Mirrored Writing

Have you ever seen the servers write their name upside down at Macaroni Grill? I waited tables there for years and really had the backwards cursive signature down pat. It took practice though. It wasn’t like I just automatically write in reverse although sometimes it looks like my daughter SJ does.

 

left handed mirrored writing

She hasn’t been writing for long, but in the past couple years I have noticed a trend where she not only writes from right to left, but the letters are often backwards as well.

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Above is a drawing of her dad teaching her to ride her bike. The names are Daddy, Ezra, Sedona, and Mommy. Not all spelled correctly, but clearly written starting on the right. Writing her family’s names is one of her favorite things to do and it always looks something like this.

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Of course I freaked out a little bit when I saw this repeatedly because she has been a detail oriented perfectionists since she was two. I could tell story after story of how visual and focused she is. I think some of it comes from her delayed access to sound. So I knew it must be something that was a mix up going on inside her mind and not just her being silly or sloppy.

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It sounds like I am the perfectionist, but I am not! Not at all. Thanks to her speech delay I have never expected her to be able to write at age four. I was just worried because I hated the idea of her as a special needs child to have another hurdle to face.

I do realize dyslexia is more than just backwards letters, but at the same time I didn’t like how consistent she was with this mirrored writing. All kids mix up letters and left and right from time to time, but this was so thorough!

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The above is her copy of the “EAT MOR CHIKIN” sign from Chic-fil-A. So in this case she was looking directly at the message she was copying. The words below were completely from memory and those are some of her sight words. I, am, the, little.

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Here is the beginning of the alphabet (she did this in the car recently)

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And here is the same image MIRRORED. There are a few backwards letters like J, N, and P, but she’s still learning. I think if she knew the “right” way to write them then she probably would have written all of them backwards!

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I could give other examples about reading or journaling from back to front, but I have been asking about this for years and the experts didn’t seem concerned. She goes to a special private school where they give frequent assessments and go through everything with a fine tooth comb. They told me not to worry. When she is at school with the lined paper and direct instruction she seems to be doing everything the correct way from left to right. Most importantly she really enjoys reading and writing. And she absolutely loves homework!

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Still, at the last parent teacher conference I brought it up AGAIN and they looked through some samples I brought and explained why the order and precision of her work does not show signs of dyslexia at all. Not that I think dyslexia is the worst thing in the world. Like I said though, she has enough extra obstacles due to her hearing loss without adding any other disabilities.

The more people I talk to and the more I research online it looks like her mirrored writing can probably be attributed to her being left handed. Just one of the many resources I have found to support this is from the Better Health Channel and it says

  • Left-handed children learning to write often write back to front (‘mirror’ writing). This is a natural inclination, not a sign of dyslexia, and will resolve given time, practice and encouragement.

She just has to be the minority in every aspect doesn’t she? That little stinker! I am just joking. I am serious though about being grateful that this whole mystery is pretty much solved.

Have you seen or known any mirror writers? This was a first for me.

By | October 16th, 2015|Schooling, Special Needs|8 Comments

School is Cool

I realize I already talked about school yesterday and don’t want to bore you all, but I do have more to share and I’ll tell you why.

1. I am extremely passionate about education. If we can get our kids to love to learn then the sky is the limits on what they will achieve through self motivation.

2. Public schools get so much bad press and some of it’s deserved, but what about all the of the good, life changing things that happening!? I want to be someone who shines some light on the positive and gives credit where credit is due to all the phenominal teachers out there busting their butts.

3. Lastly, I also love homeschooling families and have a great amount of respect for the mothers that are investing everything into teaching their own children. For all my friends and reader who homeschool it is my hope that some of these ideas could possibly be inspirational.

So here are some fun highlights from this first semester of the 2015/2016 school year.

Kindergarten

Ohhhh, it’s so hard for me to narrow it down. They do so many cool hands on learning activities for each subject and theme it is incredible. The time spent learning about maps is probably my favorite so far. First of all I told you that SJ learned her city, state, and country. She also learned the pledge and I put that video up on youtube this morning so here it is (not perfect, but still a big deal!).

Then with permission from parents they looked up each student’s address in google maps and displayed the homes on the smart board. SJ LOVED this. I was a little reluctant because we live in such a dumpy old house (for my small space peeps the garage isn’t even ours), but at this age the innocence and appreciation children have astounds me and she was so proud of what she calls her “rectangle house”

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Another activity they did with maps was to bring in a stuffed animal from home and leave it at the school overnight. The next day the students went into the class room to find all their furry buddies were gone and there were foot prints leaving the classroom! They posted some of these hilarious photos on the Facebook page. SJ’s toy is the unicorn.

