Sunday, January 24, 2010

1/2 Way Thru Our School Year...

And time to review our goals that I made at the beginning of the school year.

Here are the goals I made:
1) Gabe will learn to consistently make all the sounds of the letters. Not met so far, but working on it.
2) Gabe will learn to consistently write all letters. (at this point I dont care if lower case or not) Not met yet either.
3) Gabe will consistently copy and say all letters to 20 (he repeats up to 20, sometimes even higher depending on motivation, but has only written to 10) Not met.
4) Gabe will learn to put letters together into words. (ideally, i'd like him to learn at least 1 word a week, but i don't know if that's pushing to hard or not yet) Sort of met, he's been reading some sight words, even though he swears he can't read anything.
5) Gabe will learn to do simple chores (without having constant hand-over-hand to make him) This goal is met! He's started helping with simple chores, and started taking turns better!

1) Caleb will learn 5 new words per week (and still be able to spell previously learned ones) Not quite met, as far as learning that many per week, but we are reviewing words that he used to know, and learning new ones as we can. So I'd say 1/2 met.
2) Caleb will write on the lines with correct spacing so it can be read About 1/2 met as well.
3) Caleb will control his body ( a BIG one, he has no concept of personal space!) Not quite met, but working hard at it. His mouth keeps getting him in trouble....
4) Caleb will rotate chores and learn to properly do them Met!
5)Caleb will raise his reading and comprehension level by practicing reading at least 20 minutes each day. Met, for the most part. He still resists reading unless its a book that he wants to read.

1) Caitlin will learn at least 5 new words per week (see above) Pretty well met, but I want to continue to work on it.
2) Caitlin will write on the lines with correct spacing so it can be read Met! But could still use improvement on neatness.
3) Caitlin will sit quietly when doing schoolwork (constant chatter, kind of like Caleb's lack of concept of personal space) Met about 50% of the time. Still needs reminding and redirection.
4) Caitlin will rotate chores without complaint and learn to do them properly Met! And she does a great job when motivated. Otherwise a simple chore, while done properly, can take her 5-10 times as long as it should.
5) Caitlin will raise her reading and comprehension levels by practicing reading at least 20 minutes each day. Met!

1) James will learn to write paragraphs with correct punctuation and grammar. Not met.
2) James will work on his handwriting skills and improve them. Improving, but still needs more work.
3) James will stay on task and complete things in a timely manner. Met for the most part, but definitely an area to continue working on.
4) James will rotate chores without complaint and learn to do them properly. Not quite met, but I'm confident that it will work itself out.
5) James will raise his reading and comprehension levels by reading at least 20 minutes each day. Met, and he can read much better than he was at this time a year ago. His math has improved as well.

All in all we have met quite a few goals, and even met some goals that I didn't list because I thought they weren't quite school related.
1) Gabe has started sleeping thru the night, by HIMSELF!!!! Not with dad and I.
2) Gabe has been taking turns! Not always willingly, but its a great start!
3) Gabe has been having fewer and fewer accidents!
4) So has Caleb! 2 accidents in 3-4 months is great!
5) The kids have been learning to help with the cooking.
6) We've been having weekly library trips where the kids can pick out their own choice of books to read and journal about, as well as movies to watch. Gabe has a real fascination with old 80's cartoons.
7) The kids are learning about respecting other people's space and things.
8) We've been helping Grandma and Great Grandma with things that they need done. And having dinner at grandma's at least once a week, using our manners and being polite.

I get down sometimes, and keeping track of our goals like this helps me to realize that even though it doesn't always seem like we are getting things done, we are accomplishing things everyday! It's slow work, but we keep going.
Now I just need to figure out which goals are the most important for us to work on the next few months.

So far, we are working on flashcards (math, words, numbers), and our reading and writing skills. We are continuing with our goals for chores, and sharing and such. They seem like such small goals, but slow and steady works for us.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Almost Forgot...Pics of Kids

Ok, here's Adrian in his cute little red windbreaker outfit. And Adrian with James, showing off his car. Caleb looking all kinds of happy because he didn't want cheese pizza--he wanted pepperoni, which we were out of. Gabe in his favorite zip up sweatshirt. James leaning in on Caitlin, who has her eyes closed. James with Scooby, who just turned 8mos. He's getting soo big! And of course, Caleb watching tv with Adrian. Just a few pics!

Slow Week....

Not too much going on here, thought we had our house-guests moved out, but that only lasted around 2 weeks. Go figure. Most of this week has been spent doing hands on learning activities with Gabe and reading and writing with the rest of the kids. This next week I plan to start trying to potty train Adrian and maybe work on getting him to start attending to short activities. No time like the present as they say.

We spent some time at the American Legion Post for their pancake breakfast today, and got to visit with a few people there. Also took some more recent pics of the kids and Adrian. Really not much else going on around here.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Been Busy Again...

