Friday, February 24, 2017

Some highlights of our days

While currently only Veronika is being homeschooled we make it a bit deal to make sure the kids get lots of excersise and get their energy out before we start working on anything. By getting their blood flowing and getting them to move around a lot,
 with playing on the Gorilla Gym


Playing outside in the snow


 Riding the wiggle bike

Or dancing to the music


Or riding therapy bikes 
Exercise  is important because It signals the release of serotonin, which is a mood booster, dopamine, which helps with  learning and attention; and norepinephrine, which helps with alertness and attention.  According to  John J. Ratey, Ph.D., a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical Schoo,  "By elevating neurotransmitters in the brain, it helps us focus, feel better, and release tension."

Once they have gotten all their wiggles out they are able to focus more. 
That is when we start getting some work done.
 Willow has been working on writing her name. I wrote the top one for her so she could look at it and see all the letters, she wrote the bottom one.

 Veronika worked on counting the items on the puzzle card then finding the numeral that matches. Once she found the correct puzzle piece she counted out the bears and put enough bears to match the numerals

Another important part of our day is sensory play. 
This is oobleck. I love how it feels hard when you press it or try to pick it up...



but once it is in your hands it "melts"
Because it can act like both a solid and a liquid it is called a discrepant substance. With oobleck, pressure or lack of pressure influences the state of oobleck. By squeezing or trying to pick up the oobleck, or pressing on it, it feels solid, but when you just hold it and do not apply pressure it turns into liquid. It is pretty messy but very easy to make *cornstarch and water* and so much fun!

Water beads are also a lot of fun! 

One of the kids favorite toys is magnet blocks. 



I love how many endless possibilities there are with these magnet blocks and how the kids will often look through them so they can see the room in different colors. By putting two different colors together they can "color mix" and get a new color. They lover doing this! 


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Growth

Since pulling Veronika from school in December we have had one month of intensive PT, where she was doing PT 5 days per week for 3 hours per day. We will do a few more sessions of this throughout the year but I love watching her grow so much stronger and confident in her abilities!
She will have a two week session of intensive OT in March and we are very excited about that!
Well, back in November, Veronika was working hard on putting together the little toddler 9 piece puzzles. She was getting better, but still could have worked on it longer. However, for Christmas she got two 24 piece puzzles. To motivate her, they were of her favorite cartoon, Doc McStuffins. With us being so busy in January doing PT we never had time to get the puzzles out and work on them, so it wasn't until this month we finally broke them out for her to give them a try.
The first time we put the puzzle together I helped her a lot. We talked about corner pieces and how they have two straight sides, we talked about the pictures on the puzzle pieces, and how we always have to look at each piece carefully and reference back to the picture on the box of what it needs to look like when it is done. The second time she put it together ON HER OWN!!!!!!!!!!!! I was blown away! Blown Away!!!


Another wonderful thing she has been doing is being more active in wanting to do art. I have made sure she has access to scissors, glue, paper, pens, pencils, markers, and crayons. She has been going on her own to get what she wants and then working on her own projects. This is great for her creativity, plus gives her a chance to work on her fine motor skills which are so weak. (hence our need for intensive OT)

She also enjoyed playing soccer this winter and is looking forward to t-ball in the spring! We are blessed to have "adaptive" soccer and t-ball for kids in our area. It was a great intro to playing on a field, kicking a ball, and not having the pressure of a real game. Once she gains confidence and gets more skills then we can always move on to a typical soccer/t-ball team, but for now it is about gaining confidence, skills, and just having fun.
Just so proud of this girl!!!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Changes

This December has brought with it many changes.
Over the summer, our sweet Veronika was fully potty trained and she started off Kindergarten Jumpstart (a program to let kids get a taste of kindergarten for a couple of weeks before school actually starts) on a high note.
By the end of November she was having accidents every single day at school (but not at home) and had broken her glasses about 20+ times. (she had them for 3 years before school ever started with no problems at all).
Fast forward to December and something had changed. She was no longer looking forward to going to school and in fact had not been eating lunch for a week. I asked the teacher what was going on and was told they did not know. My sweet girl who had loved having lunch in the lunch room and playing outside, would now fall onto the floor curled up and scream about 3 feet from the lunchroom door, protesting that she didnt want to go in to the lunch room, didnt want to go outside.
I went the next week and got to witness this first hand. While Veronika has always had anxiety, this was the worst I had ever seen it. She was terrified!  I hoped that me being there would help, but you could tell she was still nervous about whatever was bothering her. Outside was just as bad with her not wanting to leave my side. The following week my husband went with her to lunch and he got to see it as well.
We are not sure what happened. Kindergarten-3rd grade eats together then goes outside to play for recess. Did an older kid accidentally knock her down and then get scared and run off because she started crying? Did she fall and get hurt but with the noise no one noticed? Did someone bump into her and with her being so small she got trampled on??
Whatever the problem was, it was not getting better, only worse. When she stopped begging to go to school and started begging to stay home with mommy we knew we could not keep sending her to school.
Gavyn will finish this school year of preschool and then be homeschooled as well. But for now he will finish his preschool year. Our other kids will be staying in public school and are loving it.
Veronika and Gavyn will be able to participate in intensive PT, OT, and Speech with not being in public school as well as enjoy a lot of other activities that they are currently not able to do now due to their school schedule.