 

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That morning each child was given a clue and a map to try to navigate through the school and find their beloved toy.

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In the end each student was reunited with their animal and they had such a fun time while learning how to use maps!

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 2nd Grade

As with SJ’s school I could just go on and on all day about what Z comes home learning and how they make interesting for the kids.

For the lesson on fossils they used different materials to imprint shells and compare how the materials held the shape, which one worked better and why.

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They also had a lesson in digging with tooth picks for fossils using chocolate chip cookies. The goal was to find as many chocolate chips as possible while keeping them in their original condition. Sounds delicious!

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Also, the second graders have been reading and writing about farms and they had a very special guest who owns a farm, but also happens to be the PRINCIPAL!

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I love their school principal so much he is really involved and I love how he cares so much about connecting with the parents and children.

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Quick story to share what I mean. One day I was picking Z up from school and he said he had something he wanted to show the principal so he bolted through the administrative office down the hall to the principals office. I was mortified! It happened so fast I couldn’t stop him. I mean he might as well have broken into the white house. You just don’t do that! The secretaries came over to see what was needed and just then the principal walked up and Z showed him the little game he made. The principal was completely interested and focused on every word this little 1st grader had to say and was showing some of the other staff members what impressive work they were doing in his class. As I watched and eaves dropped from a  distance I held back the tears.

It was the perfect picture of our heavenly Father and the relationship he has with us. He has authority and power and yet he give us ACCESS so that even if it’s something so simple or seemingly insignificant we have his undivided attention. Oh. How grateful I am for the direct line I have of communion with God. Ephesians 3:12 In him and by faith in him we can approach God with freedom and confidence. Thank you Lord.

I know that’s a total side note, and I understand their have to be some rules and boundaries at school, blah blah blah, but that was such a wonderful reminder for me of Christ’s love for us and now I have it written down.

Okay, so now that this post is really lengthy and all over the place I will just end with saying yes I do love my children’s schools. I am so happy that the Lord has placed us here and divinely orchestrated everything for them to be in such good care. I look forward to the months ahead.

By | October 15th, 2015|Schooling|8 Comments

Kindergarten Success!

I’ll admit to being apprehensive about the day SJ would go to Kindergarten. She has always been so far behind in speech (due to her late identified hearing loss) that I just didn’t know if she would even be ready in time. At the end of her IEP meetings they always ask if I have any goals that I would personally like to add to her plan and I would always say that I want to reach academic goals like knowing the alphabet or being able to count past 10. It’s been a big mountain in my mind. Last evaluation report I received she was at the level of a 3 year old with her speech. My concern was how on earth she would be able to not only catch up with her vocabulary and articulation, but to learn reading, writing, and mathmatics at the same time!

Well, it’s been a little less than 2 months since her first day of Kindergarten and I have been completely blown away with her progress.

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I know I sound dramatic, but I really cannot express enough how amazed I have been with what she has learned in such a small amount of time. It is is unbelievable!!!

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We are talking about a girl that has made great strides in speech, but she rarely talks in complete sentences, doesn’t know the ABC’s (the song, or the order, but she does actually recognize them) and a lot of the words she does know are extremely difficult for her to enunciate. I am not undermining how far she has come, but I didn’t see her being ready for Kindergarten work at all, until she came home and completely proved me wrong!

In the past 8 weeks she has learned when her birthday is, she is really close to knowing all of the months of the year and days of the week.  She learned her city and state and how to spell it! She has come home talking about President Obama, The White House, and saying the pledge of Allegiance! In this video she leaves out “for which it stands”. It’s hit or miss, but she’s almost got it! *Never mind about the video for now. It’s too large to post, but I’ll work on that.

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She knows several sight words and last night when she did her homework she was reading simple familiar sentences on her own and she had to write the missing word with multiple choice sight words. She did the whole lesson on her own (other than one written backwards, which is another topic entirely. I’ll have to tell you all about it sometime)

After she finished her assignment she said “I tell teacher I do homework by myself. Mommy, not help me.” I looked her and said “Yeah. That’s right” and  she said “You proud me.” It wasn’t a question, it wasn’t Are you proud of me? She said it as a fact, because it’s true. I am proud of her. I am so so proud of her. I just about cried in that moment. She has to work twice as hard just to get to the starting point, but she’s doing it.

I was going to do a post about this anyway, but it’s perfect timing because Ohio Valley Voices (SJ’s school) has just a couple days left in a competition to win $10,000 as one of Cincinnati’s favorite nonprofits. They are only a few hundred votes behind first place. It’s easy to vote and it would mean so much to me, SJ, and all the people impacted by this incredible school.

