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  • The “Class”

    Avery, Naim, Aaron

  • Subjects

  • Portfolio

Summer/Fall Plans

We kind of go quarter to quarter, with a big yearly assessment and overhaul that happens every September. You have to figure out summer in April and Fall, well, kind of starts in April and doesn’t end until August.

Here is what I have for now:

Summer Camps:

Aaron-Zoo in June, Oral Hull in July, and OMSI Farm in late July

Naim-Oral Hull in July, OMSI Farm Camp in late July, AM Soccer and PM Acting Camp at NWCT (Star Trekkers)

Avery-Continuing Goddard all Summer, Zoo Camp in June, Oral Hull in July

This will be the fifth year that Aaron does Zoo Camp. Each year builds on other years and concentrates on specific areas. This year I think they are doing some kind of nocturnal thing so this camp includes a late night and dinner. It’s on my birthday so can a make a date out of that before pick up? hmmm. Avery went to 1/2 day Zoo camp and liked it last summer. This will be his first full-day camp. Naim and I have house cleaning/sorting plans this week while the As are away.

Oral Hull Foundation for the Blind Family Camp: We didn’t go last year and caught hell for it from the kids. They really like it and it is an easy way to get them out of town and let them run free. Avery will really be old enough this year to run free as well for the most part, so that will be fun. It is a bit of work for Nik and I, we usually do a class for the parents of blind kids, but the whole week is like one long education and counseling session for us. We are happy to do it, but it does get a bit draining (especially when we have to answer questions like how do blind people wipe themselves? yes, seriously.)

OMSI has given us a $400 scholarship so I am very happy about this. They will go up to a farm on Sauvie Island and learn about organics and environmental farming and a little cooking thrown in. I’m jealous.

Naim will do the PGE Park Timbers Camp in the am and then walk up to NWCT for acting camp in the afternoon. He gets an hour in between. He could SO TOTALLY do this himself as it is only about 5 blocks, but Nik will probably come from work and have lunch with him to help the transition, since Soccer will not release him to his own recognences.

 

Fall is a bag full of possibilities right now. In some ways, my Aaron/Naim isolation problem has been solved as now they are constantly out for hours with the neighborhood kids and I think it fills that peer gap for them pretty well. It may get worse in the Winter, but maybe then we are back to indoor playdates. I love shooing them outside.

So, in the grab bag of possibilities for Aaron and Naim are:

  • Swallowtail Farm Mondays, A private farm school with an open-to-homeschoolers Monday component
  • Some Combination of Village Home Classes
  • Some Combination of Hillsboro Online Academy
  • or….and this is a new, big one…Swallowtail School full-time four days a week. Essentially, they would be private school kids.

The reason I can even consider Swallowtail, a Waldorf program, is because it has an amazing sliding scale tuition program. I figured out that the cost would be about the same as what I am paying now for all their VH et al classes and curriculum. It would be a big step, but I have to get them on board and they are not quite yet. We go on our second visit this week. The Waldorf thing is good with me, but it is almost marrying into a new community. We have to still see how we all match up.

 

Curriculum-wise, if we stayed home, we would probably continue with Naim in Reading Discovery and Math in Focus. And Aaron with Voyages in English and Math in Focus. Those would be daily.  I am thinking about letting them plan the rest themselves within some parameters. (2 hours of SS/History, 2 Hours of Science, 1-2 hours of the arts, 5 half hours of physical fitness/sports a week.) Then they could fulfill these with HOA classes, VH classes, their own choice of curriculum, or stand alone projects like DIY.org or something. Naim and I are actually really enjoying a World History Timeline project we are doing now. He is making a timeline and I help him read with Calvert’s A Child’s Book of World History and the Usborne World History Encyclopedia along with other books and resources. Lots of fun, and poor Aaron has had to do PS Oregon History for like two years in a row now (and going on a 3rd  with more western expansion if he continues with HOA). How they think they can get away with teaching YEARS of pioneer/settler/western expansion history at the expense of all else is beyond me, but welcome to Oregon. Lets talk about a 200 year period of mass genocide and racism by your ancestors ad nauseum and make it out like it is all fun and good and Little House on the Prairie. Ugh. I got American History shoved down my throat growing up as well. And since Nik was educated in Europe, he completely laughs and my embarrassing lack of World History knowledge. I am having fun learning along with Naim as well. The timeline thing makes you put all the jumbled stories you have heard over the years in context and space and time.

Avery is pretty much staying home with me next year.  He is not, Not, NOT going to the 60+ kid Quatama classroom. I would consider Swallowtail for him this year but he would be waitlisted. He may do a combination of Farm School or Village. If it ends up being just him and me, I may put him in WeVillage for a day a week or something. We will see. I am thinking at home I will just do K Math in Focus and Reading for him. Maybe Calverts Discoveries in Reading or Hooked On Phonics or a combo. We also could get a little more structure in the day if I did something like Sunshine Express or Mother Goose Time, but that is a lot of curriculum. I plan on not killing myself over Kindergarten.

Stay tuned! Big decisions will be made soon!

 

All that has happened…

I’m not sure how to get back to blogging. So, I will do a summary of where we are now, then go back and backfill as I can. It will probably be more like occasional posts.

Back in May, we visited the Village Free School. We went for an interview and spent two days with them. I admire what they are doing, but both kids said it wasn’t for them. And to be honest, the trip would have been long. It is located next to OMSI.

