August 25, 2013

A Day with a Sensory Child

Hello, my name is Laurke and I have a son with SPD.  Its mild, and most people have no idea that he is anything other than normal.  But I know!
On bad days, he looks like this. :(
I had never heard of sensory processing disorder (aka sensory integration disorder) until about 18 months ago.  I always knew he was on the sensitive side (see here), but thought he would just outgrow it.  Instead, homeschooling gave me the opportunity to see what little things set him off, and how easily frustrated and anxious he would get.  Being a foster parent, I saw how kids younger than he could balance on bikes, tie shoes and more.  He can do these things now, thanks to Minds in Motion and Occupational Therapy, plus a bit of influence from the other boys.

So what does our typical day look like?  If its a good day, probably much like yours.  But on those off days, it goes something likes this.  Here is the checklist I created in Evernote and have on the mirror in his room, and at my command station.  What I added for this blog post is italicized.  (Feel free to adapt this and use it in your own home.)
Routine is EXTREMELY important to sensory kids.  Keep a schedule.  Throughout the day, please LIMIT TV and  electronic time and encourage lots of active play.

Wake-up, "Spirit of the Forest" music playing (recommended by OT)
7:00 Thera-pressure (brushing/joint compressions)
7:05 Therapeutic listening (headphones or other) (special headphones like in the above picture)
Get dressed, make bed
Oral motor protocol
7:15 Breakfast at table
Brush teeth, chores
Creative play
8:30 Thera-pressure (1.5-2 hours after first session)
Heavy work (riding bike, swinging)
9:00 School work
10:00 Thera-pressure
Heavy work (trampoline, climbing)
10:30 Seat work
11:30 Thera-pressure
Oral motor protocol
Lunch  (this part of the schedule needs tweaking, since it takes him about 30 minutes to decide what he wants to eat and fix it.  However, we have been done with school work before 2, so its good enough!)
School work 
12:30 Rest/play while therapeutic listening
1:00 Thera-pressure
Finish up school work
2:00 Oral motor protocol
Snack & free time
2:30 Thera-pressure
Free time - screen time allowed
4:00 Thera-pressure
5:30 Thera-pressure
Oral motor protocol
7:00 Thera-pressure
Screen time allowed until 1 hour before sleep time
7:30 Shower, brush teeth 
8:00 Read stories
8:30 Thera-pressure.  Lights-out

Therapressure - keep brush horizontal to ground - turn arms/legs, not brush.  Don't brush over clothes.  Don't brush stomach.  Apply firm, consistent pressure.

Follow with joint compressions - Shoulders, elbows, wrists x10 quick pushes.  Fingers x3.  Hips, knees, ankles x10.  Spine (hands on shoulders) x10 fast or x3 slow.  Chest (hands on sternum and back) x3

Oral motor protocol - gently swipe roof of mouth (right, left, right) with finger.  Open mouth midway and gently press down on bottom teeth x10.
C-swipes x3 cycles - start with fingertip on gums above front teeth, around gum line, down cheek, and halfway across bottom, like a "c".
Take finger on inside of cheek, thumb on outside.  Gently squeeze cheek between fingers and pull forwards, sliding fingers across muscles in cheeks.  3x each side.

I'm thankful that on recent days we haven't had to do the brushing (therapressure) but he does enjoy it.  I usually forget to remind him of the oral motor protocol, too, but we are both works in progress!  The protocol is supposed to help desensitize his mouth so it is easier for him to try new foods, and we have seen improvement in that area, although slow.

Here are some of our sensory tools.  In this white basket are dry erase markers and crayons for using on the white board, which he prefers over paper (too scratchy).  Pencils and pencil sharpeners for when paper is required.  He likes the mechanical pencil with the special finger grip, and sometimes will use the wristband to wipe sweaty hands on.

School basket
In the sensory box, which moves around the house, are things to keep his hands busy, eyes focused and mouth occupied.  Balloons and the duck whistle help him breathe deeply.  The wonder wand is calming.  Then there are some chewy things in there as well.
Sensory toys
 The wonderful snack tray.  I really think this has helped more than anything.  Although it irritates my overly-sensitive self to hear him sucking and chewing all day long, it helps him focus and stay calm.  We include a couple of crunchy things, chewy, and sour items.  This tray has pretzels, peanuts, Lemonheads, fruit roll-up, ice (pellet ice is best), suckers, and bubble gum.  He rarely eats the suckers or hard candy, except for Lemonheads.  Lemon is very alerting...we also put lemon essential oil into our water everyday.
Oral motor tray (aka snack tray...his favorite part!)
 Finally, varying where he can go during school really helps.  We start at the dining table, and go to the playroom for the kid-sized table for copy work and maybe math, use the computer for typing, some math, and Spanish, then to the couch or front porch for read-alouds.  See more of where we do school.
Sitting on an exercise ball helps focus and builds core strength
Resources for SPD:
Your local pediatrician can recommend/refer to an OT for evaluation.  You will likely have to ask for this; once I did, the rest was easy.
Sensory Smarts
A Sensory Life (formerly Understanding SPD)
Pinterest - SPD and OT

August 21, 2013

Not! Back-to-School Pictures 2013

We're part of the iHN's Not Back-to-school blog hop!

