Friday, June 29, 2012

Conducting the Orchestra

Last night we attended a summer Pops Concert.  We look forward to this concert every summer the Thursday before Independence day.  It is usually an outdoor concert on a gently sloping hill at a nearby park.  Yesterday the heat index was 112 degrees, so thankfully it was held in doors!


While listening to an orchestra warm up the cacophony of sounds can be mighty dissonant and unsettling.  I whispered to my husband that like  "doing the dance", we are also the conductor of the orchestra.  (If you missed my post called, Doing the Dance, click here to read about balancing the emotions in a family affected by autism and or Asperger's.)  While doing the dance we are skirting around our son's fragile emotions while trying to keep him as well as the rest of the family emotionally balanced.  It is a very complicated dance since one of the dancers has neurological reasons for his lacking emotional and social skills.


As the conductor, we control the volume, tempo as well as a host of other balancing elements in our family.  As the parents, we hold the baton that directs our children. Some days my arms are just so tired from cuing certain members of my little orchestra much more often than the other instrumentalists.  Without the conductor, the orchestra will "fall apart," as each musician will eventually get off the beat and follow their own tempo.  The same is true for our families.  And as you probably know, some of us are better at staying on the beat than others!  My poor middle kiddo can barely clap in tempo for more than two or three claps.  He just doesn't have an innate sense of rhythm.  His emotional tempo, however, is usually set appropriately for whatever situation is at hand.  (He does have ADHD, however so sometimes his energy tempo, mouth control tempo, and emotional tempo are just a bit faster than I can keep up with.)



When a child has autism or Asperger's, however, their tempo can be all over the place.  Sometimes the tempo is too fast for a given situation and he not only can't sit still but can't sit at all.  Without his meds he can't sit in a chair without falling out during math.  He can either concentrate on math or sitting, but not both.  Sometimes his tempo is too slow;  he can't change when the "musical selection" asks for the tempo to pick up.  When he is playing and we have to leave soon, he can't adjust.  When the conductor of an orchestra (the whole family) has one musician who can't adjust with the rest, there is usually fallout. 

Preventing fallout is the parent of an Aspie's daily chore.  We have been doing this chore for so many years that even though conducting is no less tiring, it has become part of who we are and how we function as a family.  It can be second nature at times. We don't even realize that we are doing it.  If you watch a conductor, he can conduct the main tempo for the piece with one hand and cue certain sections with another.  But like I said before, it is tiring enough when all of the family can change tempos together, but nearly exhausting when one member of the orchestra marches to the beat of his own drum and needs constant cuing! 


That's our job as parents.  We have to keep a healthy tempo in our home, a speed that everyone can enjoy, while at the same time provide constant cues for the kiddo who can't regulate him or herself.  We have to constantly be explicit examples of the appropriate tempo for a given situation as well as explain the tempo in words because kiddos on the autism (and to a smaller degree, ADHD) don't innately feel these rhythms. 

If you struggle with a kiddo who has poor self regulation skills, I highly recommend this book: "How Does Your Motor Run?"



Click the image above to go directly to their website.  The authors of "The Alert Program," Mary Sue Williams and Sherry Shellenberger do a fantastic job explaining the neurology of why some kiddos have motors (brains) that just seem to know no speed but fast (or slow).  Then they teach you as the parent (teacher) and the child how to appropriately regulate those "engine speeds."  They also give helpful ideas for what to do when one's engine speed is not "just right."

My copy of the manual is highlighted all over the place and even though my kids don't know I'm using the principles inside, I use them every day as part of my conducting.  This book, although somewhat academic in the beginning as the neurology is explained, is VERY practical for any parent who has a child with fluctuating tempos that are hard for both the parent and child to control.

