Sunday, February 24, 2008

Mom's Week-Ending Progress Report

What a wonderful, busy week we've had! We had some personal/financial obstacles thrown in our path and we're not sure yet how that will affect Spawn's school situation. Rest assured - Spawn's education is our top priority. I can't see a scenario related to the current problem that would cause us to make an alternate schooling decision instead of more financial sacrifices. More on that at a later date.

Spawn's had a great week and he's been working AHEAD in many of his subjects! He caught up on two weeks worth of Language Arts lessons alone this week and some of the more difficult concepts are coming more easily to him. He's been having a lot of fun playing with words and rhyming games. We covered several new letters and phonics lessons this week - the letters O, H, and L, and the word ending family "-ot". Spawn has a lot of fun thinking of words that end in "-ot" and even making up pretend words.

The book of the week this week was I'm A Jolly Farmer by Julie Lacome - a fun book about a little girl's active imagination and her partner in imagination, her dog, Fred.

Spawn began working with the Hundred Chart in Math last week and by the end of this week, he was counting by 2's, 5's, and 10's using the Hundred Chart. This is stuff I didn't even do until 1st grade! I'm so proud of him!

He aced this week's Technology: Basic Graphics lessons in Science and the fridge is proudly plastered with his awards. :D

Social Studies was a review of concepts. He learned more about needs and wants and about saving to buy something he wants and what basic human needs are. I think he's beginning to realize that I meant it when I told him to save his pennies for that new Mega Rig Firetruck set! :D

Health, Safety, and Phys Ed brought a week of changes. Spawn has a new Phys Ed teacher, Mr. Devlin. We're so sorry to see Mr. Mitchell leaving PALCS, but we both look forward to learning more about and from Mr. Devlin. Mr. Devlin, apparently, is also a big Eagles fan. :D

Spawn began his new session at the YMCA this week also - continuing both swimming and karate lessons with Miss Joanne, Sensei Sue, and her assistant and son Mr. Chris. His swimming class is small - just three students. I got his report card from last session and was very pleased with the results. Spawn needs a little more focus and patience and some practice on jumping into the water unaided with just his PFD. Otherwise, it's apparent to his instructors that he's becoming much more comfortable and confident in the water and growing as a beginner swimmer.

A new student joined his karate class and the kids had a great time getting to know each other and beginning the new session's lessons. We also found out that a kids t-ball team will be forming at the end of March at the Y. Spawn can't wait to get started!

Chrissi, Cyber School Mom

Monday, February 18, 2008

Pic of the Week

Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Spawn's First Field Trip: The Crayola Factory, Easton, PA

DJ and Red

Chrissi, Cyber School Mom

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Solution

I want to start by reporting that Spawn's second marking period report card was every bit as impressive as the first! All A's again with a marked improvement in Language Arts! He improved from a 95% to an astounding 100%!!! Language Arts has been his most difficult subject all year and requires 4 times as much instruction time as all of his other lessons combined. The Language Arts lessons are extensive to begin with, but Spawn's inattention and inability to sit for (age-appropriate) reasonable periods of time forced us to take long and frequent breaks to get through each day's lesson without falling behind. It has been exhausting.

I'm happy to report that I was both right and wrong in my most recent post - musing over whether or not Spawn might have a learning or behavioral disorder. I was close. He has a disorder known as ADHD. It saddens me deeply that it's gone untreated and undiagnosed for so long due to my own ignorance. I thought he was just a difficult and stubborn little boy with way more energy than his peers and no suitable outlet for it. I thought there was something in me that was lacking as a parent - that I wasn't strict enough or that I was being too strict with unreasonably high expectations. Not so.

I'm happy to discover that I was wrong. It's a relief to know that his condition is treatable. I'm sad because I now know he has a much more difficult road ahead of him to adulthood than his peers. Children with ADHD never "outgrow" this condition. As they reach adolescence, most children develop coping skills that makes it appear that they outgrow their condition. My goal is to help him learn to cope with his condition and to hopefully overcome the difficulties of his ADHD.

At first, I was very resistant to the idea of treating his condition with medication. He has what is known as Combined ADHD. He has difficulty with both attention AND hyperactivity/impulsivity. Friends and family came down on me for capitulating to his pediatrician's wish to treat him both medically and with behavior modification. We've been coping with Spawn's difficulty through behavior modification all along through trial and error. We did our best to cope with his problems without knowing what we were up against. While it helps, it simply isn't and hasn't been enough. Spawn has medical needs that can't be met through behavior modification alone.

