I love fall. Trees are turning, the hoodies are out of the closet and the mornings are down right crisp. I love fall. I am amazed how fast the boys are growing; Little Brother is getting so tall and lean and looking like a boy not a chubby toddler any more. Little Brother is verbalizing a lot more at this age (a month before his 3rd birthday) that Big Brother was at the same milestone.
It is officially fall now and unofficially Oct 1 marks the “month in” line for fall activities and schedules around here. At the one month mark, I thought a review and summary was in order. What we kept, what we changed; and how thing are going. Reviews like this I think, help keep me on track.
The boys’ birthdays are fast upon us. We chose to have their party early this year to have better weather, we hope. A day of hay-wagon rides and fun followed by bonfire is the plan so we need the weather to cooperate; a good hot pot of chili to keep us all warm and CAKE. Last year the weather was not nice and everyone stuck in the house made for a stressful event. we are having the party a lot early in the moth this fall in hopes of a great outdoor event.
I am still AMAZED by the fact I am going to have 2 pre-schoolers; no baby no toddler. A 3 year old and a 5 year old – wow I remember them at 6 pound and 5 pounds.
Preschool for both.
We remain staunch homeschoolers, now more than ever to be honest. More than ever :).
I am grateful for the excellent team we are blessed with, a team both boy share. We have been with them since Big Brother was 20 months old and they are family to us. Both boys have Speech Therapy with the SLP 2x a week (well 6 times a month) and both also have one-on-one time for academic weaknesses too; again each 6x a month; then Big Brother also has 2x a month intervention on fine motor with the OT. Thus to make my life easier, to prevent the boys having a lot of wait time in the van (especially for the winter) and to make the schedule of the ST and other team members easier the boys are trying out the pre-school classroom day a week. Remember legally a homeschooled child is to be given all services that child would qualify for if enrolled in the public schools so both boys have IEPs and receive testing, assessments and services via the school. They do not have to be in the classroom at all, this is an option we are “trying out”. Last year Big Brother accessed all his services out side the classroom. Currently they are under “early Childhood Education” (transitioned out of Early Intervention at 3). Little Brother’s IEP will be written next week, and Big Brother’s was just updated last week. As long as they remain in under the coverage of “Early Childhood Education” we keep our team: our Case Manager and everyone; they remain ECE until they start Kindergarten. So this is Big Brother’s last year; since officially he is Kindergarten aged in fall of 2011 no matter what we decide to do here at home. After that he will keep his IEP, and the same SLP but I loose Cami and that is going to make me **SOB**. She is the glue that holds it all together and coordinates it all. (She will continue with Little Brother for 2 more years, till fall of 2013).
Big Brother is in the classroom 3 hours, one morning a week. In October Little Brother has 2 visits scheduled then he will start, by his birthday, being in the other classroom 2 hours the same morning. Little Brother will be one of the 2 youngest in his class since a non-IEP child has to be 4 to be in the class, so he is only going to attend 2 hours, not 3. We have also chosen for him to attend the last 2 hours so he is there for snack and playground time and misses the “curriculum” work of the first hour. This will serve to make the time more playgroups for him.
So far this is ok. I am sticking with it, but it is still subject to change. Big Brother has a great time (Little Brother has not visited yet). I have some concerns that are unrelated to the teacher or staff personally but more to the nature of the beast of a public school setting.
The first week Big Brother was exposed to Hand Foot and Mouth Disease. I respect greatly the phone call I got about the risk; however that call came after we had left the house to go to class. Had I gotten the phone call in time; say the night before, or more than 20 minutes before my son was due in the classroom; I certainly would not have taken him that day. I did not agree with the school’s SOP about when the ill children could be admitted back to class and more so did not appreciate my concerns (with documentation) being brushed off. Secondly Big Brother doesn’t quite understand all the things that the class does the days he is not there and seems to think that they are doing them the next time he is there; so I feel things are not being clearly explained in the classroom; and I do worry about him being made to feel excluded. I know the teacher is not happy about our one day a week choice. Also that is just creating an emotional situation for him.
