Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Time of Transitions.

We're entering a time of transitions.

Mad Natter has been diagnosed as SPD, we have found he is a visual spatial learner, and we have started OT.  What that means for us is that I'm now checking out every book I can find on VSL, and we're in a period of transition.  I understand now why our grammar and writing programs aren't working as well as math, spelling, and science. I'm immeasurably glad to have found this before I bought our curricula for next year.  I have the opportunity to reevaluate and try again.  We will likely keep handwriting, math, science, spelling, reading and logic.  Composition and grammar, I'm looking into Michael Clay Thompson's Grammar Island. I'm seeing endless recommendations for it as a wonderful thing for visual spatial learners.  In the meantime, I am trying to teach Mad Natter how to harness his imagination. It's difficult, but he seems to be grokking the concept enough that things are easier than they were.  I'm trying to teach him to use his imagination to picture stories in his head. So, when he is read aloud to, his mind will make up the pictures he needs to remember the stories.  It went well for a first day, and I'm hoping this will be a good thing for his ability to listen.

In the meantime, I am thinking on a workbox system, as well as waiting on a visual scheduling system from the OT.  Once those come in, we're going to rework how our days go, and get things together to set up our days with scheduled movement breaks, snack times, brushing times, and learning/playing times.  I'd really like this to help keep us focused. Right now, there's a lot of imagining, a lot of playing, a lot of daydreaming... all during working times, and during playing times he'll sit quietly and watch a Let's Play video for a game we don't have the system to run, watching for 30+ minutes at a clip. I'd like to try to reverse that focus a little if we could - or get the focus for schoolwork as well as for New Super Mario Brothers WiiU.  Fingers crossed it works, because for right now, we're having some major struggles getting through ten minutes of work in under an hour, and neither of us needs that.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Staying Motivated: Funny from me, innit?

I haven't properly updated in months, it's funny that I'd be posting about staying motivated, don't you think?

Odd thing is, I've been staying motivated.  It's just not motivated here.  I have a decent load over on a book club blog that seemed to hit critical mass between mid-December and mid-January.  Wonder why I haven't been here as much... Probably because I'm crunching deadlines trying to get book reviews, quotes, reading lists, guest posts, and series analyses done over there!

Anyway, I'm back, and hoping to stick with it a little better.

Man, this time of year stinks for homeschooling.  For anyone, really, but with homeschooling you're really only day-to-day accountable to yourself. You don't have to call in an excuse if you're not having school, you just don't do it.  You don't have to have a note in the next day, or even a doctor's note.  The things that make it more trouble to skip public school than it's worth just don't seem to exist, especially not in the middle of winter when it seems like spring is never coming, there's only ten minutes of sunshine a day, and the kids are going insane because they're cooped up inside during the Polar Vortex... and then again for Polar Vortex II: Electric (Blanket) Boogaloo.

So... how do you keep motivated to keep on plodding along, even when it seems like you're stuck in the winter that never ends (not to be confused with a certain song)?  For me, it's almost easy.  Here in Mooselandia, we've had the Polar Vortex and all, sure, and we didn't go to hockey those weeks.  But, we've also been on break since Hallowe'en.  Every year, it's what we do.  We school-lite in the summer, usually three days a week, and we take a break from Hallowe'en until after the New Year.  This year it was delayed a little, as our treasured friends Stellar Mama and Girl Friday moved from down the street to across the continent just as we were due to start up, so we postponed to squeeze in some extra visiting time.  Things we couldn't do if The Mad Natter were in public school.  But, either way, because of the break, we hit the middle of winter and are only just coming back to school.  So it's not a matter of "staying" motivated - we've been on a break so long we're twitching to get back to schoolwork!  Okay, so "we" aren't.  But I am, and since I make the schedule, there you have it.  This turns out to be a great thing.  We don't have the wintertime blues, we've managed to keep spirits high, we're not having (many) fights about who woke whom early on a Saturday and for what...  It works out for us.

It might not work as well for you, but if you're feeling run down, lethargic, blah... And if you have a few free days in your school year, maybe taking a midwinter break might not be such a bad idea.  Give you a chance to unwind a little, the kids a chance to relax and hopefully get outside (if there's Polar Vortex III: Son of Polar Vortex, I'm moving to Arizona!), and you might just be able to get back to finish your school year's winter with a little more energy, flare, and excitement than before.

Take a look and see how others deal with the slow period:

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Little Gratifying.

