Monday, September 24, 2012

Curriculum choices this year

The last couple of years our homeschool has been pretty chaotic.
It has been so difficult for me to figure out how to meet the educational needs of 5 children all at the same time.
I've tried several different approaches, but nothing I prayed over and tried seemed to really work well.
My oldest daughter and oldest son both have different forms of ADHD, and they manifest this condition in different, frustrating ways.
I have spent the last year begging the Lord for wisdom, and for some sort of educational intervention for me.
I've prayed that the Lord would just lead me to people who could give some suggestions or help in some way, or that He would open a door that would provide some solutions for me.

One day last fall, I was at a very low point.
I knew things had to change, but didn't know what or how to make things change.
"Out-of-the-blue" I saw a tiny billboard at an intersection in our town that I've crossed every week for years now that was advertising a small private school designed specifically for ADHD/Dyslexic students.
I couldn't believe it.
I've lived in this town for over a decade and not one. single. person I know has ever heard of it.
You better believe I called.
The cost is astronomical for our one-income family ($7,000+/year/student), BUT I talked to the administrator on the phone and she was so helpful.
She made some suggestions to me, and I was encouraged.
I also found out that this school offers a Homeschool Umbrella Program.
I thought and thought about that......and I finally called the director of that program in June.
I met with her in July and we're IN!
I am so excited about this opportunity and what that means for my sanity as well as my children's.
You can read about it here.
My three oldest will be participating in this program.
I'm most excited that someone else will be keeping track of my 9th graders high school transcripts!
Our "teacher", Mrs. S. made some very good curriculum suggestions and I was thrilled to go with what she said:

Math - Math-U-See
(In my opinion, the BEST curriculum for teaching math to ADHD students and even better for those who are not.  It makes is so much easier on our whole family!)

English - My oldest girls will be going to a teacher two days a week who will be teaching with ABEKA materials.  My oldest son will be using Easy Grammar, and my two other children will be using ACE Paces.

Social Studies - The oldest 5 will be using ACE Paces.

Science - ACE Paces

Spelling - The oldest two will be covered in the English course, and the others will be using ACE Paces and Spelling City for their tests.

Bible -We're still looking for something for the two oldest, but the 4 youngest will be heavily involved in our church's Master Clubs program on Wednesday evenings.  It's awesome and very thorough in Bible memory and teaching them practical service skills!

Spanish - As an unexpected bonus, my oldest daughter will also get Spanish from the English teacher two days a week.

P.E. - Our goal is 4 hours of P.E. a week.  Swimming and karate classes will be included!

Quilting - My 8 year old really wants to learn quilting from a friend of ours, so she will be starting with her in about a week as well.

Missions - Our oldest daughter, after much prayer and consideration, feels the Lord is leading her to take part in our church's mission trip to the country of Ghana next June.  She will be spending much of the next 9 months preparing for that.  We are very excited about this wonderful opportunity for her!!

If you're not familiar with ACE Paces, I highly recommend them.
I went through an ACE school from 1st to 12th grade (I actually ended up graduating a year early), and had a wonderful experience with them.
Granted, Paces are not for everyone and are particularly difficult for ADHD students because of all the seatwork and amount of pages you complete each day.
But I love that my children can work as quickly as they want and are working independently of me.
I can move among them as they are working and get them through a stuck place and then they are back on their way again.
They enjoy being in control of their mornings, and having more play time in the afternoons!

I'm so excited about what this year holds for us, and for the Lord answering my prayers about intervening on my behalf!!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Oh my!! Time for some updates! Intuniv!

(Celebrating a wonderful first week of
 school with sno-cones!)

I simply canNOT believe how much of a blur my life has become since we started homeschooling again!!
So much so, that it has been nearly a month since I last posted anything here!
There has been a virtual flurry of activity around our home, but I barely I have a moment to breathe before it's the next day!

During this next week, my intention is to post about the wonderful changes we have had in our schooling methods this year!!  The Lord answered my prayers for intervention in a BIG way, and it has made all the difference in the world for my sanity and for the continuity and consistency for my children.

I know that some of my readers here have been wondering how we are doing managing our son's ADHD issues since I talked about taking him off of it this last year.
Well, we didn't.
I can't remember if I mentioned that when we did try to take him off, it was too hard for him.
And for us.
You can indeed see my first post about this here.
After just a few days, he could tell an enormous difference in his hyperactivity levels and ability to control his impulsive behaviors.
After a particularly rough ride to church, he was begging us to get him back on it, and my husband was requesting that we find something else to help him because his behavior was so annoying it was driving us all crazy!
At the time, I was experimenting with taking our son to a chiropractor who is very naturally minded in her approach to treating health problems, and even she could tell our nerves were shot.
It was so helpful to have a professional "give us permission" to put him back on this medication just for peace and calm in our home.
So ever since then, our son has been back on the Intuniv and is much calmer.
Thankfully, he never has had stomach problems with this medication, as I have had several comments here mentioning that in other children.
We have had to change our dosage time though.
We found that if we gave it to him first thing in the morning, it started not really taking affect until about 2 or 3 in the afternoon.
By then, my nerves were shot, schoolwork was never completed, and our day was miserable.
So after consulting with the doctor, we decided to give it to him around his bedtime.
He still wakes up and hits the ground running (literally....throughout our entire tiny house.....with little brother following him.....grrrr), but will sit down and play something quietly on the computer, or a video game, and yes, even do his homework!!
But the other benefit of taking this at night is that it's in his system when he wakes up and helping him think clearer and slower so he can learn and hear us!!
He can tell the difference and likes that he doesn't feel as jumpy.

He also doesn't have a problem falling asleep at night like he does when he's not on the Intuniv.
When he's off of it, he needs Melatonin to calm down and fall asleep.
When he's on it, he falls asleep calmly and quietly.
So there it effort to get him off this drug was an epic fail......
but for the time being.....we're better with it.

He still is angry a lot, he still is ridiculously selfish (over-the-top....way more than my other children),
he is still defiant and mouthy and hateful much of the time, but we feel like we can live with all that because he is waaaaay more teachable......
And he's getting it.
He's progressing in school.
He's getting that there will be consequences for lousy choices and obnoxious behavior.
He's finally beginning to accept and see that we love him and are trying to teach him proper behavior.

He is currently taking the highest dose available (4 mg.).
He's getting bigger too.  He's 10 now.
I don't know what we're going to do when he outgrows this medication completely.

I'm hoping by then, we'll have gotten him to where he can tell what his triggers are and have learned how to deal appropriately with his frustrations and anger and impulsivity.
But I'm praying for him continuously as I know that the Lord can bring peace and victory over his fears and frustrations to his life!