Monday, August 15, 2011

Week 2 of School

I'm a bit late but better late than never right?
Last week we finished off a session at the local YMCA of swimming for P.E. They are both in the Pike class which is the very first one they offer. Daniel finished the last class with being able to float on his back. He doesn't do it for very long as he can't hold still. But he can do it. He can also dog paddle however it is underwater and he stops as he come up for air. Luckily he can touch the bottom of the pool. He is close to being able to float on his stomach as well. Probably one more session of Pike and he will be able to move up. Reagan finished out the session putting her eyes in the water. She's not so keen as Daniel about her head going in the water. She will be a bit longer in the Pike class.
Daniel finished one of his reading books and is now in the last 2 books of the beginning set of 10 in the Abeka reader series. His books review the sounds of the constants, work on blends and words and the last page of each book there is a sentence in short vowel words. He does really well. Reagan is still working on learning her letters.... One day maybe it will click. We have been reading more of the book Paddle to the Sea by Holling C. Holling. Daniel begs for more each day. I really want to get the other books by this author as they really are great. We are also reading A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. It's funny how you go from screaming because they don't want to read your book to, "Mom can we hear some more tomorrow?"
In math Daniel worked on a couple of new things this week. In his addition he learned about grouping things into 10 when adding and then adding the remaining numbers. Then he also got introduced to counting by 2's. This is going to take awhile to sink in.
Daniel is working very hard on his violin. His teacher is having him do a lot of pre playing exercises, some of which he isn't very keen on but they are really good for him both for learning to play the violin and for his fine motor development. His teacher had him start practicing bowing some rhythm's holding onto a marker this week. He is getting impatient to actually start playing.
We also went to the park and identified the plant plantain, did a rubbing of the leaf and drew it. We are starting a nature notebook to record our findings. We also finally made it to the local bookstore and picked up a field guide for birds and one for flowers. Daniel really enjoyed looking through the bird field guide and finding out what all the names of the birds are.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

What Have We Done This Week?

I was reading another blog I follow and the Mom posts each week what the kids did for school that week. I thought that that was a great idea as it helps you realize that yes, you really did accomplish a lot. So... we'll see if I can follow through with it.
This week was a difficult week for school for two reasons. Paul had Monday and Tuesday off for vacation and Daniel had ear infections. Monday (because we spent several hours in the E.R. as well as on Thursday) I don't think anything got done other than my reading books to them. We started reading a marvelous book called Paddle to the Sea by ? C. Holling. I can't remember his first name at the moment. But it's about a canoe that this little boy carves and puts in the snow in Canada as the snow melts the canoe is swept into the stream and the book tells all of the adventures of this boat as it makes its way from snow to stream to sea. We will use this book again next  year to work on some geography as well as some science but for now we are just enjoying reading it.
We also read Ping - a story about a duck who doesn't want to be the last one on the boat as the last one always gets a swat so he hides out instead and the boat sails away without him. He almost gets put in duck soup but a kind boy rescues him. He realizes that sometimes getting a swat is better than what might happen otherwise and returns to his boat with his family.
Yet another one was called Blueberries for Sal. Sal goes picking blueberries with his Mom and Mother bear and baby bear do to. The children end up with the wrong mothers and figure out how to get back. It's an old story but a cute one!
This week I also introduced Poetry to my kids. Daniel was screaming because he didn't want me to read from my books. I read to them Robert Louis Stevenson's  A Child's Book of Verses. I read to them several poems from it and when I went to stop they were begging for more. I  had to laugh. 
Daniel has been working in a Math book right now. I have a different curriculum coming for him as workbook work is really hard for him to sit still and do but it hasn't come yet. We did manage somehow to get through 5 pages anyway this week. He is doing 1st grade work and doing really well. He is currently working on finishing learning to count to 20, (16 and 17 are the problem for him.) and adding and subtracting. He just started working with groups of ten and it was interesting to see how quickly he caught on to the idea that this is a group of ten and you don't have to count them all just know that these are ten and you can start counting at 10. It also helped cement numbers 11-20 for writing as you have this group of 10 and then you have 5 more. You write the 1 from the 10 and then the 5 which also teaches place value. Reagan is working on numbers above 10 slowly...
We try to have Daniel read from his books twice a day but it doesn't always work that way. I think only once this week did we get it in twice but it's the goal and as long as we get it in at least once that's okay. He is currently finishing book number 8 and starting on learning number 9 in a series of 10. He can read short sentences of short vowel words. He's having problems with book 9 right now as it has the Y in it and because the J and Y sound similar he thought that the Y said J like the C and K make the same sounds. So we are working on correcting that. He was excited to get to a letter in his Explode the code book (handwriting) that he already knew- n. That made the writing, which he struggles with, a little easier for the week. Reagan has a hard time learning the sounds or names of letters. She has to write them so we are very slowly learning to write letters and learning what they are and what they say. So far we have done B and F and she knows O. The alphabet for some reason does not come naturally to my kids.
We also went to swimming lessons this week, picked raspberries twice (Yum!), went to therapies for Daniel, and made cookies (which also works on math skills). We went to Daniel's violin lesson and I'm loving his teacher. I chose a Suzuki teacher for him as I felt like he was going to have a hard enough time learning to play right now not having the fine motor skills without having to learn the music too. She is fabulous with him. She comes up with little games to teach him the things he needs to know and varies it frequently so that his muscles which get tired quick have a chance to rest. We are also listening to and learning a little about Mozart. Daniel says he doesn't like his music but oh well.

That's some of what has been keeping us busy at our house!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Small Victories

When you have a child who has learning and developmental disabilities, small victories become VERY important. We worked with Daniel consciously for about a year trying to get him to dress himself and yes it took a year. It wasn't that he couldn't do it (He had problems with buttons, snaps etc. but I was willing to help him with those.) He just didn't want to do it because it was hard. Little did we know at the time that it was actually hard for him. But now he almost always does it without complaining and this morning he buttoned all the buttons without asking for help! Yay!
My small victory today was something else though. Since we started to take him to Occupational Therapy we learned that he needs to hit and kick things. His body needs and craves that contact. That would be why he is always hitting, or kicking, not always because he's mad, but his body just needs that hard contact. Frequently he will just sit there and hit you gently (or not so gently) over and over again. Well that's a problem and it isn't an appropriate behavior. Previously he would have gotten into trouble for it. But knowing that his body needs that (It makes a world of a difference for me as now I understand what's going on!) ,means that we redirect the hitting or kicking to something that won't break and won't hurt him, and isn't a person. I've been trying very unsuccessfully to get him to hit the floor, the chair, or the bed instead. Whatever happens to be around. He just wouldn't do it. Today while we were at the doctor's office waiting to be seen and he started in hitting me; I thought okay, we haven't been home all day as we've been trying to get things taken care of for Daniel and we haven't had any time to do any school work today so how can I get him to stop hitting me and hit something else and incorporate math as well? Well, we counted how many times he could hit the chair. It worked! He finally hit something other than me! The first time we tried it he hit the chair 30 times and then he was tired. That took care of the need for about 30 mins. and then we did it again and it was 40 times. But you cannot understand how I just wanted to sing and to dance because of this one small victory.
Tomorrow this may not work. Tomorrow I may have to come up with something totally new, but it's a start to something that I can build on and that makes me happy.