Then one day, after school had ended for public but before the office was closed for summer. I just took Aaron and Naim there to enroll them. I think I was just burnt out of everything. I was working several jobs and so was Nik and we are still just above poverty level and so we qualify for nothing and I just felt like my head was a jumbled mess.

When we were there, I talked to the principal about Naim and getting him evaluated for an IEP in the summer. She said it wasn’t going to happen till probably more than sixty school days into the fall. I just thought, well what will you do with him til then? It would be February before an actual IEP would be set up and in the meantime, how would he be helped with the reading he can’t read to keep up in all of his other classes that he is fine in except for the reading? Everyone just kind of shrugged it off. So then I decided to keep Naim as a homeschooler, enroll Aaron and put Avery in Goddard for four half days a week in the fall.

And that is what we have been doing. I am not impressed with Aaron’s school, but will hold judgement for a bit more. I have parent/teacher conferences on Monday and that will be eye-opening I am sure. I feel like I send him away for six hours to float. Avery’s Goddard has gotten really academic since now he is in preKindergarten. Its letters and numbers and worksheets for him now. I am paying up the ass for that and he grumbles about it a lot, but for now what it allows is for 4 days of 4 hours of uninterrupted Naim school time. Which I think really helps.

Naim and I have been using a notebook system to keep track of our work. It has worked well. I can easily sit there and fill out what we have done and what we will do next while he is working. I still would like to get him a neurodevelopment evaluation but the ESD won’t call me back, which is their tactic to wait list kids since wait listing is now allowed. If the don’t contact you; the process hasn’t started yet and the clock doesn’t tick. So, they could not contact you for months on end. I tried to go through my pediatrician; who referred me to OHSU CDRC but medicaid rejected it. So, we are just moving along. I am looking into what would be possible at Hillsboro Online Academy, which is HPS online arm.

So, where are we in curricula right now?

We are finishing up Chapter 2 (of 6) in Reading Horizons. We need to circle around and do some reviewing before we go on. As it has always been, he is improving in reading, but it goes at a snail’s pace. We started this curriculum last fall, and we have done two of six chapters. But I absolutely don’t move on until he knows it at at least the 85& level. So, we circle around a lot.

I added back in Hooked on Phonics. He kind of does it on his own as homework. He is at the tail end of the First Grade; First Level book.

We finished Math in Focus 2A and are at the beginning of 2b. This goes ok conceptually, but we work everyday on math facts and also reversing numbers.

I think he has done one or two practice handwriting books. I just have him do a page a day.

We finished the worry book and also A Life Like Mine, the UNICEF book. We started Hilyer’s A Child’s History of the World and also Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens.

We have moved along in Calvert Music (Lesson 19?) and Atelier Art a bit (Lesson 15?)

We have completed RS4K Chemistry up to Lesson 9 (of ten) so we need to think of where to go from there. He wants physics next.

We started doing Keyboarding without Tears, but the application was just horrible and didn’t work. Now we are starting anew, with another typing tutorial. We also have been journaling, where he dictates a sentence and I write it, then he copies it.

I think those are the main things we work on at home.

Classes and Activities he has done:

Starting with Summer camps, he did a pioneer camp at Washington County Museum that they (A and N) both really liked.

He did a NWCT camp about improv.

He did a DI camp at Village Home.

Currently, he has done one term in VH with Explorers, Drawing, Music, and DI. He is not particularly a fan of the music class, but to my surprise he loves drawing.

He also did soccer again this year.

Aaron and Avery both did Zoo camp this summer. It was Avery’s first camp. Avery was a penguin and Aaron was an otter.

Aaron also took some classes at PCAS this summer, and attended the same pioneer camp as Naim.

That’s where we are for now. It has been tough. I have had to struggle a lot with what every mother has to struggle with, balancing career and motherhood/homeschooling. Money has been exceedingly tight (we are living on probably the lowest per capita amount than I have ever lived on before.) D has been in and out of hospitals and nursing homes and I still work for him nights and it makes for very long days. The day time is childcare (It all falls to me) and still trying to get work done for our company and current contracts I have. I also got a guide dog in October, so that was 2 weeks out of town and then the work and adjustment of a new dog since being back.

It’s overwhelming, but we keep on and keep trying our best and keep trusting that we will know what to do when we get there.

 

April-May 2014

Springtime! I can’t believe this year is going so fast. I feel good about what we have done, even if I have blogged so little.

Updates in a minute, but first, the big issue we are thinking about now is whether to change schools from Village Home Education Resource Center to Village Free School. (We will just call them VH and VF for short.) The data is not all in yet, but I have mixed feelings about this decision. This sort of came about because, although I had half an eye on VF for years, it was always too far away. But recently it moved to the OMSI campus…which is still far away, but in the realm of possibilities. So one day, we were at OMSI, and I just walked in and asked for a tour. And although the facilities itself are nothing really special, it did shed some possible light on some ongoing problems we have had at VH, with possible solutions.

