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, there is a wealth of resources available online through free websites. With the growing number of educational websites, students who live in such areas can now access a wide variety of tools, specialized information, and helpful hints for working with their struggling child. One great example of a website to explore is ReadWriteThink, a website that provides "resources in reading and language arts instruction through free, Internet-based content." Here you can find 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 child as a fan of comic books and superheroes. If you child enjoys these creative activities, you may also want to introduce them to Kerpoof, which allows children to create their own stories, animations, videos, and comics. Using these tools, your child can create stories of their 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 child'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 child to use technology tools and artwork to tell stories may help their build up his reading and writing skills.
- Learning Ally: The site offers over 100 searchable audiobooks that can be filtered by grad level, subject, or year.
- Do2Learn: Students with special needs learn academic and life skills through songs, games, and activities.
- PBS Kids: Interactive activities and games to teach reading skills.
- Raising Readers: free games and suggested resources for parents.
- International Children’s Digital Library: online library of children’s books.
You may also want to explore the many free, online course providers now available to students of all ages and needs. For example, Khan Academy offers all online courses and instruction in traditional subject areas such as math, science, and English Language Arts, as well as other subject such as computer programming and art history. It is especially good for students with disabilities since the lessons are self-paced, allowing the student to take as much as time as they need to grasp the concept. If you child is more engaged with iPhone and handheld games, check out the many educational apps now available in the iTunes and Android store. To get started, explore the suggested resources on Children with Special Needs and their related resources.
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.