Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Teaching Alex About Tenses

With autistic children you can't take anything for granted. Typical children, just by going through their ordinary days, can just "pick up" certain language skills. Not so for these kids. Every nuance of language skills has to be highlighted and taught directly. This week it was verb tenses. It wouldn't matter how many times I had him do worksheets and lessons on the subject, it was still back to square one each time we went over it. Here he is almost seventeen with less of a grasp on the changes in language that goes with tenses than a preschooler. Meeting children where they are is so important for typical kids, but it is even more important with special needs kids. I had to do something that would engage his interest. It had to be simple and yet effectively highlight future, present and past tenses.
Here is an activity we did this week involving tenses. On Thursday I wrote out a simple recipe so that it was all people and action.

Tomorrow Mom and Alex will make cookies. Alex will measure 2 cups of sugar into a pot. Alex will add 1/4 cup of cocoa powder to the pot...

through the whole recipe. He read it. I went over the future tense verbs.
"...Alex will add 1 stick of margarine to the pot..."
-from the future tense script

On Friday, I wrote out the entire recipe again in the same format, but this time changing the verbs to present tense. He read it. I went over the verb tenses. We compared it to yesterday's version. We began making the recipe while going over the script, line by line. He had to pick out the right measuring cup and the right ingredient and do what the recipe said. I only helped him when he needed it.

"...Mom takes the mixture off the stove and Alex adds 1/2 cup of peanut butter to the pot..."
-from the present tense script
On Saturday I will write one last script -the whole recipe again, with past tense verbs. We will look at this script and compare it to the other scripts. We will talk about what we did yesterday.
We will look at the verbs again.

"...Alex dropped spoonfuls of the mixture on a tray."
-from the past tense script

Will he learn verb tenses by doing this? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Perhaps if we do it again and again with different things we do together and I highlight each time the differences in the scripts, he will begin to understand.

He has taught me as well. He has taught me not to take even the simplest of learning for granted.
Rejoice in each little bit of progress your students make.


  1. And he's also confident in the love you have for him. Yes, rejoice in each little bit of progress. Thank you for sharing this wonderful way of learning - simply brilliant.

  2. OK, you are making me tear up this morning...You are a wonderful mother and teacher to your kiddos! We should all be striving to "meet our kiddos where they are"...

  3. What a terrific, loving, way to go about this!

  4. A beautiful post. Today in particular the title of your blog and the content of your post came together. "All Things Beautiful - He has taught me as well. He has taught me not to take even the simplest of learning for granted.
    Rejoice in each little bit of progress your students make."

  5. Lovely post - an encouragement to me. I love the quote you have on your header too. I haven't been reading blogs for a couple months. It's good to be back. :)

  6. That sounds just like experience stories we did in the Association Method! Cool!

  7. Yes, we are using the Association Method!

  8. Hi Phyllis, I always love to come and visit your blog and be inspired by your love and child- focused approach. You're an inspiring family. Thanks for linking to the Play Academy again. I especially appreciate you sharing ideas for special needs play and learning.

  9. Phyllis, I so admire you and your methods and ideas. I love this post.

    We are starting Rome soon and I plan to grab tons of your great ideas!!


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