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kindergarten readiness (long)

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    kindergarten readiness (long)

    I've read over my review copy and sent my thoughts to Tanya. Thank you so much for the opportunity! It's a great help to re-motivate me

    Theoretically next year, we'll be starting kindergarten. We've gotten through most of Junior K this year and are trying to finish up. Some of my questions are probably standard newbie questions, some are specific to SN. I'm new to homeschooling and very very new to special needs homeschooling. I reaffirmed that homeschooling is the best choice for us but there was a point that I really wanted to hand all this off to somebody better trained than me! I had always assumed that since I learn easily and so does my husband that this whole school thing would be sooo easy. hah!

    We had been doing school basically Tues & Thurs. But now since we started ST/OT tx's across the state on Tues, my week has fallen apart.

    I've only been doing therapies with my oldest (M) for a little over 2 mo and still haven't hit my stride there. And the youngest (A) goes to the same place on Tues with it's attendant work and then 2 other days of Speech through Early On coming to the house. Bizarrely M has flipped her sensory needs. As a baby and toddler, she was a very calm child who wasn't easily upset. Then she became very fearful and hesitant to try things. Now, recently she's turned into a sensory seeker and can't stop moving but very sensitive to sounds and new smells. On a positive note, she's not been so scared all the time lately. She's finally learned how to ride a bike! but......school has really fallen apart during this time.

    1) How do I go about organizing my day/classroom? Most resources/forums that I read tell you that everybody starts out all rigid and eventual gets relaxed. My soon to be K'er, is my first child and homeschooler. She has no older sib for example and no experience with a classroom. How do I teach her to attend and "do school"? How do I get her into learning mode? I almost want to send her to school just to delegate the "this is how school works" part!

    I can't figure out or decide if I should use the rest of this year to "practice" requiring school everyday (except Tues) or just wait til the end of summer when Kindergarten 'starts' and simply enforce that this is school and that's that.

    I should add that she is a child that doesn't want to grow up. So.....saying that big girls do X or now that you're a big girl, this is how school is....Just won't help me. I have to try very hard to make being a big girl a good, important and desirable thing. Anything that makes being bigger a chore or a punishment (you're a big kid, therefore you must do X) will set me back in other areas at home.

    She does well with and needs direction and organization from me but has difficulty sitting still and attending. Doing her OT work before class seemed to help that a bit but then she complained that she was too tired (she says this a lot when she doesn't want/can't to pay attention. although left to her own devices, she'd happily sit and play dolls or run and jump so it's not really tired. I usually offer to let her take a nap in bed and she assures me she's not that tired!)

    2) Most resources say to do math, phonics and writing everyday. When I've tried, it seems too much. Usually because she'll get interested in one and not want to stop but have nothing left for other subjects OR it was so difficult to get through the 10-15 minutes that she has nothing left for the others. Sometimes she'll beg to keep going but then whine or do a flippant job throughout whatever the task is. If I give her breaks, it's very difficult to get back on task. If no breaks than, she's can't maintain doing her work.

    Thoughts on this??

    3) What if MP Kindergarten is too high for her at this time. I don't think she's incapable of learning to read or learning arithmetic. It's the attending to what needs to be done, the copywork, recitation, and answering questions about what we've read (without something to see or do that reinforces the information) that makes it seem like not a good fit. We'll be finishing JK this summer so repeating that would be a waste.

    We're working a lot on processing (following directions, speaking of things without a visual reference, accurately and with complete sentences describing a picture ex She is sitting on a chair. She is wearing green shoes. ). Over the rest of spring/summer I'll be working on HWT with her to help improve her fine motor skills regarding writing and AAR-pre to work on her phonemic awareness skills. She seems to have a difficult time hearing the sounds in the words (still can't rhyme so I've moved on to other tasks). All of which should help but sometimes I think that maybe MP K isn't a good fit but then I don't know what to do.

    I can see how much of the MP package would be helpful to work on with her but with all the hard work we are doing (therapies, reading, math, writing), I wonder if something lighter would be better for this year.

    I hope this made sense and didn't ramble too badly. I appreciate the thoughts and insights from those who've got more experience. I feel lost.

