Walking a Crooked Timeline

During July and August, I stopped using our regular curricula:  Momentum Math, 6th Grade level,  Saxon Math 4thGrade,  Reasoning and Writing Level C,  Horizon Reading C-D and instead I returned to  the old workbooks, which I bought over the years.. Some of these materials I used before once or twice.  I had made copies of all the pages and left the originals intact knowing, all too well, that Robert would need to either review, practice, or relearn the same concepts in the future.

This summer, we finally completed work on the  set of four  Fisher Price  workbooks.  Each workbook emphasized one question: Who, What, Where, and When.  Published and purchased in 1999, those preschool level workbooks  waited long to be completed. A few times, in the past we opened them, read a few questions, and practiced answering them. It didn’t go well despite different approaches. So, every time, I stopped for one reason or another.  This summer, we followed through to the end of each book.    Robert still doesn’t know some of the answers, but he knows most of them.  So it is a relatively easy task. Its simplicity  takes the pressure out of talking. Reducing the pressure became more important lately as Robert became more self-conscious about his speech and thus more stressed.

We have worked on a few Math workbooks levels 3-5.  I bought them during the last four years in Barnes and Noble, Local Teacher’s Supply Store, or Costco.  Some of the problems and math games we did before. Now we just finished what we omitted.  Although Robert knows most of the required arithmetic, he has problems with following directions when they are presented in a way he was not accustomed to. So presenting the same math operations in a new context or using them for a new purpose demands that Robert pays attention to language and  flexibly  switches from one set of tasks to another.

We returned to the same  four vocabulary workbooks for grades 1-2, we worked on during the last  school year. Over the previous few months I used and overused some of the new words wherever and whenever they seemed suitable.  Now, I stressed independence while working on  some of the exercises.  I left Robert alone with  short quizzes. He reluctantly  filled the blanks with proper words. Very reluctantly.  It is possible that he will never use many of the words we practiced. I think that he, nonetheless,  should at least be exposed to them so when he hears them he can connect them to the concepts they represent or at least recognize them as something familiar.

We are still working on a second grade reading skills.  This year I bought two nonfiction workbooks from Top Readers series.  The texts are much easier, and definitely shorter than the stories from workbooks we used previous summers. Because the texts are short, but accompanied by pictures they are like postcards sent from all over the world. Its past and present.  This is an ideal summer reading.  It is simple, and clear.  No decoding the meanings of new words, no excessive search for answers to the questions, no making inferences, no  memorizing of any important facts, and no following a story map. We did all of that before with all kinds of fiction.  This year we relax. We read the greetings from ancient Greece, from a jungle, a coral reef, or a moon with a growing admiration for the world.

We finished the World Geography workbook written with 6th graders in mind.  Again and again we went over oceans, continents, lines of longitude and latitude and time zones.  Time zones we encountered before while following  Saxon Math curriculum.  Coordinates didn’t seem hard, because Robert knew how to find coordinates of numbers on the plane.  Remembering oceans and continents proved to be a challenge.  Luckily, we worked on copies of the pages and we still have originals to go back and relearn. Besides we can always look at the  globe or a map of the world and review the names.  When I think about that, I realize that I didn’t utilize the map sufficiently. We worked mostly with a globe, but he globe is much harder to learn from.  It moves and it is tilted..

Another example of turbulence on a  timeline, relates to the cards for apraxia.  As I was practicing with cards designed for adults,  I felt that something was missing. After some searches through catalogues  I decided that what was missing was a box of preschool level apraxia cards as it offered slightly different approach to practicing speech.  So for the last few weeks Robert and I were using both sets – the one for adults and one for preschoolers.

The main reason I am using all that supplemental materials is that it allows me to find the holes in Robert’s knowledge  and fill those voids.  I don’t have another way of finding out what Robert knows or what he doesn’t know.  More precisely,  HOW he knows things. He cannot tell me.  Many of my questions would be impossible for him to understand.  Those materials help Robert and help me.  Even the best curriculum cannot cover every aspect of every concept.  So-called typical children, who have language that matches their age, can fill those gaps all on their own.

Robert cannot.

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