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Go to moment.com> Choose Cincinnati> Fill in your name, email, business name, and phone number> Choose Ohio Valley Voices (I think it’s the 6th one down on the list)>click VOTE. It takes seconds to complete. The short form will ask for a business name. I don’t even know what you are supposed to put there, but I just put OVV, so feel free to do the same.

Thank you so much for supporting such a wonderful cause. I can’t guarantee that we’ll win, but it sure would help the school if we did!

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This has been the best school year so far. I don’t know why I ever doubted.

By | October 14th, 2015|Schooling, Special Needs|0 Comments

Ideas for Helping Kids With Daily Routines

“Routines involve repetition.  Repetition involves predictability. Predictability involves stability. Stability involves security.  Kids crave routines because routines make kids feel safe and secure.” – Maci Elkins

When I was a new mom I read “Baby Wise” which is a book about getting your little bundle on a schedule from the beginning. I quickly learned that that approach would NOT work for me. I am the messy mom. Laid back is my middle name. Just call me The Messy Laid Back Mom. Actually, don’t call me that.

The fact is we have had to be flexible because the past 3 years of our life has demanded it. On the other hand, as my babies get older and more independent I realize they require more routine to help them navigate through this unpredictable world. So this week I have been focusing on the topic of routine and structure, but sometimes (or in my case most of the time) that concept is easier said than done.

The other day my friend Tiffany posted this question-

What do you moms do with your kids after school? In my house, there’s just a lot of fussing, boredom, and people complaining about doing homework. Would appreciate your ideas. THANKS.

I already shared our morning and afternoon routine, but that isn’t even half the battle. You can schedule your day down to the minute but how do you get a rowdy bunch of little ones to go along with your plans? In Tiffany’s case this means 4 kids, including 2 year old twins and 4 and 6 year old boys. There is certainly no easy answer to that question, but I can tell you what has worked for me and share some other ideas that I found online.

For my family, it’s all about the timer/alarm. I have about a dozen alarms on my phone that go off throughout the day. These alarms are set for everything from just waking up to reminding me to go get the kids from school. All of those things that I listed yesterday are all alarms on my phone.

 

 

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Granted, if my volume is down or my phone is in the other room I may not hear it, but I usually have my phone with me and these are activities I am anticipating anyway so the phone is more of a backup.

My oldest son made the system a little more fun last year by adding emojis and special ring tones. This was totally his own doing by the way. He also added more alarms that said “Too late” or “Really really late!!!!” with little screaming emojis… which I deleted. He knows us too well.

I love the alarm sound options. I use the ducks for bath time and the robot for when it’s time to leave (my mom mentioned that it sounds like it is saying “beep-ba-beep Time To Go” and now we sing along when it goes off. Also, the crickets are a great signal that it is time for bed. As a bonus the kids love it when they have a day off school and my alarms are still going off because they are set for every weekday. They love to laugh and joke about it, “Uh-oh. Time to go to school- NOOOO!” It’s a fun reminder of the responsibilities that they are off the hook for on that special day.

So the kids get some visual and auditory queues that times up and we are moving on to the next activity. It’s even a sensory tool in some ways because the phone vibrates and at times I have had to bring it up to my daughter with hearing loss to let her feel and see that the alarm was going off. Last year I wrote a post called The Magic Kitchen Timer . I talked about how the timer is a great alternative to just nagging and screaming because a machine is not an emotional being. It can’t be offended or manipulated.  The routine becomes more about the clock and less about you just being mean. Your kids will still whine and protest, at least mine do. And you will still have to nag at times. For me though, I feel so much more prepared and armed when I have my timer to blame. Hey, the timer said times up, not me!

*I repeat, this has not eliminated all struggles in our home. Some days are better than others. Long term results have definitely been positive though or I would not have kept it up for the past three years .*

Here are a few links to some other schedule incentives that I thought looked promising. 

Pill box reward tool by The Inclusive Church. 

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Having treats for every little thing might be overkill on a daily basis, but this system was designed for special needs kids in a church program and for those situations it seemed pretty cool.

 

For older kids you could just hang up a list. This printable schedule by Smashed Peas and Carrots reminded me a lot of our routine.

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I thought this clock looked like a great idea to give kids a visual.


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The fussing, boredom, and complaining that Tiffany mentioned is not in any way unusual and unfortunately somewhat inevitable, but hopefully these ideas can help.

Maybe you have a creative solution of your own. Please feel free to share it in the comments. It might be just the thing another mom needs to hear!

 

By | August 27th, 2015|Parenting Tips, Schooling, Special Needs|5 Comments

Are Unexcused Absences Ever Excusable?

