For eight days every year we have three boys all the same age between the twins’ birthday and Nicky’s birthday. Right now we have three two-year-olds!
The babies turned two today!
We are now 3/7 of the way through Birthday Season!
Words mangled by toddlers are always cute, but currently my favorite is Nicholas asking to go to the “libaby” (library).
For his birthday Adrian wanted to go see In the Heights. During it I realized Lin-Manuel Miranda is the John Green of musicals. Heart in a blender, man.
As of Saturday Adrian is officially a teenager. Birthday Season has begun.
No surprise Fritz passed all three of the STAAR end of course exams he had to take. They can get Did Not Meet Grade Level, Approaches Grade Level, Meets Grade Level, and Masters Grade Level.
He got Meets Grade Level for Algebra I with the 44th percentile. The state, district, and campus averages were all in Approaches Grade Level. His score was 113 above the state average, 126 above the district average, and 297 above the campus average. His quantile score grade level equivalent is late 9th grade to early 10th grade, so right on target.
He got Masters Grade Level in Biology with the 96th percentile. He really enjoyed his biology class this year and although he has no intention of going into a career related to biology, he clearly does well in the subject (probably helps that biology is my favorite science so we covered it a LOT when we were homeschooling). The campus average was also Masters Grade Level, but the state and district averages were both Meets Grade Level. His score was 395 higher than the campus average, 856 above the district average, and 1,027 above the state average. (This test took him a whopping 45 minutes to complete, by the way.)
He got Meets Grade Level for English I with the 71st percentile. The state, district, and campus averages were also all in Meets Grade Level (just barely for the state average). His score was 216 lower than the campus average, 134 above the district average, and 267 above the state average. His Lexile reading level put him at first year of college (well above the expected range for a 9th grader and even outside the expected range for a 10th grader).
He’s happy he passed the tests mainly because it means he doesn’t have to retake them and only has to take two more EOC exams before graduating high school. I like seeing his scores because it means homeschooling was successful and I did a good job preparing him for high school.
Zeke and Mayci definitely operate better when they know what to expect and have things to do so I made them a schedule for the summer and it’s been going great.
We start the day (WAY too early) with a snack and whatever they want to do (Anthony and Nicholas are home at that point, too). They eat breakfast about 8 while watching something they choose on TV and then go outside to play. We drop Anthony and Nicholas off at preschool camp some time between 9 and 9:30. Zeke and Mayci keep playing outside until 10.
At 10 they come inside and have a snack while watching Little Einsteins or Bluey or some sort of other edutainment. Then they play with a selection of toys that changes every day. They get to choose which they play with and for how long, but are only allowed to play with whatever was put on the table that day (or they can look at any of the books in the living room).
While they are playing with toys I call Zeke and Mayci in one at a time to do a lesson in Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. We do one or two lessons a day depending on how well they are doing and what sort of level of focus they’ve got. We’re about twenty lessons in and both are doing great with reading. It’s easier for Zeke since he started learning in school last year. He’s improved a lot already. It’s pretty new for Mayci. She knew her letters and the sounds they make and had practiced isolating initial sounds of words, but she had never blended sounds into words before.
When they finish their reading lesson they return to the table to continue playing with the toys. Meanwhile, Adrian does his chores and straightens up the living room and then he gets his computer time for the day. He spends 45 minutes on Adventure Academy, 10-15 minutes on DuoLingo, and 45 minutes to an hour on Code.Org/Hour of Code.
After asking me every single day the first week if it was the day they go back to school, I made a calendar that shows each day between now and the first day of school in August and has a countdown for how many days are left until the first day. I also put all the birthdays during birthday season (which begins with Adrian’s birthday on Saturday and ends with Mayci’s birthday the beginning of August) on there as well. Each day around lunchtime we go to the calendar on the wall and go over the day, date, and how many days are left until school starts again. Currently they also want me to tell them how many days until they test for their new belts in taekwondo and how many days until Anthony starts taekwondo. They really like to see what day it is and how much time is left of summer break. Since I put that calendar up they haven’t asked once if it’s the first day of school.
We have lunch at noon. They always watch an episode of Jake and the Neverland Pirates while they eat. Fritz and Adrian used to love that show, too. One or both twins joins them eating and watching depending on if they are napping at the time or not.
After lunch they go upstairs for an hour of quiet time. After quiet time they watch an episode of Sesame Street. That’s followed by another snack while watching Bluey or some other very short show. Once their snacks are eaten they go back to the table to play with toys again.
On Mondays and Wednesdays they get ready for taekwondo about 3. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, I call them back in one at a time for computer time. They get 20 minutes on ABCMouse (we might try out Homer in a couple weeks) and 10 minutes on CodeSpark.
While one is having computer time the other does two pages in their Summer Bridge workbook (Adrian also does two pages in his Summer Bridge workbook most days). During the rest of their sibling’s computer time they either watch the other play (because kids really like watching other kids play on the computer) or go back in to play with toys on their own. Sometimes they keep playing with toys until Anthony and Nicholas come home and sometimes they watch something on Living Scriptures.
It really is amazing how smoothly our days are going with this schedule and amazing just how much they enjoy the schedule. It really makes them happy.
Anthony is definitely an Anthony. He’s not a Tony at all. But Zeke and Mayci have come up with nicknames for their little brother. Anthony is now Ant to Zeke and Anth to Mayci.
Of all the kids, Zeke shows the most signs of lack of stimulation when he was young. It’s really amazing how much development happens in the first three years and he really missed out on much of what most kids get.
He’s in speech therapy at school for a receptive and expressive language disorder. He’s making progress. For example, this past school year he mastered using pronouns properly. He’s still working on one and two step directions.
Time is completely meaningless to him. He calls meals by any random name rather than the one it is. We’re working with him on getting the names right and he’s making tons of progress remembering. He’ll say things like “Tomorrow we went to the store.”
The speech therapist he had when he moved in with us said she was confident he would catch up no problem because we have what she called a “language rich environment” in his home. A lot of things are just a matter of exposure. He has been exposed to a lot fewer words than most kids his age.
As hard as it is to see him struggle simply because he missed out on a lot his first three years, it’s also amazing to see how far he’s come. He was super skinny and a bit malnourished when he arrived, but since then his body has gone through the changes a baby body would complete with the pooched out toddler belly that has now changed to a normal little kid belly shape. His brain is also going though the changes a baby brain would as he learns things he missed out on.
I’m confident he’ll catch up completely before too long.
Every time people come over to our house Zeke runs to the shoe hallway and hides. Because of COVID the only people in our house for most of the year he’s been with us were caseworkers. Even when we prepare him ahead of time and tell him who will be here, he still runs and when we have him come out where everyone is he is very grumpy for awhile until he gets used to them being there.
Now that people come over a little more frequently, we’ve realized that people he doesn’t know coming into our house is a huge trigger for him. Caseworkers, who sometimes are reassigned giving even less stability to a foster kid, showing up meant he’d be examined, have his picture taken, and be questioned. Sometimes it meant he’d be removed.
For a foster child, his time in the system was remarkably stable. He stayed in a shelter for a couple months, was with his grandmother for over a year, and then has been with us since last May. But it still left him with a clear fight or flight response when someone walks through the door.