    #2
    I have some thoughts on all of this stuff! I have my first dd starting K and a big boy that doesn't want to grow up and some scheduling challenges this year too. But, dh needs the computer this morning. I will share some ideas that are helping us this year in the next day.

    Lena

    Comment


      #3
      Finally have time to give some thoughts. I have thought about a LOT of these same issues here. I have dd just starting K plus tag along ds's 3 and 1.

      First, I would say don't judge how school will feel when the routine is all out of shape! All of our worst stretches of foot dragging and too tired and other complaints were because the routine was changing and it seemed possible to get out of school work. We have had a LOT of routine shifts in the last two years (new baby, move etc.) and it just takes a while to figure out what works again. I would suggest getting in the school time habit over the summer no matter what you are doing with her school wise. Once everyone figures out that school is ALWAYS what happens a couple of days per week (in my house that takes about two months of consistency) then we can really get in a groove. We actually rushed to complete JrK and start K because we are moving again this year and I wanted to finish K by the summer of '14. My plan is to do four days per week, but rather than trying to do extra work we will try to spread the year out. 33 five days week will turn into 41 four day weeks. We can still take some vacation, but a short summer should figure into a little less need to redo material.

      Secondly, for me I wouldn't say rigid versus relaxed. Rigid suggests stress to me. I shoot for a routine of sitting down to do school. That means there are days that we sit down that I know are not going to go that well. But, if it is Wednesday we are going to do school even if all we will do is review some stuff and handle various people crying! The bad days are worth the effort if it means that they don't fight me on the good days. That being said, I work more by time limit than material covered at this point. Two hours is our max and some days that covers a lot and some days not. I am WORKING at not getting hung up on whether or not we finish all of my check boxes for the day.

      Let me know if you figure out a motivation for the never-want to grow upper! Dd is fine, but DS 3 wants to be the baby. We are working on big boys use the potty, but he is NOT inspired. I have a feeling that JrK is going to be another battle on this front next year.

      As for working on task-orienting, I suppose work up to it? Start with one subject that always gets done and then if you can get in a routine there add another. I try to mix things up so that we do writing (super focus hard task) followed by math (more hands on/variety). By the way we aren't using the rod and Staff math this year although I might use it next year for grade 1. Have you every tried having her sit on an exercise ball while she works? I have seen kids that concentrate much better if then can bounce or wiggle a little while they work. I worked in a classroom once that had a desk with a bench that had only one leg in the center. Some students could only settle down when they had to keep their body balanced while they focused.

      We haven't exactly used a full MP K this year, for some of the same issues as you raised. But I am trying to follow the MP K outline, so we try to do memory work, phonics, math, copying or handwriting, and enrichment. I try to start out with something in those boxes, but maybe not as much as MP would expect. For recitation we might just sing a Scripture verse for a couple of weeks and work towards being able to do a recitation later. I figure if we are pretty dogged, maybe it will be easier to use their 1 or 2 program as is.

      We used Pre AAR with our dd and I was really impressed. She didn't get rhyme or syllables well. I skipped ahead to the isolating first sounds exercises and just pointed out rhyme to DD. I would inform her that "these words rhyme, see they are alike at the end." After about six months of doing other pre AAR phonemic awareness the rhyme thing finally hit. We are still working on syllables. I needed reading pulled apart and explained to me like AAR does, because dd needs EVERY STEP explained. But AAR has really worked. We ended up sticking with Level 1 and then have added FSR to help with writing specifically. That would have been too much for her to learn writing and reading together, but as a phonics review it is fantastic and she needs the writing practice (A LOT.) So I use AAR and FSR and skip the SRA.

      I hope that some of this turns out to be some ideas to use. The first year of K is a little nerve wracking without a lot of extra concerns such as you are dealing with now. I have revised my plans so many times. Sometimes my daughter has surprised me with things that seem so simple but can be so hard. On the other hand, sometimes we have just started plugging away and I am suddenly amazed at what she can do. Repetition has done wonders for her when explanation was useless. Sometimes I just have to remind myself that because I am always tempted to quit before repetition starts to pay off! We will be plowing through K best we can this year too.

