Homeschooling a special needs child is challenging. There aren’t many curriculums written to be used by parents to teach kids with learning disabilities. My goal with Five Senses Literature Lessons is to change that. All of my programs go the distance to give you ways to adapt them to work for kids who have learning differences and challenges.
The new Foundations & Fundamentals program was written to introduce letters in a way that would help children who are struggling with reading or writing skills. This means we wrote the program to help not only typical kids, but those who have signs of dyslexia or dysgraphia.
Learning Letters The Five Senses Way
Whether you believe your child has those or just needs a little help learning to read and write, this program is a great choice. Why? Before teaching the child to write the letters, you teach them to draw shapes. Drawing those shapes helps the child learn the strokes they will need for handwriting. You then introduce writing letters in a logical way, going from easier to hardest, based on the shape and strokes in the letter. You will not only make the letters on paper in this program, but you make your own set of letter pieces to build them. And there are tons of ideas for making the letters in a variety of multi-sensory ways to help your child form a deeper understanding of how letters are made so that they will be better able to write them. At the same time, your child learns the sound each letter makes and works on making connections in literature and poetry, presented in nursery rhymes.
This set of skills creates a basis for learning to read. The Foundations & Fundamentals program goes further by adding activities for working on colors, shapes, and early math skills. The books introduce high-interest topics that children not only enjoy but cover a wide range of science and social studies topics. We capped off the program by providing tons of recipes and food ideas, to make these lessons as multisensory as possible.
Helping Children Who Need Extra Help
Foundations & Fundamentals also has a student workbook to use to help your child gain all these skills. It comes in both a right-handed and left-handed version because left-handed children will benefit from learning to make some of the letters differently. We named the right-handed version Tangerine, and the left-handed version Apricot, as a fun way to tie into the color and food theme of our Orange level. But when we were done with those, we realized that those were not going to accommodate all children. So, we started working on our newest workbook: Pumpkin.
When I was a little girl, my dad called me Pumpkin as a pet name. So the word holds a special place in my heart. Our new Pumpkin workbook is a passion project for me because I wrote it for some very special children in my life.
Pumpkin is designed to work for kids who have more special needs. For example, children with cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injuries, or those with other complex issues who may not be prepared to start writing 1” letters like are taught in Tangerine and Apricot, but want to learn. Pumpkin is designed to help those children.
The Pumpkin workbook has an additional 40 worksheets more than Tangerine and Apricot. Why? Because you get twice as many pages for learning letters and shapes! We added pages to make both the shapes and letters the size of a full sheet of paper. These larger shapes and letters give your child a chance to trace and draw with larger, gross motor muscles which are usually easier to control than the fine motor muscles of the fingers. There are also shapes and letters worksheets in a smaller size, to help your child work towards more typical handwriting. But those are still larger than the handwriting pages goal for our other workbooks. Laminate the pages and let your child do them as much as needed for them to get the hang of it!
Building a Solid Foundation
Some children may complete Pumpkin and benefit from repeating Fundamentals & Foundations with one of the other workbooks, as their fine motor skills improve. All too often, kids are rushed along and not given enough time to really develop good handwriting and build the foundation of skills they need. I believe in the value of letting children spend the time they need, and providing quality educational materials that make learning fun. This way, you can repeat the entire program, for children who need the repetition. In my experience, kids are happy when they are told they get to repeat a program that has them make cookies and eat pie.
About the Author
Laura Sowdon, OTR/L is an occupational therapist, writer, speaker, educator and creator of the Five Senses Literature Lessons homeschool curriculum. She has worked as an occupational therapist with children in public and private schools, as well as private practice. Laura has taught and managed homeschool co-ops as well as homeschooling her own three children. Laura is dedicated to the idea of educating children at a pace that aligns with brain and physical development milestones and respects neurodiversity in all its forms.