Sunday was as full as ever, including a delightful Family Home Evening lesson and treat delivered by M12. The lesson was about service; the treat was lemonade ice cream pie.
A good way to start the week.
Monday, Tuesday, and Friday were at-home school days, full of language arts, math, reading, geography, writing . . . all kinds of regular school stuff. I3 also had a fever that left him feeling wretched. He spent a lot of time in my lap just quietly coping.
S12 has the privilege of writing almost full-time for NaNoWriMo these days. She does have to continue with daily scripture reading and math, but otherwise she's free to write and write and write. Her goal is 1,000 words a day, and she's meeting it.
Wednesday was an outing day with our Explorer's Club. It was our turn to host, so we set up a hike at a local nature center. (I was glad that I3 woke up fever-free that day.) We sent the 8-and-up kids off with three of the moms to complete a 2 mile hike that moms with little ones would have a hard time completing. I'd packed a back pack in advance with drawing paper, pencils, erasers, colored pencils and chipboard sheets (to provide a firm, flat surface for drawing) and gave them the assignment to stop somewhere along the way, find something to study closely, and draw it. I told them we'd gather to share drawings with the group if there was time, but if not, at least they'd have taken an opportunity to look closely at their surroundings.
The under-7 crowd and the other 5 moms (all of us either pregnant or with babies or toddlers in tow) took a less ambitious trail to collect interesting nature items to bring back to the picnic tables to make crayon rubbings. As it turned out the only rubbings we took were of a couple of fossils the kids found in the limestone rocks because the little trail intersected with part of the harder trail, and we ended up hiking 1/2 mile of that harder trail with our little guys. My A7 took the lead with her buddy J7, and they did a great job setting a pace that everyone could manage. One mom of a preschooler looked at me with my pregnant belly and another mom wearing her 3-month-old and said, "You two are true hikers to tackle this trail with your babies within and without!"
It took our little-kid group just 15 minutes less to complete our portion of the trail than it did for the older kids to complete their entire hike and drawing session! The little guys are very good at stopping to look at everything, delighting in constant discovery.
We met up in the nature center, where one of the moms and her daughter are active fund-raisers. Because of their relationship with the center leaders, we had the privilege of a private meeting with a rescued fox and coyote who had both been raised illegally as pets and now face uncertain futures because they have become too dangerous to keep at home anymore and too imprinted on humans to be released into the wild. The center plans to do what they can to rehabilitate them, but they will probably be sent to the zoo to be used in public education programs. Several of the kids were really sad for these gorgeous should-be-wild animals.
After such an outing I wanted nothing more than a quiet afternoon at home and a nap for my still-recuperating I3, but friends who we've long been trying to have over to our home were free to visit, so we had them over. It was a lovely visit, but as we had commitments at the church that night, too, our I3 was driven over the edge of exhaustion. I'd have skipped the church activities if I could have . . . though he napped in the car on the way to the church he was weepy and miserable by the time we got home that night, and he didn't sleep well the whole night.
Thursday was a half-day of school for us, dance rehearsals in the afternoon, and hosting church missionaries for dinner that night. I thought I3 would nap in the car, but he didn't. I had to work hard helping with costuming all through rehearsals, and my poor I3 was weepy and miserable yet again. He didn't seem feverish, so I thought he was just terribly, terribly tired. I was horrified that evening to discover his back and belly covered with a viral rash. I'd assigned M12 to give him his shower the night before, Daddy took care of morning diaper changes, and another big sister took care of an afternoon diaper change, so I hadn't seen his naked body in over 24 hours.
In two days of being out and about we'd probably exposed 20 different families to whatever he's got.
Mommy guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt . . .
No one else in my family shows any signs of illness; I sure hope our friends stay healthy.
In my daily checking of school work last week I noticed that E14 was making some strange writing mistakes. She wrote the word "week" completely backward in one assignment, and she wrote the abbreviation "Ave." upside down. I'd never seen her do that before--not even when she was little. I spent the weekend thinking it over, remembering, and making mental connections. By Tuesday morning I was ready to post the following to our local homeschool forum:
"I've got an older kid who reads quite well, writes adequately, and who has out of the blue started writing words upside down or backwards. The other day I pointed out one of her errors and she said, "Oh, yeah. That's been happening a lot lately. I guess I forgot to go back and fix that one."
When she was younger and learning to read, I found that she didn't track from left to right. I studied up and did a bunch of tracking exercises with her, and over time it seemed that her eyes caught up with her brain, because one day reading "clicked!" She went from struggling to excelling. I concluded that she'd just needed time to grow at her own pace.
In writing this I'm realizing the same pattern has happened/is happening with math: She struggled terribly in the early elementary years, suddenly blossomed in the middle-upper elementary years, and is all of a sudden so incapacitated by math that I'm actually alarmed.
