Friday, April 28, 2006

Questions about Enki?

I received an email recently that had some questions about Enki and I thought I would post them here in case other people had the same questions. The mother asking has a child with special needs and had some questions about how the Enki program may help her meet those needs. Her questions are in green, and my replies in yellow.

So for your questions about Enki, let me first start off by saying I love Enki, the philosophy, the combination of styles and the overall "feel" of it speaks to me. If I were to sit down and write my own curriculum it would look a lot like Beth's does, so Im a bit biased. Let me also say that I do wish more of their resources were currently available because Im so anxious to get my hands on the material I need for GM's following year. Your lucky though because your child is the perfect age, all the materials you would need are currently available. :-)

So, the reason I e-mailed you is to find a little more about Enki. I've been checking out their site and really like their philosophies. My question to you is, did you find that they can provide a good enough curriculum or would you suggest blending with other stuff?

For your child's age, yes it is a very good curriculum, the kindergarten actually is a wonderful and magical program. The main reason I supplement is because the resources for second and thrid grade are not available, so I have to work with what I can. The focus for kindergarten is not really academic. Im sure you dont have too many academic concerns for your son right now, it sounds like he has a fire for that already. The focus for kindergarten is in creating rhythm and habits for learning in the coming years. It's about exploring the world through new eyes, and about music and nature, and coming together to form a bond that is really going to help you in the coming years. Making learning a fully positive experience, removing too much expectation of academic checklists and really finding where your child is right now. Beth's curriculum is really a great way to do this. With the Enki program you will get the nature stories (science) the movement (pe, language arts, and some science, as well as therapy) the folk and fairy tales (language arts and developmental support) and the crafts (hands on learning and reinforcement) all in one pack; also of course the teaching guides which are wonderfully written and very helpful. The movement program alone is terrific (order it with the first grade set and save over $50.00) You get the CD's the DVD to learn how to do it and the complete binder filled with the processes, songs and even sheet music. For those of us with special needs kids, the best part is the breakdown of the movements. She has them all charted to show you which part of the brain it is a good stimulator for. So if you want more vestibular you look for the "V" or maybe some tactile or fine motor for handwriting, it says right on it. You save so much research with it and you really are targeting the area that needs the most attention, as well as beginning to better understand where your child may be weak and need more support. I highly recommend it!!

Have you used any of their sensory programs?

Yeah, I kind of went in to this above, but it is a great way to integrate that much needed therapy into the learning and to teach to the whole brain, not just the rote memory. You will begin to notice your child making inferences, and manipulating the knowledge rather than just repeating it like a computer. (If you know what I mean) The Edu-K or BrainGym stuff is very helpful and really helps you to begin to understand your child and how their mind is working. An interesting tid-bit .... My son GM with Aspergers was born with one ear deformed. It isn't major but it is in fact deformed. We thought it was endearing and cute (which it is) and it wasn't until we began our journey through Autism that I learned that the ears are a good sign of how the brain formed. Apparently the ears form in tandem with the brain and a deformity of the ears can (not always, but can) be a sign of brain formation issues. The brain is a machine, magical, but still very much a biological machine. There are ways to work that machine and to stimulate the neurons to help support the weaker areas of the brain. Brain Gym and the movement (sensory integration) exercises will really help you to recognize, via your child's movements, the areas of weakness, and to begin to exercise them. My son still struggles with dominance (right or left handedness) this is a sign of an area that needs support, so we are working on it through movement and exercises; all of which he enjoys and thinks are just part of our family routine.

My son is almost 6 - high functioning autistic with social issues -and so this would only be "kindergarten" but he can do some things at a higher level (can read) and other things - writing - at a much lower level (fine motor skills pretty low)- is it pretty easy with Enki to address different skill levels?

Absolutely. You are choosing the actual things you do, it is not laid out in a day by day format. So you can choose which level you work with him on. For instance my boys are completely different learners, and they are two full years apart, but I can tailor things to match each of them where they are and still help them each grow and expand in a comfortable manner. You are very much the leader and the one who pieces together the day to day lessons. With Enki you just get all the resources you need so you can do this in an easy and well organized way.

Also, are the number blocks you mentioned on your blog Enki or somewhere else? They sound pretty cool.

Actually they are a set of wooden base ten blocks, and not a pert of the Enki resources. We all love them and each child uses them at their own level. GD uses them to show a physical version of a number, while GM uses them to work out some computations. With three kids they are a good investment. I got them at a local teacher supply store and paid probably about $35.00 for a full set of them (includes the 1000 square, the 10's and a lot of 1's).

