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Thursday, June 16, 2011

What Is The Back Door Method?

We have had quite a discussion from my post here, and Frankity asked what I meant by "going through the back door", when teaching our supposedly unteachable son. :)

I figured my answer was so long, I may as well make it a post. :)

I have to start with me. :)
I struggled with school. I was not the worst student, but it took great effort to do well, and reading was never for pleasure with me.  I actually HATED reading and never could understand why anybody would want to.  You see, I had horrible comprehension. I would read phonetically, and oral reading was quite good...But understanding what I read never connected. Therefore, studying a text book was awful. It took hours to complete homework assignments and studying for tests was just as hard.
I was frustrated beyond words.
When I was a child I checked "Little Women" out of the library several times, but never read it. I never read "Little House on the Prairie", even though I loved the ideas of the books.  I could read them... I just couldn't comprehend them.
Fast forward NOT TOO FAR.... :)

I married at 18, and had my first son at 20.... So I was still a bit of a kid.  Our second son came at 22,  3rd son at 23 and 4th son at 24..... I loved playing with them. And playing included a LOT of crawling.
I never crawled as a baby, I had always known this....but I never connected my not being able to comprehend with left brain right brain engagement. I didn't know about that yet. :)

What happened was I played with my boys and crawled all the time on the floor for about 5 years. LOL
About 3 years into crawling, all of the sudden, I had this insatiable desire to READ! Everything I read was fascinating to me and I couldn't get enough of it.  I had never felt that way before.
I loved reading factual articles and scientific articles, especially medical things, since my son had so many  issues.
What I found one day was a study on left brain right brain connection and the importance of crawling in regards to reading.  The study took adults and had them crawl 20 minutes a day for several months and then gauged their reading improvement.  All of them improved slightly....
I connected that since I was crawling probably 2 hours a day ( we loved crawl races) for several years, the pathways from left brain, right brain made connections that during that time everybody thought were unable to develop, because I was an adult.

Tim had learned to crawl correctly. I made sure of that.  But his brain still had damaged areas.  All I did was take him back to the beginning and encourage him.  We purchased some OLDER materials that were used in the 1800's.  (McGuffy's Readers)
I knew he was very oral, so we did a lot of oral learning.  He would read a sentence and I would read a sentence.
I did not grade his work at all. No tests!  He would stress out on this style of rote and scoring, and would shut down.  He would not be able to get anything out of his head onto paper when stressed.

In a relaxed environment, I pushed him to make himself learn.  He became VERY self disciplined and was so excited when reading came just 3 months after we began. He also covered 2 years of math in one summer.
He would write a paper and turn it in, thinking he had written something fabulous.... Every sentence, EVERY SENTENCE had maybe 2 or 3 words and everything else was missing.  So we would sit down and go sentence by sentence...
"What did you think you wrote?"  He would tell me and I would write it, then he would copy it.
We did this for a few years.  Then, like magic, his brain started filling in the words.
On days where he would wake up and forget everything he ever learned in his life, and it happened several times a month.... we would go for a drive and do art work. This helped the right brain get the exercise it needed and reconnect with the left. By the time afternoon rolled around.... he was back to normal.
I also had him rewrite every lesson in every McGuffy Reader in his OWN words. They are designed in shorter lessons with numbered paragraphs. This built his vocabulary. I read Real books to him and he illustrated as I read.  (all the boys did this)
And then, we would WATCH A MOVIE about a book we were GOING to read, so he could get the characters down, BEFORE reading.... and then read the book.
Many times in school they have the kids read the book and THEN watch the movie. For Tim, and Marc, they needed it to be the opposite.
For mathematics, we used Saxon, which is a repeat, repeat, repeat method, building on concepts. We also used Math U SEE blocks so he could visually see his math.  It really helped him understand why larger numbers in fractions are actually smaller in value.

The only tests I gave him, were the state basic skills test when we started teaching at home. He was in the 3 percentile. When he took the 12th grade test, he scored in the 88 percentile.

Our back door, was to keep working both sides of his brain to cause them to connect. It was to stay away from testing, and use real life books, instead of all text books.  It was to teach him orally, in as many subjects as possible, until his reading skills caught up.  And it was to give him the confidence that HE HAD TO WORK HARDER THAN ANYBODY ELSE if he wanted to compete.  