I have my kids keep reading journals, and it is apparent to me that she reads well and with excellent comprehension . . . but then she's made a few comments lately about how embarrassing it is to read aloud in front of her peers because she stumbles in ways they don't. And her memorization work--always one of her greatest strengths--is suddenly suffering, too. I don't think it's from lack of effort.
I know I can do all sorts of research on my own via google and the library (which I have begun to do), but has anyone else experienced anything like this? Does anyone have a favorite website or book to recommend to help me focus my research?"
Over the course of the week I got 3 answers:
1. "See this about stealth dyslexia - http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10435.aspx
Obviously, this may not be related to what she is experiencing but may be worth looking into. Someone very close to me has stealth dyslexia. It can be very confusing and challenging."
2. "I saw this message and the first response and noticed the link to davidson institute. Since my daughter is a Davidson young scholar I have access to their private bulletin boards and I went and searched stealth dyslexia on there. The board is really pretty inactive, but there was one small thread on the subject and it mentioned public school kids trying to get accommodation to be able to "keyboard" instead of writing and also being able to just write the math ANSWER instead of "showing your work", which worked well for those kids. (homeschoolers can do any accommodation they WANT!)
There was mentioned a book called "Upside down Brilliance" by Linda Silverman that actually profiles one of the kids in the group (or their sibling, I couldn't tell which).
Also I did a search of their public bulletin board (which is MUCH more active) and think there could be a whole lot more info to be found there! You do have to create an account to sign in to SEARCH and post but you can read without an account and here is the site: http://giftedissues.davidsongifted.org/BB/
When I searched this one, there were many conversations that seemed to fit and in fact someone JUST (4 minutes previous) posted something to a thread labeled "asynchronous cognitive development and dyslexia" that sounded similar (writing and spelling is funky but ABOVE grade level comprehension)
There is also a whole thread for 2E, Twice Exceptional issues you might want to search.
Good luck, mama. Kids are such mysteries."
3. "A close friend's daughter had something like this happen. Hers was a vision problem and she had to do vision therapy with exercises she did at home for over a year. It did fix her problem, so it worked!"
I've begun exploring the links these mothers have shared with me, and I feel as if I'm reading a perfect description of E14. Testing for this situation costs well over $1,000, so we won't be doing that any time soon, but there are some books to read and research we can do.
I haven't had the chance to talk with Dad about this other than a quick word on the first day my brain began putting some early clues together. I'm hoping to arrange Sunday evening in such a way as to give us some uninterrupted time to talk, pray, and make some plans.
On Friday evening E14 came to the kitchen to work on her math and history near me while I made dinner. She missed 15 out of 15 math problems, so I sat down to work with her. We found the problem in her understanding, and she was quickly able to make all of the necessary corrections. She moved on to history, but she said something that twisted my heart strings. I tentatively opened a discussion of what I've noticed about her work. She crumpled, voicing her concerns that she was crazy and stupid. All of my resolve to keep what I've learned this week to myself until further prayer and discussion with Dad crumbled. I spoke candidly about what I posted and what was shared in return. She lit up like Christmas, "You mean I'm not stupid?!?!!?"
I almost cried in the pizza dough I was kneading.
Shoving my own guilt away for thinking her troubles this school year have been due to laziness and poor organization, I repeated my constant refrain, "You are terribly smart. I've never thought you were stupid, and I've always told you how smart you are." She nodded, so I continued, "If this information is right, and it looks like it is, it means your brain is wired in a special way, and we just need to find the way that you learn best. The very fact that you've been able to do what you've done so far is testimony to just how smart you really are."
She squared her shoulders and finished her history assignment.
I called the family to dinner.
Our Friday night was quiet. I put I3 to bed early because his fever was back, and he was exhausted. Dad was at work. The other kids and I had finished The Mysterious Benedict Society on Thursday night, so we began Farmer Boy.
Today (Saturday) there is a free dance recital of Beauty and the Beast performed by a local dance school. I want to take the kids, but I don't want to expose an entire theater full of families to whatever I3 has. He's fever-free this morning and quite chipper, though he still has the rash.
We'll see where my conscience leads me.
If we sit in the back and wash our hands and don't mingle . . .
In the meantime, here are the few pictures I took this week:
|H5 made this little paper bird for our cat to play with.|
|I did have an art lesson with H5 and A7! This is A7's first product during our lesson on "Artists Imagine."|
|Here's what H5 imagined--a rainbow unicorn and her baby in the night. The mother glows with magic, but the baby is hidden to keep it safe.|
|Here's a peacock A7 made, too.|
|E14 and H5 had a "date" in the kitchen making brownies together on Monday afternoon. When they were done, we all gathered to watch The Taming of the Shrew as a family.|
|The kids have played lots of games together this week. Every time I turn around, there's a set of kids playing.|
|I3 has discovered pockets. Every day I see him walking or standing like this. His stance charms me beyond words.|