Saturday, August 30, 2014

Curriculum Choices 2014-2015

Since Little Man is officially in "preschool" now, I figured I'd better figure out what we are doing. Since we are still "unofficially" homeschooling, as there are no regulations on preschool (yet), I figured I'd better assess Little Man FIRST and see what he can do. I found a GREAT kindergarten assessment (link will be at the bottom). We've pretty much gone through it and there are a few things that we haven't touched on in the Language Arts part and he can pretty much do just about ALL of the math. So technically, "preschool" is more like "fill in the kindergarten gaps"! (Gotta love an intellectually gifted child!)

So the plan this year is to do "playschool" about 3 to 4 times a week. We will ALWAYS have at least one day off, if not two or on occasion three. I don't want to overwhelm him, as I have no clue as to what is going to happen when he finally enters school in the fall of 2015. I don't know if the school will keep him in kindergarten or contemplate moving him up. We will just have to wait and see.

So what are we doing this year? Well, I plan to do "Interactive Notebooks" with him instead of a bunch of worksheets for everything. Not to mention, all the "Pre-K/K" packs are too easy for him. We have 4 Notebooks: Math, Spelling, Science, and Writing.

Math: I'm going to be using some of Easy Peasy's Math 1, but otherwise, I'm just going to fill in gaps. We'll do addition and subtraction, skip counting, even and odd, time, money, shapes, graphing. I'm going to be using Pinterest a lot to find pages for us to do.

Spelling: We are using K12 Reader's first grade spelling words. We more than likely won't get through all the lists. The intent isn't so much that Little Man learns to spell them, as they are primarily word family based, but that he works on his handwriting.

Science: We've been doing science for a while now, but I decided since we're not really focusing on a specific "grade" so-to-speak, that we would come back and do some science. So this allows us to finish some things we didn't get to last year and also allows me to do some fun things with him. I'll be looking primarily at kindergarten based "units" of science.

Handwriting: I managed to snag a free handwriting download from The Moffatt Girls. So we are using that for letters. And I am going back to the way the letters are formed and not going in alphabetical order. So essentially, they start easy and get more difficult for him. Little Man also still has reversals with his numbers, so we are using a few different sites for those pages. We'll do one number a week and then come back if he still has problems after 9 weeks.

Writing: We started a journal not too long ago. But we're going to be focusing on some prompt based writing, some interactive (shared pen) writing, and some free writing. I'm trying to get him to write FIRST then draw, but sometimes we may go the other way. We are going to be working on sentences.

Reading: We're not really going to have a reading curriculum, as he can already read at about a 2nd grade level. Instead, we'll read some classic literature. Maybe do some kindergarten literature units. We'll also work on comprehension with K12 Reader's comprehension pages. They tie into the spelling of the week, so that will work well together.We will also be hopefully attending the library's story time every Friday.

Bible: We'll be using Easy Peasy's Old Testament curriculum. We're only going to be doing it maybe twice a week and will be reading the stories out of the NIrV. It starts with New Testament, but we will get to Old Testament once we get through the Gospel of Matthew.

Review: Right now, we are still working through the K-1 Summer Bridge book. We are into "month three." We will do one side of a page each day or two, it just depends. This is just to keep Little Man fresh on things that we may not cover every day.

Socialization: This is our MAIN focus. One of the reasons I haven't put Little Man into an official preschool is because of his intellectual/verbal gifts. I KNOW he would be bored with the curriculum of learning shapes and colors and letter ID and sounds. The biggest thing he needs is socialization. So, instead, I have opted to put him into "Tot Time" through the recreation department in town every couple of months. It is for 3-5 year olds. There's some structure similar to preschool. It's twice a week for 2.5 hours. So essentially the same amount of time a kid would be in preschool. It's about half the cost of a traditional preschool, as well. Little Man will also be trying "Tot-nastics." I figured this might be a good way for him to do all that "climbing/falling" off the couch he's been doing lately in a safe environment. There was a 3 week program, so I signed him up for that one, in case he hates it. He's also got Rainbows on Wednesday nights, plus every other week, he'll be doing Sunday School at church. And when he's not in "Tot Time," I've got a playgroup that he'll be attending. (It just happens to be the same time as "Tot Time," so when Little Man is there, it will just be Princess and I.)

So that is what we are planning to do this year. I was going to post this earlier, but I just now got around to doing it! I'll be posting about our first week in the next day or so.

Specific Links:
Mrs Ricca's Kindergarten (blog)
Kindergarten Assessment

Everyday Snapshots
Learn to Write Numbers (She's up to 7)

Confessions of a Homeschooler
Kindergarten Printables (We're using the 1-20 Writing Practice vol. 2)

The Moffatt Girls
A-Z Handwriting Pages (You have to like their Facebook Page to get to it)

The Measured Mom
Numbers of All Sizes (They're at the bottom underneath all the letters)
Teaching Journal Writing in Preschool (This is how we started our "Writing" Notebook.)

Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits (blog)
Journal and Folder Labels (I got the cute labels for our journals from this teacher's TPT store for free!)

One Year Later...PHA2

There are certain dates I will always remember with Princess. Her birthday. They day she came home from the hospital, the first time. The day she came home from the hospital the last time. And today.

