Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Why we chose A.L.E.


If you've never heard of it, I'm sad to say google will fail you. You'll get results on beer, logistics, Antarctica even. But if you google:

Alternative Learning Experience, then you get a whole host of info. 

In this post, I'm going to talk a little about our experience, the who's, where's, why's, and how's.

When Kaiden was two, I joked about home schooling him. The schools in our area were dreadful. So bad that we received a letter for our oldest telling us that her school had failed its report card, and that we had the choice to transfer her to another school in the district. However, all the other schools had failed theirs as well. 

We didn't really feel we had a choice, home school it was.

For the first year we went on our own. With a few workbooks from Costco and the internet, we banged together a fourth grade curriculum. We also discovered  few issues, her previous school had not taught them the multiplication facts. We knew there had been issues, no spelling tests, no math tests. 

So we had a smart, but now lazy, kid on our hands. 

I started researching and found out about A.L.E.'s. 

Our kids could get a wonderful education, at home, and still be a part of the public school system. 


First we tried WAVA. 

Washington Virtual Academy uses K12 curriculum. To be honest, we were a bit overwhelmed at first. When our boxes arrived they weighed in at 180lbs, for only two kids. 

We trudged through Kindergarten and Fifth. Not really clicking with the curriculum. I think it's a wonderful set up really, it just wasn't working for us. Kaid was quickly drowning in phonics, but excelling in comprehension, math, science, and history. Sarea was lost when it came to math. 

I started to watch a little closer and realized something, Kaiden was dyslexic. 

Phonics and dyslexia don't work together so well. We looked into whole language approach. Still nothing, he was a pre reader and wouldn't budge. His doctors claimed it was the school districts responsibility, the district claimed it was his doctors. So I did what any worried mother does when she has access to the internet. 

I googled.

During one of my googling sessions, I happened upon a woman who had not only a dyslexic son, but a dyslexic granddaughter. She told me to stop stressing out, to stop frustrating him. Let it go.

She told me that with her son, she just let him be, encouraged him, but didn't push him. At around 7, he started reading. He still had problems, but it was much better.

So as hard as it was, I did. We put phonics on the back burner, we focused on other area's and treaded lightly on reading. When he was seven, we had a breakthrough. His grandmother bought a flashcard set of sight words. We started working on them every night. All of a sudden, he was doing it. Like a light switch had been flipped. He was still at K level, but he was READING.

Now a year and a half later, Kaiden will be starting a gifted reading program. He went from a Kindergarten level to a Fourth grade level in a year and a half.

He is going into third grade, but he is in an accelerated fourth grade math program.

This program has been a godsend for us. Columbia Virtual Academy, the options we have for our kids education is just phenomenal.

So we turned our dining room into a school room and never looked back.

I'm not saying that home schooling four (sometimes six) kids is easy. But it's a decision we didn't make lightly and it's worth it to us. And we have  moments like this:

And we get to do fun experiments all the time.

I get to see that "aha" moment when they understand something. I get to learn how their brains work and it is so amazing.

Quote of the day:
"STOP LICKING ME!" Said to the almost 13 yr old...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Two Steps Forward....One Step sideways

Melodie has been responding very well to the SI diet. I have to remember, when her meds don't seem to work, it's a sensory problem not a attention problem. We aren't just teaching the kids, we are teaching ourselves. 

We've had chicken pox and survived. Lilly has been down with a nasty UTI and we survived. I won't even begin to pretend like I did it all by myself. My friends and family are an amazing support system. Really I think our story would be much different if it wasn't for them all. 

We did have a sleepless night with Melodie a few nights ago. First full sleepless night since the change in medication. I am hoping it was just a fluke. I really wish we could have a sleep study done. But that's a whole different story. Currently Melodie takes 5 mg Time Release Melotonin and .05 mg Clonidine. It really is the best we've found. I could list everything we've tried but that's a long list. You know all those old wives tales and over the counter remedies? We tried them all, no matter how far fetched it sounded. This has been our battle. Our biggest battle. And we are so much closer than we were a year ago.

We are taking our first family vacation this summer. Melodie will get a real break of school work. 4 days of camping at Beverly Beach, then to Portland to the Zoo and OMSI. And if all works out a trip to The Enchanted Forest for Melodie. She absolutely LOVES amusement parks and carnivals.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Stinky Boy Phase

Ok, so at some point in both my boys life, they hit the "Stinky Boy Phase". Any mention of the bathtub was met with a look like I'd kicked their puppy. Shock that I would even suggest it.

It's been two years, two extremely stinky, muddy, wet (from dragging them in and hosing them off) years. We have almost left "Stinky Boy Phase". While Rogue still gives you the are you serious look, he will get in when I point out that yes I am actually serious. Kaiden on the other hand, is a bit more difficult.

We moved and it was a great move. Because of a friend of ours who was willing to take on 7 roommates, we are living in a five bedroom house. Only one problem, our bathroom does not have a tub. Shower stall only. It's big enough to help my five year old with her hair. I actually love it.

When you take a shower, it's not a big deal really. You get your clothes ready, you turn on the water, you get in, get clean, get out. Dry off, get dressed, and move on with your day. Simple. I can get it done in five minutes if needed.

Kaiden takes at least 45 minutes to shower. First, we have to establish that yes he is taking a shower. Then, we move on to, get your clean clothes. This takes about ten minutes of back and forth. His room is on the opposite side of the house.

So, now we are in the bathroom. Then we move into our door routine. Close it this much, well can I possibly open it this much more. The door at it's optimal (too wide for me, too closed for him) width, we then turn on the water. Then we get undressed. Then we get in the shower. Not the water. Just the shower.

It takes a bit to work up to actually getting under the water. We start with hands, then arms, feet, head, torso, and legs. We are now under the water. Things should pick up here right? Eh, not quite.

Now we begin the portion of our shower that entails standing motionless under the stream of water for a good long while. Until his skin is numb apparently. This makes sense if you know that the sensation of the shower is like being pelted with gravel for him. Once our skin is good and numb, then we can commence showering.

From here on out, it's pretty standard. Our only issue as of now with after shower is drying off. He refuses. To him it isn't necessary and what do you mean his clothes are all twisted. There's no tags he can feel, so obviously it's fine.

Just an example of how much time a day we spend on Kaiden's disorder. Small things that you don't even think of are such huge hurdles.

I mean sure I can sit there and rush him through his shower, I can physically hose him down and be done in less than ten minutes. But, and trust me on this, you don't want to be anywhere near him for the rest of the day and possibly part of the next depending on just how upset he is.

I have to continually remind myself of what it feels like to be him. It is difficult, and I'm not perfect, but we're working on it. We'll figure it out. Me and him? We're a pretty good team.

Quote of the Day:
"Jae! We do not throw organs in the house!"

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Well that's New!

Over the next few days our lifes are taking on a new challenge....chicken pox! Wish us luck, Melodie can't stop talking about it....

I'm not gonna lie, I've pretty much let her do whatever she wants (within reason). I gave her Folcalin, you wouldn't know. So I'm a little worried about what happens when the Focalin wears off. But I should have help by then. I also have pox, and so does Lilly. 

I'd like to say I have a plan, but I don't. We're gonna tackle this head on!!!