HS #269 Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner with Guest Kathy Kuhl

HS #269 Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner with Guest Kathy Kuhl

Links and Resources:

Show Notes:

Kathy Kuhl helps parents teaching children and teens with learning challenges. She provides resources, tips, and encouragement. Whether your children struggle with reading, writing, math, or focusing, Kathy offers creative solutions to help you teach more effectively.

After years helping her dyslexic, distractible son after school, Kathy began homeschooling him in fourth grade. Homeschooling let her customize education to his interests and strengths, while addressing his weaknesses. The results made his neuropsychologist declare that homeschooling was the best thing for him. Other parents began seeking Kathy’s advice, and she began speaking.

After her son’s homeschool graduation, Kathy interviewed 64 parents who also homeschooled students with diagnosed learning disabilities. From those interviews, her experience and study, Kathy wrote Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner. This handbook helps parents or anyone helping children or teens with learning challenges, including attention issues, dyslexia, other learning disabilities, autism, and giftedness.

Kathy also wrote Staying Sane as You Homeschool and Encouraging Your Child, as well as articles for many magazines. She blogs at LearnDifferently.com.

Kathy speaks at homeschool and education conferences internationally. She also advises families individually, providing advice, encouragement, and insight. You may sign up for a free introductory session on her website, with no obligation.

Kathy graduated from William and Mary, where she earned teaching certificates in English and mathematics. She has two children and four grandchildren. She lives with her husband in northern Virginia, and loves reading and hiking.

“You do not yet look so happy as I mean you to be….The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.”

C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

Start with your child’s strengths.

If your student needs to practice writing, let him write about something he loves.

If you didn’t realize how difficult it has been for your child, it’s never too late to make a fresh start.

The Toothpaste Millionaire by Jean Merrill (https://amzn.to/362SIVs )

Hugh Pine trilogy by Janwillem Van De Wetering (https://amzn.to/3pWU8c7 )

Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne (https://amzn.to/33e3R44 )

Mother Goose (https://amzn.to/36197to )

The Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall (https://amzn.to/3nY1Tg9 )

Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder (https://amzn.to/2UXRPal )

Professor Carol’s Hurrah and Hallelujah! (https://www.professorcarol.com/hurrah-and-hallelujah/ )

Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis; especially The Last Battle (https://amzn.to/3fwvuKH )

The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis (https://amzn.to/3634cs5 )

Janice Campbell’s review of Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner

https://www.doingwhatmatters.com/homeschooling-your-struggling-learner-a-review/

Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0981938906/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0981938906&linkCode=as2&tag=learndiffe-20

Staying Sane as You Homeschool

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0981938914/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0981938914&linkCode=as2&tag=learndiffe-20

Encouraging Your Child

https://amzn.to/33eHxr7

Show Transcript:

HS EP 269



Wendy -

Hello and welcome back to another installment of the Homeschool Solutions Show. My name is Wendy Speake, and I am one of the many hosts we have here on the podcast. Each week you'll hear from one of us inviting one of our friends to join for a conversation about this busy, blessed season as we educate our children at home.

Now the title of the show is Homeschool Solutions. While we don't have the answer to every question, we know that all the solutions to every stress and every struggle can be found in the Person and presence of Jesus Christ and His living and active and applicable Word. We're so glad that you're here for today's conversation.

But before we start the show, I'd like to thank our sponsors. Medi-Share. An affordable and Biblical healthcare alternative. Find out more at mychristiancare.org for their ongoing support of homeschooling families just like ours.

And Operation Christmas Child. Now more than ever, children need hope. As the world struggles with the coronavirus pandemic, we want to let them know that God loves them and has not forgotten them. The best way to get involved is to pack a shoebox yourself. As you specially select each item, packing a shoebox becomes a blessing to you as well as the child who receives it. Be sure to include a note in a photo. If packing a traditional shoebox just isn't an option for you this year, we can do it for you. Build a shoebox online. You can find out more at samaritanspurse.org/occ.


And now on today's show.



