Sunday, October 6, 2013

October 2013

Well here we are on our way through October! Wow it is sure amazing how the time is flying by so fast!

September was full of trials as we began our official home school journey. We tried a local class day through a Christian home school program, but sadly this just did not seem to be a good fit for Jonah. We tried some different strategies to help him adjust, but I think due to the lack of structure and not being able to participate in activities that he is familiar with and enjoys, he was just completely stressed and not happy and then so was mama. At some point I decided as much as I felt this would be good for Jonah to have one class day a week, I just can't make him comfortable there at least at this time and it really didn't seem fair to the other children to have him yelling and throwing himself on the floor, it just scared and stressed them too I felt.

So we keep trying... heading off in an alternate route - but to the same destination. God will make a way for us, I must have faith and trust. We enrolled in a Kindersports class and a special needs dance/movement class so we are going to see how these classes go. Also, we are hoping to catch up with some local home school families at park days - looking for any ways to get him out experiencing life and people!

At home we have had a fairly unstructured day doing what we can while trying to touch on multiple subjects in some way throughout the day. Our nationality song this month was This Land Is Your Land, we said the Pledge of Allegiance and waved our flags. We continue to work on signing "kind" and using gentle hands, the concepts of helping and asking for help.  We are using the Spectrum workbooks for Reading, Phonics, Math and Language Arts, which I love because they have color pictures that are more appealing to Jonah. I have to try to help him hold his crayon and it is so hard and frustrating for him due to fine motor difficulties, but we keep trying. We worked on matching upper and lower case alphabet and he is doing great with this. We worked on words that start with S and T, watching videos, circling letters, pages in workbooks with these letters. We have been reading the early reader books and other books, still trying to get him more interested in reading! I do love seeing him pointing and signing to words in books demonstrating his understanding of what we are reading! We worked on new vocabulary words which he seemed to do well with, but did not quite make it to spelling words this month. We are reading Bible stories and are working on signing "Jesus" which he can do in his own way and on the idea that "Jesus Saved Me" and on spelling BIBLE. Our song this month was ABCDEFG, Romans 12:20, and we talked about how Jesus makes him strong. We studied South America looking at pictures, pointing out S. America on the globe compared to where we live, watching videos about the rain forest, listening to pan flute music (which was our instrument this month). We watched the Jungle Book movie and Jonah made his own jungle book gluing numbered words/pictures. We went to the zoo with our good friends and saw animals that live in the jungle - Jonah loves the gorillas! We also went to the Rainforest Cafe at Downtown Disney, which was fun and yummy! We made a back to school kindergarten collage, an apple tree gluing on red pom poms for apples, made a zebra mask. We talked about weather and temperature as well as did our calendar and worked on months, days of the week. We talked about the 5 Senses and I tried to reinforce those through activities throughout the month. We continue to work on counting and numbers 1-10, matching numbers, looking at number books and counting many things throughout the day, using the abacus; he seems to be liking the counting and will now initiate counting on his own more. He is doing great matching shapes and colors and hardly ever makes mistakes, but sometimes he seems to intentionally not do it to show me he is not really in the mood, but will correct himself with some negotiation!  We worked on parts of the computer and on typing a little note to his cousins. We also studied transportation this month. We went to the airport to watch airplanes, Seaport village to see the boats, to Disneyland looked at all the cars and trucks on the highway, road the monorail, saw the Trolley going by and incorporated helicopter, airplane, truck, boat, ambulance, train into our vocabulary. We also watched the Cars movie and saw the cars at plane at Disneyland. We danced and listened to South American music and listened to Mozart lullaby, which mama loves! Jonah's new favorite song is 5 Little Monkeys and he finds it funny how I sing the song - and he does the signs along with me - I truly love making him laugh! I would really like to  incorporate more music and art into our days! We worked on our dress-up monkey to work on dressing skills, which are very difficult for Jonah although he can get his shirt off in a New York minute! We went to Mt. Laguna and had a fun time exploring and got to hear real thunder and feel the rain which we hardly ever get to experience at our place. We had so much fun going to the park and did lots and lots of swimming Jonah's favorite thing to do in the whole world, swinging is a close second. We went to have lunch with daddy in Pt. Loma which was fun and also did other fun stuff like go to KidVentures and Funbelievable for exercise. We also have been reviewing safety information and working on listening to the word "stop!" which he can also sign.

Oh my there is more, and also much more I had planned we didn't get to. I try to plan more than less and just do my best to get done what we can. Trying not to beat myself up for not getting more done, but rather working to focus on what we are getting done!

