Friday, April 18, 2014

(insert happy gesticulation here)

In addition to the usual, this week we focused on conveying thoughts and emotions without words. George is acutely aware of facial expressions but frequently misreads them as being about him.

For example if he sees me tense up my face because I'm trying to suss out how to rearrange my day to accommodate some wrench that's been thrown into it, he immediately gets anxious and starts to react defensively, as if my face in some way reflects my feelings about him.

Because of this, I do a very good job of poker facing everything, but in fairness I cannot expect the rest of the world to do so. Accordingly we are working on interpreting unspoken communications more accurately.

To that end we have begun playing with "silent time", wherein we do an activity without speaking. We gesture, we motion, we wiggle our faces a lot. It's a lot harder than it seems! Maybe I talk too much.

Last night George and I popped down to Charlotte to see the ultimate non-verbal troupe, The Blue Man Group, at the Blumenthal. (George remarked it would have been awesome if they had temporarily renamed the venue the Bluemanthal.)

We took today off (Good Friday), but Monday we'll start gesturing anew. Have a great weekend!

Two random phonophotos from our week below.



Saturday, April 12, 2014

Say Yes to Bats







George worked hard all week to be able to go camping this weekend. Because we really need to stay in the groove, I limited us to an overnight trip. We sallied forth to Falls Lake (Wake Forest), where we enjoyed lakeside camping.

The highlight of the trip was definitely standing on the shore of the lake (there was a path from our campsite) in the moonlight, watching the bats fly overhead. We are huge fans of bats as they eat mosquitoes. We also like that they are flying mammals.

Today we arose early, feasted on eggs and toast, packed up and headed to the Museum of Life and Science in Durham. While George did have a giant bounce experience, we mostly enjoyed the indoor exhibits. In order, the things George liked best were the weight ratios/balance stations (shown), the algebraic rhythm maker, the pollen under the microscopes, the shadow maker (shown), and the meteorologist explanations of weather phenomena. Three of those are math-based. Color me happily shocked.

Happy weekend, y'all!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Grinding

SECCA on the last day of George's older brother's Spring Break

We have jumped back into schoolwork.

In literature I am reading Treasure Island aloud, which George is enjoying immensely. So far we've read the first 7 chapters, and George is becoming quite adroit at deciphering the meaning of words by context. George excels at reading high level non-fiction, so now we are working on transferring his skill set to challenging fiction.

In math we're doing a lot on IXL.com. Math is still not George's favorite subject, but it's no longer the most hated thing in the world. Right now we're working on plotting, graphing, and interpreting data, which George almost likes.

In humanities' large project, George is building a Balinese shadow puppet theatre, designing and building the puppets, and writing his own production. I am helping him with mindless labor, but he has to plan and solve logistical considerations on his own. I am THRILLED to see the leaps and bounds he has made in turning a big idea into a fait accompli.

In grammar we are working on reflexive pronouns. (Yawn.)

In science George is enjoying making slides currently. We'll be continuing both science and math over the summer, and so I'm not rushing him past his current obsession with looking at things on a microscopic level. It feeds into what we'll study next.

(I may take George camping this weekend. We'll see.)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Field Trip!









Every year we do one large-scale field trip. Last year we went to DC. This year we conquered Atlanta. Wowsers, are we tired!

We toured:
  • Zoo Atlanta (nice collection, and you can feed a giraffe lettuce from your own hand for $3!) 
  • The Georgia Aquarium (they have three whale sharks, plus our CityPass included the dolphin show)
  • The Fernbank Museum of Natural History (we enjoyed the mock Okeefonokee Swamp, plus our CityPass included an IMAX film) 
  • The World of Coca-Cola (very well done, and we sampled about 150 different sodas from around the world)
  • The Atlanta Cyclorama (very impressive, but the guide seemed offput by George's very good question)
  • The Center for Puppetry Arts (awesome to see the puppets for the Lion King musical, as well as several Muppets)
Our culinary highlight was the OK Cafe, where I may have completely blown my diet by indulging in Banana Bread Pudding. (It was worth it.)