There are many things I like and admire about VH. I have a sentimental attachment to it. But as the kids get older, there seems to be some ways where it is not really meeting their needs. Here are some of the problems:

  1. VH has an inner core of adult/parents who are kind of the show runners. Although these folks are basically nice and well-intentioned people, their kids more easily fall into many more opportunities than mine. I am not in the inner core, partly because I don’t take the time to sit there and hang all the time like they do, and so that is on me. But I don’t think my kids should suffer for it. This really hit home when I tried to get Naim into Destination Imagination. I tried for MONTHS up to and including being a group facilitator, and I was just pushed out at every turn. I don’t think this was intentional, I think it was based on the fact that other people are thought of first when team building because it is who they know, and the limitations I have on time and transport. There have been many things like this, and my kids are really starting to notice and feel it.
  2. The kids change all the time. Again, although there are some core kids, my kids generally get excluded from that group, mostly due to my lack of relationship to the parents. Of the other kids, they come and go, if not totally from VH, then from the classes the kids take. They make friends one year and then the next year never see them again. I know that happens in life, but for them, they have not had an opportunity to make their own friends there, which was one of the main points of it all.
  3. It is very hard to schedule the classes that the kids actually want to take, so we end up fitting classes into our schedule. This means that they often are in at least some classes that they are not totally interested in and are not a good fit. Sometimes, I am paying for classes just to fill gaps since they are not allowed to be there alone if they aren’t in class.
  4. The classes/teachers vary significantly in quality. Some teachers there have been fantastic. Some other times, I pay for a class and it does not seem like a damned thing really happens in them. Naim is in a sort of P.E. class right now and it sounds like for the most part they just hang out at the park. Which is ok, but why am I paying for that?
  5. The classes are disjointed from each other. The teachers are not integrated much at all. For example, They have done some of the same science experiments over and over and over in different classes. They are sick of the same stuff. Or, the other day the kids were taken outside to see a beehive. That’s great. But Naim was taken out 5 times to see the same beehive because every teacher did so separately from the other teachers. He was bored of it by the second time.
  6. They don’t deal with Aaron. I freely admit that Aaron’s level of maturity can be disruptive and problematic. Some teachers just roll with it and work with him. I am willing to work with the teachers as well. But he gets thrown out of classes ALL the TIME. Classes that I know he would excel in and enjoy if given the chance. But, one Aaron upset and he is thrown out. I know he is a pain in the ass, but he is not hitting/hurting anyone. How is he ever going to learn if not worked with? When I was a teacher, I worked with the kids because that was my job and the responsibility I took on. I did not ditch them at the first sign of difficulty. If the kids can’t fit completely in to the particular teacher’s model, he is in danger of being thrown out. I get sick of this. He can be a pain, but he can also be a joy. He is not THAT bad.

Ok, so keeping in mind that up to this point we have just done one tour and one interview with VF, here is how I think some of these problems MAY be able to be solved. (They will be going to two “trial days” next week.)

  1. There are about 50 kids at VF, with probably less families. It is much harder to be on the outside when dealing with that small number. Furthermore, the kids attend school alone, not with parents. They kind of need to make their own way.
  2. Although there are part-timers and full-timers (mine would be part-timers) the same kids are there day after day, year after year for the most part. They are all mixed together and they can talk with whoever they want. The staff (of about 5) are also the same. They could really establish long-term relationships here.
  3. They will go all day on designated days (and have some flexibility week to week on days if something is happening that they want to attend on a different day.) They schedule themselves and their own activities. I do not have to do the awful VH class registration race.
  4.  It remains to be seen how they will end up spending their time there, but I doubt they will have to go out 5 times to see the bees or do the mentos and coke experiment over and over again.
  5. See four. This is the area that I still need to learn more about. What WILL they do all day and how constructive will it be for them. However, I do like the idea that they will be encouraged to take their own initiative and figure out for themselves what to make of their own day.
  6. I have been pretty frank with the director about Aaron. She gave me no indication that this would be a big issue. She talked about how she would deal with it, which dealt with talking with him and giving him time to process. She talked about having a sort of “recovery corner” in her office with a bean bag chair that kids can go to if they need time to get over a disappointment. What I liked best is that it seemed like she  was willing to give him the time and space to work it out. I like that they are committed to nonviolent communication and a democratic method of governance where the students and teachers votes count the same.

So, we need to learn more. I am excited about trial days next week. I am going to go with on one day, and let them go it alone on the second. We also have to work out financial aid and schedule, so it is not a for sure thing yet. But it is an option. Naim is especially excited about it, he is already sold. Aaron is a little torn, which is funny because he is not even going to VH right now. But I understand. I would miss VH, too.

Ok, now for updates:

Curriculum

  • Math: We are on Ch. 5, Multiplication and Division. Which the kids are having fun with.
  • Reading. I have been working with Aaron a lot on writing and spelling. He can read pretty much anything, so I don’t worry so much there, but writing and spelling need some work. He is working with Sylvan spelling words and we do a test on 12 at a time. He is doing those Teacher’s Mailbox reading/essay cards. I usually only get a sentence or two out of him, but it is a start. He continues to work on grammar and sylvan reading.
  • Naim is in the third lesson (or lesson 18) of Ch. 2 in Reading Horizons. We still do about a week or more per lesson and don’t move on till he has at least 90% of it down. And then we circle back like good little constructivists and review all the time. It is tedious but he is learning to read! I am very happy with his improvement. It is incremental but constant. He also works with Sylvan and Grammar but not so much spelling and writing yet.
  • Aaron is about at the back 5th of his current HWT book. I have another cursive book for him, and then there are also additional cursive and print supplements he could do. But I may move him on to keyboarding after he finishes this book (while also having him work through the last book I have in the series.) I may also supplement keyboarding with the two available practice books just to keep him remembering how to do print/cursive. But I only see maybe a year left of handwriting for him.
  • Naim has just the last 2-3 pages of the current practice handwriting book he has been working on. I am thinking of circling him back through the ZB K book (that I have an extra copy of), next. His handwriting is getting much more legible. He needs to work on his backwards numbers, though!
  • We have done, lets see, Chapters 1-3 now in chemistry. We read the chapter, have done a few experiments and they have to record in their lab books, spend a day on reviewing and making lap books, then they take the test. I really see how test taking is a skill. They need work on it.
  • They made masks in Atelier Art, and I think have done one or two lessons in reading.
  • We continue to work through the “A Life Like Mine” book

