|I know she'll someday hate this picture because of her snaggletoothed smile, but I love it for that very reason--it captures her perfectly in this sweetly awkward, growing time of her life.|
This was Ladybug's kindergarten year. Had it been completely up to me, I'd have left her alone to play and mature another year, but she's intensely aware of the activities and accomplishments of her siblings, and she's fiercely determined to keep up.
So, she had an academic year.
Her determination will take her far.
During the 2015-16 school year, she first demanded to learn to read, and we began using The Good and the Beautiful Level K. We barely started it when our school year ended, so for 2016-17, we picked it back up and worked (almost) daily on the various lessons and readers. It is (in my opinion) an advanced program, and Ladybug finished about 2/3 of it this year. We stopped after working on C-V-C-e words for a couple of weeks.
Ladybug mastered a few sight words this year, and she's slowly realizing that words are the same no matter where they appear. I've noticed this summer that she's picking up books off the shelf and seeing what words she can recognize/sound out. Prior to this, she would only read from her school readers and claim she couldn't read other material.
Ladybug also continued working in Horizons K math workbook 1. She liked it, and we worked at the pace of approximately 1 single-sided page per day. It takes completing a front/back combination per day to complete the program in a single school year, but Ladybug wasn't up to that much work, so she made it through half of the program this year.
She loved matching and patterning and measuring. She thought using the number lines to do addition was really fun, and by the end of the year, I could leave her to do half a dozen addition problems with a number line, and she would have correct answers for all of them.
However, she did not memorize any addition facts, nor could she understand place value (introduced in this math program), nor could she understand counting beyond 20, nor skip counting.
This program was not working for her.
Shortly before the end of book 1, I stopped having her do any of the subjects that were bewildering to her, and I helped her finish only the concepts that were withing her grasp. Then we put Horizons Math K away for good.
At a homeschool convention, I purchased a Rod and Staff Grade 1 Math set (which begins with number recognition and counting) for Ladybug. It was a great relief to us both to back up to comfortable concepts that helped her feel competent. However, she quickly reached frustration levels again as soon as she had to memorize math facts.
I put it away for the summer.
I have no doubts that Ladybug will be able to memorize and learn math concepts when her brain is ready to do so. She's been doing a lot of healing in other areas, and, even being well aware of the struggles Rose Red has with math to this day, I think Ladybug simply needs more time to heal from her past traumas.
Ladybug enjoyed Morning Meeting, Spanish, ASL, nature walks, Color My Conversation, and "graduating" to listening to chapter books at bedtime this year. Recently she was trying to sing "Fifty Nifty United States" under her breath as she played (we'd learned it during Morning Meeting this year), and she turned to me saying, "We should learn the state song again." She has beautiful penmanship.
She struggles to retain what she learns. Often as I'm reading aloud she stops me to ask questions that are so basic that I'm boggled that she cannot understand. For example, when reading Minn of the Mississippi, she asked during chapter 9, "Who is Minn?"
Minn is introduced in chapter 1, and the whole book is about her. Every page includes information about Minn and her adventures. We'd spent 3 days getting to chapter 9, and in addition to reading, we'd talked about her each of those 3 days. I'd thought that Ladybug had shown clear comprehension during our conversations, so I was totally shocked by her question.
However, FASD kids often lose and gain back what they learn from moment to moment because of damage to neural pathways, and I'm convinced that Ladybug is on the FASD spectrum.
I should stop being shocked and accept that she will show inconsistencies in her learning.
Ladybug's tantrums are basically gone; I can only think of 2 tantrums in recent months, and they don't even come close to comparing to the violent, crazed tantrums she used to throw. When she throws a fit, it seems more like the occasional fits any kid will throw when overtired/overstimulated/frustrated.
She's almost stopped stealing. She did have a recent incident, but its very occurrence illustrated how out of the ordinary that has become.
She's also working hard to tell the truth--even when telling the truth reveals her own guilt. We try hard to praise her for being honest, while also being consistent with consequences for disobedience.
Ladybug still deals in absolutes. She does not cope well with exceptions to the rule. For example, we have breakfast at the park one day each week in the summer. We've tried to keep Wednesdays as our park mornings, but one week there were violent thunderstorms on Wednesday, forcing us to stay safe indoors. Our conversation went approximately as follows:
L--"Why aren't we having breakfast at the park?"
Me--"It's storming and not safe, so we need to stay indoors today."
L--"But it's Wednesday."
Me--"Yes it is. Even though it is Wednesday, we can't have breakfast at the park if it is dangerous outside."
L--"But Wednesday is breakfast at the park day. Why aren't we having breakfast at the park today?"
Me--"What do you see outside?"
Me--"Why are we not having breakfast at the park?"
L--"So we can stay safe . . . but today is Wednesday, so we should have breakfast at the park."
We have conversations like this every time there is an exception to any rule.
Honestly, I can say she is learning about exceptions, but she doesn't like them, and it takes long processing to help her cope.
She loves to be a helper, and she longs for more time in the kitchen.
She is young for her age, and because she has 5 siblings younger than she is, she often does not get the cuddling time she wants and needs. I need to remedy that.
She's begun to be aware of her therapy sessions and thumb-sucking as things that other kids her age don't have, and she kind of wants to be done with them. She asks questions such as, "Why do I suck my thumb?" and I deflect the question back to her, always adding, "When you don't need to suck your thumb anymore, you'll stop. You'll know inside of you when the right time comes."
She's not very good at resolving conflicts with her siblings, but she's getting better. She's still knocked silent when she's nervous or afraid, but she's begun to stand up for herself--even if she gets confused about what she needs to defend.
Ladybug is a quietly sweet little girl who is learning and growing remarkably well given her past. She cares about learning and behaving well. She is enthusiastic about life, and she's so determined to succeed that I believe she will do what she sets her mind to do!