We were hopeful with the public school option for Veronika, and I must say the kids really welcomed her and loved her being in school. The teacher seemed to like Veronika as well, but we just can not send her to school when something clearly happened and she is not able to express what it was that happened and her anxiety has just gotten worse. She also has had some issues with the way certain things are taught. Some things she needs to work on are not being worked on and she is missing out on some of the things she needs to focus on (things she knew before school started but since they have not worked on since then she has now forgotten).

We are looking forward to once again getting back into homeschooling and if today was any indication, she is going to do great!!!











Sunday, July 31, 2016

Kindergarten Bound!

This fall is going to be a different one for our family. All of our kids will be starting school.
We will see how it goes for the year and decide if that is the right step for our kids or not at the end of the year.
On a wonderful note, Veronika will be fully included in a general education kindergarten class. She will be just another little girl in the class with no aid or para.
Rowan will also be going to kindergarten. I am hoping it will give him the outlet he needs and other kids to play and interact with.
Gavyn doesn't make the cut off in time to go kindergarten this year so he will end up going next year. He will spend another year doing preschool. The difference? He is TALKING now!!!! Not perfectly, but he is certainly trying. One of his favorite things is saying he wants ice cream, lol.
Willow turns 4 this fall, so she will certainly be doing preschool. She needs to learn social skills and play skills which she did not learn in the orphanage. For those who are new to the blog, Rowan and Willow have only been home since late March of 2016.
Ellie and Alina will be going to HIGH SCHOOL!!! Oh my word!!!! We will see how that goes!
In the mean time we have been working super hard getting Rowan and Veronika ready for kindergarten.
I have been working hard lately trying to fill in gaps and holes in our kids education.
I had not thought too much of reading comprehension in a 4 year old. Honestly, I thought, if they sat down for circle and listened to the stories, that was enough for a while.
However it was brought to my attention that at 4 a child should be able to "retell" a story and answer questions about the story. So we are working on that now.
Every night I read to the kids, I point things out along the way. I ask questions after every page, I ask questions afterwards. I am hoping that by doing this, our children will learn how to retell, how to answer questions, learn to focus more during stories. Just two weeks in and we are starting to see some results.
We are also playing a following directions game, I found some following direction cards with fun little things for the kids to do. The kids take turns and will do things like saying their ABCs to clapping their hands, counting to 5, touching their noses, etc.
Tonight we also enjoyed a game of sight word bingo. The kids are working hard on not just learning the sight words,but following the rules of the game. We play Bingo Blackout, which means more sight words, but we also play it until everyone has had a Bingo. They love shouting Bingo afterwards.

We are also working on independence. That one is harder for me than the kids I think. With them being my youngest, I have been holding on more than I should instead of pushing them towards that independence.
We are working on things like learning to work independently. Up until now, I have always just sat there next to the little kids while they did their work. Now, I need to work on teaching them to color a picture without me sitting there, or to do a worksheet without me there every second, or to be able to complete a puzzle without me. I am having them sit at their little table, working on something that maybe a little easier than normal, but something they are confident with, and then having them show me when they are finished. By doing this, their confidence in building in being able to work independently.

This summer has been mostly focusing on helping Veronika become potty trained so not as much "learning" has been done as I would have liked, but progress is being made.
Veronika is also getting use to having an expander, so that is something she is having to adjust to. Just taking it one day at a time and trying to get use to having two new kids at home. It is certainly an adjustment for all of us, but seeing goals being met and work in the right direction certainly make things easier!

 Veronika works on her cutting skills with regular scissors

 Fine motor work can be fun with something like DocMcStuffins Operation

Working on Spelling her name







Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Our two newest Homeschoolers!

We just recently adopted two wonderful children, Willow and Rowan. I look forward to posting all that they are learning along side our other homeschoolers!



Here are some of our newest videos of our soon to be kindergartner Veronika! 


Veronika working on her monthly worksheets *the reading section* from So Happy to Learn at Home by Mrs. Brown!



 
Veronika is saying Mrs. Brown at the end because the worksheet she is doing is from So Happy To Learn at Home by Mrs. Brown!!






 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Speech and Reading

Gavyn is very smart but struggles with speech. Sadly people tend to think speech means intelligence. Gavyn has speech apraxia. We work with a speech therapist every week, and he has speech therapy at his preschool.
We finally discovered that Gavyn is very very motivated to at least try sounds by pressing the "easy" button.

You can see in this first video he is working on putting his hands on his mouth to help cue him to make his sounds.

 In this video Gavyn shows off his reading skills.


When Gavyn does not feel pressured to say a word he is more willing to try to say them. We still have a long way to go with his speech but it is videos like this that let us know that while he can not say all the things he is learning, he is certainly learning!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Just another day homeschooling!


Here are a few of our homeschooling tools. We have:
 Bob Books
Teach your child to read in 100 Easy Lessons
Tons of flash cards
Alphabet Cards
Pattern blocks
Puzzles for everything from math, opposites, sequencing, silly sentence building, etc
We have many manipulitives
Art supplies
Books on History
Reading comprehension books
Therapy Puddy for building hand strength
And much more!!


Gavyn works on putting the puzzle together and then putting it away when he is finished. While he did not put all the pieces in correctly, he was careful handling his work, taking it out, and putting it away while he was finished.


Veronika works on sorting by color

Veronika sorts by which animals fly and which ones walk

Veronika works on Sorting by color While Alina works on her handwriting

Ellie works on putting the blocks in from 1-12 by counting the dots on the blocks

Veronika works on putting the bears in the bag after she is finished using them


Gavyn works on fine motor skills by putting all the ribbons and bead necklaces in the bottle

Everyone  busy working
 
Veronika works on pouring