      Lena

      Comment


        #4
        Something that has always really helped my boys with "This is school time" is an Opening. I am terrible with organization and routine, and we have so many different things we have to deal with that school is not always at the same time or the same day of the week. When I am organized enough to get the Opening handled, they work much better.

        It always looked something like this:

        1. We would look at our announcement and weather board, where I'd put up the day's weather and any place we had to go that day.

        2. Pledge of Allegiance

        3. National Anthem

        4. Recitation

        5. Hymn

        6. Children's song

        (That was really the end, but by that time we'd have momentum built up, so I had a few other things that we could get out along with it.)

        7. Math fact drill (oral)

        8. Poetry

        9. Artists (All this was less than thirty minutes)

        10. Copywork

        This is the point where it would bog down and start feeling like work to them. However, it was a definite divide between school and not school. It was stuff they generally found fun and it was all oral up to the point where I handed them their copywork. It also made them feel really good to be able to say they had already done all that work.

        I had made up these pages that I laminated that had two columns of places to write assignments and two smaller columns that I placed Velcro on, and then I had small Velcro backed numbers to attach. When they finished something they got to place the number on their finished poster. This was placed in a prominent location, where dad would see it as soon as he walked in after work, so he could brag on them getting so much done that day. I added everything to these, each of the Opening pieces, each subject they were to do that day, chores, places we had to go. They didn't have to do things totally in the order they were written (that was me trying to give us flexibility). They could see the things they needed to do, and they could see their progress through the day.

        When I managed to keep up with this, it was the most effective thing I've ever done for getting work out of them.
        Miah - married to Warcabbage, 3 boys, BS in social work, AS in Electrical Engineering Technology

        Evulcarrot - 18, freshman in college, Medical Technology , mild autism
        Battlebroccoli - 17, lives with grandma, attends a special high school program part time
        Doomsprout - 10, highly verbal moderate autism, anxiety, motor delays, sensory processing issues - SC 4 with R&S 4

        Comment


          #5
          What is AAR?
          Miah - married to Warcabbage, 3 boys, BS in social work, AS in Electrical Engineering Technology

          Evulcarrot - 18, freshman in college, Medical Technology , mild autism
          Battlebroccoli - 17, lives with grandma, attends a special high school program part time
          Doomsprout - 10, highly verbal moderate autism, anxiety, motor delays, sensory processing issues - SC 4 with R&S 4

          Comment


            #6
            Armymom, I love part about "handling various people crying"! sometimes I think I could manage to keep M on task if I didn't have A (nearly 3) making such a ruckus talking over us! i try to give her stuff to do but if i try to talk to M, she has to get there too. M really needs my focused attention so I finally tell her to go play and then we get tears....o well. knowing it takes you 2 mo of concerted effort to get a routine at least gives me an idea of timing so I don't give up too soon. what works one day, doesn't work the next and then I feel defeated. I will keep plugging along even if I not get the lesson done. I guess half of what we're doing is teaching them how to behave and learn not just stuff knowledge in their little heads.

            at first I thought M's problem with growing up was a new baby thing (nearly 3 years ago) but its been long enough and even with concerted effort it's still not great. I have to make up things for her to do or things I really don't want her to do (going to make a giant mess or whatever) just to make it special to be growing up! but A has been saying for a few weeks now " I not baby. I Anna-boo!" She already wants to be more grown up than M. Potty training was tough on M too. It took forever and no amount of my interest, bribing, or frustration on my part made it better. We did get there but still needs pull-ups at night.

            She's excited about Kindergarten so I'm afraid that making it really hard will backfire on us about being a big girl. working up to all the subjects is a great idea.

            I will also work with your ideas of just going by time and even if we don't get much done, the practice of doing it will help.

            Her OT is going to try having her use one of those balance pads during speech tomorrow to see if that helps her. If so we'll probably incorporate that. She likes the exercise ball but I don't have any tables that she could reach properly on it.

            something that might be working for us for recitation is doing flash cards but kinda backwards from normal. instead of the question, she sees the answer so giving the answer requires looking at the card and saying it. the ones she doesn't do immediately go to the back and i do again that time. I figure I'm not trying to catch her being wrong but get the data in. sometimes I put them around the floor and have her find the answer.