Wow is time ever flying! Yesterday was my birthday, and it went fairly well. Only a few minor hitches. Things are going well, just day to day mundane little things.
We are doing our school routine, just trying to keep it constant. The kids need a lot of direction some days. Of course so do I as of late, and I keep second guessing myself as to whether or not this is going to keep working for us. Really, on paper it all works, its just in real life that it sometimes gets gummed up.
Gabe has done much better most days on following simple directions and even though he still dislikes school, he's at least willing most days to at least try. He still struggles with retaining information that he learns, but it's progress however slow it is. Some days I really feel I need a break, but then I feel guilty, because they're MY responsibility. Not someone else's.
I've been told by quite a few that homeschooling is a bad choice, and that it's something that I can't succeed at because of the kids special needs. Some days I feel that way as well. But then I have to sit back and realize that everyone learns at their own pace, and just because my kids aren't perfect doesn't mean anyone else's kids are either. My kids have challenges, and my patience isn't always the greatest. But I'm trying. That's the most important thing to me.
I've had to really kick myself in the butt as of late to really get in the mood to do anything. School-wise that means that this week has been more about journal work, reading our library books and doing workbook work. Not really any extra stuff, but they did get some excellent books on cd that kept their attention well. And Caitlin is currently doing her own "research" so to speak on rocks and minerals with the books that she checked out from the library. She's interested in learning more, and wants to start a collection of semi-precious stones and gems.
Caleb is still having troubles with his reading comprehension and has been very discouraged. He gets so frustrated with words. I've been trying to make time for he and I to have some one-on-one time for reading and going over material to make sure that he understands it. It's been difficult to do though as mornings are hectic and chaotic. I'm thinking of breaking up our school day, instead of doing it all in the morning. Maybe just journal in the a.m. and do workbooks in p.m. and reading for an hour or so before bed. Not sure how well it will work out, but either way, it's a learning experience for all of us.
James is doing well, he's been reading more on his own and learning some harder math. What I find so ironic about all this is that I was in public school my whole life, and I've never used even 1/2 of what I learned. To me that's a LOT of wasted time and energy put out. Who really needs to know how to do long division like a math whiz when everyone else is using calculators? Or how to multiply a billion different numbers in your head? James knows his basic multiplication tables, but really has no use for them. None. Right now anyways. And if a time comes when it's something he feels a real need to learn, then we'll do it. But for right now, I think all the kids need a better reading base than what they have.
Our focus in the next few weeks is going to be on improving our reading skills and our listening skills. And of course along with reading comes spelling. Which is atrocious at the moment. I've got some words to put up on the walls in the hall on our cork-board, but then realized we don't have one anymore, so tomorrow I'm off to Staples to get another and some tacks to put our words up.
Obviously it was a good idea to post tonight because I already feel better about my new resolve and my new plans. My mind is going a mile a minute sometimes, so it's a good idea for me to get things down while I'm thinking of them.

Friday, January 8, 2010

A Little Down Tonight...

So the kids had a good friend over tonight. Which is great, because all the kids get along with him and he's (of course) a little angel when he's at my house. He's 8 months younger than Gabe, but acts about as old as James. Way more mature than his age, mostly because he's the oldest of his mom's kids.

He and Gabe have pretty much been raised together, and I've babysat him and had him for weekends ever since he was a baby. Which, at this point, is really very bittersweet for me. He's not autistic, and Gabe is. Gabe still likes looking at books with lots of pictures, and he's reading chapter books. Gabe still wakes 2-3 times a night, and he's slept through since about 6mos old.
It's hard having him here. I enjoy it because he's a great kid and gets along with all the kids, but it hurts to see how different they are at basically the same age. He's everything I've always wanted for Gabe. He's articulate, affectionate, plays appropriately with toys and peers. He's working above grade level and can read. he does chores, he wants age appropriate things. All things that Gabe hasn't yet done, and may not ever do.

The worst part tonight was when it was bedtime. Gabe still sleeps on the couch a lot of nights. He has a real problem with sleeping upstairs alone in his bed. So he was trying to be brave enough to sleep upstairs, and wanted his little friend to sleep on the futon upstairs with him. But, his little friend had other ideas. He wanted to sleep on the other side of the loft, with James in his big queen sized bed. Poor Gabe just didn't understand that A didn't want him hanging all over him and being up and down all night. So his feelings were hurt, and he sat and cried for almost an hour on and off, saying A's name over and over. A explained that he still likes Gabe, and still wants to play and all, but that he just didn't want to sleep with him on the futon.

It didn't help, and as I'm typing this, Gabe is finally asleep. He sat and sniffed for a while, and every once in a while, he'd say A's name. He feels horrible, and so do I. He just doesn't understand the concept of personal space. And I work on that with him every day. It takes a looooong time for concepts like that to sink in and make sense for him. Gabe is still so much like a toddler. He goes by the same general rules they do, thinks the same way. He gets his feelings hurt so often by little things that kids his age understand and would get past quickly. Something as small as a misplaced toy can cause hours of whining and crying and sad looks. He seems to have no concept of whats truly fair to everyone. When it comes to games and toys it's all mine mine mine. He's been getting better at taking turns and trying to share. Really he's at about a 4yo level in some areas, but about 2-3yo level in others. It also depends on the day, he has his good days and bad.

I guess I'm just down because I see so many things that Gabe may never do. He has so much potential. He's learned a lot, and has so far to go. I mourn for the things that he may never do, and rejoice for the little things that he accomplishes. I guess I need to find more things to rejoice about.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

One Week In, And I'm Still Sane...I Think...

Or what passes for sane anyway. Things aren't going too bad, a lot of the same old stuff. A lot less drama, since I've been trying to see things from other people's perspective. A lot of learning right now, as I'm trying out a new path with my life.

Everyone's doing well, done being sick. We're back into the swing of things with school and home. A fresh start helps everyone to feel better and not be as frustrated with things. Sometimes all it takes is a day away from the normal grind for things to be better.

The new path I'm working on is teaching me so much right now about trusting how I feel about things and looking inside myself for the answers to my questions. It's showing me the importance of positive energy and getting rid of the negative things in my life and my mind. Helping me to clear my mind and notice the little things in life that I ignored and avoided before. The energy in things.

Back to the grindstone, got kids to chase and books to finish. I'm learning more every day, and enjoying it.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year...

My first New Years resolution for this year is my weight goals. The second one it to stop letting people get their way when what they really need is a definite reality check. My evil reign starts today.
I also made a resolution to start blogging at least once a week, but I'm going to try for every day, even if it's just a smartass comment or two. Not hard goals by any means, but sometimes more difficult than they seem.