As we began AO Year 3 in third grade, and our third year of homeschooling, I finally decided to make "real" back-to-school pics!  (Faces blurred purposely.)

This is my little booger covered in this year's school books, which he thought was hilarious.  Top right is his lesson horse, Dixie, who he practices with weekly.  Bottom right is the books from the left picture, plus the "free reads" (not part of curriculum, but suggested to read on his own or as bedtime stories) and our memory work box.  You'll notice our globe in the background. :)  See more of the school room here.

 Here he is doing some arithmetic on the dry-erase board, with iPad, snack tray and water bottle handy.  The mess on the table behind him is from Furball, the hamster.  He likes to carry bedding and food into the plastic wheel on top of the cage, then run in it, spraying mess everywhere!  At least he doesn't smell as bad as the turtle did last year...

August 14, 2013

Kindle Fire Giveaway!

I have the third and fourth grade lessons purchased and plan to start using them next week.  So excited to have an interactive math program!  Here's your chance to win a Kindle and learn more about the company below...

A+ Interactive Math by TutorSoft Inc. is giving away a Kindle Fire to celebrate the launch of their brand new website.  The Kindle Fire will be loaded with 8 different A+ Interactive Math eBooks for a value of almost $300 total! Kindle Fire is also compatible with the hundreds of A+ worksheets, so you can take math on the go.

The new website, launching this week, promises a whole new look and feel offering a brand new A+ math experience. The site launch is only a portion of the exciting new changes coming from A+ Interactive Math. There are new programs, books, eBooks & more options coming to help every homeschool family afford a top-of-the-line math curriculum.

The A+ Homeschool blog has recently launched, and although A+ is a Math Curriculum company, the blog serves to support and inform homeschoolers with freebies, deals and news to make their homeschool journey a great one.

This giveaway promotion sponsored by A+ Interactive Math, will run from Aug. 12 – Aug. 16 ending with an incredible Facebook party on the A+ Facebook page. There will be exciting door prizes for everyone who attends, as well as over $1000 in fantastic homeschool giveaways.

Sponsors include: A+ , Master Books, EEME, Winter’s Promise, Founders Academy, How to be Homeschooled, Tangram Chess, Kathy Lee – Homegrown Preschooler, HEDUA, CurrClick, AJTL lapbooks, Family Time Fitness, Educents, Brimwood Press, Unit Studies by Amanda Bennett, Heritage History, Creating a Masterpiece, & Bright Ideas Press and more!

Please visit the new website A+ Interactive Math and leave a comment below sharing your thoughts on the new design, or about a product that interests you.

*the only product not included is the workbooks in printed format

Open to US and Canada only. A Canadian winner must agree to pay up to $35 in shipping or forfeit to another winner. Entering the giveaway is always free. Valued at almost $400!

Enter to win the Kindle Fire loaded with cool math eBooks through the following Rafflecopter:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

August 12, 2013

Where We Do Homeschool

I'm linking up with the iHomeschool network's School Room Week 2013, so click through to see what everyone else is doing!

Where do we "do" home school?

The short answer: it varies!  For a picture story, keep reading :)

Typically, it has been in the dining room, as it is with many other home educators.  In our open floor plan, the kitchen, dining room, living room and entryway are almost completely open to each other, with just one short wall between kitchen and living where the cabinets hang.  At the end of that wall is a low counter, which is my own office area.  (Warning: These pics are real.  I didn't clean or straighten *at all* before shooting them!)
My command center - Mac, student schedule hanging on left, tadpole tank on right, and my paper clutter :-/
Piano, chalkboard, picture study hanging, globe, and shelves for supplies and games
After giving our playroom its yearly end-of-summer overhaul, I set up a small foldable table that we haven't used in over a year.  This will allow for a better handwriting position for the student, and a change of scenery when needed.  Its not the most comfortable place for me to sit, though!  As a bonus, he can bop around on the exercise ball and still see the top of the table.

kid-sized table in playroom
slouching on the exercise ball, lol
In the play room, I have decided to leave the game table up at all times.  I used to have wide open spaces, but as he has gotten older, a permanent Lego location seems more necessary.  The picnic style table can be used for board games with the kids after school time.

Our Settlers of Catan game table (DH's pride and joy), taken over by Legos
Board game shelves, and books stored in banker's boxes
In addition to table space, we do readings on our couch or on the front porch swing when its not too humid outside.  Its a foggy mess out there today!  Here are other random learning spaces in our home.
Bible timeline in entryway (behind front door when opened)
Hallway between dining and play rooms with world map and hopefully a timeline again soon
Sometimes we are able to take field trips, and can listen to some of the AO readings in the car as audiobooks.  We have even been known to "do school" while waiting on appointments.  There is no learning experience so well remembered as real life!

