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.