pinterest-dd591.htm Oak Creek Academy: April 2012

Monday, April 30, 2012

40 books this summer?

Well, if the boys get to have a fun summer reading list, why shouldn't I get one too! Over on Pinterest, found this link. Some of these books, I remember reading in high school or with the boys recently. Will get started soon on these books.  Care to join me?  Which have you already read?  Which do plan to read?  Should be a good summer!


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Summer School

Can you just see reading a big stack of fun books on the hammock? What about a tent pitched on the deck? It's giving me a lot of ideas of what I'd love to get accomplished this summer. Would you believe, of all things, school related. Already moved beyond the chores and onto reading and more reading and more reading.  There are just so many books I've wanted to get to and haven't yet.  Here's the list that is growing in my head:
  • Hardy Boys #48 -#58 (may work through these more slowly, we've only been reading them for about 4 years, what's one more)
  • Farmer Boy from the Laura Ingall's Series
  • Treasure Island
  • Huckleberry Fin
  • Finish up "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" Series; believe I would need to start over on Silver Chair and then read The Last Battle.
  • Island of the Blue Dolphin
  • The Secret Garden
  • Tom Sawyer
Not sure, as of right now, what else I would add.  Would love to see this be a morning thing, reading to our boys for an hour or so over a good breakfast, still in their pj's, in sleeping bags or blankets.  Learn to make it a habit before school starts in the fall.

There are so many things I can see being a benefit of this.  First, continued exposure to good literature.  Second, a way to help teach reading comprehension with fun ways of remembering the story through narration and coloring pages (really good idea for those needing a good hand workout).  Third, time spent together.  Also shared memories of "the reading summer".

Both have already mentioned that they want to continue on with their math "workbooks" and be able to start a fresh book in September.  This really isn't a whole of work on my part.  The desire is there, for both kids, so it is really just gentle encouragement.

 Will probably through in some penmanship through various forms.  Thank you notes, letters to friends who have moved, and tracing of math facts (yes, their numbers still look bad and why not work on math facts).

They're looking forward to doing some American History next school year and want to finish up the current History book too.  Another easy thing to do as we haven't stressed over memorization of facts yet.  It's been sheer exposure right now.

So, for now, this is our tentative summer outline.  I'll get around to looking for other cool things too and possibly blog about those ideas on another day.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Educational Glitches

Hind sight is a wonderful thing. It can be a horrible thing, too, as I have been finding out lately as well.  More on that toward the end of this post though.  On to the main point of this post.

Looking back at any number of things, regarding how our oldest learns has been frustrating.  We've/I've seen things that should have investigated, sought out help, and push harder to get services.  There have been a number of things that he was slow on, but always just thought it was a boy thing.  He was slower on sitting, standing, walking, potty training for example.  Most of these, I figured if the average child gets it 12 months (for whatever) and there are some that get it at 9 months, then 15 months shouldn't be to bad because the 12 is an average.  Right?

By the summer before Kindergarten, Thing One had been in speech for a year and a half, was shaky writing, and really didn't want to sit and color.  The last two I attributed to being a boy.  The girls in his pre-school seemed to already enjoy the curly~cue name thing and a bulk of the boys could have cared less.  The writing became more pronounced in K and 1 as his public school teacher mentioned things about it and asked if assignments could be sent home to finish.  I wasn't to concerned, but began wondering if home schooling wouldn't be a better option.  The class sizes seemed huge at that level, with no obvious signs of getting smaller.

During the summer of 2007, we made the decision to bring him home.  We figured that you really don't need to be a rocket scientist or have an educational degree to teach your own child.  We felt that we should have a strong desire to find the best curriculum to suit our child and to create an environment where he'd want to learn and investigate.  Probably the worst thing we did then was to Google "home school curriculum"!  D'oh, there were about 10,000 pages of choices.  Looking back, it seems we blindly choose a "big box" company and said "send us all we need for this grade".

It was during second grade that the glitches seemed to be more pronounced.  Writing was becoming painfully slow.  Spelling was very difficult.  Reading comprehension wasn't there (even remembering the title of a passage read was difficult).  Timed multiplication drills, even though reviewed often, were like some ancient torture treatment.  During the beginning of third grade, with a set of test scores in hand, I sought help from our elementary school for testing.  I was told that based off the test scores presented, he was doing just fine and they wouldn't test for learning disabilities.

