Tag Archives: Thinking About Homeschooling

Something you really SHOULD read …

This is not mine, sadly, but it it something that everyone should read.  If you are thinking about homeschooling, read this.  If you know someone that home schools, you should read this.  If you are interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) you should read this.

25 Modern science, math and technology leaders who were homeschooled

http://www.examiner.com/article/25-modern-science-math-and-technology-leaders-who-were-homeschooled

It goes without saying that many of our world’s most famous scientists were home educated back when homeschooling was more common. These include great scientists such as Alexander Graham Bell, Ernst Mach, Pierre Curie, Mary Blackwell, Clara Barton, Joseph Priestley and Thomas Edison (who only lasted three months in conventional school and was home educated by his mother from then on).

However, many of our greatest modern science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) contributors have also emerged from the homeschool community. Many 20th century and 21st century STEM leaders were homeschooled for at least a significant part of their childhoods.

 

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Homeschooling: Special Needs Table Time

Today, our best pal Lindsey is back.  You need only search the Guest Bloggers Tag to find many other posts she has shared with us.  Today she speak directly to my path.

 

Today I was having a chat with one of my favorite homeschooling mamas, she was feeling, in some ways, a bit of defeat. Her son is special needs, but they haven’t figured out a definitive diagnosis. I think any of us who have special needs children? Have been there. I remember just wanting to be justified- I remember thinking, “Something is *wrong* with my son, why can’t anyone tell me what!” I remember doing everything I could for him, and getting him tested for Autism, and then? I felt better, “HA! I TOLD YOU!” But, the truth is? His diagnosis? REALLY didn’t matter so much.

Here’s why:

You can slap a label on anything, children included. I am not AGAINST labels actually, because they help in school atmospheres, they help get help for our kids, but I certainly? Leave the labels to the professionals. For me? My middle son’s “symptoms” are what matters most.

So he has Autism. His technical diagnosis is: Autism Spectrum Disorder, Severe Sensory Processing Disorder, probable ADHD. You know what is kind of funny looking back though? I waited 6 months for an Autism test- on a waiting list, yet at the first MENTION of Autism by my pediatrician? It gave me a starting point- and I just flew with it.

I remember getting him in speech RIGHT away, he wasn’t speaking at the level he should be, I had known that but a previous pediatrician had essentially told me to stop comparing him to my other son because all children develop differently. Anyhow, once I had the tools, and the referrals I called the same day, within a week someone came to my house to assess my son. He didn’t “have Autism yet” on paper, but I told them based on the research I had done? I was fairly certain. The therapists were OH so careful to not say he did, or he didn’t fit the criteria, “I’m not saying he has Autism, but this behavior is common among those who have Autism, and here is how we would recommend you work with him.”

I did. I worked with him like crazy, and you know what? *TECHNICALLY* – He didn’t even have Autism- yet. Not on paper- not solidified in my mind- no proof- but yet? I was treating the ‘symptom’, in this case the symptom was that he lacked verbal skills. I was doing all this? And not even realizing it, because I was still focused on the diagnosis aspect.

If I could go back, and tell myself ONE thing, it would be, “Stop googling ‘symptoms of Autism’ and start googling the behavior you see!” Why? Because the diagnosis of Autism? Did NOT change my child. If I had googled the “symptom” or behavior rather, I would have seen how to simply address that ‘issue’.

Fast forward almost 6 years now and an official diagnosis. Sometimes? I just laugh at how much my mentality has changed, the constant hoops and loops of trying to get inside my son’s brain – figure out the why of his actions since he lacks the verbal ability to express them. He sure can talk now though- but putting his feeling into words is still a real struggle.

I am constantly having to translate, in many ways? It comes easily and naturally. Sometimes? I get stumped and reach out to my closest friends who ‘get it’ for advice. Those times, where I can’t translate myself? Are incredibly disheartening. What am I doing wrong? Why can’t I get this? What the heck is going on inside of him? It’s the most extreme level of frustration, and if I don’t figure it out for a long period of time it can lead to quite a depression in some cases. I usually step back at that point, get back to basics, cut out anything that isn’t needed and start at the base. As I build up? We usually find that there was a loose brick in the wall, and if we hadn’t fixed it? Everything would have topple down.

