Touchmath

Last year, we used timberdoodle preschool curriculum. I chose it because it looked engaging and was mostly hands on and interactive without a lot of seat work. The farmland math component was given very high ratings by parents who had used it and said their kids loved it and thrived. The companion to farmland math was a mathematical reasoning work book that the parent and child work through together. I knew that wasn’t going to be a hit but I got it anyway because I wanted to make sure we touched on all the major concepts, even if it meant using the book as our guide. 

One month in, I knew farmland math was not going to work for us. Snowflake does not think like other kids; I’m not able to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes his thinking unique but having taught preschool and kindergarten in classroom settings, I can tell you he thinks and learns differently. He loves to pretend and act things out, so I thought the manipulative based story problems would be a great fit. However, I neglected to realize 2 things. First, he has to be in charge of pretend play. He was not willing to play along if I was in charge. We tried several different approaches but nothing worked and it was a constant power struggle. Second, the story problem format was too complex for him. I now know this is because he has a language delay (he struggles to understand concepts he should be able to because his understanding of the language is delayed). He is now in speech therapy which also works on the language issues and we are already noticing some improvements in this area. I scrapped farmland math around Christmas time and worked with him on numbers, counting, position words and other math concepts in other ways. We slowly worked our way through the work book, but again the language barrier held him back, so we improvised. 

When I started looking at curriculum for pre-k, I knew I needed something concrete, flexible, and active. I looked at several curriculums before deciding on touchmath. The downfall of touchmath is its expensive. However, I’m creative and not afraid to DIY, so doing that saved us a couple hundred dollars. I made the touch numerals, number cards, and number poster. I purchased the student/teacher books ($199.00 for preprinted; $159.00 for the digital copies which you have to then print) and touch shapes ($16.99). We skipped the computer portion of the program because I didn’t feel it necessary at the pre-k/kindergarten level. 


While technically in pre-k, and though behind in his understanding of some concepts; overall, Snowflake is ready for the kindergarten level in math. I will go slow and review areas that are a struggle for him but I didn’t feel the need, nor did I feel it was appropriate, to hold him back in the areas in which he is excelling. Each day will consist of hands-on activities using the touch point numerals, touch shapes, or number cards and 2-4 short and easy worksheets to demonstrate understanding of the concepts. Average time spent per day will be 20-30 minutes (mostly depending on his attention and focus). 
The unique thing about touchmath is that there are dots on each number that correspond to the value of that number. It encourages counting and is a simple way to introduce addition and subtraction concepts. We’ve already played with the numerals and he really seems to enjoy them. I’m hoping this will be a better fit for him and his unique learning style. 

Preparing for Pre-K

We will be officially starting our next year of homeschool one month from today. Snowflake will technically be in pre-k but we are doing a mixture of pre-k and kindergarten. 

Today I started working on our homeschool room. It had turned into a dumping ground after selling some storage furniture in a garage sale, sonit needed to be decluttered and reorganized. I accomplished both today. There are still a few things to do but it’s coming together. 

I’m very excited about the table I found on a BST group for $50. It retails for over $100 and it’s like new. The legs are adjustable so it can grow with him. It’s the perfect size for both of us to sit at and do school work. However, much of the curriculum I’ve chosen is hands on/active, so we won’t be doing a whole lot of seat work this year. 😉

Clothespins and Popsicle Sticks

Who knew these 2 items could be the start of a fun learning activity? Thank you, Pinterest! Snowflake is struggling with the teen numbers, both counting (15/16/17) and identifying (11/12/13). I made up these number lines with one missing number, which I wrote on the clothespins. It was a big hit and it zoned in one the exact numbers he’s struggling with. I’m positive this will help get him over the hump and ready for the next skill. 

Two Month Therapy Update

We’ve now been going to therapy, almost every Monday, for about 2 months. I’m thankful we were able to get them scheduled back to back in the afternoon. It fits in perfectly with our schedule and I get a 1.5 hour break while they wear him out! It’s pretty amazing! He’s doing awesome, and we love his therapists; although, one is moving next week, I’m sure we’ll love her replacement. 

He is in both OT and speech. OT works with him on sensory integration and fine motor. Speech is working to get him caught up so he can be more clearly understood by others. 

His speech delays are mainly articulation, use of pronouns and position words, use of tense, and understanding concepts and questions. He skips the articles (a, an, the) and mushes his words together when saying a full sentence, so our goal is to slow him down and emphasize the words he tends to skip. He typically only uses the male pronouns, so we are correcting him when this happens. We are working hard on helping him use position words. He can understand several (on, in, over, under) but he uses none. 😬 If you ask him where something is, he’ll point and say it’s right there, rather than saying it’s on the table. (He’s at about the level of a 12-18 month old in this area, which elxplain a lot about why some math concepts are challenging for him. He’s above average in some math skills and well-below average in others. Once he gets this concept down, I’m positive his math abilities are going to soar! His ST has assured us this is solely a language issue and is not indicative of intelligence.) 

