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re: Juggling 3 Levels of School Still Daunting Sometimes

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    re: Juggling 3 Levels of School Still Daunting Sometimes

    I admit I'm still a bit overwhelmed with fitting in all 4 kids' school each day. Thankfully Ligia and Ervin are together(they are my children using SC Level 2) but it's hard to figure out what to have Ligia and Ervin and Dara(aged 5) do while I work with Colin(aged 9). Some read alouds with my 9 year old work okay with the other 3 but not all. Right now L & E need to be within my sight (supervision due to impulse control issues/challenges related to their disabilities) and they need ideas/guidance on things to do while I'm working with Colin. So far they like to play uno (which can be loud sometimes), draw, and they practice re-reading books but I'm open to other ideas b/c they tend to end up just listening to his lessons sometimes which may be frustrating for them since he is at a different level than they are (but is younger than they are). What is happening most days is most of the structured school time is with Ligia & Ervin due to their challenges...but I need time to do Dara and Colin's one-on-one. We start our day with morning time where we read Bible together & pray & do catechism & do one or 2 chapters from some of our group read alouds (tends to be one I selected and maybe one from the American History program from Memoria which Colin is doing--2 year version). Not sure I'm getting my words out well here. After lunch we have quiet time for about an hour.

    Heather

    #2
    Re: Juggling 3 Levels of School Still Daunting Sometimes

    Hi, Heather.

    I can understand that if they are listening to you teach while they are "on break," this could be counterproductive for everyone. They need a little mental and social space, even though they require physical supervision.

    Here are some ideas:

    Listening Center
    Some self-contained classrooms with all behaviorally-challenged children provide listening centers for such occasions. Do you think this could work? Ervin and Ligia could have individual sets of headphones/earbuds for listening to their own audio books, classical music selections, poetry CDs from earlier SC levels, math facts for memorization, or to their catechism set to music. They might draw, play with individual sets of Wikki sticks, or color (w/individual containers for colored pencils to minimize arguing) independently, while listening. They could do this every day and might even begin to look forward to it.

    Quiet Headphones
    If it is too costly or requires too much planning to set up a listening center, you might just supply heavy-duty workman's headphones to block sound for Ervin and Ligia. They could have quiet time with the same activities as listed above, perhaps scheduled by day, but just in quiet. We did this with my son whenever I taught Michelle, although usually while he completed his own independent work. We had no extra cost, because my husband already had these headphones in the garage!

    A Rotating List
    If it will not work to do the same thing every day, perhaps you could rotate by days of the week? We have done this successfully too. Monday could be Uno day. Tuesday could be drawing day with heavy headphones. Wednesday could be Wikki sticks (or clay or puzzle) day with heavy headphones. Thursday could be quiet science reading with heavy headphones. Friday could be Dominos, because you're still working on those automatic pattern-recognition skills for their FAS. Such a schedule might sound overly regimented, but they still retain all the freedom within the activity to enjoy their time and benefit from it, or not! Somehow when mine realize they have that freedom, they decide to enjoy themselves.


    Others may have more suggestions for you. You're still tweaking the school year, so just keep things as easy on yourself as you can.

    Comment


      #3
      Re: Juggling 3 Levels of School Still Daunting Sometimes

      Thank you for your ideas, Cheryl. I will discuss them with my husband & see what we can try next. I'm not sure I understood how to use the dominos as I had a sudden vision of them just playing with them/building with them or one of my 4 kids throwing them. My lively 5 year old can also add some excitement to the mix while working with Colin. Sometimes she is more cooperative than other times. I have to figure out how to factor her into it all. She never has been great at playing by herself as she really likes to have engagement/interaction with others.

      Heather

      Originally posted by cherylswope View Post
      Hi, Heather.

      I can understand that if they are listening to you teach while they are "on break," this could be counterproductive for everyone. They need a little mental and social space, even though they require physical supervision.

      Here are some ideas:

      Listening Center
      Some self-contained classrooms with all behaviorally-challenged children provide listening centers for such occasions. Do you think this could work? Ervin and Ligia could have individual sets of headphones/earbuds for listening to their own audio books, classical music selections, poetry CDs from earlier SC levels, math facts for memorization, or to their catechism set to music. They might draw, play with individual sets of Wikki sticks, or color (w/individual containers for colored pencils to minimize arguing) independently, while listening. They could do this every day and might even begin to look forward to it.

