May 27, 2012

~Sweet Summertime~

The weather has been beautiful and we have taken full advantage of it with day trips.  Here in central Kentucky, we have many parks and things to do within an hour or two's drive.  Since school has finished, we have been to Mammoth Cave National Park for hiking and horseback riding;
Hiking at Mammoth Cave

Historic Entrance to Mammoth Cave

Green River

First horseback adventure

 to the Patton Museum and Otter Creek Park; to Lowe's for a building project and shopping; Chuck E. Cheese and the Historic Train Museum. 
Otter Creek

Ohio River - barge

Bank - KY side of the Ohio River

gathering goose feathers at the park
Building project at Lowe's

New sand-pool
   I have continued teaching him the basics - reading, writing and math - when we are home.  For reading, I started him on the first McGuffey reader on the Kindle Fire.  His sensory issues make holding books difficult, and this seems to be helping.  He is still a very resistant reader, getting easily frustrated when he doesn't know a word...and often its a word that he did know the day before.  For math, we are reading library books and doing problems on the dry erase board.  For writing, I am using samples from Handwriting Without Tears, 1st and 2nd grade, to see what we need.  Since he has an aversion to paper, I am putting the sheets into sheet protectors and letting him use dry erase markers.  Unfortunately, the tips are too large for small letters....any ideas?  Perhaps there is in iPad app that he can use with a stylus...

Charlotte Mason's philosophy is this: education is an atmosphere a discipline, and a life.
Living is learning, and to really live we need to expose ourselves to new adventures!  With a lot of time outdoors, and a little bit of seat-work, this summer should be not only fun, but very educational.  What time we do spend inside, I try to play music by the composers we learned about during the school year.  I have an "idea jar" with lots of great things for when boredom strikes - and not one of the ideas uses the TV or computer!  (I highly recommend the idea jar. There are many great ideas to put it in all over the internet - try Pinterest!)

This week we head to Columbus, Ohio for Origins Game Fair and lots of swimming at the hotel.  Hope you all have a great week!

This post is linked to Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival, hosted this week by The Holistic Homeschooler.

May 14, 2012

Year 1 Ends - Weeks 35 & 36

Our first homeschooling year has drawn to a close.  We are continuing a lighter summer schedule, which I will go into later.  First, let's recap the last couple of weeks.

To supplement his reading, I had him pick out one of the poems each day to read.  Of course, he chose the shortest one, but its something!  We are continuing the Ninn readers that we have on hand, alternating between the 1st and 3rd primers, depending on which one we can find, LOL.  He does equally well with each - I ask him to read 3 pages aloud in the easier one, and 2 in the harder one,  which comes to about the same number of words.  Most days, I have to hold the book for him (see Overly Sensitive?) so we don't have melt-downs.

Our baby turtle made it through the winter...then we found this huge lizard to keep him company

Weeks 35 and 36

After reading "Cobwebs" from Parables From Nature, which was an interesting story about a baby spider trying to make her way in the world, my son decided to take yarn and make a wrestling ring with it, but it quickly morphed into his own web.  See?
Cobwebs or 'laser' obstacle course

We had to stretch The White Cat over several days, but I liked the story.  He was less enthused, but understood the basic plot.  It was fun finishing up some of the books.  Paddle to the Sea, Just So Stories, and Viking Tales were read in their entirety.  This summer I plan on continuing the Burgess's Bird Book, The Real Mother Goose, and some more of Andrew Lang's Blue Fairy BookAn Island Story, Trial and Triumph and Parables from Nature, as well as the Handbook of Nature Study will all be continued in the fall as scheduled on Ambleside Online.

Yellow flowers everywhere this year, isn't it pretty?
I also want to finish up the "free reads" for Year 1 and being those for Year 2 this summer.  He isn't into reading on his own yet, so these are family read-alouds in the evenings (or perhaps on car trips), for the most part.  For Year 1 we need to finish The King of the Golden River, and start Pinocchio over again, since we tried that with 5 foster kids in the house and it failed miserably to hold their attention.  The Red Fairy Book is also on that list, and available at the library, so may try that one again as well.

