Friday, September 30, 2011

StArt - Super Guinea Pig

As I've mentioned many times before, Capt. N struggles with reading. So, I've been trying to find fun ways to help him improve. One day when I was at the library I noticed a sign that said, "Read to the Dogs." I signed him up. This past Monday he went to the library and read a book to a trained dog who laid on a pillow beside him. This dog was the best listener & his trainer/owner was great, too. The book he read was Super Guinea Pig to the Rescue. Capt. N loved the book so much he wanted to check it out. This was the book we read that night at bedtime. All 3 of my kids loved it. Since they enjoyed it so much I couldn't resist making a project for them to do the next day.

This story is about a regular ol' guinea pig who ignores his friends to watch Super Guinea Pig on tv. When his friends start making fun of him he pretends he is best friends with Super Guinea Pig. Then the story unfolds with the disasters of telling such a lie. It's a fun story, with a good message. And there aren't many stories with the main character being a guinea pig.

I cut out a guinea pig shapes, then drew on the faces.

I gave the kids scraps of paper, glue & markers and asked them to make their own Super Guinea Pig. A pretty simple project, but they really liked it.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Week 2

We've survived, & even enjoyed, week #2. I'm not sure if Capt. N noticed a difference, but I feel this week was better than last week. I'm guessing a lot of that is simply because I learned from the first week that I was trying to cram too much in a day & I rescheduled the 2nd week a bit. I still feel like we have a very full day, but I wouldn't feel right cutting anything else. And, I still didn't make as much time to spend with my younger two as I would have liked, so this week I'm literally going to add it to the schedule. Actually having to schedule time to spend with my kids is not something I'm proud or happy to be doing, but the way we've been doing it isn't working. So, I will change up the schedule once again to make sure none of my kids are feeling left out. Hopefully within the next couple weeks we'll have a good rhythm down.

Pics from the Week:

Math ~
We're using Saxon Math. Since I've never homeschooled before I have nothing to compare it to, but so far I like it. Each lesson has a lot of little pieces, but that's good for Capt N's ansy-ness. It's set up to teach one lesson a day. But because of my schedule on Tuesday's & Thursday's I don't teach math on those days. I teach two lessons on both Monday & Wednesday & he does the worksheets for those two lessons the next day. Friday's we do one lesson. On the days I teach he writes the date on a calendar in his meeting book, then he checks the temperature & records it. Each lesson day he also does clock work, coin counting, number sentences, patterns & a problem of the day. Then we move on to learning the new lesson & sometimes he is to practice with flashcards or do a timed test. Then we work on the front side of the worksheets together. The next day he finishes the back side of the worksheets independently.

His calendar. He fills in the date & the temperature.

The cute little thermometer he checks.

These cubes represent the benefit of homeschooling. In our science studies we've been coming across numbers with decimals. He was a bit confused by them, so we did a quick lesson on decimals. I wrote 5.0, 5.1, 5.2,.... 6.0 on the white board, then used the cubes to explain my point. Each row of cubes equaled one whole number. I explained that a number such as 5.6 is more than 5.0, but less than 6.0. The cubes were great for this. Then I wrote a few other numbers on the board & had him figure out the right amount of cubes. He loved this & it seemed to come easily for him. He may not know all there is to know about decimals, but I love that we were able to take a couple minutes and discuss them.

Spelling ~
Spelling is definitely not Capt. N's strong suit. Last week he only got 8 out of 12 correct on his test. So I changed things a bit to make sure he practiced his words more this week. But, he still only got 8 out of 12 correct this week. I think some weeks I'm going to take a different approach. The worksheets are set up to learn a new group of 12 words each week. Well, I really want to keep working on the words he missed the previous week. So, I think sometimes I will stick to the spelling words & worksheets, but some weeks I will do review weeks. I honestly don't know that he spelled the words any better on Friday than he did on Tuesday. The other thing I would like to try is making up my own spelling words that are significant to what we are working on in other subjects. Maybe if he has a connection to the words he will remember them better. Next week I'm going to give him the 7 continents & the 4 oceans as spelling words since we are studying them in Social Studies.

He is studying plural nouns in Language Arts & his spelling words were also plurals. This activity helped enforce both subjects. I wrote words (including his spelling words) on index cards. His job was to add "s" or "es" to the end of each word. He aced this.

