Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"I'd like to keep reading this"

Reece started reading The Best Trick shortly after she completed the Bob books. This little book is a story about animals, with each part of the story being only page or two long, and completely decodable. She reads one part of the story each day.

Reece has the benefit of being the 2nd child in the family with an autism spectrum disorder. Her older brother is the guinea pig. When he was learning to read, I focused on phonics heavily. We did phonics drills every single day, and he would get SO upset when the blends/digraphs had different sounds. Or when one sound had different spellings. It was frustrating for both of us. He learned quickly to despise reading. It was hard... it was miserable. I can't say that I blame him. I blame myself, but try to give myself a little bit of grace for not knowing what was going on inside of him.

A residual negative effect of Austin's reading lessons has been extremely poor reading comprehension. We spent so much time working on learning how to read, with me pushing him hard to read longer and longer books to try to keep up with his friends, that I never emphasized to him that he was supposed to be getting something out of all this reading. That it wasn't just reading to get to the end of the lesson, to mark off the box on the assignment sheet. Reading comprehension, and the awareness that he's supposed to be understanding what he is reading is just NOW starting to develop, at almost 13 years old.

So I decided with Reece not to repeat those mistakes. We do phonics, but in context of books. She does Explode the Code workbooks, but as "spelling", so she doesn't associate it with reading in a direct way. When we're reading and she comes across a sound she doesn't know, I just tell her what the letters say together and we move on. And we always focus on what we're reading... what the pictures show us, what just happened, what might be happening next. And I try my best to make sure that she feels confident and successful in reading. It's hard for me because I want her to move forward and keep up with HER friends... but I try to restrain myself.

And today, I was rewarded for my patience!! :) We finished today's little story, and she looked at me and said, "I'd like to keep reading this." I said, "Sure!" and we read the next story. She said, "Let's keep going... this is a good story. I want to know what happens next!" Page by page she continued to read - her reading is getting good! And before I knew it, we were at the END. She read 12 pages! She finished the story, and she really liked it!

Best of all, when she read the last word she said, "I did it! I'm so happy!"

I really needed that today. I've been having mini panic attacks about Austin being a high schooler in only 2 years (how on earth can I get him doing high school level work in only 2 years???). One of these days I'll try to address all my concerns about it on my blog, but I tend to get very emotional and slightly irrational! LOL I'll push that worry back for a little while.

Today, I'll just be content with a little one who is making her own milestones with learning to read!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Weekly Review: 2/16-20

As the trip gets closer, my ability to focus on our lessons diminishes significantly! :) But we're plugging along!

Literature: Reece is reading The Best Trick (from the Sonlight Core 1 reading list, or at least it used to be!); Riley is still listening to/following along with Anne of Green Gables on CD; Austin is nearly done with Robinson Crusoe (listening to/following along with). For Free Reading, Austin's been reading his Flight: A Complete History and Riley has read the next couple of Elsie Dinsmore books (a friend from dance recommended these to her!).

Math: Reece is adding 9s, Riley is adding fractions (she finds the whole process of common denominators and reducing fractions to be "ridiculous"), and Austin took the test for lesson 15 in MUS Epsilon and scored a 96! It would have been higher, but he neglected to label the square units for two problems, and I'm a stickler on that!

Grammar: Austin is learning about Predicate Adjectives and Predicate Nominatives, and it's going pretty well! Riley is learning about Compound Predicate Adjectives and did an Oral Language Lesson on the proper use of the forms of the verb "to be".

History: We learned about the First Russians, and began to learn about the Ottoman Empire, which no matter what Riley says, has nothing to do with the living room furniture. @@

Science: They read their science books to themselves, and quite frankly, I forgot to ask them to narrate! Oops!

Spanish: We began lesson 11 in La Clase Level 1, and will continue it next week.

Latin: We finished Chapter 4 and actually understand it!!

Studied Dictation: It's just not going well as a method for spelling for Austin. Trying to hold firm and hope to see some results. Riley does very well with it.

Phonics: Reece is nearly done with Explode the Code, Book 1. I have Book 2 for her to start, probably when I get back from Disney.

Character Traits (Contentment), Hymn Study (I Need Thee Every Hour), Composer Study (Chopin), and Artist Study (Van Gogh) are all wrapping up for this term. Poet Study (Emily Dickinson) is much more difficult as we read these poems and all of us just look at each other in confusion! LOL

Our lunchtime read-aloud is Inkheart. We are all enjoying the story, but today there were 2 instances of cuss words which made all my kids' eyes open widely. Austin and Riley know not to repeat, but if any of my IRL friends hear Reece use the "D" word in the next week or two, please understand it wasn't my fault!

