Things We Should Know About Socializing and Homeschool Communities

Liz Guerrini and her homeschooled son in various settings

Thinking about writing pragmatic goals for a homeschooled client? Here is some information that might help ahead of time.

A homeschool — like a public school or private school — is diverse in its pedagogy, curriculum, locations, educators, peers. The word ‘homeschool’ really is a misnomer. Some parents or caregivers do one subject one-on-one at home while they work with other homeschooling families in coops for other subjects or vice-versa. Some do the academic skills via online group settings similar to online CD classes. Many homeschoolers attend daily group setting classes — be it academic or music or fitness or art, etc. Many have therapies or volunteer in the community and have more flexible hours in doing so.

Laurie Olsen wrote a superb book based on a longitudinal study done in Berkeley, CA, called ‘Made in America’ and it discussed school settings which assumed interaction among kids. Her conclusion was that just because kids are in a class setting or school recess setting with other kids doesn’t mean that they are socialized. She gave examples of the child who goes to recess and is completely alone despite being with other children (e.g. sitting on the bench alone day after day, or isn’t called on in class, etc). Defining socializing and using interventions for socializing must be put in place whether it is on the public or private school lot, homeschool backyard or nearby park.

One way to address pragmatic goals for the homeschooled child is to see where SLP goals can be put into action. For instance, if the child is homeschooled one-one for core academic areas in order to achieve curriculum content, find  areas in the day or week where the child can practice pragmatic goals. It could be within a large private class setting — or even recruiting some of the classmates that become friends and play in the park after class ends. Playing games that involve turns with these kids, be they ball games, card or board games, etc, would also provide some wonderful opportunities to implement pragmatic goals. Many parents of typical children welcome these opportunities to help their children’s peers who have ASD with pragmatic challenges, for example, or other speech-language goals in need of peer assistance.

The key is to find the areas of socializing that occur during the week — and use these as those goal opportunities on a consistent basis. Ask about the times of the week where the child is in group settings — and if the child is not involved in any group setting at all during the week then encourage them to find a consistent group setting during the week so that pragmatic goals can be implemented for desired outcomes. In need of role model examples of homeschooled kids? For starters, Abraham Lincoln and Benjamin Franklin did pretty well pragmatically. As SLPs we can seek out non-traditional ways of inserting pragmatic goals for our kids regardless of the academic setting.

Liz Guerrini has been a K-12 and college teacher for the past 18 years and is entering her final graduate year in Communicative Disorders at CSUN. She’s an Olympian who finds many applications of her sport world to the teaching and therapy worlds. She home-schools her bright and beautiful son who lives with trisomy 2, severe dysarthria, severe CAS, hearing loss, ASD and hypotonia. She is a member of ASHA’s Minority Student Leadership Program. Liz blogs at  Christopher DaysSLP to-Be and the Signing Time Academy.

Getting Mad at the Zoo

Zoo Miami July 2, 2011

Photo by osseous

In our graduate level communication studies language class we studied narratives and how we use these in everyday conversations. We often narrate when we don’t realize we are doing so. One way to think of it is storytelling and some of us have better skills than others. It depends really on the ‘language’ we use — words that describe, words that put us in a different time, place, experience. Here is an example that will put a smile on your face:

The link was posted by one of my friends on facebook. I decided to use this link as a post this week, allowing me to practice the structures of a narrative. It is of a child who narrates his day at the zoo. His use of language — description, sequence, feelings — allow us to empathize with him in his angry situation. Better than me and than most adults, this child, despite his very young age, also managed to create narrative that is complex, using all of the following structures of a narrative:

1. Abstract: Summary of story

Example: He basically tells us his trip didn’t go well

2. Orientation: Time, place, persons, activity, situation

Example: It’s his daily trip to the zoo with friends but they only saw the gentle

animals

3. Complicating action: Found in Temporally sequenced clauses

Example: See what he says about Harmony (and what dad writes…)

4. Evaluation: The point of the narrative

Example: He really wanted it to be a terrific day. He wanted to see the otters.

