Category Archives: Homeschooling

Putting my Psychologist on

The UN headquarters in New York
The UN headquarters in New York (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I feel like a full-time psychologist most days. Hokey smokes! Between everyone we have a basket full of nuts. I’m speaking mostly of myself, of course.

Here are some of the things that require specialized treatment…

Conflict resolution – Since I knew I was going to have J-man home for the year (and absolutely NO qualms about it) I figured it would be good for him not to be hanging out with his middle-aged mom all by himself. At the time, I thought taking my next oldest child out was a logical step. While I still know that it was a wise decision, sometimes I think I’ve gone crackers. They are polar opposite in personality and pretty much every second is a competition. They can be the best of friends and the very worst of enemies. Most of the time, I hear that I shouldn’t have brought Belle home to home school and she should go back to school. I have been tempted…very tempted. Alas, I have become a mediator the United Nations could hire. Seriously. I’m that good. In the end, if they can get along without maiming each other, we will have successfully glimpsed world peace.

Anxiety prevention – Ack. Who can prevent anxiety? Not me. At this point we’re just mopping up afterwards. We have put J-man into a few different new situations this year. New situations = Nitro Anxiety. What was I thinking? I love my life. He is bearing down and sticking with basketball even though he really is having challenges understanding the game. He ROCKS at the skills, it’s just the plays and social part of it that has him bamboozled. Having braces in his mouth is about as fun as punching myself in the head, but they motivated (bribed) him with the chance of winning an Xbox so he’s brushing when I ask. Yay! Small victories, people.

Depression – Preventing myself from this is a fulltime job. Just kidding…kind of. J-man has struggled with this from early on and we are dealing with (a little of) this right now. I am the cheerleader/listener extraordinaire.

Oldest Child is an Aspie – Having the oldest child be on the Autism Spectrum is a special pickle in and of itself. We were blessed to adopt four kiddos within five years and we do count it a blessing despite me sounding like a whiner at times. Whining helps me cope. When you have an oldest as an Aspie, you have a world that looks like all of your kids are “special”. What I mean by this is, they all notice that he needs some different attention. They all notice what gets him attention. They all TRY the same methods or their own special methods (that drive me mad) repeatedly. Yay…not. We also have the youngest who has some issues herself, and so we have a special little sandwich of goodies. A couple of them have recently admitted that they feel like they don’t get enough attention. Well, goodness sakes children, you do have three siblings all squished together! Any “normal” family would have the same feelings, methinks! At least I know that I play the psychologist role well enough that they can express their feelings. Let’s be thankful for that, now, shall we?

All in all, I really don’t feel proficient at anything much of the time. Now that I’ve written some of that down, I feel like I’ve given myself a much-needed couch session. Whew! Now I can get up off that couch and treat the rest of the patients! Thanks for being my therapists. I know you are out there…somewhere.

 

 

 

 

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Aspie plus One

005I was pretty sure that bringing home my spitfire of a girl, my second oldest, would result in epic battles between she and my Aspie. She is delightfully strong-minded and I don’t mind telling you she’s adept at making many people cry. Her skills would do well in a future career of law, but she is setting her mind to be a Veterinarian.  She can be her own boss and Top Dog at the same time!

I have had a few friends and community contacts ask why we took her out of school to home school her. After all, she does just fine in the public system. I have many reasons, but I’ll just share a few.

1. My Aspie needed a sibling at home. He is definitely not going back to school and he needed a pal. Out of all of my kids, historically he and she do not mix well. This is going to be an opportunity to build their friendship and give company for each other during the times we are not actively doing “schoolwork”. It has worked out VERY well (so far) as I see them working out the differences many times. Sometimes I have to step in and help them work out squabbles, but mostly they are working it out and dare I say…having fun! There have been a couple of times where he’s begged “Can you please send her back…PLEASE!”

2. She is on the brightly intelligent spectrum and I foresee no problems getting her going on some projects that would help push her even further, intellectually and personally. I fear she has not been pushed to excellence and I can work one on one with her in areas that need improvement, like handwriting and printing. I know how much more she can do, even if she’s pulling easy 90’s. She likes a challenge and I’m good with being the one who is challenging her to reach farther.

