Archive for the ‘reviews’ Category

The kids are over half way through their school year, so now is when I am actively looking for the materials that they will be using next term. Do we stay with the company we are currently using curriculum from or do we make changes? Here is the breakdown of what we have learned. I will start with Little Miss, then do Pookie’s curriculum.

Little Miss has been using the Adventure’s program from My Father’s World (MFW). We chose this because is said to give a good foundation in U.S. History. We also were using Christian Light for the Language Arts and Math courses.

The MFW program has a lot of reading and hands-on when compared to other curriculum. The problem lies in the fact that the written work is very minimal. This resulted in Little Miss not getting enough writing practice to help in spelling words, creative writing, or even journaling. Most writing is either a very short 2-3 sentences, copywork, or making a short notation on a timeline. This didn’t go over very well with us, so we ended up going to Mardel’s Christian Book store and buying both a handwriting workbook and a spelling course.

We chose to get her Language Arts and Math from Christian Light. We learned previously that the suggested Singapore math course was not a good choice. Singapore skips along too quickly on key math foundational skills that does not provide enough practice of skills being learned. By switching to Christian Light, her math skills have improved. She is getting the practice needed and is learning more than she had with Singapore. The Language Arts program is also a very well presented course. She has been making much more progress than she was before.

The reading schedules in MFW was disappointing. Little Miss loves to read and the 2-3 page reading assignments just frustrated her. She became discouraged to the point of not wanting to read the assigned pages at all. With MFW, there are no book reports. Either you write a few sentences about the day’s reading, or you talk about it. Little Miss began struggling with remembering what she read. She just wasn’t into it. So, I had to come up with ideas to help her remember what she was reading. I found a free printable brainstorming form online. It has a large oval in the center. Around this are several medium sized circles with lines connecting them to the large oval. For each circle, there are several smaller circles connected with lines as well. In the center, she wrote the topic of the reading assignment. In the medium circles, she wrote a fact or event about the main topic. The smaller circles were for supporting information. This helps her organize her thoughts better.

The backbone of the MFW program was its history course with science and geography tied in. The main focus in History was the formation of our country and each state, as it entered into the Union. I was disappointed to see that the notebook pages for the states were simply coloring pages. There was a space for a sticker of the state flag in an upper corner. The informational part of the page was a reading on the back. This was way too simple. It seemed more like something a much younger grade level would have done. It would have been so much better to have the reading with a notebook page on which she could record state vital information, draw the flag herself, and maybe a blank map of the US for her to color in where that state is located. It was disappointing that many of the basic fundamentals were missing. So, again, I had to supplement with more appropriate materials. By the time I purchased supplemental materials for the curriculum, I spent nearly double on her curriculum than I should have. The added expense was something we had not budgeted for. In the end of the day, I can honestly say that we won’t be using MFW again.

We have already chosen her curriculum for next term. I will be heading to a homeschool curriculum book store where I can look at the materials before making the final choice. Once the final decision is made, I will post about it sometime after convention.

Pookie’s curriculum has been a constantly evolving process. He truly is a child that cannot be placed into a specific curriculum group. In many ways, he is still extremely delayed in his development. Yet, he is very quick to learn in some areas. Because he is so “all over the place” in his development and ability to retain information, I have to use multiple approaches with him.

Pookie is using the Simply Classical curriculum from Memoria Press, the Letter of the Week program from Erika of the Confessions of a Homeschooler blog, and Montessori style activities. Each of these provides a specific need that he has in his academic and developmental growth.

Simply Classical is written to fit a developmental age, not a grade level. It is presented in a way that can be used with special needs children who are severely delayed. The first level, Level A, is for children with a developmental age of 2-3 years. Pookie’s occupational therapist tested him and he is rated at being 25 months of age developmentally. With that in mind, the skills taught in Level A are a good match for him. I love that the program’s lesson planner includes a detailed list of the developmental skills taught in the program. I provided this list to his therapists at the therapy center and they are able to see at a glance what he will be working on. They are also able to include some of those developmental skill goals into his therapies. Pookie loves the lessons from this program. They include a lot of time snuggled up with a book with Momma as I read the books to him and he points to various objects in the illustrations. He is learning the early math basics as well as phonics.

The Letter of the Week curriculum is fun. Erika did a great job putting this together. The lesson plans are very detailed and all worksheets are provided. You only have to print them out yourself. We use these worksheets as a method of not only reinforcing the lessons in the Simply Classical program, but also as a way to teach Pookie to work independently. I get him started, then am gradually fading back so that he is doing more and more without my aid.

The Montessori style activities are probably one of the things Pookie looks forward to the most. I have sensory bins for him to play in, fine motor activities, and puzzles. We also do some crafts as well.

These programs are going to be something we do for some time. As he gets further along, I will introduce more challenging materials, but this style of learning seems t fit him best at this time. I do not see us changing it too much. The only changes that I see ahead are buying the Level B program from Simply Classical and the Pre-K or Kindergarten program from Erika. The Montessori style activities will grow with him as well.