Classes

  • Naim is my only VH student this term. He is in Explorers, Schoolhouse mash-up, Ancient Egypt and Fun Sports. They made mummies in ancient egypt, but I have not heard too terribly much about the others.
  • Naim and Aaron switched for Art and Drama at PCAS and NWCT respectively. That has gone really well. Naim has made robots and some kind of hamster maze and I am not sure what all in Art. Aaron was shy at first but really seems to enjoy intro to acting. I will see his demo next week and THAT should be interesting.
  • Naim and Avery are taking swimming. Naim is in his second session of the beginning class for 6-12 year olds called Electric Eel. Avery is in his first session of the beginning 3-5 year old class called Catfish 1. Both are progressing.
  • Avery continues to do well in Goddard preschool. He had his parent teacher conference today. His “report card” is markedly improved from fall. He is talking more and sharing in circle time and playing well with kids.

Fieldtrips

  • Washington County Museum Family Day (technology through the ages). This was fun and we all went along. It was ancient hunting and shelter tech all the way up to Intel stuff and police bomb sniffing robots. They also had a art exhibit on display that Avery liked.
  • We took Naim and his bike on the max up to a bike trail and he rode around while Aaron and I trailed behind.
  • Children’s Museum. There was a Portland Bike Exhibit and the new outdoor part opened up.
  • Sky High Sports. First time we took Avery to the trampoline part. He was cautious at first but then got on really well.
  • Portland Spirit for Easter again. They got to “drive the boat” and it is kind of becoming a yearly tradition. I liked this cruise way better than the Christmas one. (Better food, less kid crap to run around to, more relaxed.)
  • Rood Bridge Park. This takes a bit to get to, but we did it and had fun. We didn’t get to stay that long, but wanted to come back and do a day trip with picnic, etc.
  • Lowes. I count this because we spent a LOT of time there and the kids just soaked it up and looked at everything. This was in regards to our backyard project. The kids have helped with small parts of that.
  • Aaron and I went to the Lan Su Chinese Garden. It was very pretty. We took the tour and learned a lot about Ming Dynasty scholars.
  • The usual scattering of parks and stuff.

I think that is about it. Pretty well considering we have dealt with some illness and D’s hospitalizations and of course the business business. This summer we have some camps lined up, although not as many as previous years. Aaron and Avery are going to zoo camp (Avery’s first camp!). Naim will go to NWCT improv class. (Aaron and Avery will probably go to drop in art at PCAS during this time.) A and N have a pioneer camp through washington county museum to tie in to our Little House reading. And we are still trying to figure out the details of a family camping trip.

Pictures

February-March, 2014

Dude, if I get this in today, it counts for March!

We are doing pretty well. My main challenge is just that I am ridiculously overworked with too many projects and I cannot let any of them go. We are digging ourselves slowly but surely out of the last few months challenges.

But! Here we go!

IMG_0913

We were organizing school stuff. This is pretty much this years’ curriculum.

Curriculum highlights:

  • Math…They finished the 1B book in Math in Focus. We are in Chapter 3 of the 2A book which is subtraction of 3 digit numbers with regrouping. We are chugging along.
  • Reading…Naim is on the last lesson of Ch.1 in Reading Horizons. We need to wrap up the test stuff before we go on to the next book. He is doing fairly well with his “Most Common Words.” He can read a lot of stuff and I notice him reading other stuff out in the world on the fly. We are sloooowly coming along.
  • Reading for Aaron…he finished all of Master Reader and thus the whole 5 year Hooked on Phonics Curriculum. I tried to have him read on his own, but he doesn’t really do it well. So now I bought him a curriculum from the Teacher’s Mailbox which is just 36 cards with some non-fiction reading, questions, and then a writing assignment. And then somedays he will read a National Geographic or something.
  • We have started to read “Little House in the Big Woods.” After finishing Mr. Popper’s Penguins and Ramona, Age 8. There are two more Ramona books but I think they needed a break. So far, the LH book is doing OK for them.
  • They are both moving along in Sylvan and Sylvan Spelling.
  • Aaron is midway through the first Cursive HWT book. He is doing ok with it.
  • Naim and I have just bought some practice handwriting books from Learning Palace and are just working through them. I do think his handwriting has improved in legibility, although it still has a way to go.
  • We have done two Atelier Art projects. One was on Van Gogh, the other was a chalk and glue mixed media tactile thing.
  • We are on Lesson 13 in Music.
  • We have started Real Science for Kids Chemistry (the primary book.) There are ten lessons. We read a chapter from the book, do an experiment and write up a lab report, do a sort of lap book study guide and then take a test. We have just finished the first lesson on the basics of atoms.
  • We have started reading the UNICEF book  “A Life Like Mine.” It is based on the UNICEF charter of rights for children. It talks about the right, then shows how different children around the world live in regards to that right. So far we have read the first unit on Survival, which had chapters on water, food, shelter and health.
  • We have done a bit of Angel Bear Yoga.
  • Oh, we did a Little Passport or two. I think I only have one left. They want to do the states one, but I don’t think I can afford it right now.
  • This isn’t really curriculum per se, but we continue to work on what I will call ADLs (holdover from special ed) Activities of Daily Living, AKA chores! We are working on having upstairs and downstairs partners to get work done. It goes incrementally slow and tedious. But that is pretty much how housework goes.
Aaron finished HOP Master Reader! The poster behind him shows his progress.

