Summer Life With Autism & Year Round Homeschooling

Summer Life With Autism & Year Round Homeschooling

summer

Summer is officially over. My big kids are back at their respected schools, and Little Z is back to the homeschool grind. Well not that we really stopped learning since we are year round homeschoolers. But we did pull out the new curriculum a few weeks ago.

Life has been very hectic the last few months and I had taken a long unplanned hiatus from blogging and YouTube. I just felt that I was being pulled away from this platform. Instead I needed to put all my energy into my family. Last September my body was getting so run down. I got sick 2 times that month. It made me see I had to slow down.

Now with this fresh start of a new school year, I am hopeful that moving forth with this blog is the right thing to do. I miss sharing about our lives and journey. It is therapeutic to me, and I need that right now.

Attack of the Disappearing Blog

Something that made me realize how important this site is to me was when it went down. A few months ago my credit card number information was stolen. Someone in the UK had a blast buying things off of Google Play, and grocery shopping. So obviously my credit card was canceled, and fraud claims were put in. Thank goodness I didn’t have to pay anything for that. But when I received my new credit card, I forgot to change the number on my host site. For some odd reason I did not receive any emails from the company saying this was going on and my site was taken down. Thankfully I noticed soon enough and was able to do a disaster recovery.

The thought of my site that I have worked on and off on for the last 8 years being *poof* gone made me sick to my stomach. This made me realize I needed to get back here and start sharing our life journey again. Even if what I write about helps only one other mom, it’s all worth it. Plus on a personal level, its a log of how far my family has come during these last 8 years. I explained it to my husband as if all our family pictures burned and I had no way of getting them back. I’m so grateful to have my little piece of the internet back safe.

All About Day-camp

This summer just seemed to go by so fast. In July, Wesley was involved in two day camps.

The first full week off of school he attended a camp for kids ages 10-14 years old. They had 1:1 camp counselors that switched each day. This way the kids would focus on building relationships with their peers, and not as much with the adults. The best part was Zakari’s old ABA tutor, and the respite worker that took Wes to camp last year was a counselor there! They worked on social, life and planning skills. Some of that activities they were involved in were Skyzone Trampoline Park, archery, bowling, Shapes Gym, swimming, and sports. Lunch preparation and cleanup tasks were rotated so campers actively participated. Something else that impressed me was they showed the kids how to do some basic auto maintenance like checking oil, tire pressure and adding oil and other fluids to a car.

Two weeks later Wesley started a second one week day camp. A van came right to the house every morning and picked him up, and dropped him off in the evening. This was so helpful to me as a busy work at home mom. The camp two weeks before had me orchestrating a drop off and pick up schedule with my family and my ex’s family. It was one less thing to worry about. He spent his week learning to cook with camp friends, enhancing independence, trying out adapted sports, and allowing him to develop & grow friendships with the staff and other peers. They visited the Human Rights Museum, a local water park, and spent the day at Camp Manitou.

Summer Reading Challenge

During May, FullTimeWifeLife whom I follow on YouTube announced she was hosting a Summer Reading Challenge. So Zakari and I signed up. He was able to collect $100 in pledges & he read over 1200 mins between June 1st & July 15th.

  1. 1 Fizz and the Police Dog Tryouts: Fizz 1
  2. 2 Fizz and the Dog Academy Rescue: Fizz 2
  3. 3 Fizz and the Show Dog Jewel Thief
  4. Outback Rescue
  5. Storm Rescue
  6. Bush Rescue
  7. Farm Rescue
  8. Hey Jack! Complete Collection with backpack (15 books)
  9. Animal Detective (Bear Grylls Activity Book)
  10. Secrets of the Rain Forest: A Shine-a-Light Book
  11. Animal Trivia Questions

Zakari earned a total of 25 books and a back pack. Plus his group earned $700 worth of books for less fortunate kids. It was such an awesome program we can’t wait till next summer to participate again!

As his mother I’m most excited about the Hey Jack! books. They look great for a kiddo who grew up on the Doman program. The writing a large and clear. I believe these will be the first chapter books he reads to be aloud this year. Thank you again Abby!

Summer book challenge

Where Did August Go?

The month of August just flew by. From the 3rd to the 19th, Wes was off with his dad. He spent time at his dad’s place, then a week at a cabin, and then out to Gimli for a car show before he came back home. Between the 12th and the 22nd my stepdaughter was off to Disney with her grandparents. So during the time it overlapped that they were both gone Zakari was an only child. I think it was nice for him to get our undivided attention.

The kids are blessed with an aunt who owns a pool and loves to have them over to swim. Three times during the summer we went over there and lounged in her pool. It is fun to see each year how the kids have developed their swimming skills through all their swimming lessons during the year. Even Little Z was more independent in the pool with his life jacket. I did not have to be standing and holding onto him the whole time. I was able to float or sit on the side of the pool within arms reach and enjoy everyone’s company. Its sad the cooler weather is blowing in and the pool is closed for the summer.

swimming

Forget August, Where Has September Gone???

Like I said we have started school. Zakari was the first to start. We were so excited to dive into his new Bookshark Kindergarten curriculum. We started a day early on Tuesday September 4th. This curriculum is just such a perfect fit for my son. Several of the books these last few weeks have sucked us both in. I can’t image what we would have missed if I had just put him in the Grade 1 level.

A week later we introduced Calvert Grade 1. No, I did not purchase the whole Calvert curriculum new. $1500 US dollars is way out of my budget no matter how good the curriculum is. But I was able to get all the textbooks & most of the materials from a mom on an American homeschool Facebook group for $80 US shipped. I had looked at this curriculum years ago when Wesley was homeschooling kindergarten, but the price tag blew my mind.

Next up was Wesley. On September 5th he went off to his first day of grade 8. Guys, he’s in GRADE 8 now! I’m not entirely sure how that happened. This is his last year in middle school, then he is off to high school. He also started back up with piano & his once a week evening group at the local school gym. Two weeks ago we met his new teachers at the school BBQ. I also met one of his buddies that he has lunch with.  I hope he’s off to a good start.

Then on the 7th we sent Chloe off to start grade 7. She’s already had one overnight camping trip with her class, and seems to be enjoying school. She’s soaking in book after book. I love that she shares my love of reading.

school

Portage La Prairie Here We Come!

September means Zakari’s favourite place is open again, the Portage La Prairie Aquatic Centre. We have already taken the 1 hour 20 mins journey out there. He loves that place so much. I look forward to several more visits between now and June when they close up again for the summer.

stride place

What Does Year Round Homeschooling Look Like For Us?

So I mentioned that we are year round homeschoolers. Because Zakari is a creature of habit, we have decided that homeschooling year round is in his best interest. This allows us flexibility throughout the year. If either of us is having a bad day, we can put the books away without fear of running out of time.

However year round homeschooling this past year allowed us the time to go through two full curriculums. We started the year with Bookshark PreK, which we finished in April. Between April and August we started and completed Build Your Library Level 0.

Homeschooling Year round allowed us to enjoy all the books in the PreK Level and still hit and complete our kindergarten year. So we not only stick to a routine that worked for him, and allowed flexibility, we also completed more this year then we would have if we stuck to a strict 36 week school year.

book worm

Weight Watcher Journey

Something this summer that I did for myself was joining Weight Watchers Online. My weight was climbing past my comfort level, and my body was starting to rebel. I’m happy to say I was able to lose 22 lbs since the ending of May. 18 lbs was thanks to Weight Watchers.

A few weeks ago I joined a meeting group, and I hope to get down to a healthy weight again. I’ve already been able to get past a frustrating plateau, and the scale is going down again. It’s amazing what years of stress and poor self care can do to a body. I feel now is such an important time for me to get back on track. The healthier I am, the more I can do for my family.

Starting Our Family Holidays

This year I took 1 week off of work. Part of it was spent going to doctors and dentist appointments. You know, all that stuff no one wants to really do. I’m happy to say check ups went well, and neither of the boys have any cavities. Although Zakari gave both doctors a run for their money. Thank God for patience doctors.

Waiting at the dentist

Waiting at the dentist.

Boys and Their Toys…

But we were sure to add in the fun stuff. Wesley saved $600+ dollars of his own money and wanted to buy himself his dream RC truck. My dad took him over to my uncle’s house to try out his RC truck and learn how to take care of them. Then on the Monday of our holiday we met my parents at the local hobby shop and with my dad’s expertise he picked out a Traxxas Rustler VXL.

Since Wesley has gotten his truck he has enjoyed spending time with my dad in the country, tearing up gravel and dirt, drag racing with my uncle and cousin, and just spending some quality time with his grandpa. Even though my dad’s main hobby now is RC boats, he loves spending time with Wesley racing his truck. He even fixed up his old RC race car he use to race when I was a kid. Since they are from the late 80’s they are not as quick, but even with a few modifications using today’s technology he was able to make them faster than they use to be.

rc car

Long Weekend Trip To Grand Forks

On the Thursday of our holidays we drove out to Grand Forks and stayed at the Canad Inns. But that trip deserves its own post, so stay tuned!