            I'm also planning to continue AAR and follow up with FSR

            thanks for the reminder on repetition. I will remember and not give up too easily
            thanks!

            Comment


              #7
              hi Miah
              AAR is All about reading. it's an orton-gillingham based method to teach reading. It's probably way too slow for a kid who picks up reading easily but good for those who need it.

              you're right, when I was better about doing our opening, school went better. of course life was going better so I was better at doing the opening stuff. I need to remember to make that a priority! I like your list and will try it out here. I could never figure out where to put all the poetry, songs, etc...so it has been pretty haphazard.

              I also like the all done board. I had done something similar where she got to do check marks on our white board next to he items but she stopped caring about finishing the list and I got out of the habit of putting it up. I made a visual schedule but its not where she can really interact with it. I'll have to fix that.

              thanks!

              Comment


                #8
                5 yo First grader

                We often use dry erase list and erase what we complete.
                I also set a timer and offer incentive for a manageable amount completed before the beep. Usually access to a desired activity.

                Comment


                  #9
                  I know what you mean about everything being easy with only one to pay attention to. Baby Z is 17m and is a kamikaze colorer. That means if he has crayons he will sit there and color his own page and watch you. The minute his sister is really engrossed he throws himself across the table to color on her page! Every day he gets something because of course if we try to deny him crayons he just sobs and sobs and steals crayons.

                  Just so you know, I think our year is going great. I can look back and see that dd has come a long way since last year. But it is NOT because our schoolroom is quiet! Even with reading where she has progressed tremendously, there are days... She is, on average, doing better than I would have guessed. But there are days when she really struggles. In fact there are weeks like that.

                  We did Copybook for the first time today. She cried three times. Once when I told her that both parts of the Y start at the top and I asked her to retrace it the way I showed her. A second time because I told her to put her pencil down while I showed her how to write the same letter underneath. And a third time because I told her to make her E spread out onto the monkey bars instead of squash on the ground. We never did finish the alphabet. I wish that at the end of the year her copybook would be a beautiful piece with nicely formed letters and pretty original art. But if it were that easy, it wouldn't have much to teach her! Instead, by the end of the year I hope that she has pictures that are not just scribbles next to a legible verse that is copied correctly. We will see if that goal is doable. But, I think the even if we struggle mightily with Copybook all year that I will be able to look back at these first pages, and see where she is then, and the difference will be worth the practice. I try to set high enough goals that they have a chance to surprise me. Even if we don't make the goal I can sit down at the end of the year and look at the progress of work and usually we came a long way, and that is really the point.

                  Take heart - progress is never a smooth upward curve (especially if they are busy working on therapies in other areas) and classrooms are not super quiet either! At least you can always redo, retell, and in the worst case try again tomorrow. Your little classroom will not be pregressing along while she tries to figure out what she missed!

                  Lena

                  And you can probably remind me of all of these high minded thoughts next January after our move when I will be lamenting that our routine is shot because and everyone regressed too!

                  Comment


                    #10
                    CelticaDea wrote "I've read over my review copy and sent my thoughts to Tanya. Thank you so much for the opportunity! It's a great help to re-motivate me "


                    CelticaDea,

                    Thank you for your careful and encouraging notes. From your requests, I have been busy adding a comprehensive Appendix D to include the names of referenced resources throughout the book in every category (behavior, assessment, Latin, grammar, history, and more) along with ordering information for each. We also inserted the names of references in the places you requested. Thank you.


                    To your kindergarten question - you have received excellent input here.

                    Fwiw, we never "schooled" 5 days in each content area either. I even hesitated to start a specific math program when mine were kindergarten age, because it required 5 days in math. Now I know that we could have begun the program and adapted.

                    As others mentioned, we found an Opening with a set start time essential. We began at 8:25 a.m., with the first 5 minutes assigned every day to "Overview." The predictable order helped me as much as my children.

                    Another tip learned the hard way (by attempting to omit prayer and Bible from our mornings) - if your home school includes prayer and Bible stories, you might consider beginning with this immediately after your daily calendar overview. We found that beginning with instruction in the Christian faith set a gentle tone with good perspective for the remainder of our school time.

