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Amanda Cubas


Homeschooling a Late-Talker, Over-Active Toddler, and a Busy Baby!

I'm a homeschooling mom! 2012-2013!

Desk work
Even Baby Bee has things to do!

We are off to a great start. It is really motivating to think that I am starting ahead because it's easy with a late-talker to feel behind sometimes. Gamer (my 4-year old son) is already reading! We started in March since he seemed interested (following closely along with books, trying to sound out words, asking what words are) and now he's reading 'Green Eggs and Ham!' Dancer (my 3-year old daughter) knows all her capital and lowercase letters and almost all her sounds. Even Baby Bee can say 'A' and 'apple' after our 'Letter A Week' - she even said blue when I handed her the felt squares! :) (After I told her of course).

One thing I feel uneasy about is not having a store-bought curriculum. With Gamer being able to read and add (as well as other skills), but lacking other knowledge and skills, it's hard to choose a curriculum that suits him. Scouring the internet has not helped and viewing books online has just led me to believe I can design the curriculum around him. I taught high school, but this can't be THAT dissimilar, right? Wish me luck. :)

My goal for this year is to bring Gamer to a higher level in speech and in reading comprehension. Dancer will be pretty straight-forward, just building on what she already knows and raising her self-esteem. Baby Bee will obviously just follow along and practice whatever fine motor activities distract her long enough for us to get stuff done!

Good luck to any other homeschooling moms!

Amanda and Cubs


Fantastic Apps! - Learning to Read Phonics Apps by Emmy Chen

I absolutely love the iPad app 'Phonics Silly Sentences - Short Vowels, Flash Cards, Matching and Sentences.' I love the whole series made by Emmy Chen and it is so worth the $2.99 price!

My almost-five year old boy is still behind in his speech but I've started him in a reading program that I got for free from Funnix and I downloaded a bunch of free versions of different apps, of which the Silly Sentences series is by far my favorite. He knows the alphabet, letter sounds and so now I've started to teach him sight words and beginning phonics. So far he is doing super well - he's learned about ten sight words so far and is learning the concept of sounding out words. Don't get me wrong, he's not reading yet, but it's a promising, solid start!

The app was easy enough for my son to do by himself but I would not recommend that. Sitting and playing together, saying the sounds and words aloud with my son was really helpful. He loves matching the pictures to the words and sentences and it is making a connection between sentences and specific sentences which has been different than other books and apps we've used.

So go get it. It's a great phonics app. We got the whole series.

Amanda & Cubs


At-Home Speech Therapy Exercises for Receptive Expressive Language Disorder - Late-Talking

There is a wonderful page on a site that has some great ideas for talking to a child who has language deficiencies - the site is Speech Therapy on Video and the page is here. In case it is ever not available, you'll find it here too.

Whether or not a professional is helping your child, you should continue your child's therapy at home and these are specific things you can do. I've read so many times to just talk to them, but this is a list of specific exercises that produce results. At first, my son could not do any of these, but we kept practicing and we still work on his language everyday with these same exercises and I have been seeing real improvement.

I am not kidding when I say that I am so glad to feel that I have a guide. I am the type of person that needs to read specific exercises with real explanations and I have brought my son from not being able to do any of these 9 months ago to naming a long list of opposites, differentiating between fruits and animals, and that a green light means go and a red light means stop and more. This last week he played his first game - Red Light, Green Light. There's no way he's have been able to follow direction, understand the concept, and play that months ago.

Even more than these exercises though, I believe that just spending that much time with him, focusing on him and having him know that I wanted him to talk - I think that was the biggest difference of all. Children are good and want to please us - they just need to know how.

Amanda and Cubs


    Using the iPad as a Preschool Educational Tool Rules

    We are a technology household. Daddy works from home so he is at his computer, iPhone, and iPad for many hours of the day. He and I believe that technology is a part of tomorrow no matter what and so we allow the kids to share an iPad. While they're young, we believe we're teaching them care and respect for their iPad (or whatever item you might have) and we have basic rules to keep it from being an electronic babysitter or just another toy.

    1. Two to an iPad
    Why? In this house, I need interaction - talking! My late-talker must use the iPad with me, dad, grandpa, even his sister, so that he is not just quiet. He must describe what he's doing, even if he's just repeating back what I'm saying. He describes what he sees, what the characters are doing, he laughs, he looks at me, kisses me, smiles, and laughs some more...:) 

    2. Educational Games Folder Only
    Why? I want to be able to integrate this iPad into his education for a long time, so I need for him and the other kids to see it as a learning tool and not a big Nintendo DS. Handing it to them and letting them do whatever does not set any rules or boundaries and opens the door to abuse and destruction of the item.

