A walk to the stables

A walk to the stables
Tamerin at the horses: we walked there on Thursday and talked rugby nearly all the way!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Odd numbers and progress generally

Yesterday Amy built a 1-100 magnetic board where she could easily identify even and odd numbers. She enjoyed working with the magnets and doubling figures (1+1=2, until 50 + 50 = 100). Today she built the board again, but this time we concentrated on odd numbers. She easily followed the pattern e.g. if 2 + 2= 4, then 2+3 = 5, 3+4= 7, 4+5 = 9 etc. I pray that is insight will continue and that she will be able to remember bonds better.

Walking is still a bit of a problem - she is a bit lazy, but a star chart helps.

We spent quite a bit of time on creating Excel data charts: the highest temperature of the month, the lowest, the number of sunny days etc. She was very charmed with copying of worksheets and renaming them and then making the few necessary alterations to the sheet. I want her to be able to use the computer as much as possible and am amazed at how fast she learns to use new methods.

Updated diary

26 February 2008
My birthday party was on Saturday. Nine friends and about 11 adults came to my party. We swam and ate a lot. It was a Bratz party. On Sunday it was my real birthday. Mommy and Daddy hid my present in their room. Mommy and Daddy gave me ponies. We went out for breakfast. We went shopping.

Yesterday we walked 7 times to the gate and back i.e. 1.4 km.

28 February 2008
I walked 300m. I baked a maize meal bread. I built the number line and did division sums (2 times table till 100).

29 February 2008
We walked 9 times to the gate and back i.e. 1.8 km.
I made a weather chart in Excel.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Special child's diary Jan - Feb 08

I have taught Amy to type on the computer and she has caught on surprisingly quickly - uses the right fingers on the different keys. However, she types very slowly. I try to get her to practice both spelling and typing by typing rows of same or similar words e.g. these and those or day and say. She quickly tyres of this. It is boring and although I see the progress, it lacks meaning for Amy. She enjoys typing her diary though. Her language ability is poor and she struggles to construct sentences, so I help her to think about her day and to give her the means to verbally express her daily experiences. Most sentences are dictated and words are spelled. This is itself is significant: I hope that one day she will be able to take down messages. At this stage it seems more important to learn to "write" from dictation than to be able to spell by herself. But because many words are repeated often, she types quite a few from memory e.g. the word chicken. We have made several purchases of chicken for several chicken recipes. Through reading the word in her recipes, shop adverts etc. and through writing it out in various shopping lists and budgets, she is now able to type it from memory.

I have taught her to copy and paste text, so some sentences lose out on the actual typing practice, but then learning to use windows properly, is also "so cool".

Whilst the diary helps her with spelling, sentence construction and typing, it is also a mini record of what she has done in school - for herself, her parents or anyone to read. (I often let her read her previous inscriptions and she loves this.)

From now on I'll post her diary inscriptions regularly, but here is the whole lot to date:

Tamerin’s diary
9 January 2008
Today I learned about money.
I read My secret unicorn page 1 to 3 .
I swam 40 laps.
I painted a rainbow.

10 January 2008
I drew a cross.
We went shopping.
We made bobotie.
I practiced spelling.

11 January 2008
I drew a heart and a Bible.
I counted money.
I practiced words.
We played a memory game.
I started to knit

15 January 2008
I started to sew.
We played cards.
We swam 50 laps.
I read My Secret Unicorn page 1 to 4.
I made a shopping list.
The electricity was off.

16 January 2008
I learnt I must obey my leaders.
The electricity was off.
We went shopping.

17 January 2008
I made chicken a la king.
The electricity was off.
We played cards.
I sewed again.

21 January 2008
On the news they talked about power cuts.
We watched weather forecast. There was a 60% chance of rain.
We practiced ay spelling words like day and way.
We read My Secret Unicorn page 4-6.
I sewed on a button.

22 January 2008
On the news they talked about power cuts and a man who was charged with murder of Bret Kebble.
They talked about tennis in Australia.
We watched weather forecast. There was a 60% chance of rain.
I learned about google earth.

28 January 2008
Last week the power was off often.
Last week I practiced sh spelling.
Today I practiced th spelling.
I counted in twenties.
I counted my money.
We danced and did exercises.

29 January 2008
Yesterday I went to have my eyes checked.
Today I drew Joseph and his boss’s wife. He said no!
We watched weather forecast. There was a 30% chance of rain

4 February 2008
Last Thursday I burned my arm.
On Friday I went to my cousins’ house.
Today it is windy. We walked to the gate and back.
I practiced th spelling.
We played ball.
I weighed my animals. Duchess weighs 370g and Poodle weighs 110g.

