Thursday, January 29, 2015

Weekly Homeschool Wrap-up 1/30

Topics covered in this edition

~ Beth's upcoming eye surgery
~ Writing Instruction
~ Handwriting Without Tears
~ Cartooning with Kids
~ All About Reading activities
~ Our Blessing List
~ Martin Luther Biography
~ Sonlight Core B Read-Alouds

Our family enjoyed a productive week (pictures below), with just one doctor's appointment interrupting our school schedule--a pediatric ophthalmologist to check Beth's eyes for any inflammation caused by her juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. There are two types of JRA (also called juvenile idiopathic arthritis - JIA) which cause eye inflammation, and she unfortunately has one of those types. If inflammation occurs and goes untreated, it leads to blindness, so every 3 to 6 months she goes for an eye check-up. 

Unfortunately, we received some bad news this time, though it wasn't related to JRA. Her strasbismus (wandering eyes) has not responded to her eye glasses with prisms, so she will have to have surgery to make her eyes work together. The good news is that a famous doctor works at Akron Children's Hospital, who Beth happens to see. He developed a strasbismus surgery and people come from all over the world to have him do surgery on their children. So Beth is in good hands. 

The doctor assured me he does many of these surgeries a week. It's done under anesthesia, taking a half hour total, with her going home the same day. She will be on limited activity afterwards for 3 to 5 days. 

I expect the wait to be a few months at least, because they told me someone will call in about two weeks to schedule a surgery date. If the wait is two weeks just to speak with a scheduler, that indicates they're pretty backed up.

My husband is the most nervous about this surgery, because as a child he had wandering eyes and was left with permanent double vision due to a botched attempt to improve his vision. Over time one of his eyes became dysfunctional--kicking out to the side naturally so he could use just one eye. It was the body's way of giving him functional vision, I suppose, though he could never go in the military or be a postal worker or anything else requiring normal vision.

Beth deals with regular pain and discomfort, and it's hard to imagine how she keeps such a sunny disposition. I just praise God that she does; she inspires all of us. She's been under anesthesia twice already, so it saddens me that we're to have another go-round, though I'm grateful her eyes can be corrected. 

Last week we found Cartooning For Kids at our public library. Beth had a great time drawing with this amusing instructor. It's amazing how many different kinds of lessons one finds available on DVD.  

Here is a finished person, using the cartoonist's technique for drawing a proportioned face. Beth is still working on a proportioned body. She just loves drawing!

Grammar in the Easy Grammar text, which we all find extremely helpful and painless.
Notes on Writing Instruction
It was fascinating this week to watch Peter so excited about a story he's writing. Possibly because of his dyslexia, he's been unable to make any progress with typing, but this week he typed finger by finger, and really benefited from Microsoft Word's grammar and spelling checks. He has an issue with using sentence fragments, and forgetting to capitalize proper nouns. The quick correction he received while typing his story made a big impact on his skills. I've been bugging him for years about capitalization, but it made little impact compared to the power of Microsoft Word's instant corrections. I don't know how long he'll have the patience for one-finger typing, but I'm loving this. He spent every spare minute on his story, revising the beginning over and over (the setting--time and place and character introductions) after I taught a lesson earlier this week on the elements for a setting. 

Despite his dysgraphia, he's a good writer, able to use a variety of sentence structures. You have to read his work with grace, looking for the talent instead of the errors, as is true with most dyslexics. If you fail to see the talent, it's you who has a disability, not the dyslexic writer (many famous writers are dyslexic).

I use some Write Shop Junior E for their writing, but I'm also doing my own lessons with them, based upon what I see needs developing from their writing samples. Both boys need to do a better job mapping out a problem and solution (plot/conflict) for their stories. They tend to go off on tangents, and then get tired of the story and end it abruptly, with no clear plot ever developed.

With Peter I've been working some on five-paragraph essays--a skill that needs to be well-developed before college. At this point, we're writing them together after he's finished a novel. I've learned over the years that kids are let loose with complicated assignments too soon, before there's been proper modeling of the skills involved. A lot of shared writing and modeled writing needs to occur before many students can grasp what is expected of them on essays.

Handwriting Without Tears chalkboards with the smiley corner at top left. It helps dyslexics learn to write their numbers in the correct direction. I didn't use it last year, but we've had it since Peter was young. I still have to remind them often about the direction of their numbers, but they're making progress.

Sweet, cuddly Beth. I don't know what I'd do without her! 

Handwriting Without Tears - Wet, Dry, Try
First you use a wet sponge (tiny sponges provided in the kit), then you use a dry sponge to go over it again, and then you use your chalk.

Handwriting Without Tears - extra practice with numbers. The dot is like the smiley on the chalkboard.

Paul using Teaching Textbooks 7.

Word problems are practiced every lesson, which I love.