The Naturalist Center

The Natural History Museum here in town has an incredible program for kids who want to become student volunteers. Ive written about it before, but I didnt have pictures to share at that time. GM is just in heaven when we are there. He loves everything about it. He has even expressed to me that "The Naturalist Center is helping me with my talking, I used to mummble more, and look at my feet, but Im getting better at talking to people now". For anyone with a child who has Asperger's syndrome you will understand how cool that is. I was telling my Mother that I was equally impressed with his desire to improve it and with his strangely insightful way of describing it. I never pointed that out to him before, accept maybe to "speak up a little, I cant hear you", or something like that.
Anyhow, he takes the whole thing very seriously and he really looks forward to it each time we get to go. I love watching him tell people about it and seeing him feel so proud of something he is doing that is uniquely his. He doesnt do it because all his friends are or because it is the cool thing to do, he does it because it is something he personally thinks is cool and he loves the animals, rocks and minerals so much.

I am really happy with the training topics and how well he is flowing through them. We did a unit on microscopes, Insects and Spiders, Bees, Mammals, Pond Life, Wildflowers, and Reptiles and Amphibians. GM has really enjoyed researching the information with me and so far hasnt hesitated to get out his packet and read through our notes to "study" the information. I was concerned initially that it was too much for his age, but since it is such a strong interest of his, he has taken to it quite well. In fact he has gotten some answers right that I get wrong and has to correct me from time to time. Of course he thinks that is hilarious, as do I.
Recently my Mom and little brother came for a short visit and we got to take them to the Museum and GM got to show them what kinds of things he gets to do and share with them the things he loves about it. This was a big deal to him because my brother is 11, and therefore quite "cool" and interesting to GM. He was really excited to show him all the fun things at the museum and you could tell it really made him feel good to share something with KC (my brother).

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Happy 35th, No More Excuses!!

I turned 35 in early April and while I am not really into age (although that was much easier to say when I was always the youngest in the crowd) this was an interesting birthday. It's the "put up or shut up" birthday. No more excuses, all done planning, all those "one days" and "when I grow ups..." are here, today, right now. The twenties are great, they are all about being a kid in an adults body. You can fluff things off, you can jump in your car and drive across country, you can sleep in after a long night, you can put it all off until tomorrow. Tomorrow's are seemingly endless when your in your 20's and apparently even into your early 30's! I was thrilled to turn 30, I felt like the appetizers were good, but bring on the filet, its time to dig in to the really good stuff. The stuff that fills you up and helps determine whether or not you will even have room for desert!! I am loving my 30's and enjoying the everyday life of being a mother and a "homemaker" and feeling alright about having a solid opinion. I especially love that I really like my life. That sounds so shallow and naive to say, but if you knew the road I took to get here you would understand how grateful I am to be able to say that! I really love my life. I love that I am finally able to stop striving constantly to create something that isnt real for me and my family. That we can just be and that is enough. I love feeing content, and feeling satisfied. It has taken so long to get here and I am really enjoying it. Thirty-five is amazing so far (all two weeks of it). Sort of like those first bites of a creamy garlic mashed potato. We'll see how I feel once the plate grows cold and Im out of sauce!

Folk Art

Early April had us visiting the International Museum of Folk Art on Museum Hill in Santa Fe. An amazing museum filled with interesting collections from all over the world. The kids love going here and especially enjoy all the miniature village collections which show off the folk art from a varitey of cultures. This was a tour I had set up a while back in order to see their Dream On exhibit which profiles the many ways in which people sleep all over the world. The kids could relate to this, because of course they sleep, and seeing how it is done in such a variety of ways was really cool. This was our fourth or fifth visit to the museum and as such GM was able to get a t-shirt. We usually have tovisit somewhere (accessable) multiple times before we can get a t-shirt, it works for us and he has a lot of pride in a shirt once he gets it. He has been especially excited about the shirt from this museum because it is so cool. I must admit it was hard for me not to get it sooner, but now I'm glad we waited.

The Girls!

Well, the girls have grown quite a bit! GM is just in love with each and every one of them and really enjoyes getting to share them with his friends and family who come to visit. He is our little Chicken Docent ready to explain to anyone the varieties of breeds we have, and their names and personality types as long as you will listen. He enjoys passing many hours just hanging out int he coop with them, stroking their necks while they fall asleep on his lap. It is such a fantastic thing to be able to see so much wonder and happiness in his eyes when he is with them. Living right near downtown, it is great to be able to have them here and as a part of our family. Even my husband adores them now. He was sceptical, but has since admitted that they are great and that they have already added so much tothe richness of our life without even harvesting one single egg yet. We got the girls set up in their yard and gave them a wonderful tree to relax in its shade.

We decided to paint the coop a bright blue as a homage to Frida Kahlo and her beautiful blue house in Mexico. One of the Black Australorps is named Frida, and if by chance one of our girls turns out to be a guy we will likely call him Diego. :-)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Many updates on their way...

