Sunday, May 27, 2012

Gearing up for summer!

For me Memorial Day brings in summer. We were married on Memorial Day so it is a special weekend. This summer the kids and I are going to come up with a summer bucket list. Z~girl is still doing her Time4Learning work and also finishing up Aleks math for the year. With Aubrey I'm limiting  it to working on his multiplication tables, (he's doing so well!!) spelling, and of course reading. Also I really like this sentence matching game but we are into relaxed mode right now and will probably continue that way until August. So far these are some things Z and I have on our list. Make a Tepee, make a ragrug, camping, sew some clothes, make more jam,oh and making another giant slip and slide....that's only the beginning! Also on Z's list is a trip to SD but I'm not sure we can swing that. So I'm on the lookout for free/inexpensive ideas on how to have fun this summer. I would LOVE any ideas if you are reading this!

What is your family doing this summer?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

How to homeschool?

 How to homeschool? That is probably the first question a person asks when considering the adventure of homeschooling. Initially the whole prospect of deciding to home school, can not only be exciting, but downright scary! I have a few friends that I know have been considering it for years, but due to their child's special needs, or what they think is their own lack of education, (from being out of school for years) they just do not think they would be capable of doing it. These are all normal ways to react to such a change but in order to make that jump, getting over that proverbial hurdle, learning about the hows is essential.

The first thing I would tell someone that is thinking about homeschooling their child is to check out the home school laws and regulations for the state in which they reside. Also it's a good idea to check out the regulations through the Home School Legal Defense Association. (HSLDA) In the state I live in, it is a requirement that you must send a Notice of Intent to Operate a School to the Department of Non-Public Education once your oldest child turns 7. The state also requires you keep attendance and administer a yearly nationally standardized achievement test once your child turns 7 years old. The testing can be done in different ways, as you can do group testing through a home school group, there are some tests you can administer yourself, or you can have one on one testing done with a trained professional. This is the way we have chosen, and do the Woodcock-Johnson III test, as it works really well with my son's various special needs.

Next, I would decide on what type of approach you want to use in your home school. There is Classical homeschooling, The Charlotte Mason Method, unschooling, Montessori, Internet Homeschooling, Waldorf, Unit Studies, and honestly the list could go on and on. Your child's individual learning style is a major deciding factor in which approach (if any) you decide to implement. For us, it's a mix of several, taken and shook up...which is also a style called eclectic homeschooling. I love the concept of Charlotte Mason and its focus on literature and nature and like to think we lean that direction. We mix that up with our internet curriculum, add some unit studies, with a dash of unschooling. Some families choose to follow the public school's calendar for when they home school, but for us we learn year around. We take extra time off around the holidays, plan family trips off season, and switch over to unschooling in the summer. (well, for A~man we do keep it a bit more scheduled as he works best knowing what is expected) It truly is wonderful that you can pick and choose what works best for each of your children.

Over the last 6 years I have discovered that homeschooling has become a lifestyle for our family. Currently both hubby and I are working from home, which allows one of us to work with the kids while the other accomplishes other tasks. It is also nice to have my husband involved in the teaching and in the many field trips and outings we take with friends. Our home school Lego and Robotics Academy is a great example of that, and I pretty much let the hubby be in charge of that. I have also found that homeschooling has really made me aware of the saying "Home is where the heart is". Truly, homeschooling I feel, has created such a deep sense of family that I cannot imagine doing anything else.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day to all my special mom friends!

I tend to be a loner. THERE I said it. Sure, I go out to homeschool events, church events, community events, but  I am one of those people that get energized from some good alone time. Yet when I think about it, I have some really wonderful mom friends. Moms to talk about homeschool stuff, mom's to talk about special needs stuff, moms that go eat cupcakes with you, moms that eat donuts with you, mom's that go out for coffee, and even a few that are there at your most awful moments. I have a couple friends that during those challenging special needs moments...where you are about to pull out all your hair, or worse, pull out someone else's hair, they are there to send a text to, asking for a prayer of strength. Or just to hear what awful circumstance you are going through and not judge because THEY have been there also in some form or another.  I'm not sure about other special needs moms, but talking on the phone is not usually an enjoyable experience when my son is around. So sometimes a simple text back and forth will pull you back up by your bootstraps. I am so blessed to have friends like that. Friends that will text you some encouragement or friends that will help pull you out of the house for a breather. Maybe even a couple are reading this.

For years and years I have referred to my super hero cape. At times I have worried that people would think that I thought I was a better mom than other moms. That's not it. Last week one of my favorite text buddies and longtime friend, Cortana (check out her blog and add her to your list...she is the BEST) was texting how frustrated she was that, because as a special needs parent, people would say how strong of a person she must be. When in reality we are just like every other mom out there. Where we are different is that, at different times when we have to deal with a particularly difficult situation and at times harrowing, we must pull out an unusual amount of patience, wisdom, and courage.(for me that is when God steps in)  THAT is what I refer to as my super hero cape. Now, sometimes I feel like my super hero cape is lost or at the cleaners, it's almost like you just do not. have. the. strength. for one more obstacle. Yet keep plugging on.

