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Posts from the ‘Homeschooling’ Category

Operation “Get Life Together”: Releasing Control

I have been homeschooling for a long time.  I mean a long, long, long, Long time….like really long.  I am a pretty strict homeschooling mom.  I have my list, according to the KY state standards, and we do not deviate.

We do cursive.

We do LOTS of reading (it is a love for all my kids).

We do LOTS of history (it is a love for all my kids).

We do the mandatory math (7th level of Hell according to all who reside in my house).

We do Bible.

We do Science.

We write.

We do Language, Grammar, Spelling……

We do it all.

My oldest two daughters and my oldest son were born under the heart.  Victoria was born talking our ear off….knowing her alphabet at 14 mths…spelling her name at 18 mths…reading early.  Alyssa is my creative child.  She can put words to anything.  She can write beautifully and has always been very articulate.  Noah is the math/science/history kid.  Loves loves loves it.

I am a stickler.  I want all my “t’s” crossed and all my “i’s” dotted.  My kids will attest to that.  I have a routine that has stood the test of time, all these years….I do not like change.  I do not like to yield.  I do not like to change things up.  I like what I like.  I know what I’m good at.  I know what the kids are capable of and I want them to know that they can succeed if they put forth the hard work and try.  That’s all I ever want them to do is try.  Do their best….even if it is a D….if they studied and did their best, then that is great in my book.

Then………came my kiddoes born in my heart.  The early years were spent learning our alphabet, our numbers, our address. What sticks out in my mind is the inability Daniel had to remember our address, our phone number, how to write his letters, learning the alphabet…just so many struggles.  His speech and hearing played a lot in that.  We did 2 sets of tubes, put him in preschool, started speech when he was 2 1/2.  I did everything I know to do.  Nothing seemed to work.

Grayce, on the other hand, has the attention span of a gnat.  She could not “do school” with the other kids.  She needed NO distractions (drapes and blinds down), no noise (we had to be like mice), nothing on her walls to look at, nothing in her room, for that matter.  She HATED doing the work and it was like pulling teeth with no medication to get her to do it.  She failed every single test (except for Spelling and Reading Comprehension).  I could not figure out what was going on.  Her math skills…..whoa Nelly.  Just horrible.  We got her tutors (thank you Mr. Brodsky), we did CDs, we did flash cards.  Nothing seemed to work.

Jude…..he came to America when he was 5.  Much of that first year was just learning to live in America.  Learning our language.  Learning to trust us.  We sat, a lot and watched Iron Chef America.  That is our thing.  A movie comes on and he gets as close to me as humanly possible…even at 11.  Then we worked on our alphabet, numbers, basic Kindergarten stuff.  It was hard.  Good gravy.  They say that for however long a child was in country is how long it takes for them to acclimate to a new country.  That is SO true.  So.  Very.  True.  There are certain concepts (Grammar) that is so hard for him.  I mean, it is so hard.  I bought word puzzles.  Did crossword puzzles.  Videos.  Set it to music.  Nothing seemed to work.

There is a world of difference between children who were wanted, loved, cared for, fed and children who suffered from neglect and abuse or a child whose sweet mama did all she could for him but did not have access to proper health care in order to take care of him.  That is a learning curve….for me.  It also teaches me to release the control that I like to hold onto so tightly.

This year….I have decided to release the reins.  I decided to walk into the enemy’s camp and still back my joy of teaching and molding their education to suit their individual needs.  I want to have fun.  I want them to have fun.  I want to meet their “required” needs but do it in a way that they do not hate learning.

So….with that being said.  Noah’s course of action will remain the same.  We will be scheduling him to take the ACT and his driver’s test this week.  I also plan on applying to Murray State Racer Academy in the spring.  We were aiming for the fall, but ya know, life happened.