                    Cheryl

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Cheryl,
                      I really liked the book. I especially look forward to that index! I have so many notes written all over mine to try to keep track of all the great ideas!

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by CelticaDea View Post
                        ...I don't think she's incapable of learning to read or learning arithmetic. It's the attending to what needs to be done, the copywork, recitation, and answering questions about what we've read (without something to see or do that reinforces the information) that makes it seem like not a good fit. We'll be finishing JK this summer so repeating that would be a waste.

                        We're working a lot on processing (following directions, speaking of things without a visual reference, accurately and with complete sentences describing a picture ex She is sitting on a chair. She is wearing green shoes. ). Over the rest of spring/summer I'll be working on HWT with her to help improve her fine motor skills regarding writing and AAR-pre to work on her phonemic awareness skills. She seems to have a difficult time hearing the sounds in the words (still can't rhyme so I've moved on to other tasks). All of which should help but sometimes I think that maybe MP K isn't a good fit but then I don't know what to do.

                        I can see how much of the MP package would be helpful to work on with her but with all the hard work we are doing (therapies, reading, math, writing), I wonder if something lighter would be better for this year....

                        CelticaDea,

                        I was wondering what you decided to do for the fall with your girls, especially with your soon-to-be kindergartner. How has the summer been going for you? Any conclusions about the fall? I am especially curious about three areas:

                        1. Reading/Oral language - several at the MP conference advocated for the Orton-Gillingham work, as you are doing. My own children, despite their learning disabilities, learned to read with a "normal" phonics program (but longer lessons), so we never tried any of these alternatives. I'm wondering if you have considered using MPK, but taking two years -- or a year and a summer -- to complete it. The first year you might work through First Start Reading orally to improve her phonemes, rhyming skills, listening, processing, and all of the other areas where you have indicated she still needs help. The second time, you might proceed through the program again, but add the writing components. All of this would reinforce the skills, but in the sequence Cheryl Lowe created. Using Classical Phonics alongside FSR would provide even greater review. The word lists alone would assist the ability to hear rhyming sounds. What do you think?

                        2. Writing - you mentioned HWT. I attended Iris Hatfield's NAC workshop at the MP conference this year and was very impressed with the idea of using either the writing in FSR or modifying with Modern Manuscript, a slanted printing, through StartWrite. The slanted print transfers so nicely to NAC. Either way, with NAC you can eventually use the Copybook materials that would reinforce everything else you would be doing through MP. The various techniques you might have learned through HWT, such as using sandpaper letters or writing in cornmeal on trays, could all be employed with any writing program. Another thought would be to use a hand-over-hand approach for the writing in MPK (or any program you choose). My daughter needed hand-over-hand for years. This is just the way we wrote everything. (As an aside, my husband and I watched the Miracle Worker the other night -- the version with Anne Bancroft as Annie Sullivan. If you ever need renewed inspiration, this is powerful. The relentless emphasis on the humanizing essence of language is something I never caught in the years I watched the film before embracing classical education.)

                        3. Order - has your daughter settled into a routine yet? Something we found successful is to maintain an order even in the summers. I gradually increase the assigned tasks as we approach our fall semester each year. Years ago, my husband posted a large dry erase board in our eating area. I write a brief daily schedule. "It is time for..." replaces, "Would you like to...?" We have simple daily chores posted in a "Save" area, along with “A.M. Jobs" and "P.M. Jobs." In between, I list two or three items for the day. We do this all summer. Then as fall approaches, we add two subjects. By the time the full school year arrives, the schedule is just a little bit longer.


                        Primarily, I was just wondering how you are doing this summer and what you are planning for the fall. Listening to everyone grapple with the existing MP packages makes me want to create the new ones even more quickly! In the meantime, it is very helpful to hear how everyone is adapting.

