Friday, August 31, 2012

Homeschool Mother's Journal 8/31/12

Happy Friday, Everyone!

Did you know there will be a Blue Moon tonight?  Check it out! Click on the moon pic for more info!

It's great to be linked up with the ihomeschool network today.  I've been out of the loop (ie, too busy) to do much typing the last two weeks or so, but today school finished early and the dishes can just wait! 

In my life this week...
I feel like I am juggling way too many balls at once!  I am in too deep right now.  Planning for our HS co-op, planning for youth at church this fall all while starting back to school is wearing me out!  
In Our Homeschool...
We are rolling full speed ahead!  We started a few weeks ago adding another subject each day.  We finally feel like we have a groove though!  There are still some bumpy moments but the major bumps in the road faced by my Aspie at the beginning of every new school year are smoothing out nicely!  He is finally at least willing to do all of his subjects, including typing, which by the way he told me "YOU WILL NEVER MAKE ME DO TYPING" just 2 weeks ago!  (To get the good, bad and ugly scoop on homeschooling an Aspie, check out THIS post I wrote to clarify what "A day in our Life" is REALLY LIKE.) 

Helpful Advice or Tips to Share...
It's ok to start the school year out slowly!  But you are all more seasoned HS moms than I am, you could teach me LOTS!  :O)
I Am Inspired By...
I am so inspired to trust God right now!  I know I need to trust Him even when He is silent or during dark times and I really do try to.  But, we just had a major miracle of provision last week and it was so evident that God was behind it all that I just can't help but to be energized by His obvious involvement in providing a new van for our family!  It's a long story but in a nutshell, the most unlikely person helped provide the money to help us buy a van that we named Elmer, after the Amish man who just "happened" to pay her back for a 4 year old loan.  The road we take to church every Sunday "just happened" to have a great van for sale on the side of the road that  "just happened" to be a little less than the money we were given!    
Its only a 2001 but our old van was a 1999 and had 230,000 miles! A grandma owned the new one so it looks like NO KIDS HAVE EVER SAT IN THE BACK! (This is not our exact van but looks just like it...I just got a pic from the web! :O) 
Places We're Going & People We're Seeing...
I got to write sub plans on Wednesday for the Principal...aka dad, so that I could go to Brownsburg, Indiana with a friend for training at The Challenger Center.  The Challenger Center is the GREATEST field trip EVER!  It is a Rocket Simulator and our mission will be to land on the moon.  The funds for the Challenger Center were made possible after the Challenger Shuttle Accident in 1986.  My kids are as excited as I am to go!  I super enjoyed spending the day with another great homeschool mom while my kids enjoyed finishing school earlier than usual so dad could take them out for Ivanhoes...the BEST ice cream in Indiana!  Click the pic below to go to The Challenger Center's web site.
My Favorite Thing This Week Was...
When the dentist told me "NO cavities!" None for 2 of the kids who went with me either!  One kiddo brought home a treatment plan for braces though!   Oh well, I'm just always glad when I don't have to go back and get a cavity filled!
Things I'm working on...
Canning apple pie filling and tomatoes...
Preparing for Co-Op classes... 
Preparing for 5th n 6th grade youth group...
And, now that school's started, I'm working extra hard just to keep the house clean and orderly! :O)  I miss the time summer offers!
I'm Cooking...
Apple Pie! and white queso dip!  Mmmmmmmm!
I'm grateful for...
the fact that my husband's company finally hired someone to help him out and his hours have been cut back.  It's only 4:00 and he is on his way home already!  Yeah for family time!
I'm Praying for 2 dear, sweet friends and their families who are facing the hardest challenges of their lives right now!
A Photo To Share...The Hubby n I!
I can't believe that tomorrow is the first of September!  Later in the month we will have been married for 20 years!  I can't believe we are that old!  The almost 14 year old son took this pic.  The lens fogged up because he took the camera from the air conditioned house out into humid Indiana.  The pic is kind of foggy but I still like it!  Here's to 20 more years!


Thursday, August 30, 2012

What our day is REALLY like...Sometimes!