I feel I have to apologize for not being so good at our blog this month, but WOW, spring has been VERY busy for us this year. I decided to update based on the correct order, only because Im more likely to remember that way. :-) So prepare for many new posts as I update you on our fun and wild spring!!!

Spring Fever and our new gardens!

Well we all have spring fever around here so the hammers are pounding, the garden smells of manure and the kids are filthy. Life is good! We have been unbelievably busy like little bees working on our hive for the coming winter, accept in our case it's all about working on our house and our gardens. I am BEYOND excited for this years garden. I will admit I even have dreams about it. Geez, I need to get a life!! But actually this is such a great way to live, I think I will keep the one I have. We have seedlings beginning their little sprouting journey in the greenhouse, and a huge mountain of organic soil in the driveway. Im just waiting on my driptape to begin laying the irrigation and then we can begin to plant all our direct seed crops. GM is doing wonderfully with it all and is so anxious to see those first seelings begin to peek out of the soil. He was so careful to plant them at the right depth and taking care to cover them so gently. It is nice to see him care so much about something that doesnt involve a LEGO or something else of the sort. He is looking forward to planting the rest of the seeds which have to be direct seeded into their places in the garden, and so am I. We will have so much fun with it this year and Im really looking forward to all we learn through the process. It will be a terrific year!!

Here are some links to help with questions etc...

The last few are from a sheet I got at an Organic Gardening class Itook at Los Poblanos here in town a few weekends ago. It was a great class and small enough to actually get some answers to your questions. Greyson starts his classes there at the end of May and they run through early September. It will be a great summer for him.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Monday was a great, and FULL day for our family. We started off by attending our last week of the African Animals unit with our Science Club. We were able to have Ms. Ramona King come and share some of her amazing African Stories with us. She is a professional Storyteller who has even graced the White House with her talent. I was lucky enough to hear her at the zoo last summer and I knew that she would be the perfect ending to our unit on African Animals. We asked her to present some stories that would bring some of the folklore and magic that seems to embody African Animals and she definitely did. The first was the story of Unanina and the Elephant, or how the elephant became a vegetarian, the second was a great story about a monster (Venginu?) and how the lion, tree frog, anansi, and another who escapes my mind at the moment, used their individual strengths to try to overcome the monster. Wuite a tale!

After our morning with Ms. King we were off to our ten acre lot in the Bosque (riparian forest that surrounds the Rio Grande) to begin our ongoing project to help clean and protect the forest. Today we focussed on underbrush and the cut wood and twigs which line the forest floor. Fire is an ongoing threat here and especially during years like this when we havent had the rain we need and the underbrush becomes a large fire hazard.
We found a great place to work, directly under a tree with two porcupines watching over us from the branches above. They were so cute and would just glance over at us from time to time. What a treat!!! The kids were so robust and energized to help the forest. I was quite surprised by their enthusiasm, especially after having had such a full morning already. They helped load barrel after barrel of wood and carried off at least 8-10 trees that had been cut or fallen. They worked together, hiking up a huge sand hill to remove the wood from the forest area (quite a hike). We all got scratched up and needed breaks every now and again, but they all did a terrific job. They are already looking forward to going again. The hike we did afterwards didnt hurt. We were with Ms. Jodi, one of the Open Spaces Rangers who is helping us get started wit this large project. She took us out onto the sandbar area of the river.

The river moves from bank to bank and grows and shrinks depending on the rain, so there are always these large banks of sand that the river is not currently flowing over. The animals love them and we were able to find evidence of lots of cool things. The kids had a great time running and playing on the sand, and exploring the edge of the water. They found Heron Tracks, raccoon tracks, coyote tracks, bird tracks, dog tracks, and a few we werent too sure of. We also found an old abandoned beaver den. They build their dens in the bank of the river, so when the water
subsides you can see them. This was cool because you dont always get to see these things on a regular day. GM was really fascinated by the leaves and the prints they leave in the sand/dirt. He could have stayed out there for hours just exploring and playing. We will definitely be doing this again soon.

Tuesday was a much quieter day. We had our Science Class at the museum up the road. It was nice this week because another Mother and I have finally found a way to have even the little ones enjoy the hour. Usually ME has to go with me to GD's class, but she isnt old enough to participate so I have to try to juggle helping her to stay happy with helping GD focus onthe expeeriment or project we are doing. It is exhausting. The same with the other Mother ( a friend of ours). So we finally realized that instead of one of us in the K-2 room juggling little ones, and the
other in the 2-4 room; juggling little ones, we would allow the older boys to be alone in the 2-4 class. They do really well and love the class, so focus hasnt been an issue (so far). So she takes the little ones to the toddler area and they get to play and explore all the science stuff at their level. What a relief!!! ME loved it this week, and it really made my time in the K-2 room much easier.

After such a full couple of days, we decided to just chill out inthe afternoon. We basically just played in the yard, watched a movie and relaxed together. It was nice.