Aug 092017
 

Summer break.  A time away from public school.  A time to visit the public pool, the library, various parks in the area … yeah, I had great and wonderful plans.

How many of them turned out? Well, let’s not go there right now.

Something George’s teacher sent home at the end of last school year as a pack of papers.  His OT even send home ideas he could work on.  These were great, and would fit in easily to my plans for a simplified home school/summer school.

I was organized.  Truly.  Each kid had a bind of work to do, a sheet at the beginning saying what needed done that day, etc.  In all, it should have taken us less than an hour a day.  Should have.

Even if things did not turn out like I had them planned, they could have gone worse.  Not exactly optimistic thinking is it?

I have learned over the years to not beat my head against a brick wall if I do not have to.  Though it might take several hits for me to be reminded, I do get there.  Here is one great example:

This is a simple enough worksheet. Or so I thought.  George was to work on this page one day.  I should have taken, oh, 10 minutes.  2 or 3 days later I decided that God gave George his own way of looking at things and I was not going to let a worksheet squelch that trait.

Here is how things were going…during Week 1:

Me – George, for each line there is one item that does not go with the others.  When you find that word, write it on the line to the right.

Already, we are at Problem #1 – George’s reading skills are a bit behind.  While I thought this could be independent work while I read aloud to Jack, it turned into him needing clarification on almost every word.

Problem #2 – even if he figured out the word, he would have to write it out.  Writing takes a lot of effort for him, sometimes he uses creative spelling even if the work is right there, and he gets upset about it and wants to give up immediately.

Solution #1a – “Try your best and I’ll go over the ones you don’t know when I am done with Jack.” Yeah, like that is going to work. Silly me.  He lasted 10 seconds before declaring he didn’t know any of the words and chose to play with his toys. Right. In. Front. Of. Us. While I am trying to get Jack to follow what I am reading. While I am trying to get Jack to sit still.

Solution #1b – “Go play in your room and we will work on this when I am done.” 20 seconds later he is back out again, walking in circles around us.

Solution #1c – “If you do not leave this room right now, your brother is going to get to pick all the movies for the rest of the day.  Now get a book and go. to. another. room. (For further clarification) As in, not where we can see you.”

Once I finally was able to give George my full attention I tackled the second problem.

Solution #2 – “Don’t worry about writing it out.  Just circle it.”

Okay, so now we were off and running.  I sat trying to do paperwork while George asked about 90% of the words.  I leaned over to check his work at one point and asked for clarification.

Me – For #4, why did you write that rain did not belong?

George – Wind can blow around sleet and snow. Sleet and snow are both cold. Wind can be cold too.

Me – Um, okay. What are sleet and snow exactly.  Is rain or wind similar to them in that way?

 

Me – For #9, why did you say coral did not belong?

George – The rest are animals.

Me – Well, that is true. Is there any other way the to make some of the words relate to each other?

 

Me – For #10, why did you write that a ‘kite’ did not belong in the group?

George – Because a cactus grows in sand and you can carry sand in a bucket.

 

At this point, I gave him a hug, told him he could be done with the worksheet, and to go play.

See, none of his answers were necessarily wrong, they were only not the ones the authors were going for.  Most people would see that “sleet, snow, and rain” belong together because they are precipitation, “anenemone, coral, and octopus” belong together due to them being in the ocean, and “sand, bucket, and kite” belong together because you play with them at the beach.

George’s brain doesn’t work that way.  I tried to lead him there.  I was painful.  So painful.  He was frustrated because he just could not see where I was trying to go.

Our relationship is more important than a worksheet aimed at getting him to think like the author wants him to.

No worries, I am not just letting him get by without learning, but there are other ways than worksheets to teach this concept.

Sep 202016
 

red bicycle

… continue from Part 2

After a good night’s sleep, I was still dreading the morning bike ride to school.  Yeah, I needed more than 8-ish hours of sleep to forget my feelings of the day before.

Knowing the kids were tired from an emotional evening the night before (family therapy does that every time, even though it is held at our house and does not feel all that intense to me), I let them sleep a bit later, giving us 20-30 minutes to get ready for school and leave.  What was I thinking?!?!  ADHD remember?

George decided he needed lots of hugs before even getting started for the day.  And then he only wanted to get dressed half way before coming to breakfast.  After begin sent back several times, he finally was dressed and downstairs.  Breakfast of the day – cereal.  Quick and easy, right?  WRONG!

George is a talker.  The more you rush him, the more topics he finds to talk about.  Even his verbal apraxia does not slow him down.  Add to this the need for movement, and you now have a very chatty child exploring how drops of milk affect his cereal, over and over again.  The absolute latest time for leaving has come and gone … and he still has not brushed his teeth, gotten his shoes on, packed his lunch, etc.  Meanwhile, this introverted mom is standing there nagging and beginning to fume as all her attempts at getting him to school so he is not late are completely ignored.