I keep a daily list of things we work on and one thing I decided to add this month was "Highlights" each day. This has been a tremendous help to keep myself focused on looking for the good, savoring those positive and love filled moments together in the day! Trust me I NEED this as this has not been the easiest month by any means; a month full of joy, smiles, laughter and fun, but also trials, tears and heart ache. It truly has been a roller coaster of emotion, still grieving I think of the ideal school setting for our son that does not seem to exist. I had to also write out a list of reasons to home school vs. public school and when I get down I refer to this to redirect my thoughts and frustrations, knowing in my heart this is the best plan for him for right now. I'm also trying to find ways to filter out other peoples judgment of us deciding to home school. I get it there was a day I may have felt the same as them about home school and limiting "social opportunities" that was until I had a special needs child of my own. That old adage of not judging someone until you have walked in their shoes is sure on the mark! As a parent, I feel compelled to do what is best for my son regardless of the opinion of others, the judgement, the cost or sacrifice - his needs come first. I'm learning along with him and boy do I have a lot to learn!!!! He is teaching me and I'm doing my best to teach him too! The love I have for this little boy is mind boggling sometimes and knowing that I'm not alone, that God is watching over us... helps us along the journey. "The task ahead of you is never as great as the power behind you." ~ Author Unknown / "Life's a journey - not a destination." ~ Author Unknown

I'm finding this blog cathartic and helpful as I type my own reflection of our journey! Thanks for reading and I wish you and your family a colorful and joy-filled autumn and Happy Halloween!

Blessings, Sharice

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Kindergarten Here We Come!

September 1, 2013
As the air fills me with the sense that seasons are marching on – we are gearing up for our first official week of homeschool Kindergarten! It has been quite an emotional roller coaster getting to this week, but I’m happy to say I’m feeling grateful that I can educate my son in a way that is challenging, in an environment where he feels safe and communicated with and can enjoy this beautiful time together and yes even the hard days! Even on the hardest days (I know there will be many more) there are countless moments of JOY and moments that I would not trade for anything in this world! I feel blessed for this opportunity and feel good that God is with us each step of the way!
Isaiah 41:10
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes I will help you. I will uphold you with my gracious right hand.”
August went my in a such a rush! In August for our summer homeschool we studied the themes of Africa, the great outdoors and safety. We read The Pledge of Allegiance, waved our flags and listened to Born in the USA by none other than Bruce Springsteen . We practiced cleaning up after ourselves and signing help when needed. We talked about Jonah being a “nice boy” and being kind and using gentle hands. Jonah is very much a BOY, very aggressive, with lots of wrestling, tackle and chasing energy! We need to continue to work on control of his body as he doesn’t understand his own strength!!! We talked about the letter C for camping and did a workbook pages about this letter and also about the number 5. Jonah can follow along and can count to 10 by pointing and he is really trying to coordinate his hands to count (now can show 1, 5 and 10, but the others are a bit hard for him due to fine motor difficulties). We continue to practice signing simple sentences and reading our matching books. Jonah loves his verbs video by Teach2Talk and the other videos we have from this series. He loves acting out all the verbs along with the show! We practiced up/down and began a new stretching break stretching UP! UP! UP! And Down, Down, Down. Jonah is non-verbal and we continue to work on new sounds and really like the sound flashcards we have from DownsEd International, but we should be doing these more often. We played some matching games practicing taking turns, stringing toys, and doing puzzles. We are working on signing “My name is Jonah!” and “I am 5 years old!” We are trying to teach Jonah to sign “I want” instead of just signing the word that he wants. Jonah can now sign “frustrated” which is great because he gets frustrated often poor guy.  Poor mom and dad as he does a lot of yelling! For some reason it has been hard for Jonah to point to his nose so we worked on this body part and he is getting closer (he does great with most other body parts, just had a hard time finding center on his face, still kind of touches to the side of his nose, but we are almost there! We listend to “My God is SO BIG” and practiced the bible verse Philippians 4:13I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” And talked about how Jesus made him strong! We sign “Jesus loves me and I love Jesus” and he is doing good with that! We colored a map of Africa and put animal stickers on the map, colored a lion, painted a lion sun catcher, and listened and danced to African music (Putumayo African children’s songs, children’s choir and other beautiful African Music). I tried to get Jonah to beat on  his drums to the music, but basically mama was the entertainment! We made it down to the World Beat Center in Baloba park for an African drumming class, but Jonah was not into it and was acting out. At one point I held him during the drumming class and  he seemed better for a moment and waved his hands to the music. Before class we did get a chance to walk around (before others arrived) to look at the cool murals of animals and paintings and looked at all the colors in the flags hanging from the ceiling. We got out Jonah’s tent and he loved playing in the tent and with his new sleeping bag! We didn’t make it out of the house yet for some real camping (still working on daddy to go)! We looked at pictures of animals in the forest and Jonah did great learning some new animals he didn’t know before and by the end of the month could point to them all correctly. We watched Open Season and Jonah watched a few parts of it, which is progress (he hardly wants to watching anything but his usual shows of Elmo, Teach2Talk and Signing Times). We played a computer game about forest animals and continue to work on learning the different parts of the computer. Jonah loves watching the phonic videos on YouTube and of course his other favorites there too! We watched a video from RockNLearn getting ready for Kindergarten and a few others for reading/phonics and he is watching some and getting used to these slowly! We practiced some more self-care like washing himself in the bath a little more and brushing his teeth, but this is coming along slowly. Jonah helped mommy wash his cups in the sink for the first time and he was inpatient, but at least gave it a try. Jonah can sign Fireman really well and we read a book about the Fireman, watched Elmo’s Visit to the Firehouse, and looked at pictures about what Firemen do, about the fire truck, etc. We talked about measuring, we counted the numbers on the clock, looked at different types of clocks, talked about days of the week, months, seasons, weather, and the color green! Jonah’s favorite thing in the world is to swim so we really enjoyed some fun days at the pool and he is doing great with kicking and starting to use his arms more at the same time (with a life vest and swim tube). He can sure get around the pool well it is amazing! We enjoyed a mini-vacation to the Coronado Navy Lodge and had such a fun time together! We also had a really fun day at Legoland with some of our Down Syndrome friends and had another fun day together at the San Diego Zoo with our buddies! All in all a great summer!
I went to our homeschool class orientation (we will be going to a class one time per week with other homeschool children/families). At this orientation someone brought up a book I believe was called Educating the Whole Hearted Child and the mother described a bit about what was in the book and it honestly it was an “Aha moment” for me. In my anxiousness, my self-doubting, it was all the sudden as clear as day to me as to why I plan to homeschool my son – For His Heart! I want his heart to be filled with faith, love, encouragement, the joy of learning, feeling safe and secure, feeling acknowledged by being communicated with in sign-language and any way he can express himself. I choose this for his heart and in making this choice ironically this choice also fills my heart!
OK so here we go - Kindergarten! This mama/teacher is excited and hopeful!