Next to the illness factor my biggest issue is that Big Brother has brought home the “I need you to play with me” attitude. The teacher commented that she has been frequently going to him and encouraging him to seek out others to play with. Now my child, that used to color happily at the table as I cleaned is saying things like “I need you to sit and color with me” or the child that used to play with his brother and his toys while I sat on the sofa and folded laundry wants me to play – engage in the game with him – all the time. I do play with the boys a great deal, that is why I am home, but the new level of needy-ness to have someone engage in every activity with him is very annoying. I sent and independent child into the classroom and got a less independent child back! Isn’t that one for the advertising campaign!!??
All in all I am still undecided about the long term workability of the classroom for our family, I am sticking it out to make services easier on us all, but I am not convinced. It seems weekly I am finding new negative and not so many positives. You can see, now, why I say we are even more dedicated to our principals of home education.
Big Brother attended one class. He enjoyed it, I think. I looked in on him several times and he was well behaved but did not seem to be tracking the class discussion. Nevertheless we will not be continues this choice. The timing just was a big fail for us. Bible Explores meets from 6 to 7 every other week; Wednesday night. Daddy has choir from 7 to 8 every Wednesday. So the whole family ended up at the church from 6 to 8; then had to drive home, 30 minutes. Remember our boys go to bed by 7 pm each and every night – their choice, well Little Brother’s choice – the boys get up at 5:30 to 6:30 every single day so by 6:30 to 7 pm they are really ready for bed and needing bed. So not even getting to leave church till after 8 was hard. So Daddy and I made a choice to not keep Big Brother in that activity. It is just easier for Daddy to go to choir from 7 to 8 alone, and they boys go on to bed on time.
Had Big Brother really connected with the class more I might have tried to make to work out better, or suffered though it. The class was great, and the teacher kind but it was just beyond Big Brother. The group was kindergarten to 3rd grade, making Big Brother the youngest in the class; Big Brother turning 5 in November, is not legally Kindergarten till next fall. I think we will try again next year after Big Brother can read, and then maybe the stuff on the white board will connect to him more.
The church changed the way they do Sunday School and I do not like the change, but we are making it work. In general I think it is a cool idea, but it is just not one that works so well for our boys, or in the particular set up they have at the church. Now all the Sunday School kids gather in one room for 15 minutes of singing with the Pastor’s wife. This might be cool if the boys had any ability to sit still or function in a group like that. Too many kids in too small a room and none of them old enough to really “do something like that” spells a opportunity to fail for our boys. A basic tenet of our parenting is we do not intentionally set our boys up to fail. After 15 minutes the kids go to the individual classrooms. So Daddy and I have agreed that the boys will just go to Sunday School 15 minutes late this year and go right to their classrooms and not the singing time. It would be hard enough for Little Brother based on his age, but that is just massive sensory over-load for Big Brother and asking too much of him. However, both boys seem to be excelling once they get to the classroom, so we will be continuing Sunday School, just skipping the singing time for now. Little Brother is in the Preschool class and Big Brother in the kindergarten class. Big Brother could have stayed in the Preschool class another year, but we wanted Little Brother to have to opportunity to try going to Sunday School and the only way for that to really work vas to go on and move Big Brother up a year. The class Big Brother is in is taught by the same awesome teacher he had all summer, so I have a lot of hope for that. She is a Special Education teacher and pretty cool; she is really great with him.
Big Brother is also going to start some therapy at Childserve. Really still don’t have any idea the timing. We have insurance coverage for OT Eating. Big Brother just did a 2nd full OT sensory assessment and while we do not have the write up yet, the OT Therapist that did the assessment did convey to me she is going to be suggesting sensory OT for him and she is confident of getting insurance approval. We we’ll see, however if it is denied I have a couple of other professionals ready to assist on an appeal.
I would like to see him in ST there, but can’t get coverage for it (he lacks a MEDICAL DX) and really when I think about it – he is progressing so well with Miss Emily I am happy not to confuse the matter with a 2nd professional. As long as he can keep Miss Emily as his ST via the schools I am not going to put the effort into fighting to get him coverage of ST privately.
Big Brother will be 5 in Nov and I really feel we need to step up the therapy a notch now that we realistically are looking at academics in the next year or 2. Personally I know he is maturing and catching up, but any push or advantage we can give him to get him ‘there” sooner is at least worth giving a try. I don’t want to be in a place in a year or two that he is overly challenges by non-academic and that adversely effects his foundation in academics. Also, importantly, he is starting to notice how he is different from his peers (speech) and having trouble interaction with peers without and adult there to coach the situation (mainly most of his peers have never been taught to stop and listen and TRY to understand, so they don’t and Big Brother is left feeling left out too often). Big Brother is getting to an age where he is going to start to do more activities without me; Sunday School, maybe sports, and so on. We want his to excel and be able to enjoy the actives not be held back by exterior challenges. All in all we feel it is time to be a big more aggressive in trying to help Big Brother get a grip on some of his challenges so he can enjoy life more.
