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  • The “Class”

    Avery, Naim, Aaron

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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:

August 26-31, 2013

Naim had NWCT Camps. He did a singing camp in the morning and a film camp in the afternoon.

The singing camp was a challenge at first because he was caught again being unable to read the lyrics. I guess the first day he got really, really frustrated. I figured out how to look the songs up on YouTube the first day, and we listened to them a bunch of times that way and started singing what we could remember. This helped his confidence a lot and he was ok after that.  He did a performance at the end of the week. She put him inconspicuously in the back, but he did ok and had fun. I got the songs in my head. They were Tomorrow (from Annie), Happy (from Despicable Me 2), and In the Sun, by some teeny-bopper kind of group I can’t remember now. I tried to record but only got a little because Avery was on my the whole time.

Aaron’s zoo camp was Rhino level this year. This one focused on predators and prey. They saw the bird show and the predator show and did the zoo train and the usual stuff. He, of course, liked aftercare the best. I think there was one sort of meltdown having to do with Aaron not wanting to make an animal but instead wanting to make a transformer. Nik told her to let it go and then it was ok after that.

Avery had Goddard on M,W,Th and  got used to his transition into the Ranch room. Thursday was Pajama Day. Here is his DARs for the week.

August 14-23, 2013

Oh, one of these again. This is more because my memory fails me on the specifics of what we do if I don’t post at least every couple of days. Bad me.

Sooooo…..(drawing a blank.)

Avery has been a good little Goddard Child. I am noticing that they are putting him in the next room over and I am getting DARs from that room. It’s not a big deal, but I just wonder if they are planning on telling me what’s up? Is this a ratio issue and a temporary thing or are they getting ready to move him? Reports here and here. He is off today because I am going to put him in more days next week while the kids are in camp.

Highlights of Schoolwork….

  • We finished Ch. 15 in HOP dealing with Calendar and Time.
  • Aaron has finished ALL the work in hooked on phonics. I am so glad. He will be starting HOP Master Reader for 3rd grade.
  • I have Naim’s curriculum for Reading Horizons and he did a bit of the early assessments. He did better than I thought on some sections but got 0% on recognizing and discriminating vowel sounds. He always tells me he can’t hear the difference between like /a/ and /e/. It is frustrating. But he did seem to like the new curriculum interface.
  • We read and did the work for DER “Busy Bea”.
  • They did their usual stuff with handwriting and sylvan
  • They did a kiwi crates box where they made recycled paper and leaf-print bags. That is the last one I had. I really like those things, the materials are such good quality. But, alas, saving money for now.

Fieldtrip-wise, we have gone swimming once, and did our last day at the Outpost, also got haircuts. Naim also had an interview with a reporter from the Hillsboro Tribune at a Starbucks, but she seemed as nonplussed as I was about why they would be doing an article on this ‘non-event.” As of today, there is no story. This all went down from Naim filling out a little rider profile form on the TriMet website. He got a ton of attention for doing it…and then nothing. And he was so excited…that it has just been a fucking headache ever since and I wish it would go away. It has taken up my time to deal with it and I really don’t know what to tell him about why nothing is published like they promised him. (If they are not going to publish, fine. But just TELL ME and so I can tell him and be done with it. Sigh.) TriMet did send him a package of swag, so he liked that. But whatever.

Naim also started soccer practice. The coach seems less than social. Like to the point where I introduced myself and he did not even acknowledge that I was talking to him. Is this something white, hetero, able-bodied males can get away with? Or is he on the spectrum or something. I mean, he is REALLY rude. Anyway, we think he is kind of aloof to everyone, not just us. And Naim seems to like him, which is the important thing. He seems to do better with the kids. So maybe painfully shy? But how do you get through life like that? (hetero-male privilege???? The rest of us blind folks and otherwise have to WORK to put people at ease.)

They did end up putting him on a U9 team, rather than U8 like they promised us, so all of he teammates from last year are not there, which was kind of disappointing for him. But he seems to be bouncing back from that. I am not sure where the U9 team leaves us as far as transportation to games. We lost all of our parent connections for rides as well. So we have to start from scratch. But maybe this will mean that at least SOME of the games we can get to, rather than all of the ones in U8 we were going to need rides for. The game schedule has not come out yet. It will hopefully be soon so we can make arrangements, otherwise Naim will not get to play at games, which he knew would be a possibility.

We spent last weekend cleaning up their room and moving A and N in with Avery as an experiment. We now have a dedicated school room. So far, it is going really well.

Today, Naim has gone canoeing with R. It sounds like a lot of fun and a really neat idea. He was a bit scared, but I think he will do OK once he is there.

August 13, 2013

Aaron and Avery went to We Village and Naim and I went to get school supplies and his soccer stuff.

August 12, 2013

Avery went to Goddard. He seems to be having a better time getting himself there.

Big Kids:

  • N and I reread “The Puddle” and they did the work in the DER book for that.
  • We did the practice book for Ch. 15 Lesson 1 which is dealing with the Calendar
  • Both did 2 pp. Sylvan
  • Naim did HOP review of unit one. DVD and worksheet
  • Aaron did Lesson 11 of HOP DVD and book
  • Naim did Hh in handwriting books
  • Aaron did 2 pp in HWT

I had a whole bunch of job work to do in the afternoon and evening, so that’s where we left that.