So we are halfway thru the year and my vision to do more regular updates on Ella's homeschooling here on the blog didn't quite happen as planned. Whoops! Oh well, better late than never I suppose.
Here we are 6 months into our first official year of homeschooling and we are all loving it. Homeschooling has been the best decision we made. It had allowed us to not only to be pro-active in Ella's learning but given us the ability to help her blossom in a way that suits her needs. Thats the bonus, we can do what works for her and she isn't left feeling lost in a black and white system that doesn't understand her unique and colourful qualities.
A lot of people we meet are genuinely shocked when we say we do about 1.5hrs of 'bookwork' 3-4 times a week and the rest of the time is natural learning. I am used to getting the blank
stares and the "how will she learn" comments and yet even after all her
progress I'm left feeling like maybe I am failing her by not sending her
to school. Then I pull myself together and realise that she is
happier, healthier and developing at a rate we would never have
imagined. So I shake it off and realise that they only know what they have been taught by society. It's not their fault, its just the world we live in.
So here I sit looking back on the last 6months, bursting with joy at all the progress Ella has made. The achievements she has made in such a short amount of time is fantastic. Not following a set curriculum doesn't mean she doesn't do any bookwork, it just means less structured and sitting still activities. We still include plenty of reading, writing and a variety of subjects in her daily life. It just means finding learning opportunities in other ways, such as learning games, writing cards, lots of hands on activities. Ella is not big on writing and will do just about anything to get out of it and since sitting still is not big on her list either, we do lots of whiteboard activities so it keeps things mixed up. Her writing is getting better and more legible as each week passes. Her reading on the other hand, she definitely got my bookworm gene. She loves books and her reading is amazing. She has been reading some Grade 3, Level 3 reader books and only stumbles on a few of the words here and there. It really is great to watch her love of books and reading grow. She really loves getting into themes (I think she knows more about the solar system and dinosaurs than I do!). She loves learning new facts and telling people all about the latest theme we cover.
A big part of Ella's learning has been food. Less than 6 months ago this child HATED food. She ate 5 things (all from a packet, nothing fresh) and wouldn't even attempt to try anything else. Again everyone had their opinion, but we know after 5 years of it, we know it wasn't just fussy eating, it is her ASD sensory mixed in with psychological issues regarding the fear of food. So part of our 'hands on' learning has been cooking and interacting with food to try and overcome these issues. It has been amazing to watch the transformation. Ella now eats almost any type of meat protein we give her. She eats 3 vegetables and 3-4 fruits. She will even try most things before saying she doesn't like it. Yes she still has a preference for crunchy texture and hates mushy and wet foods but that comes with her ASD sensory issues and we can deal with that a lot easier now that she isn't averse to every food on the planet. We have even mastered eating out as a family together. No meltdowns, no running home for special food, no one parent running interference and eating a cold meal. Nope, a real family outing, sitting and eating TOGETHER! We are loving it!!!!
We do a variety of different food learning activities. She loves getting in the kitchen to help me out now. We also use cooking as a form of science and maths for her natural learning and its great that such a simple task can have so much learning involved.
Ella has also loved getting out and about doing lots of different activities and meeting new people. Term 1 she did Circus Stars and loved learning some acrobatics and Term 2 she did horse riding at the Disabled Riding School. She has really enjoyed the horses each week so we will keep doing them next term too. We have also had lots of social play catch ups with other homeschoolers and friends. Not all playdates have ended well but we keep trying. Ella has made 2 really good friends this years. Billy is a friends 5yr old ASD boy and the two of them get along so well. We also met an 8yr old ASD girl, Millie who lives nearby that we try and catch up with each week down at the basketball court. Ella still struggles communicating with NT children but she is coming along so well with her socialisation skills. We take a weekly field trip to Dreamworld where she can learn about the animals, aboriginal culture as well as have fun on the rides and every fortnight we get to catch up with other Mums and kids at local FSG My Time group. Ella also participated in the first FSG sports program they held which ended with some training fun with the Gold Coast Suns players. Gone are the days where she hated leaving the house and didn't like being around people, she is loving the external interactions. How life has changed in such a short time. Imagine what the next 6 months will bring!!!!
Hopefully I wont leave it another 6 months before I do another big update, apologies in advance incase I do! In the meantime, you can follow the daily randomness of our lives on Instagram or Facebook (see top of page for links.)
Until next time.
Warm Blessings xx
20 June 2016
03 November 2015
Last year a good friend of mine gave me back my Christmas spirit and I am so thankful, it turned out to be the best Christmas. I have always loved Christmas but in the early years of Ella's diagnosis it was hard, SO.VERY.HARD. We really wanted Ella to enjoy the magic but she just didn't understand. Trees and decorations were destroyed, we couldn't go out to celebrate without meltdowns and she just couldn't comprehend any of it. So sadly it had become just another time of the year for us. Then late last year she finally started to understand some of it and so for the first time we all got to enjoy the magic together as a family. I was in tears knowing how far she had come and with all the work my friend had done to make our place magical it really was the best Christmas season ever!
Part of our new found love for Christmas was the "Elf On The Shelf" tradition. It was so much fun to see Ella look for "Elfie" everyday and also know that he was reporting back to Santa on her behavour (which really helped as a little reminder when she was playing up).
Anyway since the time is nearing again I thought I would do a round up of the fun "Elfie" had here last year and give you inspiration for your our Elf.
A simple welcome to the family - in the tree!
Anyone for an Octonauts tea party?
It's hot here for Christmas (summer), so Barbie took Elfie for a swim.
Fun in a hot air balloon.
Where's Elfie? Hiding in the toy zoo!!!!
mmmm blueberry cinnamon scrolls anyone??? Elfie dropping hints for a yummy treat.
A subtle reminder about naughty behaviour.
Whats the time
Mr Wolf Elfie???
It's a fairy kind of day.
Shower time. (this was in spare bathroom so he could stay there all day without getting wet)
Everyday for 2 weeks Ella asked if it was her friends birthday party.... finally the day arrived!
Messages from the cereal bowl.
Some upside down fun, only time having a long staircase came in handy.
Someone was messing around with the wrapping paper.
Admit it, you sang that sign!!!!! LOL
Another date with Barbie, this time they went parking.
Toot Toot Choo Choo... train ride time.
Elfie really is a cheeky character (remember to use a whiteboard marker)
Stealing snacks and hiding in the cupboard.
Fun with fruity friends.
Just hanging around for a bit of swing fun.
See even Elfie loves to colour in!!!!
A note to say good-bye and a reminder that he is still watching throughout the year.
The other christmas traditions we started last year were:
Wrap 24 books and open 1 each night in the lead up Christmas (and worked great to stop Ella wanting to read just the same book every single night). She was excited to unwrap a book each night. I didn't have time (or money) to buy all new books, so I wrapped up a heap of books she hadn't seen in ages and only purchased a few new ones. This year however I have been buying and collecting new ones for her.
We also made a Christmas Eve box up for her to unwrap. In the box had new PJ's, a dvd, snacks and Santa's Magic Key, which she placed on the tree so Santa could get in (as we don't have a chimney). She loved it. You can download the key tag I designed from last years post here. I attached it to a scrapbooking/craft key I found at spotlight.
Just writing this post I'm super excited that Christmas is around the corner. We have had a rough year so I'm am hoping for another magical silly season to lift our spirits.
What is your favourite tradition for Christmas?