Jack, still asleep but not needing to actually be at the location George has to be at, yet unable to be left sleeping alone at home, is woken up and given the simple task of putting on his shoes.  “Leave me alone.  I am sleeping.”  Further prodding to get up only results in a very familiar strain, but with a new twist, “Why do we have to go. Can’t he walk by himself? I am sleeping.”

So much for my consideration for his sleeping and allowing him to stay asleep till 1o minutes before we needed to leave.  Hey, I did not even care if he was still in his pajamas while we rode.  My standards of dress for Jack’s mornings are pretty much, “As long as it is not indecent, it is acceptable.”

Once everyone was on board with the concept of actually leaving to get George to school, it was already past the time he was supposed to be inside the school building.  In one final attempt to get us there before lunch time I told the kids I would be leading and they just needed to keep up.  HA!

Along the way, I would glance back to see where the kids were in relation to myself.  Usually the answer was, “nowhere near me”.

At times it looked as if they were taking a leisurely Sunday ride to enjoy the leaves.  Other times they would stop to say “hi” to a random neighbor whom they had never seen before, but which it was now vitally important for that particular neighbor to not only hear them, but also acknowledge their salutations.  Other times one would decide to not cross a main road because there was a car going 35 mph 6. blocks. down. the. road!

Did I mention we had left home when the morning assembly had already started? And I was in a hurry to get him there before lunch time?  Yeah, that meant nothing to the kids apparently.

By the time we got to school, Jack decided George needed supervision on the other side of the parking lot in order to park his bike at the bike rack.  What neither of them seemed to realize is that this ‘helping’ only makes them both slower.  Of course, then came the inevitable argument out of Jack as to why he could not park his bike in the very middle of the entrance walkway.

We entered the building and I made George go to the office to sign in late.  When the Principal mentioned that we were not really late, I corrected him.  I was cross enough at that point I was not going to let George get any slack.  We were supposed to have been at school 45 minutes ago, in time for him to be early and enjoying the library before the school day began. We WERE late; I did not care what the clock or Principal said.  It all went over George’s head, though; time is something that does not exist in his world.

… to be continued. Yes, there is even more fun to come.

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Aug 202016
 

school lessons learned again

A new school year brings new lessons, even if it is something you have done several times before.  Situations change. People change.  The phase of the mood moon changes. There is always a lesson or two waiting in to be learned.  Here are a few from our first day of school(s) yesterday.

In preparation:

1. Do not ladle hot pudding into plastic containers. They will melt.

2. Donut holes covered in honey is a yummy breakfast.

3. The habit of a morning routine is great.  No, they had not gotten it down, without reminders, all summer long even though you did it Every. Single. Morning.  No, they will not miraculously suddenly start doing it just because you now have a 5-times weekly appointment to get to at 8 a.m. (any opinions on this book?)

melted plastic containers

Actual school day:

1. You do reach a point where you do not cry when leaving your child at school, for better or worse. Maybe on a day where you feel less stressed (cast iron tub issues, home remodel, kids’ trauma issues and ADHD clashing, and more anyone?) you will remember exactly what it is you have done, making up for the lack of tears. For now, though, it’s all good. Your social bug is excited/nervous to be back in the throng of so many people to talk to. Constantly. Even with a speech issue, though most do not notice it now.  Boy oh boy, God sure did make this one a talker. He must have some sort of plan for him, or else this is one big double-edged thorn in his side. Love him to pieces.

2. On the way home you realize that you did yourself a favor by starting your home school year 1.5 weeks early (the first few days will be light days) and including a walk to the library on the first day of school.

3. Timers are wonderful things. You work till it goes off, then switch to the next thing.

4. Putting off the start of the school day till after the floors are swept and vacuumed makes you feel less of a failure as a homemaker when you look up between lessons.

5. Tests are not evil things. It is okay to see where your child is in order to know what you need to focus on. That does NOT have to mean bubble sheets and hour long sitting sessions. FYI: part if our tests involved markers and oral descriptions. I had to sigh at the addition of Light Sabers to the map.

6. Remember your clip boards?  Yeah, remember your clip boards and get them out to use. 😉

Afterwards:

1. (leftover) Donut holes are a great after school snack for the ever hungry kid.

2. At bedtime, kids will still be nervous for the second day of school, even if the first day went well.

3. It is okay to only mow 1/4 of the yard at a time.  You do what you can when you can.  However, next time, remember to put the downspouts back on so you do not have to get out of bed and run out in a downpour at 10 p.m. to put them back on.  It may be said that washing you hair with rainwater is a good thing, but I really could have done without the soaking wet clothes that went along with the experience.