I take school and academics very seriously, but I am not opposed to missing a day every once in a while even when the reasons aren’t related to death or illness. Maybe you’ve seen some of the headlines in the news lately.

Mike Rossi is a dad who wrote a very passionate letter to the school’s principal which then went viral. The letter came as a response to the disapproval of him taking his kids out of school to watch him run in the Boston Marathon.

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Then there was a mom, who was also a substitute teacher that was ARRESTED because her 10 year old honor student had too many unexcused absences. He was allowed 6, but had 12. Some of those were excused with a doctor’s note, but the mother, Julie Giles, claims they were all illness related. Giles says:

“The truth is, l cannot afford a copay every single time they are sick, but I never want to send them to school when they feel bad or could possibly get others sick,”

No doctor’s note, no excuse. Sometimes your child is too sick for school, but not sick enough to have to see a doctor. I completely understand what that’s like! On the other hand there are always two sides to every story. I do realize the importance of rules and protocol, but it’s like Mike Rossi said in regards to his children’s Boston Marathon absences

“Zero tolerance equals zero common sense, and in this case, they made this blanket rule and say, no exceptions? It’s silly.”

Thankfully I haven’t run into this problem with our schools. My children have missed school for various reasons, including trips and family events. I know their classmates have too. I haven’t heard or experienced any backlash from this.

When my husband J was wrapping up his last semester he wanted to bring Z to his college campus to see a project he had been working on. J had spent months working to perfect a Tic-Tac-Toe game. I know that might sound ridiculous for a grown man who is in college, but maybe a little less silly when you realize he was programing software that would enable a robot to play Tic-Tac-Toe. J had been sending updates and videos to Z every step of the way and now that it was finally complete he really wanted Z to be able to see it in action. So I emailed his teacher and told the school exactly what was going on knowing that this was technically an unexcused absence. His teacher and the faculty were extremely supportive. Z was able to be a part of invaluable learning opportunity visiting a college campus and playing Tic-Tac-Toe with a robot in 1st grade! Not to mention the priceless memories with his dad.

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I really hope these irrational standards for school attendance are isolated incidences and that the majority of our schools really do support the families they are serving.

So, let’s chat.

Did your parents allow you to miss school for certain events when you were growing up? What about your children? I think you know how I feel.

By | May 28th, 2015|Schooling, Uncategorized|16 Comments

Last Day of Kindergarten

Today I put Z on the bus for last time, at least for Kindergarten. I remember putting him on the bus for the first time 9 months ago. I watched him square his shoulders, march to the back, and sit next to the window with the seriousness of a soldier reporting for duty. You could tell he felt like a grown up. All I saw was my little 5 year old who was changing right before my very eyes.
And change he did. Today he brought home some final assignments, one of which he had been working on since the beginning of the year.
The first page chronicled how he wrote his name and drew a self portrait the first week of school.
One of the final pages was the same thing except from the last week of kindergarten.
It’s amazing how much his hair and ears grew this year. Just kidding, it’s a lovely drawing.
At the beginning of the year he could write very short words and made attempts with sentences that he was already familiar with. He was reading books that were specifically designed for the earliest of readers. You know the kind, where the content is limited to three word sentences with three letter words like “Sam can sit”.
A year later and he is writing sentences like the ones from this worksheet.
Obviously he has some spelling to work on, but this is Kindergarten. He’s doing SUPERB if I do say so myself.
He loves to read and write stories. The other day he wrote an elaborate story which he labeled “non fiction” (in his own spelling) and it was all about his trip to New York City from over a year ago. As I was flipping through the pages I looked at my mom and I said “does this make you think of anyone one” hinting that it reminded me of myself at a young age and she agreed. He isn’t reading chapter books or anything, but when he is reading a story he doesn’t want to put it down and sometimes this calls for reading on the go.
I pray that this thirst for literature stays with him. Maybe it will, or maybe he will mellow out with age and that’s fine. I am glad though to see him start off on the right foot. Here is part of what I shared with Z’s teacher today in a thank you card I gave her.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better teacher for Z’s first year of school. He learned so much from you, but most importantly he learned to love school. What better way to kick off the next 12 years!”
I have had so many emotions going on this past week from this latest milestone after the struggle that we have been through to get to this place. I am grateful that we made it, and that God, as always, has been so faithful. It has been a great year for Z.
Boys begin boys after their graduation.
 I know that his school and his teacher were perfect for him during this season and I feel incredibly blessed. I am proud of my son.

 

 

I can’t wait to see what comes next.

By | May 31st, 2014|My Life, Uncategorized|2 Comments