 

What did you do this summer? How has the start of the school year for your family?

Homeschool Collection {Monthly Round UP}

75 Books We Read Aloud : Homeschooling Kindergarten

75 books we read aloud

Homeschooling Kindergarten: 75 Books We Read Aloud

 

One of the main reasons I love to homeschool is the amount of time Zakari and I can dedicated to Read Aloud Time. Helping my child grow into an avid reader is one of the most amazing feelings ever. Sharing the passion of reading is such a natural high and I feel it is a powerful gift I’m giving my son. Once a child learns to read, all knowledge is at their fingertips. A person who can read well can teach themselves anything they want to learn from books.

I am of the camp that all children should learn how to read from infancy. A child can learn to read the same way that he or she learns to talk. As long as we can make the words big enough, they can learn. I don’t want to hear that they will be bored in school. I don’t want to hear that they are developmentally not ready. That my friends is hogwash. Children who are taught how to read, love to read. Teaching my youngest who has autism to read as a baby opened up so many doors for him. Plus teaching them this skill while they are young and hungry to learn makes it so much easier.

Check out my other articles about teaching your child to read:

How to Teach Your Baby To Read on a Budget

Teach your Baby Math, Reading & Music

One of the programs that we were given when we visited the IAHP in August 2017 was to read with Zakari from books designed for children in grades 2-3. We have taken this program and ran with it. While we did take a break from many of the programs, this was one would could not stop if we tried.

Spencer Doman from Doman International (formally from IAHP) made a video about reading being the one most important thing families can do for their children.

Reading Can Comfort a Child

Reading has become a tool I can use to help comfort Z. We read every night before bed. So when we land up staying away from home, I can often get him to sleep by making sure we read our chapters before bed. I have also helped settle him back to sleep in the middle of the night while away from home when he wakes up startled by reading to him. When he is tired he will often ask me to come with him and “read chapters”. It makes nights where he is struggling to fall asleep more tolerable because it just means we read a little more.

Actually to be honest, Z has a habit of falling asleep just as we reach the last chapter of the book. I’m often sitting on pins and needles till the next day to find out what happens to the characters in our current story. I come out of the room and my husband asks me if Z is sleeping and you should see the odd look I get when I say with a pouty face, “Yes, sadly he is…”

Growing up I loved to read. But living in a rural community in the 90s limited my access to reading materials. Our school libraries had limited materials and in the summer they were closed. My mom was not one to go to a thrift store and being a single income family, books were not often in the budget. However my mom did often buy us the scholastic books on deep discount on the front page of the Scholastic Order forms. We also hit up the local mall book sale from time to time. But it was just not enough to satisfy my deep thirst for reading. I got through the summer borrowing the odd book from friends, saving my allowance and buying a book and rereading the books I did own.

It wasn’t until I was a teenager did I have access to the “Mail Library”. I went online and selected books I wanted to read and then waited. When my father came home from work he would stop at the community mailboxes and bring home the resealable cloth mail bag with my books. This was such a happy day every time these books made it into my hands.

Reliving My Childhood Book Dreams

Now that reading together has become such a special time that Little Z and I spend together, it is an opportunity for me to nurture that inner young bookworm of mine too. Zakari and I have been reading a series I loved as a young child, The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids. This was a series I did own a few of. My favourite one would have been Vampires Don’t Wear Polka Dots. So I have been slowly collecting the series for us to read together by visiting the thrift stores, garage sales, and the Facebook Buy & Sell Groups. At first it didn’t seem like his favourite series. However as we have gotten to know the characters, he seems to be liking it more and more.

Non Fiction Historical Chapter Books for Kids

However this isn’t the only series we have been reading together. For Christmas Zakari’s Aunt and I bought him many of the Who Was/Is Series, along with the Where Was/Is Series.I really enjoyed being able to sit with him and learn alongside him about these famous people and places. If you have never seen these books before I highly recommend them. We got most of ours for dirt cheap on BookOutlet. But I’m starting to see them pop up in thrift stores.

Reading Challenge 2018

Because of Goodreads, I have been able to record everything we have read together and create this list for you. I know I’m always looking for new booklist to read with my kids, and I hope this will help you. While I was recording what we read together from the beginning of the school year, our reading journey did not explode until January 2018 when I joined the Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge. I highly recommend joining and coming up with a goal for you and your child to read together. Find me on Goodreads and ADD ME to Goodreads as a way to track our reading sooner, we would have read more than 75 read alouds together.

