Monday, March 28, 2011

Charlotte Mason for High School?

Can anyone tell me which volume would give me the most pertinent information about the high school years (or equivalent in CM's time/place)? I am really trying to keep my CM goals in mind while I am thinking about high school - it's so easy to stray, but I'm really trying to continue to follow the philosophy that has served us so well. But I need to know what to read to figure out what the underlying principles that will be guiding us.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


On Tuesday, I met with the evaluator who performed Austin's cognitive and achievement testing last month. The purpose of this evaluation was to continue the paper trail that we began 5 years ago with neuropsych testing, and to see how far he has come.

I was utterly unprepared for the results.

Average - basically across the board. One higher, 2 lower, but basically - Average.

Why is this significant?

Because 5 years ago, the results were quite different. The results were "low average". One was average. Several were lower than low average.

But now we're looking at average. The evaluator not only thinks that Austin is capable of completing a regular high school curriculum, with enough effort. She thinks he is capable of going to college, in some shape or form.

This is a really good thing!

But now I feel like I'm starting from Square One. The things I had had in mind to use for next year no long seem like "enough". I know the math isn't "enough" because she told me it isn't. She wants me pursue a more traditional math curriculum than the Key To... program. I am going to use the Key To Algebra over the summer and into the fall as a Pre-Algebra program, as a friend of mine did this with her son and he said it was very valuable.

One measure of comfort does come from the fact that the evaluator told me that what I've been doing with Austin is working well. I think I'd like her to tattoo that to my forehead! But she also recommended the My Father's World high school program, if I would like something all laid out for me.

Lots of decisions to make now. For my perfectly average kid! ;)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Finally, a RightStart complaint!

Lest you begin to think I'm being paid for all of my RightStart praise (though I wouldn't mind a free copy of Geometry for Riley next year LOL), I did find something that I do not like about Level B.

Today was the last lesson, and it involved giving the End of the Year test. I was shocked to find that it was 4 pages long! This from a curriculum that rarely had a worksheet, and when it did, had very few problems on it... it was shocking. I decided quickly to take 2 days to complete the test.

Then, I was disappointed to see that many concepts were covered on the test that had not been reviewed in many, many lessons!! Also, there was one problem that has NEVER been covered. I'm not sure if the problem was a typo, because if it had been worded differently we could have easily solved it. But I was proud of how Reece handled it. She got as far as she could - she put all the information in the right places (this was a Part-Whole circle problem). But the problem was going to require her to subtract 39 from 87. We have barely subtracted at ALL, and certainly not problems that complex. If she had been required to ADD those two numbers, then she could have completed it.

It's not a big deal though... the test isn't a big deal to me in the grand scheme of things. And I was pleased to see how well Reece has done despite the lack of review on some of the topics. I guess we will be starting Level C on Monday!!

Rock ON!

Austin's band had another gig the weekend before last, at the same venue. My mom paid for a professional photographer to come and take some good pictures, since she couldn't be there. The pictures turned out fantastic! I thought I'd share a few here:

The guys have 2 more gigs on the books for April, including a Battle of the Bands! They are currently working on their "summer tour schedule" which includes the metro Atlanta area (since none of them can drive on their own yet! LOL). Austin is getting a lot of good feedback on his drumming ability, and he's getting some experience in dealing with being out around lots of people. We're seeing a renewed sense of confidence, and he is wanting to get out more often - he even went to church last night which is something he hasn't done this school year, since Riley joined the youth group. My husband said he saw them actually hanging out together, along with other kids from the youth group who were waiting for their parents to finish up praise band practice!

Baseball practice also resumed last weekend, and Austin has a way to go in his recovery. Thankfully, by the time boys are his age, if they are really good players... they are turning to the JV programs at the high schools. So the boys who are left in rec ball are the ones who may not be so good, but who really enjoy playing baseball for its own sake. I hope that means there won't be so much pressure on him this season. As for me, I'm not sure I can watch a game at all anymore - when they leave for the field I am a nervous wreck until they get home and I see that he's not injured. :(

Spring is springing here in Georgia, and the busiest time of our year has commenced!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ice Skating

For Reece's 9th birthday, I asked her what she wanted for her present. She said she wanted to go ice skating. Well, that wasn't exactly the answer I was expecting or hoping for. I tried to talk her out of it several times to no avail. The girl wanted to go ice skating.

I didn't want to take Riley with us, either, because Reece is having a real challenge with feeling inept especially with performance-based situations. Riley has been ice skating a few times and she usually picks up things easily, so I was afraid that it would be a problem. Unfortunately, Reece really wanted Riley to come along with us.

We got to the arena, rented skates, and got on the ice. Riley took off. Reece clung to the wall and dragged herself along. She was slipping and she was not having a good time. Then she started clinging one hand to the wall and one hand to me, getting me to hold her up. About this time, a tiny little girl who was obviously still in diapers, came out onto the ice and started skating and spinning around! She was wearing a tutu, which didn't help matters. Reece was UPSET, with a capital U. She wanted to go HOME. She hated ice skating and she wanted to go home NOW.

I told her that we were going to stay through the session because I had paid a lot of money for it, and I knew that she could skate if she would keep at it. We had only been on the ice for 15 minutes. I didn't really know how to help her learn to skate, but I watched a teacher giving a lesson and attempted to do what she was doing. I made Reece let go of the wall and just get her balance on the ice. Once she could do this, I encouraged her to try to take a few steps.

I just have this one picture because I actually forgot my camera at home - this was taken with my cell phone. But as you can see, she is doing it! By the end of the first hour of the session she was moving around on her own. By the end of the second hour, she was really moving around. She had also met two girls who were there celebrating one of the girls' birthdays... a year younger than Reece exactly.

