Friday, July 6, 2012

Homeschool Mother's Journal 7/6/12

Welcome Friday!
Some weeks the days all blend together into a blur of activity.  Early in the week I sometimes forget what day of the week it is!  I especially hate that when I have to write a check or fill out a form requiring the date and I have no idea what day it is, let alone the date!  BUT, Fridays are different!  I never forget that it's Friday!

In My Life This Week...
My favorite part of this week has been that my husband has had the past two days off work and doesn't have to return to work until Monday!  Yeah for the dad and husband being home!  Today, he made my breakfast, helped the kids clean their LEGOs and even made time for me to do some of my work, like the bookwork I do for my dad's business and...
... clean under the sink!  I am pretty sure this hadn't been done in at least a decade!
...and sweep up the parakeet feathers under Bella and Stella's cage.  You know, the really important stuff!  Besides all the usual 4th of July stuff like picnics and fireworks, we also went to the dollar theater today.  We are under an excessive heat warning for 2 more days so the theater seemed like our best option!

In Our Homeschool This Week...
We completed our first lapbook ever!  The kids complained a bit that I had the nerve to ask them to do something academic during the summer, (They are still breaking free from leaving public school less than 2 years ago.) but overall they seemed to enjoy the project and were VERY proud of their finished lapbooks about Independence Day!

 Check out this site for very cool lapbook downloads. Click on the pic for the link.
Helpful Advice or Tips to Share...
As some of you who read my blog know, we have a son with Asperger Syndrome.  My advice to you this week centers around like kiddos:  "When there is a burn ban in your county, don't let the Aspie's grandpa take him to a fireworks store on the 4th of July!"  Newly purchased fireworks are the ultimate anticipation for most boys!  But when a child who has very little ability to delay gratification, very little ability to be told no and still be civil, and can hear a few neighbors light their fireworks anyway, not lighting his is pure torture!  We had the typical parent to child talk about how "Just because they are doing it does not make it ok" talk.  Usually our Aspie is the rule enforcer, but when it comes to purchasing his own fireworks and being told no in the same day, all laws become irrelevant!  We finally allowed him to light a few of them so we could get him to bed without further fiasco when a sheriff drove by our house!   He didn't stop, thank goodness!  And in hindsight, he was the answer to our prayers.  We were able to tell the kids that his sole purpose in driving out our way was to look for burning.  Even the Aspie relented to putting them away at that point.  For those of you parents of special needs kiddos who wonder if you will ever be able to enjoy a relaxing family get together, take heart!  You are not alone!

I Am Inspired By...
My pastor!  He refuses to water down the truth.  He speaks boldly each and every Sunday as God directs him to do so.  He is passionate that his congregation hear from God, not him.  He is passionate about not just telling us what we want to hear, but what God wants us to hear.  

I was also inspired by the movie/ documentary, "Monumental."  If you have not seen it, you MUST!  It is Kirk Cameron's journey to uncover the truth about our nation's spiritual heritage.  
Places We're Going & People We're Seeing...
Other than going to my sister - in - law's house to watch the fireworks and the dollar theater (which is actually $3!) we are pretty much enjoying dad being off work at home.  It's nice to not be running around quite so much!

My Favorite thing this Week Was...The Rain!
We were so thankful for even just the half inch of rain we got.  We were less excited for the storms that brought the rain. In the above pic my son is getting ready to dart out into the yard to collect hail!  He has been trained by the Nat. Weather Service as an official storm spotter and was so excited to be able to call them twice in the past week to report high winds and hail.

Life is like that sometimes. We pray and pray for rain but are not prepared for the storms that bring the rain.  Our homeschool journey was like that.  We were praying and praying for our son to do better in school.  It took a pretty big storm for us to realize that God wanted us to teach him at home all along. The refreshing rain has come to both our home as well as our garden and we are thankful for both.  We even try to be thankful for the storms that brought them!

Questions & Thoughts I Have...
When there are burn bans in effect, why are fireworks stores still allowed to sell fireworks to  grandpas and boys?  :O)

When are we going to start school this fall? How about you all?  Do you have a starting date in mind? 

We have started planning our homeschool co-op for next fall and want to add some new classes.  What are your kids' favorite co-op classes?

I'm Reading...
Of course, I'm still reading "Bonhoeffer." But I'm getting closer to the end though!  I'm to the part where he is in prison.  I bet it is overdue at the library!
I'm Grateful for...AIR CONDITIONING!
The high for tomorrow in northern Indiana is 105 degrees!  
I'm Cooking...
As little as I can these days!  But I did make a Pinterest recipe that was pretty yummy.  We made Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes.  We altered the recipe though because I didn't feel like making it completely from scratch.  We added a raspberry lemonade powdered packet to a white cake mix. Then we added a half packet of the mix to 2 cans of white frosting along with a bit of red food coloring. We sprinkled decorator sugar on the frosting.  They were really tart and yummy!  Usually I make my own butter cream frosting but these turned out pretty good and were super easy...and yummy!

