Friday, June 29, 2007
So this is our anticipated subject listing, for grades 3 and 5:
Writing - Narration/Copywork/Dictation
Writing - Composition
Vocabulary (Austin only)
French (Riley only)
Spanish (Austin only)
Reece's learning to read, learning to write, and learning about numbers.
Now, if I'm going to back down with academics... what goes? Do I really do this? Can someone guarantee me that it's all going to be OK in the long run? :) So this is where I'm at... with 34 days until school starts! LOL
Thursday, June 28, 2007
So in my planning, especially for Austin (who has such a low frustration tolerance), I am looking for the Zone. :) In my efforts to try to get him 'caught up', I frequently push outside the Zone into the frustration level. Being an "Explosive Child" http://www.amazon.com/Explosive-Child-Understanding-Frustrated-Chronically/dp/006077939X cannot enter this zone and come out of it easily. Entering this frustration area will lead to a meltdown/explosion. I HAVE to change how I think about his frustration, and especially how it relates to his schooling. I know, and have much evidence with him to back this up, that when he feels competent, he goes about his school work with enthusiasm and learns so much!
So this year's theme will be "Stay in the Zone".
Coming soon: my list of curricula that will help us work in the Zone.
I hope. :)
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Reece read the first Bob Book this morning with me, and then read it with Riley's help right afterwards. She doesn't totally 'get' it yet. You can see that when she gets to the part where she says "Mat sat on lap". She's looking at the picture, and not really focusing on the words yet! I just love how sweet Riley is being with her!
Monday, June 25, 2007
And, as usual, my brain and heart are wrestling each other for control. My brain finds itself drawn to the Well-Trained Mind/Classical approach, but my heart finds itself drawn to the Charlotte Mason approach! Somewhere in between, I understand that the two aren't mutually exclusive.
It also doesn't help that alot of the new things I'm learning in RDI seem to mirror what I know about the Charlotte Mason approach to learning. And because of Austin's struggles with learning, I go back and forth with the idea that I need to teach him according to a structured school-like schedule to make sure he is progressing; and the ideas that, since he IS a slow learner and processor, we need to take things more slowly and use materials that will really light a spark in him, even if they are 'below grade level' and even if that means we read 5-6 good books really well, rather than fly through a graded textbook/reader.
I've been reading a series of blog posts on my friend Tammy's blog (http://aut2bhomeincarolina.blogspot.com/) about reading comprehension. They begin on June 21st, if you are interested. Tammy is a long-time CMer and has a daughter with autism whom she has been homeschooling as many years as I've had children, so she gets my respect and my attention when she posts about schooling! And it so happens that reading comprehension is a thorn in my side.
Kids with Aspergers are notorious for having poor reading comprehension. I understand that, and have accepted that Austin struggles with it. However, I was determined to attack it head on this past year (his 4th grade year). I purchased a 4th grade reading curriculum, along with the teachers manual so I could ask him reading comprehension questions. We spent an entire month off from reading, working through the Reading Detective book, to prepare for the ITBS. We followed that up by doing practice sets with ITBS questions. What did we get from that intensive work? Reading Comprehension was the ONLY score in which Austin made no progress. His score was the exact same as last year's, which actually means that he lost ground because he was doing the 4th grade test rather than the 3rd grade. He made TONS of progress in other areas, so this really stuck out at me. (Compare this to the fact that his only 'grade level' score continues to be spelling which is the only subject that I cannot consistently figure out how to teach him! So we do nothing in spelling and he's still grade level, but we spend a whole year concentrating on reading comp. and get negative results! UGH)
So there must be a better way! Apparently the textbooks/questions/workbooks are not doing it for him. Between Tammy's posts and the information in the book "Apprenticeship in Thinking" that was recommended by our RDI consultant, I'm seeing lots of overlapping ideas. So I just may be ready to make a big leap of faith!
Saturday, June 23, 2007
As for Austin, he walked during his first at-bat, and then at his second at-bat he was hit in the head with a pitch. This ball was thrown so hard, it knocked Austin's helmet completely off his head! It scared mom and Nana to death! But it scored a run, because Austin had been up with bases loaded! Still... it took 10 years off my life!