Janice -

Hi, I'm Janice Campbell and today I'm here with Kathy Kuhl to talk about when learning seems harder than it should be. We're going to talk about reading, writing, and learning and ways you can help your students who struggle. But first, let me introduce Kathy.

Kathy Kuhl has been helping parents of kids with learning challenges teach more effectively for well over a decade. She has spoken at homeschooling in other conferences both nationally and internationally, and she wrote Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner, Staying Sane as You Homeschool, and Encouraging Your Child, resources that are wonderfully helpful and encouraging for parents.

Kathy graduated from William and Mary and holds teaching certificates in English and mathematics. She has two children, four grandchildren, and she lives with her husband in Northern Virginia and loves reading and hiking.

Thanks for making time to be on the show, Kathy.

Kathy -

Thanks for having me Janice good to be with you.

J -

So I want to just jump right in and talk about what brought you to the world of homeschooling. Cause I think it's the perfect entry point for this conversation.

K -

Well, I didn't intend to homeschool my son. His big sister was already in school doing great and little brother. I was hard enough getting him out the door and off to kindergarten with all his stuff and the homework for first grade never made it into the bag. He was coming home from school, always wanting to have a friend over so I didn't see how such a sociable guy could happily be homeschooled and he was also complaining about the homework even in kindergarten. But he struggled more as the years went by and began to get increasingly frustrated. So, I worked with him after school, like any parent would, we started doing remedial work over the summers. We called it cool school. So, I guess that was really the beginning of our homeschool. Cause our last name is K-U-H-L but pronounced cool.

So, we did ‘cool’ school over the summers and he had trouble counting and learning the alphabet, much less reading. I remember one summer we spent the entire summer working our way through the book Hop on Pop, with him reading two or three pages a day. That was hard for him. I had homeschooling friends who were encouraging me to try homeschooling him and I had taught junior high math, but I didn't feel at all qualified to teach a third grader to read. As time went on, he got increasingly frustrated with school. He would come home ready to explode. One of his teachers said, yeah, he's emotionally exhausted from trying so hard all day.

So, fourth grade came along. We were going to a prize-winning school and moving to another county with excellent schools, but I didn't think things were going to get better. As you know, fourth-grade kids go from learning to read, to reading to learn and he wasn't reading fluently so we decided to try a year of homeschooling. And if you told me then that we were going to homeschool, clear through twelfth grade, I probably would have sent him back to school immediately, because that sounded way too scary. But each year we evaluate it and it continued to seem like the best fit for him. We were able to make lots of changes. And I'm here with you today because the experience of ours grew into an opportunity to serve other families, and as you mentioned, I've written a few books. The first was based on not just what happened for us, cause I think families differ so much that wouldn't be too helpful. I interviewed 64 families around the country, homeschooling kids with diagnosed learning disabilities. You see I wanted to make the handbook that I wish we'd had back when we started.

So that led to my speaking, and that led me to here.

J -

Oh, and I've known you for many years. I looked back on my blog to see when I reviewed Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner and it was 2009. And I loved the book then and I love it now. I just think it's a book that, you know, parents, even parents without a struggling learner, could learn things from, but it's such a resource and a comforting resource at that. So, you know, one of the things I was wondering about is, do you plan to write more books? Or are you...have you kind of said what you need to say?

K -

Well, I have one or two more ideas, but I'm in a transition right now so it's hard to tell if those will be started in the next year or if I'll need to wait a bit longer.

J -

Sounds good. So when you would help other homeschoolers, what kinds of things have you been doing with them? What are the questions they ask?

K -

Well, the one I got yesterday was typical. I often get people who have a child who's been struggling in school who've looked into homeschooling and don't quite see how it will work for them. And they're asking if it's possible. A lot of them have done a lot of homework and study with their, understanding their child's particular learning challenges. Some are just getting started, but they come to me asking for advice. How can they do it? Can they do it? What resources should they use? So, parents jump to thinking immediately they've got to find the right curriculum. They'll think, some of them even think they'll go buy third grade in a box and bring it home and open it up and do it.


