January 3, 2011

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Here I am -- back and starting a new year.  I have been seriously neglecting this blog over the holidays.   Let me start by wishing everyone a HAPPY New Year. 

What I have been up to?  
I started writing for Examiner under Special Learning Needs - http://www.examiner.com/special-education-in-providence/maria-bucchino.  I am learning a lot while I research and write.  It's taken me some time to feel confident, when writing, but it's coming together.  A good place to voice my thoughts, opinions and more importantly facts, locally about what is happening in education and spreading the word to others.

Our Home School
Things are going fantastic.  While we took it a bit lighter, daily work load over the holidays, we never stopped for a "Christmas Break" like the public school and even other home school families do.  I find it works best if we remain fairly consistent and in the routine.  There also is no loss of skills, no review needed, and no tears out of frustration on her or MY part. 

She has learned easily Regrouping and Carrying in both addition and subtraction of 3 and 4-digit numbers.  I had so much anxiety over teaching this and in 10 minutes she had it down.  She still struggles with some of her facts and uses a number line or a counting up strategy for the ones that are not committed to rote memory.  But that will come, like everything else has, with repetition.   She use to cry on every problem, even just simple addition and subtraction not that long ago.  Now she asks for math and lots of it!  She also could barely do one worksheet 6 months ago and now eats up worksheets and work books.  She is able to apply what she learns on worksheets in real life.  So awesome. 

Her reading is taking off and she is reading early chapter books.  We read everything from easier readers, to chapter books, to her favorite books on animals. 

Writing has taken off in the last 3 weeks as well.  We started swimming at "daytime" family swims at our YMCA.  She started by just putting her face in a little and in three weeks is completely swimming under water and even swimming across the pool (1/2 way before she takes a breath).  She will dive to the bottom.  This week I had goggles from the scuba shop.  She wouldn't put them on at first, but I told her if she didn't she couldn't swim.  She LOVES the water.  Well, that's all it took.  As soon as she put them on and saw she could see underwater, she was off!  My little fish.

An interesting things I found out is that after swimming she is able to write well.  She is able to construct sentences with proper grammar, descriptive words.  She is able to write paragraphs on topic.  Unfortunately family swim in the mornings is only one day a week.  You can bet we will be doing a lot of writing on that day of the week. 

Board games have never worked well with her.  She always got frustrated/anxiety and cried and it started there and spiraled down.  Computer games, no problem.  Video games, no problem.  Well today we hit another milestone.  I chose a board game, Pokemon.  It was for ages 7+.  I've only tried preschool games in the past because I felt the success would make her want to play more.   Today's game was a complete success.  No tears, no frustration, just fun and smiles.  We will be playing a lot more board games now that we crossed that threshold.  

She starts on a Pre-teen (how did she already become a pre-teen) health and wellness class that teachers her about health and using the exercise/cardio machines as well as the weight machines.  Once she finishes the class she will be able to come into the gym and exercise with me.  We will use this as an alternative when swimming isn't available.  Hopefully it works as well as regulating her so she can write.  We are getting into the real writing process ( I have my share of anxiety about that -- but no doubt she will soar there as well)

I've adjusted to no public school classes.  I like it.  I even think Kiera likes it.  She never asks about the school, even when we walk by it.  I still find that so odd, a bit sad, and it leaves me thankful we left there. 
We are giving up bowling league, but it looks like we may be able to replace it with a home school bowling.  I'm excited about that.  That means 3-days per week she will be doing some type of group exercise ; swimming, bowling, and working out.  I'm sure we might fit in an open gym day too. 

Waiting for speech to start.  I want to go with private speech in the home, but havent' found that yet.  So I am going with one day per week with the public school.  Problem with that is it is slow getting going.  I was told twice now that the person servicing the private school will "probably" take on Kiera.  She has to look at her IEP and then "decide" if she can fit her in.  If not the Special Education department will have to figure something else out.  By the time they start?  I bet it is March.  Stay posted!