Austin made a fantastic play from right field, throwing a runner out at HOME! He connected with the catcher from all the way in right field to keep a run from scoring! It was incredible!! He also had a stolen base on 3rd, and it was so close, but he was safe. He again scared me though because he didn't get up right away. He scraped his elbow in the slide and was trying not to get upset!
Here is Austin throwing the ball to home:
Here below is Austin after he had stolen 3rd base... it's hard to see but he's laying flat on the ground: So All-Stars is over now, and the boys all played very well! I'm glad that we took part, but I'm glad it's done! Austin was having a really hard time with the stress of today's game, and I noticed a big difference in him. I don't really care to dwell on that now, though, but it does reassure me that he is in the right place playing in this church league and not on a rec league where the pressure is like this every game!
Now... off for some rest... for a month... and then it's time for fall ball again! ;)
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Tonight's final score was 14-3, with our hard-playing team having the 3. We played the best team in our area, and had been expecting that they would be hard to beat, and they didn't disappoint! Austin only got up to bat ONE time in the entire game! He struck out swinging! Our starting pitcher gave up 10 runs in the first two innings (they stop an inning after 5 runs are scored!). Another boy came in to pitch relief in the 3rd inning and he gave up 4.
I had had Reece in the bathroom in the 3rd inning, and was surprised to find my son on the pitcher's mound when we came out. Apparently, the boy who was pitching in the 3rd was getting upset at giving up all the runs and his dad asked dh to take him out. So in comes my boy! He got both of the batters out that he faced in the 3rd inning, striking out the last batter with a change up!
He was back in for the 4th inning! This time he gave up a walk, but the other batters hit his sinker ball for ground outs! Austin gave up NO hits, NO runs, walked one batter, and struck another out! It was awesome! Dh said that those kids are so used to opposing pitchers throwing heat, so when they faced Austin's pitches with slightly slower velocity and some movement behind them, they were all confused! All I know is that I'm very proud of Austin, and glad that he has something exciting to remember about this All-Star tournament -- since it will be his only one! ROFL
The other team invoked the 'mercy rule' for the bottom of the 4th inning (that's when you are leading by 10 or more runs after 4 innings, you can choose to end the game), so we actually made it home early tonight. We have another game on Saturday morning, way too early for how far away it is! If we win that game, there is a good chance we'll be in the playoffs which are Saturday afternoon starting at noon. I'll be sure to update when we get home on Saturday!
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Austin played in right field in the 1st, 3rd, and 5th innings.
He chose the #24 because it's Jeff Gordon's number... that's Austin's favorite Nascar driver.
Austin was up to bat twice. The first time he grounded out, allowing a run to score. That's called a 'sacrifice' in baseball lingo! His 2nd at-bat he hit a monster of a hit, that was unfortunately caught. He was SO disappointed! The crowd was, too! In the video we're all screaming and then go "Ohhhhhh" when the ball was caught! :)
It was an exciting and well-played game! Hopefully the next game won't be so wet! :)
Monday, June 18, 2007
Now we just have to fill out the video journal form that goes to our consultant along with the DVD. We'll have to do that after Austin's game tomorrow night.
Now we have 2 weeks to get a video together for Reece! I'm having a hard time coming up with ideas for things to do with her, but I have plenty of time to search! That will be my goal for this weekend!
I'm sure we'll get into a good groove with our taping in a few months!
Friday, June 15, 2007
Then she told us we would be starting out by working on Parent Objectives, which I was pretty sure would happen. She gave us 4-5 for each child, and I'm going to attempt to write them out here in my own words, to help me cement them in my brain! The verbage from the RDI program is very confusing!
Parent Objectives with Reece (stage of co-regulation):
1. We will learn how to regulate our emotions during interactions with Reece. Things like not getting upset when she gets upset. Being a "thermostat, rather than a thermometer" in the words of my friend Sonya (www.simplycharlottemason.com)
2. We will learn how to establish patterns, and then introduce subtle variations in those patterns in our interactions.
3. We will eliminate our attempts to 'get', 'obtain', or 'extract' a response from Reece (and from Austin really). We will instead provide invitations for experience sharing. We will use mostly experience-sharing communication.
