When Health Disabilities Change Curriculum


I just got done planning the week
with the curriculum we’ll be trying out – and I’m pretty excited.

But first – A lil Story

When the boys were little – we had many families with older students who passed down just the right resource at the right time. As they entered upper elementary we were with a huge group of homeschoolers and we all frequented a used curriculum store. Again, the right resource was always on the shelf when I came in looking to fill a need. For High School the Schoolhouse Review Crew has been there for us with resources at just the right time.

I don’t often give the details of what we are struggling with on the blog – as the boys are now teens – and they are not too excited about sharing it.  But I’d like to step out and chat about a learning difficulty we’ve been having and see if anyone identifies.

Reading Comprehension. Listening Comprehension. Any Comprehension.

Is the topic boring? Is the book interesting? Is he paying attention? Is he falling asleep? Is he hormonal? Is he 15? Is he just not trying? Should the book change to meet an interest? Should I sing and dance while reading it out loud? Should there be more entertainment like live fireworks during speaking events, like church?

He will read a passage, or a few pages, or a sentence, or a word, and not be able to describe – at all – what was read.  He’ll listen to a talk, even a charismatic outgoing funny talk with pictures and video clips and music – nothing. He couldn’t tell you if the talk was about China or Money or Chinese Money. He can’t tell you 3 minutes after practice if there is a game tomorrow, or if there is who he is playing, or what time they just told him to show up.

I’ve changed books. I’ve switched curriculums. I’ve ‘dumbed down’ the history texts. I’ve lessened the load. I’ve read it for him, to him, and listened to him read to me. Still the same results. This goes for topics that he is wildly interested in.

I know, because the last few weeks we’ve gone back to our relaxed Charlotte Mason, delight directed, project driven ways – almost to unschooling. It hasn’t helped.

I think we’ve picked up some understanding
and ways to help him this week:

With the Schoolhouse Review Crew – we have to research the vendor and the product in depth before we ever fill out the interest form asking to be on the team for the product. This past week I’ve been watching videos from ForBrain.Com. The short of it is, during the learning how it works process, they talked about head injuries.

The head injury can change the way a person hears, either through the air or through a bone by his ear. We were learning how reading 20 minutes out loud a day with their headphone device will help him. You can click on the site and check out the youtube videos.

Which got me to thinking of the couple of times he has been in the ER for concussions this year. Kid likes to fall out of trees and get knocked in the head with surf boards. What’s a mom to do?

The second piece of the puzzle came this week with a two day heat scorcher on the coast. After a tummy bug during spring break, allergies that went into sinus infections, and dehydration for surf fishing in the sun – he got severely dehydrated.

Jon has Tachycardia – which means he has a high resting heart rate. We’ve been to more doctors appointments than I care to chat about over the last year, but what it’s come down to is that his environment strongly affects how he feels and responds.  If he gets dehydrated, his heart rate can rise 20-30 points. He gets foggy brain. His blood pressure drops, which makes him light headed when he sits or stands up until his body adjusts.  If we stay on top of nutrition, water, exercise, rest and environment – he does really well. He is cleared to play sports, and he has more good days than bad.

So between the Tachycardia foggy brain, and his two concussions – I really paid close attention to the ForBrain.Com videos.

And wouldn’t you know it? Our resources changed this month. We are just coming off the Writers in Residence review, and I was thinking the last two days to take a break and keep focusing on memory and reading comprehension.


We’ll keep going through Math – U – See Algebra 1.

For Memory – we are revisiting Poetry Memorization – Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization, a Mastery Learning Approach from Institute for Excellence in Writing.  We were offered their new revised program, and so far I really like it. Mostly – for level five, it is printed out, and the book seems easier to follow. I’ll chat about the program another time, but the idea is that memory is a muscle that needs a good constant solid workout.  Right now we are working on Casey at Bat.

For Science we are finished with SDA, Standard Deviants Accelerate and are moving forward to Astronomy with Memoria Press.  We like their simple workbooks for learning small nuggets every day, always building.

A new to me program is Max Scholar. Jon was going to start today, but the house is all a flutter with Prom preparations. With an intro placement test, it will help him with reading, vocabulary and English usage with age/level appropriate texts, he’ll read, and then create outlines of what he just read along with different markings in the text. I’ve watched the intro videos and am excited to see how it goes. It almost feels like a video interactive  supplement to IEW’s Structured Writing Intensive that we follow.

And we are plugging along with US History reading about Meriwether Lewis right now.

So if we were chosen for the ForBrain system – he could do any of these, especially the reading with Max Scholar or Meriwether Lewis once a day. The program also shared that if you need to memorize a large text, you could use it 3 times a day for 20 minutes to knock it out.

I was going to write an article about lesson planning with new curriculum- but this reading comprehension in high school struggle came out instead. But I’ll share this. I had sat down with all of the manuals and had one pencil by the computer. I mentioned my need for pens. Hubby hands me this 15 pack for a dollar blue pen. Um. No.


Real planning and creativity requires many colors, micron pens, frixon fine points that allow for mistakes like not noticing that Sunday will be May – What?

And, incase you were worried – 3 liters of IV solution later, and Jon is back to his normal self. He played the entire game last night, and has been out with friends today. He had been flat on his back the past four days, and sick since Spring break. Water. Drink up folks.

About +Angie Wright

The Transparent Thoughts of an Unschooling Family of Boys - Answering the question - What DO you DO all day?
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