Isn't it always rather gratifying when Someone With Letters (like, for example, MD or PhD) affirms you're doing well?  Mad Natter is finally receiving some Occupational Therapy for his SPD. We're reassessing his profile right now, but he definitively has some sensory issues.  In "Thank You, Captain Obvious" news, so does Skeeve, and so do I.  Mad Natter has a blend of both our issues.  It seems he has my need for tactile stimulation, his father's need for deep pressure, and while he does not have my aversion to certain tactile textures or his father's to certain food textures, he has an incredible Need To Move.  At high speed. All the time. Everywhere. In circles around the house. At every opportunity.  *ahem*  Anyway. We're finally getting set up with OT for this, and are looking at brushing for deep pressure, a "walk with me" program to help him refrain from running off in crowded areas, and eventually visual scheduling. We just have to get the pieces together for that last part.

In review today, the OT commented that with the right supports, Mad Natter is "obviously capable of brilliance" and that we, at home, "certainly have the cognitive piece covered."  So while his social skills could use some help - with a mom and a dad that are introverts this isn't surprising - we've got this whole 'learning' thing down.  And it's so nice to hear someone else say so.  Especially when that someone else is Someone With Letters.

I think I've neglected to mention that we've changed our maths program.  We have been using Right Start for the last two years, and the last few school months I felt very much like Mad Natter wasn't retaining everything he should be.  So, with a whole lot of crowdsourcing and advice, we jumped over to Math Mammoth.  We did the Kindergarten Review while we were still on our winter holidays, and then moved onto the regular 1A book.  Suddenly, there was so much less stress!  Mad Natter is now actually happy to be doing maths work, he's feeling successful, and asking him questions about what he's learning is no longer getting me answers like "Pumpkin!" for questions like 5+5=?  It's a huge load off of my shoulders, and a wonderful change for both of us.  I'm really excited to see what the next semester brings, especially since he's been doing so very well with this program, and is blazing through it faster than I thought he would (so what else is new?) !!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Living in Alphabet Soup.

The days aren't easy.  What is it, the days are long but the years are short?  Yeah, that seems to about sum things up here.  This week has been a flurry.  We've been back to school for a bit now, but we've also been doing some "spring" cleaning, which I'm suspecting is really just wishful thinking - hoping that by calling it "spring" cleaning, the weather will cooperate.  NOPE.  Four inches of snow.  Sigh.  Anyhow, we've been in the midst of this heavy-duty cleanup and purge, and we had our very first visit with our new OT to 'thank' for the crazy.  We would have tried to stretch this out over a month or so, so we're not pitching everything at once, but with a specialist coming?  Yeah, that got moved into a single week.  We've been cleaning like mad over here.

I realized yesterday, talking with TheYoungerMrsWarde from Sceleratus Classical Academy, that I live in alphabet soup. She asked why I hadn't posted in so long, and the bulk of my answer was taken up in SPD, OT, GT, HS, and OMGWTF.  Even more "impressive" was that not a single acronym was out of place, misunderstood, or would have been better served by another term.

Anyhow, here we are.  Today, we had our first visit with Ms M, our occupational therapist.  I say "our" because she really is helping all of us.  That makes a huge difference to me.  She came for a visit, and saw what Mad Natter looks like on a regular, plain ol' winter's day.  It was, to be mild, exciting. Natter showed off how well he runs around the house, how nicely he says "excuse me" before he interrupts, and how much he likes being tossed around in the air. We came out of it with a multitude of suggestions, most of which we're already implementing, but a few that we're not - we will be learning these when we go to our next appointment on Wednesday - and I'm excited to see how they go.

Truthfully, it's difficult to find people who understand the trifecta we have going on here (so far).  Our pediatrician is excellent about his chronological age and our homeschooling, but not gifted issues or SPD.  The OT is wonderful about his SPD, but doesn't understand homeschooling or gifted overexcitabilities. We're still looking for someone local to us to understand anything to do with giftedness.  So, in the end, we take what works for us, and leave the rest.  This usually leads to some irritated practitioners in our wake, but honestly, it's to a point where I've learned that nobody has this child's best interest more to the forefront than I do as his mother.  Other people may have the interests of children as a whole, or children like the ones they're used to working with, but this specific child?  He is my area of expertise, and I need to remember that the things I know to be right for us are the things that are right for us, and while others will have their opinions, it is my job to sift through the things that won't work to find the ones that do.