Assessment, Fall 2017--The Preschoolers

Typically, I'd keep up our homeschooling pattern into December and then do some sort of mid-year evaluation for the kids over the Christmas holiday.

But I'm not feeling that this year.

I'm mentally ready to end our current pattern after this week, celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, and then move the Elementary 8 into a season of Advent.

(The teens have their own agendas.  I'll surely be inviting them to put their studies aside and join us, but I can already hear their answers . . . and I'm sure they'll be pushing themselves through their regular work.)

For the past two years, our most recently adopted crew have spiraled into frenzied states of misery at the holiday season, and they've whirled us into their personal storms.  I'm fairly desperate to keep that from happening again.  Prayerfully, I've been researching ways to lovingly replace their panic with peace.

It may not happen all at once, but I hope the season ahead can at least be more peaceful than panicked instead of the other way 'round.

That said, this week's journal is dedicated to an informal assessment of our fall 2017 schooling.

Lola and Baymax
These two are nearly 3 years old.  It's really, really time to stop calling them "the babies!"  More and more they're joining us at the table to snack and/or color pictures as I read aloud during Academy time.  They cannot narrate what they hear, but they want to, and they demand their turns to try.  Usually I ask them a yes/no question that relates to what we've read, and they giggle with delight as they answer.  

Our potty-training efforts over the summer fizzled in failure, and these two are pretty adamant about not potty-training now, either.  Baymax will sometimes ask to use the toilet, earning the privilege of wearing underwear, but he won't use the toilet again, and he ends up wet or soiled every time.  Lola just plain refuses to go anywhere near the toilet, so I'm trying to lay low and let them decide it's worth their while.

Their language, social, gross- and fine-motor skills are all developing just fine.  They're happy toddler/pre-schoolers who work all day at growing and learning through play and imitation.

This little fellow is on the cusp of turning 5.  We had a happy week when we thought he was potty-trained, but then the next week, he simply wet himself whenever he felt like it, leaving puddles of urine in bedrooms, the dining room, the front porch, the driveway, etc., so we put him back in pull-ups for another season.  He uses the toilet at least half a dozen times each day, but he's still wet when it is time to change for bed, and he wakes wet every morning.  Having him wear a pull-up does not excuse him from using the toilet, but it does remove the tension from his "accidents."

We're convinced he's on the autism spectrum--high functioning, but with real autistic behaviors.  He's got strong sensory seeking and sensory avoiding issues, and we've been using Forbrain (a review product we received) with him on school days to help him achieve some balance.  I think it works.  At any rate, I've noticed that after a few days of steady use, he's more able to cope with problems to be solved (i.e. a Lego structure that won't stay together) than he can after a weekend of not using Forbrain.

He still struggles both to fall asleep and stay asleep, and I'm completely over any reservations I used to have about using melatonin--his 1.5 mg dose is a given every night.

He's starting to be interested in participating in our Academy narrations.  I find it interesting that he can tell a coherent story about who came to visit and what he's played, but he cannot form a coherent sentence about what we've read.  Mostly, he'll smile and give a one word response about what he remembers from the reading, and I help him expand that one word into a sentence that he repeats.

He wants to write and color now.  He cannot grip a pencil or crayon with even a vaguely appropriate grip (and I've learned to not be fussy about how kids grip their pencils!).  He grabs writing implements from the top with his whole fist, and even if I help him position his hand in a reasonable grip, if he puts that crayon or pencil down, he cannot pick it back up the same way.  The same is true of using pencil grips--he cannot get his fingers onto the grip without help.

So I'm offering lots of help.

He's been trying to make letters and pictures lately, and they're looking more and like recognizable letters and pictures.  That's huge progress for him!

His one-on-one school time consists of speaking out loud with Forbrain; I read books to him with him echoing my words, so that he gets the auditory feedback that seems to soothe his brain.  We also sing songs and do fingerplays together.  His fine motor work consists of building with Legos, pasting, coloring, and eating with a spoon and fork.

He's also very interested in following the words of songs we sing--at home, at church, etc.  Here he is watching Little Princess point to each word of paragraph 3 of The Family: A Proclamation to the World.

He's on a gluten-free, dairy-free diet, and it has made a world of difference in his ability to self-regulate.  When he got hold of some milk-chocolate, gluten-y Halloween candy, he had a terrible two weeks following.  The experience has convinced us more than ever that we're on the right track to helping him be his happiest, most capable self.

I think that's all for now.  I'm too sick and have too foggy a brain to think clearly.  I'll do a post about the K-1 crew next . . . when I'm feeling better.


  1. I hope you feel better soon. Your assessments are always so well thought out and recorded. One thing that really helped us in the early days with our adopted FASD/RAD child was embracing Advent. We found that having a small thing to unwrap each day helped take away the anxiety and anticipation of Christmas day. We decided on Christmas books. I would wrap up books from our own collection or the library and each day the kids would take turns opening one. Then we would read it and do an activity that went with the book. Our other children that weren't having trouble with the holidays loved the tradition and we continued it until the teen years.
    Blessings, Dawn

    1. How interesting to find out that the very idea I felt inspired to implement actually worked in your home! Thanks for that feedback!


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