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1  EARLY LEARNING / Early Learning - General Discussions / Re: How do you schedule after-school learning? on: April 25, 2014, 12:54:25 PM
Mae_Jakob_Ka, what is speed writing?

These are interesting to read.  You all have inspired me to get some more audio books, or listen to them more.  For those that do audio books, I have a question: how do you stop them and start again later?  I'm certain I could make a better plan, but not having a good one is the honest reason we don't use audio books more frequently.  For instance, I put the Secret Garden on for my son to listen to while he was going to sleep.  I had no idea where he stopped hearing it and the CD is not broken up into many small parts.  I just haven't found the process user-friendly.  Recently, I have considered getting him an iPod shuffle.  Has anyone done this?

Here is our current before/after school learning routine:

Before school
-handwriting practice (pick one sandpaper letter and make a line of them in her notebook)
-code academy
-placemats at breakfast where each can draw or write something they will challenge themselves with that day (parents have them too)
-various apps (mirrored on Apple TV) if we have time

On way to school: (we also have a short commute)
-verbal math games (keeping it light and fun)

After school:
-handwriting practice
-Singapore math - 4 pages in the workbook
-writing with ease
-Singapore math - 1 section (text and workbook pages)

At dinner:
-check in with each other about what we each had wanted to challenge ourselves with
-Story of The World (sometimes)

After dinner clean-up:
-violin practice
-ordinary parents guide to teaching reading, 1 lesson
-20 minutes of reading (sometimes aloud with parent, sometimes silently)
-school homework (takes 5 minutes)
-parent reads aloud

Everything else, we just fit in when we can, if we want to.
2  EARLY LEARNING / Parents of Children with Special Needs / Re: Book "Disconnected Kids" and Brain Balance Training Centers on: June 01, 2013, 04:53:34 PM
Thank you for posting about this.

My oldest and I recently got diagnosed with Aspergers (in April, a month before the new DSM 5 recategorized autism spectrum disorders and removed Aspergers as a diagnosis).  As a child, I had a diagnosis of "severe ADHD" instead.  Needless to say, I have some opinions about Autism.  smile  Vaccine-injured children absolutely do exist and it is a tragedy.  But, to say that vaccines cause Autism (or even to speak about a "cure"), in my opinion, is narrow-minded - in that in limits (or sees just a narrow view of) autism. 

I think a fairer approach is to speak about the autistic brain's strengths and weaknesses.  We need to find ways to overcome the weaknesses, while at the same time acknowledging and growing the strengths.  I'm interested in some of the links above as some possible help for overcoming the weaknesses.

I find the "brain balancing" to be particularly interesting as I underwent a thourough neurological evaluation in which I was told that if my problems were new (which they aren't), she would have suspected that I had left hemispheric brain damage as I seemingly used my right hemisphere almost exclusively. 

Anyway, this is all fascinating.
3  BEYOND EARLY LEARNING (for older years) / General Discussions - After Early Learning / Re: Are you homeschooling? on: May 27, 2012, 03:33:56 PM
We don't plan to homeschool.  Our plan is for them to both attend a private Montessori school until high school. 

Our second choice is homeschooling.
4  Products Marketplace / Product Discussions and Reviews / Re: Reading Whisperer Approach on: May 27, 2012, 03:22:29 PM

What are the two programs/approaches to teaching reading that you approve of?  I'm assuming yours is one, what is the other?

This was my first guess as to the other ->

But, upon looking it over now, I'm thinking it wouldn't fit the idea of introducing sounds first and categorizing them according to the sound it makes (I assume they do this in the other order, and assume you are advocating this be swapped).  But I do not own, or plan to own, this curriculum.  I do however own their spelling curriculum which I use with my 5 year old and enjoy it.  I will be teaching my 2 year old to spell soon (more formally) and DO want to understand the approach you speak about.

So, would you organize your "clouds" with overlapping print sounds?  The digraph "ch" can have many different sounds, so would your organization include a "ch" on a /k/ cloud, a /ch/ cloud, a /sh/ cloud and so on?  When the child is reading "chasm" for the first time, in what way do they figure out what sound to make for the "ch"?
5  Products Marketplace / Product Discussions and Reviews / Re: Reading Whisperer Approach on: May 27, 2012, 02:56:05 PM
I do want to pick your brain.  I would also like to ask, in the nicest way possible, please just be nice to my friends. smile 

Using your old coach metaphor, what if this older coach came by and had a great deal to share, but was drunk all the time?  Or used profanity in front of the kids?  As the young coach, I'd want to know the old coach had to say; but I'd also have to find a way to deal with bits that were inappropriate. 