Our Kindergarten Reading List

  1. Who Was Steve Irwin? If you haven’t check out this series, what are you waiting for. Zakari is being introduced to many different famous people in a fun, kid friendly way. As the parent I am also learning. After reading this book I ordered the biography Teri Irwin wrote because I wanted to learn more.
  2. Dinosaurs Before Dark (Magic Tree House, #1) Honestly I wasn’t sure if I’d like this series. However I picked up the first 42 in the series for the crazy price of $15 on Kijiji, so I decided to take the risk. I was pleasantly surprised once we started reading it, Zakari and I got attached to the characters and their crazy adventures. When given the choice of what book to read as our next read aloud, Zakari often picks the next one in this series. 
  3. James and the Giant Peach This was a classic from my childhood. I was one of the longer books we read this year, so it took us a long time. But Zakari seemed to really enjoy it. He often dragged me to read it with him at other times then our regular reading time.
  4. Who Is Wayne Gretzky? A book about a Canadian hero and hockey. Of course we had to read it and it did not disappoint. Even my hubby sat in and listened to this one.
  5. Salty Dog (Adventures of Wishbone, #2) Wishbone was one of my favorite TV shows when I was a kid. I never knew they had Wishbone books. Since I found out I have been on the hunt to collect them all. They are also on the longer side, so I am saving them for now. But when the time comes we can binge read them. (Does anyone else binge read book series? You know how people binge watch Netflix shows? I can’t be the only one, right?)
  6. Who Was Elvis Presley? We enjoyed this book. I also loved how they handled explaining some of Elvis’s shadier parts of his life. Very age appropriate in my opinion.
  7. Because of Winn-Dixie Apparently I live under a rock, because I never heard of this book or movie. I stumbled upon this book at the thrift store and it caught my eye. A few days later our tutor noticed it on my cabinet and told me how she read that in school and loved it. So I decided to read it as our next read aloud and what an awesome story about a girl and her dog. I’m not a dog person and this story really touched me.
  8. Winnie-the-Pooh I’m not going to lie, I didn’t care for this one. I know, its Winnie-the-Pooh, how can you not care for that. Well to be even more honest, I disliked this book. Its not on my list of books to ever reread. I felt there was no point to the story. Zakari didn’t seem too interested either. We only finished it because it was part of our BookShark Curriculum.   
  9. Who Was Walt Disney?
  10. PeeWee (This link is for the French version. I found my English copy at a thrift store) I’m so sad I cannot find a link to share this book with everyone. It is an awesome book about a Canadian Pee Wee hockey team. I love how they grew as a team and reading about the team’s journey. 
  11. Babe: The Gallant Pig This is another childhood classic for me. I remember my teacher reading this to my class in the 3rd or 4th grade. Plus after you read the book, you can watch the movie with your child.
  12. Who Was Jim Henson? I’ve always loved Jim Henson, but after reading this book I have a new respect for him. He was a household name when I was growing up, and my big kids have no idea who he was. Now they do.
  13. The Knight at Dawn (Magic Tree House, #2)
  14. Little House in the Big Woods (Little House, #1) While I loved the little house on the prairie show growing up I never read any of the books. This was one of the books assigned in our Level 0 Build Your Library Curriculum. I enjoyed it very much, but if I’m honestly I could tell Z didn’t care for it much.
  15. Twenty and Ten I heard about this book from Emily at ARRRGH! Schooling. So I ordered it for myself. Then I was surprised to see that Bookshark use it as a book for Kindergarten. So instead of just reading it to myself, I read it aloud to Z. We very much enjoyed it. Its a story of a selflessness and courage during the time of Hitler. 20 young children and their teacher risk everything to save 10 Jewish children. I have since recommended it to another homeschool mom and her family enjoyed it as well.
  16. Anne Of Green Gables (abridged version) The copy we read was from the Target Dollar Spot,
  17. Mummies in the Morning (Magic Tree House #3)
  18. Pirates Past Noon (Magic Tree House #4)
  19. Who Was Dr. Seuss?
  20. The Trouble with Tuck This was one of those random thrift store finds that caught my eye. Its about a girls search to find a seeing eye dog, for her dog who as gone blind. Tuck had saved her life, now it was her turn to save his. Her perseverance and determination was heart warming. If you can get your hands on this book it worth the read.
  21. Night Of The Ninjas (Magic Tree House #5)
  22. Magic School Bus – Blizzard Another educational but fun series. Especially for kids who are already familiar with the characters on the two Magic School Bus shows on Netflix.
  23. Rise of the Earth Dragon (Dragon Masters #1) This series was such a hit for Zakari. He just loved reading about the children who become Dragon Masters. We stumbled across books 1-6 at Once Upon A Child, and I grabbed them. Books in this series are still being released, and we can’t wait to read more as we get them.
  24. Pirates Do Ride Scooters (The Bailey School Kids Jr. Chapter Book, #4) This is a series of beginner chapter books for kids with the same Characters from the Bailey School Kids Adventures I talked about earlier. While less detailed and simpler then the original series, they are great for kids easing into chapter books.
  25. Snow Monsters Do Drink Hot Chocolate (The Bailey School Kids Junior Chapter Book, #9)
  26. Afternoon on the Amazon (Magic Tree House, #6)
  27. Saving the Sun Dragon (Dragon Masters #2)
  28. Sunset Of The Sabertooth (Magic Tree House #7)
  29. Secret of the Water Dragon (Dragon Masters #3)
  30. Jack and the Beanstalk (Wishbone: The Early Years, #1) For kids that are not quite ready to sit through the longer Wishbone books, this might be a great starting place. They are not as simple as the Bailey School Junior Books, they are quite a bit shorter then the other Wishbone series. This school year we had a blast reading though this short 4 book series.
  31. Where Is the Amazon? This book was not as good as the Who Was/Is series. It was good as a research book for kids learning about the Amazon. But it was not a book that sucked you in. We did learn a lot, but it did feel like learning.
  32. Power of the Fire Dragon: A Branches Book (Dragon Masters #4)
  33. Midnight On the Moon (Magic Tree House #8)
  34. Werewolves Don’t Go to Summer Camp (The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids, #2)
  35. Song of the Poison Dragon: A Branches Book (Dragon Masters #5)
  36. Who Is Stan Lee? After watching a newer Thor movie on Netflix, I nerded out and read Zakari this book that night. He seemed to enjoy it and we got though the whole thing in one sitting. What I like about this series is finding people that your child has been exposed to in one way or another and expanding on it.
  37. Dolphins at Daybreak (Magic Tree House, #9)
  38. The Children of Noisy Village From the author who wrote Pippi Longstocking, we read The Children of Noisy Village. It was part of our Build Your Library Level 0 Curriculum. While I would have never picked it up if it wasn’t a required reading. But it was a nice read. It had a Little House on the Prairie feeling.
  39. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Wishbone The Early Years #2)
  40. Flight of the Moon Dragon: A Branches Book (Dragon Masters #6)
  41. Reindeer Do Wear Striped Underwear (The Bailey School Kids Jr. Chapter Book, #2)
  42. Ghost Town at Sundown (Magic Tree House, #10)
  43. Santa Claus Doesn’t Mop Floors (The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids, #3)
  44. Who Is George Lucas?
  45. The Leprechauns Don’t Play Basketball (Adventures of the Bailey School Kids #4)
  46. Lions at Lunchtime (Magic Tree House, #11)
  47. The House of Shadows (Usborne Young Reading: Series 2)
  48. Sleeping Beauty: Usborne Young Reading
  49. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: (Usborne Young Reading: Series One)
  50. The Hit-Away Kid Another Thrift store find. This one used a lot of baseball terms that Z and I are not familiar with. But if you have an avid baseball fan in your home, I would highly recommend it.
  51. Polar Bears Past Bedtime (Magic Tree House, #12)
  52. The Ghosts Don’t Eat Potato Chips (Adventures of the Bailey School Kids #5)
  53. Goldie (The Puppy Place, #1) Wow! This series is something else. Each book Lizzie and her brother Charles help a new foster dog find the perfect home. I’m not a dog person, but this series has both Z and I sucked in. Thankfully they seem to be still be printing new books in the series. I know this is one series we are always on the hunt for use copies to complete our collection.
  54. Who Is Steven Spielberg?
  55. Vacation Under the Volcano (Magic Tree House, #13)
  56. Hansel and Gretel (Wishbone Early Years, #3)
  57. Who Were the Brothers Grimm? This was another Who Was/Is that as an adult I learned so much. For my son who loves fairy tales, it was interesting for him to hear how they came to be.
  58. Snowball (The Puppy Place, #2)
  59. Day of the Dragon King (Magic Tree House, #14)
  60. Wishbone (The Early Years) The Brave Little Tailor
  61. Viking Ships At Sunrise (Magic Tree House, #15)
  62. Frankenstein Doesn’t Plant Petunias ( The Adventures Of The Bailey School Kids, #6)
  63. Hour of the Olympics (Magic Tree House, #16)
  64. Little Pear Another Build Your Library Level 0 Curriculum required reading. Its about a naughty young boy names Little Pear. Each chapter is another one of his adventures. While I would have likely never picked it up before BYL we enjoyed Little Pears antics. It helped push us out of our comfort zone.
  65. The Adventures of Peter Cottontail I had never read any of these stories but found this book at the local homeschooling conference for only $3. Zakari and I have enjoyed it. Each chapter was like a mini story. Mostly about Peter Cottontail and his archenemy Reddy Fox.
  66. Who Was Milton Bradley? I always thought that Milton Bradley was just the creator of the Milton Bradley company and games. Turns out he was instrumental in bringing kindergarten to the USA.
  67. Tonight on the Titanic (Magic Tree House, #17) So far to date after reading 21 books from the series, this was my personal favorite.
  68. The Mystery on the Great Barrier Reef This was one of our favourite books in Build Your Library Level 0. This is book #6 in the Carole Marsh Mysteries series. Before this I had never heard of this series. Now I want to collect them all. Its all about 10 year old Christina, 7 year old Grant, their grandfather and mystery-writing grandmother Mimi. What I liked most was it was a easy to read, yet rich in vocabulary not usually used in books geared to this age category.
  69. Shadow (The Puppy Place, #3) As a family trying to get our son a autism service dog, this story helped us understand the process a dog goes through to become a guide dog. I’m sure when we are finally accepted to the service dog program, we will be rereading this Puppy Place book.
  70. Mr. Popper’s Penguins Once again I’m going to be honest, I didn’t care for this one. Even Zakari who loves penguins, didn’t get as into it as I thought he would. I know its a classic that has been around as long as I can remember. But if I were to homeschool another child(which no more are planned) I would find a different book to read.
  71. Pirates Don’t Wear Pink Sunglasses (Adventures of the Bailey School Kids, #9)
  72. Buffalo Before Breakfast (Magic Tree House, #18) The timing for this book was just right. We read all the Magic Tree House books in order. So before leaving for our 4 day get away to North Dakota, I just grabbed the next book in the series. I could not have planned it better, seeing as this book is all about the Lakota natives that lived in what is now North Dakota in the 1800’s.
  73. Rascal (The Puppy Place, #4)
  74. Tigers at Twilight (Magic Tree House, #19)
  75. Truth About Bats (The Magic School Bus Chapter Book, #1)

As you can see, some of our favourite books have been random thrift store finds. I can’t stress the importance of getting books used. If your not a library family like we are, its an awesome way to try a series and not invest too much money.

Why don’t we use the library to borrow books?

We don’t often borrow from the library because I’m to irresponsible to get the books back to the library on time. Its terrible but sometimes the late cost me more then buying the book to keep used. At one point, my library late fees were part of my Dave Ramsey Debt Snowball. That being said, I do often hit up the library book sale.

 

What books did you and your children read aloud this past school year? How do you keep track of what your reading? Does your child have a particular series they can’t get enough of? Stay tune to find out which series we are loving, and how they are fitting into our homeschool lessons.

 

 

Homeschool Collection {Monthly Round UP}

 

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BrillKid’s Learning System with LittleZMan (UPDATED)

I don’t understand WHY BrillKids is not a household name. BrillKid's Learning System with LittleZMan
(Originally published in November 2014, Updated in September 2018)
What is BrillKids??
BrillKids is an online company that believes in helping babies, toddlers, and preschoolers reach their full potential. But the best part is, they are creating programs and an online community to make this easier for parents.  BrillKids offers a free online community for parents to learn almost anything they would want to know about teaching their young children anything from:
  • how to read, 
  • do math, 
  • learn music
  • learn a foreign language
(Update: While this community is no longer as active as it once was, the post from old members are priceless. Definitely, you will want to go back through and read.) They also have created some pretty amazing computer programs to make teaching your child even easier. I started using some of them with Wes when he was a preschooler. But when Little Z came along, he was lucky! He became a BrillKid’s baby when he was a newborn. 

BrillKids Little Reader:

Little Reader is a full computer curriculum to teach your child how to read and includes over 2,300 words. It is designed to be used with children ages newborn to preschool age.  We started using the program with Little Z when he was only a few months old. I found using Little Reader on the iPad to use the iAccess app better when he was younger. Because when they are so little it is so hard to have them sit up by a computer. This way I could kick back on the couch and Z and I could snuggle and watch his lesson. As he got older we started running through the programs while he was eating breakfast and lunch, so at this point, I started playing them on the computer. What is the verdict? Z finished this curriculum several months ago. Well, my baby can read, that is for sure. I have printed out multiple words, phrases and small sentences from the program and Z is able to read each word. He also understands what he is reading. I can also tell his mind is reading faster than he can out loud because every once in a while he will find something funny and start laughing before he can say it out loud. 