He wrote the spelling words on these yellow laminated cards. Then we took the cards into the garage to play hopscotch with them.

Mr. T played hopscotch as well. His words were sight words. The boys threw their game piece then hopped to the end & back. To move to the next position, they had to spell their word correctly.

When Capt. N couldn't spell it easily out loud, I asked him to try writing it.

The weird thing I noticed was that 3 out of the 4 words he missed on his test were words he was spelling correctly the rest of the week - including the word heroes. On his test he added an h between the o & the e. I would like to figure out what thought process made him think an h goes there.

Here is where I struggle. How much is too much fun when we are supposed to be working? A big part of what I want Capt. N to get out of this year is that it is fun to learn. But..... being crazy in the garage is not exactly what I meant. Both boys did a great job with their words, but the game took 3x as long as it should have because they were being so silly. I finally drew a box on the ground and told them they had to stand there when it wasn't his turn. But, should I have let them be as silly as they wanted since they were spelling their words too?

Science ~
Since Capt. N is being taught at home this year I want to take advantage of that & do as many hands-on things as we can. We continued our weather topic this week.

Last week we tried a tornado in a bottle experiment that was just short of a flop. This weeks try went much better & it was so simple. We poured soda in a clear container & stirred hard. Waa-laa a tornado.

This looks rather boring, but amazingly it worked perfectly. It was an experiment to measure the air pressure. We were able to make sure it was accurate by comparing it to our home weather station. When the weather station said the air pressure went down, so did the straw. Yay! A successful experiment & a fun way to learn about air pressure.

His weather lapbook is coming along nicely & he's mentioned multiple times how much he likes it.

 Here's to another good week!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Week 1 in Review

We are off to a pretty good start to our homeschooling journey. I feel a lot more comfortable with the idea now that I taught a few days & Capt. N is enjoying it & learning. It made me happy last night at cub scouts when I mentioned the word weather & Capt. N chimed in saying he's learning a lot about the weather in homeschool. Earlier in the day we had gone to a plant sale & while we were waiting in line I had him add up how much our bill would be. He used multiplication & addition. The lady in front of us was paying attention a bit & Capt. N told her he was homeschooled. She was so nice & told him he's doing a good job. I'm so proud of Capt. N for wanting to share his experience & not be ashamed even though it's different than what his friends are doing. And I'm very grateful to that woman for keeping it positive for him.

