Sunday, November 24, 2013

If it's harder than it should be, it's harder than it should be

Before school began I started reading a bit of Diane Craft's books. She teaches that when something is harder than it should be it's like teflon and slips out of the brain. You need to try a totally different approach so that it will stick like velcro. It seems so obvious, but when you are caught up in teaching, you don't see what's right in front of you.

That "different approach" usually includes pictures and stories to go along with those pictures.

Hyrum has some learning "glitches." He's been diagnosed with a language processing disorder, and I've diagnosed him with dyslexia. He is, simply put, not your ordinary learner.

I'll give you a glimpse into how severe this is, and what it's like to teach him: Math has been exceptionally hard for Hyrum. He couldn't count to 4 when he turned 4 years old.

I have started up Rightstart Math this year. In fact, by the end of last school year, he learned the rightstart song:

He sure is animated, isn't he?

The first foundation of this program (which has been an incredible program for Maxwell) is to RECOGNIZE the numbers 1-10 in different ways WITHOUT COUNTING. Here's some of their flash cards to give you an idea of what I mean:

If you listen to the song, you'll see that it just reinforces this. Super simple--right?

But Hyrum could NOT memorize this. The numbers 6-9 were just too hard to recognize, and he would sneakily count, and then say the number.

TWO MONTHS of teaching and nothing stuck. Yes we've been learning different things too, like odd vs even, parallel vs perpendicular, squares vs rhombus, etc, but this was the main thing that needed to be learned. We were both very frustrated.

I was lying in bed one night, and it finally came to me. It's harder than it should be. I needed to CHANGE the way I was teaching. (I know, I know, it took me two months? duh) And so I laid awake thinking of how to make these concepts into visual stories. This is what I came up with:

Seven=heaven, meaning a marriage that is heavenly that will last forever. That's why there are TWO on one hand, and all their kids on the other.

Six=sick, meaning there is ONE sick guy on one hand that everyone is avoiding on the other hand.

Eight=ate, meaning that the two guys on either side of the ice cream ate the ice cream, making that THREE on one hand and all the sad guys on the other hand who didn't eat.

Nine=mine, meaning "Mine! where's mine? Everyone else has a buddy but me!" making only FOUR on one hand while the other hand has one more, five.

TWO DAYS people. TWO DAYS and Hyrum confidently could recognize numbers in all the ways Rightstart wanted him to. I'm sure the previous two months helped, but not much.

Anyway, in the way of the usual stuff, for science last week we learned about the moon. We learned all about tides, the dark side of the moon, months and eclipses.

The fact that there's a high tide on the other side of the world fascinated me, so I spent some extra time on that. Here's a photo of us talking about the gravitational center of the earth and how it's affected by the moon, and the slinky experiment explaining how the tide on the other side of the world is caused by the ocean's inertia. I found this experiment here.

This week we learned about the earth's rotation. Looking at what's suggested for next week, I should have just combined both weeks. whatever.

One thing we learned is how the zodiac changes in the sky because of our location around the sun:

Also, we drew pictures of astronauts, satellites, space stations, and things so that we could complete a scout badge requirement.  

Geography last week and this week: Last week we studied Buddha and Confucius. We learned about yoga, meditation, and had fortune cookies with confucius' sayings in them. I really loved the books "the cleverest thief" by Padma and the Values tale about Confucius. My boys doing yoga and meditation:

We studied reincarnation as part of this, and it just felt wrong. Hyrum and Daniel are too little to learn something with the intro of "We don't believe this, but..." I want my kids to learn about all religions. I want my kids to understand all people in the world, but I think there are different stages in life to learn all that children need to know.

This realization put a kink in my plans. A kink is my word for rationalized delay. I knew I didn't want to teach Hyrum and Daniel about Islam, so I just delayed teaching Islam until this week and didn't have time for Judaism and non-LDS-Christianity (although I have no problem with teaching Hyrum and Daniel about these.)

Well, I did teach Maxwell (and a few of his cousins) about Islam. We talked about the five pillars of Islam and how they relate to the LDS faith, and we made our own Mosque with five parts. One for each pillar.

Umm yah I guess you can only see three here. Oh well.

Anyway, I had to include this photo of Daniel. He is enjoying kindergarten wonderfully and has mastered learning his "Magic 'C'" letters. Here he is in his magic cape as he practises his letters.

Notice that we are on the counter, not the table? Ya, monster one-year-old William has been wreaking havoc on our individual school time because he can get onto the table easily. He has yet to figure out how to get on to the counter. Thus we moved.

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