Friday, February 1, 2013

February 1st... Last Day of Kindergarten!

Technically, there are 5 more months of school left... but, Gabriella won't be finishing Kindergarten  through her public school.

For years, Jason and I have discussed home schooling. When Gabriella came home from China though, we knew I would need some assistance with speech and physical therapy. I attended many of her public school therapies and all of her private therapies so that I would know how to help her at home and begin to think like a physical therapist. Sometimes the therapy sessions were good, most of the time though, I felt they weren't stretching her and doing things that challenged her enough. 

We may still be able to receive these therapies through our school district while she is home schooled. I will be looking into that this next week and whether her therapist will work with her in a way that I feel she will benefit from it.

She did well in school... but, she didn't do the things that I expected a Kindergartner to do. She did receive an award in December though that I should recognize...

While I don't know "why" she was given this award, I am speculating because on this particular day, she walked 9 unassisted steps (at school, while my video camera was rolling) for the very first time in her life. See an earlier post on her blog for this story. 

Gabriella was gone almost 4 hours each day from the time she left me until the time she returned home. Outside of beginning to make some sounds more clearly, we didn't see much of any improvement in her and actually began witnessing horrific "fits" at home... "fits" that her younger sister quickly picked up on. This was not good. I realized that she was imitating the behavior of a couple of her peers in class. 

The "fits" have now subsided... thank the Lord. But, I really don't want her to be in an environment where she can pick up on bad behavior. From my observations, it appeared that Gabriella did the most speaking and interacting of any of the other 7 children in her class. I would have preferred for her to learn from peer models.

Getting on the bus one last time was full of excitement, but yet sad too!
Amaris asked if she could join us this morning... so, I let her say goodbye to her jie jie. 

While we were concerned about the "fits", I was more concerned about how I was going to capitalize on her voracious desire to read. She was gone during her prime learning time of the day.

In the first 5 months of Kindergarten, only 3 books came home for her to "read"... and, just three weeks ago. They weren't phonetic-based books... they were what I call "guessing" books. Two of them are pictured below. These were the first books to introduce children to reading at her public school system. For the life of me, I can't figure out how you can teach a child to read this way.

For 20 years I taught almost 500 normally-developing students... but never have I taught them to "read" by guessing... they learned how to sound out words phonetically. I found myself being discouraged with Gabriella's recent "homework." 

She was transferring her new "reading" knowledge to her phonetic based BOB books, such as the ones below.  I just couldn't allow her to begin to get comfortable with that type of "reading."

So, we broke out her BOB books that night and started reading like we had never read before. I let her read as many books as she wanted... and, she wanted to read! She would read several of these a day... most with little or no error... and fairly quickly... but never guessing... at least once I got that idea out of her head. 

Now that she is going to be home schooled, she will read 2-4 of these type of books each day, learn to write letters and numbers, do some hands-on counting, and learn some additional "play" skills that I would teach kids in my preschool/pre-k classroom. We will also do some pretty intense physical and occupational therapy... much different from taking a few steps at school or coloring a color page. 

She will still be able to hang out with her peers at church on Sundays and we will get connected in the community for special outings.

I am confident that we have made the right decision for Gabriella and that we will see her flourish academically in these next couple months.