4. Remember the “timers are wonderful things” mentioned above?  Well, that goes for setting your alarm to pick up your kid from public school as well.  Especially on the first day of school when they had early release.

In all, this was a great first day of school.  Even with a light school day at home I was reminded of the need for sensory input, mainly along the deep muscle and vestibular kind.

We made it on time for George in the morning.  Earlier this week we had gone to the school and found his homeroom, as well as another class he will frequent, and his locker.  This simple step make a world of difference to him, taking away one unneeded worry.  At bedtime, he told me, in his Grown-Up-3rd-Grader voice, that I would not need to walk him in for the second day; he knew where everything was and could find it.  (I think he has a fear of being lost and not knowing how to get where he is going.)

So, I will let go on this one and allow him to do it himself.  Of course, on day 3/4/5/115 he might change his mind and I will be there to offer the support he needs.  After all, is that not why we are here?  To help them grow into confident, independent, knowledgeable adults?  Well, that is our hope at least.

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Feb 252015
 

IMG_20150225_100930382

This morning I was working on homework with George in the kitchen.  We made it through his assigned reading book, his spelling words (done today while he jumped on the trampoline), and his speech practice (/th/ sounds).  Vocab was saved to review while we ate.

The teacher had marked that he should practice math, but had sent nothing specific home.  Yesterday she mentioned that he was having trouble switching between addition and subtraction.

With his other homework finished it was time to eat and his cereal was waiting for him on the counter.  Perfect. To get to his cereal, he had to take the number of steps toward the counter that I told him.

We have done this game in a variety of ways, sometimes counting forwards/backwards (face appropriate way), adding/subtracting, skip counting, etc.  Today it went like this:

Take 2 steps forward.

Take 1 step backwards.

Take 3 steps forward.

Take 2 steps backwards.

Add 4 steps.

Subtract 1 step.

Add 3 steps.

Subtract 2 steps …..

George was catching on, his steps backwards got smaller as his steps forward got larger.  🙂 The last instruction of “Take 1 step forward” resulted in 3 steps forward with a smile on his face. Silly Goose.

 

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Feb 122015
 

question marks on stars

Sometimes life as the parent of a kid with Apraxia feels like a game of Taboo.  Here is an example:

We were in the car driving home.  George was talking about something he was looking at, so I had just a bit of context.  However, who knows where his brain will actually go once he starts talking, which he had been doing for several minutes.

George: Mom, you know those things you eat that are round?

Me: Um, no. (Thinking to myself, “how does this have anything to do with what he is looking at?”)

George: They are brown.

Me: I’m not sure.

George: Yes you do.  They are round, sometimes with two round things.  They also can have straight lines on them.

Me: Ice cream cones?

George: No.  They have two round things together and are brown.

Me: Pretzels?

George: Yes, pretzels!  This looks like a pretzel but with beads.

… a minute later …

George: She is wearing … what is the thing that girls wear around their waist?

Me: (thinking a belt or a skirt, so I guessed the biggest one) a skirt?

George: No.  You wear it when you dance.

Me: A tutu?

George: Yes.  She is wearing a tutu.

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This is something that has not happened as much in the past year as it used to when he was 3 -5 years old.  At that time is sometimes felt like the game version of “this is the song that never ends, it goes on and on my friend …”.  As George has gotten older, I notice when he briefly pauses and finds an alternative word to use instead of the one he can not think of at that time.  The conversation above was at the end of a full day of school, which is when I notice that his apraxic tendencies begin to show more – his brain is just … tired.  Poor kid.

If you did not get the song reference above, here is a YouTube clip to clue you in.

 

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Sep 232014
 

math fun kid

 

Kindergarten this year is so much easier.  I am not sure if it is: a) I have done this before, b) it involves a different student/personality, c) no disabilities are involved or d) the kids are more settled in general.  Which ever it is I am glad for it.

George made it all the way through Kindergarten not knowing our address or phone number.  Part of that was due to me not teaching him.  He tells everyone everything.  There were certain people whom I did not want knowing our phone number.  I told the school to teach him our foster care agencies phone number and address.  Actually, I didn’t tell them whose phone and address it was, just gave them what I wanted him to learn.  🙂  If George or another person needed to get in contact with us (lost, somewhere that didn’t have our number, etc.) they would still have been able to do so.

Now George is in the first grade and Jack is in Kindergarten.  Carrying over from how we did things this Summer, I am having both boys work on the same things here at home.  So, when Jack was learning our phone number, both boys were learning our phone number.  When George has to practice his vocabulary words, I made a game of it and both boys practice the words.  This gives George a review and enables him to catch things he did not last year, while also preparing Jack for next year.  As for me, well, it saves time.  I can work with both boys without having to ignore one.  This does not work for all things, but it is amazing how many homework assignments both boys can do together.

