Saturday, August 27, 2016

Our First Week of School

Actually, we homeschool all year long, but August marks the time when I access each girl's progress and determine what their main focus needs to be and introduce new curriculum materials.

Year one of the last three years, obviously, was all about learning English and adapting to family life. In addition to that, was basic arithmetic, fine motor skills as it relates to academics (writing letters and numbers and coloring), reading in whatever language was easiest, and English site words. Electives were games that facilitated all of this, plus critical and strategic thinking, art and P.E.

Year two continued with much of the same, but I began to notice an increase in the struggle and lack of progress in all three girls.

Last year went better as more and more information about each girls' learning ability was revealed. Our focus was now on Functional Skills, reading, writing and math.

This year, it's more of the same, but with a greater focus in Functional Skills, reading comprehension, English and creative and critical thinking. Up through 2nd grade, much of the learning involves memorization (alphabet, numbers, multiplication tables). By the end of second grade and beyond, it becomes more about applying the memorized knowledge by using it and then building on it.

Our first week has been very interesting.

Less demands are placed on Sissy academically. If she cannot understand something after explaining it three different ways (learning styles), we pass over it. She also doesn't have to make corrections. I go over it with her and explain the corrections, but we move on. This way, we cover more information with her taking in whatever her ability allows, keeping things more interesting, rather than dealing with her frustration when she can't grasp something.

Blossom is having a hard time with the IDEA that her work is harder this year. She doesn't understand why she needs harder work when she's finally succeeding in her current level. We'll see if she can overcome her fears and make progress or if she, like Sissy, is arriving at the limits of her academic ability.

Jie Jie is in a more complicated position. While she seems to have more areas of the brain in use than the other girls (creativity, empathy) the level of functioning is still low. The nature of her intellectual disability gives her inconsistencies that are a bit similar to someone with Alzheimer's Disease. One day she can remember that California is a state and the next she thinks it's a country, but she can't comprehend what a state and country actually are and that's why she gets it confused.

Apple is excited to being doing pre-K "work." She's always imitated her sisters during school time, but now she wants to be challenged. At this time, she's continuing to progress, but in many ways has not caught up with her same age peers. There are many factors involved, including continuing speech issues, the examples of her sisters (she's equal to them in many ways already and in some areas has passed them up) vs. neuro-typical siblings, her physical disabilities that limit her from participating in activities with her peers at their level. It's too soon to know if she has a learning disability, but she's making steady progress and that is very encouraging.