Monday, September 26, 2016

Officially, it's official. It's Dyslexia officially.

As a homeschool mom who has NEVER sent her kids to public school, when your kids can't read properly (along a traditional time schedule) and you say "they have dyslexia." You get smirky looks that say "SURE they are....OR you are just evidence of why homeschool is a bad institution....I'm thinking the later...."

Or at least, that's what insecure little me reads into those looks. And there are little inquiries that go with those looks that seem to suggest that I might be right to suppose this. That's one of the reasons I went through the trouble to become a bonafide certified real tutor of dyslexia. And I knew becoming a dyslexic consultant would be good for my pride as well, but I really was going for knowledge on that one.

But to go to the PUBLIC SCHOOL system and have them evaluate my kids....THAT would be something. But my pride didn't care that much, to be honest. In this instance honestly and truly I wanted to secure the future of my children. I wanted to make sure that everything was documented well enough that they would get extra reading time on the SATs and ACTs and get accommodations in college.

By the time the psychologist had fit my kids into his busy schedule (years people, we waited years) I didn't need anyone to confirm to ME that they had dyslexia. There wasn't a shred of doubt in me. I just knew I could not risk college counselors or ACT administrators to give me that smirk. They needed to be on my side. They needed to KNOW.

And now they do. Our school psychologist did NOT give me that smirk. He sat with us, and from the get-go explained how everything they tested pointed straight to dyslexia and the good bad and ugly about it. He was incredibly competent and nice and it was so relieving to have someone who understood and someone to talk to that I started bawling a few times throughout the conversation.

And yes, he documented it all for everyone to see.

Well, it's getting late, (and I've been up WAY too late lately because Dustin's in Africa) so...lets get down to business...

Last week (as in not this last week but the week before) I had hoped for a simple week, it ended up to be a busy week. A friend of mine had a baby, so we babysat for a couple of days, and we went to the zoo ALL day one of the school days.

When Dustin had asked if I wanted to go, I thought about all the math and writing we should be doing and then I snapped out of it. The ZOO! of COURSE! That's why I homeschool!!! to do cool things like this at the drop of a hat.

So go to the zoo we did! When we went through the dinosaur part, William was convinced that if he went too close to the dinosaurs, they would gobble him up, but he did relax towards the end.

I think our whole family loved the penguin exhibit the best.

But the baby gorilla was amazing as well. He looked incredibly human.

But William was NOT impressed with the Komodo Dragons. They did NOT look like Dragons at all. Oh well.

We also made our own little Zoo at ant zoo.

We still got quite a bit in that week. We learned about Napoleon. I wish I had gotten Usborne's book about War and Peace. Next time around. We made Napoleon Hats:

We also studied Jane Austen. I read to them a young reader's version of Pride and Prejudice, and I told them that this was the most Romantic. Book. Ever. Made. This actually caught their attention, and they insisted on being read the REAL book, and I told them I would get the audio book, and we also watched the Kiera Knightly version of the movie.

Hyrum burst out "I can't wait until the violence!!" Hu? I thought, and then I realized that it hadn't been too long ago that we had learned about Marie Antoinette, "You want her head cut off?" "Yep." "No honey, that was the other girl we learned about earlier." "oh, shucks."

Maybe I should have gotten the zombie version!

BTW.....I splurged and watched the 6 hour BBC version at my leisure....hehehe

As far as science goes, we did it in the evening because the zoo changed our schedule. We learned about cells. We made a cell model out of an actual model. We made cells out of pizza with the toppings being organelle parts, and then for dessert we made candy cells with oreo nuclei, frosting cytoplasm,  nerds as vesicles etc. Needless to say, the candy cells were the hit of the day.

This week we studied the cell some more. Specifically that it has a semipermeable membrane. We made naked eggs (the scandal.)

And we put corn starch into water with iodine, but this didn't work like it has for me in the past. I guess my plastic was too high quality. The iodine was supposed to be able to go through the plastic and into the cornstarch, changing it to dark blue, but it didn't.

Oh well,

In history we studied Florence Nightingale. I thought "oh why am I spending time on her when she's not even very important." WRONG

SO INSPIRING. and a WOMAN! I do not regret our spending time on her one bit. We got bandades and masks as our activity.

And Daniel got so into the spirit of things, he decided to fall on some steps so he could get a tour of the hospital and get stiches....

But we did spend enough time on Ms Nightingale that I didn't quite get to the into to the Industrial Revolution that I would have liked. We did read an amazing story about Robert Fulton by Discovery books from the 1970s. I LOVE those books! I don't care if they're out of date!