BrillKids Little Musician: 

 
Sneaking into brother’s room to play piano
Little Musician is a program that allows parents to give their young children a foundation in music in 5 mins a day. We have already gone through both Semester 1&2 in this program. However, after we finished the program, we decided to start again back at Semester 1 Lesson 1. Not because I don’t think Z has learned most of the information because I think he has. But I want him to work more on getting perfect pitch. Since he is so little, I don’t like to test him too much. So I figured since he still loves the program, he must be getting something from it. 
Little Z loves to sing in Solfege and loves to sneak into his brother’s room when he is not looking to play on his piano. While he “plays”, he says the notes in Solfege. I think he may have loved music, even if we didn’t have Little Musician. However, I think this program will give him the upper hand in the near future when he starts taking music lessons. 

BrillKids Little Reader Chinese:

Well, we have a few days left of Little Reader Chinese. It is basically the same curriculum as Little Reader English, except in Chinese of course.  I don’t speak Chinese, actually, our family’s second language is French(Which I understand, but have difficulty speaking). I’m honestly not sure how much Chinese Little Z has learned. But I know there are connections being made in his brain. This was my goal. The more he is exposed to other languages, the more easily a second language will come to him.  I think if one parent knows how to speak Chinese, you could definitely use this program to reinforce what you are teaching your child. For our family though, it was about keeping the connections happening so when Little Reader French came out, his brain is ready to absorb even more info.  After we complete this program we will be moving on to Little Reader French.   

BrillKids Little Math:

Little Math is based particularly on the late Glenn Doman’s method of teaching a young child math. The nice thing is there is no stumbling with 11×11 flashcards of dots. I have no issues flashing word cards. But dot cards are another story. Little Math makes this process 100 times easier. At first, Little Z did not care so much for Little Math. However, I started playing Little Math first and following it with the other programs, that helped SO much.  Now while this was not the only math program we were doing with Little Z over the last two years, his math skills are awesome for his age. I notice while we are doing some math apps on the iPad that he seems to know the answer right away. I’m thinking this has to do with the facts he learned in Little Math.  

BrillKids Country Course made by EEECF Volunteers:

The Country Course was created and put together by volunteers from the Early Education for Every Child Foundation. This program teaches your child encyclopedic knowledge from all around the world. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I heard there was a program put together by volunteers. Honestly, I was a bit worried that maybe it would not be the best quality. Well, I was wrong! The program is very well put together and of excellent quality. Even my big kids like sitting in on these lessons, and I’m learning about countries around the world right alongside them.  The best part, each semester contains 300 lessons instead of the regular 130 in all of the other BrillKids products, meaning with both semesters you get 600 days of lessons. So needless to say this program will keep us busy for a year or two.  While Little Z is not sharing what he has learned, he is glued to the screen. So I trust soon he will start sharing what he is learning. Right now though, input input input. 

Update from September 2018:How We Use BrillKids Software Now

Zakari is now 6 years old and we are still using several of the BrillKids Products. The software has grown with us.

Little Reader French

This year as part of our homeschool we are adding in BrillKids Little Reader French. As Canadians our second national language is French. As well on both sides of my family are french speaking. This is a gentle introduction to French for him. I wish I had started even earlier.

Little Musician the Program that Keeps Giving

Even though we have been through the Little Musician curriculum 2 or 3 times, we are going through it again this year. Zakari has not started formal music lessons yet, so for now, I am using this as part of his musical journey.

Little Reader Printing Feature

Because we are on the IAHP/Doman International program, I am required to make lots of physical materials. Little Reader makes it easy for me to find already made materials and print them out to use away from the computer.

Not Just For Learning To Read. Let’s Learn Geography & Cultures Too!

BrillKids Country Course Vol 1 made by EEECF Volunteers: This is an amazing program written by volunteers. I’m using this year to expose Zakari to information about Ukraine, Hungary, Italy, Greece, Lebanon, Turkey, Iran, India, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kenya, Madagascar, South Africa, DCR, Algeria, Spain, France, Ireland, United Kingdom, and Germany. The countries included in each group are geographically related to ease of map study. There are 20 Encyclopedic Knowledge facts for each country with images to illustrate these facts. 400 facts are grouped in sets of 4 and each set is repeated 6 times in the course. The course is loosely built on the spaced-repetition method. New facts are introduced in the same lesson as old ones get reviewed. Each new fact will be repeated 2 days later, 6 days, 8 days, about 20 days, and finally about 60 days later.

How to Purchase:

Running all of these programs takes about 25mins MAX. We usually do lessons in the morning during breakfast time and another in the afternoon during lunch.  I honestly think these programs are worth every penny. Right now Little Reader Basic runs for about $179. Back when I first bought the program it was actually retailing for well over $400. If it still cost $400 I would still highly recommend it. If you are interested in purchasing any of these programs on the BrillKids website, please consider using my Coupon code: BKAFF21929 and getting a discount on your order!!

Full disclosure: I have purchased some of the BrillKids programs, and received some to review in the past, for my honest option. As well I have received sponsorship from the Early Education for Every Child Foundation. That being said, this post is completely unbiased and is just an update on our experiences with them. If I had paid cash for every one of these products, I would still have written this post. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~* What to Learn More About Doman International? Click HERE to fill out a quick form and a representative from Doman International will contact you to set a FREE 30-minute consultation. Disclaimer: This page may include affiliate links. I appreciate it when my readers use them as it provides me a little compensation and no extra cost to you.

WTD Course – On My Way Home. Children of Dreams, Children of Hope.

on my way home

Children of Dreams, Children of Hope

Children of Dreams, Children of Hope, may have been a title to a book written by Dr. Raymundo Veras, but this was how I felt. I felt like I was one of the children of dreams. Allowed to dream again for my child’s future. Everyone who attended that week long course were also Children of Hope. Our hope was restored.

Saturday morning

Saturday morning I woke up to my alarm clock. I set it fairly early because I wanted to do a little exploring in Philadelphia before I returned my rental car. I got myself ready for the day, packed up my last few things and went downstairs.

My wonderful host and I chatted about the Institute and our experiences there. She had taken the course for well babies a few years before. Then she showed me her amazing playroom that she had set up for her children. IAHP EK bits hanging on the wall. I love the dedication she had to teach her little ones.

Host for Hospital program

After thanking the family for their hospitality, I packed up my rental car and drove out of the driveway for the last time. I cannot say enough good things about the Host for Hospital program. If you are heading down to Philadelphia to take either of the courses offered at the Institute, please check out Host for Hospital. It is an affordable program that connect families from out of town to host with space to share. My entire stay for eight days cost me less than one night would have in a hotel. When you consider the exchange rate that I was paying to convert my Canadian money to American, this made it an even bigger savings.

Every host has something different to offer so I can only share my experience. I was allowed to use a large bedroom (larger then my bedroom at home) with my own personal on-suite bathroom. The family also allowed me to use an extra fridge they had in the back entry way. I felt so spoiled and was treated with such respect. My host also passed on a books she had bought at the IAHP that is no longer available about vaccines. I thought that was so kind of her.

Exploring Philly

Thanks to my phones GPS, I was easily able to find my way into Philadelphia to the Liberty Bell. I planned to arrive early so I could get into line and get in as soon as the building opened at 9am. But I landed up arriving earlier then I anticipated. So decided to look to get some souvenirs for the family who helped me make this trip even possible. On the way I found a few cute little gift shops with exactly what I was looking for.

Afterwards while I walked to the door to the Liberty Bell Centre, I immediately wished I had more time to explore more of the sights and sounds of the area. It is just beautifully kept and I felt very safe walking around on my own. But I was happy I had a few minutes to see the actual Liberty Bell and get a few photos. Another couple offer to take my phone using my phone in exchange I would take their photo with their phone.

When I made it back to my rental car and decided to clean out the car there instead of at the gas station. I gathered up the empty food wrappers and such and found a garbage and recycling bin to get rid of them. Checked all the compartments and under the seats to make sure I didn’t forget anything. Finally found a safe spot in my luggage to pack up the souvenirs I purchased.

Scary Gas Station

Once I was back in the car and buckled up, I GPS’d a nearby gas station. I did not want to have to pay the ridiculous price the rental company would charge me if I did not return the car with a full tank. As I drove away from the Parkade and started following the directions on the GPS. I soon found that the location I picked was taking me away from the direction of the airport.

Soon I saw a Shell gas station on the right side of the road. Even though it didn’t seem to be the best area of town I decided I may as well just fill up there. Well of course the pay at the pump didn’t work because I had a Canadian credit card. So I went inside, only to find the cashier looked like he had been recently beaten. He had a black so swollen, that his eye could not open. I almost turned around a left. My imagination ran wild wondering if he had been recently stuck up working here. But instead I prepaid, pumped my gas and left as quickly as possible. I was not interested in sticking around and meeting the people who had beaten this poor man.