Some ways we help our kids control their tempo:
  • By helping them make wise eating choices.  Too much dairy can really affect my oldest child's moods and too much white sugar can affect everyone's tempo and mood.  No protein is a set up for a meltdown.  Of course, these are the foods he craves, so this can be quite a battle at times.
  • Doing school without moving around is a set up to falling out of chairs.  There is a reason why we have a trampoline and bikes.  It's too bad I didn't have some of these when I taught in public school.  I know of many kids who could have benefitted from them in the middle of the day.
  • Schedules and routines are a must for keeping the tempo somewhat regulated.  Too much unstructured time is dangerous for my oldest.  Even his unstructured time is pretty much planned. 
  • In light of the above structures, unforseen changes are part of life.  For him to flow into the next item on the agenda, plenty of warning HAS to be given.  We can't expect him to change the very second we ask.  It's just not neurologically possible for him.  Read the "Engine" book for more info!
  • We have to be ultra consistent or else! 
  • We have to model "rest" for him.  It is not even close to his nature to rest and it is too vague for him to understand unless we show him.  Sleep is essential for him to function.
  • We have to teach our other two kids what his limitations are.  Sometimes they trigger him without even knowing it.  (They are also kids and sometimes do it on purpose.)
  • We do use medications.  Without them, all of the above are too often for naught for us to handle.   
  • By educating our family as much as possible we can help keep the tempo even at family gatherings.  (No grandpa, you can't buy him a 6 lb bag of gummy bears!)  This is only successful when the family is eager and willing to learn that our tempos don't flow naturally without lots of interventions.
  • Even when he doesn't understand we still follow through with discipline.  By discipline I don't always mean punnishment.  We do always correct our kids.  We do always expect respect.  But in the middle of a neurological meltdown, punnishment only makes the tempo escalate and they don't learn anything anyway.  We do however, teach them that all of their actions have consequences. Some good and some bad.  We always correct talking back and physical fighting.  (We also know that neurologically certain kids are capable of understanding certain principles but acting on them is another thing altogether in the heat of a moment.  So even if we punish one day, he may do the same thing the next and the next.  It's just our job to persevere!)  If we didn't follow through with a consequence the likelyhood of a similar behavior's tempo escalating faster the next time is iminent.
For some super practical ways of handling life's tempo changers, I would highly recommend The Alert Program!  It is so much more thurough than I can be in a single post and much more general to all kids not just mine. 

I salute you if you are also a "Conductor in the Band!"  Keep it up!  You are never alone!  Just make sure you take some time for yourself, or else you arms will be too tired to cary on! 


     



Homeschool Mother's Journal 6/30/12

Our Week in Review...Never a Dull Moment!

In My Life This Week...
This past week has largely been spent entertaining lots of kids! **Otherwise known as SOCIALIZING!! (If you read any of the link ups to the ihomeschool network's top ten lists, you know this was a Hot Topic!) :O)** 

Josh had his 11 1/2 birthday party. (His birthday is the week of Christmas which is an awful time to try to squeeze in a kid party so we have always had his friend party on or near his half birthday instead!)  Does it freak you out that we are now half way to Christmas?!
A Pool Party in June is much more fun than one in December!
It's always nice when big brother helps entertain his sister's guests rather than just tease them!  He is returning the girls from the creek where they found turtle eggs, made a dam and splashed in the muddy water.

In our Homeschool this Week...
We offered a new class this past week!  Not a planned one either!  It was called "Childbirth Kittenbirth 101!"  Caleb came to me and asked, "Mom, what does it mean when your water breaks?"  He knew the answer but proceded to tell me that our VERY pregnant cat was "wet all over her bottom."  I told him to get her out to the barn, and OUT of the living room!  On his way there, she started to deliver!  "Mom! The head is coming out!"  So he sat her in the yard and watched kitten #1 being born.  The other kids joined us for kittens 2 and 3. Later that night she had kittens 4 and 5!  Momma and all 5 babies are doing great!
The kittens (and Cuddles) at one day old!  Less than 24 hours!
The kittens at 2 days old!  3 boys and 2 girls...I think!

