September 8, 2008

First Day of School

Tuesday was the Doctor, then Wednesday we went to the Not Back to School Picnic. Really! There was one at a local park (40 minute drive). The turnout was huge! I don't think I've ever seen a playground so packed with kids. So our first day of 4th grade was Thursday.

Forgive me. This will be WAY too much detail for most of you. I promised several people that I'd write about homeschooling a child with Down syndrome, so I sorta hafta 'splain some things thoroughly. I'll try to spread it out, maybe just tackling one subject per post, and throw in some regular Bananigan posts along the way.

This year we are trying something new. In the past I have tortured Hannah by keeping her on task to finish a lesson, so by the time she finished her language arts lesson we both were exhausted and grumpy. Slogging through the rest of the subjects was excruciating. Many days we would just never finish our work. (I was the quitter, not she!) So this year I have made time-out cards for each subject.

She gets to pick which card she'd like to work on first (I have other cards for other subjects, this was just what we did on Day 1). She sets the timer, and we begin. When the timer goes off, she finishes the immediate item on which she is working, and down goes the pencil. Then she picks a sticker to go on the back of the card showing that she's completed that work for the day. Normally I would never do the "sticker" thing but I found some around the house, so we're using them. At least until they are gone. No guarantees that I'll get more.

I already know that I have to adjust the times on some of the subjects--those were just guesses. And yes, the cards add up to 2 hours and 15 minutes. Each day will be different, depending on what we have on the curricular menu. But I'm aiming for a little over 2 hours. Since I'm trying to get piano practice in during the day, instead of after dinner, that's building in more time.

This is how Hannah learns her US geography. Fortunately, we had a neighbor in Newport News who used thousands of homemade flash cards with her son (a la Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential...can you believe she did it 8 hours a day for 15 years??? What a labor of love. ). She gave me as many as I wanted. I should probably go back and snatch some more. They range from simple colors all the way through breeds of dogs. Hannah knows more states than her brother and sister combined. She also likes learning to read maps and figure out spatial problems.

We are reviewing penmanship (always, forever, it seems):

We use Handwriting Without Tears. I am not going to teach Hannah cursive until her printing is completely solid. She has relatively good printing, but we are working on getting down to regular notebook-sized lines. Part of the problem is her farsightedness. That also interferes with her ability to read compact text in chapter books. At least, that's my theory.

Hannah used to detest scissors. Occupational therapists would see The Dark Side of Hannah.

But she likes them now, if she has a genuine reason to use them. Once I found the Kumon books for cutting and pasting, she will happily use scissors. It takes quite a bit of fine grading of those finger muscles to coordinate cutting on lines. It is not one of Hannah's strengths, but at least she doesn't fight about it anymore.

We made it through Friday as well, but don't have school at home until Tuesday, since Hannah has her enrichment classes on Monday mornings for the next 8 weeks. She's taking Art in Nature and Beginner Ballet. Quite pleased with herself in both classes. Artistic, yes. Graceful, not. But excellent effort.

I finally got a call from the school system today (Monday). I submitted all the relevant information about 3 weeks ago. They want to meet in two weeks to discuss speech services. We'll see what happens!

1 comment:

All 4 My Gals said...

How neat! Do you belong to the homeschooling T21 group? I bet they could learn a LOT from you!

Thanks for sharing how you do things. I am impressed!