It was good to talk to my boys about how some of the most important inventors weren't the ones who originated the idea, but the ones who actually made those ideas useful for the public.

We started our own steam powered boat, but we did not finish it...tomorrow I'm sure we will.

We also made time for a library party for Curious George!! The man in the yellow hat even came!

And we had a graduation party for.......DUSTIN!!!! He graduated from his Master's Program in Management and Leadership!!!! I am so so so proud of him! YOU ROCK HUBBY!!!

(this picture is from his bachelors, but I like photos to go along with my comments.)

We ALSO did reading writing and math....of course....but for the sake of Westwind School, I've decided to be more faithful on my documentation on this even though it's rather boring.

Math first (because I like math best....and so do my kids)

Daniel has been keeping a log chart about the temperature each day. He gets excited about this part of school:

He's also gotten quite good at Roman Numerals:

He can also put things in Venn diagrams

Hyrum has been doing well, although it's funny when they ask him to explain his work. This is what happens:

You need a Master's in "Hyrum" to understand what's going on here, but thankfully, I do.

He's also doing perimeters where he is converting large amounts of inches into feet and inches.

Maxwell is learning more about geometry. Rightstart is very strict on their definitions, and so Maxwell has been practicing those:

Now Reading and writing: Well, we do the usual Barton stuff. Maxwell was working on "ture" suffixes. And he can now spell words as tough as acupuncturist:

And for Daniel, this week and last he's been working on "tch." He now knows when to use it. We first use tiles in our spelling:

And then on real paper:

Noticed he knew that "punch" does NOT have a "tch."

Hyrum...we're just reviewing for him. Including sight words:

Notice the eraser pushed SO hard that it went through the paper and the word made into people and just how HARD it is to CONCENTRATE! This is his good work....yep.

And Maxwell is very excited about his cursive. He's begun signing his name everywhere.

Also, Maxwell has made it a goal to write many stories and have me print them in a real hard cover book for him at the end of the school year.

Here's the beginning of his first story:

Maxwell was looking at a flower with petals as bright as a cherry. Then all of the sudden, he looked up and noticed that his family was no longer there. There were bushes, and trees, and the hiking path, but his parents were no where to be found.

Maxwell quickly ran up the mountain path looking for his parents. Maxwell’s heart was pounding fast, and he was panting very hard. He didn’t realize that he was running off the path. He kept on running until he realized that he was lost.

Then he took out his pocket knife. His pocket knife was a bright red, almost the same colour as the flower that had distracted him. It had a compass on the side and flint hanging off the other side, and a cord to go around his neck. It had four blades. One blade was so sharp it could cut a thin sheet of steel like it was cardboard. Two of the blades were saws, and another blade was actually a pair of scissors. It also had a flashlight.

Time passed. Maxwell tried backtracking the way he had come, but it was no use. At times he would shake with fear that he wouldn’t find his family. 

He wondered the mountain until night, and then he saw the north star. It gave him hope that he would find his family. He could remember being in his own warm safe room at home looking at the same north star. At that moment, he calmed down.

He looked at the star with his blue eyes, his chocolate brown hair looking much darker in the moonlight. He had on a warm jacket and a good pair of jeans. They were brand new jeans because as a twelve year old, he was growing so fast.

All of the sudden, he had an idea.He started gathering saplings for a mattress. He thought “I can’t have a place to sleep without a fire.” So then he started collecting firewood as well. 

He was trying to pull out a stick from a rocky hill.It was stuck fast. He was about to take out his pocket knife, when the moonlight touched something green that looked like a rock, but wasn’t one at the same time. 

He left the stick and started toward the green object up the rocky hill. When he got to the top, he realized there were three other objects. The one that he had seen first was not only green, but dark blue as well. They were gigantic eggs! One was dark grey with black markings all over it. Another was red and yellow like the sun on fire. The last one was light blue and light purple. 

Maxwell’s nose was red in the cold and he shivered. He thought “These eggs must be cold.” He took off his jacket and put the eggs inside like a bag. He walked over the nest and saw a light in a house.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Let them eat Cake!

This week we learned about Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution. So of course (even though we are trying not to have sugar, dairy, or gluten...and this cake had lots of all three...) we ate cake!

Throughout the week when we were learning about the revolution I would promise cake, but it never seemed to happen. Then, serendipitously, we went to a small county fair that we wanted to support ie buy things at, and they were selling cute little cakes! The boys were super excited.