3. Spiritually, she has so much potential and in school she was becoming discouraged with the amount of non spiritual content. She felt like she was spiritually alone in the school and that there were very few people that she could relate to in that way. That is not to say that she did not have some good friends at the school. She values those relationships greatly. We still make sure she can have opportunities to see those friends from time to time. Homeschooling allows us the time to play/interact with some peers who do love God and are now a part of her social group. We have also been able to take many teachable moments to discuss in-depth what the Bible says about certain topics.

There are a few more reasons I took her out. I was nervous about having her home. She and I can have some epic battles of the wills but I have not found that to be the case at all recently. In fact, she seems so much more relaxed and willing to back down. She has been the loving, caring, helpful and respectful child I knew that she could be.

The last six years, with my kids gradually going into the public school, I found myself more and more having to manage stress and fatigue fall-out from school. I would have to work out situations that were almost daily in occurrence. After school activities included De-escalating behaviors, instead of doing their homework and playing. Everyone felt deregulated.

This year, it seems like (for the most part) my two at home stay regulated and happy or at least relaxed when the other two come home. The other two are thrilled with school this year and so I think we are a happier and calmer family all around. There are still days, but I remember months of days where I would be talking all four children down from their proverbial ledges (simultaneously) from the time they arrived home until the time they would (finally) fall asleep. Homework often got pushed aside while we tried to manage life and behaviors.

I am so very thankful for the direction and support I have received from friends who homeschool. Also, I appreciate the folks who don’t understand why we do what we are doing, yet still accept that we are doing the best we know how for our family. We’ve got a pretty great community here.

Finding something that works

When we started Home Educating half-time in Gr.4, I received my first piles of curriculum. I had been warned that the stacks could be very large, and so I didn’t let it get to me. I put them away and just got a new book or two when we needed it. For the most part, there was some transition but our entry into the home schooling thing was fairly calm and steady. We noticed, right away, that J-man was calmer and happier. His anxiety levels evened out and (after a minor crisis in the typical month of November) we carried on with the given curriculum almost to a “T”.

There were moments where I thought the amount of work in the curriculum was excessive and the projects, ridiculous, but overall we accomplished much.

This year, we figured that we would do a blended program. Since the Social Studies aspect was heavy on the workload and the projects were massive we would go Parent Directed with it. Grade Five has been all about Canadian history and geography. I love that stuff so I thought I’d be good at getting that done at our own pace. With Science, we stuck with the Teacher Directed program. Although I pretty much loathe Electricity (sorry Dad) and don’t care much about how it works, we stumbled through it but made it anyways. We finished it all in APRIL!!  Woo hoo!

When we pulled J-man out of school completely in March, I knew that LA and Math were going to fall on my small shoulders and with dread I straightened them out to face it head on.

The curriculum for Grade 5 arrived. I wasn’t worried about the stacks, seeing as though the teacher (who directs our online program) was going to communicate with J-man’s former teacher as to where to start. I knew we could start about 2/3’s of the way through…and I was wrong.

The teacher, knowingly, suggested we start at the beginning and see what he had mastered. These are the two subjects he hates. These are the two subjects I am not comfortable teaching. You can imagine how it went when I took the 5 different texts/books out that I needed for each lesson. Not well. We cried and tried for a while, but decided that this just wasn’t working for us.

The problem was that we had assumed that Math and LA would be manageable but the way the curriculum was set up just did not do J-man and I any favors. It was complicated and confusing.

I am so thankful for a teacher (she works with a real classroom and with online/home-based students) who is willing to talk options. She was so encouraging and helpful. She told me that she thought it would be best if I went Parent Directed. I could pick how fast he went through, I could pick the curriculum that worked and I could go to her if I needed help. This was the relief I needed. She had basically summed up all I had thought and affirmed me in the direction we needed to go.

I have made do with work sheets that I’m finding online. I wanted to check what J-man had done this year and firm up the basics. He has struggled with his basic skills in both Math and LA.

I found a Math program, online, that I have ordered. I can’t wait to see it.

For LA, I am going to use the curriculum given to me by the School Board. I am just going to go at it from a different angle. Next year, I will be searching for something doable for us and that fits us better.

I am not a huge proponent either way for Home Education or Public Schooling. I think that each parent needs to do what is best for each child. For us, it means that I teach one child at home and send the other three to school (for now). I am so great with this, you have no idea!

Finding what works for your family is really the trick, though, isn’t it?