 2 other kittens I just think are cute!  While we waited  on the newborns to be delivered, we watched Cuddly & Dudly climb a little tree!
Kittens weren't the only things "born" at our house this week.  3 Monarchs hatched.  
1 boy and 2 girls!
Helpful Advice or Tips to Share...
If you have a kiddo with Asperger's Syndrome, remember...If you tell them something once it is true for life.  IF you let them do something once, it is "do-able" forever!  About 4 years ago Caleb caught a mouse in the back yard.  We have since housed 3 more in the original cage after Nibbles died.  Yesterday, he  found another one.  The mouse condo is out again!
 I refuse to take any new mouse pics.  These two are part of a trio from 2 years ago! It is amazing and incredible the uncanny way kiddos with autism have with animals!  They never try to run away when he catched them!  The mice just sit in his hand and let him pet them!
I am Inspired By... 
My Grandma Carolyn!  I can only hope to quilt as well as her some day! 

Places We're Going and People We're Seeing...
We  SOCIALIZED with all of our friends at church on Wednesday morning.  We don't do traditional Bible School anymore, but have what we call "Short Circuit."  It is every Wednesday for 4 weeks or so every summer.  This week was Water day!  There were tons of fun wet things to do like slip and slides a water slide and a dunk tank!  

I also had a date with my 13 year old on Thursday night.  We have a yearly date each summer at the Patriotic Pops Concert put on by the Fort Wayne Philharmonic.  It is usually a beautiful outdoor concert at Ouabache State Park.  But due to the excessive heat it was moved indoors this year.  It was a wonderful place to SOCIALIZE also!  :O)

My Favorite Thing This Week Was...
On Tuesday my daughter and I went to the Amish Dry Goods store to get the backing for a quilt she has been working on.  Because the Amish aren't fond of having their picture taken I didn't take my camera. :O( But, we enjoyed a nice day out with my grandma Carolyn, whom my daughter is named after.  Little Carolyn thought it was kind of strange to shop in a store with no electricity!  The gas lights were not even on so it really was dark in there!
Grandma Carolyn has been making lovely patch quilts for as long as I can remember.  She wanted her little namesake to try one so she gave us all of these colorful fabric scraps to cut into squares.
What's Working For Us...
Art in the summer is working for us!  It's just so hard at times to fit it in during the school year. I also had fun using my Cricut cutting vinyl sticky letters for the wall.  As we make more projects we will switch them out on the wall. I have never been fond of the 1970's panelling  on our walls but it is nice to stick tacks in the black spaces!



We got the ideas for the first two projects from the "DEEP SPACE SPARKLE" website.  Click the link below to take a look at some super, cool art ideas!  The last picture, done by my Aspie, is a weather map.  He is sooooooooo Mr. Literal and so is his art!  
Deep Space Sparkle 
Questions and Thoughts...
I am trying to figure out how to make a loaf of home made wheat bread in my bread machine that is not as dense as a brick.  I only use the machine on the dough setting and bake it myself.  Anyone got a good recipe to share?  My current loaf would make a good door stop!  :O)
 
I am starting up a Facebook Page for my blog.  Feel free to check it out or "like" it. I don't post much there yet except my blog posts but plan to add to it soon.  It's a new work in process just like my blog.

  
I'm Cooking / Canning... 
Lots and lots of apple pie filling apple sauce. (Had to switch to apple sauce because I just don't have the time for apple pie filling and the apples need used now.)  One of my apple trees has early summer apples that are wonderful for cooking!  
.



 
I'm Grateful for...  kids who did all the apple picking!  They love using grandpa's hydraulic lift to get to the top of the tree!  
I'm STILL Reading...
Of course, I'm still reading "Bonhoeffer."  It will take me all summer, I'm sure!
I'm Praying For...
My Friends in India who are teaching about sex trafficking this past week.  

Here is a Link to a Video these friends of mine made and already produced  before they returned! Click the image to go to Vimeo, then click it again in their site to watch.
 

As I look over the past few weeks I am beginning to realize that we need to slow down and take it easy for a while!  I hope your summer is filled with as many blessings as mine has been!  
Shelly 

p.s.  In case you noticed how soon I posted this (1:39 a.m) and think I am quite the night owl, the opposite is actually true!  I am up waiting on my tylenol to kick in.  I hate having a sore throat in the summer!  Boooo!  
 
