Sorry to post so many in a row – I’ve been writing blog posts like crazy on our adventures, but never seem to get home to the laptop to share them with you. This morning I dropped Jon off with his favorite mentors to go deep sea fishing. That leaves me in a quiet house with a keyboard and a cup of coffee. I wish you were all here at at the lake with me, enjoying an amazing morning.
I’ve been wanting to chat with you about my youngest son, and some of our struggles this year. I’ve debated on what is transparency, what may embarrass him, and what part of my journey I can share that might help you if you are walking through the same thing. It’s hard to share a struggle in the beginning of the journey. It feels so raw and exposed. Now, though, that we’ve been using some great tools, I feel it is safe to share – from the healing healthy side.
I’m also writing to you between reviews. When we write a review post – the spotlight is on that one vendor. It’s impolite to mention other companies in that one star post. My story is about the blending of resources that we’ve found this winter and spring. I’m not going to link up the vendors, as this is not an affiliate or review post at all, just sharing a raw story. You’ll be able to see my reviews individually, or do a personal search and they will pop up easily.
We’ve always battled reading time in our home, which is another post all together, but this year it really came to a head. We started out the year full force with reading. We were using Notgrass America the Beautiful. It goes along with my Living Book style of learning. The stories are engaging, and it gives enough activities to make it a unit study if the interest was there. Jon enjoyed the stories and we’d chat about them in the car or at the beach – which is my sign that he is thinking about the material after he’s read it.
And then wrestling season came, followed by baseball. He was tired a lot. The reading became a quick time in the morning just to check off a requirement. I’d ask what his study was about and would get the “I don’t remember” answer. I was frustrated as a mom and as a teacher. For the high school – you have to be able to say you have 5 subjects for wrestling and 7 subjects for baseball to participate. My focus got off of the goal of learning. Keep pushing forward, read it and get the grade – even if you quickly forget it.
But it started to leak out in other areas. Reading things for fun. Directions. Online searches. His own delight directed activities. Then it started to leak into oral presentations. Church, Youth Groups, Sports. When is your game on Friday? I don’t remember. When do you meet the bus? I don’t remember. Who are you playing? – you get it. Was it a high school thing? Teenager? Boy? Hormone? I attacked back with character studies. Which he . . . didn’t remember. ha.
THEN. I was reading up on a product called ForBrain. It is a device that you wear around your head. It looks like a simple headset with a mic. It is cordless. I’ll be sharing more details in the review. Their website has a ton of information on how it works with brain injuries, especially concussions. Concussions? Jon’s been in the ER for those this year. (Picture broken tree swing, upside down, 6-8 feet high, head first landing). As they explained how the product worked, I was reading a description of how Jon was acting in school. Then I did the mental calendar turning – when did the disinterest/memory problem start? In November. Around the time of the first head smashing.
We also started another new program called Max Scholar. I have about 4 blog posts started in my head for this one. It is really helping Jon retrain his reading comprehension skills. It feels like an online version of IEW’s Structured Writing Intensive. (SWI – C). The idea is from the writing side – Read a paragraph or report, highlight 3-4 keywords per sentence – create an outline, then rewrite the information in your own words. This program takes a reading approach – online. Read an article, this is a 9th grade level so it is a bit long. Highlight the main idea and the key words. It gets a bit over the top, they think EVERY word is key. ha. If he only does 3-4 per sentence, he doesn’t get the computer generated ‘good’ grade. Then answer a written question, then answer a few comprehension questions. Now, after a few weeks – he is getting 100% on all of his work.
We mixed this up with the EIW Poetry Memorization program. I had the older set, and was thinking it would be good to get back into. It was all pulled out when we were asked to review the new updated version. I wrote about it last week. I wasn’t exaggerating. It has REALLY stepped up the game. Thinking of memory in the brain as muscle that needs exercise is true.
So the key word outlining has been training his brain to remember what he has read. The memory exercise is helping that muscle to redevelop.
The For Brain piece steps in to help correct a part of the concussion. He puts it on for up to 20 minutes a day – up to 3 times a day. I’ll explain details in the review – but we’ve been using it during the MaxScholar Reading and Poetry Memorization. You sing or read aloud with it on. It helps you to listen through the bone in your cheek, instead of through the air in your ears. Example, say a word two or three times out loud, then plug your ears and notice the different sound. They say that if you force yourself to hear without air, it will help heal what was offset in the concussion. I don’t exactly understand how the science works – but I am seeing some incredible results at home.
All three – (or four if you separate out SWI) working together has made a big difference.
I’m no brain surgeon. Nor am I a linguistic specialist. But I am a a trusting faithful child of God. Every . Single. Step. of this home learning journey has been incredible. I could write countless stories of having a need – and within a day – the resource being available. The Crew has been a vehicle for that, but it had happened before through friends, books stores and garage sales. No matter how crazy the need, the resource comes.
With the healing of his brain using these tools, his confidence has increased ten fold. He was feeling beaten down by not being able to remember anything. A lot of the frustration in our home was from embarrassment – especially if he felt exposed during an activity when asked a simple recall question. We will continue to use these programs through the summer, and with IEW – for life.
My reviews are not just ‘An Ad’ – I really try to pick things that our family needs, or that I think you would be interested in. I hope it is helpful to hear how they all work together – after the ‘review period’.