Blessings to you all in the school year!


Thursday, August 1, 2013

August 1, 2013
July was a busy month! Jonah turned 5 years old yesterday – my big boy! We had a fun “Happy Feet 5th Birthday Party” to celebrate our special boy! Birthdays are an emotional time as I find them so bitter sweet… I know Jonah cannot stay a baby forever, but time just goes to fast for me! I enjoy watching him grow and learn, but I also want to enjoy these priceless days, savoring each special moment… soaking them all into my heart to stay forever!
As for summer homeschool: In July we studied America / U.S.A., including the Star Spangled Banner (, the American flag, colors of the flag, stars and stripes, the United States of America, the President of the United States Barack Obama, the first President George Washington, map of USA, fireworks, eagle, Statue of Liberty, Capitol. We listened to American Classic songs ( and our instrument this month was the trumpet and we watched TAPS and other videos with kids playing the trumpet too! One thing I find so fun is learning along with Jonah! I never knew the story behind TAPS so this encouraged me to look up the words, which I thought were beautiful:
There is one original set of lyrics meant to accompany the music, written by Horace Lorenzo Trim:
Day is done, gone the sun
From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky
All is well, safely rest
God is nigh.
Fading light dims the sight
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
From afar, drawing near
Falls the night.
Thanks and praise for our days
Neath the sun, neath the stars, neath the sky
As we go, this we know
God is nigh.
Jonah listened to gospel songs on youtube and our song this month was I've Got the Joy, Joy, Joy ( We also practiced signing Jesus loves me and I love Jesus and worked on the letters B-I-B-L-E.
We worked on counting and matching numbers 1-20 and he is doing quite good with this. We talked about and pointed to different parts of the computer. We started a pen pal project with our little cousins and Jonah typed a short little letter with mama’s help. We ended up getting Jonah a keyboard with big keys and colors and also a tiny mouse which is easier for his hands. Jonah is doing great with his color identification!
We also studied ocean life including vocabulary words octopus, whale, dolphin, seal, water, wave, ocean, beach, seashell, and sun. We also studied birds looking at pictures of different kinds of birds, listening to sounds of birds and we saw a brown eagle at Sea World! We watched the dolphin IMAX movie and he seemed to enjoy watching the dolphins swim in the water!
We studied Mighty Machines looking at a Might Machines video and looked at pictures of different machines/trucks. We played with Playdoh, talked about textures and smell (smelling different things). We talked about “eating healthy makes me feel good”, feelings (happy and mad), body part (cheek) which he can not identify when asked. We talked about “time” and practiced signing “What time is it?” Jonah helped to make some pink lemonade cookies – adding ingredients and stirring. We talk each month about people in our neighborhood and this month it was the dentist and we practiced saying “Ah” and opening our mouth to look at our teeth. We talk about good manners signing please, thank you, I’m sorry, we say hello and we say goodbye. We also have been walking our friends to the door to say goodbye and thank you for visiting. We practiced taking turns, being kind (signing kind/nice), cleaning up toys and clothes,
We did fun things like visiting Sea World, visiting friends, swimming, going to parks, the 4th of July Parade, friends birthday parties, and practiced stretching up high and down low. Jonah especially loves to swim and is doing great with his kicking and getting himself around in the pool with his swim tube/vest. Jonah continues with his weekly speech and occupational therapies once per week.
Jonah does not love to read books, but we did manage to get through some of our books (early reader books; he really likes “Does A Kangaroo Have a Mother Too?” We worked on matching our alphabet letters, our matching vocabulary books (Downs Ed International). We talked about and signed “why?” Our other vocabulary words included bowl, watermelon and corn. We talked about “danger” and that it means don’t touch and keep away – scary!
I had many things on our calendar that we did not get to this month, but with birthday party planning and other family matters etc. I’m sure this will not be the first month we don’t get to everything, but I figure it is better to set our goals high and give us credit for what we do get to!

