Wednesday, September 25, 2013

So, yeah, that was a quick 2 1/2 years...

Spare time.  Nope, we haven't had much of that.  But, things change...

Chloe is at the STEM school (proper name pending) which has her very occupied day and night and William began kindergarten this year.  He absolutely LOVES kindergarten.  We went from the single most challenging summer I've ever experienced with a hostile, aggressive, impulsive, and honestly frightening little boy to bliss... or darn near that.  We scored the best ever teacher who has an excellent student teacher with her until winter break.  I think what has made the most difference for him is the structure provided in this setting.  He has his own spaces, his own challenges and activities, his own friends.  Then there is the classroom management.  While behavioral tricks are something I usually frown on (not realistic in the long term), Will's teacher has implemented some great concepts that encourage self-monitoring.  He is so into these that he has come home a number of times suggesting we implement the same programs at home :)  So, William is happy.  And a happy William gives us all a chance to recover, grow, and develop ourselves - finally!

I've barely mentioned Chloe but she's probably happy about that.  To sum up, I received a text the other day, "Mommy, high school is draining my life blood!  Help!".

I think from here out I will keep this site mostly for Parker to begin blogging about his experiences and interests. Feel free to comment and I'll try to keep on top of having him respond.

* * *
OMG! Right, and about Parker...

6th grade, taking Middle School Science, Photography, and Ceramics at Emerson K12 (name change occurred last year or so).  At home, great things have happened. 

Last year we had 5 kids join us weekly for History and I developed a true love for teaching.  This year it just doesn't work out to continue in that format but we're hoping to keep it up in some way or another.  Looking into National History Day as a possibility. 

Today marks an important achievement: Parker completed 5th grade math!  We now use ALEKS as our online math and it has proven to be just right; challenging enough, easy to demonstrate mastery if you have it, and they assess regularly but not oppressively.  Total win for us and today we did a little happy dance :)

We've been listening to the Artemis Fowl series on CD in the car.  We all love it and Parker and I spend lots of time discussing plot twists, character strengths and flaws, etc... This has proven to be a very successful way to keep him "reading" as he really only likes to read non-fiction on paper and about gaming on the computer.

Writing is still our greatest challenge but I'm looking forward to beginning the Brave Writer program which we will be doing with another student and mom.  I'll report back on that, or maybe Parker will!

We're trying to walk the mile loop around our neighborhood whenever possible.  At first Parker wasn't too crazy about it but quickly this has become a special time for us.

That's it for now.  Next post, I'll have Parker write up his own bio.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Autism Day the end of Spring Break, on the eve of my 40th birthday. There, that was it, my spare time...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Dreambox Learning

Many thanks go out to Margaret for pointing us toward Dreambox for supplemental math :) When she mentioned it, months ago, and suggested it would be a great fit for Parker I remember thinking it would be another game that might grab Parker's attention initially but then wouldn't keep him hooked long enough to make it worthwhile.

That type of experience worries me because Parker is so quick to recognize and react to scenarios that are lacking substance. His reactions are still sometimes explosive and lead to big, long meltdowns but, more recently, he has been tending towards apathy and then is resistant to trying new things that seem similar. This isn't really any different than how most of us react to disappointment in many situations, what matters here is that I am relying on interactive tech to deliver some curriculum at home. Over the last couple of years we have tried and passed up a number of popular learning games which have, through program glitches or lack of content or both, left him and us frustrated. So Parker then ends up wanting to play mindless games on the computer which is like TV with mouse training.

When Parker was younger, we saw that he quickly and ably could acquire new skills playing the many well-crafted learning games that are produced for young learners. Most notable in this category, for us, was the amazing collection of games created by Humongous. Playing Freddie Fish helped Parker connect to a world outside of his head and taught him how to collect his thoughts and recombine them in an organized, logical way. It was the start to our very long road of helping him obtain skills that fall under the "executive functioning" label. (EF skills are the key to all learning and retention of learning and are the major low point on Parker's, otherwise, impressive evaluation profile. Probably 85% or greater of Parker's differences from typical learners can be explained in the context of EF.)

Well, coming back to this post's title... enter Dreambox. I have not found many reasonably priced online or software based programs that really fit with Parker until now. This program is proving to be everything I could have hoped for him to experience. It thoroughly covers early math and assesses constantly to determine where he excels and where the gaps in his learning are. This is especially gratifying for me, as Parker is proving to be a very able mathematician and I've been trying to figure out what he's missed over the years in gen ed that have given him such trouble this year (turns out, it's probably not Parker that's been getting this wrong...). For Parker, Dreambox is perfect because it teaches through storytelling and games that are related to a greater story which conclude in adorable and surprisingly lengthy videos and printable certificates. Again, similar to other programs but, Dreambox just does it with style and the stories are sweet without being sappy and they manage to deliver comprehensive math curriculum fluidly. Did I mention, too, that they have a FREE 14 day trial? The only, and I mean only, drawback here is that their program ends with 3rd grade standards. Parker is almost done and I will probably be just as sad when we come to that point. To see him so happy in his success, which he doesn't even realize is so impressive, reinforces everything we're tying to do here.
ps You'll notice it says Kinnon is playing... he's not. He's playing WarCraft...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A 2 IEP Day

Both boys' IEP meetings held today and both resulted in exciting new prospects :)

I was expecting Will's meeting to go well: it's preschool, afterall, which is truly the land of milk and cookies and NOTHING AT ALL like mainstream gen ed IEP's where you walk out of your first one reeling and wondering how things could turn so hostile so quickly.

First thing this morning, though, was Parker's preliminary transition IEP meeting. I am honestly impressed with the schedule our spec ed teacher came up with to try and accommodate important aspects of Parker's program and it will result in me getting 1 afternoon/week alone. That's right, I said alone. So long as Parker is comfortable with the schedule, I will drop him off at the school,then head home to put Will on the bus, and then not see any children with whom I share a last name until 3:30 when Will comes home on the bus again. Imagine what I can do with 4 whole hours - tee hee!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Jack and the Beanstalk

On Saturday I went to see a play with my mom and my friend, Katherine. The play was good but I don't really call it a "like" - it was ok, I guess. The reason why I say it was just ok is that it wasn't really that much exciting but it was fine. One character I really liked was the Golden Chicken. Her song was pretty high (pitched) and I like how she looked and how the egg was made (crafted). Visiting with Katherine was very nice because she is my friend and I like her and I missed her. After the play we went for icecream at Baskin & Robbins. I had a lot of fun with Katherine and going to the play. I hope I get to see her again.
- Parker (Mom)

Friday, February 4, 2011

HOMESCHOOL - Our Journey Begins...

Here is Parker on our first day at the Family Learning Center in Kirkland, WA. He is signed up for 4 classes: writing, drama, ceramics, and science. At the end of our first full week I can say I'm truly excited about the new opportunities we are exploring with Parker and everything feels... better.