Happy Back to School Day!!


The holidays were amazing, fun, exhausting. We hung out with friends, met some new friends, played entirely too much Rock Band and of course, ate more than my share of Christmas goodies. It was gooooooood.

I feel like I can jump into the new year with a smile on my face. Love that!

Last year on 1/6/08 I blogged this:

I've made my annual list of goals (I don't like to call them "resolutions") to include the usual: work out more, create a financial budget, make weekly meal plans; and a few new ones: enroll the kids in a summer camp, find some new llama trails to hike, make a summer reading plan for Sam.

I can't remember if I've blogged about Sam, but last month he was tested for learning disabilities, and we found out he qualifies for help in both reading and writing. I've been concerned about his reading skills for the last two years, but chalked it up to the myth that boys are "slower learners" than girls at his age. And his writing skills were, in my opinion, ever further behind than his reading. He all but refused to even pick up a pencil at school. Unfortunately, I thought it was a behavior problem, and not a learning problem.

The testing gave me a ton of valuable information and insight into his strengths and weaknesses in reading, writing and math. And I learned just what qualifies as a "learning disability". The short version is, through testing, they look for a certain level of discrepancy between cognitive ability and actual performance. In other words, they measure his IQ, then measure his actual current level of abilities in those three areas, and if there's a large enough "gap", then it's labeled as a disability.

I learned he has "average intelligence". His IQ falls pretty much in the middle of the "normal" range. This was GOOD news. His performance in reading and writing, though, fall in the "low average" to "very low" range. He reads at an early first grade level (he's halfway through second grade now) and writes at a Kindergarten level, with a few writing skills falling in the pre-K level. Most of his math skills are in the "average" level.

They test for dozens of specific areas of ability, and Sam's scores were everywhere from pre-K to mid-eighth grade level. His strengths are: he has an amazing memory for detail, and when he hears a story read, his comprehension and re-telling abilities are 7th to 8th grade level. When he reads a story, though, comprehension falls to the Kindergarten level. Knowing this, we'll focus on giving him oral instruction rather than written, letting him take his spelling tests orally, things like that. I'm really excited about using these new techniques to help him!

So he has started going to the resource room twice a day, 4 days a week for reading and writing help. One of my main goals for this year is to focus on educating myself on dyslexia, and multi-sensory education methods so I can do everything in my power to help him improve his reading and writing skills.

What I learned from this? Follow my instincts and don't listen to myths or people who tell me what's "normal" when my gut tells me it's wrong. Then don't waste time worrying about time lost, just focus on moving forward and making progress. :)

So...that's going to be my theme for 2008: PROGRESS. Count the progress made. And be HAPPY for it!

So how'd I do? Well, I certainly didn't make weekly meal plans. Ha! Not even close.

Budgeting? I did do a little better with planning ahead, saving up and making do. Not a budget, per se, but progress in that direction.

Work out more? Yep. The summer was full of bike trips, kayaking, walking dogs, yardwork. Fall slowed down a little, but I still walk the dogs several times a week, weather permitting, and I don't miss a day hauling hay out to the llamas, carrying buckets of water and keeping the hutch swept and shoveled. Progress.

A summer reading plan for Sam? Nope. In fact, I don't think we cracked a book all summer. And it certainly showed when he was tested at the beginning of the school year. His reading regressed quite a bit, but he was able to catch right back up in a matter of a couple weeks.

So, all in all, I feel like progress was made. And I am grateful for it. So I met my goals!

I have to give some thought to this year's word and goals. I need to take today to think, while the house is quiet and the kids are in school.

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