Homeschooling Jack is hard. I never thought it would be easy, but I didn’t realize how hard it could be. I love that little punk! But he wears me out!
I cried this week. I’ve always seen three options for his adult life. Either he’ll always live with us, he’ll live in a group home, or he’ll live independently. At this point I have no aspirations for his adult life except to push him to mature as much as he can and then we’ll see which of those three options is the best fit for him. I feel the same way with him and school. The goals I have for him for this year are for him to keep increasing the amount of time he can focus on various work while sitting, and to work toward learning to read (and I’ve become convinced this week that he’ll be reading by Christmas at the rate we’re going!!!). I’m keeping my options really open as far as what to teach. During the summer I kept thinking that I should be teaching him a very broad spectrum of subjects like he learned in public school. I tend to perfectionism, and therefore to hone in on just a few subjects, so this was a new way of thinking. Also, it’s so easy to think of Jack as a baby, I think because his speech (or lack of ability in that area) is so far behind. I didn’t plan much of anything in particular, but I had tons of resources ready to go broad with him. We’ve now been in school for four weeks (it’s five weeks since we started, we’ve taken a week off already, oh the scandal!!), and my focus has narrowed a little. I’m pushing reading more than anything because he’s really coming along in it. I can’t say he’s making great strides, but for him I think he may be. I see a little improvement almost every day. So anyway, enough of the backstory.
Thursday I worked on numbers with him. We rolled a pair of large dice, I had him count the numbers on each die, then count colored tokens to match the number of each die. After we did that a few times I had him draw tally marks to represent the number of each die. He had to count the dots the first four or so times, but then the next four times he said the correct number of the die without actually counting! I was surprised, and figured they’d worked with dice in public school and maybe he was more familiar with them than I’d realized. He never did understand what we were doing with the tokens nor the tally marks, though. And then the last several times he reverted to counting the number on each die. He always wanted to place one token under each die and call it done. I was patient with him, and tried to help him see what to do, but he never caught on. About that time Tj walked in the door. I let Jack go play so Tj and I could talk. After a few minutes I realized I was going to cry! It seemed to come out of nowhere, for no reason. After being sympathetic Tj said I must be stressed, and I think that’s what it was. He said I should stop having such big expectations for Jack, and just teach him where he is. I really was doing that, though. I think I had expectations after he seemed to know what each die was worth without counting, and then I was ‘let down’ (for lack of a better term) when he reverted to counting again. Jack’s stressful to teach because the things he seems to know one day (or minute) he genuinely seems not to understand the next!
Another problem area I’m facing is getting him to look at what he’s writing. I can’t seem to get him to understand that he needs to watch his pencil the entire time he’s using it. Or maybe the problem is that he just doesn’t want to obey? It’s so hard to tell with him. One day week before last he wouldn’t recite his phone number, though he’d done it the day before so I knew he knew it. I finally told him to get the paddle, I placed it between us, and he said his phone number like it was the most fun thing in the world! It’s like he needs to be threatened! But when I threaten him about looking at his pencil he starts to get upset and asks for my help, which he doesn’t need. This kid!!!
Our school time is fun, though. It’s interspersed with Jack calling out “I drew a ‘T’” and “I drew a cut” (when he cut a line on a paper). Having him around makes our school day more exciting. Speaking of which, Tuesday when Jack was finished with his school and Max was working on his corrections and I was grading Max’s math Jack came prancing into the kitchen with absolutely no clothes on! He beckons me “Mama, come see!” I go with him to our bathroom and he said, “Shower on!” I looked for his clothes worried he’d wet his pants. They were all in the dirty clothes basket but clean/dry. He just wanted a shower. Crazy kid! This is how it seems I get nothing done (or I actually get nothing done…).
In great Jack news we just drove to and from Atlanta last week (9 hours each way with a 1-hour stop in the middle) and Jack stayed completely dry the whole time! On the way out he never mentioned having to go to the bathroom. I inadvertently didn’t give him much to drink at breakfast. At lunch (a Mexican place in Jackson, TN) he had all the Sprite he wanted, but we didn’t let him take his cup in the car after the meal. When we got close to Mom’s (about an hour or so out) he asked for a drink and I started limiting him to a few sips here and there. On the way back we did the same thing, and 3/4′s of the way home he said he had to go to the bathroom. I told him to put his shoes on (which turned out to be an impossible feat, guess we’ll be ditching those shoes), and then about 15-20 minutes later I helped him get his shoes on and Tj found us a bathroom. Jack’s underwear were completely dry! He’s done such a great job! At home, though, sometimes it’s a different story. Yesterday was Friday Fun-day, so Amy and her boys came over. Twice during their time here one of her boys called out to me ‘Jack doesn’t have any underwear on!’ I think with all the excitement and noise it was harder for him to remember to do what he knew to do. Overall, though, he’s done great.