Now on to August plans for learning!
I hope all our friends are having a great, safe and memorable summer!
Blessings, Sharice

Monday, July 1, 2013

July 1, 2013 - Jonah's Journey

June has gone by so fast! Jonah graduated his public preschool and we are now officially doing home school, starting with a modest pace summer school to ease into more learning at home.  My ideas to educate my son Jonah for kindergarten include of course the basics, but also I’m planning to incorporate many other subjects to make it fun and interesting! His subjects include: Nationality/Citizenship/Virtues; Language Arts/Reading; Writing Skills/Spelling & Fine Motor Skills; About Me; Christian Studies; Social Studies;  Science/Weather/Animals/Geography; Math / Shapes / Measurement / Money; Speech/Communication/Listening; Technology; Arts & Crafts / Colors / Cooking and Food; Music/Dance; Physical Education/Gross Motor; Play/Imagination; Health & Feelings; Experiential Learning; Life Skills; and Socialization/Social Skills.
Some highlights of our June learning include watching a video about Greece (he liked pointing out the boats on the water) and dancing to some videos of children from Greece singing songs and dancing together!  Opa! Jonah has been hooked on his Teach2Talk verbs and nouns videos this month and wants to watch them over and over. He especially likes the hugging and kissing part! We have been looking at animals and videos of animals (Signing Times and Rock N Learn). I made a book for Jonah about baby animals where he can read and sign the sentences and it includes pages where he can match the baby animal with the mommy. (I can email this PowerPoint to anyone interested). Jonah loves songs and singing the songs particularly Itsy Bitsy Spider, Wheels on the Bus, Buckle My Shoe. We talked about the sunrise (sun waking up in the morning and going to bed at night).  We enjoyed Norah Jones’ song Sunrise . We went on the airplane to visit family and friends in Utah so that was a very good experience and social activity; he really enjoyed the hotel, swimming and seeing everyone! He even had a little sweetheart on the flight home – the little 4 year old girl in the seat in front of him kept reaching around to hold his hand throughout the flight and then they met again just outside the plane and gave each other the longest hug – as if that hug would need to last forever! The little girl headed away with her head turned Jonah as if to show him “I will always remember you!” It was the cutest thing ever!
I’ve been working on teaching Jonah counting and math (counting many things in daily activities, looking at basic addition problems showing apples to represent the numbers and also using the abacus). We also have been reviewing colors (Jonah does great with recognizing colors and signing them, but we are working on correcting his modified signs).  Fine motor is very difficult for him so it is difficult to make the correct signs. Jonah can match all his upper and lower case alphabet letters, but we continue to review them often and I repeat the sounds they make.  We’re working on shapes; most shapes he can recognize, but some are a little harder for him.  Jonah does not like to write or color, I think because it is so hard for him to hold a crayon or marker, so we have been working on this doing some tracing, trying to write his name and just coloring on blank paper. I make sheets with pictures of all our vocabulary words and he seems to do great with learning new words. We have been working on having good manners, look and listen, asking for help and helping to clean up after himself (picking up toys, putting clothes in the hamper). We are working on feeling identification, words to describe feelings and signing feelings. Jonah is still not potty trained; this has been a slow process and I need to come up with a new plan and efforts in this area. Sigh…
I enjoyed going for a walk and seeing Jonah notice our shadows for the first time – the wide eyed look of amazement in his eyes was priceless!  Jonah and I walking another day and when we were looking at American flags in our neighborhood he signed “music” as we have been watching and singing patriotic songs  ( ); I was so happy he learned to recognize that indeed America has music to recognize our country!
Jonah loves his trips to the park, swinging, swimming, playing in the water on the patio, going down his slide, and he had fun at the Splash Pad. Jonah also had fun this month going to the San Diego County fair and he loved the rides and of course the French fries! He was not to keen on the animals – one goat looked at him strangely it seemed and he let out a big scream! Mama loved seeing the black baby goat!
This has been an emotional, challenging, busy and wonderful month! I know as I work on teaching Jonah I need to continue to work on myself – my faithfulness, my hopefulness, my thoughts, my energy and ways to refuel. I need to continually remind myself just to stop and breathe and take in these beautiful blessings of JOY with my boy along the way. I am so grateful to God for the gift of Jonah and for this time to spend with him. It is not an easy journey, but it is beautiful and it is our journey!
God please continue to bless my beautiful and amazing boy and God Bless America!
Blessings also to you!
Sharice (Jonah’s Mama)