Yeah, other parents know it school wasn't working for their child, so the box probably wouldn't work either. So, I help parents identify different curricula for different subjects. I talk with them about different approaches they can take in teaching, in setting up their home school environment, setting up their schedule so they understand it doesn't mean sitting at the kitchen table all day. Logistics of that. I also help parents with taking care of themselves. It's a big issue not burning out. If you're going to homeschool a child who's struggling. So, I'm very concerned for that and for thinking holistically about all the family's needs, not just the educational ones of this child.

J -

You mentioned that your son is distractible and dyslexic, I think?

K -

Yes.

J -

And so...and you also mentioned, you know, not having to sit around the table all day to do school when you started homeschooling and how you help parents know about that. What does a school day look like for a learner who struggles? I mean, I realize there's probably infinite variations, but just what is your school day look like or what do you see as a common pattern?


K -

To devise a pattern for a kid, I need to understand what the child's good at and what they like, and their preferences in many things. So, what worked typically for our family might not work for somebody else. What our family did was, we're Christians. We began the morning with a short Bible lesson sitting on the sofa. But then we memorized a Bible verse and here, already, things were a little different. I would write the verse on a whiteboard and we'd read it together. And then I'd erase a word and we'd still say it, and I'd erase a couple more words and maybe I'd write it in his favorite color. Or I'd let him pick the words to wipe. So, we were using a multi-sensory approach before we'd even gotten into academics.

I picked the harder subjects for my son, which were reading in math and writing and made sure that those were all done before lunch because, for this kid, that was a better time of day. Now I know other families, one family in Florida I interviewed had a daughter who struggled with epilepsy and if she had a bad night then morning was not going to be her best time. So, we adapted our schedule that way. We spent probably an hour to an hour and a half on language arts, but we'd be in different parts of the house, doing grammar at the kitchen table, perhaps, writing exercises in the dining room and reading a play together on the sofa in the living room. Maybe going outside. I remember in high school we read Twelve Angry Men together and he was the odd-numbered men, and I was the even-numbered men. We mixed up our day that way. Soccer break in between those two subjects. Lunch and a recess.

I think it's real important for parents to give themselves recess. I would read a magazine or a homeschooling article or something to get away from the immediate needs, or just do something fun for a bit, and my son got twenty minutes with his Legos. Legos were a major reason he wanted to be homeschooled, cause he realized they could be part of recess, if he was at home.

And then afternoons we did different special subjects. Swimming, karate, science experiments. History was one whole afternoon a week and we did many more field trips than probably the average homeschool family. And certainly, more than the average public-school kid would get.

J -

That sounds like a lovely program and very, very tailored to your needs. I like the idea of starting with what the student is really good at and likes and needs, and then what they need as well. In our home, we found that the hardest subjects before lunch was also a good schedule, for a number of reasons. But I like the way you organize it, especially with the big block of history one afternoon a week. Once he got to a certain age, I'm sure.

K -

Actually, that started fairly on because I had an extraordinary thing and I hope many of your listeners can get that as well. You probably, some of you, have parents who are concerned about whether or not you can homeschool this kid. Or how you're going to keep going. And my dad was one of those concerned parents. Concerned grandparents. But he did something amazing. After a few months of him and my mother worrying about whether or not I was going to go crazy or was already crazy, he said, well, I'll come over one afternoon a week and you can just give a stack, leave a stack of work like I was a substitute teacher. And dad loves history. And used to teach it at a local University in the evenings. So, he said, yeah, history would be good. I'd like to do that. So it started out with me leaving him a stack. I'd feed him lunch. We'd get a little visit. Then I'd go off and run my errands and he would teach that. Well, that evolved, and within three years I was just helping him find the textbook. He was writing quizzes, writing tests, planning field trips. And afterwards, and this is after grades four through twelve, my dad said he wished he could have done it for all his grandchildren. It was a wonderful bonding time for the two of them. So, if you can rope a grandparent in, even if all they want to do is babysit for a few hours, do it. You never know where it may lead.

J -

What an absolute gift. What a wonderful time for your son to look back on too, to spend that much time with his grandfather on an interesting subject.


K -

Yes, they both love history.


J -

Yeah, and honestly, no one teaches a subject better than someone who loves it.