His HARD WORK AND PERSEVERANCE payed off. He literally studied from 6:30 a.m. until about 7:00 p.m. EVERY DAY.... and he was joyful about it.  He was the first handicapped, homeschooler to attend the local college. They didn't quite know what to do with us, when I told them he needed to have extra time for tests, and he was going to college for CREDIT, like everybody else.
I was asked, "Where is his psychological report?"  I went home and wrote a paper that said, "Tim is well adjusted. " I had it notorized and turned it back in, with a copy of the law that says, A home school is considered a Private School.  I was the administrator. :) Boy was that lady mad! LOL

Tim took 7 years to graduate instead of 5. He went to Jr. College first, then University. He got a scholarship.  Taking upper level teaching classes was very interesting for him, as he was a former special ed student. LOL
When he would tell them he couldn't read at 11, they were shocked.

I believe that all the left brain, right brain stimulation.... and the exercising one side and then the other helped him make the neural connections he needed to learn.  He also worked HARD.
He tells his students now....(he teaches special ed)  You can do it... You just have to work really hard!


Kelly said...

What a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing.

I linked back to your blog tonight in a post I wrote and gave you credit for "bananas". I started that with my daughter today when she was sassy and it was amazing the response.

Thank you so much for your free education!!! :) Can't believe after several years of reading blogs I have just now started reading yours.

Christie M said...

Kelly, I'm glad it worked for you. :)
We have had some really good responses too. :)

Using signals is always helpful. We did a lot of this with Anna when she was little. (she has been home over 7 years) She had a lot of sassiness in her. :)
She is so funny. She totally understands Alli. She told me yesterday, I used to do the same things! She is right, she did. And she knows exactly how to calm her. :)

schnitzelbank said...

Wow! That's amazing, simply brilliant parenting.

The "movie-first-book-second" method is quite good. It's called "front loading," when you give kids the schema (picture) and background knowledge they need to understand the concept that's coming up next.

I often "front load" my three year old with schemata of what we're going to do, especially if it's something new, or if I need to stress good behavior.

And I LOL-ed about the "bananas." I use this ALL THE TIME in the classroom. Actually, right now I'm teaching adults at a community college, and I've used this with a student with Asperghers. All I had to do was leave my pen or a piece of chalk on his desk, and he knew it was time to stop talking. :) When others had finally had a chance to add to the conversation, I'd go pick my chalk back up and circle back around the room. In the classroom setting, I'd always try to brainstorm a way with the student that would be a good indicator, but completely oblivious to everyone else. I'd like to suggest, if you're going to be in public, and your child is afraid of humiliation, maybe come up with a very oblivious signal. And I've also found that something tangible and visible (like the pen) gives the signal a little more "lasting power." They are less likely to "forget" that their behavior needs to change, and STAY that way, if they have the signaling object right in front of them.

Adrianna said...

I wish i was a part of your wonderful family.

Christie M said...

You are right about the tangible object. When the boys were little, I could take them anywhere with me. :)
I gave each of them a penny for their pocket. So they each had 2 pennies. I prepared them, as you do your 3 year old. "We are going to the store. There will be lots of things to touch, but we are not going to touch them. We must keep our hands away from things. You may look with your eyes, but NOT your hands."
Then, when we would go, if somebody got tempted..... I'd just say, "Where's your penny?" And the hands would go right back into the ole' pocket. :)

Christie M said...

The other thing I was going to add was.... I don't think our son learned in school, because of his stress level. Once he hit 3rd grade, the continual torments from children were nothing but awful. We could not get 1 teacher to help us in guiding the children not to make fun of him. It went on relentlessly, every single day, all day. He faced each morning with a bunch of boys waiting for him so they could make fun of how he walked. There is NO WAY a child can learn in this type of environment. I had numerous meetings on how it could be stopped, but was told that they could offer HIM counseling on how to deal with the bully's but they could not tell the bullys they were wrong.
I do not for ONE MINUTE believe any ADULT could have handled what he was dealing with on a daily basis. They wouldn't put up with it.

People say that home schoolers over protect their children and they must learn to deal with the real world.
Well, I have to say, the school environment is NOT the real world.
It is a fabricated microcosm of a cross section of society all put together in an unnatural way. And it can be chaos without direction.

People have asked if I was going to put my girls in school. The answer is NO. I would not. I would NEVER EVER put another child through what our son went through until he was 11. It nearly destroyed him.
He was so beaten down emotionally, that when it was time for me to teach him, he burst into tears and said, "mom, the teacher said I can't learn."
I took him in my arms and said, "Mom says you CAN! And we'll do it together!" Within 2 weeks, he was so excited, I think it carried him through high school and college. By then, he was determined to show them he COULD and prove them wrong.

My girls have had minimal teasing because we home school. There is NO REASON to put a child into a situation where they will be mocked for years. It isn't for us.

Annie said...

You are so right about the social situation in school being unlke the "real world".... I have a theory that ANY age people, put in same age groups, brings out the worst in them

Middle school was hell for me; so I homeschooled my older ones 4-8th grade, but sadly it is a bit difficult now that my work setting at church is so different.

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