Over the course of third, fourth, and most of fifth grade, we swapped curriculum around, gave up on "drill and kill" memorization and did what we thought best.  Some friends, who are further along on the home schooling trek, highly recommended contacting Learning Enhancement Centers and Dr. Davis.  When I showed Thing One's test scores for, then, second through fifth, we were told that there was most definitely something going on and they were fairly certain they could help.  If you read yesterday's post, they you may remember the findings from both offices.  We're now trying to take the testing to the next level to uncover more glitches, labels, and whatever else there is to know.  What we do know is that he hasn't had any seizures (found through an EEG) and there are no known disablities that can be determine through markers in his blood.  So approximately a year later, we're still learning more about how this child ticks and learns.  We are very thankful for the help we've gotten and folks that don't think we're nuts for seeing the glitches.

How hindsight can be a horrible thing.  It is so very easy to get into the "what if . . . . ?" game, beating yourself up because you didn't push hard enough or getting the right help.  It's a big black hole of despair that does not need to be gotten into.  Fortunately, we have friends who are there to remind us of the good in our child, that we are getting good help now, and there is time to catch up.  When I see others struggling with their own child, I try to be of encouragement to them to.  That black hole can be hard to get out and having a friend come beside you, to carry the load, is a huge blessing.  I want to be that for not only my own family, but those who are just trying to navigate that road.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Educational Ponderings

It has been almost a year since we began the process of trying to figure out and pinpoint the glitches our oldest has.  We began with Learning Enhancement Centers (LEC).  He's made great strides with their help.  Through their testing we learned of his deficits in processing speeds, working memory, visual processing, work attack, auditory analysis, and logic and reason.  There were also some reading issues as well.  While there has been improvement, we're taking a break to work more on motor skills and have further testing completed.

We also met with Dr. Davis, who came highly recommended.  Through this consult, a more detailed description of Thing One's visual processing issues was given.  At the time, we could not afford the time and money for both LEC and Dr. Davis. 

One thing we did, although out of pocket and may not be liked by some therapists, to help him with his visually processing issues, was to purchase a Eyeport.  With the Eyeport, your eyes’ muscles flex and relax when they follow the programmed series of alternating red and blue lights. Because the lights turn on in different directions, patterns and speeds, your eyes exercise through their full range of motion (paraphrased from their website).  It is a twelve week series that takes about 15 minutes to complete.  Really not much time is needed in the big scheme of things.  Although we have not had his visual processing speeds retested since he did the first round, we're hopeful that there has been progress forward.

Fast forward to January 2012 or so and we began another series of evaluations with a Neurologist at Children's Hospital to help diagnose some glitches that were not coming together through LEC and his Occupational Therapist (O/T).  Through blood work and an EEG, many things have been ruled out, which is a blessing, but still leaves many things unanswered.  To date, we've met with two separate psychologist with the hopes of having him tested for more specific learning glitches.  We're hopeful to find the right doctor for this testing.

Now we begin much prayer over the education of Thing One.  We'll be researching more things we can do at home to help him along in the know deficits areas and finding the right help and right tools.  Somethings websites/authors I want to read up on are:  Kathy Kuhl, Dianne Craft, Dyslexia Victoria, Reading Reflex, and Audiblox.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

End of the School/Beginning of Summer

Many folks, young and old, in school or out of school, are hitting that year end slump! We just want it over, to be done, ready for the break. I can't wait to crash and burn. Over on Pinterest, a friend posted a link to "100 Things to do This Summer".  It is written for a child just entering Kindergarten (the next fall), but most of the list seemed like a lot of fun and a good starting point!  May scrape up some time to tweak our own. 


Monday, April 9, 2012

Beautiful Words

There are words that cross your hearing that are just beautiful.  Words spoken by a loved one, a friend, a foe, doesn't matter who, that are radiant to your soul (yes I used a thesaurus!)

Our struggling learner, looked up at me, while doing math today, and said "this math concept is easy, I think I'll do two worksheets! (while smiling and a slight giggle in his voice)"  You "go" kid, knock that math out.

I love having a front row seat to their learning when something that has been difficult becomes easy.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

My Favorite Things

As a child growing up, I want to say that "Sound of Music" came out on the eve of Easter.  It also could have been the eve of Mother's Day, but Easter is tomorrow and I'm mulling over my favorite things lately.