Grayce, we are doing LOTS of reading literature (British and American) and lots of writing.  She loves to read and she loves to write.  We are stepping back on Algebra.  This part, we are just going to make sure she has an excellent handle on basic math, counting money, counting back money, etc.  She has FASD and the part of her brain that is affected is abstract.  She is *very* concrete and that is okay.  She just thinks and learns differently than us.  Our main goal, for her, is to get used to her living at home again.  She was at military school for 22 weeks.  It was a break that we all needed.  She is adjusting to home very well.  She knows her boundaries and she is confidant that she can be under authority.  It has been nice.  We will, of course, do Science but I will probably not test in that area because her testing skills are not great.  History, however, is good for her and that will continue on a typical high school path.  Bible will remain the same, as will Grammar and Language.

Daniel….I am gearing EVERYTHING to wars….to the military…..to history.  This kid cannot spell, he cannot remember the same chore he has had for 7 yrs, but he can tell you the history, with accurate detail, how the mountains of Hawaii were formed.  What countries were involved in every single war.  Every.  Single.  War.  This is our golden topic.  I am laying off the spelling.  I got him a little gadget for dyslexia that helps with that.  His penmanship is phenomenal.  I have also bought Dragon software to help him write.  It is all through a microphone and a computer.  Math…he is on target.  History…blows it out of the park.  Language, Grammar, Spelling………we are close to being done.  He knows the basics and we will move as far as he can, but realistically, he has FASD and he is also “low functioning” so I’m not discounting his abilities….we do a lot of lego work (I will definitely post a video of some of his inventions…they are wonderful), reading (real books and audio books for the classics of Literature), Bible….everything else will be a unit study created around military stuff.  It’s working

Jude…..he is now on target.  It has taken some time and he is still behind a bit in math, but for the most part….we will move forward with how I teach the other children.  He is heavy into reading and he loves math (though he goes a bit too fast and makes silly mistakes).  He is a beast at spelling and he has an insatiable love of learning.

Hunter……….we just read and play 🙂

All in all…it is gonna get done.  My kids are going to be well rounded, well socialized (yes, homeschoolers can be socialized and not awkward), and they will be educated.  Some are going to college…some will go to college….some will go to beauty school….some will go to trade school…God has their lives planned out.  He had it planned before He created the Earth.  He knows their beginning, middle, to end.

I just get the privilege of raising all these wildly different kiddoes.

I am blessed.

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This is an AMAZING list

Good News

I’m always hesitant to see where my kids are in their schoolwork.  They do it….everyday and I grade it….once a week. I make out schedules for 3 of my kids and the other 2 have their schoolwork mainly online so that schedule is made out for them.

With Christmas coming up, I know that we will be taking a break…a long, much needed, much deserved break.  I looked to see our local public school’s calendar to count up how many days my older children should have under their belts before the break.

They needed to complete lesson 88, in all subjects by December 19th.  *Panic* ensues and I tentatively ask Boo what lesson set he finished today (that is math..2 different maths, English/Grammar, spelling, history, science, Bible, Spanish and so on)…he finished lesson 74 today which puts him RIGHT ON target!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Woohoo!!!!!!!!!!

I’m pleased to announce that Peach is 3 days ahead, as well!!!!!!!!!!  I’m so excited.  Gigi struggles, but she has her schedule and it will be completed (much to her chagrin) and the little boys…we are just plugging along with minor hiccups here and there.

I feel like the Little Train that Could….I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…..chuggin’ chuggin’ up that educational hill.

Oops in Homeschooling

Today, as the boys and I were reading together, I might have made a bit of a faux pas……I could chalk it up to the fact that I had not had any cheese, broth or caffeine.  Maybe that is a good thought.

So, I didn’t have an “oops in homeschooling,” I had a small lapse due to the insufficient dairy consumption (in the form of parmesan) and I was dehydrated due to the fact that I had not had my morning chicken broth or coke or water.

All that being said…the boys and I were reading.  I have many readers that are 1st-3rd grade.  I bought most of them at yardsales or consignment stores.  When the we read, one boy reads one page, my other son reads a page and I read a page.  So I am flanked by two super cute boys and we are enlightening ourselves on our newest story.  At the end of table, doing his work, is Boo.  You have a visual, right?