When it comes right down to it, if he were diabetic, I wouldn't withhold the necessary insulin in favor of changing his diet and hoping for the best. ADHD is a real medical problem that requires real medical treatment in addition to patience, understanding, and a lifestyle change. My husband was horrified at the idea of treating Spawn medically and especially at the thought of him being "labeled" at such an early age with ADHD - a condition that he believed is over-diagnosed. Presented with evidence of Spawn's classic and easily recognizable ADHD symptoms and backed-up by Spawn's pediatrician, I was able to convince him that protecting Spawn from the stigma of an ADHD diagnosis was not our primary job as his parents. A friend reminded me that our job is to raise him to be the best person and citizen he can be despite these obstacles. Sometimes, you just gotta pull up your big girl panties and get over your own prejudices and long-held beliefs.

Cyberschooling may be the reason that Spawn is doing so well with his studies. He gets one-on-one attention from his home facilitator (me) that he wouldn't get in a traditional classroom environment. Had we enrolled him in school at our local district's brick-and-mortar elementary school, he would either be in constant trouble and sitting in the principal's office (not so great for a developing child's self-esteem) or he would have been recommended for special ed due to his teacher's inability to cope with his needs in a classroom environment. We dodged a bullet. We are forever indebted to Spawn's cyberschool for meeting needs we weren't even aware existed at the start of this school year.

PALCS has supported us and Spawn in every respect. Whenever a need or concern presented itself, they have been there to help us do what is in Spawn's best interests. Equally invaluable to us have been the instructors and staff at our local YMCA (located in Stroudsburg, PA). They have been remarkably patient and hands-on with Spawn - trying desperately to keep his attention and keep him involved in his classes. (We did have a problem with one instructor/class. That instructor was a college student who was not following the YMCA's practices in coaching young, beginner swimmers. The issue was handled quickly and to our satisfaction and that of the other parents whose children took that class.)

As soon as Spawn's instructors were made aware of his diagnosis and condition, they began adapting class instruction to fit his needs. We have not had to pull him from any of his activites or enroll him in classes for children with special needs. We did switch him to a swimming class that consisted of only children his own age. He works much better with a group of peers than with children in a wider age group. I am so grateful that Spawn is being treated like a unique and beloved little boy - that he can just be a normal kid in a class with his peers where each child is treated as unique, but equal. My deepest gratitude to Sensei Sue, Miss Donna, Miss Joanne, and the Aquatics and Fitness Directors: Amy and Billy. You guys rock!

Spawn also has awesome cyberschool teachers who gladly take time out of their busy schedules to discuss his needs with me and support me in my efforts to adapt the regular curriculum to his needs. Thank you, thank you, thank you Miss Samuels, Miss DiPaolo, Mr. Mitchell, Miss Bonk, and Miss D'Angelo for your patience and understanding and for helping me learn to cope with Spawn's needs.

It's starting to sound like I'm accepting an Academy Award with all my thank yous :D, but I'm just a mom trying to do my best by my son and all these incredible people make my responsibilities as Spawn's home facilitator so much easier! All I'm saying is - recognize. ;)

More to come in another post shortly about what we're covering in Spawn's lessons. Check back soon for updates on: Language Arts: Spawn's favorite StoryTown books, Math: Counting Using a 100 Chart, Social Studies: What Do We Need?, Science: Technology Lessons and Unit C Test, All About Me: Love, Art and Music: Pinatas, Phys Ed: Journals, Activities, and Disease Prevention/Health Helpers and Classroom Cyber Pets for cyberschoolers.

Thanks for reading. It's been cathartic - getting it all out and said and being able to move on.

Chrissi, Cyber School Mom

Friday, February 1, 2008

Big Trouble in Karate Class

Spawn is having so much trouble concentrating in karate class. I know some of it is just the fact that being in a room with other kids for half an hour winds him up - especially when they're wound up, too. But he's also very stubborn. My concern is that he seems to be either ignoring his teacher or he's not hearing or not understanding the instructions.

I've tried rewards for good behavior, punishment for poor behavior (chores ;)), and even daily lectures about giving his teachers his attention and respect. The thing is - it's not a problem at home and I can't sit in on every class he takes at the Y - disrupting the class every few minutes to call Spawn back to attention. The one variable seems to be the other kids. He's just so easily distracted.

We've considered behavioral and learning disorders as a possible culprit, but it'll take time to get him evaluated. (I'm not keen on medicating my child for ADD simply because his attention span is short. He's 5. :p) Based on some of his responses to his lessons, I think it's possible that he may be dyslexic. I don't know how that would affect him, but it could be the reason I and his instructors have to repeat instructions for him so much. Guess I need to do some more research on dyslexia. I'm open to suggestions from experienced parents!

Chrissi, Cyber School Mom
Related Posts with Thumbnails