K -

True.


J -

So you and I are both readers. We, in fact, have spent a good many hours probably overtime in Riverby Bookstore in Fredericksburg, VA, just meeting there every once in a while. And, so literature, how does literature play into a student who is struggling? Is it important?

K -

Oh yes. And I know it's important because we love books. But let me make the case for someone who's not a bookworm like you are or I am. For helping our kids who struggle with learning. Learning through books furnishes the mind and gives a child, a teenager, an adult, a broader range of experience that lets you see things from someone else's perspective and see things you wouldn't see otherwise and hear different voices. More practically, it also builds your child's vocabulary. Now if your child is dyslexic like mine is or just someone who doesn't want to sit down with a book, then that's fine. But you can still, and you still need to expose them to literature.



So reading aloud, even when your child is seventeen, can be very helpful. The Lord of the Rings movies were just coming out back when we were homeschooling. My son's grown and is a father now. But I read all of the Lord of the Rings books aloud to my son. And read him many other things. We picked stories that tied into his favorite subject for history. There's a lot of excellent historical fiction at all grade levels that enriched our homeschool and captured his imagination. All that exposure to oral reading, my reading aloud to him, kept up his vocabulary so much so that when he was tested as a young man for his learning disabilities, the evaluator was surprised at how extensive his vocabulary was. Because we had read aloud together.

I think literature is also important to read to our kids because some of us who have kids who struggle to read and write, those kids may grow up to be writers. We all imagine that writers compose when, in ink on a sheet of paper in one draft and mail it in. Well, that is rarely the case. And a lot of very successful writers struggle with handwriting or spelling, and yet they have fabulous imaginations, and they are great storytellers. So, we don't want to handicap them by saying, oh well, you wouldn't be good at that, so we aren't even going to give you the chance. Even if a child isn't the sort of person who is going to grow up to be a storyteller or a great reader, it's so important for them, in any career, to be able to express themselves clearly. So, working on a five paragraph essay, learning to write a precis, learning to summarize, helps any person. The practical application of that, one of them, in work is, you get five minutes in the elevator with the president of your company and you've got those five minutes, two minutes, whatever it is, to pitch the project you want to do. Well, if you practiced short writing projects, you know how to organize your thoughts and make your case. So those are a few reasons why I'd say literature is terribly important for our struggling learners.

J -

I absolutely agree. I think it's probably, well, communication skills are the key thing we continue to use. There are so many subjects you hear kids say, well when am I ever going to use this? But every single day, morning till night, we are communicating, and we need to know how to do it well and equip our students how to do, with the tools for doing that as well.

K -

Yes.


J -

So you chose literature based on who your son was and his interests, and also probably your curriculum and all of those good things. Do you have some favorites that you suggest to other parents of struggling learners across the board, or do you recommend that they also choose based on their student's interests?



K -

I have a few particular favorites, but I think mainly you want to work off a child's interest. One woman I spoke to in the west was telling me how her son had no interest in school. I think he was about sixteen at that point, and she just wanted help getting him to finish. And I said what's he like? And what's he like to do? And she said well, he only really cares about being outside and hunting and fishing. I said okay, hunting and fishing magazines. Next writing assignment is going to be a comparison on different rods and, you know, next time he wants a new piece of equipment, he writes you a persuasive paragraph on reasons he needs this, you know. So, communication skills again, but key to your child's interests.

I've been thinking about favorite books lately because my oldest grandchild has gotten into chapter books this year. So one of the things, don't tell anybody, but one of the things she's getting this Christmas is The Toothpaste Millionaire. And I will send you the author's name if you want to put that in the notes because it's a ??? That's it. Gene Meryl wrote that. It's about a elementary school kid who ends up starting a toothpaste manufacturing company. Originally in his kitchen. So it's got some, a little bit of economics and woven into it. But it's charming for...that's probably upper elementary middle elementary.

A simpler, also charming set of books are the Hugh Pine series that's Hugh,

H-U-G-H. Pine is his last name. And he is a porcupine whose name is been mispronounced. That's a series of three charming books by an author whose name is also difficult to spell. Jen Vander...ah, I'll have to send it to you.