So, here in your thread where it won't affect other people (who have been helpful and friendly to me and who I genuinely like and would not like to see being hurt), I will pick your brain.  Because I do want to know what you know and I'm tired of wading through it all.

You have mentioned a few ideas for increasing phonological awareness in daily life.  I liked your suggestion of asking a child verbally to reconstruct a word after taking out one of its sounds (f r o g, without the r).  I think this type of thing could be useful to me, do you have any more suggestions like it?

What are the activities you mentioned when standing in line for washing hands or playing in the sand?

Please tell me more about your memory lessons you mentioned in the spaced repetition thread.  That piqued my interest, but I'd rather hear about it here.

Thank you.
6  EARLY LEARNING / Homeschooling / Re: How to teach a Child that can't Focus? on: May 27, 2012, 02:27:57 PM
Ariel, I am also assuming that your daughter is already past the begginning sounding out stage.  I also agree that deep phonological awareness is important, but assumed this was not an issue you are seeking help with.  I did understand your question as asking about attention span or getting through a lesson that you believe your daughter is capable of.  A 3 year old not maintaining focus for a short span of time on something an involved parent thinks they are capable of does not always equate to your child not actually being developmentally ready for the task at hand.  You are the parent there, who knows the situation best.

I did hear something recently that may a useful tool for what to expect regarding attention span.  You should expect 1-3 minutes per year of life in attention span, which will increase when the activity is particularly engaging.  So, on average, a 3 year old will have a 3-9 minute attention span.  I've personally seen classes of children with longer attention spans, but it's something that needs to be cultivated...with special attention paid to increase intrinsic motivation (and yes, the research I read does tend to point to rewards and punishments as being detrimental to intrinsic motivation).  I can recommend further reading to you if that is something that piques your interest.

ReadingWhisperer,  I am fearful for you.  I feel like you genuinely have a lot of valid points that could be really helpful for a lot of parents here that may go unheard.  You have given me some new ideas to integrate phonological awareness in our daily lives that I was not already doing.  I am afraid less people will hear your message because it seems to always be mixed in with a battle of some kind. And I'm sure that's frustrating for you as well.
7  EARLY LEARNING / Homeschooling / Re: How to teach a Child that can't Focus? on: May 26, 2012, 07:07:40 AM
If I understand correctly, she's reading the sentences...just very, very slowly.  Is that correct?

My son can be this way as well.  I've tried many things to help, and some have probably been harmful (regrettably).  What I've found that seems to work for us AND happens to be the most peaceful, is to 1) stop MYSELF from expecting the reading be done in a certain time frame, 2) stop all other forms of coercion, and 3) simply ask lots of questions always referring back to the story; become engrossed in the story myself.

It might look something like this,

Child: "Once upon....hey, what are we having for dinner?"

Adult: ", I want to hear what's going on here first, once elephant? No, that's probably not correct, what does it say?"

Child: "Once upon a time, there was a prince....look, his hat looks just like mine! Where's my prince hat?"

Adult: sensing this won't fizzle out, "I'll go grab it for you to wear while you read the prince story.  Why don't you finish that first sentence while I grab it.  I want to know what that prince is doing!"

Or, that's how our reading sessions sound like.  smile  Good luck!
8  EARLY LEARNING / Early Learning - General Discussions / Re: "Mindset" is a fabulous book! But it's hard to live on: April 27, 2012, 10:45:28 PM
Seastar -- she really just picked it up from everyone else.  Is she your oldest or do you have older children?  I tend to speak at the level for my 5 year old, and the 2 year old eventually catches on.  I think just regular conversation about pushing oneself around a toddler will immerse the toddler in that philosophy.  When we do our breakfast chats, the 2 year old is always given a chance to speak but rarely says something that fits the conversation well.  In fact, almost daily she says she plans to work on a "Mickey Mouse" work at school to push herself.  And I've asked, there is no such work.  Who knows, maybe in 6 months we'll figure out she's trying to draw Mickey Mouse or something (she does draw circles frequently..).