4. We will accurately evaluate our communication and pacing and develop ways to modify that during our interactions. (See #3 above)
5. We will initiate co-regulatory activities, and evaluate the initial successes and what we can do to keep the co-regulation going.
Parent Objectives with Austin (stage of guided participation):
1. We will use greater broadband communication in our everyday life (Wow!, Cool!, and other noises that are just totally not in the range of normal for how I go about my day! LOL)
2. We will understand that it is not the activity that is the focal point, but the interaction and relationship-building that goes on during the activity that is important.
3. We will make sure Austin has a competent role in each activity, while maintaining appropriate control over the activity.
4. We will learn how to 'spotlight' the objective that we are working on during an activity.
Our schedule will be to send a video of one child in, then the next week we'll go to the office to discuss that child. We'll alternate children, so each month, we'll have a video of one child and an office visit to discuss that child. Even if we had the money, I don't think we could handle the pace of doing a video/appointment for each child every 2 weeks. We start by having a video of Austin to her by next Friday (a week from today) which means we have to mail it by Wednesday. And we have to fill out a form to send with the video, which means we have to watch it in it's entirety before we can mail it. So that really means it has to be done by Monday, so we can watch it Tuesday night when we get back from the first All-Star game! Yikes!
Speaking of... I need to go do some video of Austin right now. :) I hope this post makes some sense! My brain is still really full of information. I'm still very much at the point where I sort of understand what I'm learning, but not well enough to explain it in 'regular' terms to other people! LOL
Thursday, June 14, 2007
OK, so I wasn't able to get the time to blog about yesterday's appointment, and I know that's got everyone on the edge of their seats in anticipation! ;) But I have good reasons:
1. We started Sun and Fun today, which is our version of summer school. The kids were SO excited! Can you believe they both chose to do their journal entry first thing? Reece and I sat together and did some math worksheets from her Calvert Kindergarten workbook... 22 pages later she was finally bored.
2. After we finished Sun and Fun, we went out and spent some time in the sun, at the pool. Had a great time! Reece is really surprising me at the pool by going under, jumping in holding my hands, not needing to claw around my neck in the deep water. We stayed until the pool closed.
3. We came home and I had to jump in the shower to head over to an RDI Parent Support Group meeting! Left with my hair still wet and drove the 90 minutes (because it was rush hour) to get there. Brain is completely full of information after discussion the book "Apprenticeship in Thinking", which once again challenged the way I think about learning and my approach to homeschooling. ::sigh::
4. Now I'm home and I need to blog about the appt. yesterday but I'm just soooo tired. Oh and did I mention that we have to mail off our first video of Austin by next Wednesday? Of course I didn't, because I haven't blogged about the appt.!!! LOL And did I mention the All-Star tournament starts on Monday?
I promise to blog about the appointment! It's very important to me, and when I need to consolidate information in my brain, it works best for me to write it down/type it out in a blog post. So I'll do it... but to do so requires staying home for longer than 30 minutes with nothing else going on! ;)
"Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love ya, tomorrow!!"
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
So tomorrow afternoon or evening I'll post all about 'The Plan"! YAY!!
Saturday, June 09, 2007
1. RDA 5 was yesterday for Austin and today for Reece. It went much better than last Saturday, but it is still not at all natural for me! Austin likes it more than Reece does. I need to find something that is engaging enough for her to be willing to let me guide her! We'll meet with our consultant on Wednesday to develop 'the plan'.
2. Respite was tonight. DH and I were so tired, we got a DVD from Blockbuster and went HOME for our night out this month! We watched Casino Royale... loved it! Wish I would have seen it on the big screen!
3. Had an All-Star scrimmage today... it was 90 something degrees and there were a few places I neglected to cover with sunscreen. Ouch. We won't do All-Stars again. Just not our style.