A few things I've learned this week.
  1. It takes longer than I expected to teach any one subject.
  2. It's taking more time out of my day than I expected. I didn't take into account all the after school hours I would be spending on preparing, especially when I went into this week feeling very prepared. But I didn't think about changes in the schedule, interuptions, etc. We have a 1.5 - 2 hour break in the middle of our school day. I thought I'd get a few minutes of down time during that break. Ha! Some days we spend an hour of that time going to pick up Mr. T from school. (I could cut that time down to a half an hour if I had him take the bus, but that's a whole 'nother conversation.) I've gotta get the kids & myself lunch. I've go to tend to whatever it is the other two kids needed while I was teaching Capt. N. I try to do the dishes & check email. I check over his worksheets so we can go over any missed problems in the afternoon. I've got to get the stuff ready for our afternoon school subjects. (I'm hoping this time goes down as I learn the ropes.) All these things take up the entire break & then some. Then we do the schooling & when that's done I try to get everything together for the next day. Then in the evening it's sports & activities & dinner & laundry & on & on & on. Each night I've gone to bed exhausted.
  3. I'm enjoying teaching Capt. N. It's been good for me & good for him. He's a very easy going student.
  4. I'm feeling guilty about not spending as much time with my younger two kids. We're home, but I feel like I have to tell them I can't help them right now because I'm teaching Capt. N. It's a hard place. Capt. N gets distracted very easily, so every time they come in he loses his school mo-jo. I really need them not to interrupt. But, it's also not good to make them feel I think teaching Capt. N is more important than anything it is that they need. We will definitely need to learn as we go with this to figure out a happy medium. It broke my heart last night when Mr. T told me that we really needed to go on a date. (Occasionally I take the kids out alone & I call them dates.) It's a new experience for him to be in school half the day, then the other half of the day I'm busy with Capt. N. I miss him too. One good thing is that on most Tuesday's & Thursday's I will get to spend an hour alone with Princess K, then an hour alone with Mr. T. There is a lot of running around, but I'm happy it works out that they can each get at least a little one on one time. On those days, I take Mr. T to school then a little over an hour later Princess K starts school. So Princess K & I have an hour alone before she goes to school. Then I drop her off & I get an hour to myself - which will usually be spent running errands. Then it's time to pick up Mr. T. We have an hour until Princess K gets out of school. This past Thursday we went to a nearby park & had lunch. He loved it! Then we pick up Princess K & go home. My hubby works from home on those days so Capt. N does independent work in the morning & I teach in the afternoon.
  5. We use dry erase markers a lot.
  6. Capt. N's favorite times have been when we are doing science experiments & he has been loving adding new info to his weather lapbook. He is also ambitious about math. He writes very slowly, even if it's copy work. One day in his journal he was to write a story about a very rainy day. He had great ideas that he expressed out loud to me, but it took him forever to write just a fraction of it down. This may have to do with his eye problems.
  7. I have no idea how in the world I would have time to homeschool all 3 of my children. Just the one is taking up all the time I've got. I'm sure it's possible, but right now that seems like a major feat.
   8. I still feel like the best decision was to homeschool him this year. Although, it does sound like he would have had a great public school teacher. I think he would have still struggled in school because his problem is not something the school was addressing. They would have continued doing what they do with all the other kids, and even though it wasn't working for him keep continuing to do it. My goal in homeschooling him this year was to figure out his reading problem & try to fix it. There may be multiple issues, but we have figured out one problem so far & can start working on that. I'm happy the homeschooling gives us the freedom to really focus on that.

Various pics from this week:

Spelling ~
Capt. N is not a terrific speller. I was hoping if we approached spelling in a little different way then he would retain the words better. He did spelling worksheets and some fun activities to reinforce the words. But, he only got 8 out of 12 correct on his spelling test on Friday. So, we'll have to switch it up a bit. Maybe he will need to take a pretest on Wednesday or Thursday? Maybe I could make it some sort of a game?

Splitting the double consonant words into syllables.

Fast pick up game. Each spelling word is written on a card, once in all caps, once in lowercase letters. His goal is to pick up the matching cards as fast as he can. To be honest, he didn't love this as much as I thought he would.

Using bananagram letters, he was to make a little puzzle with all his spelling words. He did this during his independent work time on Thursday, so I asked him to take a pic so I could see it. He did a good job, but I notice he spelled ribbon wrong & he has the word shallow in there backwards.

~ Fluency ~
I think we are really going to enjoy this book. We had fun with it our first time using it. Before reading the poem we talked about rainy days & cause & effect. Then, I read the poem saying "blank" whenever their was a blank. Then the second time I read it line by line, and he filled in the blanks with any word he chose. As it turned out, he chose the same words that were in the author's version of the poem. Then he got to highlight all the rhyming words at the end of stanza. Of course, he loved this because he got to use a highlighter. Then we read the author's version of the poem together. Next, he circled the cause & highlighted all the effects. I wasn't sure he was grasping it completely so I asked him to write on a piece of paper. He listed the cause, then made a list of all the effects. This last part I had him do seemed to take an extremely long time even thought the answers were right there for him. He had already circled & highlighted them, he just had to copy them onto the paper.

~ Science ~
We will be working on weather related activities off and on from now until Christmas break. I want to throw in as many experiments & hands on activities as possible. Capt. N enjoys it & in return better remembers the information. Our first activity was a flop, which was a homemade anemometer. We just couldn't get it to work. But, we have a real weather station at home, so we will just use that instead. He will be graphing the max wind speeds at our house. I love that we can tie math in with much of our science stuff since he enjoys math. If it wasn't for science, he probably wouldn't ever read in his free time. He pretty much only reads science books, particularly he's interested in animal books.
Experiment showing how warm air rises. The white cup is filled with blue dyed hot water, and covered with plastic wrap. That cup is set into a larger container (in our case, the coffee pot). The coffee pot is filled with cool water. Capt. N cut a slit in the plastic wrap and the warm, blue water went streaming to the top. He loved it. We had to do it again using a different color of dye.

