Saturday, October 21, 2017

Barton Reading and Spelling Seems to be the Magic Bean!

But we persisted with All About Spelling getting through Level 6 of 7 and in reading even though it was slow and El learned to just fill in blanks where she didn't know words with something that made sense.  

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons; Paperback; Author - Phyllis Haddox

Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading; Paperback;

El has had a lot of trouble reading....
At 5 we started How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lesson. This was the book that we closed at lesson 55 with my son and he 'took off' so I thought it perfect.  So at 7 when we'd attempted the book 2 more times going back over lessons again and again...El and I stopped mostly in tears and not nearly at the 2nd grade level she was supposed to be after completing it. 

Next for El came The Ordinary Parents' Guide the Teaching Reading. Very highly recommended. It was a lot like 100 Easy Lessons: phonics based with sight words, controlled vocabulary but this one was supposed to get her to a 4th grade reading level. It also had fun games and some writing/spelling so I was happy to incorporate a more integrated approach.  We tried this one for 2 years, backtracking when it got hard and repeating and repeating till we finished but not without a lot of tears and sweat and again, not really at 4th grade reading level.

Image result for all about spelling this time, I decided maybe we'd let the reading go to just easy things to practice fluency and build up confidence and I started the All About Spelling Series from level 1. Easy peasy right? Well for the first 3ish levels yeah, except her spelling in writing wasn't good and she was in a composition class that made that so very not fun.  We struggled through Classical Conversations Essential Program for one year. The next we got into a co-op and took some of that material and some others and revamped for kids who needed a different approach. Still a lot of crying...for both of us!  And we were at 5th grade and I was getting nervous b/c while El's listening vocabulary was good and her comprehension was fabulous to hear to read aloud or to see her just write basic lists...was plenty scary for a teacher with plenty of Elementary Education classes in English.

Finally when El was 13, last summer first I read this fiction book that was from the perspectives of a grown man with dyslexia and his girlfriend who was helping him learn to read/write.  I must have highlighted half the book and later read the passages to El. She kept saying..."yes, that's what it's like...".  So we proceeded to order about every book on dyslexia that library had on hand from preschool books on up.  El read a lot of them. I skimmed and read the teacher ones.  Too many things lined up and we didn't need expensive tests or a school psychologist to tell us. 

At the same time, I had heard about Barton for the third time in three months and decided that just might be God indicating I needed to look at the very expensive curriculum (b/c that's what I'd found when I looked at it two years earlier).  It' is expensive comparatively in time and money:  $300+ per level unless you get it used for about $250 a level on ebay.  So that's a's 10 levels so doing the math it's like a year of private school. BUT we had some extra money from my folks so we decided to use it.

Image result for barton reading/ writingAnd it's exactly what she needed. (Actually is really working with my 11 year old who is a little hearing impaired as well b/c it makes him slow down and really hear sounds.)  El was MOTIVATED!!!  We completed Levels 1-2 in a month or less even with summer activities running throughout.  They are shorter...only 5ish lessons each.  Levels 3 and 4 are 11 and 14 lessons each respectively and 4 is rather difficult but we've just finished up. Her posttests are nearly perfect. This is working. It's so very concrete sequential and very explicit. You need to follow it to the letter and watch the teacher videos.  It takes a lot of time but IT'S WORKING amazingly and it's working in her everyday writing. That's never happened before. She could get the spelling words when we studied but couldn't put them into practice. Best of all, now she has really good tools for taking apart words and making good guesses. And her brother, who is about 4 lessons behind her, is doing well too. It's teaching that kid to slow down and listen!  I think what works most is that Barton builds. They have enough practice that kids master the concepts but they are constantly adding to their mastery while they learn new things. This is just the best, most effective way for El to learn. She can't do the random methods. She need practice. (Probably why Saxon Math works so well for her too.)

So there it far a magic bean for growing spelling and reading confidence...and the attitude is at least half of everything.  I love it. I'm learning too!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Healthy Living--Food! It's a Blessing, not a Curse.

I have heard myself saying the same things lately to my kids, my friends, and random people as they come up in conversation. It seems that health is rather elusive as of late.  I'm starting to think whatever mainstream is touting, the healthier choice is likely the opposite!

We concentrate on 5 areas to be healthy at our house.  Here's #1!  FOOD! I think people have some pretty interesting ideas about food these days. Bottom line: God gave it to us. He expects us to master the food, not the other way around. We need to be thankful stewards of what we have.  If someone has to steer clear of a food for whatever reason, it's all good....just don't expect others to jump on board your conviction.  Give info (if asked) and let them choose.