Well maybe I've been cooking more than I thought...I made zucchini brownies which the kids loved!  I didn't tell them there was zucchini in them 'till after they told me how good they were.  I also made banana bread with zucchini also.  The zucchini makes it so moist!

I'm Praying For...
I have many friends with kids with Asperger's and all of them seem to be in a funk right now. (The kids, not the friends! :O))  So, many of my prayers have been covering these precious moms and dads who live lives like ours.  
A Photo to Share...

I thought these two pics could help offset the heat of the day!  

I'm linking up the the Homeschool Mother's Journal today...
As well as the Weekly Wrap Up!

Blessings to you as you wrap up your week as well!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tuesday Top 10...Part 2 7/03/2012

Tuesday Top 10 Part 2
My Advice to New Homeschooling Moms

If you already read my previous top 10 list this morning, it was written by my kids, for other kids who are new to homeschooling.  I planned to add my advice also but ran out of time.  Believe it or not, it's the middle of the day and everyone is doing their own thing and doing it quietly.  I'm so excited for the opportunity to write my own list!

If you have read anywhere on my blog, you will know that we are  relatively new to homeschooling and also homeschool some special kiddos.  I hope that my list will be encouraging to both parents new to homeschooling and to those who are apprehensive about educating a child with special needs!

10.  Don't second guess yourself for too long!
If you follow your heart to homeschool, chances are you are also following a higher calling as well! *Even, and maybe even ESPECIALLY, if you have a special needs kiddo!*  We knew that God was not just suggesting we homeschool, but that He was actually asking us to.  If God is asking you to homeschool, He will supply all of your needs (and even your perceived shortcomings)!  And, if you have chosen to be obedient to that calling, chances are you will feel some resistance from others or your own thoughts.  But Take heart!  What God had asked you to do, He will provide a way!

9.  Homeschool does not have to look like public school.
Remember, you are now the teacher, principal and superintendant!  You know your child best and are perfectly capable of designing a school day that reflects your child's strengths and personality.  Most teachers I used to work with only wish they could meet each child right where they are at, but in institutional education, that's just not possible.  You are no longer part of an institution, so let you creativity (covered in prayer, of course!) run wild!

8.  Give yourself and your kids time to adjust.
We didn't feel like we truly had a groove with all three kids until many months into our first school year with everyone home.  If you are just pulling your kids out of public school, give all of yourselves time to settle into a schedule and routine.  Tweak it
till it feels just right!  If something is not working, try something else!

7.  Don't feel like you have to test your elementary aged kids.
There are so many more authentic ways to show your child's learning progress! My kids would much rather make a poster or create a lapbook than take a multiple choice test.  Just make sure you keep enough of their work to show that they are making progress if you have to present it to a school district or state.  By middle school and definately by high school age, your child probably needs to start taking book tests, expecially if they plan to go to college. In preparing them for college, we have to prepare them for how colleges test. But during the elementary years freedom to explore and show what they know, how they want to show it, is so much more inspiring. (and fun!) Remember when we were kids?  I don't ever remember doing as much testing in elementary school as my kids did!

6.  Don't worry about socialization!!!
I can't emphasize enough that as long as you are not a hermit who eats with your hands, bathes in the creek, and never leaves the cave, you children will not be behind in this area.  Besides, are the behaviors in most school cafeterias and hallways the ones you really want your kids to emulate?  All of the home and real life experiences you give them will prepare them much better than those experiences involving a hundred or more of their peers gathered in one place.  Most of the appropriate social skills we give our kids come from home anyway.  Not many of us who send or sent our kids to public school left the teaching of manners and appropriate behaviors completely up to the schools anyway. Most likely, the social SKILLS your kids had when they went to public school came from you in the first place; just keep teaching in this area where you left off.

5.  Don't be afraid of Middle School or High School!
When my kids were babies I would see moms of older kids and wonder, "What will I ever do when my kids are that old?"  But growing into each stage of parenthood has been very natural.  My oldest son now looks me right in the eyes and it's really not that terrifying! Each time my kids age, I age with them.  And it's a good thing too!  If God gave us teenagers right from the start, many of us would be childless or have much smaller families!  Your homeschool progression will be just as natural.  If you can't imagine having a high schooler to educate now, take heart, you will grow into teaching high school right along with your child!  (Besides, as long as you use Teaching Textbooks, you never have to worry about them being smarter in math than you!  The built in tutor, helps, and instructor will teach both of you!)