Tornado in a bottle. This worked, but it wasn't very exciting & it was hard to see. I followed the instructions from one book saying to fill a bottle with water, add a drop of blue dye, 2 drops of liquid dish soap & glitter, then spin the bottle & you should see a tornado in the bottle. We could see a tornado, but barely. I have another version from a different book we will have to try next week.

We went outside looking for seeds that travel by wind. Ha! This is a good time of year for that. Our entire property is covered in dandelions & thistles that have gone to seed.

He also found a tiny seed from this pink flowering weed. But, we determined it didn't travel by wind.

Alder seeds

More wind traveling seeds. He loved this activity, of course. It was a great day to be outside & I'm glad we could enjoy it & do school work at the same time. We were keeping track of which seeds traveled by wind & how far they flew. Later he will make a graph with the results.

I'm relieved the first week is over & that it was successful. Hopefully, the whole year goes as well.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Day 2

Well, it's day two and I am t-i-r-e-d.

I'm not tired just because of the homeschooling - although, that has certainly wore me out. I feel like my brain is on overdrive. There's too much info racin' around up there. I would like the school day to be done by 2:30. Even after only day 2 I realize I really have to have my A game on to accomplish that. Yesterday was fantastic. I couldn't have asked for a better first day of homeschooling. But, we didn't get to two subjects I had hoped to squeeze into the day. Later in the evening we took Mr. T to soccer practice. Today was definitely not going to be a typical day, but man, I still wish we could have done more. Princess K attends a preschool that requires the parents to help occasionally. Today was my day. Of course it had to fall on a day my hubby couldn't work from home. This left me with two problems. One - where was Capt. N going to go while I was helping at preschool & two - who was going to pick Mr. T up from kindergarten since he gets out before preschool is over? Unfortunately, my dad is laid off so he helped tremendously. The hubby took Mr. T to school. I left not long after to take Capt. N to my parents house. On the way we tried to do the first part of our wind speed gauge - which failed miserably. After dropping off Capt. N, Princess K & I headed to preschool. I gave Capt. N a math worksheet, a grammar worksheet, reading & journaling to do. My dad picked up Mr. T & when we were done at preschool I picked the boys up & we headed home. Once home, we tried fixing our anemometer - but it still didn't work. By now it was already one o'clock. Capt. N missed a couple problems on his grammar worksheet so we discussed common & proper nouns some more. Then we discussed climate & atmosphere and added info to his weather lapbook. His final activity for the day was listening, then reading, and doing a quiz on a book at Raz Kids. Now it's 3 o'clock & schools over.

Yay, we survived day 2! But, now all I can think about is day 3 and 4 and 5 and the cub scout den meeting I have to plan for Friday night & organize my stuff for the Sunday School class I have to teach on Sunday. Oh & I really need to remember to send out birthday invitations for Mr. T. Tomorrow is going to be an unusual day, as well. The morning starts out "normal." But, by 9:55 we need to leave to pick up Mr. T. Then on our school schedule is "go to the library." So we'll do that. Here's my dilemma - Mr. T has soccer pictures at 5:00. We live 35 minutes from the library & the soccer field. By the time we get home from the library, we would be home for 3.5 hours max before we would need to turn around and leave again. Totally do-able. But, it is my pet peeve to waste time driving home just to have to turn around and go back to where we just were. I'm trying to come up with a couple ideas to do school while we're out and about - which I'm happy to do & is a definite benefit to homeschooling. But, it's making my brain tired.

Moving on to eye stuff. I got the report from Capt. N's vision evaluation. He is bad. No wonder he has trouble reading. He has 20/20 vision in both eyes. That's good - at least we know he can see. His ocular motility (eye movement) is not so great. The report says there's a deficiency in oculomotor skills (5th percentile) with excessive errors made (7th percentile), and borderline difficulty in rapid, automatic naming (30th percentile). He has trouble focusing clearly when he needs to quickly focus far, then near, then far, then near. He scored in the 25th percentile in visual-motor integration. Auditory perceptual skills were at a 1st grade level. He scored in the less than 1st percentile for letter reversal. Although, he showed an excessive amount of letter reversals for his age, there was no recognizable pattern of dyslexia. There was a number of other tests that he scored fine on. The next step is to discuss this with doctor. He must have scored a bit worse than she originally thought because when I talked with her right after the last round of tests she mentioned needing therapy for 10 or 12 weeks. After punching all the numbers, her report says he would need a 20 week program.

