Tuesday, November 30, 2010


A rough day, today.  Well, it was relatively calm until I sat down with S to try and do some homework.  She is not able to just sit down and do homework by herself; for one thing, she can't read the directions at all, and further, there is no way she could complete really any of her homework papers independently.  And these are not difficult papers to do.  The sticking point today was using a number line and completing the 'blanks' when asked the numbers used to count by 10s, 5s, 2s, and 3s.  She couldn't do any of it.  There was no point at which I could start the thinking process and she could finish it, and write the correct number on the line, without my pretty much telling her the answer.  It's becoming more and more clear that when she doesn't truly understand the concept, she starts to mentally check out, and then keeping her focused on the work is just about impossible.  Today, the scene ended with her crying angrily in her room (where I put her, and then really slammed the door, which we've consistently told the girls NOT to do), and me sitting at the table writing a note to her teacher and then sitting with my head in my hands.  It sucked.  It shouldn't surprise me at this point, how much she really, truly does not understand when it comes to math concepts.  Reading homework is not quite as challenging.  If repetition is the key to learning when working with children with PWS, then I think S is still at the point where the most basic math facts still need lots and lots and lots of repeating.  As I wrote in the note to the teacher, S doesn't consistently understand, at this point, even the basic fact that 1+1 = 2....how on earth can we expect her to understand counting by 10s???  She can certainly memorize the series of numbers 0-10-20-30 etc, but she truly does not understand what she is doing when she says that series of numbers.  The same goes when she counts by 2s or 3s or any other number. 

The math curriculum my school district uses is based on a "spiralling" technique, where the teacher covers a concept a day, and then moves on to the next one, and then in a week or two or three comes back to the first concept and reviews it, adding to that concept gradually.  I'm thinking this curriculum does not work well for kids like S who are significantly challenged in terms of short-term-memory.  For all I know, maybe her teacher covered that same math material in their classroom today what was on that homework paper...but S is not going to remember it until they've gone over it 50 times in a row (and even then, is she understanding it or is she just memorizing numbers?).  I'm not expecting her to ever overcome the inherent learning challenges that all PWS kids face - but why send this kind of homework home when she clearly is not at that level yet?  In our conference with her teacher last week, I did mention that if it ever becomes a choice between forcing her to get homework done and maintaining quality-of-life - i.e. some kind of sanity - in our home, I would be choosing sanity and peace over homework, and they all agreed with me.  So I'm more than ready to send the papers back to her teacher with a note saying "we just couldn't get this done", and I know the school staff wouldn't have a problem with that (how she would then be passing her grade level I don't know, but I was also assured she would never have to repeat a grade, so ???).  The problem arises with S; children w/PWS are very attuned to following the rules and following the routine, and she got very upset today and on other days when I made any mention of sending the paper back unfinished.  Sending anything back unfinished is not routine, it goes against the pattern we've been following since school started.  I want S to work at her own pace and not be absolutely a terror when trying to get work done.  Her teacher feels the same.  I do not enjoy getting frustrated with her as we try to do homework.    S is stuck on the idea that homework must be finished every night and taken back to school the next day.  We are only a few months into first grade, and the homework is, even if it is simplified for her, only going to get harder. Today's episode with her really, really sucked - and an hour later, she was pretty much over it, and me? Well, it's 4 hours later and I'm still recovering, partly because there is more homework on the way tomorrow.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Wow; cleaning the attic; quesadillas!

Wow, hard to believe it has been over a year since I wrote anything on this blog! How time flies.  I think the challenge about maintaining a blog of any kind is that it demands a certain kind of self-confidence that probably most people don't have...obviously I don't, always! It requires the consistent belief that what one has to say is actually of interest to anyone besides oneself.  While I am a passable writer, I don't honestly believe that my opinions about life are always of interest to my friends, family, or the general public.  But, that's okay.  I'll change up that old saying "you can please some of the people some of the time", and say that "I can interest some of the readers, some of the time".

Yesterday I spent a few hours cleaning out one of our attic spaces, partly with the goal of taking out and going through all the boxes of Christmas flotsam and jetsam.  I got quite a bit done; however I am paying for it today, as I think I may have pinched a nerve or something in the ol' spine/back area, and I'm having balance problems today.  I'm still relieved though to have taken the time to go through that space and rearrange the stuff in there.  I guess I don't mind having boxes of holiday 'stuff' but if we are going to keep it all, I think we need to be realistic about how much of it we actually use, and how much of it we really, truly want to bring out AND PUT AWAY every holiday.  I know Brad is all about putting it out...packing it away and putting the boxes back in the attic in an orderly fashion, not so much.  For myself I can honestly say that I know me on this topic, and I know I really don't want to drag everything out every holiday when it's only going to be out for 3 weeks.  And, because our house is small, in order to even put anything out we have to move or put away a bunch of other stuff first anyway, what a chore.  Brad doesn't really have the time to deal with it all, or the energy, and I don't have the desire, so I say let's get rid of it!!  I even pondered, yesterday since the weather here was decent, setting up a table on the lawn and doing a very impromptu yard sale, and getting rid of holiday stuff.  I didn't do that, of course, as it was just me home with the girls and that pretty much squashes any spontaneity like that, but I did think about it.  I also thought about setting aside holiday decor with the plan of having a yard sale in the spring - but you know how THAT goes.  You set it aside, and six months later when it's actually time to have the sale, you decide you still want those things OR you can't even remember where they are!

On a completely unrelated note, I wonder if I can put carrot shavings in the girls' quesdillas tonight - upping their vegetable consumption - without them noticing?