In OT, they are working on sensory integration and fine motor. They have him doing wet, dry, try handwriting (which is actually part of the handwriting curriculum I chose for him for this fall, before they introduced it to him). He loves it and is excited to do it all on his own every day. I just leave his little chalkboard, sponges, and chalk out for him to use. There are 4 steps: I draw a letter, he traces it with the wet sponge, then with the dry sponge, then finally writes it with the chalk. In addition to this, they also do fun activities like playing with theraputty and goop to strengthen his hand and arm muscles. 


For sensory integration, they have us doing brushing and joint compressions 3-6 times a day. When we are consistent (harder than it sounds), we notice a big difference. It’s actually pretty amazing. This only takes about 2-3 minutes but it’s hard to drop what we are doing and remember to do it every 1.5-2 hours throughout the day. 

They are also working with him on giving him all the sensory input he’s seeking (vestibular and proprioception) and encourage him in the areas he avoids (visual, auditory, and tactile). I’m not exactly sure of all that they do but I know the highlights include a light show, cocoon   swing, water balloons, shaving cream, animal band, and balls. He runs out to me after every session, excited to tell me he did good and had fun. It’s been a huge blessing to have these therapists who are so good at their job in our lives. (And thank you insurance for picking up most of the cost!) 

Finally, he’s in counseling therapy every other week to try to help with his anxiety. At this stage, it’s mostly his therapist giving up tips and suggestions of things to try. Most have not worked but we are still plugging away, knowing his age and maturity is the biggest thing holding him back. I’m not sure if we’ll continue every other week or take a break until he matures a bit, but for now, since insurance is covering it, we’ll keep going. 

End of 3 Year Preschool

We had a great first year of homeschooling! One of the good things about homeschooling, is that we can keep going, so there’s no large gap to fill when we “start back” in the fall. This summer, we have been pretty consistent with our 2 mornings a week schedule we kept up during the school year, and plan to keep it up, with maybe a 1-2 week break before jumping into pre-k. We have stopped the regular curriculum, and instead, I’m pulling from Pinterest and some of my classroom teacher stuff to zone in on the things he needs more work on (handwriting, counting, and alphabet/sounds). 

This post is mostly for my records, so I can look back and remember all he learned in his first year of preschool. 

All colors (though he still sometimes confuses pink and purple…boy problem? Lol) 

Shapes–circle, triangle, oval, square, rectangle, heart, star, cross

How to count to 50 (but he still struggles with 15/16/17…)

Starting to count by 2s

How to count backward from 10 (maybe more?)

Good one to one correspondence when counting objects

Recognizes number to 30 but still struggles with 11, 12, and 13. Also struggles to put this skill to use outside of our school time but he’s getting there. 

Almost all upper and lowercase letters. Exceptions are Gg, Hh, Nn, Qq and he still confuses b, d, and p. 

He can match about 1/2 the letter sounds. (For example if I say point to the picture that starts with p-p-p P, he can do it. I can’t point to a picture and expect him to tell me what it starts with…) 

Many opposites

How to follow 2 step directions

Book awareness (front, back, left to right, etc)

Can identify Michigan and Florida on a US map, he can identify the United States on a world map

Can identify the US flag and knows it has 50 stars and 13 stripes

He has great gross motor skills. He can run, jump, throw, balance… His fine motor skills are also pretty good; however, his pencil grasp, though improving, is still at the level of an 2-3 year old. This is a “symptom” of his sensory processing disorder and he’s getting help every week in OT to help him catch up. 

In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting about our routine and curriculum for the fall. I’m super excited about it. I’ve done a ton of research, scoured the internet for the best deals, and put together a pretty amazing curriculum that is focused on his learning strengths. 😊

Starting Therapies

This past month has been extremely busy and full of appointments. Before I explain all the appointments, let me back up… 

About 2 years ago, Snowflake had a small bout of constipation. It caused one painful stool and that day it seemed he basically decided he was never going to poop again. After about 4 (maybe 6) weeks of issues, we went to the doctor and she prescribed miralax. She told us to start slow but to give up to 2 TBSPs a day (a double strength adult dose). Well, after about 6 months on the double adult dose, it wasn’t helping. He was still fighting (holding) every bowel movement. I did some research and switched him to natural calm a little over a year ago. It works better than miralax and without the side effects, but he was still holding. We consulted with his doctor again and she said because of his age (still only 3.5 years) and being a preemie, it was more than likely a phase and to give him time. So we kept working with him. 

