Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Method in My Madness

The past few days have been rather positive, from an educational point of view. Some days, it just all gels together, and when it does, it is immensely satisfying!

Whilst any home educator - especially autonomous ones - will tell you that we are always learning, and that there is meaning and value in everything, it IS always encouraging to see them independently settling down to something "academic".

It's still all done with a twist!

Like Samuel and his spelling; I've been using Roarke's new laptop downstairs over the past few days he's been out, so that I can be online and doing things whilst still being able to focus on Jonathan. Samuel went on the pc upstairs in Joshua's room, to do his Neopet. First he did his emails, which meant that he was signed into Messenger at the same time as me.

Up popped this IM window (talk about 21st century communication...). He used it to ask me if they were allowed to have some crisps. Only he couldn't spell "allowed" correctly.

So, I decided to use it for a quick spelling test! I told him that if he spelt it all correctly, then he could have the crisps. It took him 5 minutes but he got the spelling right in the end!
For the rest of the afternoon he kept doing it, which meant he was doing both typing, language and spelling!

Today I also received our free map, under the Ordnance Survey's scheme, which this year has a specific section for home educators! Its great to see another organisation get their head around our vibrant, growing community. Our kids WANT to learn! And we always make good use of free resources!

I'd promised the boys last week that I was working towards spending a specific amount of time with each of them, on set days, where we can work one on one. I think this is getting more important as the family has grown, and in our flexi-autonomous way of home edding.

Joshua, therefore, sat down to spend half and hour with me, working through the little booklet that came with the map, which I updated to his age/skill level as we went along.

Next, I spent the same amount of time with Samuel, though we worked in a way that was led by him. He loves maps! He spent his time seeking out places that he knew, and writing down their grid reference; its the same sort of thing as he does on Google Earth.

With our "one on one" time in mind, I started scouring the internet for some free trials of the many online, interactive learning sites out there. We've already tried Education City, which was ok but didn't grab their attention like I hoped it might.

So, I went for another free trial of one of the first things we ever used, BrainPop. Joshua loves this! It suits his way of absorbing and retaining information, to sit and watch the videos. Today he went through an impressive list: Harry Potter, Agatha Christie, dark matter, black holes, solar system, WW1, WW2, Korean War, Pirates, Great Wall of China, Napoleon, seven wonders of the world, robots and lasers. The trial only lasts 5 days so he says he'll make the most of it. I'll then decide if its worth investing in for him. I'm not convinced he'd use it enough and that the novelty wouldn't wear off.

Meanwhile, I stumbled on a real find: Learning Upgrade. They offered free trials in maths, comprehension and reading, so I signed up for the maths one for Samuel.

It worked really well for him! Very colourful, loads of awfully cringing music (Joshua making gag faces in the background all the time!) but it really really suited him. I'm sure he'll learn the number songs by heart, given the chance! He did really well, and its interesting to see how he relates to math and the areas that he seems good or poor in. For instance, he "got" comparisons straight away, but then would struggle on a simple addition. It appears - unsurprisingly - that he learns the complete sum. That is, he doesn't learn how to work out how to add, or multiply, he'll just learn that 7+2 is 9. If he hasn't "learnt" a sum yet, he has to use his fingers or something to actually try and work it out. This means in effect that he is better at more complicated math than simple sums!

I haven't even looked at the cost, but its quite a decent trial period so we'll see how he gets on too.

At one point today I was running up and down the stairs between Josh and Samuel on two different computers, helping them along!

I spent another half an hour with Joshua dictating his blog. Samuel has now suddenly decided he wants one; he's been adamant for the past 2 years that he didn't, but now he does! I think he sees it as a good way to spend more time with me. I, of course, also see the benefit of having him think over his day and find ways to express himself; vital life skills for him.

William is best left alone at the moment, as he is really quite a handful. He seems overnight to have turned into a full blown aspie! One curious aspect is a sudden speech issue. Roarke and I have now remembered that, at exactly this age, Samuel suddenly started saying "doih" instead of "die". This lasted for several months. Well, William has suddenly, overnight, started pronouncing "noine" instead of "nine". And since pointing this out to him, he's now doing it on all the "i" sounds in words. Its like having some yocal in the house! Very weird. Anyone else had something similar with their ASD kids?

He's also bouncing, flapping, rocking, and NOT EATING, so generally its taking some adjusting too.

I posted on a list yesterday about Jonathan's continued "colic" and amongst the support and advice, someone gave me this site. On it, I read about encouraging the baby to feed longer from one side to ensure that they aren't getting lots of "low fat" milk which can cause more "colic". From early evening and overnight I tried this, and he went longer between feeds and didn't have his 5-7 am colic. Ahah, I thought, I've cracked it!

As you might expect, it hasn't been that straightforward! He's been much, much worse all day instead - going longer between feeds but screaming through most feeds, and being gripey nearly all the time inbetween. Ah well!

I've finally got some peace, however I can hear Jonathan is restless, over the monitor, so I'm not sure how long it will last. Roarke has been out between 10 and 7 at work, and then out again at 7.30 for a church meeting, and I'm awaiting his return now. I don't do very well without him! People have often asked how we can work together (as we've spent most of the past 14 years working together) and be together all the time, but we both feel that we are stronger when we are together and don't function quite as well on our own.

I need a hug anyway!


Carol said...

Well have a virtual ((())) from us here in the mean time.
funnily, since G quit work to be at home, I cant imagine doing so well without him.

I wonder whether the time of year brings out the Aspie-ness more as Em has really increased in her challenging behaviour, though I think it seems to be worse at around 7yo , or at least N was worse then and now Em is too.

Hope Jonathans colic eases soon, baby colic is hard.

Wobblymoo said...

{{{{hugs}}}} from me too. We do the instant message thing too, it's a fantastic way to encourage communication in general. Nathan can now type really fast. Now the pronounciation thing is something he does too, always has done, 3 of us have broad Yorkshire accents, he is posh lol.

Anonymous said...

Awww (((hugs))) M had colic as baby too, its so hard just hang in there. I tried everything and nothing seemed to work but he did grow out of it.

Thinking about it J is almost and he is very challenging, M was 7 when we took him out of school and was terrible at that time.