Homeschooling a kiddo with emotional, social and academic setbacks can be very exciting as well as exceptionally grueling!
Read on to see what a day in our school life is REALLY like.
In my previous post I linked up with other homeschool bloggers to answer the prompt, "A Day in the life."  Ordinarilly I try to keep my blog upbeat and highlight the benefits of homeschooling my "interestingly abled children."  We have one with Asperger's, a different one with Dyslexia and all three with ADHD.  A day in our homeschool life can be challenging indeed!  To read about a "good" day, click on the image below.
To see what really keeps me going as well as what really keeps me graying at more than just my temples these days...keep reading!
Let me start with the positive side of what I do all day.
  • Each of my kiddos get a teacher to student ratio of 1:3 and often throughout the day, 1:1.  This is one of our biggest blessings, especially for subjects that require reading!  My bed is rarely made because of all the one on one reading that happens there.
  • I get to sleep in!  We usually get up sometime between 7 and 8...often closer to 8!  This means that I am able to stay up later with the Principal (aka, dad) the night before.   We have so much more time together than we did when we were both working!
  • School is often over between 1 and 2 O'Clock!  Except yesterday, when I was out of town and the principal taught school for the day!  They were done by noon and then went out for ice cream!
  • I rarely get dressed before the kids' 10:00 break!Yes, most days I love my life!
Now, what is it REALLY LIKE to teach my kids?

  • We do Bible first thing each morning.  It is a rare thing if EVERYONE can find their Bible.  Once we locate all the Bibles (which I can't figure out how they get lost when we use them and return them to the same place every day!) we then read where we left off the day before.
  • After Bible I settle the kids into doing work on their own and then take each one aside individually to read and work on stuff that is hard for them. On a rare day they work quietly and don't interrupt me while I am reading with a sibling.  
  • Often the kids don't realize they are interrupting or bothering each other.  The kids hate background noise, but 2 of the three make noises without realizing it. They make noises to calm themselves and to block out other background noises.  SO, those who want it quiet yell at those who are making noises.  Those who made the noises then loose  their concentration and yell at the one who yelled in the first place! It's almost never really quiet! 
  • The kids LOVE to finish their work near the same time and take breaks together. In and of itself that's fine, BUT a certain boy HAS to take his breaks with everyone else to the point that he yells and falls apart if someone finishes before him.  I have tried for 2 years to remind him that if he were still in public school he wouldn't get a morning half hour recess at all let alone one that ALWAYS coincides with the younger kids at the elementary school!  Unfortunately this is something that he clings to and can not "just get over it!" BUT, it IS getting better than last year so we are making progress!
  • Don't get me wrong I LOVE working individually with the kids, but when you have a kiddo with Asperger's they can really get stuck in a rut, to the point that they refuse to do things differently.  I have a kiddo who needs to start working independently, but tells me "But this is how we have always done it!" He usually says this when I ask him to read or do an assignment on his own.  When I remind him that he can't take mommy to college with him he gets mad at me!
  • Sometimes the kids just don't like something they have to do. As much as I would love to just let them run wild and HOPE they turn out ok, I know better.  Two of my kids may dislike grammar, memorizing things and writing, but if I ask them to do it they generally will with little fuss.  Not so, the Asperger kiddo! He challenges EVERYTHING he deems unworthy of his time and efforts. He loves to remind me how "STUPID THIS IS!" All the kids balked at being made to do typing.  The Aspie, yelled, screamed, and reminded me in very unkind words how stupid that is because he took one 9 week typing class when he was still in school.  BTW, in case you didn't know ASPIES know EVERYTHING!  Trying to tell him that one 9 week middle school typing class does not make one an expert typist was like talking to a brick wall.  The only difference is brick walls don't talk back.  Teaching this kiddo how to disagree and not become verbally combative is not easy !
  • My kiddos have no "good speller" genes! Bless their hearts they try but it is not easy for them.  Two of the kids are able to laugh at themselves when I make them correct spelling errors.  One child sees absolutely no point in spelling, neat handwriting, punctuation or capitalization as long as HE KNOWS WHAT HE MEANS.  I have had the discussion many times with two of the kids that if they don't start capitalizing their NAMES at least, they might as well not even fill out a college application!  Two of my kids are such global, big picture, thinkers that details like punctuation, neatness and spelling are not even on their radars.  They will both need a secretary some day!  :O)
  • For some kiddos it is just easier to lie than to tell the truth.  Unfortunately, I have one for whom telling the truth is a neurological deficit if it means he may be confronted with something he doesn't want to do.  It is easier for him to listen to a math lesson on the computer and tell me he did it and tell me what grade he got for the day rather than doing a lesson "that might be too hard" for him.  He did this 20+ times last year before I had to start sitting with him and watching him to make sure he did a lesson.  It is also easier for him to get a problem wrong on purpose if he has to show his work.  Showing work takes time and taking time means your break may not be at the same time as everyone else.  Infuriating!!!!
  • It's tough having a student who would rather ask for forgiveness rather than ask for permission.  Because if an Asperger kiddo asks for permission he might be told "No." If we are having a more autistic day then usual, then being told "no" is unbearable for a certain kiddo. With than in mind it is easier for a kiddo to hide his books or certain assignment and HOPE I don't find out rather than ask if he can skip something.  
  •  ADHD kiddos (As well as Aspies, of course), are often a little over emotional.  I seriously don't think there have been more than 10 total days in the past two years that we have gotten through a day of school without crying.  Crying is often a first line of defense when my kids are asked to do something they don't want to do.  Anxiety is huge with my boys.  They get VERY emotional over what they THINK they can't do.   
It's rare that all of these emotionally draining things happen in the same day, but sometimes they do. Some days I have to remind myself that the kids are doing so well and making so much progress.  Homeschool has been VERY successful for us.  The kids love it, I love it, but we are still not a typical homeschool family any more than we are just not a typical family.  But I wouldn't trade all of the emotions for returning to public school where all of my kids were slipping through the cracks.  God has been so faithful to get me though each day and He will be faithful to get us through graduation!  For all 3! There will be some BIG parties at our house when we graduate these youngins!  