Off To The Airport

Now with a full tank of gas I was once again following the GPS back to the airport. I brought my car back to the rental company. Of course my bill was through the roof since I had to rent a car on the spot. Lesson learned, do not travel with a temporary license. I will make sure to allow time for my new license to come in the mail. I dragged my bags onto the shuttle and road back to the airport.

When I got to the correct terminal, I found a luggage cart and loaded it up with my large duffle bag I bought the night before, my carry on and back pack. I made my way to the desk for checked bags. I felt like such an amateur traveler. Most travel I had done in my life up to this point was in the form of road trips. Prior to this trip I had only ever been on two trips that required flights. One with my parents to Florida when I was 16. The other was a flight to Calgary with Travis and Wesley when I was 25 to take Wesley to a DAN! Doctor. The first trip I was along for the ride, and the second trip Travis and I were together. It also did not require us to go through customs and my aunt was on the other hand picking us up and bring us back to the airport. So I prayed this was going to be an easy process. Luckily it was. They weighted my bag and it came in at 29 lbs. I scoffed when they told me the weight and wondered how I ever thought I’d get that all in my carry on.

At this point I was starving. It was only 10:30 am, but seeing as this was my last few hours in the USA, I wanted something I couldn’t get back at home. I looked around the food court and decided to try Smashburger. I had seen a mom I follow on Instagram post about it and it always looks so yummy. It was on the pricey side, but super tasty. I really enjoyed that it was not greasy at all.

Afterwards I wandered and looked at the little gift shops in the airport. I was actually a bit surprised to find so many weird types of presidential nominee merchandise throughout my trip. Something I never saw in the Canadian elections. All I could image was a Justin Trudeau chia pet. “But he’s got nice hair” would have a whole new meaning.

A Few Minutes of Peace & Quiet

children of dreams, children of hope

As excited as I was to get home to my kids, I was not crazy enough to not take advantage of the quiet, child free few hours I had left. I regretted packing my binder full of notes from the course in my checked bag. I really wanted to start planning what I was going to do with Zakari. But in the end, it was for the best I didn’t have access to them. I think it was good to just take this time to relax. Looking through my bag, I picked up and started reading a book I purchased at the Institute’s bookshop. Children of Dreams, Children of Hope by Dr. Raymundo Veras.

Description was taken from the Gentle Revolution website

This is the story of Dr. Raymundo Veras, a brilliant Brazilian surgeon and his journey into the world of brain-Injured children. After Dr. Veras’s son, Zé Carlos was injured in a diving accident, Dr. Veras dedicated his life to fixing his son’s injury. That devotion led him to The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential in Philadelphia, where he learned from Glenn Doman and the staff, how to fix brain-Injured children. From there he returned to Brazil and began treating many more children. His success with the children the world has called Mongoloid or Down Syndrome led to the first successful methods to treat their problems. This book is the story of Dr. Veras’s second life and the first chance for wellness for many of the world’s hurt children.

I nearly completed this book by the time I got back home to Winnipeg. Even though I do not have a child with Down’s Syndrome, I still found it very informative. No matter what type of brain injury a parent on the Institute program writes about I find them to be amazing to reads. I love learning about how the program worked for them, how they managed, and how the Institutes have changed over the years.

Homeward Bound Part 1

Finally it was time to board my first plane to Toronto. I texted Travis that I was boarding the plane and would let him know when I made it back. I sat back and enjoyed the flight with my book in my lap. Mid flight a flight attendant came around with custom forms to fill out. One of the questions on the form asked if I was carrying and business product samples. Of course I have two Beach Body Shakeology samples I had not drank in my bag. I sat their debating if I that’s what the form meant. Should I declare it? So I did to error on the side of caution. I did not want to cause trouble smuggling back to protein shakes.

Homeward Bound Part 2

Well of course after we landed in Toronto, I went to scan my passport and this form and got hauled into customs. Luckily for me the customs officer was real nice. He asked me if the samples were to try and solicit customers for a business. When I explained they were for personal consumption, he changed my answer to no and welcomed me back to Canada.

The first thing I did when I arrived in Toronto was hit up the Tim Hortons kiosk. Oh man, Dunkin Donuts does not hold a candle to our good old fashion Timmy’s. It was nice to have a piece of home shortly after landing back on Canadian soil. While I enjoyed my Timmy’s I made a few phone calls. I let Travis know that my flight was on time and when should expect to be back in Winnipeg. I called my mom to let her know I had landed safe. The idea of me traveling alone didn’t sit well for her. This is where we are completely different. For me this was an awesome adventure. For her the thought was just down right scary.

Next thing I knew I was boarding my last flight from Toronto to Winnipeg. I was so excited to get home to my kids. I would have to wait one more day to see Wesley as he was at is dad’s for the weekend, but I could see Zakari. This trip was the longest I had ever been away from either of my children. As rewarding and totally worth it as it was, I was glad I was going home.

Somehow I scored the West Jet Plus seat and I had lots of room on the flight to Winnipeg. The man next to me try to spark up a conversation with me, but honestly I was not in a chatty mood. How could I really explain why I was in Philadelphia. I was still processing everything I learned, I was not ready to be challenged if this person turned out to be a skeptic. Luckily I was able to be polite and come off as shy and he left me to my book.

Home Sweet Home

Finally I could see the lights over Winnipeg. We were landing. As soon as we made contact with the ground I called Travis to tell him to be ready to pick me up. He was in the area, and my friend had gone to our house to wait with Zakari. He tends to fall asleep in the car so close to bedtime and they knew I would want to see him.

I stood anxiously at the conveyor belt waiting for my huge duffle bag. Luckily I didn’t have to wait long because my bag was one of the first out. Because it was raining in Winnipeg my bag was soaking wet, but when I looked inside everything dry. I was quite impressed with my last minute Walmart purchase. I loaded my bags on a luggage cart and went out into the rain. Travis looped around the front of the airport and helped me get the bags in the van.

It was so nice to see him and hear about how he made out with the kids for the whole week. I think having mom gone and only him in charge really helped strengthen his relationship with the boys. He made sure the house was cleaner then I left it the week before. I came home to dinner and cuddles with my Zakari.

I made it! My first time traveling alone. A dream come true. Something I had wanted to do since Wesley was little. My only regret is that I didn’t make it happen way sooner.

Children of Dreams, Children of Hope…

What I have seen cannot be unseen…

Did you miss how the beginning of my trip to Philadelphia to take the What To Do About Your Brain Injured Child Course went? You can catch up and read about it in the following posts:

My first few days traveling alone for the first time. Day 1& 2 of My Trip To The IAHP

Ready to learn on our first day. What To Do About Your Brain Injured Child Course – Monday

Ready for another day of learning: What To Do About Your Brain Injured Child Course – Tuesday

All About the Physical Program: What To Do About Your Brain Injured Child Course – Wednesday

Reading and Health: What To Do About Your Brain Injured Child Course – Thursday

Closing out our week: What To Do About Your Brain Injured Child Course – Friday

IAHP Visit – Traveling Day – Friday


IAHP Visit - Traveling Day - Friday

 

IAHP Visit – Traveling Day – Friday

We’re Leaving on a Jet Plane…

Friday, August 4th, 2017… The day we had been waiting for. We were heading to the airport to start our journey to bring Little Z man to The Institute for the Achievement of Human Potential. Today is what I have dubbed our Traveling Day.

11 months after my first journey to Philadelphia. It was almost like a dream. Never in a million years did I think we could pull this off.

But thanks to the help from a wonderful organization, The Elks of Canada, we were there at the airport. Starting our journey to the IAHP in Philadelphia.

Nerves and Worries

I had to say I was completely nervous to be traveling by air with Zakari. He’s not one for crowds and we had a layover in Chicago.

Waiting to check our bag.

We arrived at the airport 2 hours early like they recommended. Then we saw the line to check in. We had tried to check in the night before online, but it said we had to check in when we arrived. So we got in line and waited our turn.

We started getting nervous when the line wasn’t really moving. Were they canceling flights. We had taken a chance and flown United Airlines. yes they had bad publicity lately, but we figured they would now be on their best behaviour since the world was watching.

We finally reach the check in desk and everything was fine. They let us check our bag and off to security we went. Thankfully we were the only people going through security at the time.

Compassionate Security Staff

The people who were running security were amazing. I quickly explained to them that Z has autism and that I could not let go of his hand. They were very compassionate and kind. They had us remove our shoes. We were told that Z could keep his on, but then they noticed they were light up shoes, so they said he had to remove them. Well Mr. Z was more than willing to comply.

From that point on he was convinced you’re not suppose to wear shoes in the airport.

They let me carry Z through the metal detector. We quickly gathered our belongings and made our way to customs. We had 2 back packs, Z’s car seat and 1 carry on because Hubby thought that it would be worth the money to check a bag. Boy was he right! I could not image trying to juggle an extra bag. While the car seat was a pain to drag around, it was a blessing to use on the plane.