    3. iPads are for Practice
    Why? You are the teacher or leader so any initial lesson should be coming from you. Allowing youtube or TV to teach your kids the ABCs makes the TV the teacher. Sing the ABCs, put together an alphabet puzzle, and allow technology to support what you have already taught. With our iPad, I search for apps to reinforce ideas I've taught, like Seasons HD to show more visuals and games of the four seasons. 

    4. Alone Practice is within Sight and for an Hour at the Most
    Why? Actually, alone time doesn't even happen everyday. It's good to just let them become bored because that's when they figure out something to do! My son needs practice thinking and creating so just letting him alone is good, but sometimes on weekends when Daddy and I catch up with a show, my son sits next to us doing his thing.

    5. And During Practice Time, Airport is On!
    Not only are we preventing him from accidently buying or signing up for anything, but we are also protecting him from any inappropriate websites or youtube videos. He navigates well and for now we've kept the airport switch a secret...he navigates too well not to stumble upon a bad link.

    6. Put it Back
    Why? Like with their other belongings, they must take care of it and learn proper use of it. Leaving it on the couch is unacceptable - plugging it in at the same place teaches them to respect the item. Teaching this young I am hoping will prevent them from losing it if we ever take it out into the public.

    Any others?

    Love, Amanda and Cubs


    Online Learning Games for Toddlers and Preschoolers

    I love this site for educational preschool learning games that I ran into the other day: Literacy Center.net - The Early Childhood Education Network!

    My late-talker interacts most with me when he is having fun.  Play is just a wonderful way for him to learn, retain what he has learned, and practice talking over and over again without getting tired of the activity. It has however been difficult for me to do the things HE enjoys.

    It was hard for me to see that he did not like reading and crafting for lengthy periods of time. Twenty minutes tops. Technology is just what he enjoys, and so as long as it is a family activity, we allow him to enjoy a lot of it -- way more than other moms let their kids, but we've got a difficult situation here, and I think every mom can relate to whatever works, do it!

    During the week, my son plays with a Apple computer, Nintendo Wii, an Apple iPad, and our iPhones. On the weekend, he can play with his Nintendo DS. I do limit his individual playing time to 30 min to an hour as well as his playing non-educational games. Everything else, he must be playing and talking with a parent. The husband is better at playing, I'm better at talking so we're still working this situation out - but the results are clear - he talks a lot more than he did a year ago when we kinda started this. It has been a nice family experience.

    I do have some requirements to all this screen time though. He must eat meals at the table, he has to have a technology-free morning, he must run around and play with his sister for an hour or two running around and doing what she likes to do, practice writing, and he has to read 20 minutes with me before bedtime.  And all that doesn't even guarantee his tech time if we have shopping or errands to do - it all depends and he knows not to demand or expect any game time. He's actually very understanding and tantrum-free, which is why I think we allow him to play as much as we do -- it seems like a lot of time to me, but maybe it's way less than others.

    I love the learning games of course. Nick Jr. and Sprout. Scholastic and BBC have a few great ones too. The site we found through readquarium (and Gamequarium), is a wonderful site LiteracyCenter.net - I hope you check it out with your little one because it has a lot of games for teaching or reviewing the basics.

    Other sites I've checked out a couple times are Funbrain and  Funschool - although we have yet to fully explore these :)

    Amanda and Cubs


    Speech Therapy Help - So Great for My Late-Talker

    I ran into this wonderful website from their pins on Pinterest. It's called The Learning Curve and is a Speech Language Pathology Resource. What is most helpful is this form of How to Track Communicative Intent - the post is here and I love it.

    I am planning on homeschooling my son and he is about a year behind in his language ability. Had I had this form earlier, it would have been great, but now is fine too because it helps me focus on what he is saying and see the areas in which he is still struggling. Then I can model those type of questions or phrases so he begins to understand and hopefully use them.

    Even if he was in school or in a speech class, I'd love to have this to follow his ability at home and to have something to show at a meeting about his progress and goals (I am a teacher so I would have loved if parents brought this type of documentation).

    Amanda & Cubs


    I'm Back! Doing at-home preschooling

    It's been a long time but now we're in our house, we've had our newest baby girl, Baby B, I have my little home computer all set up and we are back in Alaska and getting past our busy portrait season - whew.

    Here's our newest addition...

    She's been a very good baby girl so far and she's very excited now to be able to crawl and pull herself up to follow her brother and sister wherever they go.

    I hope to use these posts to view our preschool progress so I'll be posting various links I find useful for working with my little late-talker who is 4 1/2 now and about a year behind (he's doing much better than last year!).

    Right now I'm working along these great prescool calendars I found at Preschool Alphabet. The calendars are on the right column near the bottom and are awesome for learning letters and various sight words. Right now we're skipping around letters and just finding a schedule that is comfortable by trying out different activities at different times to see when is best -- important for someone finicky about his mood and what he wants to do like my son.