I don't talk to many adults in the course of a day - sometimes it's only a 5 minute conversation with my hubby. This blogging helps me get out and organize all my thoughts. Even if nobody ever reads it, it's free therapy for a busy mom.

Monday, September 12, 2011

1st Day of School

Yahoo! I'd call today a successful first day. I had fun, Capt. N had fun & even learned a few things and Princess K behaved very well. Here's a look at a few of the activities Capt N did in school today.

One of the first things he did was color & fill out the front cover of an "About Me" book I dowloaded from Enchanted Learning.

We sat in bed taking turns reading a Magic Treehouse Book.

His grammar lesson was on nouns. I asked him to look around the room, find nouns & write them in the correct column. He was so excited to write on the white board, but it ended up being a slight challenge for him. He found it hard to write when the board was up against the wall & he's left handed so he had to be careful not to let his hand erase what he had just written on the board.

Pieces for his page on nouns. It was easy for him to figure out if the noun was a person, place or thing. We also talked about common & proper nouns.

When complete, he will add this fold out page on nouns to his English language notebook.

Spelling. The worksheet showed how to split the double consonant words into syllables. Before school started I cut yellow paper, then laminated the pieces to use with dry erase markers throughout the year.

Saxon math uses its lesson number as the number of the day. This number is used to make number sentences. Today's number of the day was one. I know this is an easy number, but I was happy that Capt N took it upon himself to use a manipulative to make his sentence. He was eating a bag of fritos & showed me that 1 frito + 0 fritos = 1 frito. It's this type of learning that I'm excited about. He's free to ask questions, make comments & be creative with the learning process anytime he wants.

Part of today's math lesson was talking about time. This was review & he did very well. And, he loved it. The lesson was only to talk about the hour hand & have me be in charge of the clock. But, he soon got bored with that & asked if he could make & write his own times. He did great & I was proud to see he had initiative to do more. Having the freedom to let him do this seems like it will be a promising year.

Of course, he also had a math worksheet to work on. It was easy-peasy for him. But, that worked out nice for the first day.

Part of the worksheet was filling in the days of the week - which he knows. But, in our conversation I learned he doesn't know the order of the months of the year. He knows the months, but not which one goes where. What? How did my 8 year old not know this? I was shocked. But now I know to work on this with him, as well as my other two kids.

We will be doing lapbooks this year. He filled out the wind book first thing this morning to practice his handwriting. He made the lapbook cover this afternoon.

The last thing he did was stick some dates on the timeline.

The only fault I can see in the day was that even though everybody was on their best behavior it took longer to do things than I expected. I made a daily schedule, but it may need adjusted. I'll give it a few days before changing anything, though.

Schedule How the day really went
8:00 - 8:10 Handwriting
8:10 - 8:30 About Me book
8:30 - 9:00 Reading
9:00 - 9:30 Grammar
9:30 - 10:15 Math
10:15 - 12:00 Break
12:00 - 12:15 Spelling
12:15 - 12:45 Raz Kids
12:45 - 2:00 Social Studies
2:00 - 2:30 Typing

8:00 - 8:10 Take pics, get situated, etc.
8:10 - 8:25 Handwriting
8:25 - 8:35 About Me book
8:35 - 9:05 Reading
9:10 - 9:30 Grammar
9:35 - 10:00 Math
10:10 - 11:10 Pick up Mr. T
11:10 - 12:30 Break
12:30 - 12:50 Math (continue)
12:50 - 1:05 Grammar (continue)
1:10 - 1:35 Spelling
1:35 - 2:30 Social Studies

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Salt Art

The kids got some bubbles that came in a cool shaped container. I saved the bottles knowing we could make something with them. That something was something I did as a kid - use chalk to color salt, then make colored salt art. My hubby poked fun at me, "Of course you colored salt as a kid." I responded, "Of course I did, didn't you?" I've always been artsy, I always will be artsy & I'm glad I can enjoy it with my kids. I have a feeling I'll be doing art with my grandkids as well.