I'm not a food Nazi, but then no one has allergies at our house so there's no immediately terrible consequences if we indulge occasionally. The two words I keep saying to myself and my kids are "small portions" and "occasional treats".  I don't like a long list of "bad..."  words, foods, things you don't do.  It seems to beg "cheating" and that brings guilt.  So I'd rather not have a lot of rules and be guided by general principles, common sense, and your conscience instead. (The Holy Spirit might talk about this if you're a believer too.) 

We try to cut down on processed food. Someone once told me to shop around the outside of the grocery story (usually the produce, meat,dairy and whole food are there). 

Breakfast is pretty simple around here. Typically we have homemade granola (used often in parfaits) and baked or crockpot granola on hand for breakfast. Eggs, sourdough bread and fruit (alone or smoothies) round out the offerings. I buy a box of cereal occasionally. Sorry, but a bowl of Life cereal just makes a lovely break some days!
                                                      Image result for picture baked oatmeal

Lunches are usually leftovers or sandwiches--on sourdough bread,  meat/cheese rolled, or lettuce wraps. Everyone gets their own lunch since we home school and we're working on our subjects and projects, it's just easier.  I usually check with the kids periodically to see what they've had to eat that day and suggest fresh veggies when needed. They seem to do well otherwise.

Suppers are the big planned productions. Sigh...we can call this meal "job security".  I'm not a foodie. I like to cook somewhat, but by 5 pm each day, I'm tired so  knowing that about myself, I usually plan easy food ahead. One thing that's helped is a menu for the month. We try to eat something different every night of the month.  Generally one night is a crockpot large meat dish (whole chicken, roast, and occasionally ham or pork roast or turkey).  We eat that and have enough broth and leftovers to make soup or pull the meat for sandwiches/rice bowls/meal salads.  We also generally have one soup a week in the summer and two in the winter. It's yummy, warm and healthy and reheats well! "Breakfast for dinner" is a quick Wednesday meal since we have classes all day and then AWANA at night.  Favorites there include: baked oatmeal, crockpot steel cut oatmeal, frittatas, omelets, french toast and pancakes.  I try to grill once a week--because one of the boys usually helps with that. I also plan at least one chicken and one ground beef/turkey meal a week because it's cheap when we get our meat from Zaycon and the farm.  We usually have a couple raw and one cooked. And sometimes I have a carb but not always. I think we have plenty during the day so don't need a lot more starchy things at dinner.  But hey, this week I had a cornbread stuffing mix and it was DIVINE with the chicken.  Once in a while...

Image result for soup pic
We rarely have dessert which was a hard lesson to learn coming from the farm where dessert was an after school snack AND an after supper treat every day. One might not have to wonder why diabetes runs in the family, huh?  I do try to add a smoothie here and there and if we just HAVE to make pudding or have ice cream, we use small custard cups and enjoy our small pleasures.  My daughter likes to bake, so I usually have her do that when we're going to be out for fellowship meal or for a get together with other families.  That way you can have a couple and share the wealth.  We sometimes grab a Blizzard at DQ...a large size shared 5 ways is about right.  And McD's ice cream, though I'm not sure what's in it, is a nice treat when we've been out all day and just need a little bite to get us through to dinner.  I keep those plastic sleeve popscicles in the freezer during the summer because I want the neighbor kids playing at my house where I can happen by and play a bit every once in awhile.  (I learn some interesting things and insert a few mom-ism's.)

Image result for kale chips pic

Some of our favorite healthy, fun choices are: 
Nuts (with a couple chocolate chips equals a candy bar),
Kale chips (20 min in the oven on 300 w/ a little oil and spices),
Water kefir (made with grape juice makes a great 'soda'),
Baked oatmeal w/ a handful of chocolate chips or blueberries (cut into "treat bars").

Some of my favorite ways to not waste food are:
The 'dump' soup out of bone broth --I've never had it turn out badly.  Good way to get rid of small amounts of leftovers. 
Smoothies are great places to use up that produce that's about ready to go bad.

Small portions and occasional treats.  That's the mantra EXCEPT-- The only time I'm a Nazi is if someone's coming down with some 'ick'.  Then NO SUGAR period, end of discussion. It's an immune suppressor.  Frankly, we cut way back on food period if someone's coming down with 'ick'. If you're sick you get filtered water, herbal tea, bone broth, veggie/fruit smoothies (maybe), and Vitamin C every hour until you are at least a day past ick!   Do not pass GO; do not collect $200; go to bed and/or go get an Epson salt bath with some essential oils. Rarely do we get sick. Very rarely does it spread through the house if we follow that protocol.

What are some healthy snacks you like? I'm always on a hunt!

These are recipes for things I talked about. But the disclaimer is that I don't think I've every really followed a recipe in my life. I kind of dump what I have in...