I'm glad to be back in my own digs, though. School starts back up Monday, both public (my high-schooler) and home (George).

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Make a New Plan, Stan




Originally we had planned to homeschool George for only two years. Now that we are more than a year and a half in, we have made the decision to commit ourselves to a third year.

George's self-esteem and love of learning is on the rise, and so we are loath to upset the apple cart, as the better he feels the more amenable he is to putting in the work to strengthen his weakest area: math. (Last week I floated the idea to him of continuing math over the summer, and he readily agreed. I almost fell over.)

Secondly, Tourette Syndrome is basically amplified by hormones. This means as kids reach puberty, their tics ramp up, and as puberty abates, their tics ease up. Right now George is the tic-iest he has ever been. He's got squeaks, throat clears, claps, neck twists, and dance jigs galore going on. Not only would sitting still in a classroom be a genuine struggle for him, it would be incredibly disruptive to any other students.

Finally, I enjoy having this boy around. He's funny and brave and interesting, and not only do I love him, I like him. He's going to continue taking art classes at Sawtooth and ukulele at Jackson's and all his other classes here.

He'll have the Woodcock-Johnson III with extended reading segment (administered by Piedmont Education Services) in late May, and then we'll just keep on keepin' on.

I couldn't be more excited.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Pineapple Ukeleles and Bookfairs


George's light purple uke was beginning to show strain after three years (it was a $30 entry model, not really made for regular practice and use), so we ordered an exciting pineapple uke from Jackson's music a few weeks ago. It arrived last Monday, and George has been happily strumming away ever since. George is especially happy that his older brother, whom he looks up to very much, keeps admiring the pineapple uke and asking to play it a bit.

In math George has made GIANT strides. We have deciphered fractions and functions involving fractions completely! Fractions of course were not new to George, but since the middle of third grade he's not "got" them. (George would have begun going through additional testing to see if he had a math learning difference as well had he returned for fourth grade. He already had a lengthy IEP to accommodate his gross motor and fine motor challenges, as well as a SLD in written expression.) We discovered that if we viewed all fractions FIRST as circles/wedges, George got them. He has mastered all the fourth and fifth grade fraction work with circles and now is verifying that what he's learned also works with triangles or squares or fractions of money or candy or what have you. (We're using pennies here at home and a muffin tin to divide up to 1/12.)

In literature, I made a tactical error. After he finished up Hoot, I thought I would reward him by showing him the movie. Within about ten minutes he was outraged at the changes made for the movie and asked to please not watch any more. Sigh. He then had his defenses up and decided Al Capone Does My Shirts falls into the category of "history lies". I thought since he loved Alcatraz's history he would enjoy it. Wow, I read that one wrong.

On a happy note, George's older brother's school has their Scholastic book fair this week, so we whipped over there and George chose the next three novels he will read himself. First up: Liar & Spy. While he reads I will read faster and develop a discussion outline for us and a miniproject outline. (For Hoot, George had to develop a set of characters with defined relationships and give them unusual names a la Carl Hiassen.)

George's pen pal relationship is going well. They boys have exchanged letters a number of times, and he doesn't dread having to write, which is wonderful.

George has also been doing some self reflective writing, both in journal form and in a looser, survey form I made for him called Three Things, where the risk-taking items are hidden and so not as alarming to him. Here's an example.

Saturday we'll be heading to the Battle of Guilford, so we will refresh ourselves on that today and tomorrow.

Happy weekend!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Field trip!


George worked exceptionally hard in homeschool to get everything finished so we could go to Statesville Saturday for the 254th anniversary of the Battle at Fort Dobbs (French Indian War).

Currently George is writing a script for a short film he wants to make. He also will write his pen pal back this week. He is enjoying working with photo prompts for creative writing and is producing some wonderful writing.

He has finished Hoot (which he LOVED) and will start reading Al Capone Does My Shirts today or tomorrow.

We're planning a science field trip for two weeks from Thursday and a longer trip to Atlanta for later this spring. George is also raring to go camping again as soon as possible, but the weather doesn't seem to be sticking to warm yet.

Stay warm!
Lucy & George