Hello! This blog is about my daughter Hailey (currently 12 years old) and her experiences living with auditory processing disorder. Auditory Processing Disorder is Hailey's primary issue, however she has also been given the labels Sensory Processing Disorder, Dyslexia, Visual Processing Disorder, Mixed Expressive Receptive Language Disorder and Phonology Disorder at various points in her life.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Curriculum in the Homeschool: What We Have Used for Our APD Daughter for Language Arts

Curriculum is one of those hard questions for many homeschoolers.  Some choose not to use a curriculum, some choose to use a boxed set by one company for all the subjects, some choose different ones for each subjects, some pick and choose different resources as needed/desired, and some make up their own.

There are paper products like hardback books and workbooks and teacher's guides.  There are online products such as websites that have all the subjects or just one of the subjects.  There are hands-on materials such math manipulatives and art and science projects.  There are board games and videos and computer games.  There are real world resources like the grocery store, the animal shelter, and the local farm.  There are museums and re-enactment places and events.  So, the resources are there and homeschoolers are free to be as creative with them as we desire.

So when most people ask about curriculum, what they are wanting is usually the paper and pencil type workbooks or computer programs/websites for the skills such as reading, writing, and mathematics.

When people ask me for advice, I can tell them what I have used and why.  However, it might not be the best fit for their child.  So my first and foremost best advice is to get to know your child and what types of activities and presentation styles work best for him or her.  Some kids need to actually touch things like math manipulatives.  Some kids need a visual of the big picture while others want it step-by-step and don't confuse them with too much at once.  All kids with APD are going to need it to not be only auditory.

So here are some of the Language Arts materials/resources I have used with my sweet girl Hailey along the way:

Phonics and Early Readers:
We went to a reading specialist and Hailey was taught using the Lindamood Bell LiPS program* with a combined Orton/Gillingham approach.  There we were introduced to the Educators Publishing Service Primary Phonics readers.  They are interesting for readers (most are horribly boring and some don't even make sense) and they build on the skills very sequentially and with lots of repetition.  I actually used them for all three of my kids.

If you need direct instruction in how to teach phonics, I would look into a book that teaches you the parent how to teach phonics.  Also, there are websites that do a good job with teaching phonics such as Time 4 Learning; we did some Time 4 Learning and it presents phonics in a very easy to understand and fun way for younger kids.  There are also other great websites and programs out there for phonics, but I haven't personally used them.

There are also all sorts of phonemic awareness games you can play with your children.  Look for a book of suggestions geared toward the parent/teacher and you will soon realize how easy it is to incorporate these into everyday life.  An example would be going to the grocery store and looking for produce that start with /b/ sound or cutting out pictures from a magazine of /b/ sounds or rhyming words for the fun of it as a car game, etc.

Oh yes, one last thing I do not want to forget.  With having APD (auditory processing disorder), it really helped Hailey early on to use a lot of tactile, movement, and visuals for learning.  So she had a baking sheet with sand in it to draw letters in and she would tap the letters to sight words on her arms and write in big letters in the air and walk out words by each step being a new letter.  She would write letters and draw them into pictures as ways to remember them like an M can become a mountain. These multi-sensory additions really made the learning stick in her memory much better. I've seen some books online that teach multi-sensory approaches to phonics and reading, so those would probably have a lot of good suggestions.  When I have time in the future, I will try to read some and see if I can make a suggestion of one in particular I like.

(Rhyming was always an impossibility for Hailey with her APD and she still struggles with it to some extent even though she reads very well now.  So don't worry if they can't do some particular skill; they may not need to.)

Just Past Early Readers: 
I gave Hailey a combination of the bookstore early readers like Step Into Reading and DK Readers. She loved being able to pick out her own books and there were a variety of levels and subjects.  As a foresight, the DK Readers are a little harder than the Step Into Reading, so your child may be at a level 4 Step Into Reading and only a level 3 in DK Readers.  Don't worry about the level written on the books and what grade they are supposed to be for; just look for ones that your child can read without too much difficulty.

If comprehension is proving to be difficult, check out my post about comprehension strategies here: http://apdhailey.blogspot.com/2013/06/some-reading-comprehension-strategies-i.html

More Reading and Comprehension:
Then Hailey moved into some comprehension workbooks called Early Reading Comprehension in Varied Subject Matter by Jane Ervin; these have passages to read and then questions about the passage such as main idea, details, vocabulary, and writing about it.  She loved these workbooks and felt a real sense of accomplishment from doing them.

From there, she moved to the Reading Comprehension in Varied Subject Matter by Jane Ervin which are a higher level of the same thing but with more in-depth questions like going beyond the facts, true/false, writer's style and techniques, etc.

