"These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." - John 16:33

Monday, September 19, 2011

Our first official week of home school! (On our way to week 2!)

This past week was our first official week of home school.  I wasn't sure how it was going to go, but it all turned out better than I expected and I'm loving our new schedule.  Last weekend, just before we were supposed to start, I got sick with viral pharyngitis.  I had a fever and couldn't get out of bed over the weekend.  I honestly don't remember the last time I was THAT sick.  Fortunately it was the weekend an so my husband was home and my mother stayed late with the kids on Saturday while my husband was at work.  My wonderful mother in law was ready to come help with anything we needed as well.  We really are so blessed to have such supportive family and friends!  By Monday I was feeling 80% better and ready to jump back into action.  I figured I'd share what we are doing and what we are using for the curriculum we've created.

Therapy:  Both children are in ABA therapy of some kind, and this is done daily.  Sassy has 5 hours a week through Early Intervention and we continue to reinforce her behavioral targets when the therapist is not here.  We can't afford to pay for private ABA therapy Peanut and I are doing his ABA therapy together using the Skills program through the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD).  I do trials with him while Sassy is in her various therapies and whenever else I can fit it in.  My goal is 20 hours per week.  My husband, my mother and occasionally Jacob's OT are also doing certain trials with him as well to help maintain the skills over various environments with different people.  I have to say I love this program.  Once we really get the program going I'll share more about it.

On Sundays Peanut does his Therapeutic Listening on the way to church and on the way back.  We live about 30 minutes from the church and we are there for a little over 3 hours (usually 9:30-12:30) so the sessions are separated by 3 hours.  During the week I work Peanuts therapeutic listening in while we are driving to a therapy, during free play time, or he will wear it during lunch or dinner.

Both children have Sensory Processing Disorder as well as fine and gross motor difficulties.  They both go to Sensory Integration (SI) therapy/OT at Easter Seals 1 hour per week each (We love Easter Seals!).  During our home school and play times I work in as many SI, fine and gross motor activities as well so they really are working on this daily as well.  We have our Sensory Room in our home, our awesome outdoor playground and sand table, and a local indoor playground that is run by a former therapists.  It is set up in a way that encourages socialization with the kids, fosters pretend play and is a safe environment for my kids (with safety issues) to climb, jump and slide to their hearts content. 

Sassy is seen weekly by a Special Educator through Early Intervention.  This person does OT and Speech activities with her.  Her receptive and expressive speech is considered advanced for her age, but she does need help on pragmatics.  Peanut still needs help with his speech.  We have him on a wait list at Easter Seals for an evaluation to get started in Speech Therapy with them.  I have training in Physical Therapy and some ABA (I learned the basics through a local Early Intervention program that Peanut was in 2 years ago, and I also completed and passed 40 hours of ABA training through the Skills program.)  So I am comfortable with OT, SI, PT, and ABA.  I know nothing about Speech Therapy so I've decided I need someone to help with this.  The kids also attend Music Therapy.  This therapy does a variety of activities that work on all of their therapy's combined.  We have seen some great language improvements as well as motor, cognitive and social improvements.  I recommend Music Therapy for any child with Autism.  The only downside is that many insurance companies don't cover this therapy.  For us, the expense is worth it's benefits.

With these therapies for both kids, I have been able to schedule it so we actually have 2 days without any therapy at all!  One of these days we have friends over to play and once a month, go with us on a field trip.  The other day I use to have a somewhat "normal" day.  We do our therapy and home school activities, go to the library, and run errands together.

We decided on a Bible centered curriculum.  Each week would have a theme that goes along with the letter of the week.  We also have a color or shape of the week, a number of the week and a Bible memory verse.  This past week we learned about the letter I.  Our theme was insects.  We also learned about the number zero and the color Red.  Our memory verse was "God will instruct us and show us the way."  Psalm 32:8.  We read about Moses during our morning Bible time and talked about how God instructed and showed moses and the Israelites the way out of Egypt. 

We went on a field trip with friends as well.  We went to a butterfly sanctuary to see various insects.  There, the kids were able to see insects in every stage that the butterfly and moth go through as they transform.  They also saw birds, fish and even a praying mantis.  This was calming for Sassy and difficult for Peanut.  Being in a humid room, with butterflies flying everywhere around you, birds chirping in a room that echos, plants everywhere (which you are not allowed to touch), with fragrant flowers and the sound of a water fall, was tough to say the least.  He was asking to leave and so after a quick walk through we left that are and went to an area where the kids could still see everything through a glass window.

We begin our day with 30 minutes of TV and "wake-up" time.  The kids have their juice with all their first round of various supplements mixed in.  I call this their morning coffee.  If there is even the slightest delay in receiving that juice they are at your feet whining until they get it.  After that we turn off the TV for most of the day and have breakfast.  During this time we also review the calender, our daily picture schedule, do our Bible reading, prayer and devotional. Depending on our schedule depends on what we do next.

Circle time: There are some other daily things we are sure to do.  One of those activities is circle time. Each child has a carpet square to sit on.  We sing the hello song to each other, a Bible song, a preschool song, and a finger play activity related to the weeks theme.  We then site together and use use my laptop to do a couple of activities on Starfall.com

School work: The kids are both working at a preschool level.  We will do small and big art projects as well as various worksheets and activities relating to our weekly topic.  It seems impossible to buy one curriculum in a box and have it "fit" you child, let alone 2.  We have created a curriculum using multiple sites and books.  We are using an eclectic approach, mixing multiple forms of teaching including classic teaching methods, the structure of ABA and theories of Charlotte Mason, Montessori Method, and Sue Patricks workbox system.  I will share more as we go.  I was unable to really take any pictures of anything this past week because I was so busy trying to make our new schedule "work".  I think as the weeks go on it will get a bit easier and I'll be able to post more as I go.  All of the kids therapy progress and school work progress is documented in a sheet I created to keep track of everything.  I was able to fill most of it in last week.  I guess so far, so good right?

So that is our new home school plan!  Phew!  I'm tired just looking at it!  Well, I'm off to try to unburry ourselves from some laundry before bed.

Goodnight and God Bless!

Mommy Provost

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