 
  

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Doing the Dance

Tonight we had to dance. My husband and I have gotten quite good at it too.  It is not a dance that we wanted to learn in the first place but one which we have learned nonetheless.  One which unfortunately we have to master.  

If you are the parent of a child on the autism spectrum or any other emotional or relational diagnosis, you probably have learned to dance as well.

Doing the dance is all about creating balance and stability that is natural in a typically developing child (or family) but can be delayed or at times altogether missing in the child with Autism or a host of other emotional disabilities. Most typically developing kids learn to balance the right amount of emotion with a given circumstance.  For example, a typically developing child understands that you don't laugh and say, "This is boring and dumb!" during a funeral.  Typically developing kiddos know that sometimes plans change and you just have to go with the flow, EVEN if you don't like the change. Typically developing kiddos learn that when they are being teased sometimes it is lighthearted and fun and you can tease back and sometimes kids are just mean and you have to walk away.  Typically developing kids know the difference between bragging and good natured teasing that good friends and family often do. Typically developing kids (can but sometimes don't)realize the long term consequences to their behaviors and words.  My son is only sometimes successful in any of these situations.

Last night was a prime example of not just a little two step, but a full score, 2 hour long musical!  We were dancing all over the place to keep an emotional balance.  During the dance we were also picking up the pieces all over the place.

The dance as I like to call it is the manouvering we do as parents to keep life's unpredictable moments emotionally stable.  Last night's instability was having friends over.  Everything we do often seems just a wee bit more complicated if our Aspie is involved.  And if the event happens during the evening when all of the ADHD meds are worn off in both brothers, it gets even more complicated. 

We have been borrowing my in-laws camper this past week for our 11 year old's half birthday party.  They let us keep it long enough for the other kids to enjoy it too. The birthday party was Friday night and my daughter had friends out Sunday night, so last night was our oldest's (the Aspie) turn.  The first friend he called to invite was at church camp.  That ruled out the next two friends in line because they go to the same church.  He tried calling friend #4 but the line didn't work.  We assumed they just have cell phones now, so we stopped over at his house yesterday.  To his delight this friend's dad said he could come.  Later in the day, about the time we thought the friend would get here his mom called.  His dad forgot they had baseball games. It was 6 p.m.. This was the last night for the camper and the most emotionally fragile child had no friend available! 

Time for the dance to begin!  Even though he wasn't "stood up" intentionally, Caleb often feels like he is.  He thinks his public school friends have abandoned him.  He hasn't made as many homeschool friends as the other two because our co-op rarely has events for the older kids and his church "friends" are oftentimes more like aquaintances.  I feel really sorry for him at times because he does crave friends.  It's just always been harder for him to make lasing friendships. 

The first step of the dance was to make phone calls.  I figured I would scour any boys I could think of who would enjoy an evening at our house.  I got 2!  Two really nice boys who really are Caleb's friends.  Within an hour the pool was full with screaming boys!

The next step of the dance took the rest of the evening and is lasting into the morning as I type.  (Speaking of as I type, the boys just caught a mouse, caged it and are looking for mouse food, from the last time they caught one AND brought the little bugger in the house without putting the lid on the cage!  NEVER a dull moment!)  This part of the dance involves having a brother.  Under any kind of normal circumstances we would probably not have even had to do this part of the dance, but we told each of the kids that they could each have their own special night in the camper just them and whomever they invited and some nights when they could all stay together.  We told Caleb that Monday night was his night to be just with his friends.  Josh had already had his night and Carolyn had already had hers.  The problem with last night was not just that one of the boys invited is in between Caleb and Josh in age, but he is also also one of Josh's friends, AND the fact that Caleb decided that NO MATTER WHAT, his brother was not staying with him and the other 2 boys made the dance all the more complicated!  Josh was heartbroken since one of the boys probably is closer to Him than his brother.  To make matters worse, Caleb made sure Josh knew he wasn't invited! 

Caleb's reasoning was probably more autistic than unkind.  We told him it was his night with no siblings and he remembered.  Caleb is too literal to budge from something we say.  We really have to be careful how we say things to him to prevent fallout later.  There was room for Josh in the camper, but Caleb had principles to uphold!