5 February 2008
I practiced th spelling some more.
I nearly made a crab stand. We danced for 30 minutes.
We checked for Ingredients.
Chantel came to visit. We had chicken for lunch.
We watched High school musical 2.

6 February 2008
I went to the garage with Daddy. A man worked on his car.
I learned about the Passover ( Exodus 12).
We revised all the sight words until page 8 of My secret Unicorn.

7 February 2008
We went to the shop. We bought Food for R 98.65. I got R1.35 change.
I made lasagna without spinach. The shop did not have spinach.

8 February 2008
I watched news with my Daddy. Today was the opening of parliament. I saw President Mbeki.
Mommy is going to the dentist. I am going to the eye doctor.

11 February 2008
I played tennis. I sewed on the sewing machine. I made a bag.

13 February 2008
Yesterday I sewed a lot on the sewing machine. I typed a recipe.
Today I made my parents cards. I counted my money. I made a budget.
I made valentine cards.

15 February 2008
Yesterday we bought food at PicknPay . I made chicken pie and roast vegetables. Our guests liked it.
Today we measured the distance between the house and the gate.
I did ½ price sums.

19 February 2008
Yesterday we practiced When and Where questions.
I made sums from 1+1=2, 2+2=4 till 25+25=50.
I practiced words of page 9 of My Secret Unicorn. I read pages 1-9.
Today I typed God’s ten great laws and painted the two stones. We walked 6 times to the gate and back i.e. 1.2 km.

21 February 2008
Yesterday we went shopping. I counted money. We went to school and I gave my friend her watch.
Today I made chocolate squares for my birthday party on Saturday.
We practiced sums while we walking. We walked 7 times to the gate and back
=14 x 100m

22 February 2008
Yesterday I got my glasses. Now I can see better.
Today I made a fridge tart for my birthday party on Saturday.
I practiced explaining how to make the tart with my teacher, in case my aunts ask me how I did it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Reading with comprehension

Today Amy read two more pages out of her reader. We have practised to sight read the new words last week. We practice to sight read through matching the words, i.e. I show her a flash card with e.g. "Important" and ask her to find "Important" among her yellow cards and to place it next to "Important" on her worksheet with the list of words. Then I show and name the cards again and ask her to find the correct word on her list. Only then do I ask her to name (read) the flash cards. Usually she succeeds well with this, but any word she has forgotten goes onto the pile of words to be practices some more. Then I build sentences with the new and familiar old words. Amy loves this. Lastly we read the new text together, before she attempts to read it herself. (It is quite a difficult book, but she has chosen it herself and is therefore quite motivated.)

In verbal conversations I found that she responds poorly to questions e.g. "We went to Spur." "When did you go?" "With my mother." "That is not what I asked. I asked when did you go?" "With the car." I am concerned about this and we have since practiced written sentences where she has to give answers to "when" and "where" questions of the same sentences. (E.g. Mary went to Durban last week.) These exercises have not been too bad, but there are stilll too many mistakes.

I have copied the text of her reader onto the computer. For homework I ask her which words I should delete. In the space of the deleted word, I type in a red . , which she in turn deletes when she types in the (red) missing word as she finds it in the original text. Today I also asked her to compile her own questions on the chosen text. This she found extremely difficult, but we finally managed a few good ones i.e. Who will visit the Cassidy's and "When will Lauren and Twilight visit the Cassidy's". It seems so easy and yet it is surprisingly very difficult for her. (She has progressed so much the past few weeks, that I sometimes forget she was in the special needs class for a reason!) I'm lookin g forward to see her homework tomorrow. She seemed so positive about it and I just hope that the T.V. was not too big a temptation to lure her away from her homework.

I pray for wisdom and insight!