You start with simple ingredients - salt & colored chalk.

Rub the chalk around in the salt. The roughness of the salt knocks off tiny pieces of the chalk. You keep rubbing until your chalk is gone or until you get your desired color. In reality the chalk is barely coloring the salt, but instead the chalk is worn down to such fine pieces that when it's mixed with the salt the two blend together to make a pastel shade of color.

We made 5 different colors

Find a container & add your salt/chalk mix any way you want.

The boys finished works of salt art.

School Starting & an Eye Tracking Problem

Now that I'm sitting in front of my computer I'm not sure how to start this post. I've had a range of emotions & thoughts this week.

On Tuesday my middle guy had his kinder orientation. He did fantastic on their pre-test. It makes me wonder a little bit about what he will learn that's new this year. But, I love his teacher & I think he will have a great year. It's funny how my attitude has changed. When Capt. N was in kindergarten he did very well, too. Back then I was so happy my kid was doing well in school. Little did I know that just because they do well in kinder doesn't necessarily mean they are going to soar their entire way through school. So, although Mr. T did great on his pre-test I've learned that it doesn't guarantee an easy time in school. It's weird the things your brain chooses to remember. I still recall this same kinder teacher telling me when Capt. N had her that the kids show their natural learning paths by 3rd grade. For example if a toddler was taught math, and in turn, did well in kinder math if he is a natural math person by third grade he will still be doing well in math. If he's not a natural math person by third grade he will start slipping in math. It's ironic that in second grade Capt. N was showing signs of reading problems & now I've decided to homeschool him for his third grade year. This life lesson has me being more realistic with Mr. T's academic potential.

When I left the school on Tuesday I felt reassured. I was glad Capt. N wasn't there. My heart let me know I was doing the right thing by homeschooling him.

Thursday was Mr. T's first day of kindergarten. Princess K & I walked him to his classroom. He went in happily, with no reservations. Here's the key to not letting the rain of emotions hit you on your child's first day of school - stay busy. Kinder is only about 3 hours. The first little bit I spent visiting with other mom's on the PTO. Then I took Princess K to her preschool orientation, which of course, she loved. By the time we were done it was time to go back and pick up Mr. T. He enjoyed his first day of school & I was too busy to worry & fret about how big he's getting. I'm sure it will hit me on a slower day, though.

Friday, when I dropped Mr. T off at school a few kids asked me where Capt. N was. I appreciate them asking. I'm glad he's the type of kid they want in their class. But, this is the stuff that makes me feel guilty by choosing to homeschool him. I am taking away his peers and it breaks my heart. I don't want to sacrifice his friends. But I also know last year was not a good year & I wasn't willing to do it again. A few months ago when I decided to homeschool I determined his education was more important than his friends... at least for this year. This is the only struggle I am having with choosing homeschool as a permanent schooling option for my kids. As much as I know there's peer pressure & there's going to be issues with friends, I think these things are stepping stones to adult life. Of course most of the parents that do homeschool their kids don't think this is an issue at all. I'm hoping I learn that this school year. Because at this point, I'm really having an internal battle about which is more important. I feel I can do a good job educating my kids. I'm motivated to do so, there's a ton of resources out there & there's a homeschool group I'm considering joining. I'm just trying to decide how important it is to see your peers almost daily. Honestly, it's what I remember most about school. And, still to this day 3 of my very best friends are girls I met in junior high & high school. On the flip side of that, most of my 3 years in junior high sucked due to a small group of "cool" girls. They had decided early on in our 7th grade year that they didn't like me - which swayed others not to like me either. So I dealt with mean comments all through junior high. I would never want any of my kids to go through that. Somehow I hoped it shaped me to who I am today - which, I think I turned out alright. But, I had a few rough teenage years & I wasn't doing things a parent would be proud of. I know it had a lot to do with those girls being mean to me, which left few people to actually even get to know me. So I chose to be friends with people that would hang out with me, but that certainly didn't mean they were good people to be spending time with. I could have easily taken the wrong path in life. Lucky for me, I didn't. I can't stand to think of that same thing happening to my kids. Anyways, I could yammer on about this topic forever. For now, I'm movin' on. I'm sure I'll blog more about it later.