Here's a few:
  • our oldest mastering a two wheeled bike and seeming to enjoy himself.  It's been difficult to get him to ride as his balance hasn't been the greatest.  If you read yesterday's post, you'll know how we got him there this past week.  Today we also found a bike he likes, at a price we're willing to pay!
  • playing in the dirt!  The older I've gotten, that phrase has taken on new meaning.  Now it most likely refers to gardening and taking care of the yard.  Today, I spread four bags of mulch in a couple flower beds and filled three hanging baskets with red petunias.  YEAH!  The pretty part of Spring (bad side is the greenish cast to everything as the pollen settles).
  • a quiet house.  The boys are up at church with their father.  This means I've gardened, read, cleaned, cooked, showered, played with the dog, blogged, and more without any distractions.  I do love my husband and boys, but there are times when quiet is greatly appreciated.  It makes the noise of life that much better.
  • the smell of things cooking!  Been "stewing", for lack of a better phrase apples and cinnamon to freshen the air in the house.  Just a bit a ago I began fixing bar-b-que chicken for dinner, so now that smell is wafting throughout the house.  In a bit, the rolls will go in the oven.  Yummy ~ think I could gain weight just from the smells alone.
  • knitting ~ lest I forget one of my favorite, portable, activities.  Right now, I've set aside the wristlets I've been working on and am making a baby blanket for a friend who is due in June.  So excited for them, they're having a boy after two girls.
  • the contented feeling after a good dinner, devotions, and a few chores completed
  • my husband making ice cream
  • boys playing nicely in their room
  • a hyped up dog after a bath
  • days getting longer
  • silliness that happens around the dinner table
  • living in a country where we're allowed to be Christian
  • a child who says he's not hungry for dinner polishing off an apple and a banana, plus some chips and saying he wasn't full yet
  • time to read with the boys
  • watching my dog burn off energy racing up and down the deck steps and through our back yard
  • watching a now exhausted dog trying to keep her head up while she's falling asleep
  • phlox blooming in our front yard
  • three leafed clovers that fold their leaves up, after sunset, and "go to sleep"; neat thing to watch ~ okay, I don't sit there and actually watch it happen, second by second.  The plant leaves will be wide open during the day and reaching for sun, just after the sun goes behind the trees, they close up until the next day.
  • a place to live where we have a pretty good library system to check out all sorts of books and put them on hold too!
  • boys that are willing to listen to "The Hardy Boys" out of sequence (a bit out of sequence, if the next book isn't available, we'll put it on hold and get the next one)
  • hot tea on a chilly evening ~ "tea, Earl Grey, hot" to quote Capt. Picard
  • trips to Dunkin Donuts ~ got to take our oldest along for the ride this morning.  Usually it is Kevin and Thing One, who go pick up donuts, but today it was the two of us.  Was quite enjoyable to be able to hand him my phone and let him pick out the music to be played. 
  • Wide variety of music to choose from in our house hold.  VERY wide variety.

Friday, April 6, 2012

What a week . . .

We had our oldest in "Loose Those Training Wheels" (LTTW) over Spring Break.  LTTW is a very cool organization that helps kids, with various special needs, learn to ride a regular two wheeler.  Over five consecutive days, your child rides a modified bike with a roller on the back.  For the first couple days, or so, the roller is changed from almost a cylinder shape to one wider in the middle and narrow along the outer edges.  There are 7 or 8 rollers, so the change is gradual enough that most kids don't notice the change.  Some kids, this go around, didn't even believe the rollers had been changed.  Soon the bike gets changed to a regular wheel.  Most kids, by Wednesday or Thursday, are riding practically independently while practicing braking, stopping, and coasting along with some riding outside.  Friday brings riding their own bike.

This held true for our kid!  The only unfortunate part is that it has taken a bit to find the right bike for him.  We hope the one we ordered comes in just a few days!
 The blur here is our kid, in green, and one of the instructors on a
tandem bike.  They ride on Monday or Tuesday, together so the team 
can get a feel of how your child is doing.

A short video, from Wednesday I believe, of riding with minimal help!

Riding independently by Friday!

Brief award ceremony at the end!

The whole staff was knowledgeable, friendly, and really wanting to help the kids.  It made it so easy to let my kid go and learn something new.  I'd recommend this in a heartbeat!