Throughout this time, we were experiencing increasingly intense behavioral issues. Things most parents of toddlers/preschoolers experience, except on a much higher level of intensity and frequency: Hitting, kicking, throwing things, running away, getting out of his car seat, biting, pushing, hair pulling, and retaliating. The hours (days) when he is actively holding are even more intense. We punish him for the bad choices, but he seemingly goes into a fight or flight response and consequences have little effect. This is not to say he’s a bad kid or always like this. On his good days he’s awesome but the bad days make me want to curl up and cry. And the really bad days often mean changing our plans; we’ve had to skip church (we can’t leave him in childcare when he’s actively holding nor can he be in the sanctuary), I’ve stayed home from mom’s bible studies, we’ve kept him home for family small group, we’ve cancelled play dates, changed plans, and had our life revolve around his pooping. Deep down, my mommy gut was saying there’s more to this than just a phase, but I listened to his doctor because, until he turned 4, I knew he was still within developmental range for potty training. I also knew that at only 2.5-4 years old, if it was a mental issue and not a physical one, there wasn’t much anyone could do. 

Around his 4th birthday, we started some behavioral modification techniques. It was a one step forward, two steps back kind of thing. And the only gain was more Chuggington trains added to his collection. 🙄 Once we returned from vacation, in mid-March, I knew it was time to pursue help. I started by making an appt with a pediatric gastroenterologist but they couldn’t get us in until May. His behavior was increasingly declining and my patience was thin, so we also made an appointment with a pediatric counselor. She got us in the following week and at the intake appointment, based on all we explained, she diagnosed him with anxiety. We saw her for 2 more visits, at which time we decided to switch to a new therapist for various reasons. 

His new therapist has been a perfect fit. She agreed with the first therapist’s anxiety diagnosis. She also wanted him to get an evaluation for sensory processing disorder. I knew his former speech therapy office also did occupational therapy, so I called the next day and they worked us in their schedule the next week, but first we had to go to our family doctor for the official referral. (Are you keeping track of all our appointments?!)

The OT eval went well and he was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder; specifically he’s sensory seeking in vestibular and proprioception (hence his constant motion) and behavioral delays. At that eval, she pulled a speech therapist in for a quick evaluation and it was determined (as I suspected) that his speech has not progressed as much as it should have progressed. So before we left, we scheduled a full speech eval along with his first OT appt. (Thankfully, my mommy gut told me to request a speech referral when we were at the doctor a few days before, so that was on hand.) 

At the end of May, we finally had the GI appointment I had scheduled way back in March. The doctor basically told us what we already suspected, this is not a physical issue. Meaning there is nothing physically preventing him from pooping, he’s just incredibly strong-willed and holding it (sometimes for days). We do have a follow-up in 2 months at which point they may do some testing but more than likely, they’re not going to find anything. 

Most recently, he had his speech eval and again, as suspected he is speech delayed again. A year ago he graduated from speech therapy because he’d caught up to his same aged peers. Since then, he’s fallen behind. He has issues with articulation, understanding concepts/questions, use of pronouns, and use of tense. Let me just say that I learned a lot during this eval about why some parts of home schooling him have been so tough! 

Now that the evaluations are all complete, we are settling into a new routine. Every Monday we can be found at speech and OT. Every Friday, we are at his counseling. And in between it all, we are working on the homework each person has assigned. We still fit school time in as we are able but for now, it has kind of taken a back seat to his therapies. Fitting, since it’s now summertime. 😊

So, suffice to say it’s been a busy and difficult month. It’s never easy to hear your child is not “normal”. However, we’ve had so many questions answered, so many concerns validated, and now we know why life has been so difficult for the past 2 years. I’m thankful the issues were caught and he’s going to get the help he needs. And more than that, I’m thankful he’s not worse off. Overall, these issues, while challenging and frustrating, are minor. More than likely, his preemie status caught up to him. All of these issues (anxiety, speech delays, and SPD) are common in preemies. It is also possible they are hereditary but due to the nature of his adoption, we’ll never know for certain. It could also just be “luck of the draw”… Who knows. What is important is that he’s getting help and soon will be a better version of the Snowflake we already know and love! 

Butterflies

In April and May, we had some visitors in our homeschool room. We grew caterpillars and watched them turn into painted lady butterflies. It was such a fun experience for all of us. Even my husband and I asked “how” at several points during the process. How do they know to hang upside down? How do they form the chrysalis? How do they grow wings? How…. Some questions only God can answer. 

Snowflake was very invested through the whole process. We thought he would be upset when it was time to let them go but he said he was happy for them. 

Day 1: April 22

Day 3: April 24

Day 6: April 27

Day 8: April 29

Day 9: April 30

Day 10: May 1

Day 12: May 3

Day 19: May 10

Day 21: May 12

Day 24: May 15

Day 25: May 16


It was a great experience and we are looking forward to growing other insects. Also available are praying mantis, lady bugs, and ant farms. For those interested, we got our kit here