Notice I said, “We find.” WE, my child and I, this isn’t an “I am the parent and should figure this out” kind of ‘problem,’ this is a, “Okay kiddo, you have my undivided attention, let’s work this out.” Kind of thing. And when I listen? I have to translate. Almost ALWAYS the behaviors are not defiance, or even anger, MOST times, the behaviors? Are pure frustration. Imagine you are in Spain, but you only speak English. You are hurting, and you keep telling people why and they just look at you. Over and over you tell them yet they aren’t helping you like you think they should. How would you feel? Then you meet one Spaniard, he speaks very broken English but is able to deduce the gist of your pain, and then he helps you.

This is what it is like being the parent of a child with Autism, at least for me. He is always being perfectly clear- but I sometimes? Lack the ability to speak his language, and my broken dialect makes it harder for me to figure it out- but with enough faith, and enough effort? We get to the bottom of it, and afterwards? I understand his language a little bit better, until next time.

All this brings me to the story of my chat this morning. A friend of mine was feeling a bit frustrated with her undiagnosed special needs kiddo. I know she feels that a diagnosis would at least give her some understanding. I know she feels this way – because I was there. I have since learned that my son’s diagnosis of Autism, just enables me to explain him to other people, who still, won’t ‘get it’. To me? He is just like any other kid, but I have to work a little harder to raise him because, he doesn’t run on the same batteries as the others. Just a different “model” if you will. One that makes me think a little harder and keeps me on my toes.

One thing, he will not do? Is sit still. I home-school and I often get frustrated because I feel he is behind. I feel he is doing work beneath him. Both my older children were in public school, I know how it all works, I pulled them out because the school wasn’t helping either of them. I know, that if my son was in Public School right now he’d need a constant aid, and he would be put in a special room because there is no WAY he’d keep up with the 1st grade pace. I started really getting worried- he couldn’t add, and I didn’t understand why! I worked with him and it appeared he couldn’t sequence, he couldn’t add, and he didn’t know his numbers. I freaked. Maybe I’m not doing so well at this, maybe I shouldn’t have pulled him, and maybe I am totally screwing this up. I quickly purchased over $40 in computer software, because that is what he prefers to work on. I loaded it up, I told him he had to sit there and do it.

He mastered all 4 games, in a matter of 30 minutes, clicking answers before the question had even finished verbalizing itself. Adding, Subtracting, matching, sequencing, and more. All of the things I didn’t think he could do.

Are…you….kidding?

Then? I realized- those worksheet? I was reading to him? The fact I was expecting him to do the work at the table? Was too hard for him. It couldn’t keep his concentration! I also realized that this is why I decided to home-school, so that I didn’t have to expect conventional methods of teaching to work for him.

Now we do only 10-15 minutes of writing a day. 3 worksheets. Split up, one at a time. He needs the fine motor skills, but I am much more worried about him knowing how to add, than being able to write the answer, at least at this point. We’ll get there, but since writing takes SO much out of him? I’d rather focus on the skill itself. Spelling on the computer, reading, and doing math is good. We also play word bingo, phonics bingo, math bingo, and other toys that go along with our subjects.

I was trying to find a way to explain my reasoning of this. How “table time” can be a bit stressful for kids with special needs and here is what I came up with.

We have all had to fill out important paperwork, such as insurance paperwork. We know all the answers for the most part, so it’s not hard in that aspect, but we do have to think hard on it. We sit down, we begin to fill the forms out, our brain is going, then a child comes up with the, “Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom….” And we react by 1) Ignoring the child for a moment all while he/she is still highly distracting. 2) We react with frustration, “JUST A MINUTE!” Or 3) We get up, take care of the child and then sit back down, when we sit back down? It’s work to get our brain back to where it needs to be.

We are capable of filling out the forms.

We know all of the answers.

So WHY? When we are all done and stand up? Does it feel like we breathe a giant sigh of relief, why does our brain feel so tired? Why are we seemingly more irritable than we were prior to this ‘easy’ paper work? I mean after all- it should be easy right? We already know all the answers.

For children with ADHD or Autism, table time can be just that. They know what the number 5 is. They know how it looks, but even just sitting and working to write it? If they lack fine motor skills, or are slower at using their fine motor skills? Then it becomes just like that insurance paperwork. You know the answer, but it requires maximum concentration.

Every sound in the house from the fan whirring, to a distant TV, to the hum of the lights, the clang of the dishes as you clean the kitchen; all these things? Are the same as the, “Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom,” factor. Taking a break? That only works if one task is done, stopping in the middle of the task, sitting back down? Your child is doing the, “Okay now where was I?”

