Sorry I have taken an absence from writing with absolutely no explanation. Beth can do a lot more work and fun things now, so we have been busy! A few people have asked me how Montessori is going. The short answer is it isn’t. We hit the addition/subtraction boards with math and she hated them. I looked at the other math boards and went…whoa. This is not right for her. We got a motor planning and small attention boost from doing the Montessori program up to that point, but it was time to move on (I maintained the geography program, solid shapes, hundreds board, and bought other materials for maintenance of concepts). Here is what we are doing now:
Reading Anything and Everything Beth Will Read.
We made it through about 1/2 in the public school common core materials I borrowed (Harcourt Trophies, first grade). Wow, the material ramped up quickly in terms of length of the stories, which is extremely frustrating for a kid who is reading the stories aloud and has expressive language issues. At that point I paused and did motivating readers to boost fluency. The Tug the Pup series was her favorite fiction mini reader set and is worth checking out. http://www.amazon.com/Learn-Read-Tug-Pup-Friends/dp/0062266896. Beth has improved a lot using materials she likes. Her fluency is better and she has less errors, better tracking (she is still using her finger to track and I just occasionally bump her finger back gently when she makes an error so she can try again), less guessing at words, and better ability to start on the far left and find the next line (dyspraxia, crossing mid-line issues, and atypical occulomotor apraxia, how we hate thee).
Language, Language, Language.
We spent several months this year working in this book:
I could write a very long post on this book, but I don’t have time so here is a quick summary. Bottom line is I recommend trying it.
Purpose: As the book descriptions says, “Upon successful completion of the program, children are able to understand and talk about: past, present, and future events in their home life, such as eating, playing, bathing, and dressing past, present, and future events in the outside world, such as visits to the supermarket, a trip to the zoo, and activities at school simple stories and other early literacy skills Mastery of these skills enables children to become more active participants in the world around them. The program may be implemented by a parent, teacher, therapist, or other dedicated adult. Who is the program for? The program is for children who meet the following criteria: In language—the ability to say at least two words in sequence, either spontaneously or through imitation, such as “go home,” “bye bye,” “want cookie.”
What you need: A lot of patience while you hunt down all the manipulatives for the program. The table in the book had useless links, so I suggest going with ebay loving family & you and me happy together dolls. The other manipulatives you can find on amazon (Toobs, etc).
What I learned and liked about the program: I learned that Beth likes models and they help her pay attention better. Screw flashcards, models are where it is at for her. I also learned to show Beth items and discuss them in view using present tense, then hide them under the table to talk about the items in past tense. I learned many other things, but these were the biggies. The author had extremely well thought out lesson plans that progressed very nicely. I have never seen anything this good in any system in terms of laying out speech lessons. Also, the generalization was very well thought out. And it made me realize why the VB-Mapp is total shit (but that is an angry rant for another time).
What made me scream in frustration: The author advised the teacher/parent to be business like and to restrain hands to get the kids to speak. I am sorry, but WTH? This is proof that old school Lovaas is alive and well in autism therapies. I ignored that advice. I bought the previous book by the same author and it ended up in the trash (Spectacular Bond…more behavioral therapy gone bad). I bought the book after and didn’t find it to be that helpful. And yet, I am happy we did this book (sans the Lovaas crap). Also, although I liked that the author worked on motor planning (putting pictures in order, etc) before ever working on expressive language, when she asked my kid to remember things in order that I couldn’t even remember, I drew the line and moved on. It also would be better if the lessons were a bit more functional. Hug the doll…good to do. Hug a truck? My kid looked at me like I was nuts and I agreed it was nuts and we just skipped it.
Did it work?: Yes a little. She definitely talks more. She is less frustrated when I asked her to tell a story with 3 part story cards. She more easily says whole sentences. She now has some ability to use past tense and suddenly started telling me where we were going when we were driving around (!). But getting her to want to speak like the book promised of her own volition hasn’t come yet. But I will keep applying the concepts with our speech therapist using play models.
There are language activities we are doing other than this book, notably positional /prepositional words. I have literally every game out there and I will try to write a summary post on these in the near future.
Lakeshore, Lakeshore, Lakeshore.
Basically, my house looks like a Lakeshore store. And now we have started buying the more expensive Lakeshore items. You get what you pay for, believe me! Lakeshore is awesome and I am absolutely appalled that the school I pulled her from either didn’t allocate the money or had no knowledge of how wonderful their products are (and we have a flagship store nearby, so there is no excuse for that).
SuperDuper Publications Chipper Chat.
I have bought many Super Duper Publications products in the past and I was underwhelmed. But again, you get what you pay for! Recently I bought the uber expensive Chipper Chat games and finally found the right products for us. There are other Chipper Chats, but we started with this and it is great:
My kid just loves making the magnetic chips jump on the wand at clean up time. So I have been using these chips and wand for every bingo-like game we own now.
We started over with math, because the common core Go Math from the school district was getting ridiculously busy in terms of page layout, and just ridiculously stupid in general. We are using Math-U-See, a homeschooling curriculum…what a breath of fresh air! The entire very long first book is a “don’t have to master” book. They introduce a wide range of K and 1st grade topics to give the kids a good overview of 1-100, counting, adding, subtracting, skip counting, etc. The idea is to expose and promote good feelings about math (what a concept, take that common core). The program has great manipulatives too. We finished the very long intro Primer book and we are moving on to the next book (Alpha).
After about a year of just letting Beth write sloppy, I finally tried to improve her penmanship. I am happy to report she is starting to get the “neatness” concept a little. A small but important step. She can practice with the dry erase board products and finally has enough control that she doesn’t fly outside the lines with abandon! Go us!
I am sure I am forgetting something very important, but I hope this helps someone out there. The important thing is to keep trying new things and keep flipping homeschool supplies on ebay to cover the expense.