Novels have not been something Hailey has been able to accomplish on her own yet.  The length is just too long for her as she starts to feel overwhelmed and gets frustrated.  She has read entire series of graphic novels and we have read novels together - her and I - in which we take turns reading a chapter (or if she is feeling too overwhelmed to read, then I just read) and we stop and discuss them along the way.

I have also used a lot of movies as an introduction to great works of literature.  They don't build her reading skills, but they do build her literary base to some extent.  At least she knows the basic storylines and I think that will be helpful in her future.  Besides, she loves watching them.

Obviously a child's vocabulary is developing all the time and the influence comes in many, many ways: language used in the house, language on movies and television, language in the reading, language of friends, etc.  So I have always tried to just push the limits of Hailey's vocabulary by using a little more complicated vocabulary at home as fit the circumstances and she was able to understand.  With her APD (auditory processing disorder), I have to be careful to integrate the new vocabulary slowly and appropriately, or she would be overwhelmed.

Just recently, at Hailey's request, she started in a series called Wordly Wise 3000 by Educators Publishing Service to build her vocabulary and it also has reading comprehension passages as well as word study with the vocabulary and things like synonyms, antonyms, prefixes, suffixes, Latin roots, etc.  This work is to help prepare her for college and specifically the college placement exam, as she wants to attend community college as a high schooler.

Punctuation and Grammar:
With punctuation, I opted to teach it along with the reading and writing.  So when we came to a period in reading, I explained the use of it. Then when we came to an exclamation point or quotation marks, etc. we read the piece appropriately using those punctuation marks as our cues.  In her writing, when I edit it, I point out the need for or appropriate use of punctuation.

I've done grammar pretty much the same way for the basics: nouns, verbs, pronouns, adverbs, adjectives.  I have not taught her beyond those yet.  However, with her desire to attend college so soon, we have started to review the basics and learn the more advanced like prepositional phrases, etc.  I actually bought her Schoolhouse Rock  to watch and she is enjoying those.  I also have a workbook called Premium Education Series Language Arts which focuses on grammar and punctuation.

For writing, I've always let Hailey write what she wants to write.  She also writes at the end of those reading comprehension books she likes to do.

When she was little, she mostly drew pictures as her way of "writing".  She made stories out of a series of pictures.  Then sometimes she would add words or sentences here and there and I would help her as needed.

Now when she writes, she asks me for help in spelling as needed and then to look it over and edit it for her; so we do that together and I am careful to not be too picky. I just basically  look for spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes. If she has none, then I might suggest ways to enhance it such as adding more descriptive words, etc. Just recently, she has started asking me to write things for her to correct; so I write things with incorrect spelling, punctuation, capitalization, etc and she finds my mistakes.  She loves doing this! It has become like a game for her.


With all that said, I do not make Hailey do work in her workbooks every day.  She is very self-motivated and wants to do them, but if she is having a tough day or we are having a lot to do that day, then I tell her that we should take a break.  She will get overwhelmed easily and she pushes herself way too hard sometimes. I am the one who keeps reminding her that there is no hurry and she needs to monitor her energy and stress levels, etc., because she will overdue it and wear herself out.  So you know your child with APD (auditory processing disorder) and you will have to figure out what he/she needs as far as motivation/limit setting.  Please do remember, though, that people with APD can get mentally fatigued very easily due to the auditory processing demands and so if your child needs a break, give it to her/him.  Keep the work down to a timeframe that is manageable for your child to not get stressed out and if you see her/him getting stressed out, then move to something comforting and destressing; there really is no hurry to learn any particular thing at any particular time.

As this is so long already, I will write what materials we have used for mathematics in another post. My plan is to accomplish the mathematics post tomorrow.

*  The Lindamood Bell LiPS program is a program that incorporates the look and feel of the lips, tongue, and mouth when producing sounds.  This was the only way Hailey was able to differentiate between sounds such as /b/ and /p/ that sounds alike to her.  Here is a link to the post I wrote about her difficulties in phonemic awareness and how we found the LiPS program to be the only thing that helped her: http://apdhailey.blogspot.com/2013/01/phonemic-awareness-for-my-child-with.html


  1. A language arts program that made SUCH a difference for our son who had APD was Time4Learning. Something about the combination of visual multimedia lessons, auditory feedback, and the interactive way students are asked to participate with the content was absolutely the key for him. We used some supplemental phonics stuff because he also had dyslexia, but as far as an overall understanding of language arts, Time4Learning was a lifesaver for him!

    1. That's great. We liked Time4Learning for many things too.

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