We read AWESOME books by Usborne about Marie Antoinette and Tale of Two Cities. Instead of writing dry info, they told the story almost as if it were historical fiction. I think that's the key for me. I've always had a really hard time reading nonfiction. It took me a year to read Hold on To Your Kids even though I REALLY loved it and wanted to read it.

But if it's fiction, I gobble it up and put my life on hold until it's done. That's the way I learn. In fact, the first book I read about Dyslexia was a book that was STORIES from a tutor's life. The other dyslexia books I take forever to read or just listen to via audiobook. I wonder if that has anything to do with my slight dyslexia.

Anyway, my boys liked the books but were shocked that everyone got their heads cut off in the end. Marie Antoinette, Sidney, AND Robespierre. They are used to happily ever afters. SURPRISE!

Also, I've been thinking a lot about Voltaire after last week's Enlightenment lessons. I didn't teach my kids about him, because I got so frustrated by him. He made fun of people who thought everything in life (like evil) was from God and was actually good. BUT he forgot to consider the actual doctrine; which is that it will give you EXPERIENCE and be for thy good.

We learn and are MADE by our experiences. Heros are made, characters are formed, and people know who they really are because of opposition. That is part of God's plan. SO THERE Voltaire! Talk to a mormon next time you want to criticize God for letting there be evil in the world!

We skipped science because I was in Lethbridge and didn't get back in time. I went to Lethbridge too often this week and didn't get everything done this week in school that I wanted to. Next week should be a normal humdrum week, and I hope so, because I need it.

One of the times I went to Lethbridge, I tied balloons for the institute fair. I had extra balloons afterwards, and so we've had a little school on how to tie balloons, and my boys have been having a blast.

And that's it. Yep! Happy week y'all!

Monday, September 5, 2016

An Enlightening First Week


Whew- first week down. Now, I must admit, we did not do my schedule perfectly, BUT we did do mornings pretty closely, and that is pretty amazing.

We started math, and I'm really intrigued by Maxwell's math program this year. It's supposed to be self guided (which I didn't realize until I started it) but purely for dyslexic reading issues, I will still be involved.

It's still Rightstart, but it's very different than the other years. It's purely geometry, but with the complex thinking it requires, I'm not too worried about atrophy in other math areas.

And I will be going  over other math areas with my new MATH FLASH CARDS---I'm proud of them just so you know. I've defined 72 math terms in cute memorable ways!!! Oh yah!--check a couple of them out:

Hyrum was not impressed with his math. It was supposed to be easy stuff, just going over days weeks months. Things we've gone over a million times. But Hyrum hates that type of thing because of all the arbitrary memorization going on. He said "I'm not good with calendar stuff. I will marry and then the mom will do the calendar stuff." Haha.

We actually did do history this week. We learned about Isaac Newton and John Locke. Newton was easy because there's so much on him and we already have a few science clubs dedicated to him in our physics year.

I had to dig to find children's books about the Enlightenment, however. I got one off amazon for Locke, but It was pretty lame. This is what children's books should look like:

  • Introduce the person/subject.
  • Name just a FEW (like 3) reasons why they're so important to know about
  • share cute memorable stories that reinforce each reason
  • remind them again of the few reasons

(all of this with very endearing illustrations)

You do not need to go on and on DRYLY about background information that doesn't teach what you really need to know about the subject. Maybe later, after they really know the subject any way.

For instance, this is what a GOOD children's book about John Locke would look like:

  • John Locke-A forefather of the Enlightenment, contemporary with Newton and other enlightenment thinkers. Changed the way we see the world
  • He was a champion for religious tolerance, stressed the importance of teaching children in their youth, and taught the proper role of government.
  • CUTE Story about religious tolerance 
  • CUTE Story about children's mind being impressionable
  • CUTE Story about proper role of government
  • So, as you see, He was a champion for religious tolerance, stressed the importance of teaching children in their youth, and taught the proper role of government.

None of the other mumbo jumbo! Give kids things they can hold onto!

Yes it's interesting that he had to stop school because of the plague and that he heard the cries when they cut off the king's head, and I'm sure you could fit that in my outline, but REALLY! We need better children's writers!


So for our activity (we only did one) we did experiments on Newton's 3 laws of motion. We did all of these experiments in the physics year, but what ever. Repetition is good, right? For every action there is a reaction we used windup toys, and the boys loved that.

And although it doesn't have to do with MODERN history, we learned more history this week when we went to Fort Whoop up as a family. William said "NO! I want to go to the park, not Fort Poop up!"