      Quiet Headphones
      If it is too costly or requires too much planning to set up a listening center, you might just supply heavy-duty workman's headphones to block sound for Ervin and Ligia. They could have quiet time with the same activities as listed above, perhaps scheduled by day, but just in quiet. We did this with my son whenever I taught Michelle, although usually while he completed his own independent work. We had no extra cost, because my husband already had these headphones in the garage!

      A Rotating List
      If it will not work to do the same thing every day, perhaps you could rotate by days of the week? We have done this successfully too. Monday could be Uno day. Tuesday could be drawing day with heavy headphones. Wednesday could be Wikki sticks (or clay or puzzle) day with heavy headphones. Thursday could be quiet science reading with heavy headphones. Friday could be Dominos, because you're still working on those automatic pattern-recognition skills for their FAS. Such a schedule might sound overly regimented, but they still retain all the freedom within the activity to enjoy their time and benefit from it, or not! Somehow when mine realize they have that freedom, they decide to enjoy themselves.


      Others may have more suggestions for you. You're still tweaking the school year, so just keep things as easy on yourself as you can.

      Comment


        #4
        Re: Juggling 3 Levels of School Still Daunting Sometimes

        Ah yes, the 5-year-old. Can she work a puzzle during this time? One puzzle each day, followed by time with her own quiet toys of choice? I really like rotating, so I envision writing the day of the week on the box lid.


        If Dominos would lead to destruction, feel free to substitute something else there! Puzzles are great for visual-spatial skills, attention to detail, and perseverance. Sources: Half-Price Books, yard sales, relatives?

        It sounds like a meeting with your husband would be a good idea. This is as much about establishing order as filling the time with constructive ideas. If you have a neighbor, church friend, or other adult who could physically supervise an outdoor - but safe, supervised - recess, that would be ideal too.

        Does Ligia work well with your 5yo? Perhaps the two girls could play together, while Ervin has a quiet time?


        You're juggling a lot. I hope you find some ways to help ease the burden, or at least to support you through it! Let us know what you decide to do.

        Cheryl

        Comment


          #5
          Re: Juggling 3 Levels of School Still Daunting Sometimes

          Still feeling for you, Heather, so here are a few more thoughts ...


          With your children's challenges, you are very much a "self-contained special education" teacher. You may be realizing this, as you teach three levels. You have all students for all subjects, and each student has his own behavior, attention, or learning needs! Most require 24/7 supervision. Maybe your husband or a local friend can help you design a setting to reflect what you are doing each day, if you do not already have this in place.


          Your situation is not the cozy, casual, teach-on-the-couch, smiling image from homeschooling magazines! Yours is a TOUGH calling. Consider obtaining some physical help to reflect the reality of this task. This might include study carrels, soft half-wall dividers, or other furniture to indicate that their work is serious. Here are some tips on adjusting the physical space to minimize behavior challenges.


          Other tips:
          1) Allow sufficient space between students. Do not expect "hands-y" students to sit in close proximity to each other. [When mine were your children's ages, we traded in our car for a minivan, so each of my two children had a row! Friends with 5 children thought this seemed ridiculous, but they just didn't know....]


          2) Minimize visual clutter in your teaching area. Take a month of week-ends, if needed, to tidy, tidy, tidy. Place things in containers. Label. Organize. Minimize chaos. Create order and beauty. Consider how orderly a well-run classical classroom looks. If you remember from our MP conference at HLS, you might place beautiful art (11x17 MP art posters) or a verse from Holy Scripture on the walls to inspire reflection, but little else.


          3) Use that time at the end of your SC 2 day for organizing materials. Teach organization and respect for materials, just as you teach math facts.


          4) Allow sufficient physical outlets.
          [For us, the YMCA or other public swimming pool has always been the best way, because then I always have a lifeguard helping me with supervision! When Michelle was little, I bought bright swimsuits, so the lifeguard could see her easily. I pointed her out at the beginning of the session. "See the girl in the cherry-red swimsuit? She will need to be watched closely for wandering into the lockerroom, disappearing into the lazy river, or getting swirled underwater in the whirlpool." At our local pool, they learned to seat a guard right at the whirlpool site.]


          5) Realize again that all of this is hard. Sometimes the hardest thing for many of us is this: realizing just how hard it is and how hard it may always be.


          It IS daunting, but you will make it through. You are most certainly not alone! If you need to, you can reduce the workload for your students. Save some for the 8-week extension or for another year.

          You are doing good work, and you are helping those children in your care. Already their lives have been changed forever.

          Let us know how we can help.


          Cheryl

          Comment

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