Friday, April 27, 2012

Lifestyle of Learning

Missy is learning.

I was never so shocked as last week when we were in a  big city that had digital signs over each lane of the freeway giving the speed limit for that lane.

Missy was calling out the numbers; "Forty-five", "thirty," " Sixty"....

Nothing short of amazing.

They say she is a sponge at school. I know for a fact I could not have gotten her this far. She would have been too busy being ornery. She is also getting a break from the struggles of attachment. She is getting a lot of positive feedback at school. She likes it a lot. She is gone 2.5 hours and then she's home. It's working for us right now and I am going to send her again next year. Only, I think I'll have the special ed bus pick her up.

James is learning, too. His learning is less academically noticeable, partly because his deficits are not so great, and partly because he is learning things of a broader scope. He seems to be able to read whatever he wants to know. He has trouble with road signs and such because they fly by too fast. He can't focus that quickly, but if the phone is ringing he will tell me who is calling after he reads the caller ID, he reads food boxes, and instructions. We haven't learned a pile of math facts, or written much.... I have found when I push academics he shuts down because he has a weird picture in his head about what subjects are. They don't relate to life in his head.

Yesterday he asked when he would be old enough to have a bunk bed. I laughed and told him it's not about age, it's the fact that he's the only boy (besides the baby) that he gets his room to himself. I said, "think about it. How many girls are in the far room?
"How many beds do we need then?"
"How many girls in the other room?"
"How many beds do we need in there then?"
 "You got the math right."
"That's math???????????????"
 "Well, of course it is. Whenever you figure things using numbers and counting, that's math."
"OH!" (Light bulb moment)

However, he is growing in life experiences and his world view is expanding exponentially. He has been exceptionally cooperative and energetic and content. Yup, we have our moments when he is stubborn, but I see emotional growth happening. He's very happy when he is outside shoveling manure. He's most happy when something crazy happens and he has a story to tell. YES! He who previously could not string sentences together is most happy telling stories. Mrs. C has show and tell EVERY day that they have class. He loves it. He prepares ahead filling his school bag with items that go with his story. When we bought our new vehicle he was giving strangers (to my embarrassment)  the tour and telling about how the wheel fell off on the old car on the Pass.

He is responding to a LIFESTYLE OF LEARNING.

I'm reading a book called Different Learners by Jane M. Healy, Ph.D. and the more I read the more convinced I am that he needs this style of learning for a long while yet. I've had a lot of outside pressure to have these kids "catch up" academically and to have him "DO" school work the traditional way, but it doesn't work for him and I recognize the beauty of a Lifestyle of Learning.

It's not that I have been unfamiliar with a Lifestyle of Learning. I used it with my first three. We used some curriculum books here and there, and I used tutors and science classes designed for homeschoolers in town during their upper grades, but for the most part people would consider our style pretty lax. However, I can say it worked. Vanessa has a 4.0 at the college most quarters. (She got one B in a class so far and that ruined her perfect over-all 4.0.  Brianna is very close behind. They want to learn. They are excited about learning. They have not been burned out and exhausted on academics. Christina just took the standardized test for 9th grade. I can't tell you how she did yet, but it was her first time for Iowa Basic Skills Test and she was disappointed because the math never even touched close to what she understands. They didn't go near algebra and she is in algebra 2. My girls had some learning "differences" to overcome. If they had been pushed they would have become learning disabilities, I am convinced one hundred percent.

Having said all that, I am trying to make up my mind whether 2 hours of one-on-one classes at the school would be the right thing for him or not. It's working for his sister.The school is going to test him next week to give us a baseline to understand his strengths and weaknesses. They would like to have him for those two hours...But  I'm leaning towards keeping him home. Mrs. C the lady that teaches him for a few hours a week agrees that he should be home for social reasons. She feels he will get laughed at and it will effect him. If he's one-on-one, though, he wouldn't have much time to mingle.


Sophie said...

So hard to know what is best for our children. Sometimes we just have to try things and know if they don't work then we can change things up. I know you will do the right thing and I love all the progress you are seeing in them.

Betsy said...

It's such a blessing to see progress in our kids no matter how it happens!

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my question on my blog. It sounds like our agency was a little more aggressive in their searching. All we did was read files they sent us. We're still trying to decide if God is leading us to another child.
Yes OR is a little different. Our first adoption was a sibling set from OR, and they are much slower(OR, not our children) because they use a committee to chose a family. There also is a waiting period when it's out if state.

As for the Mallards, they are wild, but have been hanging around with our domestic ducks. They have made themselves quite at home. They are always there at feeding time and they, very aggressively, drive off any other Mallards that come near. Our ducks seem to be OK with sharing their swimming hole and even their food with them. They are all a lot of fun to watch!

I have decided I needed to start writing about our family adoption experience/issues. I have wanted to do this for some time, but the kids look at the blog, so I now have a different blog set up so that it is not connected through the family one (I hope). Here's the link if you're interested.

Mama D’s Dozen said...

Go with your gut. :) If he needs to be home ... keep him home.

We, too, love to use a Lifestyle of Learning. We use some text books and some workbooks, but we LOVE hands-on learning BEST. We love using library books rather than text books. We love researching what we are interested in, rather than following a set curriculum (especially in the elementary years).

You are doing a GREAT job with these kids. Keep up the good work.

Laurel :)