To all of my  friends and readers with hard to teach kiddos, don't give up!  We are in this together!  You can do this and do it well!  With that, I will leave you a pic of a happy school day to remind you and me that not every day is a "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day!"

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Day in Our Life...

"So," the kind lady at the supermarket asks, "What is a school day like for you guys now that you are homeschooling?" *I think that is the polite way of asking, "What do you really DO all day?"* :O)  Perhaps the next time I am asked that I will refer the kind lady here to see for herself. 
Welcome to the last week of the "NOT Back to School Blog Hop!" 

As many of you already know, one of the reasons we left our public school is because of the rigidity of their schedule. We left not so much because of the time of day schedule, (Such as always doing language arts in the mornings and science and history in the afternoons etc.) but more because of the "scheduling" of the kids' brains.  One of the unavoidable aspects of public school is having to do this or that simply because your child "is the age when normative tests say he or she should be able to do it."   When God Blessed me with kids, he blessed me with kids who rarely fit the "Norms" of standardized teaching.  My kids were often heartbroken that what was expected of them was just not neurologically attainable. At other times they were bored doing so much seat work. Because we have "off the charts" neurological differences in our family, it is even reflected in our daily scheduling; or sometimes complete lack of scheduling as often turns out!

As you probably also know, kids with Asperger's and or ADHD thrive on agendas and scheduling. A break in routine can cause much angst in our house!  So with that in mind, why would we ever "fly by the seat of our pants?"  Why wouldn't we be hyper organized?  

Because, the minute I try to micro organize, all my efforts go flying out the window!  :O) If I planned how many pages to read and what activities to do each day that plan would last at best 2 days!  No sooner than I think I know how much we will cover in one sitting then the kids will want to discuss more, need to re-practice or just plain now be able to do so much.  My plans would need revamped too often to put into writing.  We just leave a sticky note where we leave off each day and pick up there the next day.

Another "beauty of homeschooling" moment arives when I need to make an adjustment to our schedule to tailor fit one of my kiddos needs. I can tailor fit a need right in the moment it if needed.  AND if you have a child with Asperger's then you know that those moments often can't be planned for!

SO, what is our school day like?  Well it's not anything like it was a couple years ago when we first started homeschooling our Aspie!  The first semester we homeschooled our son with Asperger's we pulled him out of public school in the middle of a school year.  He looked forward to the change but change is still change and for an Aspie, change is stressful! So, to make it as painless as possible, we kept his public school books for the rest of the year.  He even insisted that we do each subject in the same order he did them at school.  1st period was science, so we did science first and so on!  When we decided to homeschool all 3 kids, I wondered how the other two would fit into the Aspie's schedule.  At first the Aspie didn't want to share his new school or his teacher~mom with either one of his siblings.  But that was last year and now we kind of have a groove... read on to see just what we do all day!