Aaron finished HOP Master Reader! The poster behind him shows his progress.

Classes:

  • Aaron did a good job in Art at PCAS. I heard no major grumbles from the teacher. Naim actually tried a trial day and liked it, so we are thinking of switching them next term.
  • Naim was the Emperial General in the Emporer’s New Clothes at NWCT. He did ok in the play. But I am kind of thinking that he needs to take learning lines more seriously if he wants to continue in theater. I really wish I could find him a good improv class, because I think he would enjoy it.
  • At Village, Aaron had Explorers, American History, Pirates, and Legos. Explorers was fine. AM we had trouble getting him to read the assignments. Pirates seemed ok except I am suspicious over what happened when they had a treasure hunt and Aaron “won” a giHUGic lego pirate ship. This mystery has never quite been resolved. Legos was OK but he had some incidences getting picked up because he often lost something he brought and put everyone through hell until he found it. Because of this and some other meltdown problems, I am pulling him out of VH for a term.
  • Naim had Explorers, Schoolhouse mash-up, World History, and Fun Sports. He did well in all of them.
  • They took 2 days of Spring Break Zoo Camp while I dealt with a medical issue. One day was Zoo Clues and the other was Animals of the Northwest. There was another meltdown on one day concerning aftercare and pickup with Aaron. So….
  • Our Homeschool PE class got canceled, so now we are starting swimming (for Naim and Avery only for now.)
  • Avery has continued to attend Goddard two days a week and is doing well.

Field Trips:

  • Let’s See…Naim and I went to OMSI and saw the Tony Hawk exhibit, the usual OMSI stuff and toured the submarine.
  • We went to VH’s Bloom fund raiser and talent show.
  • We saw Goodnight Moon at NWCT (with Avery! His first play and he did very well.)
  • Kids and I went to see the Lego Movie.
  • Naim went to a youth symphony with his friend R. They also made several trips in the snow to sled.
  • We’ve done some of the usual 53rd Street Park and Outdoors In, also Bagley Park. We also went and checked out the new library.
  • Avery went to a birthday party for one of his Goddard classmates at Oregon Gymnastics Academy. He did really well after the first few minutes. It really helped that his former teacher, Tracie was there because her son is also in his class.

Other stuff:

  • As I mentioned, A has been having meltdown problems again, after I thought it was getting better. The final straw was taking him to get his haircut. He just had a screaming fit. When we talked later about it and about how he had other options (one being sitting and enduring a few minutes of discomfort respectfully) he said that he did not know that was an option. (!?!?!) So I have been reading up on self-regulation and executive functioning skills and trying to come up with some strategies. But for now, (and because there are consequences for his actions) he has been pulled out of every class except drama (which he is at right now!) My thought process is that maybe he might learn some self regulation in drama (it is just intro to acting, all games and no play). And he needs something to work with so he can earn back the privilege of more classes.
  • Naim got braces! Finally! It is the first step and he has them on the bottom only until May when they will finish the top ones. He has done really well and is very compliant. This is another reason we thought he might like to chill out in art and not have to worry about a play. Talking hurts right now, he says.
  • We had some fun snow days in February. (this is really out of order, no?)
  • Aaaand…Naim learned to ride his bike in like, one afternoon.

We are getting there, we are making it…slowly!

Pictures:

Dec-Jan, 2014

Third grade is halfway over?!? I know that I have to give myself a break, here. Kids are learning and happy and healthy. But this four jobs thing is just really difficult. It is the hours, yes, but it is more that I am doing 4 completely different projects with no overlap, plus just the usual house/laundry/trying to stay healthy. It is just very hard to keep track of everything and keep on top of it. Things go by the wayside. I get tired. Hmm hmm hmm…this blog is more about me, isn’t it. Since my main blog went on hiatus, I have been keeping up a bit on a WW blog. I try to keep that to my own health and keep it pretty brief, but it is a closed system and as usual I am prone to ramble some. For this, I want to stick to my lovely, beautiful and smart and funny children.

Like every homeschool mom, putting them back in school during this hard time has crossed my mind. First of all, there is no free school for Avery, yet. Although we might now qualify for Head Start again or child care subsidy. He is still in Goddard for now. Aaron is probably the best candidate for school, and he would eventually do OK there, but it would be a rude adjustment for him because he cherishes his freedom so much. I do not worry about academics with him, but I do worry about the social influence. He has a wide-eyed and enthusiastic innocence about him that I am loathe to ruin with the cynicism of the machine of public school. He is also very suggestible to peer pressure and media influences. He does so much better with the calm, peacefulness of the homeschool kids. I do realize I cannot shelter him forever, but I would like to shore up his maturity and his critical thinking skills and his faith in himself before he has to face all the elements of the world.

