Where to Begin with Older Students — Is It Too Late?


From Cheryl Swope | November 23, 2016 | For Special Needs

This intriguing question received over 2,400 views on our Simply Classical forum in two weeks!

“Momof5″ begins … “I am wondering where to start with older children with various learning disabilities (possible dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, slow working memory and slow processing) and diagnoses (one ADHD, other high functioning autism, both in early teens).” She laments that over the years they have spent so much time on remediation and other therapies that they have never really gotten to explore more of the beautiful aspects of a classical education.

“I need ideas of how to start with older students who never had those building blocks. Is this even possible?.”

Keep reading for the responses ….

Here are some general tips for teaching older students who lack the foundation of essential skills and knowledge, yet who can benefit from a classical education:

1. Build on Interests

Discover the older student’s favorites, – such as art, music, physical fitness, or science – and save these until the end of the day. Spend as much time as possible on these. Enrich these areas with field trips to art museums, the symphony, unique hiking trails, or science exhibits. Encourage interests and talents within classical education.

2. Schedule Hard Work First

Utilize morning hours to devour necessary “vegetables” of oral reading fluency, reading comprehension, writing skills, and arithmetic. Then enjoy the afternoon “desserts” by exploring Greek myths, history read-alouds, and Christian studies together.

3. Be Bold in the Challenge

If your student came from boring or babyish studies, embrace the challenge of learning subjects of substance and lasting value, such as Latin, literature, and logic. Challenge your student’s mind, character, and imagination with the riches of real, classical studies.

4. Do Not Settle for Pop Culture: Open Literary Doors

In Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education, we provide long book lists for students between 4th– and 9th-grade reading (or listening) levels. My son gave recommendations especially for boys; my daughter for girls. Explore these! Do not allow your older student to languish in the shallowness of competing pulls on his time.

5. Begin!

The future might seem daunting, but begin immediately anyway. Any step toward redeeming his education is a step in the right direction. We can help: ClassicalNeeds.com for resources, SimplyClassical.com for conversations and community.


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