So now I have a 9 year old girl who learned that she could do things if she didn't give up. I hope that I will soon have a girl who can see other people excel at things without feeling like she is a failure herself. I don't know if that's developmental... if it's an autism thing... personality, whatever. It's making life very challenging right now! Every single time we leave the house, we have a meltdown. So the sooner we can get through this, the better!

I also have a 9 year old girl who will be taking group homeschool skating lessons beginning this Friday! She ordered her own ice skates over the weekend and I am praying that they will arrive in time! I am nervous about the skate lessons, and especially about them being group lessons, for the aforementioned troubles we have been having. But Reece is very anxious to get out and try new things. So I'm going to let her give it a shot!

Monday, March 14, 2011

First Soccer Game

Reece has been wanting to play soccer for a very long time now, but there wasn't a program available in our area where I felt she could be successful. A traditional program would be too competitive and chaotic for her. Sports are very competitive in our area, even for young children. But the local soccer club announced they were going to offer a program for special needs kids this spring and I jumped at the chance. On top of being close to our home, it was also going to be extremely inexpensive! Reece would have the chance to play soccer!

Yesterday was the first day. The schedule was to include 30 minutes of drills, 30 minutes of scrimmage, and 15 minutes of penalty kicks. We arrived a little early and Reece played around with her new ball! (And I played around with the "sports" setting on my new camera - LOVE it!)
As you can see, she can really kick that ball around! LOL

The first 20 minutes were very successful. Each child was assigned a teenage buddy, who is an experienced soccer player. They kicked the ball around, and then did some drills. One of the drills caused Reece a lot of confusion because the other kids were encouraged to try to "steal her ball", and she had a meltdown. Daddy took her out of the action to calm down, and then she decided she didn't want to go play anymore, she just wanted to watch. But I encouraged her to get back out there and try.

She was still one edge from the meltdown and it was time for scrimmage. Their 'team' was to wear these bright green things over their jerseys to separate them from the other team. Green - as if it weren't bad enough that the uniforms are all green, now they wanted her to put more green on?? It was too much and she started to meltdown again. Daddy wanted to pull her out again, but I disagreed. I've seen her pull herself together - like she did at ice skating (which I need to blog about at some point) and at the playplace, both last week. It's hard to watch while it's happening, especially since she tends to verbally meltdown while she's having the physical meltdown. By verbally meltdown, I mean she will say how bad she is and nothing she does is right and how everybody thinks they are better than her and how everybody is staring at her on and on and on and on and on. We get a LOT more of these lately than tears, and honestly I think they are harder to deal with! LOL

So we left her out there playing goalie - not wearing the green thing - and her soccer buddy was talking her through it. I tried to go out once to help and she flipped out. "No! NO! Here comes Mommy! I'm in trouble, now! She's going to be mad!" So I decided to just let the buddy handle it and see what happened. The goalie part was hard for her because she didn't really understand what was going on. It's all so new and they weren't really playing "real rules" soccer, since it's a special needs league. But soon enough the scrimmage was over. It was time to wrap up with penalty kicks.

By this time we were an hour into soccer, with accompanying meltdowns, and she was really worn out. And so was I. I have to admit that I cried behind my sunglasses for the entire scrimmage part. It was so hard to see everyone out there having so much fun and enjoying themselves and my baby - who was so excited to play soccer - was so incapable of enjoying it. It absolutely broke my heart. But she did a couple of penalty kicks and it ended on a relatively good note. They tried to get her to put her hand in for a group cheer circle thing at the end but she was just done by that time - and she had seen someone flying a kite so she was interested in that instead. I thanked her buddy profusely for all her patience, and she said that it was fine and that Reece is really very good with her soccer skills!

I really figured she would be done with soccer after that experience. But while we were looking at pictures last night she had a lot of positive things to say, including "next time...." so I guess she is able to remember the good parts about it and let some of the bad parts go. And now that she knows what to expect, maybe it will be easier. And this week, I think we'll take turns "stealing the ball" from each other!

Friday, March 11, 2011

RightStart Raves - Yeah, Again!!!

Just when I think I couldn't love RightStart Math more...

Today we worked on the third to last lesson in RightStart B. This lesson involved "halves" and "fourths". The set up to the lesson involved
giving Reece some tiles and tell her that Kelly has 2 rabbits. She has 8 carrots, and she wants to share the carrots equally between the rabbits. How many will each rabbit get? I told her she could use the tiles, but she said she didn't need to, "They each get four."

In RightStart style, I ask her how she figured that out. She said, "Well,
there are 8 carrots and you divi -- I mean, you think of how they could make equal groups. Since they are both even numbers, you get 4 in each group."

I told her that 'divide' was the correct word and showed her what it looked like in math symbols. Then the teacher's manual directed me to tell her that the next day, Kelly had 6 carrots, and how many would each rabbit get now? She answered, and then she said, "And
if there were an odd number of carrots, like 9, you could just cut the leftover carrot in half. And each of the rabbits could have a half a carrot too!!"

Yeah, that sound you heard was my mouth opening with a huge THUD! LOL

I am so impressed with the way RightStart has taught her how to think mathematically!! It's just SO cool! After the lesson was finished, she asked if I would teach her about percents. Since the lesson had been about halves and fourths, I decided to relate the percents to those quantities - so we discussed 100%, 50%, and 25%!

Next week she'll finish Level B and we'll move eagerly into Level C! :)

(And one quick funny thing... the lesson continued beyond 8 and 6 carrots into 2 carrots, 1 carrot, and 9 carrots. After we were done, Reece said, "Rabbits sure do eat a lot!" LOL)