Friday, September 2, 2011

Homeschooling & where to start

We decided to homeschool the three youngest here this year.  The three joining us soon from EE will also be homeschooled.  Many reasons went into this choice.  Many reasons.  It was a difficult decision but I now know the best one for our family.  Special education here in this county is extremely broken.  It's not getting better at all.  I've been in the system for 12 years now.  We've seen enough.  We've had enough.  Their education and well being was too important not to do something.  I can not tell you what a difference it is making and only week two!  Had I known, I would have done this long ago.  Some ask when do you get a chance to homeschool w/ all we have going on?

 Easy.  You find time to learn.  Nik is practicing his words at the soccer field. 

Alyona is reading while Alex is practicing.  She's reading 'Go Dog, Go."  She told me she wants to be able to read to 'R' and 'S' when they get home.  She is reading everyday to try to make that happen.  

There are many opportunities to learn.  Homeschooling does not have to be so rigid.  With my kids, it can't be.  I've learned to go with the flow.  I wanted to at first make sure certain subjects were done every single day. Yeh, that's not happening.  But then again, why should I complain that Alex didn't get the writing in the other day when he did 19(yes, that is NOT a typo) pages of math, read a whole chapter of a book & did 2 reading comprehension worksheets?!  I've learned to be flexible about the schedule, how they're learning and where they're learning.  Alex finishes one thing and he loves to go out and bounce on the trampoline for awhile or take a run.  Works out well.  Nik's ADHD is getting more and more noticeable.  I know I haven't mentioned that much.  Why?  B/c he's not "officially" dx'd.  But, w/ a few other kids w/ this, I know. See, I'd hoped he'd grow out or we could work with it.  Now, thinking that may not be possible.  Making an appointment w/ our neuro and we'll go from there.  I try to avoid meds at all costs and try behavior techniques if possible.  Just not working w/ him.  He is SO distracted when it comes to working on things.  Yet, he is getting some things done.  

Some have asked how can we homeschool if I babysit sometimes as well.  Good question for sure & one I wasn't so sure would work out.  Wellll.....

I sat the 7 that I had at home down in the living room.  All listened and answered questions about the American flag.  Then, we all went outside to make our own flags on canvas.  Each had a piece of canvas and was to paint an American flag.  Got one out as an example.  All went well, for the most part.  So, it is possible for sure to learn while different ages are here.  

We are trying to keep things simple and concentrate on certain things.  I am not using one specific program. I tried that for Irina and Max years ago and that did not work.  My kids are on different levels. Not just each one of them but individually, they are on all sorts of levels.  So, figuring out the needs of each.  For Nik, all focus is on vocab and speech.  That's it.  It has to be this way.  It's the only way for him to eventually learn to read.  His speech therapist is coming to the house 3X a week now.  I will work with him every morning for thirty minutes as well only on speech.  We are also determining the best way for him to learn language.  If full immersion is what we need.  We're all torn on what to do.  Drop the sign?  See, he tested the other day & he understands a good, good chunk of what we say.  Receptive language is really blooming.  Yet, lately he's gotten lazy not only on speaking but on sign as well.  Trying to figure it all out.

Alex is the next kiddo.  He desperately wants to know multiplication.  That is going to be our main focus.  That and geography.  Ticks me off the schools around here really could care less about what the kids know in regards to geography.  I think kids should know where they live and just where they are in the world.  That it is a big world.  My now 4th & 5th graders, Alex & Alyona, did NOT know the capital of this country, did NOT know the capital of our state, and did NOT know much of anything about the other states in the US, let alone other countries in our world.  Now, Alex, Alyona and Nik are learning landmarks all over the world, deciding where they want the Boyd Bus tour next summer to go(more on this in another post), and many other things. They are learning at their own pace.

Alyona is way further behind than I even thought before.  Way behind. Right now, I have her doing some kindergarten/ first grade work and she is still struggling greatly.  She wants to read so, so badly. Someone on here suggested a reading program they used and I am definitely looking into that.  We are using some various lapbooks as well for certain things.

We are not using one set curriculum.  A variety of work books from Sam's, some from online school publishing companies, homeschool in the woods, etc.  Just a real variety.  Plan on field trips too.  We've gone to the History Museum last month.  This month, the planetarium since we're studying stars and the farm for pumpkins.  We are building a solar oven next week.  All kinds of neat little projects as my kids are visual learners.  How do they learn?

At their own pace.  Even if it is with spaghetti noodles as manipulatives for math.  Alex has learned so much in just these past two weeks, he has asked to be homeschooled through 6th grade as well!  Do they stay in the house all day?  Umm, no.  We do do our work inside but we go for walks, to the park, story time, soccer, church, etc.  Do they still have friends?  Yepper!  In fact, they're over here right now.  I know my kids are not on grade level.  Most FASers are not on grade level.  However, I do feel confident they are going to learn a tremendous amount this year and be able to tell you about certain things.  We have much planned for September and October.  Can't wait to share.  And, one of the students in Alyona's class last year & neighbor, is going to be homeschooled as well.  We'll be doing some field trips together.  Thanks to all who helped us learn more about homeschooling our special kids and what we could do to best serve them.  Should be a fantastic year!


  1. I think if Nik's primary language has been ASL it would be detrimental drop it. But, at the same time, full immersion is important. Of course, full immersion wouldn't matter if it was not accessible to him. Continuing speech and spoken English services is fine too, but I wouldn't drop the ASL.

    I know you've mentioned a speech therapist and that he had an interpreter at his old school. Has he ever had any ASL services or assessments?

    It's too bad there wasn't more Deaf adults and children in your area for your family to interact with. I know I mentioned before that there may be some Deaf camps or family learning weekends where there are Deaf adults and kids that use ASL.

  2. You are doing an AWESOME job!The pros outweigh the con's...I don't think the services help unless they are done away from the school if the child doesn't feel nurtured and safe.Especially if the kids at the school are rough. That's been my experience in Boston anyway.