Mostly, I think it's the attitude she's immersed in that has her saying randomly that she has a goal to do "such and such".  These have never been breakfast talks, but just spontaneously throughout the day.  She understands the word to describe a feeling of determination, and says "I have goals" when she feels that feeling.  And then the conversation is usually, "oh yeah? How far are you going to go? Ok, let's do it!".

Hope that made sense.
9  EARLY LEARNING / Early Learning - General Discussions / Re: "Mindset" is a fabulous book! But it's hard to live on: April 27, 2012, 01:57:28 AM
Wolfwind, I'm going to print out that list.  Thank you for sharing it!

I first learned about this "mindset" (not from that particular book, but by way way of Alfie Kohn initially, and then enjoyed reading Dweck, Jane Nelsen, Maria Montessori, and others with similar ideas) about 4 years ago.  And I can say, with effort and practice Wink, I've gotten better.  smile

I like the list you shared. 

Here's some other things we do or have done:

-chat about areas where we plan to challenge ourselves at the breakfast table and recap at dinner (my recently turned 2 year old now regularly uses the word "goal" in daily conversation.  I was working through a math workbook with her this afternoon and she informed me that she had a goal to finish two more pages (which, by the way, was farther than I had planned to do with her...but we persevered together to meet her goal).  When someone doesn't end up doing what they set out to do, we never dwell.  It happens to all of us, and sometimes it's just because we didn't feel like it at the time.  We all (adults included) talk about how we felt about not pushing ourselves in that area that day and typically reaffirm what we want to try tomorrow, or what we learned about ourselves in the process of falling short.

-With my older son (preK, 5), we did a science experiment/craft showing how the brain reacts when we try something new, and what it does after repeated exposure.  I just used a paper plate and we colored two neurons on it and I gave him some marbles to push from one neuron to the other.  We noted how they sort of went everywhere and talked about how these are messages in our brains and that the first time we try anything it's difficult. Those messages don't always make it to where they are supposed to go.  Then he gathered some supplies (mostly heaps of tapes and some pipe cleaners) to construct something to keep those messages "in line".  When he figured out a way to make the marbles go from one nueron to the next well, I told him his brain actually does something similar...when he (or anyone!) repeatedly tries at something, our brains grow myelin to surround the area cementing the passages for our messages to be sent more efficiently.  I would like to do more activities like this with him as I believe it has been very beneficial.

-the other thing I've noticed, having been aware of this concept for most of my oldest child's life, and the entirety of my younger child's life, is that it's ALWAYS a battle!  Our culture (or, mine at least) constantly informs us of a fixed mindset, or that one has "arrived" at the destination of being "smart".  And this is probably all the more difficult in early learning families who may constantly hear how smart the kids are.  With my oldest, I have to fight HARD against this message.  He may hear how "smart" he is 5 times in a day out of the house.  So, I believe, that if you want to foster the growth mindset, you have a lot of work on your hands!  But hey, all that work will grow you. Wink
10  EARLY LEARNING / Teaching Your Child Math / Re: The Great Mental Calculators (Mental Math) on: April 27, 2012, 12:55:55 AM
Oooh!  Thanks!  I think this will be my next book. smile

I'm absolutely not (and never was) a math prodigy, but I was socially isolated in elementary school (being a "gifted trouble-maker" with ADHD) so I had loads of time to myself AND was never taught the standard algorithms either because I couldn't pay attention that long, didn't want to, or physically was not allowed to view the chalkboard.  So I taught myself, and enjoyed it.  And I did all of my work from left to right.  I still cannot fathom why subtraction is not taught this's significantly easier and faster.  But I got in loads of trouble for it.

I was on math team in high school and had a personal ban on calculators until I hit Calculus.  I brought a slide ruler to the 90s.  I eventually dropped out of math team because I could not compete with the coached kids.  I HATED that, it made me feel like a failure.  I truly believe I had a deeper understanding of math than most of the peers I competed with, but I didn't have their training. (and I usually didn't memorize all the "tricks" either, because I like the puzzles...this made me slower).  I'm also a person who does mental math with all the numbers I see.  I get figidity waiting for my next number when I drive alone.  :P  But I certainly cannot do some of what you described that quickly.

Anyway, if and when my kids have the "fire", I want to ignite it and help them with some of the early coaching I never got. We play math a LOT at home. 

