So remember back over the summer when I freaked out about the unexpected additions to Kimani’s school Behavior Plan and said I was thinking of homeschooling her? Well, I did it. I mean I am doing it. Sort of.
First off I have to say that I am super proud of myself for attempting this. I could have been a SAHM with no kids at home during the day which theoretically means I could be working out at the gym five days a week, planning and executing gourmet meals, finishing the book I have been writing for three years, or maybe just sleeping all day long. But instead, I traded in my freedom to give my precious Tasmanian devil a safe and happy Kindergarten year at the Mommy Academy of Table Dancers.
I suck at this. I knew I would. I told you I would. I bought a bunch of stuff to work from: the big Preschool lesson plan book, a bunch of manipulatives, and edible arts and crafts supplies. I managed (on the third try) to write an acceptable homeschool plan for our district and met with them to rework the IEP so that therapies could still happen. (That is not really working out, but it is a whole separate post.)
In September Kimani played along. We went bowling and grocery shopping with PECs cards. We went apple picking and visited a farm. We studied the color red and the math concept of One and Two. We dressed the weather froggy and painted pictures. We played on the iPad and read Moo Baa La La La. Sounds great right? Well it wasn’t great. It was tortuous because one of us is extremely, ahem, self-directed (okay, maybe we both are). By October she was not willing to play along at all for the things she doesn't care about.
She and I both learned a lot in that first month. She knows that two, when it comes to yummy things, is more desirable than one, and given the choice she will say, Two. She can now say apple. She can jump on her trampoline for long periods of time without holding on to the sides. She knows the difference between pink and red. She now knows that the grocery store gives away cookies to little girls and will say cookie as soon as we enter the store. Because her receptive learning ability is higher than her ability to express herself, these little milestones mean that she is really picking up quite a bit. I learned that she does not want to do anything schoolish. Put a puzzle together? NO! Draw a line (or heck, hold any writing utensil and make any marks at all) NO! Sit for any book other than Moo Baa La La La? NO! You get the idea.
I also learned that she loves to do things that are real, like cooking, shopping, or outings. She prefers playing with whipped cream over playdough. She prefers loud dance music or sitting on the piano and tapping the keys with her feet to playing with toy instruments. I learned that Kimani really understands the PECs system and wants to use it to communicate. I learned that she prefers unschooling to homeschooling. And so now, I am trying to incorporate pre-K level science, math, literacy, etc. into everyday activities that she is willing to participate in. Tomorrow a special education teacher is coming to visit. We might be adding an hour a week of consulting time to the IEP, depending on how impressive she is.
I also learned that while it does make me crazy to never have any alone time anymore, the trade off of getting her all to myself for hours on end is really cool. It has been a long, long times since she was my only child at home. Everyday I see advances albeit teensy tiny ones. Some days I am really encouraged that she is more educable than I had realized. Other days... well on other days, I try not to think about what this looks like in three or four years. One good or bad day at a time, right?
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