I am not saying that table time should be ignored, but short quick intervals with sensory breaks (when one task is done) can do wonders. Finding alternate things that will teach the same skills is by far the best. For writing, I like the sensory mats, where you trace a letter or number in the gel using your finger. Doing math in shaving cream is SUPER fun! Each child is uniquely different, but for those who have attention issues, or occupational issues I think we have to constantly adapt our *typical* mindset of methods, to what will work best for that child.

We may not speak their language fully, but we are more capable of translating than anyone else. We have to work hard at it, we have to constantly put ourselves in their shoes, and in the end? Never be afraid to say to your child, “I want to help you, but I don’t know how. Can you tell me how I can help you?”

You just may be surprised by the answer.

 

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our weekly routine

Standard Weekly Plan;  2nd Grade

 

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Bible /

Character

 

 

Ch Def and verse

 

Memory page

 

Read chapter in Bible

Review Memory Page

 

Story Pages

 

Review def of ch

 

What If’s

 

Review Memory page

 

Worksheets pages

 

Review def of ch

 

Review Memory page

 

Review story

 

Review def of ch

Review Memory page

 

Chapter test

 

Review Ch Def

 

Phonics / reading /  

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

spelling / diction Pre-test

 

Copy missed words

 

 

Copy all words 3x

Practice test

 

Copy missed words

Practice test

 

Copy missed words

Practice test

 

Copy missed words

Lang Arts / Grammar  

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

Math

 

Goal 4 pages a day

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

Writing / comp / penmanship  

Char Definition

 

 

Char Bible Verse

 

 

Bible study verse

 

Bible study fact

 

Line from memory work

World history  

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

US History / Social Studies  

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

Logic / Science  

LOGIC

 

 

SCIENCE

 

LOGIC

 

SCIENCE

 
Art / Geography          
Literature / read-a-loud  

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

DO THE NEXT THING

Memory work  

Review all memory work

 

 

Current piece

 

Current piece

 

Current piece

 

Current piece

if you’d like to see more about my planning of our homeschool experience see this blog.

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Planning and Record Keeping

I am legally obligated to maintain a portfolio for Big Brother (Little Brother is too young, records do not have to be maintained until a child is 7).  I also have to maintain a log of hours spent; we have to log 1000 hours per school year (minimum of 600 in core subjects and up to 400 in noncore).

So I thought I would discuss my planning / record keeping “system”.  It is a bit cumbersome and a tad repetitive but I didn’t plan it, exactly, the way things work now; they just fell into place.  For now I am going with it, because it seems to be working, even if it is somewhat redundant.

First:  Planning ahead.  I don’t plan too far ahead.  I find if I do, we just get off track and upset me.  I plan the big picture (for example, we just finished, in US History, 1000 AD and the Viking to 1590 and the Lost Colony of Roanoke; next we will cover 1600 and Jamestown to the American Revolution).   I know how much of each subject we need to do on a day (or a week) and I keep that in mind; but I am not at a point where I plan out, day by day, what we are going to be doing weeks in advance.  I don’t plan, on Oct 7th to cover pages 45 to 48 in our Phonics work book).  I have a ROUTINE SHEET that shows what we routinely do each day (Like Monday for Penmanship we always copy the character definition we are learning that week).  This allows for a fast reference for subjects like spelling or penmanship that repeat themselves weekly (see chart below).  For other subjects (like math) we simply “do the next thing” and I keep in mind how many pages a day we need to cover to finish up according to my goals (for math that is by the end of the year, for his Writing With Ease it is semester so we can move on to the next book and be on book 3 by next school year).

daily list

Each night I make a list of the subjects we are going to cover the next day in my spiral notebook.  I usually make notes of what page I want to start on, or what topic I want to cover (like next to penmanship I might note “Character definition”).  Each night I prep the next day’s school; printing out math practice sheets, writing out handwriting, and so on. The goal is to have everything ‘ready to go’ when we go to the table.  I lay it all out the night before, and look over stuff so I know what to expect the next day.  I am saving this spiral notebooks for now, at the end of the year I am not sure if I will keep them or not, but for the duration of the year I am.

