Saturday, February 28, 2015

Busy Week

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Selena continues to enjoy spending time and learning so much about Star. We go out just about everyday for her to do her chores and spend time with him. We then have classes on Tuesday evenings. Classes are fun and all the kids get the opportunity to learn all about horses as well as be up close and personal with them.

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So what does her chores consist of? She helps to feed Star and cleans his stall or pen. She has to get her chores done before she can groom him or just love on him.

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It is fun to watch her grow and change through this experience. Of course she still loves to visit and spend time with the horses here too.

On Friday we finished the week with a field trip to the local fire station. There were about 15 other homeschoolers who joined us. They all had so much fun and learned a lot.

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We have had a down weekend with nothing really on our plate but to rest.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Embarking On A New Adventure

 

 

I have always been drawn to the idea of using animals in therapy for Autism. I see so many people respond so beautifully with animals, I guess that is why we hear so much about service animals. I have watched Selena here at home, and know the calming affect that she gets from just going and spending time with the horses here. When she is just feeling out of sorts or anxious she retreats to the barn to visit Emma.

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Selena and Emma have a certain bond that is unlike any bond I have ever seen. Even with the new pony here, Selena is still very drawn to Emma. She visits the new pony but always has to go love on Emma, feeling or recognizing that Emma is sad.

When an opportunity landed in our lap for Selena to work with a horse through 4-H and after getting to know the Leader and realizing she has worked with Autistic children and horse therapy, we were quickly sold on this new adventure. A very kind gentlemen has agreed to let Selena use his miniature horse, Star.

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Why is horse therapy or just being around horses so beneficial to an autistic child? I think this article at ASDF really sums the benefits better then any article I have read. I will try to explain what we see personally through the benefits listed in this article.

Emotional Bond: We really see such an emotional bond between Selena and horses, it is as if she can read their mind. It is no big surprise that horses are able to read the emotions of the people around them. Sometimes children with autism just miss the cues of the emotions of those around them, but I have seen it time and time again where these cues are not missed when around the horse. This builds the ability to understand and learn how to read body or non expressive cues in people.

Cognitive and Language skills: Now I can only speak to a part in this area, since Selena has always been verbal. Though I know many times Selena could not express herself appropriately. Though to see her around a horse and listen to her talk and even give commands and take commands as to how to make the horse behave is wonderful. While we have watched her struggle with taking instructions from other adults, we observe this differently when around horses. It is like being around the horse just calms her mind. To see her and hear her give commands to the horse is like music to my ear, she is calm,  not bossy, and yet makes sure she is understood.

We look forward to this new adventure and the growth that will develop in Selena. At the same time she gets to benefit from learning all about her favorite animal, horses.

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Monday, February 2, 2015

To Test or Not To Test Gifted Children

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I know this is a late post for the Hoagies blog hop, but I felt very strongly to write a post. Selena is a Twice Exceptional child, what does that mean?  Simply put she is gifted but is also on the Autism Spectrum or has learning disabilities as well. We are faced with the dilemma of having her tested. What does that involve? Well, depending on who we go through it could mean a 3 hour screening with a psychologist or the equivalent to that split over a few days.

What will we learn from this screening? First and foremost the Psychiatrist will get confirmation of his diagnoses of ASD, (Autism Spectrum Disorder) as well as her IQ and her strengths and weaknesses.

I am on the fence post, I want to know that our psychiatrist is correct in his diagnosis but I don’t want a whole bunch of unnecessary labels placed on her that will go with her the rest of her life. As the parent and teacher since we homeschool, I already know her strengths and weaknesses, I have seen all the signs of ASD.

I know for us screening or testing is a matter of fact, do I like it? No, I do not after raising a child who was developmentally delayed, and was told she would never learn to ride a bike, or play an instrument, to which she proved them wrong. Yet, knowing that much of the testing and screening they put her through was accurate, and the reason we now have our granddaughter/daughter and two grandsons who were adopted through foster care.

There are times when I think testing or screening is needed, when we have a child who is in need of help with skills especially life skills. Though to test or screen for giftedness or how smart they are I feel is a personal choice. I know for us we will have to have Selena tested and screened but because of her age she will never know the results. We will have the peace of mind of knowing that our insights and the diagnosis of our psychiatrist is correct, but we do not want her knowing what might hold her back, because believe me once she knows then yes, they become a huge Brick Wall.