One year ago today, I got told exactly what was wrong with Princess. It was an endocrinologist, Dr. G, who told us. Apparently, Dr. H, our nephrologist, had already suspected this because she had put Princess on the medication that would be the "tell" and would help with the hyperkalemia and hypertension. I remember when I walked out of the endo's office and we were walking back to the car, I called my mom and told her. She enjoys researching medical things and has actually been following the whole rare disease/orphan drug scene for a long time. She looked it up and that evening, she sent me a bunch of websites and told me that she suspected this back from when Princess was in in PICU almost two months before. In fact, I do remember her saying when we got home that she probably had Gordon's Syndrome, but all we could find at that time was that it was familial and no one that we knew of had it. (Gordon's Syndrome is one of the other names for PHA2.) So we had kind of pushed that idea to the wayside and kept looking, but I knew if someone didn't say something, I was probably going to be fighting with doctors about it, like I had with her milk protein allergy in the NICU. Thankfully, I didn't have to fight with anyone and we were already connected with someone who I have come to find out has diagnosed more PHA2 cases probably on the West Coast than anyone else, and she's only diagnosed a handful.

That was Friday. It was the the three day Labor Day weekend. The following Tuesday we had an appointment with Dr. K, the cardiologist. By the time I walked into his office that Tuesday, I felt like we had had a diagnosis for 3 months, not 3 days! In that time, I spent hours on the Internet reading essentially the same thing on about 6 different websites. I actually found a support group on Facebook! (I guess you can find ANYTHING on Facebook!) And between their files and my mom sending me links, I found a couple case studies. Dr. G had said that Princess would likely be short. I had kind of laughed at her and said, as long as it wasn't dwarfism, which was a whole new can of worms, we'd be fine with that. (I'm not quite 5' tall.) One of the case studies that my mom found was of a 17 year old patient in Asia who was 5'1" tall. That's actually like average for over there, so I'm not really worried about Princess being short. Here brother is probably going to be around 6'. He can get anything down for us!

So, here it is. One year later. Not a whole lot has changed in things. We (as in the whole family) are on a low potassium diet. We've been told that right now as Princess is young, it's better that the whole family take on the diet. This way, she doesn't feel like she's missing out on stuff. Yeah, it kind of makes things difficult sometimes, but otherwise it's okay. When she gets older, we'll be able to tell her what she can and can't have and what's going on. Her medication is still the same. Dosage has increased at times and we're probably due for another increase here soon. But between the meds and the diet, her potassium level has remained in the normal range.

Princess has not been in the hospital since she was 3 months old! Even though she has had 3 colds and 2 stomach bugs. This is a big miracle in my book. Now, am I thinking we are done with the hospital? No. It's always a thought in my mind when she gets sick. But we're doing good so far!

The things that have changed are all with the PHA2 itself. One is that there is finally a test available in the US. But we have been advised to not worry about it right now. Reason: even if we spend the money, she could still turn out to not have it be on one of the 4 genes they know of now. It doesn't mean she doesn't have it, it just means that it's obviously not one of those 4 genes. Plus it doesn't change the clinical side. She'd still be on the meds and the diet. The other thing is that they have FINALLY decided that there can be de novo mutations. I mean, of course there can be new mutations! How else did someone START passing it on and it becoming something that runs in families? This is Princess. Yes, she will have to worry about passing it on to her kids. But that's still YEARS away. So we aren't worried about that right now.

I've actually found another family who actually has familial PHA2 through the support group and have been helping the mom get information together for her one son whom she suspects has PHA2. And I think there is another little one with PHA2, not entirely 100% sure as she has a host of other issues to go another with it. So our little PHA2 support circle is slowly growing beyond my daughter and the other 4 year old in Canada whom I know of.

Princess is doing well. There is always the worry in the back of my mind about her potassium level, but being I can't just have her tested any time, I try not to let that overwhelm me. It doesn't keep me up at night. It just stays prevalent in my prayers. God told me He had her and I trust Him. He's got a plan for her, I just don't know what it is.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Alphabet Journal

After a year, we have FINALLY finished our Alphabet Journal! So I figured I would share it with you! It was just a composition book. Little Man picked blue and he wanted to decorate it with digger stickers.

We started each week with the letter in construction paper.

In the beginning, we would do something that started with the letter for our next page. Stickers. Glue. Cutting practice were all incorporated.

Sometimes we did science in our journal too! This was before we started our Science Journal.

Apple Science for A week.

A really neat experiment with an egg in a little plastic bowl about the brain and the skull. We'll probably do this one again later!

Little Man LOVED all things vehicles, so I was SO lucky that I found Royal Baloo's Zoomin' Moving Alphabet! We did a lot of things from her packets in the beginning. But towards the end, we only did a few things: dotting the letter and gluing whatever the vehicle was onto the letter. I always cut out the letter and glued it into the Alphabet Journal. In the beginning I didn't have a color printer, but towards the end, I did.

In the beginning, we did a number every week too! I found this great number book that I would cut the number out and he would put the correct number of dot stickers on it. We only did number 1-9, even though there was a number 10.

We also did a memory verse every week. I got these from Totally Tots. And we did a page from Homeschool Creations Preschool Alphabet Pages. She has A LOT of great stuff on this page, but we just did the alphabet cut and paste pages. I would cut the letter out and glue it into the journal and then Little Man would glue all the pictures around it.

At first I didn't have a color printer.

We also used the journal to just draw and write in. And even did a "I'm Thankful For" thing each day the week of Thanksgiving.

At first Little Man would draw and I would label.

Then he would label. "DIGR" (Digger)

"I'm Thankful For..." DUMP TRUK. All his days were like this until the last one.

"BABE" (baby). He was thankful for his baby sister!

I had Little Man draw a picture of himself towards the beginning of our "school year" and when we finished our Alphabet Journal.

Little Man's self portrait in October 2013.

Little Man's self portrait in July 2014. And yes, he did write his name at the bottom!
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