Secondly:  As we check a subject off our To DO List, I note what we actually did; the pages covered, the topic covered.  I note out beginning and ending time, since I have to log our school hours for state reporting.  At the end of the day I count our time – and write the minute total for each subject at the far right hand side of the page, so it creates a column to be added up to give us our daily total.  I also highlight subjects we finish as we finish them; I don’t want to cross things off the list (because I want to still be able to read it) but I need some ‘way’ to show what is done vs what still has to be done.

daily list highlighted

Thirdly:  I transfer our hours to a small (5×7) ‘day at a glance’ calendar.  There I list, daily, the subjects covered and the time.  In this calendar I also fill in the month at a glance with our hour totals and keep a running total for the month(s).

daily hours recorded

mopnthly hours recorded

Finally:  I maintain representative work in a portfolio.  I have been maintaining portfolios since Big Brother started Pre-school.  This is nothing new.  Each fall I make a binder for each boy, and label it with the grade they are in for the year.  Then as the year goes on I pull work to add it.  In the past I have included examples of handwriting, art and anything I thought they did and extra good job on, or anything ‘memorable’ (the first time Little Brother drew me a flower for example).  This year, with a mind towards making it a more complete representation of their school work I am being more careful to choose work from all subjects.  This year, for the first time, I have divided the portfolios by subject rather than just lumping everything together in order date order.

So there you have it; how I plan ahead, and how I keep our records.

Standard Weekly Plan;  2nd Grade

 

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

 
Bible /

Character

 

 

Ch Def and verse

Memory page

Read chapter in Bible

Review Memory Page

Story Pages

Review def of ch

What If’s

Review Memory page

Worksheets page

Review def of ch

 

Review Memory page

Review story

Review def of ch

Review Ch Def

Review Memory page

Chapter test

Phonics / reading /  

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

spelling / diction  

Pre-test

Copy missed words

 

Copy all words 3x

 

Practice test

Copy missed words

 

Practice test

Copy missed words

 

Practice test

Copy missed words

Lang Arts / Grammar  

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

Math

 

Goal 4 pages a day

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

Writing / comp / penmanship  

Char Definition

 

Char Bible Verse

 

Bible study verse

 

Bible study fact

 

Line from memory work

World history  

DO THE NEXT THING

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

US History / Social Studies  

DO THE NEXT THING

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

Logic / Science  

LOGIC

 

SCIENCE

 

LOGIC

 

SCIENCE

 
Art / Geography  

 

       
Literature / read-a-loud  

DO THE NEXT THING

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

DO THE NEXT THING

Memory work  

Review all memory work

 

 

Current piece

 

Current piece

 

Current piece

 

Current piece

 

 

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how we are doing on school hours

We have to log 1000 hours of school this year (July 1 to June 30); 600 have to be core, and 400 can be non-core.

If you do the math it breaks down this way:

  • 1000 divided by 12 months = 83.33 hours
  • 1000 divided by 52 weeks = 19.23 hours
  • 1000 divided by 365 days = 2.7 hours

Where we stand as of the end of August:

  • YTD total:  — we are 18% of the way there  —- 183 hours and 10 minutes total — that is 157 hours and 15 minutes of core and 25 hours and 55 minutes of non-core
  • Aug = 107 hours and 25 minutes core and 15 hours and 50 minutes non-core
  • July = 49 hours and 50 minutes of core and 10 hours and 5 minutes of non-core

We are more than meeting out 83 hours a month to reach 1000 in 12 months goal!!

 

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Guest Blog — Wordly Expression: One Home Schooled Child’s Triumph

Our friend Lindsey is BACK .  You will remember her, she has blogged for me before.  Lindsay is in her second year of homeschooling, and I am proud to say I was a big encouragement in getting her to ‘take the leap’. (see bottom of post for her other guest posts)

 

Wow, my SECOND year of homeschooling. It’s weird, I look back at when I think I wasn’t going to be able to do this, then I started doing it, realized its wasn’t as HARD as I thought it would be (it is a LOT of work- but not ‘hard’ work), and slowly but surely I gained the needed confidence and I homeschooled my kids. Here I am beginning my second year, I have to admit, I had some hesitation. Not like I did when I first started though! Oh no! When I first started I was terrified, this hesitation came from small doubts, such as, maybe he is ready to join the rest of the kids in school, maybe I wouldn’t have to fight them as hard as I did before, and he really isn’t getting as much socialization. Then? It happened. I looked at the results and couldn’t help but stare memorized. Had he REALLY come that far? When did that happen? You mean he’s spelling THAT much better? He never had that progress while he was in public school………

So, I jumped back on the band wagon, and we hit 5th grade running, a little more experience, a little more confidence, and a whole lot more comfort (for both of us- BUT a HUGE difference for him). Gone are the days of “I must answer right”, and here are the days of, “If I don’t understand it Mom can go over it again, no biggie.” Gone are the days of sweating bullets over grades, here are the days of grades tell us what we don’t really understand so we can spend more time on it. Yep- I’m happy to report? I have successfully deprogrammed my child from the public school mentality!