All About Reading Level 2 - Reviewing the Name Game syllable. The letters are at a party, and the e goes up to the a and says "What's your name?" Brilliant, I think.

Practice words for the name game syllable.

Practice with /er/, one of the bossy r's. Also working with open syllables (long vowel) and the bossy r syllable.

Do your kids include their stuffed animals in the lessons? My girls like to teach their animals a lesson after I'm done teaching. Works for me! Love the review it provides them as they pretend to be teachers;

Mary at spelling dictation

Hex bug fun at break time
Paul teaching non-fiction history to the girls.

Our Gratitude List

~ The Millers devotionals for kids. Oh, my. We all enjoy these! The kids are loving our devotions.

~ We finished Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary and I cried. Yes, that's me. Read and cry. Read and cry. We're now reading (Sonlight Core B read-alouds) The Year of Miss Agnes, and I can already tell I'll be crying.

~ Lots of snow to play in. They've all come in so tired from their rigorous snow play. 

~ indescribable blessing.

~ An excellent doctor for Beth.

~ A loving husband who usually replies, when we ask around the table at dinner, that the best part of his day is having dinner with his family.

~ Progress for everyone in all subjects.

~ I've revised the winter homeschool schedule four times since school started up again after our flu. I think-- I hope-- I've finally got it working like a charm. It feels good to be accomplishing so much each day, while still having free time for exploration and play. 

~ The Proverbs we study for morning devotions are really improving sibling relationships and overall attitudes.

~ The kids have expressed an interest (from a story in Prudence With the Millers) in planning and cooking some of our dinners themselves, and I'm excited about facilitating that.

~ The boys will be reading a Martin Luther biography this school year, and as I preread it, I was fascinated by this amazing man. 

Includes photos from a movie made about Martin Luther, which I haven't seen.
He had the same type of OCD that Peter has--religious and moral scrupulosity, in which he constantly worried about his eternal security and had a deep melancholy before studying the Bible and learning that we're saved by grace through faith. The common people did not read Bibles in his time (many were illiterate, for one thing). Bibles were expensive and were mostly in libraries (not for check out) and for high clergy, so it was many years before Martin Luther learned Bible truth. Prior to his becoming a university professor and preacher, he'd become a monk in an attempt to secure his salvation and escape worldly sin. He eventually translated the Bible into German, making it available to the common man, and assisting the spread of his message (the true Gospel) around the world. This biography seems to be written for middle- and high-school students, but is excellent for anyone wanting a beginner's look at Martin Luther's life and contributions.

~ Peter's interest in writing and publishing...he wants to write a story for publication, and has asked me fifty questions about it this week. Thankfully, I know the library has a book on the process.

~ That daily comfort and rest is only a Scripture away.

Proverbs 18:10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Psalm 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. "Selah"

2 Timothy 1:7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

How was your week, friends? Have a blessed weekend.
Weekly Wrap-Up

See other Homeschool Mother's Journal posts at Managing Your Blessings.


Lisa said...

We will be praying about Beth's surgery. Keep me posted.
Love to you~

Christine said...

I sure appreciate your prayers, Lisa. Have a wonderful weekend and thanks for visiting today. :)

Terri H said...

It always makes me smile that out of all of the hundreds of choices in curriculum out there, we use so many of the same things. (SL, AAS, HWT, TT).

Unknown said...

I love that you see Peters talent and hear his heart in spite of all the mistakes:) I know you do the same for me. I have always know I have dyslexia. Until Jonathan died I would hardly write a letter to anyone because I was embarrassed by all the mistakes. Even checking and rechecking I just do not see them. For example I know that d-o-e-s spells does as in Does that cookie taste good? Yet I will almost always write dose? I can read the sentence over and over and not catch the mistake, it is odd how the mind works. My husband to our Charter school teacher does;) all the grammar and spell checks on the boys paper:) I appreciate that although you are a master writer you are able to read the heart of what is being said.

I will praying for Beth surgery to go smoothly!

As He Leads is Joy said...

It sounds like it was a great week. I am sorry Beth needs surgery. I pray that will correct the problem. I pray that you and your husband will trust through it all.

Christine said...

Tesha, I had to laugh at the "master writer" line because I constantly find mistakes, after publishing, in my own writing and I can't seem to get away from too many commas.

I totally understand the feeling that it would be nice not to have to do all the "extra stuff". Some kids learn effortlessly and others through love and sweat and sometimes tears. I have had to ask for and build more faith through this journey and that part has been so good.

Your heart just comes out so beautifully through your writing, Tesha. I always glean much when "visiting" you. :)

Thank you for your prayers!

Christine said...

Lisa and Beth, thank you for your prayers! We appreciate them.

Terri - Yes, that is amazing! Wish you lived in my neighborhood, girl. I could hold that baby while you teach, for one! I am missing babies so much!

Terri H said...

That would be so fun, Christine! There is so much I could learn from you.