So, were Montessori methods ever mentioned in this book?  The marbles sound like Montessori bead chains and squares (and cubes...Maria Montessori solved that problem over 100 years ago). And this is currently being taught to preschoolers all around the globe.  My son came home earlier this week having memorized 3 squared, 4 squared, and 6 squared, and knew several multiplication facts in those families.  He's in preschool, not yet kindergarten, and this was seen as a completely normal event.   The next steps in that sequence (counting by 10's and 100's to 1000) is not a common Montessori least not that I'm aware of, I am not trained in the philosophy.

I've been thinking a lot about how I'd design a math program from birth up if I could.  I was actually coming on to post some of those ideas.  I had begin to wonder if flashing patterns to babies would be more useful than working on subitizing....everything from simple ones like the numbers on dice and dominoes to larger numbers lumped together in groups, utilizing pictures of materials you'd use with the child as their fine motor skills develop. I'm not convinced that working on subitizing is all that useful...but working on chunking might be VERY useful.  (and I say that as someone who purchased and used Little Math with my youngest, only beginning at 11 months). 

That was probably long and babbly and a little off-topic, but I'm interested in checking this book out as well.  Thank you for sharing.
11  EARLY LEARNING / Homeschooling / Re: Montessori madness on: April 06, 2012, 01:48:31 AM
And I'm not saying other schools can't be good, they just aren't Montessori. smile
12  EARLY LEARNING / Homeschooling / Re: Montessori madness on: April 06, 2012, 01:47:24 AM
Hands on materials is just one small part of the Montessori method.   Being true to the philosophy, a Montessori school needs a Montessori "attitude" towards children which is evident in every facet of the child's school experience.

Adding hands on materials (or even genuine Montessori ones) to a traditional school setting does NOT make it Montessori.
13  EARLY LEARNING / Homeschooling / Re: Montessori madness on: April 05, 2012, 01:46:28 AM
That is a promotional tool for the book, and the book is great. smile
14  EARLY LEARNING / Early Learning - General Discussions / Re: when to push your child? on: March 30, 2012, 06:01:25 PM
Those are definitely excessive cases, and we certainly want to avoid that.

Yes, I agree. 

It's also important to have a strong relationship with your children otherwise.

And I have no goals for my children's adulthood.  That is for them to discover and build.
15  EARLY LEARNING / Early Learning - General Discussions / Re: when to push your child? on: March 29, 2012, 08:40:30 PM
This is an excellent discussion and one I've thought a lot about myself.

I, too, am in the position of wishing I had been pushed more as a child.  I also believe there a peaceful (not always pleasant) ways of doing it.  I also believe a LOT will depend on the individual child's temperament, family environment, etc.

I would say I *don't* push my 2 year old (in academics).  For now, if she resists a certain activity, I don't offer it for awhile.  She is pushed more in areas of self-care and cleaning up after herself than I think is typical for her age.  How it looks:  26 month old says, "go pee pee" and walks to the bathroom.  She starts pulling down her parents and doesn't get it immediately and says, "mommy do it".  I reply, "I think you can do it, let's keep trying".  All of her clothing is easy-on, easy-off; some may be tighter than others. Let's say she's tired or otherwise cranky, but not overly so and fusses, maybe even yells, "mommy do it".  I might get up and do a nearby chore and say, "oh, I think you can do it...let me finish folding these towels and I'll come back and see if you got it".  15 seconds later, I hear a happy, "I did it!".  Similarly, she is expected to put her things away before getting something new, cleaning up her own spills, etc.  Currently, these are the only areas where she is "pushed".

With my 5 year old, he does do academic things he hasn't chosen or doesn't want to do.  Just not tons.  He is also not homeschooled.  With him, I mostly rely on routines (after awhile, he just stops complaining Wink Two examples: he reads a book aloud during desert every night and reading lesson during snack time after school), using food time (hey, he's already at the table Wink), or doing it right before something fun (like an outing).  Other times, I've started it myself and enjoyed myself until he wants to join in. If he takes forever, say during a reading lesson, I usually take away whatever is distracting him.  And, I let him stay up late if he would like to work on spelling, math, and/or handwriting (he usually takes that offer smile).

Also, to the original poster, I HIGHLY reccommend observing in your child's classroom. 
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