We were reading “Harvey’s New Fish.”  This story is about an elementary school aged boy who is jealous because some of his classmates have pets and are allowed to bring them to school for a type of show and tell.  He goes home and asks his mother if he can have a pet and she says no.  In that same afternoon, the boy gets a letter from his uncle, who lives in Japan. The uncle promises to send him a fish, in the mail, from Japan.  Well, the boy was thrilled and he went to class, the next day and announced to his friends that he was getting a fish from Japan.  Days went by and no fish came.  Harvey was sad and the kids began to say that there was no fish coming and that he wasn’t telling the truth.  He got home from school, discouraged, and his mom told him that he had a package in the mail, from his uncle.  Harvey rips open the package to find a kite, in the shape of a fish.  The boy tossed the envelope and was angry.

He went back to school, the next day, with a jar and water in it.  The kids asked him what it was and he told them that it was his “transparent” fish that his uncle had sent him from Japan and that the “transparent” fish ate “transparent” food.  All the kids (and teacher) gathered around and soon, the kids began “seeing” the fish.  The boy was so excited that his friends were excited and his teacher encouraged the students’ to draw a picture of the “transparent” fish from Japan.

The next day….Harvey returns to school, without his transparent fish.  The kids ask where the fish is and Harvey tells them that a cat snuck in his house, found the jar and ate the fish.

Story Over.

There are comprehension questions about the story at the end…I ask the boys the questions to see how their memory recall is and if they could remember details of the story.  The boys sat down, ready to answer the questions.  I closed the book and I looked at the boys and said “well, Harvey is a little liar, isn’t he?”  Boo stops what he is doing and he looks up, in shock.  He said “mama…that wasn’t the point of the story.”  I thought, what the heck is the point.  The boy is a liar.  I asked what the kids thought of the story and they all agreed.  The boy was ungrateful to his mom and uncle.  He lied to his teacher and his fellow students, and frankly, he needed his butt busted.

I took the opportunity to discuss integrity, honor, honesty, trustworthiness, deceitfulness…..my kids know what I expect out of them.  They are still kids, however, and they still make poor choices.  It is my job to guide them, instruct them and discipline them, if necessary.

So, I took an innocent story, out of a 20 year old reader, and I created a lesson on how to be a city on a hill.  Boo still snickered..moreso because he kept thinking the story was real and he wanted to research what a “transparent Japanese fish” looked like.

Bless.

🙂

Today is the First Day….

….that I have felt settled in the homeschool arena with my two little boys.  My kids, normally, work independently beginning in about 4th grade and becoming solely independent (with help, of course) by the time they are in middle school.  I do not stand over them and dictate…they have their schedules, they have their curriculum and they work at their own pace.  They do so with the understanding that there is a beginning, middle and end.  They know what I want done by the end of the year.  We begin state testing about Mid-May and then we are done….till August :/

With my little boys, well, they are a different set of kiddoes.  Catfish has MMD (mild mental deficiency), severe dyslexia, FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) and a lot of other stuff.  Little Man has some memory lags due to malnutrition and he is completely deaf in one ear.  We have mainly been focusing on math, reading, and spelling.  Catfish has therapy 2 hours per week in a town that is a half hour away.  They work on his speech, reading, handwriting, comprehension, etc.  It truly throws a ginormous kink in my day, but it has gotten him an official diagnosis and his therapists have been wonderful.

I spent this past week mourning the results of the testing.  I know that sounds dramatic, but it is what it is and no one wants their children to be delayed, have any type of dx, or have any issues, whatsoever.  We want our children to be okay, normal, and be able to function in this world…a parent wants their children to leave the nest and fly.  Catfish will probably not leave the nest and that is okay…well, it is okay now.  It wasn’t for about a week and a half.

In our efforts to help him, we have found audio books that are recorded by people and not machine.  He has been listening to 4th grade (his grade level) audio books (free books) that are classic novels.  He listens to them because his reading is so bad because of the dyslexia.  He is listening to books, on his grade level, to help improve his severely delayed vocabulary.  This will all help him and he loves listening to books.  He is reading, however, books on the 2nd grade level.  He is doing well and reads one or two stories a day that include comprehension questions.  His memory is affected so we are trying to build those memory muscles the best that we can.

