This year I decided at the last minute to order Build Your Library Grade 8’s curriculum for my youngest son who is an identified 2E student. I knew before I purchased the curriculum that I would not be able to use it as it is written because of his unique learning style and because of his learning struggles, but that didn’t stop me from getting it. The Grade 8 core was so intriguing to me, something that I thought he would really enjoy, that I eagerly scooped it up as soon as it came out.
Build Your Library Grade 8 covers the history of science. Here is the description from the Build your Library Website –
“It’s time for a whirlwind tour through world history, with a twist. This year, your child will be studying World History through the lens of science. Using Joy Hakim’s excellent Story of Science series, you will follow the trail of scientific thought and discovery from the ancient Sumerians through Modern day. You’ll conduct experiments from the minds of some of the greatest scientists in history and learn how those scientists changed the world with their ideas. The science covered this year is Astronomy, Chemistry and Physics.”
I thought for sure that my history phobic student would enjoy this study of history because it was different and unique. He wasn’t as enthusiastic about it as I was. I wasn’t deterred in my determination to make this work however, and this week we have started slowly working through the program. I thought I would share how I am modifying this for my student in hopes that it will help someone else out there.
First of all I want to address the fact that we are even using a curriculum. Many homeschoolers with twice-exceptional students allow their children to follow their own passions because it is easier than struggling to get the work done. I get that, and I do follow that train of thought to a degree. The boy definitely has more free time for his own passions than more traditionally schooled students. I do feel though that adding in some formal lessons helps us stay on track and keeps him from being bored which is something that we have been struggling with lately. Also having a curriculum makes it easier for me because I am not a planner at all. I need something to work off or I get lost very quickly.
So how do I go about making a curriculum a better fit my child?
- Cutting down the amount of material covered over the year – BYOL Grade 8 has a fully scheduled 5 days a week/36 weeks plan. There is no way he and I will be able to cover all that material. I have decided to split the curriculum up over two years, and for now, I am planning to go through week 14 or 15. This leaves weeks 16 through 36 for next year. By dividing this study I am taking a great deal of stress off of us to get it done, and I am allowing us to work through everything at a pace that will give him extra time to do the work and grasp the concepts.
- Dropping parts of the curriculum that will not work – Narration/copywork is out. A paper timeline is out. Vocabulary study is out. These activities just do not work for this boy, and there is no reason to waste time and inflict stress on either of us trying to get it done. If you know something doesn’t work for your child do not hesitate to drop it. There are many ways to learn a concept. The ones suggested in a curriculum are just that, a suggestion. Take it or leave it as needed.
- Adjusting ways of learning – Many of the books listed in BYL Grade 8 are available as audiobooks. We will most likely listen to these books as opposed to reading them. My son loves audiobooks, and he absorbs the material when he receives it this way. He will also be using his iPad to make a timeline. We found out last year that making a timeline on his iPad is easier for him and allows him to use his creativity. He loves looking for images on the internet for his timeline and spends a good deal of time doing it. I am also changing a few of the readers (not too many though because this core has some wonderful books scheduled) to match his taste and reading level. These are all easy adjustments to make but ones that go a long way in making for a successful year.
- Working through the study as partners – The best way to ensure a successful course of study is to commit to learning side-by-side. Although there are many areas where my son soars on his own, the academic study of history and science is not one of them. To keep him invested in the work I have to be invested. If I want him to make connections and to apply what he has learned I need to lead him to those discoveries. Together we will work through the labs, read/or listen to the books, watch the documentaries that are scheduled, and discuss, discuss, discuss.
- Be flexible – There are days when my son is just not able to concentrate. There are days when we are too busy with other activities. There are days when he is too focused on writing, animation, art, or game making. It is not always worth it to interrupt his deep concentration when he is involved in a project, nor is it easy to always get to our work when we are busy doing other things. The best thing I can do then is to be flexible. Allow for an off day now and then, plan to work longer or shorter sometimes, be willing to drop a book or activity that is not working. Flexibility is key to homeschooling 2E students.
A few other ideas to help your child succeed: BYL Grade 8 tells you what the main idea is each day. I use this to start our work everyday. Together we go over the key idea, so that he and I both know what we should be learning. The guide also schedules documentaries and hands-on activities which is great for a twice-exceptional kid. Some days we will watch only documentaries, some days we will only do hands-on activities. There are many different ways to learn, so never feel like you aren’t covering enough if you skip the more traditional book work. One last thing I do is try not to worry too much about his output. It really is enough for me to know he is absorbing and making new connections.
Hopefully these ideas will help someone out there. They could easily be applied to any curriculum or homeschool study you take on with your 2E student.
And for more information on BYL’s Grade 8 year please see this sample – G8_History_of_Science_Sample_week.