Sunday, December 21, 2014

Halfway through the year at Connections Academy

We are just about to finish up our first semester at Connections Academy. I cannot believe we are already halfway through the year! Time has flown by so fast.

How we are doing:
We are absolutely LOVING Connections Academy. We are SO happy with our decision to enroll. In the beginning we were SO unsure of our decision. We were all pretty sure that we would end up not liking it at all, especially after reading so many reviews about how rigorous the curriculum is.
For us, the scheduled lessons work well. They give us something to be accountable to, and even though lessons are due on a certain day, there is always the option of doing the lesson on another day (at least in the lower grades, I have heard different about high school). Our teacher is so helpful, and she has always been available when we have questions or need guidance. The lessons are fun and engaging, and they are set up with instructions on *HOW* to teach the lesson to your child. I could go on forever about all of the things we love about Connections Academy, but then this blog post would be like a million pages long.
I guess the ONLY negative I can think of so far is that the kids are not engaging with other kids their age on a daily basis. HOWEVER, that does NOT mean that they are isolated in ANY way. They have their friends that they get to visit, and of course they see other children when we visit parks, and other out of the house activities. We are looking forward to summer coming back so we can be outdoors more, as we are all feeling a little cooped up in the house right now.
I guess it goes without saying that we will be sticking with Connections Academy not only for the remainder of this year, but for all the years Connections is an available option to us! We hope to be able to stick with Connections all the way through High School!

We decided at the beginning of the year to use half of the living room as a school room since this was the ONLY available space for a school area. In the beginning of the year the school area was pretty bare and empty. That is definitely no longer the case, in fact, our school work/stuff is slowly invading the rest of the house, including the kitchen where we do most of our school work. Our area works for us though, and of course we don't mind our house looking like half house/half school!
Here is what some of our school areas look like (you can go back to the beginning of the year to see how it looked at the beginning of the year). I'm sure by the end of the year the school stuff will have taken up even more room in our house!

New fun added to our day:
I have also taken on the duty of watching my grandson during the day. At first it was a real challenge to school while taking care of a baby, but we quickly learned not to stress about staying on such a strict schedule. Once we learned to work around the demands of the baby, things got easier. Now the baby (his name is Ricky) is such a part of our routine, that on days that he is not here, we find ourselves lost!

Added Shelf to hall. We had to add a shelf to the hall area. We needed a place to store art supplies, busy boxes for the baby, board games, and toys to keep baby busy while we do school. 

 We have added a behavior chart for Jacob. (Jacob is working on impulse control. He has a diagnosis of Autism, and this is something he is struggling with right now). We also added some positive reinforcement papers. We wrote "I am proud of your today because:" on a piece of paper and then laminated the paper. Each night I write something that each boy did during the day to make me proud. Some days it is something HUGE, some days it is just something simple. The point is to show them that the things that they do make me proud of them. :) On the days that the boys are especially naughty, it takes a lot of thinking to come up with something to write, but I ALWAYS write SOMETHING ;) 

 We have added a bulletin board to hang art. (This is in addition to a couple of clotheslines we hung up to hang art from)

 The kitchen table (this is where to do most of our work). We have our paper tray that holds our assignments until the end of the week (Sunday) when I file them away for the year. Also I keep a pencil sharpener here,  also SOME of our dry erase supplies that I use to write on our laminated math aides (Hundreds Chart, Number Line, Part Part Whole Mat, Tens/Ones Chart, etc) are kept here. I keep the laminated math aides, listed above, on the bottom shelf of the paper tray for easy access while working on math assignments.  Each boy also has a pencil box here with the supplies we use every day such as pencils and erasers. We keep a high chair here in the kitchen right next to the kitchen table so that the baby can play with the attached toys while we work on school. 
Oh, and the clothesline, to hang art of course! ;) 

 Our computer area. As you can see the supplies have pretty much exploded since the beginning of school. It is still manageable though, and everything is easily accessible and organized. (You can see yet another clothesline of art here too lol) Each of us has our own computer and amazingly the three computers fit nicely into this area. Under the desk are two three-drawer organizers where we store art and craft supplies and paper. 

A dry erase board for reminders. We keep Jacob's therapy appointments, Special Education appointments, and Respite appointments here. (We have another bulletin board in another area of the house for non-school related appointments)  

Another shelf for our stuff. Boys crafts, and more baby toys. 

 Another shelf, this one holds math manipulatives, Science Supplies, Workbooks, and more Dry Erase Supplies. Also, Time and Money Supplies, and Flash Cards. On the bottom shelf, letter tiles and books for school. 

Close up of one of the desk areas. This part of the desk holds crayons, markers, unifix cubes, and Misc. Supplies. 

 One of our doors serves as a word wall (that we could really use practice on keeping up to date) and a spot to hang school related posters. 

We are pretty sure that the second half of our year will be just as successful as the first half! :) 

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