As of Today 2

I have not written for a few weeks.  I have a good excuse.  I was  filling forms for hearing to be held at the  Bureau of Special Educational Appeals.  It was a lot of writing. First, more than 20 pages long draft.  Finally “just” ten pages.  Still a lot.  Even worse, I had to channel my pain and disappointment into calm stream of rational arguments.  That was very hard.  Such exercise can never be fully successful as it is tainted by mixed emotions, suppressed anger, and confusion.  The process, which has hardly even began,  drained me already.  Even worse, my stress  comes up during my daily work with Robert,  showing itself up as flares of impatience.

So, we work less.  I take more breaks.  Still we go on.

So just to keep it down to the earth, I will write about our daily work in the month of September.

We finished reading “More Nonfiction Reading Comprehension Level 3 by Top Readers.  Each day, one short text – one paragraph long. We continued that from the summer when we had completed level 2.  The two levels don’t differ much in the complexities of the texts.  Maybe the vocabulary is slightly more advanced.   As I said before, the texts with pictures are like postcards from all over the world – including its past.  It is as if Robert and I were looking through the window of the moving train noticing changing pictures. Sometimes we  use IPAD to search Internet for additional images. The only effect I am counting on is for Robert to realize how diverse and rich is the world. In a way I am learning that myself.
I think that this might lead Robert to accept more changes, and to better adjust to new situations/places, events  and …. something else I cannot clearly name.

Robert has been working on the first grade level vocabulary workbook by Sylvan Learning.  The purpose is for Robert to independently complete tasks.  I go to the kitchen, while Robert reads and follows simple directions.  Still, when he is not completely sure, he stops and waits for me,  unable to move and risk an error. But he still makes errors. Just this Wednesday he was supposed to circle words representing animals. Two such words were mixed with two other words in each of the four lines.  Robert circled all the animals.  That is great! But he also circled one more word in each line. That word did not name an animal.  For reasons he won’t explain, he assumed that he should circle three words in each line.  He chose two animals and the word he was the least familiar with.

Robert wasn’t really working on First grade vocabulary.  He was learning to trust himself, and believe in his own knowledge.  The first grade vocabulary seemed like a good tool for learning just that.

I make pages with operations on fractions.  Robert still cannot subtract mixed fractions, but he can find the difference between whole number and a mixed fraction.  At the same time, however we work on first and second grade level, so-called,  “word problems”.
It is not getting easier.  Robert learned long ago that “more” means adding, and he cannot understand reasons why expression “how many more” requires subtracting.  I use ideas from very much maligned “Everyday Mathematics”. I draw rectangles that extend each other to represent addition and rectangles placed next to each other to represent subtraction.  I struggle to explain those concepts.  Robert struggles to understand. But those drawing do help…. Well, sort of.

Everyday, we also do a few pages from the No Glamour Grammar workbook from Linguisystems.  We are on page 280 of 400 page book.  There are only few, basic grammar concepts introduced there in a very easy format.  Still, for Robert everything is much more complicated that it seems.  There are pages he can do on his own, almost automatically, and there are pages when we have to work together building sentences.
As we go through those pages Robert practices his short and working memories, learns to connect words to his experiences while building sentences, and, maybe, he also learns grammar. It helps that many of the mechanics Robert knows already.  He knew most of the past tense forms of irregular verb but he still is not sure what verbs are.  To help him find verbs among other words I ask him to choose the word that can finish the sentence: ” I can…”.  To find nouns I want him to finish the sentence “I see…” It is not 100% precise but it will suffice for now.

Still, most of the time we spend on language.  But to describe that I need to write another post, two, or more.