J -

Yeah, do that.


K -

But yes, that's a trilogy and Hugh is mistake...it passes himself off as a human by wearing a hat and a coat and learning to walk on his hind paws. And he doesn't talk a lot, but he's up in Maine and most of the old men up there don't talk a lot either, so he passes himself off as an old man.

J -

I love it.

K -

Yes, it's very fanciful. My son, both of my kids liked stories with talking animals and whimsical and humorous so I think Speaking of talking animals that are whimsical and humorous, that my favorite would probably be Winnie the Pooh. Would be a...

J -

That's excellent. Oh yes, it's, and it's just, it's classic, it's sweet. When you think...when people talk about classics a lot of times they think about the big tones. The 500-page things. But Winnie the Pooh is a classic too and all kids should read Winnie the Pooh.

K -

And let me just mention that I wasn't read to...no one read Winnie the Pooh to me when I was a child. So, I got exposed to it as a parent because my husband had been raised on it and I'd heard of the Disney movies. They came out after my time and you may be thinking of Disney movies.

If you're listening, let me encourage you that Disney movies are often based on excellent books and my experience is that the books have been always better. So, look at those books that Walt Disney chose to work from. You got some great sources there.

J -

Absolutely wonderful sources. My boys liked the Beatrix Potter books as well. Peter Rabbit and all of those, and in the same way there's many Peter Rabbit stories and things like that, but I do enjoy Beatrix Potter's particular versions, and others. Mrs. Tiggy Winkle and many of her other stories. So those are, those are some great recommendations. I've been...you know, having grandchildren does give you a new generation worth of books and one series that your granddaughter might like that my granddaughter has introduced me to is the Penderwicks.

K -

Okay, I'll write that one down.

J -

And it's Jeanne Birdsall, I think. But you know, it's probably a little old for your granddaughter, right at the moment, but it won't be for long.

K -

OK, thank you.

J -

So yes. So, is there a question that you often wish that parents would ask you when there's working with a struggling learner? Do you...is there something that they, so many parents don't think about? That is a key question. That's probably an awkward way to phrase it, but...

K -

That's a very interesting one. Well, I know when I always ask them. People usually come to me and say, Kathy, I have a child who, and that usually is followed by, has...is on the autism spectrum or has trouble reading or I don't know what's going on, but I've tried five math curriculum, and nothing is working. They come to me with a problem. And I get that. We all want our kid's problems to get solved. So people come to me. But I always end up asking them what's your child good at? Because I want to start from there. Bill Gates doesn't play pro basketball and neither do I. It's not my strength. But we've gotta turn to the strengths, not just because that's what our kid's good at and we want 'em to experience some success. But if your child is struggling to learn the chances are they may be feeling like my son did when we brought him home after third grade. He was starting to think he was stupid. And he's not.

Doctor Robert Brooks talks about...is a psychologist, an expert on children who struggle, said that we have to find our children's islands of competence. Imagine the Pacific Ocean, and your child is swimming in they're about out of strength. They need an island. And if all your kid is good at is soccer, then we want to cheer for soccer. We want to make sure that we don't take away soccer as a punishment. We want to leave them that because even if you're only good at folding paper airplanes or one quirky strange hobby, that not only nurtures our child's sense of self-worth, but it also gives them practice at perseverance and at learning and all kinds of things. When you asked me when my son was third, fourth, fifth, sixth grade, what he was good at, it was a hard question for me. I mean he was a fun guy and good with people. But I kind of go, Legos. He's really good at Legos. But even then, he wouldn't follow the directions and he was building all these wacky odd multicolored things. But he'd have an elaborate story behind him.

And it was only as he grew older that I could see more abilities. But storytelling was one of them. He went on to college and got an A in screenwriting. So maybe that was where the Legos were headed at that point. So that's what I'd say to parents. The question they should be asking is, what is my child good at?