                        Thanks-
                        Cheryl

                        Comment


                          #13
                          That summer schedule board and progression is a great idea
                          Miah - married to Warcabbage, 3 boys, BS in social work, AS in Electrical Engineering Technology

                          Evulcarrot - 18, freshman in college, Medical Technology , mild autism
                          Battlebroccoli - 17, lives with grandma, attends a special high school program part time
                          Doomsprout - 10, highly verbal moderate autism, anxiety, motor delays, sensory processing issues - SC 4 with R&S 4

                          Comment


                            #14
                            change of circumstances

                            Hi Cheryl,
                            Thanks for checking up with us. We had been doing well with a simple routine focusing on calendar, memory work (getting much better with this since I started letting her see the answers and then gradually taking away the visual), finishing up the MP Alphabet book, AAR-pre with read aloud from MP JK schedule or another book if we'd already done the MP one, and math (currently Math in Focus though I'm not sure that I'm going to stick with that). We would do each thing daily and I set the timer so that we would spend 7-10 minutes on each part. Long enough to stretch her attention but not past her abilities. I made and used visual schedule cards so she can see what items for school we have to do (she keeps it in her backpack which she loves! ) and I have another set for a daily schedule on the pantry door. My plan was to add more subjects to extend the day when fall came.

                            regarding school choices:
                            For reading, after finishing up AAR-pre, I was planning to do AAR-1, then follow it up with the FSR plans. I got all the subjects for Kinder separated out so I can more easily move the timing of the subjects around. Depending on how all this is going, I may or may not stick with AAR in the later levels.

                            For writing, I was planning to finish up her alphabet book, and then go through HWT (kinder? level) to cement the general lay out of letters and movement of the pencil (I like the little boxes to fit the letters into for her instead of a full open line at least at first). Hopefully we would be ready for FSR by then and her writing and reading would be stuck back together. If she's not through AAR yet, I planned to make up writing pages from Aesops and her story books to fill the time to make sure she's writing at least a little daily.

                            For math, I'm still torn. She does well with math concepts. I'm inclined to use R&S. I've read a lot of really good things about singapore though. The math in focus version, has a bit more hand holding for me using the Singapore method.

                            Now here's the wrench in the plans. On June 20, I had a seizure while out running and spent a few days in the hospital while they figured out what had happened. I had another this past Friday. Besides simply fearing the unknown, since I don't seem to have any precursor to each seizure, I am exhausted, confused, and my short term memory is pretty shoddy especially right after the episode. Besides the stereo-typical grand mal type, I seem to be having absence type occasionally which further messes with my short term memory, confusion and fear. After you add in the injuries I keep getting from falling without catching myself, I'm pretty shot.

                            I don't know what exactly I'm going to do. I'm hoping this will be controlled by the time fall comes along. I guess a positive of homeschool is that I can take a bit of time off and pick up again and just go more year round. I can't drive for 6 mo after a seizure so unless I could put her on a bus, public school isn't an option anyway. I'm not sure that I will be able to manage MP. I'm doing lots of contemplating trying to figure out how to manage all of this but right now we're taking a bit of time off. I'm planning/hoping to get back into our previous routine within the next week.
                            Last edited by CelticaDea; 07-09-2013, 12:05 PM.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Dear CelticaDea,

                              I want to offer my sympathies and prayers. I am so sorry to hear of your new health issues.

                              I also want to reassure you that it is indeed possible to have a rich rewarding life despite chronic health issues and also to homeschool successfully, despite them and with them.

                              Seizures can be particularly scary. I hope your medical team sorts things out very soon. Rest, heal, be easy your mind in terms of the coming months of homeschooling. You and your little ones have many years of learning and living and growing ahead of you: as you observed in your comment, one of the beauties of homeschooling is the flexibility and the possibility for year round learning; of coming and going according to the needs of your family.

                              I had a brain tumor three summers ago and my children, then aged 8 and 10, simply took time off from the rigorous, sit down with Mama academics. We took the time we needed as a family for my healing, recovery, and adjustment (for all of us) to my new physical disability. We're doing swimmingly now. I am so glad I gave myself and them the gift of time.
                              homeschooling mother to a 16yo boy & 18yo girl, both learning at the high school level, and an adult son whom I homeschooled all the way through. You are welcome to read more about our homeschooling life at my blog: link via my username. Please forgive any typos in my comments here! I'm disabled and can't always type clearly.

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