Right now I feel like I'm at a standstill with my son who has Prader-willi and Autism, educationally. It's nearing the end of the year but our homeschool testing isn't until the middle of June. The last couple of weeks any new concept has pretty much been met with a glazed over stare. Right now, at this moment, it feels like as far as school work he has met his limit. I'm not sure the parent of a typical developing child could understand quite what that means. What do I do? Stop formal "schoolwork" for awhile? (of course technically you never stop learning in the game of LIFE) We plan on taking July off but if I was to take off the month before testing,in my mind (even though testing is just something we HAVE to do for our state homeschool regulations) I know he wouldn't do as well on the test. I really wish I could completely NOT care what the score is but a homeschool parent you feel it is a measure of how well YOU as the parent did that year.  I would really LOVE some ideas from anyone reading this, that is familiar with developmental issues. All I know is, this must be my cue to stop trying to teach anything new for awhile. Maybe I'll go back and do a review over everything we have covered in the last year to further concrete what he has learned. He also loves his online learning games. This year his spelling has been helped immensely by online spelling programs and word games. Maybe we will do a lot of reading...maybe we will review math facts. I guess I need to get that super hero cape out of the closet. ;)

I will end this rambling post with a video. One of my superhero mom friends from Canada made this awhile back. My very favorite picture of the A~man and me is in it. I LOVE being a mama! HAPPY MOTHERS DAY to all my super mom friends!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Super Moon (the day after)

Sunday night we decided to observe the moon again and found it even more beautiful! I cannot take a photo of the moon for some reason without it looking like a communion wafer, but my husband captured a really nice photo that night!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

a full moon

Z~girl is at camp for the weekend (and I miss her MISERABLY...there, I admit it :( but it has given us the opportunity to give the A~man a lot of positive attention. He has a tummy bug, but ironically with him, he is really well behaved and more attentive when he is sick. He and I went outside around 8 pm looking for the moon...I wanted to take a photo. (did not WORK...that's the one thing I fail at taking photos of)

Keep in mind that in a lot of ways even though he is 12, he is at more of a 7 year old level. He knew I was getting frustrated that my photos were NOT working and saw the bright unidentifiable globe in my digital camera's preview. He said "Mom, get the face" I was like huh??? I'm trying to get a photo of the moon. A~man "you know, there is a face on the moon, see it?", it melted me to a puddle of of those moments you had to be there. It did make me think with his autism tendencies if he really thought there was an actual FACE on the know like Luna from Blues Clues.

Later we went out on our deck and he asked if it was the moon that was out front or if it was a different moon. I told him it's always the same moon. He also asked where it went when we couldn't see it. Now these are not normal questions for a 12 year old,  but none the less I got so much enjoyment in explaining, (what I though he already knew) how the moon does not go "into the earth", like he thought, but around. I had him hold up his fist as "Earth", and showed him with my fist how it keeps going around. I LOVED and ADORED the light bulb I saw in his eyes. A definite "AHA!!!" moment. I love those moments. He had learned about it before...but developmentally, now he was ready to understand the information.

Teaching Writing Skills

I had mentioned awhile back that we were going to use Time4Writing this spring, at least for my daughter. I'm not sure about other homeschoolers but this spring has flown by!

 This past school year has definitely been more "unschooling" for both kids in the subject of writing. Both kids have been writing letters to pen pals and relatives,  Z has been writing stories on her own and also for her Girl Scout Journey book, but that has been about it. Next year we will try and concentrate on writing more formally, but instead this spring, I have been concentrating on getting her more up to grade level in math.

 I think she came by her lack of enthusiasm in math honestly, as both her dad and I also struggled a bit in math in school. In 5th, or maybe it was 6th grade, I was almost held back a year, but the fact that I had A's and high B's in all of my other classes saved me. I remember having to bring the math book home that summer from that year, and reworking it with my mom. Fortunately I did retain what I learned though, so I'm trying my best to be patient as we venture through the next two months before testing.

Speaking of testing, when I was looking at the Time4Writing site I noticed that they also have tutoring for older students that may need  SAT writing essay help. I have always enjoyed writing but that extra help sure would have helped me when I was taking my SAT's many years ago. Fortunately, that is several years down the road for Z~girl but it does seem like the previous 6 school years have flown by! 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Free book~Animal Rescue

Product Details

For Girl Scouts this past year, my daughter and her friends chose to volunteer at a local no kill animal shelter in the city next to our own. Every week or so we would go and walk the dogs, bathe them, and generally socialize them. All of the girls LOVED it...ok so did I and eventually even my husband got excited about it. One of the dads and my husband decided to write an ebook about the adventure, and to hopefully raise some money to help the organization. For every book sold we are going to give a dollar to the animal shelter. For the next 24 hours the book will be free. Please check it out and feel free to review it if you would like!

Brother Wolf Animal Rescue