In therapy, Catfish uses an FM system.  It is a headphone that is attached to a system with a microphone.  The therapist speaks clearly and the microphone magnifies the sound in his ears to help him HEAR the words being said properly.  He has a type of phonetical processing problem where he can not hear the words said properly therefore he says them incorrectly and has a speech impediment.  Well, there is no financial assistance or program that can assist in us purchasing an FM system, so we did a knock off called the Pocketalker.  It is similar to the FM system and it drowns out the outside sound and simply magnifies my voice.  We are currently working on our “r” sounds…those are a booger!

So, this weekend, I sat down and realized that Catfish, though he should be in 4th grade…is probably more like 1-2nd grade.  Okay.  So I deal with that.  LM is supposed to be in 1st grade but can pull some 2nd grade out of his hat, but only when his brain is working (sometimes we have to run around the house to get our brain warmed up).  I came up with a doable schedule, will be adding in math worksheets and possibly science, and lots of memorization of facts.  I will be working with both boys, in tandem on the same set of books.  Today went really really well.  It will not be easy and Catfish will eventually catch onto what I’m doing, but I feel like if I can bump Catfish up in math (he is excellent in math) and keep LM on his grade level in math, that will be a huge boost of confidence even though the other books are 2 grades below what he is working on.  We really don’t do grade levels anyway and there is no  GRADE 2 marked on any curriculum that I use, so the visual is not there for him to be discouraged on.

This is working…it keeps me accountable and not flying by the seat of my pants.  The boys are learning.  I’m not frazzled.  The big kids can help when I am at therapy with Catfish and they know exactly where we stopped and where to pick up.  It really is a win win for me.

Here is a copy of our November schedule, to give you an example.  I started with November 10th (the schedule is new), so there are 12 teaching days left in this month.

November 10-14; 17-21; 24-25 (12 days)

Reading:

            COME BACK HERE, CROCODILE

 

8-17 46-53 72-81
19-25 54-60 82-90
26-33 61-67 91-101
35-45 70-71 103-115

 History:

            OUR AMERICA

 

5-9 35-43 59-63
13-23 45-49 65-69
25-29 50-54 70-75
30-34 55-58 76-81

 

  • Name Continents
  • Name Oceans
  • Name Seas
  • Match states to map
  • Draw flag and identify how many stars/stripes and why
  • Begin Timeline

Communities:

            LIVING IN COMMUNITIES

 

4-7 22-25 40-45
8-11 26-29 46-49
12-17 32-35 50-53
18-21 36-39 54-57

 

Vocabulary:     share                            Senses                         city

                        map                            

 Spelling:

Spell – alphabetize – define – sentences – test

~some, her, would, make, duck, luck, suck, stuck, like, him, into, time, pet, get, wet, let, has, look, two, more, red, bed, fed, sled~

~write, go, see, number, men, hen, pen, ten, no, way, could, people, tell, fell, sell, well, my, than, first, water, bad, hat, glad, mad~

~been, called, who, oil, win, lip, kid, ship, sit, now, find, long, mom, fox, chop, shop, down, day, did, get, bus, truck, must, cut~

 Dictation:

Week 2

  • I can sit with the man.
  • I have a big pig.
  • His thin skin had a pin in it.
  • He can kick the stick but not the brick.

Week 3

  • We all have a lot of hot pots.
  • You can hop when you drop your mop.
  • There is a job for each man.
  • Which rock do you have?

Week 4

  • Their hut is shut, but I will do in.
  • He will hug many bugs on the rug.
  • It is so fun to run in the sun!
  • With some luck the duck will not get stuck.

 Math:

 Worksheets (6 per day) on different areas of 2nd grade

Flashcards

Fact families

Begin division

Simple fractions

Online Reading: (only for Catfish)

The Tale of Peter Rabbit

Huckleberry Finn

Tablet Work:

10 min. starfall

10 min. 2nd grade math

Dyslexia

Well, I got the results back from Catfish’s 4 hour testing.

It was worse than I had expected.

Now, I mull over the results.

I cry.

I eat cheese.

I cry more.

I drank a coke.

Then my sister called….and I cried more.

It isn’t really the dyslexia (okay, so that is a huge part of it).

