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Homeschooling

The following are questions and answers from Dr. Tracy Gray on this topic.

What technology options are available for home schooled children?

Homeschooling parents have to be creative and persistent in their search for funding for AT. Get some ideas in Finding Alternative Sources for Funding for Assistive Technology. You can also try out equipment, software, adaptive devices and telecommunications systems at local AT Centers before you purchase. Find those AT lending libraries through the national registries of the AT Alliance or through the National AT Technical Assistance Partnership.

What online resources are available for a student in a rural area without access to special education services?

Finding help for your child can be difficult if you live in remote or rural areas without access to specialists. However, with the number of resources available online, people who live in such areas can now access a wide variety of tools, specialized information, and helpful hints for working with their struggling child. For example, to begin with, you might check out ReadWriteThink, a website that provides "resources in reading and language arts instruction through free, Internet-based content." Here you can find a wealth of information on the best ways to teach reading and writing, as well as helpful tools and resources. One of these online tools, a comic strip creator, may appeal to your son as a fan of comic books and superheroes. If he enjoys the simple creation of a comic strip, you may also want to introduce him to Kerpoof, which allows children to create their own stories, animations, videos, and comics. Using these tools, your son can create stories of his own, perhaps with some help from you for some of the writing. It is possible that the high interest of creating his own comic strip may encourage him to try writing more. Such activities take advantage of your son's interests and help him engage in telling and writing stories; studies have shown that storytelling is the first step in learning to read and write, so encouraging your son to use technology tools and artwork to tell stories may help him build up his reading and writing skills.

It is also important that your son get plenty of practice in the basics of reading. A fun way to do this is through the use of online games that teach reading skills. PBS Kids has a number of activities that your son may find engaging. Check out the Raising Readers project for free games and suggested resources for parents. Check out the many beautiful children's books online at the International Children's Digital Library. Finally, you might consider purchasing audio books so your son can hear books read aloud while following along with the text. Audio books can also expose him to 'reading' books above his current reading level.

Check out this article for more suggestions about using technology to teach reading: Learning to Read with Multimedia Materials

How can I help my homeschooled daughter who has trouble with comprehension?

You mentioned that your daughter retains information from TV shows and comic books, so you may want to consider using multimedia to help your daughter learn new material. Multimedia tools should not replace the instruction you give your daughter, but they can be used to enhance and supplement lessons. For example, a wide variety of science documentaries are available online; perhaps you could find a short program that illustrates a point you are trying to teach.

PBS frequently makes specials and short documentaries available on their website, so you could try searching there for relevant material. Hulu, a website where you can watch full episodes of TV shows online, has episodes of NOVA, National Geographic and other educational programming available. Hulu also has programming on current events, politics and other topics that you may find useful. You can also find a number of suggestions for using multimedia to teach different topics in CITEd's series of articles on Multimedia Technologies.

Another option is to use online tools for visual storytelling. You could have your daughter create a comic to illustrate a concept she's learning, or use images and photos found online to create a slideshow. ReadWriteThink has a very basic comic creator available that your daughter could use to make simple comic strips.

She could also try using a free animation creation website such as Kerpoof to create her own short animated movies to demonstrate understanding of a topic. You can also find a number of suggestions for visual storytelling in Alan Levine's wiki post 50+ Web 2.0 Ways to Tell a Story. If you discover that your daughter really enjoys creating her own comics and multimedia, you may consider purchasing software such as HyperStudio.

Note from LD OnLine: Visit Dr. Silver's Home Schooling section to see a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist's response to the same question.

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