J -

I love that cause that is one place I start with when I talk to parents too. Tell me about your child. What do they enjoy? Why? Cause it, they're patterns and there was one young man I talked to at a homeschool conference. He was a teenager. He'd reached the age where school didn't feel like it meant anything. He was struggling with a lot of things. His father was concerned that he needed to practice writing and he did. He had, he said I can't write hardly at all. But talking to him. Found out that one of the causes that was most, or the things that interested in most, was advocacy for the right to life. And I sent him over to another booth in the conference hall that talked about how to be gracious in your speech and be persuasive and they came back later and they were thrilled to find that he could practice persuasive writing in the context of his passion. Which, honestly, just finding the thing that is the key for your child to engage. Cause engagement helps. When they're struggling, it has to be interesting at least.

K -

Yes, another thing I find myself explaining to parents a lot is about remediation and accommodation, which are two pieces of education-ese. I had to learn to speak education-ese when I was getting my teaching certificates, and I don't like it. I prefer plain English. Clarity is very important to me. It's probably why we're friends Janice.

J -

Probably so.


K -

But remediation and accommodation are really helpful terms. And I explain it in terms of, back when I broke my elbow when I was a teenager. The remediation was after that healed and the cast came off, they gave me an elastic band and I had to learn to move that elbow again because it wasn't moving very far when the cast came off. And I eventually, through lots of stretching and exercise, regained full extension. So when I grew up and had babies I could pick him up. Otherwise, that wouldn't have happened.

Remediation is strengthening an area of weakness. So, if your child struggles with writing, yes, work on writing. If your child still doesn't have the math facts, yes, work on 'em. But don't let it hijack your whole homeschool day. Give them technology. Let them use dictation software. Let them read into a recorder and you type afterwards, or big brother or sister transcribes. Or let them give oral presentations. Learn to use slides, even though I have mixed feelings about PowerPoint, it's good to know. Work through art. Express themselves different ways. Remediate each day, but those alternative forms are all accommodations. So, remediate is strengthening, the process of strengthening, and accommodations are the workarounds. And both are so important if we want our kids to develop as far as they can.

One little anecdote about the math facts is, yes, I think you should work on them every day for a short time. It should be untimed. But the rest of the math hour let him use a calculator. At least a basic calculator for basic operations, because some of our kids will do great in concepts but have difficulties with computation. I've met three people with Ph.D.'s in STEM areas who have trouble with basic arithmetic but can do mathematics I don't understand. That's way beyond me. And your child may be the same way. Calculation, arithmetic, is not higher math. Higher math is a very creative, interesting field and, so don't write off math for your kid and don't keep the calculator from them all the time.

J -

Right, I really like that because we did have a couple who struggled with math, and I know that I made the mistake early, early on of just trying to plow through and keep us going in the same way, just work on the cotton-pickin' problems. They're not that hard. You know, the amateur homeschool mom thing. And it didn't take terribly long before I realized that was just not the right approach and we did have to, we did have to do some alternate things and find some alternate ways and they...there were, there was one who was more interested once we reached more interesting things. For me, in school, I struggled with math just because it was one of those...I grew up during the self-paced math era where they just put you in a room with assignments for a topic, say, the multiplication of decimals or whatever. And when you finished it, you took a test at the math lab and you got to go do division of decimals. It was all disconnected. It was all boring and, if you passed any of these, you got to go and do harder things, which I thought was a reverse incentive. And it proved to be because I was like, why? I haven't any interest in doing any of those things anyway, so I did not do particularly well in math. But once I hit geometry, where there was something to see and dimension, it made so much sense to me. It was it was a completely different ball game and there was a point to it. So, all that to say, having a point can help kids too.

K -

Yes, and geometry is interesting to mention because that's the first true mathematics kids have. Algebra is the toolkit for higher math, but in geometry, you're solving proofs and I've seen lots of kids. I used to teach math in homeschool groups here in Northern Virginia. And often you'd see kids who just squeaked through algebra get to geometry and go, oh, hey, this is kind of cool. Or they do really well in the reasoning and logic parts that they never thought of as math. They thought math was getting their times tables down.