Kindergarten

Learning phone number and address

How to Teach Kids Their Addresses and Phone Numbers: Rhymes, stories and other techniques to boost memory

  • It was interesting to see that we do a few of these, though not all.  They all seem easy to implement, and fun, so we may be adding more to the repertoire.

8 Ways to Teach Children Their Address and Phone NumberLasting Thumbprints

  • We have done #8 with letters and words, never thought to do it for our phone number.  The kids really love chalk on the sidewalk and jumping from one place to the other.
  • #2 turned out to be a great fit for us as we sing songs at bedtime.  Both boys know their phone number, save one digit in the middle which they keep forgetting.  We even do this as a back and forth song, taking turns as to who gets to say the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th lines and who get to repeat after the song leader.
  • She also makes a good point about teaching kids to use a cell phone.  I have thought several times that neither George or Jack could call 911 on my phone if they needed to.

Teaching Kids Their Address And Other Details

  • I appreciated the point made about putting the information into context, such as the number in your address matches up to the one on your house, not your neighbors.

Teaching Toddlers & Preschoolers Their Phone Number

  • Includes some printables and another song idea

Tying Shoes

Dollar General had several things on clearance this past week.  One of them was a cardboard flash card of shoe with laces to practice tying.  We have been working with Jack on this, but have not made a lot of progress.  I was hoping this would fall into the ‘cool’ category and get him excited about taking the next step in self-sufficiency.

George could also use work in this area, though has it down okay.  He needs to work more on getting the shoes on the correct foot.  I tried several different things last year to no avail.  Even took the natural consequences approach – “When they begin to hurt his feet, then he’ll take notice and put them on correctly.”  WRONG.  When they hurt his feet he will ignore it till it gets a lot worse then complain his fee hurt.  By this point he will have blisters that are starting to bleed.  Now, I ask  him if anything is wrong and glance at his feet.  Sometimes he takes the hint.

After trying to explain the process to Jack over and over, I resorted to YouTube for help.  There are a lot of videos to choose from.  This was our favorite:  Kids Learn How To Tie Their Shoes Easily


Months Of The Year

Careful with this song. It is so catchy you might find yourself, your spouse and your kids singing it while brushing you teeth or walking through the house. Guess it is a good thing that it is catchy, otherwise the kids would not have learned their months of the year. Months Of The Year

Days Of The Week

Days of the Week Song – 7 Days of the Week – Children’s Songs by The Learning Station – this song was so successful for us that Jack learned them last year.  On his homework sheet I have him say the days on Monday and then mark off the other days.

(The greatest battle with George, when he was doing this, was getting him to understand that the days repeat – i.e. there is a day after Saturday and before Sunday.  So glad we passed that hurdle.)

We reinforce the order of days by not answering questions like “When is Saturday?”, and “How long till we go to ___?”  Instead we tell them what today is and have them say the days till the desired answer appears.

Reading/Phonetic Awareness

Here is a fun video that I just came across. While it is not one I would use for helping with homework, it is fun and may be used as a reward. It could be used as a challenge if Jack gets fast enough at reading his sight words.

 Rhyming Word Rule

Syllable Lesson Video – shows several ways to explain how to find the number of syllables in a word.

1st Grade

Spelling

Last week’s spelling words had the TH and SH sounds.  When I did the practice test at the beginning of the week George put a “th” in every word.  To help correct this we:

  • sat him down facing me and pronounced both sounds using exaggerated motions
  • had him repeat the sounds and motions and describe to me what his mouth was doing for each sound – the placement and movements of his tongue, teeth and lips
  • I also told a quick story about how my grandmother kisses in the same way as you  may make the SH sound – lips puckered.  George likes stories, so these seem to stay with him.

The TH Sound In English

Speaking English: How to say CH & SH – this video is a bit slow and unexciting, but it does help describe the difference in making the CH and SH sounds

Handwriting

This has always been an issue that I chalked up to George begin a boy.  That does not mean we do not work on it, just that I do not expect flowing, flowery handwriting from him.  🙂  Last week I stopped by a garage sale and picked up two dry erase flip tablets.  The first had Upper Case Letters and the Second Lower Case Letters.  The thought was to use these as a reward for doing his handwriting practice well.  It actually turned out to be a great way for both George and Jack to practice their letters before doing it on paper for homework.

We also have had to review sentence structure, writing wise.  This simple song sums it all up quickly and I usually do not have to sing the whole thing for him to remember – The Sentence Song.

Math

George’s class began subtraction.  While he does the worksheets with them, we are still focusing on solidifying his grasp on addition.  My favorite way to work this into our day is with food.  He would prefer I use candy.  I like using cherry tomatoes.  🙂  Either way, he gets to eat them in the end.

 

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