Burt Reading Test

I just wanted to post this to make a note to see how much progress Skylar makes with reading without continuing to use a reading scheme.  School informed me that she was in the bottom struggling set for numeracy and literacy, and despite me telling them she seemed to be making great progress with reading and her ‘Biff Kip and Chipper’ reading books weren’t challenging enough, they didn’t move her up any levels. I haven’t done any structured reading practice with her since she left school but her interest in reading seems to be growing naturally now that she isn’t being forced to do it. I have just done a reading age test with her, which says she has a reading age of 8 years and 4 months. (She’s 6 years and 10 months). Maybe I’ll test her again when she is 8, and if she hasn’t made any progress by 9 then we’ll try some structure with reading but I think it is all completely unnecessary. Given some of the best schools around the world don’t start formal learning until aged 7, I think I can give her a break and just let her enjoy picture books for now. I think, if she had been home educated from the start, she probably wouldn’t be reading yet. Home educated children tend to read later (obviously there are exceptions) but with much more enthusiasm. There is a good article about autonomous reading here.

If anyone would like to try the Burt reading test, I found it here.

Print out two copies. One for you, one for the reader. Read in rows from left to right. Subtly circle any word on your sheet that they get wrong, and once you have circled 10 words you stop. Then add up all the words they have read correctly and check against the chart.

I’m not a fan of this kind of testing in school, because the school simply do not have the resources to know when the child has made a developmental leap, and the results of these tests can vary depending on the child’s mood or what they had for lunch, or if they are simply an anxious child who can sense they are being tested. And they often use these results for ability streaming which I am strongly against.  But informally at home I think it’s a useful tool.

 

Exploring Senses Autonomously

Last week Skylar has an appointment at Alder Hey children’s hospital, to do a ‘smell test’. Skylar is anosmic (she has no sense of smell) and she recently had an MRI scan done and I’d been told on an answer phone message the results were normal. So I thought the (very postponed-should have been before the MRI) appointment would be a bit of a waste of time, given she has no sense of smell and not a weak sense of smell. But we went along anyway. It turns out that her MRI scan was sent off to an anosmia specialist in America, who said that her olfactory nerve endings didn’t develop properly, so it is definite that the anosmia is congenital, she was born with it, she hasn’t lost it at some point through a trauma or a virus. Though that is what I suspected I never thought we would find that out, and I’ve always racked my brains trying to think of what could have happened and if it was my fault. (There is a photo of her as a toddler with a bruised nose, but I couldn’t remember how it happened).  I wish I could take these results to the first doctor I saw at a different hospital, who told me that she was almost definitely lying, (but I should try giving her a months worth of harmful steroids, just in case). The sad news is, there is nothing that can be done about it. She will never smell.  She is very sad about this,but I just keep telling her how lucky she is not to smell public toilets, Tiggy’s nappies, farts on the bus etc

We were put in a separate room to do the smell test (a pile of scratch and sniff booklets). I was told just to get her to choose any answer if she couldn’t smell (which we knew she couldn’t). After getting her to uselessly sniff next to these (bizarre, very american smells-pizza, skunk, gasoline, peanut butter, root beer, dill pickles, candy) panels, I gave up asking her because I could see she was getting increasingly upset that she couldn’t do it. So I did it for her, scratched them, sniffed them, and circled the wrong answer. At first I pretended they were all really disgusting to make her feel better, but by the end they all really did smell disgusting. The cinnamon, the onion, the musk, the ammonia made me retch!

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She also had a hearing test. I have to be honest and admit I was a little disappointed when they told me her hearing was perfect. I guess that just means she’s naturally loud.

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As I explained on the ‘Why I decided to home educate’ page, (I’ve actually had lots of interested messages from people after my first post, asking why I decided to take Skylar out of school-it goes into more detail than anyone needs so I can only assume it’s been missed!) Skylar has in the past been flagged for ADHD. I declined going down the route of diagnosis. She’s certainly mellowed out a bit in the last year, but she tends to easily get over excited and very loud, but I think that is typical of her age. I now strongly suspect that rather than ADHD, it is a sensory processing issue and she isn’t getting enough sensory input due to missing a sense. (Sensory processing issues and ADHD very strongly overlap). My plan at the moment is to make sure she has lots of sensory activities, and lots of trips to the park so she has an opportunity to climb/swing/spin etc as I’ve been told this is extremely effective at calming down children with sensory difficulties.

I’ve posted about this because I think it shows how we are learning autonomously. We did a lot of waiting in the hospital, and took some time to look at the posters.

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Afterwards we went to the library and looked at some books about the senses, and specifically,why she couldn’t smell.

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Skylar doesn’t often show any interest in factual books, but she has since been choosing books about the human body,and asking for them instead of a bedtime story. This afternoon she was keen to have a go at a senses themed lapbook.

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This article briefly explains what lapbooking entails:   http://www.examiner.com/article/homeschool-101-what-is-lapbooking-1

And here’s a few other things we’ve been doing since I last posted. It’s been the perfect weather for several beach trips and walks. Image

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Planting wildflower and cress seeds. Pressing and classifying wild flowers.

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A home-ed group at the museum of Liverpool on the history of toys.

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Various maths and word games. Image

As well as swimming, cinema, home-ed drama, and various other trips I didn’t photograph. It’s spring break for the schools at the moment so we’ve been catching up with friends and family, and the weather has been amazing! So excited to spend even more time outdoors over the next few months.