J -

Right? Oh, I used to buy those books of logic problems that you would get in the drugstores or wherever and work them endlessly. I thought they were fascinating. I would never have related them to math at all. But stepping back for a moment to the remediation and accommodation, I know that a lot of families, you know, with my excellence in literature curriculum, a lot of families have said, oh, my kid can't read that long of a classic, you know. But it's cheating to listen to an audiobook, right? And I have been happy to tell parents that your child needs to hear and understand the story under...you know, and get it however. Reading it is absolutely wonderful, but audiobooks are not cheating.

K -

No, absolutely not. In fact, I remember in college when my roommate and I were taking a Shakespeare class, that we would get the LPs from the library because that was all there was for recording. She actually would listen to Shakespeare at 45 RPMs, that's...

J -

Oh my.

K -

...about 30% higher than regular speed. Imagine about playing a podcast on twice regular time and you get the notion. They all sounded like Donald Duck.


J -

Oh my.

K -

But when you listen to a recording, seriously, if you don't do it at that high speed, the different voices really help. You keep track and bring a play to life, particularly one with older language, like Shakespeare. So, audiobooks are not a cheat. Absolutely not. They're really helpful. In fact, if you want to help your child with the reading while you're getting them the story through audio, another thing you can do is have your child read along with audio and that will help a child who can decode to improve their fluency.


J -

Yes, and get them up to speed, but the whole thing with voices. It does transform the story. And one thing I would recommend with that is to make sure it's a good recording. I know we have libravox.com, or.org, or whatever it is, that offers some great free recordings. Not all of them will give your student a good experience with the book, so do check those things out before you do that. But audiobooks can definitely be a pathway in, and if something was originally written to be transmitted orally, such as, say, the Odyssey, Homer's Odyssey, it should be listened to, because that was how it was originally transmitted. And you can also read it, but even if you're not a person who prefers to listen that could be that listening to it is the way it was meant to be so.

K -

Oh yes, and poetry. You should read poetry aloud even if you're not a fan of poetry. Again, if you're reading something like the Iliad, or ??? I was in a group that read ??? together during this part of the pandemic. And it's just begging to be read aloud, that is if you got a good translation.

J -

Absolutely.

K -

Or English poetry doesn't need to be translated, of course, but you get the rhythms, you get the assonance. There're so many things you enjoy more that you don't get when you read silently.

J -

Yes, and I think that's why so many people feel that the classics are dead. They have been confined to the printed page because we no longer just have casual productions in our city centers or, you know, families don't normally gather around and produce, or just read together, a play for fun as they used to do. We have everything served to us predigested and premade and already nicely professionally performed and we forget how much fun it is to put on a play as a family, or just read a play as a family.

If you think back to the Little Women and all the plays that they would put on and just the funny little amusements that they would concoct from literature.

K -

Yes.

J -

It's a lovely pastime.

K -

And plays and making costumes out of crepe paper. And when my children were younger they would put on presentations for us and now I'm getting to hear about my grandchildren doing that. Another thing is music. We, you know, when my mom was growing up, they'd buy the sheet music, and a lot of people could play a little bit. They'd play some music. They'd listen and sing together. My generation was transistor radios and now...and then it became Walkman, and now it's an iPod and everybody's got their earbuds in their ears and nobody can sing along. And everybody thinks it has to sound like that professional just out of the studio recording and misses the ability to just sit around the campfire with a guitar and sing together.

J -

It's so much fun and you know there's...I just got a resource in the mail. I don't know if you've seen Professor Carol's Hurrah and Hallelujah book that they have just recently published. If you want to revive, yeah. If you want to revive that tradition of singing around the piano or around the campfire, this has all the songs, the folk songs, and story songs and hymns. All the things that you would have heard around the piano and the campfire back in the day. I just, I was so excited to get this and so that would be at Professorcarol.com.

K -

That's a...I'm so glad you mentioned that because that's on my list of things to order this holiday. I'm...be excited to get a copy of that. Carol's, Professor Carol's website is also great for her blog. She has...touches on a lot of things that you and I have talked about. Not just music, but literature, and writing, and a rich family life. Kind of full-time enjoyable education we want our kids to have.