We found a little alcove in the waiting area and Z climbed on the couches and got all his wiggles out. They kept changing gates, so we just stayed there till we heard they were boarding our flight. The Winnipeg Airport is very small so its easy to just stay put and move to where you need to be when its time.

Boarding Time

We got in line and when we made it to the front the flight attendant said she had called us to board first. We must have missed her call. She said because I had called ahead to let them know about Z’s special needs they wanted to make sure he was taken care of.

Mr Z’s first time on an airplane.

When we got on board, Hubby helped me install Z’s car seat. I have to say, if you have a busy child, make sure to bring your child’s car seat on the plane. Z knows when he’s in a car in his carseat, that’s where he is expected to be.

Take off went well. I was worried he might freak out about his ears popping, but he just plugged them. I had brought ear defenders, but he was not interested in using them.

When they came around with snacks and drinks, they brought him one of those squeezy apple sauces, which he enjoyed. But of course in total Z style, he managed to dump my glass of coke on my lap. Thankfully I had already drank half of it, so I was only a little wet.

The biggest challenge for me was preventing him from kicking the chair ahead of us. He is use to traveling in a van where he has lots of legroom.

Luckily the person in front of him had no one sitting beside him, he was able to move over. That being said I made my best effort to stop him from kicking the back of the chair.

What Do You Mean I Can’t Go Outside?

About 30 mins into the flight Z decided that he wanted to go play outside. Try as I might to explain to him that we are thousands of feet in the air, he still wanted to go play outside. This was one of the many times this trip this poor guy’s mom rained on his parade.

After our 2+ hour flight we landed in Chicago. We waited for the plane to empty out and then we uninstalled his car seat and made our way off.

United Airlines, Amazing Staff!

There waiting for us was a United Airlines employee with a wheelchair. Z needed the opportunity to stretch his legs. But the employee invited us to put his car seat and bags on the wheelchair, and escorted us through the airport to our next terminal gate.

I was so grateful he did! Boy oh boy is the Chicago airport huge! Because he escorted us, we were able to have time for a bathroom break as well as get Z some popcorn to snack on on the next flight.

Because we were right by the gate, we were able to board first. United was able to upgrade our seats so Z had more leg room. Z snacked on popcorn and watched a few episodes of his show I had downloaded from Netflix to his tablet. He started to doze off to sleep just before we landed.

Welcome to Philadelphia

We are in Philadelphia! Posing for a silly picture while Daddy gets our bag.

Once again we let the plane empty out before we gathered our belongings and got off. There waiting for us was another United employee with a wheelchair. We thanked him very much, but told him we knew where to go as I’ve been to the Philadelphia airport before and Z needed to stretch again.

We made our way to the baggage claim. Grabbed our bag and made our way to catch the shuttle to the Alamo, the car rental company.

By now it is Saturday. Z is tired, and a giggling mess. As I waited for Hubby to finalize our car rental, Z is jumping from couch to couch in the empty waiting area.

A few people in line were staring, but frankly I didn’t care. He was not disturbing anyone. It’s after 1 am and my kid is right on the edge of having a party or having a meltdown. I’m wanting to mark this up as a good traveling day, so I’m voting for the party option. I could handle the dirty looks, those would disappear as soon as we got into the rental car. The meltdown however would follow us to the hotel.

A few minutes later we were away from the dirty looks and cruising to our hotel to check in.

Hotel Delays & Walmart

35 mins later we arrived. I had made arrangements with Expedia to be able to check in at 2am. But when I went in, the front desk needed 45 minutes to reboot the system so that the sign in would count as a Saturday check in. So back to the car I went, and off we went to look for food.

A quick trip through a drive through, we still had a bit of time to kill. So Hubby ran into a 24 hour Walmart and picked up some supplies we were going to need in the morning. I waiting in the car while Little Z slept. Of course just before Hubby was about to come out of the store there was a torrential downfall. By the time he got to the car with the bag they were both soaked.

Tired & Panicking

Now I made a huge mistake, while waiting for Hubby. I went and rechecked the hotel we were staying at’s reviews. When I had booked this hotel, the reviews were OK. Now since I last check there was a terrible review. I went into panic mode. Do I call Expedia and try to get into a different hotel? I’m tired and sleep deprived at this point and a bit irrational.

We head back to the hotel and when we arrive there is a sign, “Back in 15 mins.” Are you kidding me? I’m tired and it’s now almost 3 am. I start praying, is this a sign we should find another hotel? I get on the phone with Expedia and am put on hold. As I wait the woman come back to the desk and removes the sign. I hang up the phone, I guess this is where we are suppose to be.

A few minutes later we are parked near our hotel entrance. I’m panicking. Maybe we should check it out first before we bring in the bags and Z? Nope, Hubby wants to bring everything in in one trip. I put the card in the door and slowly open it…

Much to my relief, it looks nice and clean. A quick examination and I’m feeling a bit better. Z immediately makes himself comfortable and takes up a whole bed.

Here we are, we’ve made it. Finally able to kick off our shoes and get cleaned up from our first Traveling Day.

Our Adventures have just begun after our first Traveling Day.

Bed! After a long day traveling.

 

IAHP VS NACD – Autism Treatment Options

IAHP vs NACD Family Led autism treatment, which is better?

UPDATED Nov 2020: Since I wrote this post, IAHP split into two separate organizations. We are now working with Doman International.

Click HERE to fill out a quick form and a representative from Doman International will contact you to set a FREE consultation.

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Debating between programs to help your child with autism? 

Family led autism treatment are a great option. But which program is better? Two that come to mind are Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential aka IAHP and the National Association for Child Development(NACD).

I should mention right now, that my family has been involved in both of these programs. We are still involved with one. This article may seem bias to some, however, it is strictly based on my personal experiences and feelings. Others may disagree, and they are entitled to their experiences and feelings.

I’ve known about The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential for years. But I had it in my mind that Philadelphia was too far away. I could never put together enough money to make that happen. Right?

The National Association for Child Development

However, in 2014, I heard about a program run by Robert Doman Jr, Glenn Doman’s nephew. It was called the National Association for Child Development(NACD). A few things intrigued me about this program. They could conduct their assessments via Skype and I did not have to travel to start. Also if we did want to see them in person there was a chapter in Minneapolis about 7 hours south of Winnipeg.

I don’t want to say that they mislead me, but I was sold that this was a better, more modern version of what they do at the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential(IAHP). I guess I believed this because of what a speaker at a homeschooling conference years ago had also told me about the IAHP when he had suggested that I skip the IAHP and go to yet another program called The Family Hope Center.

Over the years I had heard stories that the IAHP was like a military camp, everything was their way or the highway.

I was led to believe that if you could not commit 10-15 hours a day to run IAHP programs, you were not good enough for them. These other treatment centres are sold as if they understand families, and they can help you and your child in the amount of time your family has available.

I should also disclose that in the past I have been quick to drink the kool-aid when it comes to helping my boys. I can be easily swayed on and sold an idea if there is hope that it can help my boys. You could say I have curriculum coming out the wazzu because others have said it was amazing. Over the last year or so I have become more selective of what I jump into because I realize I might be wasting money that could be better spent on proper treatments.

Maybe This Is Not What I Signed Up For?

As we got more involved with the NACD, I started feeling like it was not what I signed up for. The monthly fee of $260 US dollars a month started to really hurt when the Canadian dollar took a dive. This wouldn’t have bothered me so much if I felt the money was well spent. However, I just didn’t understand what these programs were really doing to help my children.

I was also told we would have a coach available to answer all my questions and be in constant contact with us to help us stay on track. While my emails were answered when I emailed my coach, the constant contact we were promised was just a Monday thru Friday mass email. Nothing personal, no checking up on how things were going.  If I didn’t email them, the only contact I got was this mass email.

Enough Is Enough

I guess the straw that broke the camel’s back was when one Skype evaluation, our evaluator suggested we make some changes to Little Z Man’s diet. When the report came back with all the program changes, there was no mention of the diet. When I emailed to ask for more information I was told it was not actually part of the program. She suggested that we avoid processed foods and simple carbs, but besides that, if I wanted more guidance I would have to set up a consult with one of their doctors for the fee of $250 US dollars. This was on top of the $260 a month I was paying for their support, and the extra $250 4 times a year when we had reevaluations.

I felt with the money I was paying, and the fact that the gut is the second brain, this should have been a more important part of the program. Eventually due to the lack of understanding why I was doing the programs, and the constant need to spend even money on subscriptions to programs, apps, mp3 lectures, CD programs we discontinued treatment with the NACD. The minimal changes in the boys were not worth the kind of money I was spending.

The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential – IAHP

Eventually, I started connecting more via Facebook and phone conversations with a mom who had attended the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential course for well children. She started getting on me about having to go and take the What To Do About Your Brain-Injured Child course. I agreed with her, but I didn’t really believe I would.

Make It Happen, Captain

However, she became ruthless about it. She cleared up some misconceptions that I had about the IAHP, and kept telling me, “Monique, you just need to make this happen.” Make this happen? How does one just make something like this happen? Money doesn’t just materialize when you need it.

