Thursday, October 6, 2011

Potpourri of News

I have a couple of things on my mind this week that I want to share. None of them fit under one specific train of thought, so it will be a potpourri of news.

For some time I had been thinking about signing the boys up for some sort of art classes. We are fortunate in that there is a YMCA arts center not far from home. Every time I would look at their offered classes, the schedule never seemed to fit ours. Then I had an idea. Why not call and see if they could offer a class during the day for homeschoolers? It turns out the director of the center thought that was an excellent idea! I posted a message in our local homeschoolers online forum to gauge interest. Quite a few moms wanted more details. Two months later, our first class began on Tuesday morning with seven children ages 9-12 signed up! The instructor worked out a schedule where two age groups, 9-12 and 5-8, will alternate months for four classes each session. If interest remains high, she will continue throughout the school year. JT started drawing at a very young age, but in recent years had not shown as much interest. When he came out of the class, he was very excited about the things he had learned. He had also drawn a very good still life. EM will be taking his first class in November. One of the important benefits I see in this plan is that both boys will have opportunity to spend some time with children their age, in an instructional setting. So go ahead and ask me if my homeschoolers get enough socialization now!

On Monday, EM went to his monthly eye therapy appointment. Diagnosed with intermittent exotropia about two years ago, he has been doing computerized eye therapy at home three days a week, in addition to an hour of in-office therapy once a month. This week the therapist announced that because EM's therapy is going so well, he will be seeing the eye doctor at our next appointment and more than likely be weaned from the therapy. All of this in spite of the fact that the first doctor he saw told me that EM MUST have surgery and that therapy could NEVER fix his problem. And that, right there, is why I NEVER trust the experts!

The best thing about the excellent progress EM is making with his eyes is that he finally wants to read more. I always suspected that his vision problems, sometimes resulting in double vision, kept him from wanting to read. I knew it also might just be that he didn't enjoy reading. Not everyone is a bibliophile like me. But I wanted to be sure I removed all possible barriers for him. Last week he suddenly announced that he was going to begin reading The Fellowship of the Ring. He is making good progress...about two and a half chapters. Not bad for someone a week shy of their eighth birthday!

Another area where I have struggled to interest EM has been creative writing. My two older children seemed to be born to create elaborate stories at the drop of a hat. EM is very factual. Once again, I know not everyone is born to be a writer. I just wanted to give him opportunity to try it. Last week I came up with an idea. I was searching for something to use for writing instruction for EM. I found an old workbook I had picked up at a library book sale, Poetry Parade by Pamela Amick Klawitter. Published in 1987, this 48 page book is broken into four sections, Poems that Follow a Pattern, Poems that Rhyme, Miscellaneous Poems and Poetry Projects. At first I worried that poetry might be a bad idea considering EM's dislike of creative writing. But I thought I'd give it a go.

The first page, the Five W's Poem, showed an example of a poem that had a structure like this:
line 1 - WHO or what is the poem about?
line 2 - WHAT is he, she, or it doing?
line 3 - WHEN does this action take place?
line 4 - WHERE does it take place?
line 5 - WHY does it take place?

The book also suggested that you find a picture to use as inspiration.

I pulled several old magazines off the shelf and had EM find a picture he liked. It was a little rough at first; he wanted to use the same words over and over again. I pulled out a thesaurus and showed him how to use it. That really helped. He struggles with the concept of a synonym at times...seeing so many examples made it clearer for him. His final poem, about a pair of fighting dinosaurs, came out like this:

bash heads
in ancient times
near a furious volcano
to win the victory.

I finally realized why this new method worked. Writing is hard for EM because he is such a structured person. He needs to know exactly how something needs to be done. He needs rules. The formulas involved in writing these kinds of poems make sense to him! When I assigned another poetry writing page for him about acrostic poems, he was ready. He asked me, "Where is that book that gives you all the words that mean the same thing?" I found the thesaurus and handed it over.

Suddenly writing isn't something with vague expectations that he can't understand. I am always happy when we have these kinds of ah-ha! moments in our little classroom. I'm guessing that writing will never be something EM loves to do; math is definitely his first love. But for now, he will have an opportunity to express himself using methods within his comfort zone. For that, I am thankful.

1 comment:

Annie said...

I absolutely love that poem! It is authentically EM in the form of a nice little poem. Way to go!! I look forward to reading more of his work.