D. currently (and narration doesn't address math), narration is a huge help for any child with reading or writing challenges.

It is recommended that children begin writing their narrations at a certain age, but this can always be adapted for children with writing challenges. Narration, copywork and dictation are the tools used to teach proper spelling, grammar and punctuation and to eliminate any of them would be a disservice to my children. 

When requiring writing from Alexis, I give her more time to complete it. As well, children with dyslexia/dysgraphia do better with keyboarding than writing. Many times, she can simply type her work. Giving fewer handwritten assignments and more time to complete them help her to maintain her handwriting skills without overwhelming her.


Mother helping child with math

Short Lessons

I guess this is a no-brainer. Shorter lessons are helpful to children with attention issues or short-term memory problems. Children with bipolar disorder or dyslexia are easily distracted and the shorter lessons really are accommodating to this challenge.

These are just a few things that come to mind when considering how this method helps my children in their homeschooling. There will be more in Part II.

Do you find that the method or style of homeschooling you've chosen benefits special needs children? If you have no special needs children, do you find that it's easy to adapt your chosen method or style to your children's individual needs?

Disclaimer: I respect my children's privacy and level of comfort. Posts such as this one have been discussed with and approved by them.

Happy Homeschooling!

12 comments:

  1. Oh yes, Charlotte Mason is a fantastic curriculum for special needs children. I have one with autism that has flourished with it. Love the post!

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  2. Thanks, Penny! I've no real experience with educating a child with Autism per se, but we do have Asperger's in this household. I'm sure she'll flourish as well!

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  3. Wonderful info and tips. Thank you for a great visit via the Hip Homeschool Hop.

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  4. Thanks for dropping by from the hop!

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  5. Hi Michelle - have you heard of Lexercise?

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  6. Yes. Unfortunately, the screener has huge letters and very simple "words" that any 14-year-old can read (especially when the font is gigantic). So she passed the screener and assessment with flying colors despite the fact that she is Dyslexic. I wrote to them. They called but I was working. I am getting back with them this week.

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  7. I'm falling in love with Charlotte Mason! I wish I had discovered her earlier on my HS journey, but so glad I did no matter how my kids are. I've spent most of the summer reading away about her philosophy on education and it's really inspired the direction I plan to take from here on out. I just got her original 6 volume set in the mail yesterday and can't wait to get started on it!

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    1. I wish I had discovered it earlier too. I unschooled my first set of kids. It's been a learning journey for us all.

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    2. Thank you for this post Michelle. I have been learning all I can about Charlotte Mason and her approach to home education. We have been using living books to learn from as a starting point. My son is showing signs of dyslexia so I have been interested to see how narration works.

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    3. Hi Suzie! If you need any help along the way, let me know.

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  8. So thankful to have come across this post. I have an 8 year old daughter, who technically would be in 3rd grade, but we had her repeat a grade so she is in 2nd. I recently had her tested through a CMS, the teacher used the Woodcock Johnson test and was blown away at how well she narrated yet failed miserably at everything else, and said she is about 2 years behind - meaning a K5 level. My husband and I knew that she struggled in math (not getting the basics and having to restart over and over again), reading (dog becomes god, saw becomes was, b is d and so on) and handwriting (labored), we also knew that her maturity level is not that of a "typical" 8 year old - but it was still devastating to hear from someone else. We had her vision checked and it was confirmed that she has some farsightedness which requires glasses while reading and doing any computer work, however after doing more research we believe (without having testing done) that she has dyslexia and dysgraphia - we have been using CM methods for a year and a half now and I was considering switching - after reading this post, the comments that have followed as well as other related post on different sites, I am convinced that CM is the way to go. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Shelly,

      I'm glad you've found encouragement here. If I can help, let me know. I fully understand your struggle and feel the frustration. I'd be happy to help in any way I can.

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