The other thing that happened on Friday is that the school had a fall picnic. I met who Capt. N's teacher would have been this year. I gotta say, I really liked her. I was hoping he'd get some crabby, terrible teacher making me oh, so happy that I chose to school him at home this year. But, of course not. He had to get one that makes me really question whether this year would have been as bad as last year. Capt. N is in cub scouts. The scouts had a booth at this picnic. I am so proud of Capt. N. Reading is obviously not his strong suit, but he's got so many other great qualities. A mom came up to him and asked him a variety of questions about scouts and he answered her perfectly. He was polite and enthusiastic, he spoke clearly & gave good information. I was proud to stand back and watch him - especially because this mom was the teacher he was supposed to have this year. Sometimes Capt. N can be a bit silly & anxious, sometimes he speaks babyish or quietly. He didn't do any of those thing. He answered an adult's questions just like a big kid should. Also,  the scouts were asked to work a shift at the booth. They were to answer questions, help with the game & hand out flyers. Capt. N worked his shift & more without one word of complaint and behaved in a way he should be proud of. Even though his friends were at this event, he still took his time & did what he was asked to do with a very good attitude. Then, of course, he went off to play with his buddies.

Moving on to what I hope is a starting point of figuring out why he is such a slow reader. After a frustrating school year, many hours of trying to figure out if homeschooling was a good fit for us, terrible results from a literacy program, many parents telling me their kid had reading problems too but it's no big deal & many, many, many hours surfing the web trying to figure out why all of a sudden reading is a problem for Capt. N I stumbled across a mom's blog that sounded a lot like what I was experiencing. I've also talked to two mom's that really helped me - although, I don't think they know it. Both their son's have dyslexia & some sort of vision problem. This led me to researching vision problems. The blog I found listed many things her son said about reading & many things people were saying to her. Many of these things sounded way too familiar to me. What I really appreciate from that blog was saying that this is different than just a typical far or near sighted problem so your child needs a Behavioral Optometrist, not just a typical eye doctor performing the typical tests. You need to request to have your child's eye tracking tested. Well, this was news to me. My kids, hubby & I don't have glasses so I'm not well-versed in eye stuff. In March last year, I asked Capt. N's pediatrician about his eye sight. She did a little test in her office & said he was fine. If I hadn't stumbled across that blog who knows if I ever would have figured this out. Thank you internet! Thank you internet! I made an appointment for him. The initial appointment was (I think) a typical eye exam. It lasted an hour. I don't know if the dr. did other tests knowing I was there specifically for tracking, but she claimed this was a routine exam. He had two more appointments doing a ton of tests. One appointment was an hour, the next one was 2 hours. The last appointment was just this past Thursday, so the dr still needs to write her report on the findings. But, she said for sure he has trouble with tracking. I asked her how bad it was. She said it was definitely not normal, but she has seen worse. In the next couple weeks he will start vision therapy. Once a week he will go into the office & we will also have stuff to work on at home. She made it sound like there are other issues too, but the tracking is the starting point. From there, they may address other vision issues and/or refer us to a reading specialist trained for teaching kids with vision problems, not just reading issues. This relieves me. I'm, of course, not thrilled that he has a problem. But, I'm so relieved to think we may be on our way to finding and hopefully improving the problem. All summer I've researched & talked & explored many avenues trying to figure out what his problem might be. Although many people told me not to worry about it, my instincts were telling me something was not quite right. How can a "normal" child read so extremely slow and nothing they were doing was helping? How can a kid who can read words easily have such difficulties reading whole paragraphs? Something just wasn't adding up & I couldn't just sit back and not investigate. It seems my super-sleuthing may have finally paid off... I hope. It, at least, gives us a place to start, which I am so thankful for.

This brings me back to the reason I decided to homeschool in the first place, which was to improve his reading skills because they will be key in the rest of his school years and adult life. I had decided the way the school was teaching reading wasn't working for him & I don't want to send him back just to get further behind. Now we know why it wasn't working. His problem is not just reading, it's vision. They don't have vision class at school. So, although I'm sad he won't get to see his friends as often I'm still confident we made a good decision by homeschooling.

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