J -

Right, and as we all know, Professor Carroll is an actual professor, so you can rely on what she, what she shares.

So, as we've talked about so much fun stuff. But I was wondering if there are any books that you personally have found impactful in your life. The word impactful. Why am I using that? That have made an impact on you when you were young or something you remember? What is one of your favorite books or a living book or?

K -

Oh, that's a very tough question. But possibly, and this is one everybody's read, the Chronicles of Narnia, particularly the last battle. When the children find out they're going to be where Aslan is and they don't have to go home, he says the term is over. The Holidays have begun, the dream is ended. This is the morning. And that really hit me viscerally as a sense of, okay, this is what heaven's going to be like. It's that place you got to that you want to stay. It's so fabulous.

Lewis also influenced me a lot in his book The Great Divorce, which is as...interesting collection of stories about a group of people who get to visit heaven for a few days and find out they can stay. Only some of them don't want to, for really interesting reasons. And it's so much insight about the human heart in those stories and with some winsomeness and some humor. So, there, I gave you two when you asked for one.



J -

Perfect. Thank you so much. Those are two that I very much love as well so. That's a good thing to know.

So, I think we are almost down to the end. Is there anything special...I have one more question but I want to put it at the end, like a cherry on top of the sundae, but is there anything you would like to say to parents or families who are at a point where they need help or they're worried or whatever?

K -

Certainly. For those who are just thinking about homeschooling or thinking their child has a learning challenge, they don't know what to do, I would encourage you that homeschooling is so adaptable. It's really helpful for a lot of kids. And if you're worried you can't do it, then, that actually encourages me. Because it's the parents who don't think it's hard and think they'll just knock something out and haven't counted the cost that I really worry about. So, if you're a little worried then I'm less worried. I am happy to talk with families and all of our kids are such unique individuals. And when our kids struggle to learn, there's this mix of different challenges and different successes, so I'd be happy to talk with parents individually.

And I think the other thing I'd say is you...parents may not realize how hard things are for your child, or you may feel guilty because you've just figured it out. And I want to encourage you that we can start over. And that we can help build our children's sense of self-respect and that your kids can go farther than you can imagine.

J -

I really love that and I appreciate you offering that encouragement. Because, as parents, we do need that moment of do-over sometimes, that moment of saying to your child, I'm so sorry, I just didn't know. So.


K -

Exactly.

J -

Very much appreciate that. Okay, so for our very last question I'd love to know, what is the book you think every child should own?

K -

You know, Janice, I was thinking about that again before we started this. She asked me that weeks ago, and this afternoon, before the call I thought, oh, what am I gonna say? Cause it's...it's sort of like if you asked me to look at my body and pick out a favorite capillary, Janice, it's like I can't pick just one. Oh my, that's so hard. Maybe Winnie the Pooh. As I mentioned earlier. And it really depends so much on the age. Maybe even Mother Goose.



J -

Oh, Mother Goose is such a lovely one too. Either one. How about for older kids? Do you have...is there a book you would almost always give a teenager?

K -

It depends a lot on the teen. Sophie's World, perhaps, by Justine Gardner, and it's Norwegian. They'll either love it or hate it.

J -

Right. Exactly.

K -

My family's into lots of science fiction and fantasy. So, there are many I like there. No, I think there's too many. If I go on, I won't stop.

J -

That sounds wonderful. I've enjoyed talking with you so much and I look forward to being able to be with you in person again at some point.

K -

Thank you for having me, Janice. It's a treat to be here and I appreciate it.

J -

For our listeners, I hope you've enjoyed learning more about working with your struggling learners and I hope you're feeling encouraged and equipped as well. You can connect with Kathy at learndifferently.com and with me, [email protected] We offer homeschool help at our websites and we hope you'll stop by for a visit. Thank you for listening and goodbye for now.



Wendy -

Thank you for joining us this week on the Homeschool Solutions Show. As always, you can find show notes and links to all the resources mentioned at homeschooling.mom. I hope you'll take a moment to subscribe to the podcast, and if it was especially meaningful to you, share it with your friends via email or social media. This is just another way we can all encourage and love and support one another.

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