But go we did. It was cute, they had us make these coal miner's lamps, and gave us a scavenger hunt to do that taught us about the founding of Lethbridge. They even gave us prizes at the end that were candy "coal" rocks. So fun.

BTW did you know Fort Whoop up was made to sell whiskey to Natives illegally? Yep pretty despicable.

For science we are studying Biology this year, which is the study of living things, so we discussed what characteristics all living things have.

As part of this, I got some water from a pond nearby and we looked at the living things in the water through a microscope. I was SO happy because there were things MOVING in the water. I was not so happy because it took forever for everyone to take their turn looking in the microscope which made antsy and bored kids, so I'm not sure how much I'll use my microscope in the future.

We have some new members in our class this year! Including new kindergarteners! Fun fun!

Speaking of living things and science, Maxwell had an amazing experience this summer that I MUST blog about. As I've said before, Maxwell had said that he wanted to explore the possibility of becoming an endangered species/zoo vet.

I promised him a behind-the-scenes experience at a zoo, and that is what he got!

My awesome friend Angela is a marine biologist. She let us shadow her one day:

First we went to see them feed and take care of orphaned baby seals. Yep. Just as amazing as it sounds.

SO CUTE! Although the way they feed them seems harsh-they stick a tube a foot down their throat and stuff them full of milk. But hey, they get better and are released into the wild, so it must work.

Then we went to the aquarium and got a backstage pass to learn more in depth what goes on there.

And then we went to release a bird that had been hurt and rehabilitated.

It was a very magical day to say the least. It was funny because Maxwell was almost as excited by all the travelling to go to all this stuff then the experience itself.

Since we were in Victoria, and we met Angela in Vancouver, we took our truck to the ferry that took us to the bus that took us to the sky train that took us to Angela's jeep. Maxwell was stoked.

Maxwell has been having a lot of learning going on lately.

He drew dragon parts on paper, took photos of it and photoshoped it together. He did this 100% on his own.

He also has been BEGGING me to teach him cursive.....heh heh heh I'm so clever.  I will tell you why: When He is twelve we will go on a trip to any temple in North America including Hawaii. But he has to get his own family temple names which means he needs to do family history which means he needs to know cursive. Heh heh heh.

We started doing family history regardless of the cursive today. Maxwell may have found my grandma's uncle's whole family, but we have to wait for a marriage certificate to come to find out.

Uhhh...yah, I don't know anything about Dustin's side. Maxwell was so proud to get his OWN account.

And also, Maxwell is building a life size R2D2 in the garage. Picture coming when he's finished.

I must say, this blog really is for me (although I like to think SOMEONE is reading it) but I've come to realize how important it is to Westwind (my school I'm a  part of.)

This is sort of what Westwind has looked like lately:

I'm serious. I feel really bad for everyone working there. Here's the issue:

There's two types of "Homeschooling."

1-"Type 620" where you're actually part of Westwind school and you're assigned a teacher who checks on you 3 times a year with a checklist of where Alberta kids should be and offers you classes and field trips and enrichment. Also you get $1400 a child in curriculum.

BUT you need to show lots of evidence that you are following curriculum that you have planned with your teacher.

2-"Type 600" where someone comes two time a year and makes sure your kids are alive and well. They give you around $830 per child in curriculum, and you can get the supplies yourself and get reimbursed. No evidence needed.

Here's the problem. Moms sign up 620 but act like it's 600. And there has been miscommunication about just how much evidence is needed, and what happens when you don't follow your part of the agreement, and now some moms are really wanting their $1400 but not want to provide evidence of curriculum, and the school needs as much evidence as they can get so the government (who is AUDITING them!) won't shut them down.

Crazy stuff, especially since a mom can sign up for 620 spend all their money at the beginning of the year and then not give any evidence at the end. How can that work?!?

And mom's don't want to be told that they're doing anything wrong because, well, it's like saying they are parenting wrong. Have you ever told a parent that they were parenting wrong? I would not suggest it.

Anyway, the teachers and the moms are all actually good friends, and so this has been personal as well as professional, and there have been many tears and frustration.

Also, the way in which we have bought our curriculum is changing drastically, and is a SUPER big frustration to moms and especially to our poor dear secretary!

Good news for me, however, that this blog (which I do regardless of Westwind) has TONS of evidence that I'm following curriculums! WHOOT!

Although I really need to have my kids turn in more writing samples....yah....uh....I'll be better this year!!!

But in the spirit of recording things that Westwind needs to know, here are some of the books we read this summer:

Yep, we are a Little House family (although I haven't told my kids about the TV show) and we finished them least twice via audio book.