Here is a list of the free reads for Year 2 (scroll down to bottom of the linked page).  We will probably start with whatever the library has available.  We have already read Little House on the Prairie and Farmer Boy because he loved Little House in the Big Woods so much earlier this year.

In addition to continuing reading great literature, we will do a few more weeks of sewing with his Ma, and daily math and copywork.  I will aim for doing Spanish and piano twice a week as well.  But not to worry - we will have plenty of travel and summer fun! He is going on his first overnight summer camp and his first science day-camp.  We are also planning a trip to Origins Game Fair in Ohio.  Last, but not least, he wants to spend a week at Nana and Grandpa's and specifically requested that I not go with him.  *sigh* They grow up fast!

Overly Sensitive?

If I wasn't homeschooling, I may have never figured out that our issues are not quite normal.  Not rare, not severe or debilitating...just not "normal".

I've read many books about strong-willed and spirited children - why they are this way and how best to discipline them - because I have one.  And I was one.  I've tried some of the techniques and try to be consistent, but I got to the end of my rope with the daily tantrums over little things.  VERY little things.  Was it me?  Was it him?  Both?

Many days go something like this:
 - "the paper hurts my hand"  during copywork, so I thought he just didn't want to do hand-writing and this was his stubborn way of protesting
 - "the book won't stay open!"  as I show him for the 100th time how to hold it open but he refused to touch the pages and would use knees or elbows instead
 - "I can't do this!" with full wailing and tears over simple addition that he's done many times before
 - constant movement when listening to a story, constant chattering when he should be focusing on anything else
 - protests that turn to tears, frustration that turns to screams, anger that turns into breaking things...
 - refusing to try new foods
 - wearing PJ's under clothes because it "feels good", and other odd clothing choices

Its not fun, but I've persevered.  We have had a few good days scattered around, usually when I have meetings and have to mess with the routine.  On the other hand, similar routine changes can just as easily cause huge meltdowns, and I haven't been able to figure out the difference!

Since we started homeschooling less than a year ago, I have started learning more about sensitive personalities, and how this can contribute to, or heighten, the reactions of a "typical" strong-willed person.  I have read "The Highly Sensitive Person" and "The Highly Sensitive Child" and was impressed by how spot-on they were in many ways in regards to myself and my son.  I recommend these to anyone who has a spirited child - and you know who you are! - especially if you yourself are more laid-back and can't figure out how to deal with your persistent little one. "How to Raise Your Spirited Child" is another good one.

A few months later, I heard the term "sensory defensiveness" and started researching.  Wow, I thought, this is ME!  I wasn't sure if it was him, so I broadened my research to sensory issues.  I don't think he is "defensive" but I now know that he does have some sensory processing issues and we are getting help.  Our goal is to decrease some of his sensitivities (specifically foods and noises) while learning how to cope with the inevitable frustration and anger the extra stresses bring.  I believe he has high tactile and vestibular needs, and possibly has some proprioceptive issues as well.  We are on a waiting list for an actual diagnosis at a place in Louisville (unfortunately there is nothing close to home!)

I'm learning more each day.  Currently I'm reading "The Out-of-Sync Child" and "Too Loud Too Bright Too Fast Too Bright", as well as some blogs on the subject.  So far I have found
Therapy Fun Zone and Imagination Soup.  Does anyone else having any good ones to suggest?

From our first week of switching from paper to dry erase (notice I heart Dad at the top, LOL)
To get through the end of the school year, we switched to dry erase boards for copywork and computer games for math.  I hold the books open and help him keep his place by pointing at the line he is on...and on worse days I point at each individual word.  I would get him a weighted pencil for those times he needs extra pressure, but he only uses dry erase markers....any suggestions on what to do?  Right now I get behind him and lay my arm on his, so he feels the weight but I'm not guiding his hand and the work is his.
And now, he "hearts" mom, too!  (Here he had erased the rest of his copywork already)