All this sounds great right? And it is, but what I REALLY want to tell you – is simply amazing. See, before my son left public school, I was looking at getting him tested for Dysgraphia, I was pretty sure he had Asperger’s, I knew something was going on but I wanted to try every natural route before implementing medication. He was behind in reading and writing, but writing was IMPOSSIBLE. I can still remember LITERALLY tugging at my hair when he would have a writing assignment in school. It would make me SO MAD, he spent 8 hours a day there, then he’d come home, not know how to write the assignment, homework would take 2 hours out of my life and leave me exhausted, drained, stressed out, and questioning what the hell he was learning in school if I had to spend TWO HOURS coaching him.

What exactly were they doing for him at school? Being a writer myself I found this fact exasperating. “Writing is talking and you have no issue with that!” I would tell him, (my son has an extremely skilled vocabulary, he is very personable, he often lacks the ability to be able to tell when he should STOP talking)- so? I figured that writing should be a breeze for him… shouldn’t it? Put your words/thoughts on paper, the end. During 4th grade, (my first year homeschooling), I was petrified of EVERY writing assignment. I wanted to crawl into a hole and cry. We’ll focus more on spelling and reading since he was so far behind in those areas, I mean I figured it must be hard to write, if you can’t spell or read and he was testing out at a 2nd grade level in those areas. We skipped a LOT of writing assignments, saving them for later. Over the summer we continued light schooling, and I gave him odd responsibilities such as, “Write the grocery list” , or “Make your chore list”, I also would ask him to help me find road signs on the road. I realized he was getting MUCH better at spelling and reading. Then, as though a light bulb literally came on and brought me out of the dark. Why didn’t I show him, how to do prewriting on a high school level? (Or at least what was high school for me). He is REALLY Mathematical, maybe if I showed him how to take a writing web (which he already knew) and plug those thoughts into an outline using letters and numbers? Maybe he could add them all together and write a paper.

The next subject we tackled in writing happened to be about Benjamin Franklin. The assignment was to write a paragraph summarizing Benjamin Franklin’s life. I decided, to show him how to take what he knew, web it, put it in an outline, and the told him to add it together. I was SHOCKED at what happened next. He produced a 5 paragraph essay paper on what he knew about Benjamin Franklin, it included opinions such as “I think Ben Franklin liked Science just like me”, and so much more. I just kept encouraging it. We are on our 3rd week of school right now, and that happened at the end of our first week of school. My son is now writing for fun, now he is writing at the end of every day, we had some tough subjects the other day, our school day went very long, and STILL, he decided to write a “chapter” to his current Autobiography. (Each chapter truly equals a paragraph but it’s adorable- seriously).

With that, I want to share with you, the story, written by a boy who at this time last year could hardly construct a sentence after 4 years in the public education system, who had a 2nd grade reading and spelling level, who hated writing as though it was the worst thing he would ever have to do. Here is,

“My Brothers and I”,

by A.S.

Chapter I:

Me Hi my name is A and I am 10 years old and I’m going to talk about my brothers and I. I am homeschooled and I love it. It is much better for me and I learn more than I did in school. I love my brothers so much that I don’t know what I would do without them. Sometimes, they do annoy me, and it makes me mad. So there is a little bit about me.

Chapter II:

My Family I have five members of my family including me and two dogs*. I have two brothers; P & L and I love them so much. My brother P is 6 years old and he has Autism that means he can’t think like I do. Then there’s my brother L who is 3 years old and he is very attached to me. My mom and my Dad are the best parents ever. My mom is 31 years old and she has ADD and I love her so much. Then my Dad is 30 and he has Asperger’s just like me. I have two dogs, one is named Cali and she is only 1 year old and is the most annoying. Then there is Sunny, and she is 1 too and she is my dog. I love my family so much.

Chapter III:

My Brother with Autism My brother P has Autism. It is hard for him to do certain thing. He can’t process things like I do. He has meld downs that means he screams very loud. It is hard for me to have a brother with Autism but I love him so much.

…….To be continued….. Never in my wildest imagination, would I have thought, that one year of homeschooling my son? Would change his approach to writing THIS much. Way to go buddy- I’m so proud of you!

Other guest posts:

 

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Consider this

Noah Webster was one of the founding voices promoting mass public education.

He has been called the “Father of American Scholarship and Education

Quoting from How Lincoln Learned to Read:

What made an  republic successful, Noah Webster said: “A singular machine ..which takes the child as soon as he can speak, check his natural independence and passions, makes him subordinate to superior age, to the laws of the states…”

 

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