Wednesday, November 28, 2012

a lightbulb moment

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  ~Ps 139:14

God is teaching me that every single day…

It’s not news that one of my little guys struggles with motor planning issues.  Clearly, though, I haven’t thought through the implications all the way.  If I had, yesterday’s ‘aha!’ would have happened long ago.

One of the boys uses a math book beyond his grade level, and he has difficulty fitting his 2nd grade printing size into the space allotted in these more advanced math worksheets.  No big deal—I don’t care as much about the penmanship (it will come!) as I do about the math knowledge, so I scribe some for him.  Works well.  He talks me through the problems and I write things down for him.  The other advantage is that I get to see how well he understands what he’s doing!  Anyway, I’ve been scribing for him since we started homeschooling.  Since the other boy’s math book has LOTS of empty space between problems on the page (most excellent for easily distractible kidlets! Smile ), I’ve not done the scribing for him.  Until yesterday.  He was frustrated and needed some help, so I picked up a pencil and said, “Let’s blow through this.  You read the problems and tell me the answers, and I’ll write them down for you.”  Having watched him work on math problems for the last 2 years, I really didn’t expect much.  After all, a single worksheet with about 10 basic addition or subtraction problems on it can take him half an hour or longer.  But you know what?  He CAN blow through it!  Apparently his motor planning issues make the whole process nigh unto impossible.  Take away the need to switch from knowing the answer to figuring out how to get his arm and hand to use the pencil to actually CREATE the number on the page, and he’s got it!  Blew me away.   He did 10 problems in about 2 1/2 minutes.  Today we did 2 worksheets, one a new(er) concept and one a review sheet.  Probably 25-30 problems total.   I chose to scribe for him, and I think we were done in 15 minutes or so.  And he struggled with some of the math facts!  (No surprise there—he has working memory issues, and basic math facts come and go in his brain’s ‘filing system’.)

I am liking the implications of this!  No more fighting over how long it takes to do a simple math page.  No more tears because it’s ‘too hard’ or ‘takes too long.’  No worries!  Yes, I know he needs to learn to write.  We work on penmanship.  But you know what?  In the big picture of life, I’d much prefer he knows how to read and do math.  He can always learn to type.  He can live forever without knowing how to print or write in cursive well, but life will be very hard indeed if he can’t read or do math. 

So now we apply this more proactively to his language/grammar as well.  He loves to tells stories, so we will be more intentional about writing them for him.  (No creative spelling allowed here.  Smile  For a child with severe dyslexia and significant working memory issues, creative spelling is risky at best and potentially damaging long term.)  The bonus of all that is that when we scribe for him, we can help him with the parts of language that are difficult for him:  word usage, tenses, and sentence construction.  (Yes, pretty much the whole thing.  Oh well.)

Monday, November 12, 2012

boys…and horses!

Check out the joy on these faces:


Ryan rides the little horse, Spud.  And Spud is TINY.  Logan’s on Jenn in this picture (a touch of irony there…), but he usually rides a horse named Appy.  Jenn’s pretty little compared to Appy.  They ride every Wednesday afternoon, and it is the highlight of their week.

DSC_0024DSC_0030Logan’s riding for therapy. We’ve seen incredible improvement in his core strength and his speech since he started.  With 7 weeks down, he’s loving every minute of it.  I suspect his favorite part is that HE is in control of the horse.  These horses are incredible—if Logan doesn’t ‘turn his belly button and his nose’ in the direction he wants to go, then Appy or Jenn will simply walk right into the obstacle he is supposed to be steering them around.  He’s learning…and one of the great lessons is that with control comes responsibility!  He doesn’t fight me anywhere near as hard, since he now gets that making decisions means paying the consequences of wrong ones.  (Yes, he’s directed his horse into a few fences.  Corwin and Natalie stop the horse before anyone is hurt!) 


DSC_0029Ryan’s also riding for therapy. In his case, it’s not for physical therapy but instead for help with his overwhelming fears.  Hence the pony.  Smile  Even after just 2 sessions I can see the benefits—Ryan’s not as afraid of going upstairs on his own, or going to bed a night.  Amazing how conquering a fear of large animals can transfer to other areas of life.


(Ryan and Spud get to lead on the trail ride last week)

Both boys have 2 people with them when they ride (part of the therapeutic riding program at this arena.)  Pepper and Eli work with Ryan, and Corwin and Natalie work with Logan.  It’s perfect—Pepper is friendly and outgoing, just what somewhat shy Ryan needs.  Natalie is partially deaf and wears hearing aids, just like Logan.  Natalie has challenged Logan at every turn, not letting him slack off and get away with anything less than hard work.  Pepper is encouraging to Ryan, gently reminding him that he is okay, that he will be fine, and that Spud won’t hurt him.  They both give the boys some responsibilities at the end of the lesson, although Pepper discovered quickly that Ryan was more suited to putting away the saddle blanket than the saddle!  Logan LOVES the hard, heavy work, though and thrives on helping out. 



They both want to go to Equestrian Day Camp this summer right here where they ride.  I’d LOVE to send them!  They would be at camp from 8:30-4:30 Monday through Friday, riding horses and learning about their care.  They would absolutely be in heaven!  Sadly, you have to be 52” tall to participate, and although Logan will be that tall by summer, there’s not a snowball’s chance anywhere that Ryan will be.  At not quite 48”, he’s got a long ways to go before he gets that tall.  Especially when you consider that he’s only grown 20” in the last 7 years!!  Oh well.  Hopefully, a spring term of therapeutic riding is in their future.  Maybe that will ease the pain of being too short for summer camp.

Need me on Wednesday afternoons?  I’ll be at the barn, watching my boys have a blast!  Smile  Enjoying the fact that sometimes therapy (and hard work) are truly FUN.