Okay, maybe money doesn’t just materialize. However, it is amazing that when you make up your mind to make something happen, you can make it happen. I decided I was going to Philadelphia and I put down my deposit and made the rest happen.

Boarding A Plane

On that early September morning on the way to the airport, I had butterflies in my stomach. This was really happening. I had been dreaming about stepping foot onto the campus of The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential for 9 years. Now after 5 months since deciding I was going, I had made it happen. It was surreal.

Nearly 10 months since taking the What To Do About Your Brain-Injured Child Course(WTD course), life as we know it has changed forever. The programs that I learned to implement are making a HUGE difference for Little Z Man. We have in a general sense, to treat his whole body, physically, intellectually, and physiologically.

The Why Is More Important Than The How

I realized that knowing WHY you are doing a program with your child is just as important as HOW to do the program. The staff at the Institutes made me realize that without knowing WHY you are doing something, I am less likely to be motivated to do it. This is why the NACD programs did not work for my family. The short 10-minute videos and 1-2 page write-ups about their programs did not answer the WHY for me.

Notes and charts from the IAHP course

The literature available to me all about the programs available from the IAHP helps guide me on my journey and helps refresh all that I learned at the WTD course. After completing the course you can always find on my nightstand or kitchen table my binder full of notes, What To Do About Your Brain-injured Child, How to Teach Your Baby to Read, How Smart Is Your Baby? and How to Teach Your Baby to Be Physically Superb(the newer version is called Fit Baby, Smart Baby, Your Baby!)

Sometimes Books Don’t Do It Justice

 Honestly, when I was sitting in that course I realized a lot of the information was available in the books, however the course explained to me in more detail the WHYS and the HOWS in a way I could really get. Without the history of the program, the science behind how they figured out the brain works in children with brain injury, and the experiences of other families who were successful, the books did not have the same power as they do to me today.

These books are also not the type you read once and put away. I’m always coming back to them and rereading them and referencing them. Every time I read them something else jumps out at me. Something that we were not ready for the first time I read it and I forgot about jumps out at me and gives me new ideas.

No Secret Handshakes 

I kept hearing that the IAHP is a super secretive cult, and unless you are part of their Intensive program you can’t access their wealth of information to help your child. I have learned this couldn’t be further from the truth. The IAHP honestly wants to help as many families as physically possible. They are doing what they can to do that in a safe responsible way, such as:

  • Free webinars on Youtube
  • The What To Do About Your Brain-Injured Child book. This is a must-read for families and the prerequisite to all of the other programs.
  • The Home Program Consultation- After you take the course you can do with with your advocate via Skype
  • The What To Do About Your Brain-Injured Child course
  • Public Facebook group available to all families of special needs children thinking of taking the WTD course
  • Private Facebook group for families who have already taken the WTD course. Several staff members frequent this group.

Except Maybe Masking…

There is one program that the IAHP seems very hush-hush about, that is the masking program. However, this is for good reason. The masking program is only prescribed to children that have had a complete medical evaluation. They must be found to be fit for this program. If done on a child that is not a candidate it could be very unhealthy for them. It has nothing to do with the IAHP wanted to keep their methods secret. It’s about protecting children from well-meaning parents without the proper information.

That course is enough for many families to change their children’s lives without ever having to go back to the Institutes. However for myself, to keep my momentum I need to continue to learn. I need more, but that is just a personal thing. I have seen so much change in Little Z Man. Even so I feel like I need the staff at the Institutes to do a thorough evaluation on him. They will help me come up with a more personalized program for Z. I’m the type of person that will take on too much and not get anything done. I feel that having the staff guide me will keep me on track.

Once Was Not Enough

Next month we are jumping on a plane and the staff will be getting their hands on Little Z Man. Through the power of answered prayer and determination, we have made another trip to Philadelphia possible.

Conclusion

In order for any program to work, not just therapies. It could be a diet, financial plans, etc, the WHY is as important, maybe more important than the HOW. I need someone with the heart of a teacher guiding me through the process. It is very discouraging when I’m promised a coach and a whole program to find out that parts of the program are not included. Let alone only come at yet another fee.

For me, the IAHP is the tried, the tested, and true path for my son. They have 60+ years of experience and data to back them up. Yes of course they do have their cases where they cannot help that particular child. After taking the course I can now see that the kids they cannot help are not forgotten about. Actually, the opposite is true. Those are the kids on the back of their minds day in and out. Pushing them forward to find new techniques and programs to solve that problem.

 

You can read a bit about our journey with NACD in there past post:

Prepping for the NACD

What My Two Year Old and I Read Today. Mini NACD Update.

NACD Early Learning at 32 Months Old

NACD With My Nine Year Old. Helping Your Child with Reading Comprehension.

You can also read a bit about our journey so far with the IAHP in these post

Little Z update. Starting IAHP

UPDATE BEFORE LEAVING FOR THE IAHP

Day 1&2 Of My Trip To The IAHP

Monday- IAHP What To Do About Your Brain Injured Child

IAHP Nutritional Update

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Benefits of Montessori for ASD Kids by John Bowman

Benefits of Montessori for ASD Kids

 

Montessori learning materials, whether used in a Montessori school or at home, have a host of benefits for all young children, including ASD kids. The younger the child, the greater the benefits.

All development in early childhood, especially from birth to around 5-6, centers on brain development. Differences in the brain development of ASD children have been identified as early as 6 months of age.

Young children open as many as 700 new brain nerve pathways every second. By age 5-6, these pathways organize into the Brain Nerve Architecture that we use for the rest of our lives. Clearly, the experiences children have in their early years can dramatically affect the brain nerve architecture they are building.

Around 1905 Maria Montessori, by carefully observing children use hundreds of special learning materials she created, saw that young children develop their brains through movement, sensory experiences, and purposeful, independent activity. The learning materials and methods she developed for encouraging and supporting this process blossomed into a worldwide movement that now includes over 20,000 Montessori schools. Many parents now do Montessori at home.

Here are some of the positive things that happen when young children, including those diagnosed with ASD, use Montessori materials:

Concentration & Repetition

When given appropriate, hands-on materials to use, young children can focus their attention for significant periods of time. Montessori observed that repeatedly focusing concentration has a host of benefits for young children. They exhibit more joy, less anxiety, and increased sociability. They also become better able to learn anything in the future. Montessori materials are self-contained to help focus concentration. They are designed to be freely chosen and used for as long as a child wishes, including repeating favorite activities numerous times.

Sensory Integration

Young children are acquiring millions of direct sensory impressions of the real world. This is required in order to eventually consider the world mentally, using abstract thought, like older children and adults. Montessori materials support this process. They engage a child in manipulating objects with a purpose, having all kinds of sensory experiences, and using sensory information to compare, contrast, and organize objects based on their sensory characteristics.

Positive Self-Image

Montessori Practical Life materials, all of which are easy to create at home, allow children to master real life skills in a positive, sequential way. By doing this, a child acquires a positive self-image as a confident, capable person who can master challenges, succeed by applying effort, and act independently in the world.

Motor Skills

Practical Life and Sensorial materials help children develop both gross (large) and fine (small) motor (muscle) control and coordination. They guide children to naturally develop a proper writing grasp. This happens at just about the same time they become interested in learning to write. Motor skills help a child understand her position in space and succeed in challenging skills such as dance, swimming, gymnastics, and sports. These further reinforce a child’s self-image as that of a confident, successful person.

Independence

Maria Montessori stated that the goal of a Montessori Guide (or a parent using Montessori at home) is to help children achieve successive levels of increasing independence. This benefits all children, including ASD kids. Independent children learn accept themselves as they are and manage their own education and lives.

Reading, Writing, Math, and Science

By developing excellent, efficient brain nerve architecture in their formative years, young children using Montessori materials typically learn may skill. Like to read, write, work with numbers, and understand science concepts at a young age. They enter school with these vital skills already in place. Which sets them up for early and continued success in that environment.

ASD children have some built-in challenges in life. Montessori materials, whether at a Montessori school or at home, can help them optimize their development. Also make the most of their innate potential.

 

John Bowman is the author of:

Help Your Preschooler Build a Better Brain: Early Learning Activities for 2-6 Year Old Children

Teach Your 3-7 Year Old Math

Teach Your Preschooler to Read & Write

LeapFrog Letter Factory Leaping Letters Review

LeapFrog Letter Factory Leaping Letters ReviewLeapfrog leaping letters review

LeapFrog Letter Factory Leaping Letters Review

Little Z is not an easy child to shop for at Christmas time. Before the holidays, my mom had me on the search for some gift ideas. While we were shopping we landed up in the LeapFrog section of the toy store. Little Z had really wanted the My Pal Violet plushie toy to match his My Pal Scout. When were there we noticed this game, LeapFrog Letter Factory Leaping Letters.

Basically this game is like the game Perfection. Except instead of an assortment of shapes, this game requires the player to put the alphabet in order. There is also a second part to the game, level 2 I guess. You instead a card in the indent of the board and start trying to build as many 3 letter words.