It is all the other alphabetical letters he has because of the choices of his birthmom.

I just wasn’t as prepared for all of this.

I was hoping against all hopes that he would outgrow his labels.

Tomorrow I will be over it and I will find ways to help him.

Or, I could just stay under the covers and be very very quiet in hopes that the children don’t find me.

Dealing with Special Needs

I am a hard-headed person.  I know that.  I embrace that.  I hate that about myself.  Growing up, I had (have) wonderful parents.  I was blessed with Martha and Pop.  Pop’s work ethic was amazing.  He knew that he needed to do what he needed to do to provide for his family.  By being dedicated to his job, that meant, giving up a lot of ball games, band concerts, and awards ceremonies.  My mom made up for his absence because she was always there…she is everywhere….even when you don’t realize it!  I also am a privileged kid because I had an extra set of parents; Susie and Frank.  They lived across the street from us and my mom and Susie are the best of the best of friends….my siblings and I would flit between houses and we were held to a high standard by both sets of parents.

I, too, have high standards.

I set the bar really high for my kids.  I do so because I believe in their abilities to reach for the stars and to achieve the goals that they have set for themselves.  I do not want perfection out of my kids.  That is unattainable…only One perfect Person walked on the face of the planet and that Person is my Jesus.  I do, however, expect my kids to work hard and to do what I know they are capable of.  I do not believe in using bad beginnings (for my kids born in the heart) as a crutch to get by in life.  Overcome, forgive and move on.  I live by that and I want that for my kids.

One of my children had a bad beginning….full of prenatal abuse and post-natal abuse.  The problems that this particular child has was not so evident when this child was younger.  There was a speech issue, but pretty much a happy, inventive, creative, chubby little piece of work.  As the years have moved on….the differences between this child and other children the same age is like an ocean.  I see my child in a little dingy riding the waves of the ocean, while his peers are on yachts zooming to a private island.  There is a huge gap between this child and the children that he has grown up with.

It hurts my heart to know that he will struggle every day of his life when it comes to academics, reading, learning, remembering small details.  I wonder what he will do…will he ever be able to function outside the walls of our home and away from the bubble that we keep him in.  He has been picked on because of his speech impediment.  He has cried many tears because he just can’t remember and he says that he can’t do things because his brain doesn’t work or that he is lase (he spells using phonetics….the word is “lazy”).

Today, as I was sitting in the dark room watching him in speech/reading therapy….I felt weepy.  He went through a battery of testing that was to determine if he had dyslexia.  Dyslexia is the developmental reading disorder is a reading disability that occurs when the brain does not properly recognize and process certain symbols.  He has been in therapy for a while now…we started him in PT, OT, SLP when he moved in with us.  He has been in some sort of therapy ever since.

We have been blessed with an amazing “overseer” and some fantastic people who work with him.  They have been so patient with him and so loving.  This testing was hard on him.  He sat through 4 hours of testing over the course of a couple of weeks.  His “results” will be in on Thursday.  Today, I have been informed that he is EXTREMELY dyslexic and that we really need to focus on his strengths because his weaknesses are so bad.  It is something that I needed to hear, but didn’t want too.  I have to face the truths and I have to get over it so I can help him be the best that he can be.

And I will.

Eventually.

But today, I’m pissed. (sorry mom…I know you hate that word but I didn’t say dyslexia sucks…which it does cause I know you hate the word sucks too).

I’ll accept it tomorrow.

Maybe.

Then again, tomorrow I may just drink chicken broth and play a game.

McPeach’s First Restaurant Venture

Taking orders

Taking orders

Reviews are in for McPeach's Restaurant

Reviews are in for McPeach’s Restaurant

Making out her menu.

Making out her menu.

Muffin is my resident factory worker. She is organizing all my closets.

Muffin is my resident factory worker. She is organizing all my closets.

Welcome To Peach’s Restaurant

Let’s just say…Peach isn’t overly thrilled about her new job at “McPeach’s”.  Her overall assessment, based on the owner’s of the restaurant (Pam and me) were that she did a good job of organizing her menu items.  Her menu was clear.  Her space was clear and she wore gloves.  She needed to work on her communication skills and her friendliness factor, though.  She wasn’t has “high paced” as she should have been and we have got to work on counting back money.  That is a hard one, but I have confidence that once she gets the hang of it, she will move much faster and with much more confidence.

