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After being told I would never be able to have children, I am now a stay-at-home Mommy to Maddie who happens to have Down Syndrome. I've been married 16 years to my best friend, having the time of my life. Thanks for stopping by and sharing in our little journey through life.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Homeschooling: Creating the Right Learning Environment

We have begun our homeschooling adventures here at the Schasteen house!  
I was hoping to find a "perfect" private school for Maddie like this one but my search came up empty.

Since I couldn't find what I was searching for, I decided to create it myself...and here we are homeschooling!
We are actually doing a hybrid version of private school/homeschooling.  
She is still attending the private preschool she went to last year two days a week, and I am working with her the other 3 days.  

I still felt it was important for her to be in a "typical" developing environment for a couple of reasons:
1) Maddie can learn so much from her peers.
2)  Since she's an only child, she really benefits from the social interactions she gets while at preschool.  

Although we just celebrated her 6th birthday, she's in the 3-year-old class.
This fits her developmental needs best.  

With the struggles we have had with Sensory Processing Disorder to regulate her system, last year was a tough year. 
We are super fortunate to have the same teachers she had last year again this year! 

I really love the flexibility we have with homeschooling.  
My favorite thing is when Maddie comes to ask me, "wanna play?"
And I say, "yes!"

And we sort Easter eggs.
 and then line them up to create a pattern.
As a side note, do you notice the rock-star-type device she's wearing?  
That's her bone conduction therapy device.  
It's amazing!!!
We began doing music therapy with her last October as an Integrated Listening System to treat her SPD.  
Although we saw a bit of progress, we eventually hit a plateau and then digressed a bit.  
And then came the bone conduction therapy! 
At our last OT visit, Maddie is FINALLY looking like a regulated child!!!
What we spent 7 months trying to accomplish with music therapy, we finally accomplished within 14 weeks of bone conduction therapy!!!!
It basically bypasses the auditory system altogether and relays sound through the bones (like in utero).  This, in turn, trains the brain to receive and process information differently.
And this has made all the difference :)

OK, back on track wtih our homeschool story...

 We read one of our library books...

 Maddie re-created the steps in the book, learning sequence and number recognition.

And then her favorite part...
We got in a lot of gross motor play running around the house from the bear!

We also worked on fine motor skills while practicing pouring beans.

She uses her ipad and this stylus to practice writing all of her letters.
With other ipad apps, she can name all of the shapes including pentagon!

But my favorite accomplishment of hers has to be her amazing puzzle skills.
By the end of the week, she put together a 24 piece puzzle all by herself!  Wow!

She didn't really want me to tape her, so I didn't push my luck, but later this same week, she did the puzzle from start to finish with no help from Mommy!!

I love this series of photos because it shows her sheer determination.
These puzzles do not come easy to her, but she's so stubborn she's going to get it done!!

So far, homeschooling has been working great for us.
I love that I feel like I've got a handle on where she's at developmentally and what goals are appropriate for her.
I love getting to see her accomplish tasks and persevere through her frustration.
I also love the flexibility.

That's some highlights of our first couple of weeks.
I hope to keep posting to keep me accountable and also have a record of her progress.
(plus it's great for Grandma to see what she's doing to help us set new goals!)
We are spoiled to have a Grandma with TONS of experience  and expertise in teaching little ones!

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