To make matters worse, Caleb later told Josh he could stay and then later reniged!  We didn't hear all of that!  The dancing continued during a nearly dark game of volleyball!  All of the kids were having a blast.  The teasing was all good natured when someone would goof up.  Good natured was the interpretation by all...except the Aspie who could tollerate everyone EXCEPT his brother.  Such is often the case.  Caleb was soon in the house rocking and crying because he couldn't sort out teasing from good clean fun.  "No one likes me!"  "Josh is bragging!"  He says this a lot.  When Josh is having fun that Caleb misinterprets, Caleb calls it bragging. He can't stand it when his brother fits in socially and he doesn't.  It really is heartbreaking! From there he spiraled downward.

The straw that broke the camel's back, and nearly knocked the dancers off their feet came at bed time!  It was Caleb's night, we did promise him a night alone with his friends and he was not going to be able to handle his brother in the camper.  So, we had to do the hard thing and ask Josh to sleep inside.  Talk about a 7 on the richter scale!  Josh was mad and heartbroken to the nth degree!  He cried so hard and slammed his door even harder that I could hear him crying through the open windews of his room.  Caleb heard it all too and was quite smug with himself for getting his way!  

That smug look on his face made us want to explode!  We made him listen to his brother and asked him if he could make things right by extending an invitation to Josh!  It took 20 minutes of extreme dancing to get him to see reason.  His friends would only be here 12 more house but we told him that if he continued to treat his brother the he was he would lose him for life.  This conversation was very hard for us! It bounced back and forth between us telling him that Josh was just having fun and he needed to relax and have fun too, to him saying that we like Josh better! Ugh! How do we teach him something that he may not neurologically capable of?  How do we accomplish this without bribery?  How do we get him to learn from this situation?  He finally went upstairs and asked his brother to join him. It was somewhat forced but he did it.  Agreeing was hard for Josh to accept!  It was hard for us to listen to and watch.  

At the bottom of the stairs Josh and his daddy hugged while father told son that he loved him and thanked him for "taking one for the team" tonight so that we could teach Caleb to come around on his own and not force him to comply. Both father and middle son hugged and cried!  We could have forced Caleb to lethis brother stay but tempers would have flown off the hook and I don't think Caleb would have learned the reconcilliation skills that he eventually put forth.  

In the end, all the boys had fun staying up late watching movies in the camper.  No one was hurt!  But the dancers were exhausted!  

This type of emotional exhaustion occurs almost daily in the family life of any family with a kiddo who lacks emotional and social maturity.  I usually start the dance in some form every day when I wake up and look at the day's agenda.  I have to ask myself, "How can we make it through the day emotionally intact?"  "What will be misinterpreted today that I will need to straighten out?"

If you have a family that requires daily dancing, I would love to hear your story.  Your successes as well as areas where you still struggle to make emotional ends meet.   

Again, above all else, if you are a dancing family, know that you are not alone!

Tuesday Top 10 6/26/12

 
 Questions, Questions, Questions!

I've  been looking forward to this Tuesday's Top 10 list!  We get asked soooooo many questions because it has only been about 2 years since we started pulling our kids out of public school to teach them at home.  But first, let me tell you the questions we USED to get asked when we first found out that there was a name for our oldest son's peculiar behaviors. The questions we used to get asked when he first started struggling in school are very different than the ones we get asked now! (Our oldest son has Asperger's Syndrome, which you can read lots about anywhere on my blog. 
 

I would OFTEN be asked, "Well, if you are a licensed teacher, why don't you just teach him at home?"  An honest enough question, don't you think, asked of a mom who quit teaching after her kids were born?  I loved teaching and everyone knew it.  What all of these innocent askers didn't know however is that I could easily take on the most unruly bunch of middle schoolers, BUT MY son?  "Are you kidding me?" I would always reply, "One of us will be dead or incarcerated in less than a week!"  

