Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Resources from Last Blog

I mentioned the Chinese DVD's which we use with our kids. You could start kids as young as 1 on these DVD's I think.

Journeys to the East, The River Dragon King (games and activities at www.mandarinadvantage.com
Early Start Mandarin Chinese with Bao Bei the Panda (several volumes, all good)
Let's Go Guange

We also watch Ni Hao, Kai Lan and have her movie about traveling to China.

We started Chinese because we were scheduled to move to Singapore. That move was canceled, but we are keeping up with the Chinese. Basically, if you want your kids to learn a second language, there are great dvd's for just about all of them. A recent article in the New York Times highlighted new studies about people who speak two languages fluently. Among other benefits, these dual language speakers developed an increased ability to think creatively and problem-solve.

Another great resource we found for Alex has been a website called www.abilitations.com. This site has all kinds of tools for kids with myriad disabilities. We found an awesome weight for Alex's left hand which is basically a glove full of beans that attaches to either the back or front of his left hand, simply and easily. It means that whatever he does with lefty, he has added weight which will help build his arm and shoulder muscles. Also, the very fact that something is touching that hand seems to wake it up and remind it to move more throughout the day. Alex wears this thing for a good chunk of the day and doesn't complain too much.

And finally, on happiness...we were tipped off that this book might change our lives. It certainly has given us reason to examine how we live and our daily interactions and make some changes, that's for sure. I recommend it to anyone. The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Continued Progress

Alex was finally able to point with his left hand this morning, which means that his pointer finger is recovering from the seizures. It has been nearly 7 weeks since his seizures and still we are making our recovery. Alex is still exhausted in the afternoons, so we take our afternoon easy. I am a firm believer in setting up the kids for success, so we make the most of our mornings with Mommy School, our athletics and any errands that might require good behavior, and save the afternoons for quiet activities, long baths and cartoons.

Mommy School has been an incredible journey for all of us. Alex is thriving. Izzy is less than thrilled. Entertaining and educating two so different children has been a challenge. Alex has gone from being able to write only his name to writing all the big and small letters in the alphabet. Since he was already reading well, he is now able to write. We keep a daily journal, and it has inspired him to write full sentences. We have also started copy work, where he copies sentences from books or which I write on a dry erase.

After tapping maple trees at Grandma's, we created a How-To book about tapping maple trees, which we published via Apple on our computer. We also have hand created a book about our upcoming trip out west. We have studied Utah and Colorado and made pictures and text about the important things we wanted to study--the kinds of snakes and dangerous spiders, our rendition of the dinosaurs who roamed that area, etc. This we will bind with string and take with us.

One of the most incredible advances over the last 7 weeks has been the kids' Chinese language. We discovered several excellent DVD's which they love to watch, and both of them are speaking the words they are learning. I watch and study with the kids to keep up with them, although I can't remember even a fraction of what they remember.

Their math skills have also taken off. Alex does a page of addition, subtraction and multiplication every day, and Izzy is practicing counting, simple addition and writing her numbers.

Mommy School has been awesome. It has also been challenging. Alex has left his stage of pinching and now has full blown temper tantrums when he can't do things he wants to do. It is made all the harder because Izzy tries to help him, which just makes him madder. She is so physically capable and he sees her ease with everything. Learning to deal with these frustrations is difficult for all of us. We use a number of techniques to help Alex calm down and get back to his task. The best one is to stop everything and get some exercise. We have him run around our kitchen island or we all go out for a short run. We also gave him a soft frog to hug against his face when he is mad. We have tried counting to ten, folding his hands, etc. We realize a lot of 4-year olds go through this stage, and although Alex's situation is made harder due to his disabilities, we try to treat him with understanding but firmness. He needs to learn to deal with frustrations now, because it will only get harder as he gets older.

Most of all, we try to be happy every day. Teaching my kids how to find happiness is probably one of the most important things I can give them to set them up for a lifetime of happiness and success. We celebrate progress, we appreciate challenges, we run trails and along the beach and connect to nature, we think of ways to bring happiness to others, and we spend time with the people we love.