I love that the timer is quite long. I mean the game is designed for 3-6 year olds, so I appreciate that they actually have a chance to complete the task. How frustrating would it be for Little Z to never be able to complete the game. However I do love that as they get older you can give them less and less time to complete the game.

playing LeapFrog Letter Factory Leaping Letters

I do have to say, keep your receipt when you purchase LeapFrog Letter Factory Leaping Letters. The first one we got was a dud. We sat down to play it with Z and the board would not click down. We landed up having to take it back to the store to exchange. The second one works great, and we have had no issues. However I wanted to be fully transparent as I would hate to mislead my readers.

I originally thought it was just a great game for fine motor skills and focus. Z already knows his alphabet and his letter sounds. However, this week I realized this game will be a perfect addition to the All About Spelling curriculum I plan to use with Z in the future. One activity that is required is learning how to put the alphabet in order. I think this game is a great start. Parents can talk to their child when they are looking to put the letter in its correct spot, “What comes before Q?” or “What letter comes after V”. It is a great tool to facilitate these types of conversations with with child, without them feeling like they are being tested.

Check out my Youtube video review:

What are your thoughts on the LeapFrog Letter Factory Leaping Letters?

Disclaimer: My son received this game as a gift from my mom. We were not paid or compensated in any way by this company to share our opinion. I just thought what an awesome addition to our homeschooling curriculum and wanted to share it with my readers.

Monday- IAHP What To Do About Your Brain Injured Child

What To Do About Your Brain Injured Child

What To Do About Your Brain Injured Child

If you missed my previous post about the Saturday and Sunday before the What To Do About Your Brain Injured Child course, you can find it HERE.

The First Day

Well then it was Monday morning. I was up before my alarm but figured I may as well get up because I was afraid that I fall back asleep and miss the beginning of class. Also if I left earlier I figured I would miss a lot of rush-hour traffic. It was also raining and I didn’t know how it would be to drive in less than ideal weather in a new city.

I was running way ahead of schedule, so I quickly stopped at a McDonald’s on the way. I figuring I could grab myself a BLT bagel and a smoothie. What I have to say that the McDonald’s in the US does not have nearly as good of a selection as in Canada. So I landed up just grabbing a smoothie and giving my mom a call. I knew she would be up even with the hour time change because they were going to my house to watch little Z for the morning as my mother-in-law had to work until noon. 

Pulling Up To The Campus

I arrived to the campus. It’s strange to think that first day everyone was so awkward. And by Friday we were all hugging each other and exchanging contact information. But anyhow it was Monday and no one knew anyone. I ran into the man who I had met at the wrong building the night before. His grandson had developed meningitis and from there developed complications which lead to brain injury. I wasn’t sure what to say when he was asking me what I have done with my boys to help them talk him. I mean I was no expert, there was a reason why I was taking the same class he was. Not to mention my boys have a completely different condition then his grandson. It was hard for me to not share my opinion, but I thought it was more important for him to take in what the experts had to tell him. I also know that a lot of what we did with the boys we may have done the hard way. So I was able to politely get myself out of those questions.

So Cold The Canadian From Winterpeg is Uncomfortable

I went into the auditorium and found my seat near the front. Now if you’ve heard anything about this course it’s that the auditorium is kept cold. You’re told to bring a sweater. I think this was the understatement of the century. If I had known the room was going to be as cold as it was, I would’ve brought my winter jacket. I later found out from my host who had taken the course for well babies, that the air conditioning unit they use is actually designed to cool a morgue.

What Each Jacket Means

We were first introduced to the staff. I found out that each staff member wore a certain colour jacket to signify which area they specialized in. There are the black jackets who focus on mobility and physical programs. Then there are the tan jackets who focus on intellectual programs. Whereas the staff wearing the green jackets specialize in physiological development. 

We spent the day learning:

  • What is brain injury?
  • What is the causes of brain injury?
  • Brain injury is in the brain and why the past has not worked. 
  • The range of brain injury.

What Are Monday’s So Hard??

Monday for me was the hardest day. I was adjusting to the cold temperature and to be honest I was probably a little sleep deprived from travelling still. But I think the main thing was there wasn’t really anything that connected just yet to my child. I mean yes it did make sense and it was extremely interesting however I did have trouble near the end of the day staying with it. I see how through the week where this stuff connected, and why we needed to know it.  But by Tuesday they had my full undivided attention. But Monday was a little hard but still very important.

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A Word From Glenn Doman

Another thing I found interesting, is even though Glenn Doman had passed away a few years ago, he is still very much present in the course. Some of his lectures were recorded. I felt that they had placed an empty chair in the middle of the stage when his videos were playing. Part of me felt like he was sitting right there telling us what we needed to know to help our kids. I know this might sound crazy but it was was how I felt. I don’t know if this was intentional by the stuff, but I couldn’t help but think that’s where he used to sit. So even though Glenn Doman and is gone, he still very much alive at the Institute.

My First Chick-fil-A Experience

We didn’t get out of the course till well after 9 pm. I hoped in my rental car and headed to the local Chick-fil-A. I made it there with less than 30 minutes before they closed. We do not have this chain in Canada, and it was located near the Institute campus, so that is where I ate most nights. It was the beginning of my true love for this restaurant.

No Cellphones, No Distractions Allowed

I had really hoped that I could have connected with other parents after class and gone out for dinner with them in the evenings. But there was no time for that. I needed to grab something quick, then drive home, get cracking on my homework, and of course call home to see how my family was doing. They recommend you turn your cellphone off during the day. Not just on silent, but completely off. My family had the number for the switchboard in case of an emergency. But my 100% attention needed to be on that campus. So if you’re attending this course, this is the most important thing, TURN OFF YOUR CELLPHONE.

Now before you start to worry about the homework. There is really know right or wrong. It just gives you the time to reflect on what you learned that day.

Even though my mind was spinning with information, that night, I had no issues falling asleep.

 

Picture Books for 4 Year Olds: What We Read in June 2016

Picture Books for 4 Year Olds20160612_233816159_iOS

Lately I have been spending a lot of time on Pinterest looking for ideas for picture books for 4 year olds read aloud time. When find a good list, I take it and use it to order books from our local library. I have also been reading through the books in our personal library with Little Z as well. I thought that I would start to share what we read each month, in case any of my readers are looking for some book ideas.

Little Z’s attention span towards books is getting longer and longer. This is allowing us to hit up many books that in the past were to long for him. This is super exciting for me, as it allows me to expose him to new vocabulary.

So this is what my 4 year old and I read in June 2016

  1.  I Love You Always and Forever
  2.  Grandfather Twilight
  3.  Light Up the Night
  4.  Max and Ruby: Super Max Saves the World
  5.  My Grandpa Is Great
  6.  This Little Pirate
  7.  World of Reading: Jake and the Never Land Pirates Pirate Campout: Level 1
  8.  My Ponies (Hello Reader!)
  9. Your Baby Can Read Book 1
  10. Roadwork! (Disney/Pixar Cars) (Step into Reading)
  11.  Thomas and the School Trip (I Can Read It All By Myself Beginner Books)
  12.  The Berenstain Bears Catch the Bus: A Tell the Time Story (Step into Reading, Step 2)
  13.  When We Go Camping
  14.  Night Lights
  15. Superman Classic: Superman versus the Silver Banshee (I Can Read Level 2)
  16. Olivia Helps Mother Nature (Ready-to-Read Level One)
  17. Puss in Boots- I Can Read- Level 1
  18. Parts (Picture Puffin Books)
  19. I Can Do It! (Step into Reading)
  20. The Chick That Wouldn’t Hatch
  21. Dinosaur Ed (Reader’s Digest) (All-Star Readers)
  22. Olivia Helps Mother Nature (Ready-to-Read Level One)
  23. Blackout
  24. Curious George Cleans Up (CGTV Reader)
  25. Super Spies (Disney/Pixar Cars 2) (Step into Reading)
  26. Pumpkins (Science Sight Word Readers)
  27. Milk and Cookies
  28. 1, 2, 3, Bunny (Focus on Family)
  29. Old Mother Hubbard
  30. Good Night Bear! (Troll First-Start Science)
  31. Down The Drain – Finding Nemo Phonics Set
  32. Beauty and the Beast – Level 1 – I Can Read
  33. First On The Moon
  34. I Have to Go (Sesame Street Toddler Books)
  35. Planet Earth: Baby Penguins
  36. A Very Busy Firehouse (Community Helpers)
  37. Halloween Countdown
  38. Thank You Prayer
  39. Just Like Dad (Little Golden Book)
  40. Grover’s Adventure Under the Sea (Peek-a-Board Books)

Now this might not look like many books, however we also have been reading stories out of the book Random House Book of Easy-to-Read Stories. As well as a story from My Good Night Devotions (Bean Sprouts) each night.

Check out a past What We Read post:

What My 2 Year Old(32 months) And I Read This Month January 2015

What books have you and your little ones read recently?