Monday, June 24, 2013

 June 24, 2013

Jonah's First Day of Homeschool (Summer School) - June 24, 2013

"You never know how brave you are, how much courage you can have, or how many Everest's you can climb, until you are faced with a fire-breathing dragon... or a child you love with all your heart, who needs you to be their hero."  J. Johnson

Today my son and I begin a new part of our adventure in this journey of life together! After much consideration and sleepless nights, we have decided to home school our son Jonah who will be starting kindergarten this Fall. Jonah is a soon to be 5 year old (July) who happens to have the most amazing smile I've ever seen... oh and yes he also happens to have Down Syndrome : )! Jonah uses sign language for most communication as he still is not using words; he uses body language, gestures and also pictures for communication and  hopefully will learn to utilize his iPad more for communication assistance. There are countless reasons for choosing home school which I can elaborate on at a future point, but after much prayer and heart searching - home school is the answer that came loud and clear! People are telling me, "Your brave" or "Your amazing" or similar comments. Sometimes I feel like they are saying this to be kind or others seem to say with if they don't really believe this is the best thing for him? My son needs me to be his teacher at this point in time that is all I know. Maybe I will never be his hero, but as long as I'm breathing I will do whatever I can do to help him live his life to the fullest in an environment where he feels important, communicated with, acknowledged, praised, safe and loved!

Now the answer to home school became clear, however, the task of making this adventure successful is not so clear for me as of yet. I have countless ideas and ideals of the many things I would like to teach him and with what foundation - with the love of God as our core. I know I can not go this journey alone.. without God I will be lost. I know enough to know I need help from other parents who have gone before me and I really hope to connect with more families on a similar journey for inspiration, ideas, and support.

I realize no two journeys are meant to ever be the same. I hope to make Jonah's adventures in home school full of learning and love!

This morning we started out slowly reviewing the calendar, the weather, read the Pledge of Allegiance and waved our American flag, we sang some songs, listened to music, read a book and added a sticker to our Reading is Fun poster, we did some counting using a poster and then using an abacus, we drew mat man (stick figure) on the dry erase board, played color matching game and then cleaned up. It was difficult getting him to stay interested as he likes drumming to his own tune our boy! Mama had her moments where she felt disorganized, flustered and frustrated, but also had fun too! I think I will employ the CDs for some vocal support - I just don't feel that exciting when singing the songs, I'm sure he will enjoy that! Then we had snacks and headed out to the Splash Park for some outdoor summer fun, followed by lunch and a nap! Not a lot, but not bad for a start! We will do some more learning tonight to follow along with our June goals and topics.

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."
Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu, Chinese philosopher (604 BC - 531 BC)

We've taken the first step TOGETHER!

May God continue to light our way in this adventure....
In love and faith, Jonah's Mama