While McPeach’s was getting ready for the lunch crowd…one by one, the kids came to the banker and they received their monthly paychecks, as well as a copy of their monthly bills.  They had to pay their bills before they could eat lunch because sometimes, there just isn’t enough leftover.  It’s all about choices, sacrifices, and maturity level!  We had one in tears because her paycheck didn’t cover her monthly bills.  Once we all talked out how adults make sacrifices and learn to do without, we were able to trim her monthly bills down to an affordable amount, based on her hourly wages.  She also took on a “part time” job of cleaning houses on Saturday to make some extra money.  That was not, necessarily, time spent away from her children because while she cleaned 4 houses (at $10/hour), she was able to take her kids with her.  That gave her some time with them and it eliminated a babysitter/daycare fee.  Most kids opted to haul their own trash off, instead of paying for pickup.  We also had some kids cancel their landline and opt for a cellphone only.  Some took away their internet, opting to go to the library; while others trimmed down insurance options and downsized their vehicles to cut down on gas. It was cool watching their minds work and problem solve.

Thoughts on Lifeskills Class

Please, chime in if you have any comments or suggests!!!!!!!!

Peach (works at McDonald’s):  We *sort of* have this ironed out.  She will be doing daily lunches, at my house.  She will have to make sure the bathrooms, during the lunch hour, are clean.  She will also have to keep the dining area clean and, of course, the kitchen clean.  She will create menus with prices.  She will pull that hair back and slap on those rubber gloves.  She will cook, serve, collect money, and clean.  One day a week, she will be cooking McD type items (burgers, cheeseburgers, McChickens, fries) for our two families.  She will have to create fry holders and wrap all items appropriately.  She will be accepting checks, debits, and cash…she must learn how to count cash back.  We would like to get a field trip to a fast food place (or any restaurant) to see how things really work.  Pizza Hut is usually really good at doing this.

Gigi (farmer):  She has had to clean out the meat chicken’s coops and the laying hen coops.  She has had to feed and water all farm animals.  She has had to transfer the horse poop and work it through the garden area to prepare it for planting next year.  She is weeding flower gardens and soon will be planting fall flowers.  She will learn how to feed horses/cows properly, any “how-tos” with horse maintenance.  We will planning a field trip to a local farmer and learn how to milk cows and work tobacco farms.  She will work the yards of both families.

Boo (stay at home dad):  We have that pretty much covered. Whatever I have to do, he does.  He will also be spending at least one day a week with Pam and her family being a stay at home dad to them…cleaning/cooking/chauffering, etc.

Catfish (army):  He will do exercise drills, hiking, learning how to live in the woods, shoot guns…he will teach a couple of times to all the kids and everyday do drills with my children.  We are going to try and plan a field trip to Ft. Campbell…we shall see on that one.  We will also be planning a field trip to the police station, ambulance service and fire department.  In doing that, we will bake these people cookies and create cards to show our respect and appreciation for all they do.

Little Man (doctor):  He will take blood pressures, pulses, and blood sugars from everyone in the family, as well as Pam’s family.  He will learn how to clean out cuts, what types of creams to use on burns or cuts, how to bandage properly.  We would like to go on a field trip to a local doctors office.  We will also try to get a field trip to the health department.  They will talk about nutrition, staying healthy, how to do examines (hearing and vision), etc.

Precious (engineer):  She will build us things, but first she has to design it.  We need a place for a field trip, but I’m sort of at a loss….

Muffin (factory worker):  She will organize closets, make lists, and learn how to make life a bit simpler.  We are trying to plan a field trip to a window making company and a paper company.  She will do this for both families.

Norman (lawyer):  He has going to have to defend a case of our choosing between two other children.  He will prepare witnesses, interview, and do all the legwork for this case and present it in front of a judge.  We will be attending felony court, plea court and sentencing.  He will be required to dress the part.  He will also interview (hopefully) a judge, a lawyer and a probation/parole officer.

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