Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Update: Eli is SIX!

I haven’t meant to be away for so long! I had a couple posts that I started and never finished, so let’s catch up with an Eli update.

For starters, Eli is now SIX!  When did *that* happen?  How is he so big??  I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but it feels like he’s really a big kid now, instead of a tiny preschooler/Kindergartener. Some of that has to do with actual, physical growth – he’s blown through several clothing sizes recently. I bought him some new shorts for summer a couple weeks ago in a size 4…only to turn around yesterday and realize he’s outgrown almost all of them. This is the same child who wore a size 2T in shorts last year. Thankfully, I got a good deal on them and can hold onto them for when Itty Bitty is older.  The swim trunks from his aunt that looked HUGE on his birthday - they came down almost to his ankles and were too big in the waist (even with a drawstring!) - now fit well enough for him to wear to swim team practice. 

Eli’s also gone through some huge mental and emotional leaps lately. He’s settling down a lot, and is showing much better control/understanding of his sensory issues. We still have once or twice a day issues, but we’re nowhere near the constant struggles he was having. At this point, we’re planning to stop his OT to see how he does without the extra support.  We’ve gone from getting negative behavior reports from school almost daily to only having one negative report in the last 4 weeks. The people at his school have remained wonderful allies and are very supportive of him – and I think he’s starting to understand and accept the help he’s being offered. 

One of the deals that I had with Eli was that if he had two solid weeks of good reports from school, that I would let him try out for our local swim team, which had tryouts through the month of March. Since he met his goal, I took him to try out for the team…and he made it! He can only manage the full 25 meters using backstroke, but he’s learning a lot and is thriving. He started with once weekly practice, and is now up to three times weekly (which turns in the four times weekly in late May, when meets start). 
Though I’d planned on letting him continue in formal piano/violin lessons, things were simply not working out. Eli still very much wants to play both, but he had gotten to the point where simply picking up his violin would cause him to burst into tears, and he really started to get deeply frustrated with his piano lessons. His self –confidence was coming apart at the seams, and we were accomplishing less by continuing than we would by quitting.  Lessons were punctuated by his frequent tantrums/outbursts and everyone's frustation. So…we stopped. He had officially been in piano lessons for 14 months and violin lessons for almost 8 months when we stopped. I play piano well enough to continue teaching him, and we are both enjoying this (so far). He's super excited about it right now, as he recently played for a prelude to service at church (which went really well). One benefit of me teaching him is that when he masters a song in just a couple of days, he doesn’t have to wait to continue learning/moving forward; the other (biggest) benefit is that he gets to pick some of his own music, so he's playing songs that he enjoys. In addition, I was able to choose a different set of piano books that suit his ability levels very well. If/when he exhausts my abilities, I’ll once again send him to someone more qualified than me J. Violin is a bit different, as I am NOT a violinist. BUT - we both learned enough in his 8 months of lessons for him to continue to practice what he knows and to keep moving forward.  In the meantime, I found a violin in my size so that I can learn along with him and try to keep up.

Academically speaking, Eli continues to excel. Since two, Eli has always been a surprisingly capable reader. His reading has continued to develop at an amazing rate, and he can devour easy chapter books in an hour or two.  He's been known to walk down the school hallway with his nose in a book, taking small steps so as not to run into anything, LOL.  I don't think I started doing this until at least 5th grade!  Right now, he loving Captain Underpants (Pilkey), the Dragon Masters series (West), the Bad Guys (Blabey), Bad Kitty (Bruel) and Wayside School (Sachar). I was very proud of him for reading Captain Underpants and passing the AR test for the book.  We've just started talking about summer reading, and Eli has it in his sights to read the first Harry Potter book. 

Eli is also doing great in math. This spring, he was enrolled in an online math class for gifted second graders - even though he's only in Kindergarten - and he recently completed it with a 98% average. While I did check his homework before he turned it in, he completed the work himself and learned a LOT. We are very seriously considering having him complete a follow up course this summer, but I'm hemming and hawing about it. I've had him beginning to work through the "Beast Academy" series from AOPS, but this has been really hit-and-miss for us. The problems in this series all seem to be either really difficult for Eli or WAY too easy.

In other random Eli news:
 - Eli started horseback riding lessons and LOVES it. He's really progressing quickly, and I'm kind of hoping he wants to do a summer day camp with the farm :).
 - Eli has asked to join 4H, but with no time in the day, it will have to wait until fall. This might also depend on whether he ends up trying out for the year-round swim team, instead of just the summer team.
- Eli is really enjoying painting and artwork lately. One of his teachers at school has had a huge impact on his art and has really given him an appreciation for it.
- He is still very heavily into the Legos/Star Wars everything!  He's a bit sad that we didn't let him see Rogue One (I thought it was a little too much for him).
- He still enjoys sleeping in the top bunk of his bunk bed. I think he secretly enjoys having Itty Bitty in the room with him, though he sometimes complains about Itty's snoring!
- He's been BEGGING to go fishing soon - he's quite the fisherman and it's one of his favorite things to do with Grandpa.

As we wind down to the end of the school year, I should have a bit more time to do some catching up here!