Putting Naim in school would be an unmitigated disaster, for all the reasons I have outlined several times. We are still on Chapter 1 of Reading Horizons, but we have gone over and over and over it and have not moved on until he is at about the 90% automaticity range for each lesson. For example, we have been working on letter names and sounds since he was 3 years-old if not earlier. Just before Christmas, he finally for the first time was able to name and give the sound for every letter in a stack of letter cards. Dudes! It took only 6 years. He still mixes up b and d, but we can finally move on more confidently to other things. Next is being able to identify words, not just isolated letters, and even that is getting better. His list of “sight words” is growing. And once he knows something, he knows it. Meanwhile, I am able to help him read enough to be able to do grade level work in all of his other areas. He would fail everything in school due to his reading. And then he would get teased. But he is the one that really needs to go out every day and in some ways would like the routine of public school. I think if I had more money, I would do reading and math with him at home and then send him to VH or classes every day.

My first priority has to be them. Has to be homeschooling them. I mean, if it gets to the point where I can’t even feed them unless I work a traditional day job and have to put them in school, I would do that. I mean, hungry kids are not kids that can benefit from homeschooling. But so far we are not there yet, so they have to be my priority. It is very hard to shuffle what everyone wants me to do, though. Nik is bound and determined to do this business, and if that was my only other thing, helping him with it, I think I would be fine (and that is where we are trying to get to) but for now, I am the one making all the money with my other work…plus homeschool, plus helping him get this thing started. Its just very hard. It is one of those things where I feel like I am on the brink of failing all of it because I can do none of it well because it is too much. It is hard not to be angry at the people who did not fulfill their end of their role properly and who contribute to our difficulties (obviously we made mistakes as well, but we have always tried to handle them with contrition and restitution, and a ‘let’s work through this to everyone’s satisfaction” attitude instead of being vindictive asses.) We could have thrown some blind people under the bus to save us, but it just didn’t seem worth it. And although difficult now, I think in the long run, we will be proud of how we handled this bumpy road. The others, well, I am just glad I don’t have to live in their minds. But apologies for getting cryptic and off-topic.

Love in, love out. It is my new breathing meditation. A positive take on the “Garbage in, garbage out” meme. See the love that is coming in, concentrate on that. Turn it into  loving actions that you put out. And then my old standbys: chunking things into small, manageable pieces and taking things a day at a time. We will get through this. Although it is a time where it is especially hard to hear other people’s mundane problems and entitlement. But I try to keep in mind that to millions of people in this world, I would sound just as entitled.

Sooo, I will get to the past month’s highlights here. I did have some health issues, a trip to the ER for low potassium again, CONSTANT bleeding for the past 3 months and having to be VERY careful about diet to keep potassium and iron levels up due to that. There is probably a surgery coming my direction soon, but need to get health insurance crap straightened out so that is being put off until at least March. So, pacing has been key. And putting health up high on the priority list has been extremely necessary.

But we have had several highlights this last month. Let me look at the pictures and see what I remember.

We had trips to Zoo Lights, a Tour of the Portland Tram, a couple of visits to  Outdoors In. a river boat cruise, Naim made a Gingerbread House again with Ruoda, Grant came to visit and much UNO and geeing out ensued. Christmas and New Years came and went. It was lean, but nice. There was one visit to D’s house. There was movie watching with  The Christmas Story (and then we saw the Leg Lamp downtown), there was visiting the Christmas Tree at pioneer square, there was Christmas Eve at church, and a couple of visits to WeVillage.

Naim was featured in the Portland Family Magazine. It was basically a regurgitation of his TriMet Story, but he was excited about it. Here is Naim’s story featured on the TriMet blog. I think I forgot to post it earlier.

Academically, lets see.

In math, we have finished the last chapter except for the test. Then there is a cumulative review that we should probably do before we move on to the next book. So, two or three more days? Then their usual day off and then it will be on to 2A.  How bad do I feel that they just turned nine and are only in book 2A? I don’t know? Not terribly bad? I mean, they are moving along in math. They get it, they are learning things at a much more thorough level than I ever did. In some ways they are probably behind, but in others they are ahead.  I will just keep on chucking out singapore math.

As I said above, in reading, Naim is still working on Ch. 1 in Reading Horizons. To put that in perspective, there are only 6 chapters in the whole program and each chapter has about 20 lessons. He did all 20 on the computer before it became clear to me that he was not learning them that way. So I went back and started teaching each lesson by hand and not going on until he learns, learns, learns them. This includes ALOT of repetition and drill, which is not my usual way to teach, but Naim likes it that way and it does seem to work. We are now on Lesson 7 by hand, and then I use the computer for a review at the end, instead of being the whole thing on computer. I guess the best thing I can say is that progress is being made.

Aaron is chugging along in HOP Master Reader. He has finished the lessons from Orange Level (so 30) and is now reading the third Chapter book in the series. So he only has one level and one more book to go. He has also started reading other chapter books on his own. He read the Magic Schoolbus books he got for Christmas and now is reading Pokemon choose your own adventure books from the library. After he finishes HOP, I think I will just let him have reading time while I work with Naim.

They are both on Lesson 9 in Grammar. They both continue to work through their Sylvan books. Naim is skipping around in his 1st grade book. I try to make the Sylvan pages he does correspond with what he has done in reading. Aaron plods along in his second grade book, even though it is really too easy for him. I think what it is giving him mostly is spelling and writing endurance.

Aaron finished his handwriting book that was the last printing book in the main series in HWT. He has just started the cursive book. I thought I was going to have to work with him more on it and do some chalkboard work, but he is doing fine on his own.