4.  Don't feel like you have to use just one curriculum.
If you read the top ten lists from two weeks ago, you will notice that very few homeschoolers pick just one curriculum and stick with it forever.  Most of us pick and choose from all over the place.  We pick what suits our families and kids the best.  We use a little bit of this and a little bit of that and also make up some of our own!

3.  Don't feel like you HAVE to use textbooks at all!
Even in math, we have used everything from textbooks, to library books to movies to the internet for many of our subjects.  Sometimes it's just nice to set the text books aside for a while and read a boigraphy, a picture book, go on a field trip or any nmber of different activities.  I can't imagine never using textbooks, but I also can't imagine always using them.

2.  Don't worry if you are not a trained, licensed teacher!
Yes, I know that I may be a bit hypocritical here because I am still currently lisenced in my state, BUT I know soooooooo many wonderful moms who are doing a fantastic job educating their children who are not.  Besides, my lecense will expire next summer and I don't plan to renew it. Will that make me less of an educator?  Na!  In reality, I often wish that some of the public school mentality would leave me sooner than later.  Sometimes I get into a rut of driving my kids to "do things at their GRADE LEVEL!"  Ugh!  Isn't that why we left public school to begin with...somewhat? Yes.  I sometimes am guilty of standing in the way of their learning by demanding that they do things the way I was taught.  They are much more eager when I let them take over some of the control.

1.  Don't worry if you are not teaching exactly the same material that your child's public school friends are learning.
Who says that you are only smart if you learn what the state dictates anyway?  Who says that you are only smart if you pass the state's standardized testing?  A dear friend told me that as long as you teach your kids what God lays on your heart to do so, He will fill in any of the "gaps" you think are there.  God knows what His plans are for your child and He will direct you in preparing their learning.  Now remember, if you aren't keeping in touch with God daily, you will miss what He has for you and for the kids. Don't try to do this homeschooling thing in your own strength! Don't worry if you don't finish a certain book all the way to the end.  Don't worry if you feel like your child might be behind his peers.  God will fill in the gaps.  In the areas where my kids struggle, I sometimes am tempted to feel guilt. Then God reminds me that He has their education all under control. Sometimes when I see my kids excelling, I tend to puff up a bit.  Then God reminds me that He is in control, not me anyway!  My pride is set back in place. 

So, pray often, let God be in control, and just sit back and enjoy the ride!  If you are following God's plan for your children's education, you can trust Him to take care of the details!  Blessings to you!

p.s.  If you are feeling hesitant about educating a special needs child, read the last paragraph of my previous top 10 post!  You can do it!  You are not alone! 

Tuesday Top 10 7/03/2012

It's Time for the Tuesday Top 10!

10 Pieces of Advice You My Kids Would Give to a New Homeschooler...

Because we are new homeschoolers, we only have 2 years of advice to offer.  I'm sure my list will change by the time my youngest graduates!  I asked the kids what advice they would give to a friend who is new to homeschooling.  This is what they came up with:
10.  Sometimes it's OK NOT to use books! Math on the computer is better than math from a text book! (Josh- He loves Teaching Textbooks!)
9.  Having Paraketes in your classroom can be very distracting! (Carolyn)
The Blue one is Stella and the Yellow one is Bella!  
8.  Taking half hour breaks whenever you need them is awesome! (Josh - Who especially likes to relax with a LEGO break!)

7.  You don't have to start school or get on the bus when it is still dark out to have a productive day! (Josh)

6.  It's ok to get done before the public school kids! (Carolyn)
5.  You get to read books at your own level! (Josh)

4.  You get to make up some of your own lessons about stuff you like! (Carolyn)

3.  Your older brother can help you if you need it! (Carolyn)
2.  You can work anywhere...not just at a desk! (Josh)  You can work on your bed, on the couch, outside or even at a park!

1.  You get to do your work with your mom! (Josh - whose favorite time is reading time all snuggles under blankets!)

*I have 3 kids but as you can see, only 2 of them offered advice.  My oldest has Asperger's Syndrome. (To read more about him or Asperger's in general read just about any post on my blog.)  My advice to any mom's of special needs kiddos is that YOU CAN DO IT! And, YOU'RE NOT ALONE!  My aspie is having a non-teachable, moodswingin' kind of afternoon today so his "advice" was not advisable!  One benefit to homeschooling him is that we get as much done each day as he neurologically can handle.  Today, he lasted 'till about lunch time.  Unlike school, we do not have to go on without him and leave him behind.  We will pick up tomorrow where we left off.  He usually has many more, shorter school days than the others but that's how he rolls.*