At The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, we are increasingly aware that we serve a growing population struggling with learning issues. Often, we are hard pressed to find the answers we need to help our children. Fortunately, consultants are available to help us get a handle on the nature of our challenges and plan a program to meet them. Jill Dixon, MEd, of Diagnostic Prescriptive Services is our guest this month to talk about the publications and services she has available.
TOS: How did you become interested in helping the homeschooling community?
JD: Thirteen years ago, while I was preparing to homeschool my oldest child, I spoke with Greg Harris at a homeschool convention. He told me that there were limited resources at that time for parents with struggling learners and a need for consultants and materials. I had been praying for a way to use my background to help the homeschool community, so I began an educational consulting and testing business and began to publish various materials and curricula for the homeschool community. I also became a consultant for HSLDA at that time.
TOS: What is your background?
JD: I have a Bachelor of Science in English Education and a Master’s degree in Special Education. I have taught for twentythree years, including public school, private school, and homeschool classes to emotionally disturbed, learning disabled, and mildly mentally handicapped children and adults. I am presently homeschooling my four children and teaching writing, literature, and history classes to homeschoolers in my community. I also continue to do educational consulting, workshops, and testing for schools, individuals, and various homeschool groups.
TOS: Do you perceive that more homeschoolers are facing learning roadblocks and challenges with their students?
JD: Well, I definitely perceive that many children who have learning problems or challenges are now being homeschooled. I think more and more parents are discovering that homeschooling is often the best option for children who struggle academically or have attention problems. Parents are able to attack academic deficits on an individual basis using the best curriculum to meet each need.
TOS: I read that you also do consultations for Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) members. How does this work?
JD: HSLDA has sent parents to me who need assistance devising individual educational plans for their special needs children. Some of these parents have chosen to remove their children from public school and want to make sure they are adequately meeting their needs.
TOS: What services are offered by Diagnostic Prescriptive Services?
JD: Diagnostic Prescriptive Services offers academic and learning styles assess- ments, language arts curriculum, a curriculum guide, and guides for learning and attentional problems. DPS also offers educational consulting and workshops to individuals, schools, and homeschool groups. I speak at homeschool conferences and to individual homeschool groups.
TOS: Are any services available long distance?
JD: No services are presently offered long distance, though we plan to offer writing and literature classes online in the near future. We are accepting inquiries through email about this service. At this time, our website offers guidance for homeschool parents and parents of special needs children.
TOS: You have written several helpful guides. Tell us about them.
JD: When I first began homeschooling and educational consulting, I realized that there were no materials on the homeschool market written specifically for homeschool parents of learning challenged students or students with attentional difficulties. Therefore, based on years of teaching and research, I wrote The Homeschooler’s Guide to Attentional Difficulties and The Homeschooler’s Guide for Learning Problems. Both of these guides include checklists to help parents assess whether their child truly has an attention problem or a specific learning disability. They then offer practical guidelines for working with these problems in each academic subject and the school setting in general.
TOS: You have also written some other materials. What are they?
JD: We offer Roots and Fruits, a comprehensive vocabulary curriculum for grades K-12, based on the research that the best way to teach vocabulary is teaching the English forms of Latin and Greek roots. We also offer Write with the Best, Volumes 1 and 2. They teach every writing genre that students need to master by modeling writing after great authors and works of world literature. We offer POC4U, which is a learning styles assessment and curriculum guide based on each specific learning style. It is the only curriculum guide that I know of that specifically matches the best curriculum with the specific learning style. We also offer The Concise Learning Styles Assessment separately. It contains practical suggestions for implementing each learning style on a daily basis in each academic subject. Lastly, we offer two types of academic assessments. The Diagnostic Prescriptive Assessment is offered in five separate diagnostic tests for grades kindergarten through five. Individuals as well as private schools use these to assess the academic progress of their students. We also offer The Diagnostic Grade Placement Screening, which gives a grade level score for students in grades K-8 in the areas of math, reading decoding, and written expression. It is utilized for verification of curriculum grade level placement.
TOS: Most homeschoolers have some familiarity with learning styles. Can a workbook-type mom really learn how to teach a kinesthetic kid?
JD: It is amazing that by implementing a few simple strategies, parents who have different learning styles than their children can teach them effectively. This is why it is so important that a parent assess both his or her style of learning as well as the student’s.
TOS: What has been the experience of your clients in homeschooling the attention- challenged child?
JD: Most of my clients have found that their attention-challenged students find much more success in homeschooling than previous public or private school settings. In the homeschool environment, they are not required to stay seated the majority of the day or to learn through the same modality as all the other students. They can also be isolated from distractions as opposed to a large classroom setting. All of the modifications that must be made in a large classroom setting and are usually mandated in an IEP are naturally available in the homeschool environment.
TOS: How can a parent learn strategies to teach her child with learning disabilities?
JD: There are amazingly simple strategies that parents can implement for disabled students that make all the difference. The Homeschooler’s Guide for Learning Problems offers numerous strategies in each area of disability, such as reading, written expression, math reasoning, etc.
TOS: We want to thank you for taking time to share with our readers. How can our readers learn more about you and your company?
JD: Readers can view our website our contact us by email at www.diagnosticprescriptive.com.