Naim is still, still at the tail-end of finishing the K ZB book. I think he might have 3 or 4 more pages to go. I need to work with him on the placement of his letters. I would like to find a big (lap) chalkboard or white board with the ZB rule on it.

I also think we have done at least one music, one passports (Iceland) and some craft projects.

Avery’s Goddard school is not doing the printed DARs anymore. They just started electronic versions. Let’s see if I can put one up here, now. OMG! I can’t do it! Well I can, but I can’t without showing my email address. This might even be harder than the scanning. Maybe I can cut/paste the text. Interesting!Print all

Daily Report for Avery – Thu Jan 16

AVERY

DAILY REPORT – JAN. 16, 2014

TODAY’S NOTES

Weekly Theme: Sweet Treats

NAPS

1:25PM – 3:05PM

MEALS

Lunch – all of the Crackers, all of the Pasta

ACTIVITIES

Language Arts

We enjoyed reading If You Give a Dog a Donut by Laura Numeroff.
Cognitive Development

We practiced counting as we played a number scavenger hunt game.
Creative Art

We freely painted with delicious colors such as yellow and pink to express our creativity.
Music/Movement

We developed rhythm and tempo as we sang “Peanut Butter and Jelly.”
Motor Skills

We developed our gross motor skills as we played “Red Light, Green Light” outside.
Science/Nature Studies

We explored cause and effect as we mixed baking soda and vinegar and watched the outcome.
Computer Lab

We practiced typing our name as we played “Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo” on the computer.
Social Science

We freely discussed and listed our favorite “sweet treats” during circle time.
Memorable Moment

Avery had fun in martial arts today
Sent via Tadpoles

OOOOky-Doooky, then! Have to play around with that. But that is what Avery did today, I guess.Moving on, since I don’t remember much, I wanted to outline the next ten or so weeks.I am really starting to think that the kids need school in the AM and then classes or some kind of activity in the afternoon. Or vice versa, although I think we do better with school in the morning.What I have so far is like this:

Monday: AM Homeschool/ PM NWCT for Naim/Art for Aaron, Avery at Goddard

Tuesday: AM Homeschool/ PM Gym for swimming or something and my WW thing.

Wednesday: VH all day. Naim has Explorers, Schoolhouse Mashup (cross subjects with Dori, who is really good with him), World History, and Fun Sports. Aaron has Explorers, Cool Contraptions, Something or other about Pirates and Lego Building Club.

Thursday: We are trying homeschool PE through Parks and Rec, it is held at a gymnastics club.

Friday: Homeschool and that’s it. It seems like Naim goes on a lot of field trips with Ruoda, though.

Saturday: Make up day for school.

Sunday: I think I need to get them back to church.

When does one who has three other jobs do them? I dunno…D is mainly at night from about 8-11. So it doesn’t impede with the schedule much, it just makes me tired. Then I have UU and BAT (the code name for the new biz) and I need to fit that stuff in. Then I need to also have at least some time for school planning, home office work, laundry, shopping, meal prep, housework. Kill me now.

I need three more of me. And geez. So far only two of these jobs pay.

If I could get our business plan done, and set up quickbooks, I can turn over the company to Nik for the next little while, except for a bit of ongoing paperwork. D is what D is. I need to make sure to allocate UU time. Maybe Friday afternoons or maybe I can do some of it Monday while kids are in class or Wednesday while they are in class.

When the kids are 12, two things should happen. First, Avery should be out of Goddard, and they will be able to watch him sometimes so childcare will go down. Second, I think I will be able to consider letting them go to some of their usual places on transit on their own. This will free up SO MUCH TIME. And geez, If I can get Naim reading by then? I’ll have even more time because I will be able to let him go off and do some of his work on his own without spending hours sitting there walking him through every little thing. That’s three years…can I make it for three years? A lot can change in three years.

It will work out. It will work out. It will work out.

 

Nov.-Dec., 2013

My brain is so busy with different projects. It is hard to get a handle on everything. But here we are, Dec. Already.

Classes:

We did an OMSI class. Physics Lab. Aaron and Naim had a lot of fun and it sounds like Naim was the volunteer guinea pig and was use to demonstrate what sounded to me like a TENS unit. Basically a volt of electricity through his body. Later, they also took an impromptu class about planet ice in the solar system. Also, they tested organic vs. flash frozen strawberries in the cafeteria.

This isn’t so much a class but Naim has been going to my WW meetings with me. So, he learns a lot about nutrition and manage your food choices. They have also gone swimming and we have played around in the gym before the meetings (which take place at the gym.) They are now old enough to take a self-manager class to have more responsibility and privileges at the gym.

We have signed up for the full day at Village on Wednesday. Classes don’t start till after the new year.

Avery’s Goddard DARs. I am hoping now that we are in this career change that he can continue to go there. I am hanging on for now and will be applying for childcare assistance, but we will have to wait and see.

Curriculum:

Aaron is on the Orange Level in HOP Master Reader. He complains about Sylvan 2nd grade but does get it done well. He continues in grammar.  He is almost done (like a day or two from being finished, with his  current HWT book. He will go on to the cursive one next.

Naim and I have been doing the first Chapter, Lessons 1 and 2 of Reading Horizons Discoveries. It is slow and tedious, but the good news is that I think we are making headway. He still has trouble with b, d, y, and g. And sometimes p and q. But progress is being made Goddamn it!

