Sigh. It's been awhile since I talked about this whole home education thing. It's because we've been so busy doing it. This year of struggle has come to a place of routine, and we've pushed over the hump a bit.
I've gotten more comfortable substituting books or activities that are just not working with the kids. Some of the things I planned for this year I think are a bit above their maturity, and so I'll save them for a year or two. They can do them, but it doesn't light them up or stick in their brain.
I've put the kids on a schedule from having them each have a list. That has been helpful. In the past they've each had their assignment list for the day so they could have the option of what to do when. Well, what happened was that they both picked their favorite things first, while the little kids were happy and playing. By the time they needed me, it was at the same time, and the little kids were done playing by themselves, and I was supposed to be pulling lunch together. I just can't do that well.
So I have their days much more scheduled to make sure that I can help them each with the things they need help with. I've been very pleased with that. Organization is saving our little school these days.
Silje is doing smashingly well, but that's not exactly news. We got her results back from her standardized test she took awhile back. I know tests don't reflect everything, and I refuse to teach for the test or put all my stock in it. However, she made us very, very proud just the same. We have one smart girl on our hands, but then again, that's not exactly news.
Right now I'm in a place of looking ahead. I've made a big decision about next year. We're going to move from our Sonlight core curriculum to My Father's World core curriculum. I still heartily endorse Sonlight. I'm just running into a problem of corresponding areas of study with age levels, and I think my kids need a bit of change, and shaking up a bit. I think I do too. I debated about these 2 companies a lot when I first started, as they line up pretty well. I could go into minute detail of why I'm making this change, but that would be just boring. Sonlight is still awesome, but I think My Father's World might be a better fit for at least this next year. I'll likely go back to it in future years, or perhaps use portions of it.
The other major thing that has been on my mind, almost as a relief, if I've discovered something about David's reading that I think we'll be able to fix. A homeschooling friend of mine referred me to Diane Craft, who is a specialist in learning blocks. I have wondered if David had some sort of dyslexia, but I've tested him before, and that's not it. He has to work so hard at reading, and as he's getting better and better at it, I've wondered why he still struggles over the same issues still. He often sounds out words starting from the end, and skips almost all the small words, and loses his place constantly. While this can be common for new readers, he should be past this by now in both age and reading level.
He can read well, but he can't read without me pointing at each word. I've tried to get him to point to each word, but he still gets lost. I would love for him to enjoy reading by himself one of these days, and I've been worried about him, but just figured he's just an active boy, or just an impatient kid who won't slow down and see each letter.
Well, it turns out David has some visual processing problems. His eyes don't seem to be reading together, and this can be correctable with some eye therapy exercises that we can do everyday together at home. It will take some work, but I can't tell you how relieved I am that I wasn't imagining the difficulty, and that we can work through this. I was practically skipping around when it was figured out. I'll be skipping some more when it starts to improve. I'll have to be patient.
So we're going to start doing some vision therapy every day for him, and see how that goes. I'm just glad we're able to work on this in 1st grade, and not in 5th grade or later.
I'm going over some more materials on Diane Craft's website, and I'm wondering if some of David's attention issues cannot be dealt with by modifying his diet a bit. The diet she recommends is almost identical to Knut's modified South Beach Diet. Knut wanted to go back to that way of eating anyway after ski season of carbs was over, and our trip to visit family in Arizona. I may plan on David eating whatever Daddy eats.
Also, she says kids (most often boys) are often deficient of certain fats needed as their brains are growing and they are in a constant state of burning fats. I'm thinking of putting David on a fish oil regiment. I know that sounds simplistic, but her explanations make sense, and it doesn't seem to be a bad or unhealthy thing to try out. Worse case scenario is it doesn't work. Best case scenario is his attention improves.
I've been trying to deal with this attention problem for 7 years by means of helping him develop his character and self-discipline. While I think that should always be the first and most important way to deal with it, there might be some biological things we're dealing with as well. We keep a pretty healthy diet already, but if life becomes easier through nutrition by cutting carbs and adding good fats, then I'm willing to try it. I used to be very skeptical about modifying diet for behavioral change. Then I started taking a B complex vitamin after having a baby and noticed a huge change in my post-pardum moods. Knut started taking Vitamin D and noticed a huge change. Could it be that finding the right supplement for David, like fish oil could make a difference? As a family we've been learning so much the last few years about blood chemistry and the importance of not just vitamins, but getting those vitamins to absorb.
You get to a point, as a parent, where you fill your toolbox with every tool you can find and just start going through them one by one and see what works. At this point in our parenting journey, I'm not willing to throw any tool out.
As for his strong will...well I don't think there's a cure for that. I don't think I'd want it if there was one. He'll need that will of iron to accomplish what God has in store for him.
I've had some serendipitous meetings with a few different occupational therapists, and each one seems to be surprised how well David is doing, and how far he has come in his studies by sheer work and determination. He has to work so hard to do very simple things. If he tested 2 years above his grade level in reading when his brain is struggling, imagine what he can do when his eyes and brain are all on the same team. I'm very proud of his strong will and work ethic. We're getting there. We're getting there.