One note of interest: to my knowledge, the Simply Classical program is the only curriculum available that is set up according to developmental ability or age. If there are other special needs curricula out there, I have not yet found them. Typically, a special education class will use preschool materials as a starting point. This program addresses a need prior to a child being able to use the skills necessary to do preschool work, which is comprised of a lot of coloring, cutting, and pasting.

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It seems that lately I have been finding a lot of great book resources.  This one is a real gem.  I wish it had been around years ago when Pookie was first diagnosed.

autistics logistics

 Autistic Logistics, by Kate Wilde

Autistic Logistics is a new book set to be released in January, 2015. If there were ever a book that should be made available when a parent gets the autism diagnosis, this is it. The author is a Director of the Son-Rise Program. The ideas she presents in this book are based upon the Son-Rise methods.

As the parent of an autistic child, I can attest to the difficulty parents can have in teaching the basics of self-care to these precious children. Developmental skills, such as toilet training, can be a very difficult thing to help your child accomplish. Self-regulating their emotions to curb meltdowns and tantrums is another tough lesson to help the children learn. This book gives solid advice and examples of how to tackle the most basic of issues that parents of autistic children face.

Here is a summary of the book that was provided on Amazon,

Have you ever wished that your child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) came with a manual? This book provides just that, offering clear, precise, step-by-step advice on everything you want to know, including:

– How to toilet train your child without pushing or pressuring
– How to get your child to sleep in their own bed and through the night
– What to do when your child tantrums, hits or bites
– How to introduce new foods, without a fight

Based on decades of experience, Kate Wilde tackles these day-to-day issues and more, using tried-and-tested techniques to help you transform the challenges of home life and create harmony. The unique approach featured in the book, which encourages you to support your child’s need for control rather than fight against it, can have transformative results. Not only will you learn to see through your child’s eyes and help your child in a way that honors his/her specialness, but you will also begin to free yourself from the pressure and discomfort that can so often accompany everyday challenges.

Catering to all age ranges and points on the spectrum, this book will be of immeasurable value to parents and caregivers of children with autism, other family members, as well as teachers and teaching assistants.

As I read through the book, I thought of just how timely it was for it to come to my notice at this time. Our own child is reaching that age when toilet training is being addressed. Using this one area as an example, let me say that this book has the most useful and detailed information that I have ever read. Ms. Wilde starts off by taking a look at poplar attitudes towards toilet training that are actually making the process harder. She then breaks down the reasons why some accepted methods do not work very well. One case in point being to place the child on the toilet every 30 or 60 minutes. The problem with that is you often have a child soil or wet their diaper in between trips to the toilet. This can become a frustration to both parent and child.

What she suggests is something that just makes sense. Keeping a diary of the times your child eats, drinks, and soils/wets their diapers. Start noting the time intervals and once you see a pattern, you can get the child to sit on the toilet prior to when they would normally go in their diapers. She goes further into the exact process, but it is a very good method to try out. It makes far more sense to me. Most people have a set routine, a body time clock. For some, they always have to go to the toilet 30 minutes after a meal. Going on that theory, if your child has a routine, you can get them to the toilet before that set time arrives. This greatly increases their chances for success in the toileting.

There are many other areas of development which are addressed in the book. Each are ones that we face often as parents of autistic children. While the child’s therapists can offer advice, the parents really need solid guidance at home as well. This is where the book comes in. The clear presentation of ideas is done in such a way that it is easy to implement in the home.

I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is a parent or caregiver of a person with autism. It is a book that I wish had been around when our son was first diagnosed.

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Last night I read the book, “Who Needs a Prairie”, by Karen Patkau.  This is a children’s book which is meant to help teach children about the grassland ecosystem.  Living in the prairie lands the book was focused on, I really had high hopes for it.

prairie book


The pictures in the book are nicely done.  Unfortunately, that was the best part of the book.  As I was reading, I felt as though it had been written by someone with ADD.  When describing one scene, it read as though the author was making a list instead of describing a picture.  Jumping from one thing to another in her “list”, it reminded me of a conversation with someone who can’t stay focused on topic.

Books, such as this one, are great opportunities to bring a child to a place they may never have the opportunity to visit in person.  I feel that the author missed her opportunity to transport children to the prairie through her words.  At one point, I actually fell asleep reading the book.  If I cannot stay awake while reading the book, how can I expect my kids to be interested in it?

As a homeschooling Mom, I am always on the lookout for books that we can incorporate into the children’s resource collection.  I had truly hoped that this book would be one we could add.  There are several more books in this series that focus on the other ecosystems and habitats.  After reading this one, I am reluctant to try the others.

Another issue that I had with the book is that the author had used terms and names for wildlife that are not common here in the US.  It took looking into the book’s glossary to try and guess what she was talking about.  One such example is her constant referral to one species as a Pronghorn.  Now, I have lived in the prairie ecosystem area for over 20 years and have never heard the term pronghorn.  The glossary description gave me a clue when it mentioned the size of antlers the males and females have.  It was a search on the internet however that confirmed that pronghorn are antelope.  If a child were to be reading this, would they have known that she was talking about antelope?  I highly doubt it.  Yes, as homeschool parents, we often encourage our children to look things up.  I feel however that in books that are meant to inform, children shouldn’t always need to have a secondary resource to interpret the book that they are reading.


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