Where do you teach your children?

August 10, 2013

Why I Home School

*Back when I was thinking about starting the homeschooling adventure, I said I would come back

and try to explain it more thoroughly, so here it goes.

It boils down to the fact that I hold a different philosophy of education than what the public education
system holds (thank you, John Taylor Gatto for opening my eyes).  I don't believe children are meant
to go through the educational machine and come out the other end molded for society.  I believe that
God created them each as whole, separate beings with great plans in store for their lives, just waiting
to be discovered (Jeremiah 29:11).  To this end, I have created a list of goals, one for "education"
and the other for "social" - so he can understand and function in this day and age, but not be
conformed to it (Romans 12:2).

Educational Goals

-to have a right relationship with God
-to love sincerely: love, respect, sensitivity
-to adopt a healthy lifestyle: mind and body
-to work responsibly: use time efficiently, appreciate productive labor
-to communicate clearly: listening, speaking, reading, writing
-to enjoy beauty: see and receive satisfaction from it, create it, share it
-to reason perceptively: clear understanding, good logic and creative application
-to conduct personal business prudently: earn responsibly, invest wisely, spend
effectively, plan carefully
-to relate intelligently to the environment: understanding natural resources
-to understand our country and how it relates to the rest of the world
-to love learning and possess intellectual curiosity: retain an eagerness for life-long learning

Social Development Goals

-Social graces – courtesy and good manners
-Ability to make and enjoy friends
-Respect for authority – parents, adults, government, Creator
-Sensitivity to needs and feelings of others
-Conversation and correspondence skills
-Ability to give and take in normal relationships; grace to cooperate when things don’t go one’s way
-Skill in defusing tense situations – with cheerfulness and sensitivity
-Prudence in developing relationships – avoiding misunderstanding and proper precautions
from dishonesty in business relationships
-Leadership development, including good follower-ship
These ideas were drawn (mostly) from The Home School Manual by Theodore E. Wade, Jr. 
(I did edit them and boil them down to what fits for my family.)  As you can see, only some
of these goals are covered in other schools, and much of that elusive love of learning is too
easily stamped out as the children try to fit into the cookie cutters like the system expects
them to do. 

I only have once chance to raise him "right", and I don't want to miss it!

*This was originally posted here, on my foster parenting blog.

August 5, 2013

Plans for Ambleside Online Year 3

Today we began our third year of homeschooling.  Its hard to believe its been so long already!  We enjoyed taking some pictures to kick off the year, then I snuck this one, too.

First attempt at Draw Write Now, book 2
I am sticking with AO for another year, and likely for many more to come.  The Charlotte Mason method and her philosophy of education resonates with me, and I believe AO holds true to these. Besides, you really can't beat a free curriculum!

Third grade bookshelf
AO Year 3 moves us from the Middle Ages into the age of discovery and the Reformation.  We will cover the adventures of Marco Polo, using Towle's "Marco Polo, his travels and adventures", and following along with a map.  We move from learning about Martin Luther through the age of widespread printed materials.  The conquests of the Americas, the quests for gold, pirates and heroes.  Tall tales and Greek myths.  Nature study and foreign language.  Pilgrim's Progress and Shakespeare.  I'm excited just thinking about all we will learn this year!  Yes, I said "we".  I am learning so much, right along with him, and I love it!

Current favorite game and Geography puzzles
In addition to the mental feast in the AO Year 3 booklist, which covers history, science, Bible, geography, poetry and literature,  we will add the following materials:
  • Copy work - Write Through the Bible, cursive (Lord's Prayer, then Philippians chapter 2); Draw Write Now, book 2 (alternate, but some writing daily)
  • Art - Creating a Masterpiece DVD series, AO's picture study rotation (weekly)
  • Music - all hymns, composers and folk songs from AO; Piano, using freepianolessons4kids (daily)
  • Health - The Boy's Body Guide: A Health and Hygiene Book (terms 2 and 3)
  • PE - Occupational therapy/Sensory activities; horseback riding
  • Phonics/reading - McGuffey and Treadwell readers (daily)
  • Grammar - Simply Grammar (after Christmas break)
  • Spanish - Rosetta Stone, songs and stories (3 times a week)
  • Typing - Typing Instructor for Kids
  • Finance - Richest Man in Babylon (2-4 pages a week with Daddy)
  • American Sign Language - ASL from The Joy of Signing and some fun iPad apps (once or twice a week)
  • Geography - Galloping the Globe (3 weeks per country, taking it slow, and coordinating somewhat with Marco Polo's adventures)
I think that about covers it!  What are you changing about (or adding to) your chosen curriculum this year, if anything?