Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Winding Down the School Year

Today was a quiet, odd day. Kevin took Kieron down to town for his STAR testing. Brendan was at college (this is his last week), Sean was at high school and Liam usually stays in his room working until almost noon, so the house basically contained only me and my two "little boys" who are now not so little, almost 11 and 7. So interesting that the number of people in a house changes the feel of it so much even when all the people are fairly quiet introverts! And the ones that remained at home with me were actually the highest-maintenance ones in the family, but still, it felt so much quieter!

I find that even though I love my family and prefer having them around to having them gone, I am more distractable and less energetic when the house is full. It's a trade-off that works for me. Still, I want to remember it because I am used to thinking of myself as a rather lazy, unmotivated person and that certainly may be one factor, but another factor to my lack of diligence may be just over-stimulation.

Anyway, I got a lot done. I cleaned the refrigerator, fixed a drawer in the kitchen (scaring Aidan with my impatience in the process -- how I hate wrestling with intractable matter!) , cleaned the downstairs bathroom, did some laundry, vacuumed the upstairs, vacuumed my bedroom (even got underneath the bed).

I worked with Aidan on writing a new cooler story. His coolers have all kinds of adventures. He tells me the story, I write it down and then he reads it aloud with my help. Today they were breaking things and getting in "big trouble". He is definitely reading better. I can almost say he IS reading. It reminds me of his process in learning to talk. He was almost three and had about 20 words or rather, word approximations -- most of them were incomprehensible to anyone outside our family. I was researching apraxia and trying all kinds of things. I can't say what worked or if it was just his timetable, but a few months later his vocabulary had exploded.

Maybe reading will be the same. He knew all his phonics before he turned five. But he couldn't get to the "blending sounds to form words" stage. He loves all things to do with letters and spelling, and practices constantly with his phonics board and spends all kinds of time on the Starfall site. But he still was stuck at the word-guessing stage. I was thinking dyspraxia again, and tracking disorder. All of a sudden I am finding he can read a simple sentence, with some help. Most of the help is the kind I gave the other kids -- modelling word-attack -- sounding out the first few letters. After a while they internalize this. I think at this point it's safe to say he is on the road to literacy.

I wonder if there is some developmental thing going on under the surface -- I remember reading Raymond Moore's theory of "Integrated Maturity Level". I think Aidan does have dyspraxia (difficulty with motor processing) and that it probably does affect his tracking, but I wonder if kids can learn some of their own methods for coping over time if the problem is not overly severe.
Then I played with Paddy for a while and then we worked on his K12. Today he finished the last day of history for first grade. We were both sad and cuddled together and mourned for a while! He has really loved history this year. One of the themes built implicitly into the course has been to do with rulership We have been reading about Qin Shi Huangdi, a tyrant in China who nevertheless united the country -- plus, he started the Great Wall and had that huge underground city built as his tomb, with the lifesize army made of clay. Then today we went on to the Han dynasty, which promoted the teachings of Confucius. Paddy cuddled up next to me and started talking about what kind of ruler he would be if he ruled. He talked about how he wouldn't be a tyrant -- how he would work for peace, etc. It was charming coming from my very battle-oriented youngest.

Paddy is on his last unit of Science -- which is on the human body. He is on the last unit of Language Arts too. He has more left to do in Art and Music -- we made a deal that we would focus on history and science (his preferences) until we completed them and then focus on Art and Music for the rest of the school year.

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