5. Result or resolution: Termination of temporarily sequenced clauses

Example: Dad offers a revisit another day to which he agrees.

6. Coda: Found at the end of the narrative

Example: His final comment “I don’t like it. Let’s go.”

Perhaps we can learn something from this child and his parent’s prompts for information. These prompts shaped the perfect narrative, and allowed for a two-way communication between adult and child that honors affect from start to finish. Not only is this the type of parent I want to develop into — but it’s the type of therapist I hope to be one day.

 

Liz Guerrini has been a K-12 and college teacher for the past 18 years and is entering her final graduate year in Communicative Disorders at CSUN. She’s an Olympian who finds many applications of her sport world to the teaching and therapy worlds. She home-schools her bright and beautiful son who lives with trisomy 2, severe dysarthria, severe CAS, hearing loss, ASD and hypotonia. She is a member of ASHA’s Minority Student Leadership Program. Liz blogs at  Christopher DaysSLP to-Be and the Signing Time Academy.

 

Knitting Multiple Modalities

Knitted owl hat

Photo by Burstyriffic

Before becoming a mom I taught K-12 classes, starting in second language classrooms. It felt like I was at home because I grew up as a simultaneous bilingual — a person who was presented with two languages from birth in an immigrant household. My parents met in an ESL classroom in the Mission district of San Francisco, so I grew up learning in ways that helped all of us which meant using all modalities — visual, tactile, auditory, kinesthetic. Hearing wasn’t enough — it’s so subjective. Are you saying ‘b’ de burro or ‘v’ de vaca? This image helps one to establish in the mind that very fast sounds are distinguished by so little when coarticulation is involved. It also seems so fast when learning a second language, so physically moving or tapping out the sounds really helps. And of course, there must be a reason why so much of the motor strip targets the hands — I feel therefore I learn. In my own studying, it is not enough for me to just hear. If I can touch it, feel it, sign it — I feel like I own it like the way a toddler mouths a book or a toy.

Using multiple modalities also made me think of a fairly recent experience. Two summers ago I wanted to knit a playmat for my kids, so I took a beginning knitting class co-taught by two women in my area. One woman relied on auditory teaching skills — I was so lost. Knit one pearl two — what!?! She went regular speed, thinking that’s what she needed to model so that we could learn to knit correctly. There were a group of us (20 total in the class) who were just not getting it. She kept coming to our group to retell us what she had already told the larger group. Repeating didn’t help. Still lost. She showed us again at her regular speed. Stressed. So contrary to what knitting addicts profess. “Way over-rated,” I thought of knitting, as my shoulders elevated toward my ears from the stress.

Then the other teacher came to us and gently placed her hands on ours to physically guide us in the pattern. She also made the pattern slower, much more exaggerated and larger in movement than the other teacher. BINGO!!!! Our eyes and minds that had previously felt as if they were on a fast spinning merry-go-round that didn’t give us a chance to hop on finally were able to catch up and get on. We got it! And not only did this small group of auditory strugglers get it, we outlasted the larger group and stayed with the project while many others dropped out. Ahhh…knitting wasn’t over-rated after all, but much more like a catnip invoked endeavor…

This experience reinforced something I intuitively knew from growing up in a household of second language learners, from teaching second language learners, and teaching my son who has special needs including severe dysarthria, severe CAS and ASD: all modalities help. I saw this espoused at ASHA’s 2011 conference in sessions regarding ASD. Also, it’s not just the modality but the speed and the size of the movement of these modalities which also help to get those neural networks firing and wiring for a meaningful experience.

So when I think of multiple modalities for our client population — I can’t help but think knitting….

 

Liz Guerrini has been a K-12 and college teacher for the past 18 years and is entering her final graduate year in Communicative Disorders at CSUN. She’s an Olympian who finds many applications of her sport world to the teaching and therapy worlds. She home-schools her bright and beautiful son who lives with trisomy 2, severe dysarthria, severe CAS, hearing loss, ASD and hypotonia. She is a member of ASHA’s Minority Student Leadership Program. Liz blogs at  Christopher Days, SLP to-Be and the Signing Time Academy.