Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Update: Reece

I decided to start with Reece mostly because she's the easiest to write about right now! She doesn't care what I post/write about her and, in fact, most of the time she asks me if I'm going to post about her to my friends online!

Fourth grade started out amazing for Reece and has continued that way. As hard as last year was for her, this year we are reaping the rewards. She doesn't cry nearly so much in group situations, and she has this strong desire to be involved. I think that's part of the reason she doesn't cry so much - she wants to be involved and she wants people to like her. THANK YOU, RDI!! I find myself wanting to run around and go, "SEE????? It works!!" So many people told me that I was making a mistake by not forcing her to be social when she was little, and by pulling her out of everything last year when she was struggling so much socially. In fact, more than one person told me I was going to make her regress because I was indulging the autism. I can't say that I wasn't afraid they were right. But I prayed about it and I kept falling back on the principles of RDI that assured me that removing her from all the negativity she was experiencing from her 'failures' in social settings would eventually pay off.

She still struggles for the first couple of times in a new activity, but as long as the leaders are patient, she eventually gets the hang of things. And she excels! At Christmas, she attended children's choir at church where she practiced to perform a duet and recite a couple of lines in front of the church one Sunday morning! She also read in front of the church one evening during a special church service!
She has thrived in her ballet class and her teacher believes she may be ready to move up out of this level that she has been in for the last few years. This is exceptionally "huge" because it means working with one of the other teachers instead of the one who has had her since she was 4. She actually got to work with one of them a few weeks ago when her teacher was sick (and let me add here that her teacher actually called me the night before class so that Reece would be prepared for the change). The teacher is one of Riley's teachers so she was familiar with her, but she had never really been taught by anyone else. Reece is now looking forward to moving up, and she's even been talking about working hard so she can go en pointe in a few years!!
I got her back on the ice last week as well. She didn't do the lessons again, but she is enjoying being out there on the ice. She even wants to have an ice skating birthday party - and I think I'm going to let her have one. She hasn't had a party with friends since she was 5! :) She also wants ice skating lessons again! LOL
Academically, this year has been fantastic for Reece! Math has been going well - and despite the many breaks we took in the fall, she could pick back up with math right where she left off! That shows REAL mastery in my opinion! The level she is working on includes a lot of drawing lessons for geometry and I was considering skipping them so she could work on "real" math in an attempt to get her caught up to her age peers. It seemed sort of a waste of time. But I know how much she enjoys to draw, and I showed her the drawing tools that she would be using and she was SO excited that I couldn't skip the lessons. What completely swayed me was one of the last lessons before the drawing lessons began. She was learning how to find the perimeter of a rectangle and she basically had to solve the problems on her own with manipulatives and her thinking skills. It was AMAZING to watch her do it, and when she was done, she asked if she could keep the paper she did it on. She was SO proud of herself!! Here is a picture of her working with the T-square and triangle to construct rectangles! :)
The only area of school where she is giving me ANY grief is taking over the responsibility for reading some of her lessons to herself, like history and science. She really prefers to be read to, but Charlotte Mason emphasizes that the child take over the reading on their own as soon as they are able to do so. Reece much prefers to be read to (as Austin did, and still does LOL). But luckily for me, she has two older siblings who read most of their own lessons so I can point to them as being 'grown up' and telling her she gets to be more like them. Nah, she doesn't fall for it... but I can still try, right?

So there is your update on Miss Reece!! I am enjoying every last minute of this time with her because I know that the hormones are just around the corner! LOL

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Week in Review: Term 2, Week 2

Another busy week, hence no time to post until today! :) Austin had a doctor's appointment on Monday which always throws everything off. Everything went well at his appointment, though, so hopefully we won't have to go back for a couple of months. Then on Thursday Riley had to get new pointe shoes and she needed them immediately so she can break them in before her audition next weekend. Well, that took us out of the house for 2 hours in the morning. Then on Friday,  I took Reece ice skating because she got new skates for Christmas and she had been asking over and over when we could go. Because I hadn't planned to take her skating, I didn't adjust her lessons so we had to come home and finish. All in all, it was a completely crazy week!! But we got our work done, and that's what matters!

Nothing changed from last week so I won't bore you with rehashing all the various details! We didn't get to Plutarch this week because of skating so we'll attack that tomorrow. I am going to adjust our family lessons schedule a bit to accommodate Reece's weekly (or maybe bi-weekly?) skating now. I had Plutarch and Shakespeare scheduled on Fridays but that won't work when we need to be out of the house by 9:30.

This coming week I am looking forward to being home more so I don't feel so much pressure. I am also hoping that Austin can get into a groove with his math and science. He was very frustrated last week and it breaks my heart to see him working so hard and still not understanding. This kid gets an "A" for effort for sure! I wish with all my heart that I could go back to the beginning of our homeschooling and do math over with Austin and see if it makes a difference. There are so many things I would change.

