Wednesday, September 30, 2009

4 years ago

4 years ago today, at the age of3 and a half, Reece was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (Pervasive Developmental Disorder- Not Otherwise Specified, or PDD-NOS). I took the following video on her 3rd birthday to show our new pediatrician. I had just come to the realization around that time that "something" was going on with her development that couldn't be explained away by her being the baby of the family, everyone talking for her, or us spoiling her thus causing the 2 hour long tantrums.

I share this video today so everyone can see how far she has come!

For the first time in 4 years, I didn't wake up crying on this day.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Weekly review: 9/21-25

Edited to add Riley's spelling argument below!

This week brought new math curricula for Austin and for Reece. Reece never liked Math-U-See for reasons only known to her. I resisted changing for probably too long because I felt that I needed to use it because of her autism, and I couldn't find a program that I really liked that I thought would work better for her. I love Singapore Primary Math that I use for Riley, but was afraid there wouldn't be enough review for Reece. In the end, I decided to just go with Singapore Primary math, as no program is going to be able to be used as written for her anyway and I like the way Primary math approaches topics. I also own all of the CD-roms so I can use those for reinforcement when needed and she has enjoyed the first one for years. I started her at the beginning with 1A, and she was thrilled! She actually sat down this week and did the first 10 exercises in the workbook!

Austin's new math is Basic College Mathematics. It is a remedial college textbook that comes highly recommended on the WTM board for Pre-Algebra. We can use this book for however long it takes us, and then move into Algebra 1. He is very excited about getting ready for Algebra and he appreciates the more adult tone of this text. Several of the examples for word problems have included the history channel or baseball game statistics. There are usually 90 problems per lesson, so obviously he's only doing a fraction of those. But it has worked to be an advantage. When he struggled with one lesson, I was able to assign him more problems of that specific kind to work on the next day. And he handled that quite well! He told me that he feels nervous when we change things, but that he is going to be OK with it. I love it when he can recognize how he's feeling within himself!

Overall, however, this was a pretty challenging week. I'm feeling overwhelmed with all of the different 'teacher hats' I have to wear (7th grade, 5th grade, 2nd grade). It's hard to keep on top of where each child is individually, making sure they get the sort of education they need. I don't feel like I'm doing a good job of that part, especially. This was my main concern when we started a CM style education, and I get frustrated with myself that I don't seem to have enough hours in the day.

I'll just keep plugging away.

Quotes from Riley-
Riley got rather aggravated at this week's spelling lesson in which she learned the rule for doubling a consonant to keep a short vowel sound. She said, "Why do I have to learn this? How will it make a difference when I'm a dancer/actress/artist?" I told her that she would need to make sure her resume is full of correct spelling so she wouldn't look careless and uneducated. She didn't miss a beat. "The director is NEVER going to ask me why I doubled that consonant before I added the suffix."

Strong-willed child? Maybe?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Weekly Review: 9/14-18

We had a productive week this week, which says a lot considering we had such a busy weekend. The aftermath of a busy week/weekend usually negatively affects the ability to get work done, but this week it was better.

Austin had his first science test for Apologia General Science. It did not go well. But like I told him, we learned a lot from the process. He has never learned with a textbook before (except math, which is a different kind of textbook) and we'll have to work a little more on how you learn from a textbook. That will be our first step, and then we'll see where we go from there. It could be that the readings need to be broken down even more and we need to take more than one year for this book.

I reintroduced spelling workbooks for the kids this week, and dealt with the resulting guilt. Spelling was just not getting done with studied dictation, and now it's getting done. I have continued to allot a space for dictation in our schedule, and maybe one day we can drop the workbooks. But for now, this is just how it has to get done.

I also added grammar back in for Riley, but feel no guilt about it at all. We're going through the book mostly orally which serves to serve both educational and "love language" purposes for her.

We resumed Latin and Spanish this week. Both went well for everyone!

The kids completed Week 1 of the Couch to 5K running program! So proud of them, especially considering the amount of rain we've had. Today we did our running in the drizzle!

We wrapped up the week with a field trip to see Queen Glitter do storytime at the library! Reece got all dressed up and was SO excited, as you can see in the pictures:

I was really proud of her behavior during the storytime. There were lots of kids all around her. And the program was very interactive. She raised her hand a number of times and was called on once or twice, but she was never called up to the front with Queen Glitter and BOTH of her friends were chosen. This is usually a HUGE problem in group settings. But today, she handled it all like a true princess! She didn't whine, argue, pout, or meltdown! When I spotlighted her excellent behavior, she said, "You realize this means I'm becoming a mature Christian! AND a big girl! " Cracked me up completely! ;)

You know, I just realized why it's so much better to blog on a weekly review: you get a better perspective. The day-to-day this week was a big challenge, and some days were much harder. But knowing it's over now, and we lived through it, it's easier to reflect on the good things that happened overall.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The best homeschool moment ever!

The girls have always enjoyed "writing books" - getting a stack of paper, stapling it together, and then, depending on their ages, illustrating a book while I write in the words or writing the story themselves. And since we did NaNoWriMo last year, the story writing has only intensified. Very often Reece will point out the building action in a story I'm reading to her, or one she's reading, or even in a movie and say, "We're going up the roller coaster!" (The concept of a story as a roller coaster was taught in the Young Writer's materials found on the NaNoWriMo website... will try to get a link up to those).

Reece has been working on her newest story, The Father's Day Gift, off and on since, well, Father's Day! It's completely self-directed... she brings it to me when she wants to work on it. She wants to write it all herself, so she needs help with the spelling.

Now that she's begun grammar lessons using First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind, I wanted to reinforce those lessons in her copywork and other writing. I also wanted to be able to point out punctuation that she sees in her own reading. As I was showing her how her quotation marks need to go and how Father's Day is capitalized because it's a proper noun, Reece said, "You know, it's very good that I'm learning my grammar, because it helps me when I'm writing my book!"

Now if that isn't music to a homeschool mama's ears, I don't know what is! :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Weekly review : 9/7-9/14

We have had quite an adventure-filled week at the Black Pearl Academy!

Reece started learning how to ride a two-wheeler! She does pretty good, but still needs help getting started and needs to practice turning! I wish we lived in a more flat area, because going uphill is still quite a challenge for her, as it was for her siblings!
Reece's baseball season has come to and end and here she is with her trophy! She played baseball through a special populations program and it was fantastic! (You can't see on here, but her trophy has a ponytail sticking out the hat, just like hers does!!)
Austin had his first tournament for his travel baseball team, and they got trampled. Some of these boys for the other teams look like they needed to be tested for steroids or growth hormones or something! LOL
And this morning the kids began the Couch to 5K beginner running program! I'm excited to introduce them to running, as it's been so wonderful for me!
And one last little thing... I started an adult beginner ballet class, taught by Reece's dance teacher! It is SO much fun! I've never taken dance before ever, not even as a little girl! I've wanted to do this for years!! I get to wear ballet shoes! Maybe one day I'll be brave enough to wear a leotard! :)

And yeah, we did some lessons in there, too!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Weekly Review: 8/31-9/4

Again this week, I shall let the home educated children speak for themselves!

Reece: "My favorite thing in this week in school was the math games. We played Sum Swamp. Mama won first, and then I won second."

Riley: "My favorite thing was probably the critical thinking thing, because it's fun. I love a good challenge." (She's referring to beginning the Mind Benders series)

Austin: "My favorite thing in school this week was grammar because of the thing with the articles and adjectives." (He was in the middle of a Wii game, so I guess that's all I'm gonna get! LOL)

At least it beats "nothing" from last week! LOL