As all moms of kiddos with special needs know, the days can be long and the emotional toll very high!  How could I teach my kid at home when he was so prone to tantrums and meltdowns?  The big question is, "Why would I even want to teach him at home?"  

God, however, must have gotten quite a kick out of my attitude toward homeschooling in those days!  He knew the future plans He had for us and was very patient with me as they unfolded! (I wonder how he felt about Saul before he was Paul?) To make a long story short, I interviewed for at least 9 different teaching jobs over about a span of four years.  Each time I didn't get a job I knew that God had a better one waiting for me!  It was easy to trust Him in the beginning!  As the years of interviewing went on, however, I was becoming more and more bitter as coaches or girls right out of college who were cheaper to pay than me were hired.  From the outside looking in there was always a legit reason why someone else was hired.  During that time I know God's still small voice kept nudging me toward homeschooling.  I just wasn't ready to admit it. With that being said, I totally forgive any principal that at one time or another I felt ill will toward!  God was in control, not us!

When our Aspie son entered middle school in 5th grade, the academic, social and emotional stress hit him like a ton of bricks!  To say he was slipping threw the cracks was an understatement!  The thought in the back of my mind that maaaaayyyyybe homeschooling might be an option for us came to pass after two rounds of such extreme stress that Caleb was suicidal.  That "S" word changed everything!  When your child is soooo emotionally fragile that he comes to the point of not wanting to live anymore his parents become more than willing to take extreme measures.  All of a sudden, it was like God said, "Do you hear me now?"  The rest is history, we asked Caleb on a Monday night if he thought homeschooling was a good idea.  Christmas break was less than a week away and we prepared to withdraw him then.  By Wednesday of that week, when he realized that he had forgotten to bring home yet another assignment and would be in trouble; he refused to get on the bus.  "It's time, mom, get me out of there!"  We cleaned out his locker a few hours later!

I just have to laugh now when people ask me...

10.  Q: "Why did you decide to homeschool?" A:  Duh! (I usually don't say the DUH! part out loud! :O)) You would probably consider it too if your child wanted to die (literally) from the stress of middle school.  We didn't decide to homeschool our two younger kiddos,though.  They did!  They saw the progress and fun Caleb was having the year before we pulled them out and THEY begged us to take them out too!  :O)

9.  Q:  "How long will you do it?"  A:  I like this one!  As if we are just doing this to take a break or something!  When the "system" (not our school system in particular, but the system of public school in general) that couldn't help Caleb before hasn't changed, why would we go back?  

8.  Q:  "Why would you pull a kid with Asperger's who struggles with social situations away from all the kids at school?" A: To this one I always answer, "Have you seen middle schoolers socialize?!  Have you spent much time in a middle school hallway?  Or an elementary playground for that matter? I know it's not the case for all kids, some are very nice to Caleb, but it's because of the kids, even some we thought were his friends that pushed him over the edge. Kids can be brutal but the unfortunate part is that some neurologically just don't have the mechanisms to ward the bullying off.  They become targets.  And even good kids from good homes don't always realize that just going along with the crowd can cause extreme damage.


7.  Q:  "What will you do when the kids get smarter than you in math?" A: 1st of all their dad is an engineer; if I can't teach them, he can.  2nd of all, we use Teaching Textbooks.  If I can't figure out how to do a problem with them, TT can!
6.  Q:  "Why would you ever take your kids away from all of their friends?"  A:First of all we don't center our lives around what our kids do with their friends.  We are a family first.  Secondly, while I type this my daughter is having a friend over to spend the night...one from public school, a second friend will be here in a few hours. We don't live a hermits life in a cave! Saturday night, our middle son had 6 friends over for his birthday.  3 were homeschool friends and 3 were public school friends.  We are very social in town and at church.  The kids have said that they have and see plenty of friends.  They have not complained about this in the least!  None of them thrived on popularity while they were in school in the first place.