P.S. She has not done quite as well in math's as yesterday, but she remembers most doubles very well. Sometimes she does not listen carefully to what I ask e.g. when I asked what is 26 divided by 2, she answered without hesitation 32! She now manages a crab stand for a few seconds on her own. Last year I would never have thought it possible. School is great!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The 2 times table

Today Amy surprised me by knowing all the "doubles" from 1 +1 till 25 +25. Multiplication with 2 was easy. I then decided to do division ("splitting"). We had done some "splitting" when we went shopping and saw all the sales ads in the shop windows. Amy had to work out how much items would cost when they advertised 50% off or 1/2 price. "How much would you have to pay if the shirt is marked R100 and it is half price?" It seems that she really understands the concept of 5 =1/2: I think it is because we count money very regularly and she knows that R0.50 is 1/2 a Rand. Anyway, today we divided pegs ("sweets") into 2 "party packs" (rows on the pegboard). It took her a while to grasp, but once she did, we both were ecstatic! We did the sums with physical objects and also on paper, but always, always in sequence i.e. 2 + 2 = 4, 3 + 3 = 6 etc or 2/2 = 1, 4/2= 2 etc. After much practice, she was able to do the sums at random. Her "normal" grade 3 friend visited today and lo and behold, she also had to know the 2 times table and do division. This child is quite clever, but today she was totally confused. The jump from doubling and multiplication to division is a big jump - bigger than teachers seem to realise. Her homework division sums were at random and she really struggled until I forced her to first do a couple of division sums in sequence - also with the pegboard. Finally the light dawned and she understood: If you have to divide 24, you start with what you know i.e. that 20 /2 = 10 and then divide the extra 4 i.e. 4 / 2 = 2 and 10 + 2= 12. Oh!!! What joy sums are if you really understand and if you get enough practice. A row of 12 sums are definitely not enough. I love teaching!
Labels: Multiplication tables

Monday, February 18, 2008

Current activities

I finally seem to have created a blog. I am really rather stupid with these things... Why did I bother? To bully myself into keeping a journal of a very special journey with a very special child. I should have started in January, but I guess one month late is not too bad.

In January we started to read My Secret Unicorn: she has mastered at least two hundred new sight words including words like "in particular" and "impatiently". We do it through the matching, choosing, naming, and building sentences method. This book is quite difficult for Amy, but she chose the book and is quite determined to master it. We promised ourselves that she will be able to read all of it on her own by the end of the year. At the moment she can read till page 9 on her own, but is not very fluent yet. She can read "Kathy and Mark" - a grade 3 reader on her own.
Her speech is poor and communication a problem. I find that she does not distinguish between different questions e.g. when and where. I am trying to address it through questions posed on simple sentences e.g. "Mary went to school yesterday." Amy's concentration is usually not bad (she is not ADD), but I am surprised at how poorly she responds to questions. Perhaps her hearing should be tested.

She is not a hundred percent sure of bonds until 10 yet, but we are getting there through lots of repetition - about 80 similar sums a day. Practice, practice, practice. She quite enjoys this. However, I try to make most numeracy activities very practical: she weighs herself nearly every day, she measures her waist in cm, reads the temperature on a big thermometre (has to count in 2's here), she writes down the weather forecast etc. Counting money is a major activity. We shop every week and she cooks part of the family meal on Thursdays. Through preparing the budget, making up the list, checking the prices of purchases, checking the till slip etc., we have made more meaningful progress than through the whole of last year.
There is also much numeracy along the road: "Amy, what does the sign say? How fast may I drive? How fast am I driving now? (What comes between 60 and 80?)"

Life Skills: Physical exercise
She watches too much television and is very inactive. How to get her to be more physically active of own accord?? When we go for a walk, she walks very slowly and when we do exercises, she quite willingly does them, but because she is overweight and has poor muscle tone, she tires quickly and so do I. Besides our usual exercises (a dance, tummy exercises, stretching and trying to achieve a crab stand), we walked for a little more than a kilometre today - we measured the distance from door to gate: 120 metres and we walked the distance 10 times!

For tomorrow I plan more comprehension, dividing in two (making halves), spelling (she types all spelling on the computer) and sewing - she has sewn little bags for valentine's day on my sewing maching.

I love my job!


I am the teacher of a mentally handicapped girl and have started to home school her in January 2008. I got to know her, when I taught the special needs class she was in, in 2007. She was keen to learn but progress was limited: basically due to the fact that the class was too diversified: Academically, she was way ahead of her class mates, but at the same time, she was much older than most. Emotionally and socially, she was not doing well: she would cry easily and she stuttered badly. Communication in class was a big frustration for her and for me – there was simply not always time to hear her out and other class mates often interrupted her. At the end of 2007, her parents were faced with the dilemma: Where to go with Amy? The present situation was a no go and with her speech problems, another special school also did not seem to be the answer. They opted for home schooling and asked me to help. I gladly accepted the challenge: how much could one achieve with a child with limited capabilities, given optimum teaching circumstances? What should she be taught to help her reach her full potential? After only one month of teaching A at home, I know we are on the right track. Sharing the successes and frustrations of home teaching a special needs learner, is what this is all about.