I’ll be able to share more about Childserve I hope next month at the next Fall Activity Review.
Talk Doctor / Play Doctor
Big Brother did a 3 part assessment with Dr Kellie Hill-Hunt. He loves her, and asks to go play games with Dr Kellie all the time. He is happy to go see her and enjoys being there; though he does get really wound up there.
She is going to start working with him routinely. We are not sure, again, the timing. We are wanting to get Childserve establish and determined and see where the day-timer stands at that point. We will be fitting time with Dr Kellie and her turtle puppet Tippy in around that; possible the same day, or possible any time there is a break in the Childserve Appts. Not sure yet. Big Brother is going to learn some games and tricks for Tippy to start with and we all hope acquire some additional tools and self regulating / control abilities. Again seeking to make his life more enjoyable and less stressful for him.
Dr Kellie is a real blessing to our family, she connects well with Big Brother, she is easy to talk to and she is though. She has read all of Big Brother’s previous assessments (all the Early Intervention stuff, all the IEPs, both sets of notes from The Children’s Hospital and so on – the entire binder of stuff I have). She has a good understanding of the concerns and clearly sees his challenges. I am delighted to add her to our team and relieved to have her input, observations, skills and knowledge on our side; we (I) have been really needed a team member like her.
home school group
This remains undone. Frankly I am hauling the boys around so much for all of Big Brother’s stuff that an extra 45+ minute one way trip to go to the city for any homeschooling group just is not in the cards right now. Honestly we are a bit maxed out and since a group would be 95% for momma to have momma people to talk to it just is not going to happen for a while. I am worrying about burn out and struggling to find them uninterrupted time to be little boys as it is no need to add to the challenge.
Momma is still longing for more adult interaction, LOL, can’t every momma say that. J But the boys needs come first, and honestly mine too – the schedule we have, or soon will have, is draining and we all need down time.
I am honestly stuck. Big Brother has achieved all I think is relevant for a “pre-schooler” to achieve and academically is more than ready for Kindergarten level “work”. However, he is not mature enough for academics yet and we do not belief fundamentally is what any child, Big Brother, Little Brother or any other child, needs to be doing at 5. Additionally Big Brother has enough on his plate with his other activities. So we stay the course; and enjoy the lack of pressure created by home schooling.
I have recently added mazes to the options before the boys on the activity table and Big Brother like the very simple ones. I have dot-to-dots (both numerical and alphabetical) to introduce soon. I am creating several “file folder style games” that they can play with to “work on” phonics, order / series and patterns (already have a post drafted about the different games I have been creating). We are slowly adding more fine motor strength / control games (look for a blog post on this soon). I hope to have more input from Dr Kellie and Childserve’s OT team soon and I am confident we will get more activities and goals there too. That will take us though the rest of this year, and we’ll evaluate if we want to start him on Kindergarten goals next fall, or more correctly see what typical Kindergarten goals remain unmet and decide how much structure we feel he needs at that time.
We continue to dabble in phonics. Mostly at Big Brother’s lead; my only “push” is in speech and making the sounds correctly when speaking. Nevertheless Big Brother recently has demonstrated a great grasp of phonics and I am confident they will be mastered before long. He is, independently, starting to try to “build a word” (he loves wordworld on PBS) and also trying to sound worlds out. He is loving his LeapFrog Letter factory and I just got the boys The Talking word Factory and Learn to Read at the Story Book Factory . The Talking word factory Daddy and I plan to give them later this month since we will be traveling. I may start a bit more instruction in this area if he gets to a point to seem to need it, to prevent bad habits, but that remains an unknown and nothing I am planning on. My only feeling of lacking is that I am not giving enough math opportunities so as the weather slowly changes and we are stuck inside more (and that can’t be more than a month off for us, sadly) I need to put more thought and effort into numbers, math, series and patterns and so on.
Look for a review of how the family food plan is going soon …