5.  Q:  "How do you get by without your income?" A:  A friend told me that she couldn't quit working because her family could no longer go on vacations!  I was sad that vacations meant so much to her.  We do miss 2 incomes, sure!  My van is on borrowed time and we have to say no lots more, but we are neither starving for food or fun!  We just don't go and do things that cost more than we can afford.  Besides, vacationing in February and October is cheaper than in July anyway!  I also do work very part time for my dad's business.  I have ever since I first quit teaching.  That's how we get by; that and LOTS of TRUST!  God has us right where he wants us!  I am at total peace with that!

4.  Q:  "Don't you get tired of being with your kids all day long day after day?"  A:  Sometimes I do!  Have to be honest here!  :O)  BUT when God has a plan for you, He makes a way!  I never dreamed that I would be able to do this!  I really thought I would have probably killed Caleb by now, but God made it clear that He wanted us to homeschool and He has provided everything we need.  We are actually thrilled to have Caleb home during his best hours of the day.  By late afternoon or evening he is usually emotionally spent. (Especially after a day in a school.) Before homeschooling those were the only hours we got to spend with him.  Now I get to hang with him when he is most pleasant. And now that he isn't so overwhelmed by noises and the commotion that just go with being in school, he has less evening tantrums and meltdowns. We can enjoy his evenings as well.  AND BEST OF ALL, there are no longer hours of homework each night!  The kids have so much more time with their dad!

3.  Q: "Why would you NOT want to give your kids all the technology and opportunities that school offers?"  A:  Quite frankly I don't feel like we are ripping them off.  We have computers at home.  We do lots of real world learning that staying in the same classroom all day can't offer.  We go lots of places and meet lots of people.  Field trip budget cuts don't stop us from going on more than one or two field trips a year.  BESIDES, when we go on family trips we can often count it as a school day.  EVEN in the summer!  Our local school is phasing out textbooks and going to iPads instead.  That seems very cutting edge, but personally, I would miss books.

2.  Q:  "Do you really think that the schools around here are that bad?"  A:  I really think that because I used to be a teacher and now homeschool that some people surely think that I MUST be a public school hater now!  That is so far from the truth!  I know how hard my former colleagues work.  They are awesome men and women, most of whom just don't happen to have a kiddo for whom the "system" didn't work.  Most of them feel teaching is a calling the same as I did and maybe God still wants them there.  He just had a different plan for me.  Some teachers even tell me they envy me for getting to teach with a one on three teacher to student ratio.  They wish they could teach to each and every kid.  Most wish that state standards and standardized testing didn't limit them to what and how they taught.  Many of them would probably LOVE the lapbooks I have planned for the Olympics and election this year, but they may just not have time for fun stuff like that!  Can you believe that there are no lapbook type skills on standardized tests! I had never even heard of the concept 'till about 6 months ago! I have honestly come to believe that God not only set my son free from the stress of school but that He set me free too!  I can teach however I want and meet the kids right where they are at!

1.  Q:  "Are your kids really learning anything?"  This was asked of my husband just yesterday by an 11 year old!  I know he wouldn't have asked that on his own if he had not heard it somewhere!  I was so proud that my husband was happy to answer, "They are learning so much more at home than he did at school!"   He also told this boy, "You know how when school ends for you, all the books get put back on the shelf even if you have not finished them and school is just over?  Well for us, when 180 days are up we keep finishing up some of our subjects until the books are done." The kid was shocked! A:  Not only are our kids learning, but they are learning sooooo much more!  When I am able to teach them right where they are at academically, they enjoy learning and actually crave more.  My kiddo who couldn't pass standardized reading tests read over 20 chapter books this past year!


I am so glad for the opportunity God has given us to educate our kids at home and socialize them all over the place.  Learning is sooooooo not limited to the walls of our house!  I pray each day that we can be more of a model of obedience than just of  a homeschooling family.   I pray that we will continue to hear God's still small voice the first time he whispers instead of waiting for an emergency like I did before.  We have totally learned in these past years that what God asks us to do He will provide for!  He provides the patience, income and whenever we feel like we fall short, we rest assured that He will fill in the gaps!
Blessings to you in your obedience this week and always!
Shelly

This post is not only today’s link up for Top Ten Tuesday.  It is also also part of iHomeschool Network’s 10 week series “10 in 10.”