I am not all for testing or screening just for giftedness, you know your child better then anyone, you know as their parent their strengths and weaknesses. You know when they began to read, you know how strong they are in math. I feel every child takes to testing in a different way, some excel from the challenge and some fold under the pressure. Is there truly an absolute test out there that fits all children gifted or not? I am not linking to a whole lot of research, and believe me I have done a lot of research, but I am more talking from a person who has already been there and done that. I have seen first hand what testing and screening can do good and bad for a child.

If you are looking for help with areas of weaknesses for your child then I say yes, have them tested and screened. If you are just wondering how smart they truly are or how gifted they may or may not be, you as their parent already know that answer. The schools have so many different programs and ways of determining what is right for you child. That does not mean we do not as parents need to step in and advocate for our child to get them into these programs.

If you do choose to have your child tested or screened I know I would ask myself is the results something I would want my child to really know? It could make them feel more awkward and less normal then they probably already feel.   

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Teaching Others About Homeschooling

We have been asked as many questions about homeschooling as the rest of you homeschoolers have. I know these who question just have concerns about Selena. I am OK with fielding questions I have no problem with answering them. However, I never felt my answers were enough. I finally invited a couple of them into my home to see a day in our life. This happened to take place in the evening and gave Selena a great time to learn how to give a presentation. Yes, I tackled many things by doing this.

First let me tell you about the two that I invited in. Two people who are very close to Selena, who try very hard to understand her, also who support very much in her curiosity.  One who is more hands on and allows her to ask questions and watch as work is being done when it is safe, and one who is the same way, but also worked for the Sheriff’s office and has seen what can come of homeschoolers when they are over protected and not given the opportunity to life skills. this can be a huge problem in any area when we shadow over our children, they can become unequipped to handle the world.

They were here for only a half hour, and Selena told them how she gets to go to the school to play with her friend as well as roam a small part of our town. Now she does go with an older child, and does meet up with this child’s friends. They have a cell phone and can be in in constant contact with me including GPS service.

She showed them as much of her school work as possible and what she is learning. She talked outside of the box about everything she knew about spiders, as well, as what she knows about life in general, asking one important question of them: “If we continue to see small businesses close in our town, what will be the impact on the economy?”

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She also shared with them her Geography and History Scrapbooks, and Science Lapbooks. 

By the time they left, the realized that Selena is getting a very rounded education and probably much more then most public school children get. Have you ever considered inviting others for a field trip through your school? I know Selena learned a lot about giving a presentation, answering questions, and even posing many of her own.

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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Finally a Classroom

From the time we started homeschooling I so wanted a place to call a classroom. We first started out working at the dining room table, with all our supplies stored in plastic bins. It worked just fine, but I longed for something that just felt more like our area.

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Selena was given a desk, and we quickly turned a corner of my office area into a small quaint place we did school work. As I am getting busier with more work, I longed for more office space and still wanted an area we would just consider our learning area.

Christmas came and Selena received some really cool science kits. She informed us that she wanted a science table, somewhere to work on her science kits without having them spread out all over the dining room table. She also received a new tablet for Christmas, so we offered her the opportunity to sell her Nabi. Within one day of listing it we were delivering the Nabi for $50.00. Selena was a little hesitant at first seeing that much money in her hand but she really wanted an area to work in and quickly gave me the money to buy a table. We settled on a nice table, and though she did not have enough money for it Papa and I helped her with the rest needed to purchase it.

While we were waiting for the table to come in Selena started making plans and said it would be nice if the table would be perfect for all her school. One of her greatest complaints about our other set up is that it does get chilly in that corner of our house. I didn’t see any reason we could not move our classroom. Sure it meant I had some work to do, I had to purge and move things around to empty two cupboards and two drawers for Selena.

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As you can see her table offers plenty of room for any project she wants to do, and wow look at that view she has to look at everyday. She loves nature, so I think being able to just stop and watch the birds, or whatever other nature events will be refreshing for her.

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Just another view of her table and our little classroom. With a few different changes we added a calendar to her desk, and a little drawer for pens,  pencils, and erasers.

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Her two cupboards with games, art supplies, manipulates, science kits and still an empty shelf for new items.

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Perfect counter space for books. Yes, I admit there is still a full counter here and I would love to fill it up with work boxes, and a filing system. It will come.

What will we do with the old area? Well that will become mostly my office space, which I badly need, but we will also still use the old desk and that area for a computer lab for Selena. We will set up our old computer and she will have the ability to enjoy educational games, and maybe even try her hand at some coding.