As of yet, we are still recovering from summer and so no alarms are set for anyone but dad who leaves around 6:30 each morning.  The kids get up around 7:30.

I have a note taped onto the back of the stairway door that lists things to do before school...  Mostly they follow it with only a little reminding.  It will be a very cool day, indeed, when they do it all without any friendly or not so friendly reminders!
By 8:30 each morning we are ready to hit the books.  Most it was 9:00 because we had a late night cleaning up after the best church picnic ever!  The kids were up later than I liked but they got to see their dad's servant heart in action! 

Like many of you, we read the Bible first thing each day.  Right now we are working our way through Daniel.  The kids are doing great at interpreting it.  I am really glad they enjoy this part of our day so much!

Ideally, the kids would next work quietly and independently on the subjects that they can do without me while I pull one sibling at a time to read and do the subjects that are hard for them.  IDEALLY, ya right!  So, what really happens is that I tell each of the kids what two or three subject to work on, review the instructions, turn them loose and then work one on one with one of the others.
Thanks to Teaching Textbooks, math is at least one subject 
I know my younger two can do on their own!
 Carolyn loves practicing cursive!

The one on one time with each kiddo is precious and is what really separates us from institutional education.  I know each of the kids' strengths and weaknesses.  I can let them run with their strengths while helping them with their weaknesses. If the kids run out of independent stuff to do without me I can usually find them playing with LEGOS or playing with cats outside.  One thing I am still trying to teach them is to skip a problem or wait on me if they get stuck.  I get a little frustrated when they interrupt me with another sibling 10 times each day.  We also try to take at least one official half hour break each morning around 10 to burn off steam!  

By lunch time we usually have half to 2/3 of our subjects done. After lunch we assess what subject each kiddo has completed and see what ones we have left to finish. If I get any grading done before lunch I may have them work on fixes as well.  

 The thing that blesses me most as a homeschool mom also frustrates me.  I love spending so much one on one time with each of my kids but they are slow in becoming the independent workers I wish for them to be someday!  Caleb's anxiety makes him just think he can't do so many things.  He needs so much encouragement and refuses to work on his own at times.  Josh's struggles to read the "easy" 3 and four letter words (he can read big words just fine!) makes even the simplest passage a struggle for him.  We read almost everything out loud to make sure he gets the meaning.  By the time he struggles through the sight words sometimes meaning goes out the window.  BUT boy is he improving!  And I spend so much time with my daughter this year because it is her first time to really dig into academic textbooks.  She just needs to get a groove.  That, and all the kids are ADHD so they need lots of directions stated in small chunks and repeated.  There is only one of me and I can only read or explain to one kiddo at a time!  As much as I love being there for each of them I am ready for the day when they become independent learners.  

I am the reigns and blinders for the kids all day.  That's often what I tell people who ask what I do.  I have to reign the kids in when they think they know what to do but don't.  (ADHD kiddos often run on ahead because they assume they know what to do.  The problem is, they often don't know that they don't know!) I also have to be the blinders for each kid and help them to block out all the distractions that the rest of us can do without thinking. (ADHD meds only go so far!) Reigns and Blinders, yep, that's what a mom of ADHD kids is all day.  

By 2 or 3 in the afternoon, I am pooped!  I have read American history with 3 kids, science with 3 kids, and 3 different chapters from 3 different novels with 3 kids, explained grammar to 3 kids and sorted through spelling and vocabulary with 3 kids.  Again, AMEN to Teaching Textbooks for Math! My brain is mush by mid afternoon!

The rest of my day is spent sharing housework with the kids, going on bike rides and walks, fixing dinner, and you know...all that mom stuff!  It's no wonder I am so tired by 11 pm!  (Which it is nearly 11 now!  Time to end this day!)

Kudos to all of you moms who strive to give your kids the best education possible while at the same time "sacrificing" time to yourself, time with friends and time to make money.  We all know that the "sacrifice" is worth it!  I am confident that if God got me into this gig, then He will bring us all through better in the long run for being there for each other!  

God Bless!