My personal goal for this coming week is to blog 4 times. I would like to write a separate post to update on each of the kids, plus I need to decide upon a Word of the Year for 2012 and blog about the impact of my 2011 WOTY! It's amazing - and also cautions me to select carefully because God takes these things seriously, in my experience! LOL

Have a great week friends!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Week In Review: Term 2, Week 1

Our term 1 was a true mess, what with Riley being gone a week for a mission trip, then the girls and I being gone for a week too Disney World, and then Austin going for 5 days to Florida for a fishing trip. And then I had two separate trips this fall to run marathons that not only took me away, but then the races themselves wore me out physically and mentally. Add into that an injury that had my mind distracted and took me away to physical therapy a few times a week. Then Austin started having seizures again, and before you knew it, the holidays were upon us. We never sank into a good groove, and it felt like we were just trying to throw in some work around our crazy lives. That's never productive. Or at least it isn't for us.

But now we have to really make some progress and set our minds to education. My running schedule will be much less this coming year not only to allow me to completely recover from last fall's injury but also to allow me time to better prepare for lessons. The kds' activities will continue to overwhelm from time to time, but we have until July to get all of our required days in! Someone will just have to remind me of this when June rolls around and we're still doing lessons! LOL

This first week back served as a math refresher for the big kids. Austin is doing a combination of Key to Algebra (in Book 4 now) and Math U See Algebra 1. It is really hard for him and he is not enjoying it. Riley is now doing Math U See Pre-Algebra for an assortment of reasons that I won't bore you with.

Reece is about halfway through Right Start Math, Level C and still loves it. And she hasn't needed any review. It seems we can lay off lessons for 3 weeks and she is able to basically pick up where she left off! She is just getting started into some drawing/geometry lessons (using a T-square, triangles, drawing board, etc) and I had considered skipping them in my attempt to get her "caught up" to her age/grade level peers in math. But I knew that she would really enjoy these lessons, and I want to keep that spark for math alive. So we continued on, and she has done the first lesson. Another day I will blog about the perimeter lesson that preceded it - and helped me to put aside my concerns of her being behind.

Our second term history will focus on Ancient Greece. Riley is beyond excited because she loves this time period from her obsession with enjoyment of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. She is reading The Story of the Greeks and the first half of Augustus Caesar's World. Austin is reading the section on Ancient Greece in World History: A Human Odyssey. And Reece will read the chapters on Ancient Greece in The Story of the World, Volume 1. Both of the big kids are also reading The Children's Homer, and Austin will follow that up with reading some of the original Iliad. Riley is reading Archimedes and the Door of Science for her biography this term. Reece is reading In Grandma's Attic, as she is completing the Sonlight curriculum's early reading lists. Austin continues his government study, and we will be focusing on elections and current events for the rest of this year, for obvious reasons! He will be able to vote in the next presidential election after this one! WOW!

Austin continues with his DVD-based Physical Science class from local educator Derek Owens. It is a new format for him (lecture-based) and he finds it challenging. There is also quite a bit of math required and he struggles with that as well so it makes the science harder. Riley is continuing Apologia's General Science. Reece is still enjoying the Burgess Flower Book.

Austin will have this term off from grammar while he focuses on writing by using Susan Wise Bauer's new curriculum called Writing With Skill. Both he and Riley will be working in level 1, which is currently the only level available. It is written to the student which makes it nice for me. Riley will do some grammar refreshing by beginning Our Mother Tongue, which is a small English Grammar text. Reece is still working in First Language Lessons, Level 3 and Writing With Ease, Level 2. She gets summarizing, copywork, dictation practice and beginning diagramming instruction and I don't have to pull it together on my own! Reece is also doing a spelling workbook from Rod and Staff because she loves it, but I am considering starting her in Spelling Wisdom (literature/dictation-based spelling) when she completes this workbook in a few weeks. Austin is doing Sequential Spelling for Adults in yet another attempt to help him spell better.

Riley is resuming Latin and French, much to her dismay. She wants to study Greek (see aforementioned obsession with Ancient Greece), and I told her that she can add Greek when she finishes with this Latin book, if she still desires.

That's all of the individual stuff I can think of. Our family lessons will have us completing the Hymn Study we began 3 years ago! We actually already know 2/3 of this term's hymns because of our current church! I will have to find us a new hymn CD! We continue to study the history of sculpture in A Child's History of Art. Our scripture for the term comes from the book of Luke and we continue to work through the original Pilgrim's Progress. This week we also began our first REAL Plutarch lesson using a wonderful study guide found on the Ambleside Online website. I think I felt part of my brain explode during the lesson and the kids kept saying, "HUH??" but we muddled through! LOL

 I think that's all... if I'm forgetting something, I'm sure you won't mind because if you've gotten this far, you're probably getting pretty bored! ;)  I'm going to attempt to post this week and update on each of the kids individually. They have each had lots of developments during the fall!

Thanks for hanging with me during all the silence!