Selena woke first thing this morning and went straight to her table, wiped her hand across it and with a huge smile announced how much she liked the table and that it was perfect for school. When I pointed out that it was indeed her table, she paid for it, she was a little surprise, “You mean this table is mine and not yours?” That’s right it is all hers! She dreamed it, she did what she had to do to get the money, she picked it out, and now has a new sense of pride that she has just furnished her own little classroom.

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Weekly Wrap Up

Our week started out with waking up to news that Papa could not get to work, it had rained so hard Sunday and through Sunday night that there was so much flooding and mudslides. Our home and small town are OK but nearby Aberdeen and Hoquiam got hit pretty hard.

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Have I mentioned how much we are loving our Green Craft Kits that we receive monthly? We pay 19.95 a month and receive a kit that has at least 3 themed activities and suggested further ideas for STEM activities. Selena loves when they arrive and can’t wait to open them to see what lays inside. I love the fact that they come with everything needed and I don’t have to go hunt down supplies. Sure some supplies, I end up replacing with items I feel will be more suitable but most of these items I have in my home and the supplies I don’t use can neatly be restored in a craft box for future use. January’s box arrived and the theme was rainforest.

We did a recap on rainforests, and of course Selena amazed me with how much information she remembered from our unit study when she was only 4. In the kit were the supplies to make a Rainforest Terrarium, a Rain Stick, and Drum to go with it, and Rainforest Rubber Ball. We chose to make our Rainforest Terrarium first.

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rainforest4The kit was complete with dirt, moss, sticks, bark, rocks, and clay to make creatures for her rainforest. Once placed in the sun she could see the mist on the lid and watch it rain. She also observed that on our cloudy days that it didn’t rain so much in her rainforest.

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The next day’s kit had the materials to make a Rain Stick and drum. Selena had so much fun making and designing her Rain Stick. I did have to help with the drum since it called for stretching a balloon over a plastic cup. We discovered quickly that the cup that came in the kit was not strong enough to hold a balloon tightly without breaking so we quickly found something else to use. Selena enjoyed making music after her projects were completed.

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The third and final kit was everything we needed to make a Rainforest Rubber Ball. Selena was having a little off day but insisted on trying anyway. She was not following the directions as closely as she should have and couldn’t keep her hands out of the ingredients, so though her rubber ball seemed to firm up and feel like rubber it quickly got sticky again. We will retry this experiment down the road and hopefully it will turn out better.

Selena has also been having a lot of fun with her Circuit set, learning all about electricity.

 

We have had a very fun week coming back from Christmas Break. We do have some changes coming along in our school area and organization of the area. I look forward to sharing those ideas with you soon.

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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas 2014

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Christmas was so much fun here this year. Selena had asked for a scooter on numerous occasions, so we were more then happy to get her one. She is having so much fun considering J brought her scooter over and the two girls are able to go out and ride as long as it isn’t raining. This year, we agreed to let Selena go a bit so the day after Christmas she went to the local school and played with J for about an hour an a half. Tomorrow they will take their scooters down and ride their hearts out. She is growing up!

Some of her other favorite presents were:

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She had outgrown most of the stuff that was on the Nabi we got her a year ago, and after numerous problems we had with it, we broke down and got Selena a brand new Verizon 4G tablet. With it being on our contract with our phones, I have all the same parental controls as if it was a phone. The other super feature is that it does not require WiFi to be online, so trips will be so much fun, she will be able to watch movies, cartoons, read books, or play games.

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Selena announced her most favorite gift though was her new microscope. While it isn’t the best microscope it is a great beginner one. She has already made a few of her own slides, though it did come with some premade ones. She uses it everyday, she can always find something to explore.

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Selena wasn’t real sure at first about this Circuit set, but after we sat down and started to learn the basics of electricity, she took off and has been creating all sorts of lights, whirly things, music, and horns. I loved hearing her explain to her tablet the basic concept of having positive and negative points, and how a switch works. I have a feeling it won’t be long and we will be ordering her the larger set to go with this one.

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What child doesn’t like magnets? She received this from her brothers. We have played with it but have yet to really sit down and look through the little book of experiments.

She did receive so much more too from dolls, books, and board games. I am pretty sure she is happy with everything she received this year. Now we will be busy creating a science area in the house, a table to work at, and a cupboard for storing all these fun kits.

We hope each and everyone of you had a very Merry Christmas!

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