Reece's read-alouds this week were Knuffle Bunny and Knuffle Bunny Too. I thoroughly enjoyed both of these books! I checked them out on recommendation from my friend, Daphne. I was surprised to find that these books are excellent for RDI/Guided Participation usage. You really had to pay attention to the facial expressions and body language of the characters! And the characters are cartoons but the backgrounds are all real pictures. It was fascinating to Reece... and she referenced me at first to see if it was something to be bothered about! When I said I thought it was pretty cool, she said she did, too. Highly recommend checking them out from the library!

Today we had a field trip to the grocery store with our homeschool group! Lots of fun!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

18 days and counting...

I picked up our travel paperwork for our Disney trip for Riley's 10th birthday! Our travel agent put them in a cute little bag with some goodies (which I'll post pictures of later on when I get a few moments!!).

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Run the Reagan 2009

Back at the beginning of last fall, my long-time friend (and favorite travel agent) Jan asked me if I'd be interested in taking up jogging with her. After I pulled myself off the floor from laughing, I considered it seriously and took up the challange!

This morning, Jan and I (and her hubby) ran a 5K together! Here we are before the race! Don't we look happy and cheerful? No? It was cold and rainy, and early! LOL

Here were are back at her house after the race! Now we look happier!! We both did very well! I beat my previous race time from December by a little less than 2 minutes. Jan beat me by about 30-45 seconds. I'll know specifics tomorrow when the official results are posted!! (EDITED to add official time - 33:55, which is 1:46 faster than my last race! My pace was a 10:46 mile!!)

So are we on for the 10K this summer, Jan??

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

A busy weekend, and the challenges that brings to Monday and Tuesday!

Our February began with gusto on Sunday. We attended Sunday School for the first time at our new church, and we were planning to come forward to officially join the church at the end of the worship service. Austin had SS with the other Junior High kids, Riley would be in a SS class with 3rd-5th graders, and Reece (and I) would be in a class with 1st-2nd graders.

Reece would not go in the room, which is nothing new under the sun. A little girl tried to get her to come in, but Reece was not very kind to her, and told her she had a boy's name (Ryan) which is sort of funny coming from a girl named Reece! LOL I tried to get Reece to apologize but she wouldn't. Then when I got her wanting to come into the room, she didn't want to sit next to any boys. (I have finally figured out the reason for her aversion to little boys, but that will have to be another post of its own). There were 5 children, including her, in her class. The teacher was a sub but was very nice, and knows all about Reece already. Her teenage daughter was helping out in the class.

5 adults, 3 children... piece of cake right? Nope. The lesson in the book was not appropriate for the age group, in my opinion. It was definitely not appropriate for Reece. She had to cut out words from a word bank (difficult words), and paste them into the appropriate blanks in a 3 paragraph story of the Transfiguration. The cutting was fine, the pasting wasn't too bad, the reading and pace of the rest of the kids was too much. I scaffolded (giving supports, modifying what I could on the fly) as much as I could, but her already shaky competence was crumbling. Class ended and we were helping to clean up. The teenager complimented on her shoes, but called her the wrong name by mistake. Reece burst into tears and ran out of the room and down the hall.

She was still sobbing by the time the worship service began. There was just no fixing it, so I just tried to comfort her as best I could. Riley loved her class, which is great. Austin said his class was fine, too. There are 4 in his class, including him, and he is the only boy. I did a little "knuckle" high-five with him (picture Howie Mandel on Deal or No Deal, or Brett Wagner from Pass Time) and said, "Sweeeeet!" He knuckled me back, smiled, then said, "Why?" LOLOL No interest in girls, yet! ;)

We left for children's church at the appointed time, Riley dashing ahead of us to get a seat in the front row so she could see. This from the child who said she can't stand children's church! LOL Sweet little Ryan was actually waiting for Reece, who ignored her. Hopefully she won't give up on Reece before Reece decides to be friendly, which she will as soon as she has more competence built up! We found a seat for Reece, away from boys, and I started off in the back of the room. Reece did very, very well almost until the very end! And then she just stood up a couple of times, which isn't bad considering we'd been there for 2 hours by that point. The teacher is using "Genesis for Kids" to teach creation using science and it's absolutely fascinating!! At the end of that day's experiments, the teacher asked if there were any questions or comments and Reece raised her hand. "We made a CLOUD!" she exclaimed.

We joined the church, as planned... lots of people shaking our hands which was not accepted well by Austin or Reece, but they knew it was coming and that it wouldn't last too long. We got out of there as soon as we could!

The afternoon included spring musical auditions for Riley, and then the Super Bowl in the evening. All in all, it was a very busy day!

And we've paid for it the last two days. Lessons have been a challenge, and the kids have been easily frustrated, resulting in tears, arguments, and rigidity. I'm trying to keep that in mind with my expectations, as well as with my reactions and responses, but it's not easy. I'd better adjust quickly... February is going to be a busy month, leading into a full and eventful spring! :)