Friday, August 31, 2012

Day 5: First week success!

Today is Friday and we have finished our first week of homeschool! 

I am exhausted, my voice is gone and I have a headache. But I'm very, very happy. :) 

To start our first year, I chose a pre-made literature and reading curriculum from Sonlight that I LOVE and chose the 4-Day option. This  means most of our work is completed Mon-Thursday and I can use Friday as an optional "catch-up" day to finish any work on go over anything I need to with the boys. Today we just needed to catch up on some reading, but since we were encouraged to not rush and even take 2 weeks to finish our first week of classes, I think we are doing great!

Two reasons I wanted to do our "Fridays off" option are 1) because my husband works from home or is off work every Friday and 2) I still have a part time job  that I need time to keep up with and do daytime deliveries. Luckily, today is Friday but my husband is actually at a training class today so we had the house to ourselves to do a small school session. We only worked for about 1 1/2 hours to finish up and then I set the boys loose! They are SO happy. They worked hard this week, were at the playground 2 hours yesterday and 1 hour on a neighbor's trampoline last night, and are still adjusting to video withdrawal after a summer of TV, video and PC games galore. They have the whole afternoon off to veg out and I have an nice quiet afternoon to catch up on my cleaning and office work.

So - how did our first week go with homeschooling? Awesome! Behavior-wise, they both did great. Danny is 100% onboard and loves to sit at his homeschool "desk" (although he doesn't have to) which is actually a dining room chair and wooden TV tray. :) I can't believe how attentive he is, how much is actually understand and retains and how smart he is! I do see how much trouble he has writing, so I am ecstatic that most of our work is reading/listening/oral questions. The boys both have math class using Teaching Textbooks, which uses a virtual CD lecture/practice/problem/quiz format that is perfect for Danny. He can whip through tons of lectures and problems in no time - with no less than an 85% on any of them! - but can't get a single page of written problems done in 30 minutes. I am really seeing where his disabilities come into play. The process of calculating the answer in his mind, then transferring to paper is agony for him. He can do it, and it is correct, but I can see how truly difficult it is for him. Thank goodness he really likes the Handwriting Without Tears program we are doing because I'm sure that will help eventually. In the meantime, I am so grateful I can let him continue to learn visually and answer all his questions on the computer while his writing abilities catch up. I feel so blessed!

Benjamin is still an enigma. He is a true puzzle and I am still figuring him out. He has always been extremely bright and has a lightning fast mind with math. But he was always SO anxious as school and had a perfectionist phobia that kept him totally on edge all day at public school - and subsequently kept his mind focused, out of worry. Within the last year or two, he had also begun to friend the outgoing - and sometimes troublemaking - boys in the classroom, which I'm sure was because he was used to rowdy Danny and because their outgoing behavior offset his own shyness and insecurity. At home he has none of this. 

I am watching Ben trying to figure out what to do with himself now. He has always been quiet, shy and a follower, but with only 2 students in our classroom, he really has to pull his own weight when we are doing reading and discussion. When he is quiet, I know he is daydreaming and even though that worked before in a large classroom, it doesn't work now and I realize how much he is NOT retaining. I also realize how much he really doesn't understand about what is being read or said, but doesn't say anything. And I'm thinking it's because he has so much stuff going on in his head. Today when he was having trouble focusing, I let him draw an illustration of the book while we were reading to keep his mind focused. It helped a little, but I have a long way to go with him. It amazes me that even though Danny's learning issues started our journey on homeschooling, it is actually Benjamin who really needs more help at this point!

Well, off to get rid of this headache and do work on the rest of my life. Monday is a holiday here and public school is off, so we are taking off a school day as well, so I'll see you all again on Tuesday :) 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Day 4

My son ate dried seaweed today.

This is big. Let me explain.

Today was day 4 of our new homeschool. It went better than any day before and probably because not only are we getting used to the routine, but we didn't stop for anything until after 1pm. Since we didn't start school until after 10am, that's not a big deal and the kids definitely didn't need food until then. So that let us finish ALL our subject, reading included, except for Danny's science. The day just flew by, and after getting through Ben's rolling on the floor boredom fit at the beginning of the day, we all had a blast. 

When we were ready to break, we packed our lunch and headed over to our biggest park nearby to meet a friend and her three girls who also homeschool. Amy was actually a big support when I was deciding to do this because she made it seem so...not simple... Although she's actually a former neighbor who is my daughter's age, she is great fun and wonderful mom so I love hanging out with her. When we got to the park, THEN the boys realized we didn't have their helmets. Well....we are NOT turning around to go the 30 minute round trip to get them. So the boys struggle with the news that we will only be having a picnic lunch and playing on the HUGE playground. I'm glad to say they adjusted pretty well and they played with Amy's girls for two hours. Here's where the seaweed comes in.

My oldest son, Danny, is 10 years old and has ADD and PDD/NOS. He has lots of sensory issues and a result of that is that he only eats about 10 foods and is very picky about what he eats or even tries. The texture, smell, or color of food is enough to give most food a very polite "No thank you" most days. Today Amy brought dried seaweed (this is nori, right?) as a snack for her girls, since they are pretty full-on Paleo these days. I wanted to try it and did a lipsmacking yum which peaked Danny's interest. I think I tried to convince him it tasted like flattened popcorn, and he surprised me by smelling and then eating a whole bite! He didn't wince or gag or anything. When I asked him what it tasted like, he said "it tastes like the air at the Aquarium smells"!! Right on, son, right on. It does :)

So today's PE class was 2 hours of rock wall and playground climbing at the park and then an hour on a neighbor's trampoline after dinner. And we ate seaweed. Nuf said. :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Day 3 and Counting

August 29, 2012

Well, we're finished our third day of our first time homeschooling - and we are doing it! I realized with the days going so quickly, I'll need a place to keep track of our progress and log what we do all year - for ourselves and for the state! :)

Today's achievements:
  •  After a night of no A/C due to a broken air conditioner, we started school at 10:30am with a sigh of relief we didn't have to rush out the door to public school :)
  • Now that I had done 2 days "by the book", I decided to reverse class order and do science and math in the morning and really sit and work with them. Setting them off to do their own math via the CD and science book with the worksheets seemed as impersonal as what they used to do in public school, so I really wanted to work with them. It was great! Exactly what both they and I needed. We may not get every subject done every day, but that's the point, right?
  • We tried our first "offsite" class with the local ice rink homeschoolers session - and found the ice rink closed due to a broken humidifier. :( Bonus: they gave us free admission coupons for next visit!
Today's issues:

  • Danny Meltdowns: Day 1 - 0, Day 2 - 1, Day 3 - 2. So a pattern is emerging. They happen when he is 1) hungry or wants a different food, 2) around 12:30pm and 3) he is out of the school room.
    • This is quite an awareness. I knew his PDD-NOS diagnosis was going to be the major issue we can help by having him home, so everytime he melts down, I am so glad he is at home and not at school where they don't have a clue.
  • Exhaustion. So....later. :)