4. I'm so glad we bought these swimming pool passes! We've been 3 times so far and it's just delightful. On Thursday, Reece asked me to take her into the deep water. ASKED for it! She jumped in from the side of the pool, from a seated position. This is huge! She is still putting her head under completely! FUN FUN FUN!
5. VBS was wonderful! I am never disappointed with VBS at that church (the one where Reece went to preschool). Next time, someone needs to remind me not to schedule 4 RDA appointments the same week as VBS! ;)
6. ITBS scores are back in and I couldn't be more pleased! Riley did very well, as I expected. Austin made about a year of progress in all areas, and in some areas he made much more progress! The only area that stayed the same was reading comprehension, which I know trips him up because of the nature of his ASD. Spelling still continues to be his only 'at grade level' subject which is hysterical because, yet again, we never found our groove with it this school year! LOL
7. Used Curriculum Sale today: I sold slightly over $100 worth of old books! YEE HAW! I bought $11 worth so I ended up with a tidy profit. :) I plan to buy some more of the noise cancelling headphones, since the kids fight over them! LOL
OK, that's it from me! :)
Friday, June 08, 2007
I LOVED Oceans 13! I am so glad that I decided to see it instead of going to see POTC3 again. Now don't get me wrong, I'm going to see POTC3 again soon... I have no fewer than 3 people to see it with for their first time, and Jan and I simply HAVE to go see it again together! :) But tonight I was too tired for a 3 hour movie, and I love the Ocean movies!
Pros: It's Danny Ocean and the gang! What more could you need?? If you love the Ocean movies, you're going to REALLY love this one!
Cons: Ellen Barkin is falling out of her dress --- I think that's how they managed the PG13 rating. That, and a few unnecessary cuss words.
The storyline was excellent, though not as totally 'hidden' like in the last 2 movies! But I found I didn't mind that! I just went along for the ride and laughed and laughed! :) Great fun!
Rating on the Savvy Scale: A Solid 3.5 (out of 4) --- losing points for Ellen Barkin's clothes, or lack of them.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
As I mentioned yesterday, the appointment with our RDI consultant went very well. She had us do a few exersizes where we identified our spouse's strengths and identified our own struggles. When we got to our struggles, I told her very plainly about how I feel incompetent with RDI and how hard it is for me to do things when I feel like that. I am a strong perfectionist, and not the kind of perfectionism where it presses you on to try harder. The kind I have freezes me when I feel like I don't know what I'm doing or that I'm doing it wrong. She said that was very good information in helping her help me help the kids.
On to the kids now... she said that the information we got during RDA3 was excellent. We talked specifically about each child. She feels that the reason Reece melted down was that the activity we tried was just too lofty... that we need to move back a bit and try something easier. So what happened was that Reece got overwhelmed by the new item (Jello) and that made her uneasy. Then when she felt incompetent, she fell back to controlling the situation. When we didn't allow her to control the situation, she regressed to a meltdown. So the information was good. Reece really needs to work on the master/apprentice relationship. She is very controlling, so this is going to be very hard for her. She has good experience sharing, good facial gazing, and good regulation when she's feeling competent. Watching the video of her with our consultant showed how truly controlling she tries to be. And often she isn't engaging with the other person because she is so focused on controlling every step.
Austin's was a bit different. He has a harder time with regulation, and his anxiety/depression also gets in the way. I asked her if she felt the anxiety was something more than what typically comes with Aspergers and she said she isn't sure. That is something we'll be watching carefully. Hopefully, when his competence increases, the anxiety will decrease. I tend to think this will happen, because he is some composed on the ball field, where he feels competent. The troubles he has with regulation seem to come out of the blue... he'll be fine and regulated and then BOOM it will be gone and he'll be making weird noises or being wild with his actions. Our consultant wonders if there is a sensory component to that and I tend to agree. Man I wish we had gotten him sensory integration OT when he was little!! ARGH
Anyway, tomorrow Austin has his last part of the RDA and then Reece has hers on Saturday. I'm feeling much better about it! I've just got to be willing to engage in a M/A relationship with our consultant as much as I'm working on my children with it. And I've got to keep a feeling of competence as much as I can!
I will update more after the weekend. And I promise to get back to homeschooling posts soon!! This RDI stuff has just taken top billing in all things right now!
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
I will post more about the appt. later today or tomorrow, when I'm not so wiped out from the busy-ness of today!
Saturday, June 02, 2007
I was first up with Reece. Our goal with Reece was to encourage interaction and regulation using as few words as possible, and trying to encourage a Master-Apprentice relationship. When I say she did not like that one bit, it is certainly not an understatement. The first activity we did was a shared eating activity. The food was jello, which she refused to eat. So the consultant wanted us just empty it out of the little cup in a coordinated manner. She wouldn't (or couldn't, not sure which one) do it. We moved on to something else, and when it became evident to Reece that I was supposed to be the one who was making the decisions and I wasn't able to direct her behavior with specific prompts... she broke down. She went into the corner and wouldn't interact at all. We tried a number of different things, and she would start to do it with me, but as soon as she couldn't have control over it, she went back to the corner (or under the table). At one point she started crying in the corner, so the consultant had me go to comfort her non-verbally. As soon as I touched her, Reece climbed into my lap, grabbed me around the neck, and sobbed. I rubbed her back, and pretty soon I was crying as well. We ended on a positive note though. Our consultant (Miss Lisa) wanted the ending to be positive, so she got out something she had done during the RDA2 that Reece enjoyed. Then my time was over. Russ indicated the same thing happened with him when it was his turn with Reece.
Funny note: On the way home from the office, Reece said she wanted to talk to me about therapy. She said, "You wanted to be the coach, and I don't like that! Next time we go, I will be the coach, OK?" Russ said something great: "We want to work together as a team!" and Reece replied, "I don't want to work together... I want to be the coach!"
Austin's didn't go much better. He was not as insistent on control, however, he just kept doing his own thing regardless. He did get the RCR patterns I was trying to establish, but he wasn't motivated to keep the pattern going. He would break off from the pattern and do his own thing. During the second activity, where I was supposed to again drop my language and prompting, he became quite flustered. It was very hard for me to not prompt, and I realize how much I use prompting and language with both of them. Russ said his time with Austin was pretty good.
So. I am upset. Surprise! Surprise! It's so upsetting to see that the progress that I think I am seeing, especially with Reece, is superficial. When I take out the compensating I'm doing for her, verbally and with other forms of prompting, she falls apart. :( And it's so frustrating for me that I feel like I don't know what I'm doing. Why can't I seem to get the hang of this? I can't stand feeling like a failure, and that's all I've felt since we started RDI. It seems like from day 1, everything is telling me what a terrible job I'm doing as a parent and how RDI will fix me, and thereby fix them. And today just was another reassurance that I suck with my kids.
We have another parent meeting (this may be considered RDA4?) on Wednesday to discuss the today's stuff, and preview the last session we have with each child, which happens late next week. Then we'll wrap up with a final parent meeting the week after that, and discuss plans and objectives. I'm going to need some encouragement at this next meeting coming up. I feel like I just don't want to interact with any of the kids right now, because I'm obviously doing such a rotten job with it. What I've been doing has just been making them worse!!
I really hope this is all worth it. The topic of this week's RDI email newsletter was "RDI: Giving Parenting back to the Parents". For me, so far, RDI has served to make me feel completely inept. I'm not going to pretend that I'm some massively self-confident person, but at least with my kids, I always have felt there is nobody who knows them better than I do. Especially with Austin... I have always known what he needed and how to take care of him, when nobody else understood him. Reece has been somewhat more of a mystery, but I have always been the one who could handle her. Now, I feel like that was all a huge lie.
If you have read this far, please understand that I'm not looking for anyone to try to 'fix it'. I just really needed to express this. I tried so hard on the way home not to cry, and I don't want to dump this all on my dh. Of course, if there is something that you know about all of this that I don't, please don't hesitate to comment! ;) I have read that it's common to feel overwhelmed when you first start RDI, but I don't think I've read anywhere that you feel like your parenting is being negatively critiqued. ::sigh:: Maybe it's just me... wouldn't be the first time.