He is doing the 1st grade Sylvan language arts book. I have skipped around a bit to match what he is doing in reading. He is on the last little bit of handwriting and I have gotten him JUST the ZB workbook and a generic practice workbook to do next.

They finished the multiplication/division chapter in math in focus and are now on the last chapter on money. I have ordered the next set of books. Naim did quite well on the last chapter.

While the kids are doing their work, I try to integrate Avery with, for example, math manipulatives he can practice counting on (he can count to 10) or reading a book to him when they are doing their reading. I am trying to bring him into the fold. He seems to like it.

We are reading Mr. Popper’s Penguin. I have kind of given up on some of the activities, but we have watched videos about penguins and antarctica and have worked on some vocabulary and things.

We also have done one Atelier art project where they did 4 paintings to represent seasons. And they have done at least one or two music lessons from Calvert music.

Field Trips:

Besides OMSI, I don’t think we did any big field tripping in the last month.  We went to Outdoors In on Avery’s Birthday, and the kids had S. and R. over for a sleepover on their birthday. They also went to D’s parents house for a pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving. They also have gone to HFAC a few times for WW and for swimming. I can’t think of what else they have done. It has been fairly cold and Nik and I have had to keep ourselves healthy and rested to deal with all the career change stuff.

Pictures:

Sept-Oct Catch-Up, 2013

It’s the middle of October already! I have had a really hard time getting started and keeping up with homeschool stuff. I have been doing the necessities, actual homeschooling, but organizing and blogging has been difficult. From about September 4 -October 1, I was sick and just barely hanging on to the very basics of what I was supposed to do. And also any extra energy I had I had to spend on my job. So, the year did not get off to the start that I wanted, but we have come a ways into the year ok.

Classes:

They are on the fourth week of Explorers in VH. This is the class after Discoverers for third to fifth graders. There are less kids in it, and it is taught by Hillary. They are reading “Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing.” They are in an upstairs classroom now. That seems almost surreal that they could be old enough to be upstairs. Their classroom has “Bill” the skeleton in it.

Naim has been in soccer and is more than halfway through the season. He has had trouble running fast and “getting in there.” It is not because he can’t do it, he gets distracted. We have worked on it (with me practicing with him) which doesn’t work well on one level because I suck. But on another level, I suck so bad I give him confidence. On his last game, he did a lot better.

He has also concluded his time with Erica, the child psychologist. This was a mutual decision to end this, but she is starting some other kind of job at a different health care office anyway. I think she served her purpose and Naim’s anxiety has gotten a lot better.

They started back at our local church. Due to the kid census, we have split A and N up into separate classes. N is in the 3-5 grade class and A is in the K-2 grade class, but they talk about the same topics. A is less mature than N anyway, so it works out better this way. I have held Avery back from preschool and kept him in the nursery for one more year. So, three separate rooms.

Avery’s ECSE is going well. He seems to enjoy going way more than last year. This teacher at least gives us monthly newsletters. His IEP meeting is coming up in a couple of weeks. I dread this big time.

September Newsletter
October Newsletter

At Goddard, he is in “The Ranch” which is the junior preschool level room. He seems to be doing OK in there and had his first conference last week. Here are his conference notes. And here is the DAR dump for the last six weeks.

Curriculum:

We have been starting out with workboxes and a morning meeting. The workboxes work good, but I have not been good about filling them up. This is mostly due to illness so hope to get better and have the kids fill them up with me. We also go over the calendar and work on things like memorizing addresses, months, dates, etc. at this time.

We are chugging along at a good pace in math. We are on Chapter 17 of 19 in our current math book, so soon I will have to order the next set.

We have been doing a unit study with the novel “James and the Giant Peach.” I really like doing these and want to do more, and see how I can incorporate them better into what other things we do.

Aaron has done the first 10 Lessons of HOP Master Reader and is now reading the first chapter book. He really, really likes this curriculum and the book.

Naim has mostly been working on the Reading Horizons online curriculum. I think we need to combine the computer with mom lessons because it is still not sticking very well, and since he is back at the beginning, it is old material. We are still working out the kinks of this curriculum and seeing how to best use it. We have paused working with HOP for now. I am not sure if we will go back to it or stay with RH exclusively yet.

They continue to work on Sylvan, Handwriting, and now grammar mostly on their own. I do think Naim’s handwriting is improving.

We have also done one lesson in Atelier and have completed three lessons in Discoveries in Music.

I am not doing any formal curriculum with Avery this year. He gets enough four days a week. On Wednesdays, we hang out at the library and park. We also do a lot of talking and naming things. I have thought about putting him in Little Villagers while the big kids are in Explorers, but I like hanging out with him on our own. He is talking up a storm.

Fieldtrips:

Since I have been sick and I always have a ton of phone calls for my job in the afternoon, we have not done a lot of field trips. But we just did three in a row last weekend. All of us went to the children’s museum, then Aaron and I went to Lego KidFest, and we all went to Lakeview Farms with the UU families for pumpkin picking. I took only Aaron to Lego Fest because he missed the OMSI lego exhibit when I went with Naim alone, and then a few months ago Naim went to the Washington County museum and Aaron was supposed to go to a lego convention with me, but he was puking sick so again did not get to go. And this was a little pricey so it saved money. Next year I will consider taking both of them, on a Friday so there would be less people. I don’t think I could handle Avery there, yet.

Picture Dump: