Saturday, May 31, 2014

Homeschool Field Trips-Special Needs

As we finish up our "school year" I look back and realize that we haven't taken nearly as many field trips as in years past. Why? Because we did not have reliable transportation this last year. Thankfully though just last week we have a new (to us) vehicle and I look forward to many field trips in the year to come. Hubby and I were just discussing tonight that we need to take the kids to the state capital as they (and WE as we are originally from a different state) have never been! It is important to learn writing, math, and all about contractions  but so much can be learned on field trips...especially for a child with special needs. Here is an article I wrote awhile back for work that I thought I would put in my personal blog.

 Field trips are always a fun addition to any home school schedule. I feel this is even more important to families with special needs children. Not only are field trips fun and often times educational, but they can also help with social skills. Some of my favorite home school memories are of field trips with our friends and the bonds that are formed between my children and their friends. We live in an area with a lot of homeschoolers and my children have been fortunate to be around a lot of the same friends since we started homeschooling.

We started homeschooling halfway through my son’s kindergarten year and I admit field trips were not always successful in those early days. It would have been easy to completely avoid them (and I admit, sometimes I did) but I am glad I did take them to the ones we did…even during difficult times. What better time to learn appropriate social skill but while at an event with other homeschoolers? They learn to sit, listen, and pay attention by watching what their friends are doing. Is it always an easy process? No, but I have seen the progress my son has made by watching him interact with his friends.

We cannot tell our son too far in advance about an event but we normally tell him the day before. We explain where we are going, who we will see, and sometimes I will show him a picture of the place if it is somewhere we have not been to before. This seems to really cut down on the anxiety about the event. He loves going places but sometimes the excitement can cause behaviors even before the event. Letting him know all of the where, who, what, and why’s seems to help with this.

I feel it is a huge benefit for a child with special needs to be around other children both typically developing and others with special needs. I think the benefit goes way beyond that of the child who has special needs. I know that it is not always easy to be around my son (oh do I ever!) but I think the benefits of children being around others with special needs is just as beneficial! The other children benefit by learning patience, tolerance, and empathy by being around children with special needs. Most likely if they were in public school their contact with special needs children would be limited, and my son’s contact with typical developing children would be even more limited. It’s definitely a win/win situation!

If you are a family with a special needs child what are your experiences going on field trips with other homeschoolers? If you do not have a child with special needs is your home school group inclusive of families that have a child with special needs? I can tell you from experience acceptance and being inclusive of these families is beneficial for everyone.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Another school year almost complete!

Our family tends to school year round BUT it is that time of the year when we are trying to complete certain things before our testing in June. Also we will be taking July and part of August off, well Z~girl will...if A~man has too much time off he can regress and also get into mischief if he isn't kept at least somewhat busy. Z did just start an online writing program but besides math and a little spelling that will be it before her break.  In the next couple of weeks A~man will be finishing up a reading program,doing some math, and maybe I will make a word search puzzle for him using his spelling words.

What have I been doing? I was able to do a couple of guest blogs in one of my local blogger friends awesome blog. (did I really just use the word blog 3 times in one sentence?) I've thought about creating another blog just for essential oils but I am still undecided. For now I will post a link to my friend Amber's blog! Let me know what you think!

Essential Oils!  Have you ever wanted to learn about Essential Oils? Have you wondered what they really do and what is all the fuss about? Then come along with us and learn all about them in this series at Adventures in Mindful Living!

Essential Oil Series ( Part 2). Thieves Oil! What is it and how can it keep you well? Got some questions? Come ask them!! Adventures in Mindful Living!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Book Review~Holding the Future Hostage: The Legacy of the Ruby Vial by Tialla Rising

I haven't put a book review in my blog for quite awhile but I love my job which includes finding literature for homeschoolers! I thought I would share part of the review of the book I just finished here in my blog! 

Joy’s Review-
What happens when the world as you have known it suddenly takes an unexpected spin? You end up in an adventure where you are not sure whether you are in the past, the present or the future. You also find out unexpected things about people that you thought you had known all about. That is where the author, Tialla Rising throws you when you sit down to read the exciting novel, “Holding the Future Hostage: The Legacy of the Ruby Vial by Tialla Rising”.
It all started when Harnon, a young scientist, discovered something that was just beyond the universe that caused everything around it to react unusually. He named this invisible place , Abraxus-the “mystical world”.  Harnon became obsessed with finding out more about this unusual place which lead to him consulting with evil and experimenting until his actions almost destroyed mankind. When he was done with his evil experiments the Vial appeared to him which had originated from the distant place Abraxus
Do you want to read more about what I thought about the book? Go take a look at the complete review of Holding the Future Hostage: The Legacy of the Ruby Vial over at!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

PWS Awareness Month!

Here are a few photos from today's homeschool field day. It was a fantastically fun afternoon. I have been really anxious about it as I have to stick pretty close to A~man. Not so much because of food but he has impulse control issues and can say some pretty strange things at time. Well...he ended up pouring water on a girls back (hey it was hot lol) and I know he said something to her he shouldn't later as I saw her theory is he likes her. I'm trying to focus on the positive though. In the running picture you can see he really isn't all that far behind the rest of the kids when he ran and he ran non stop till 3/4 around the field. I was impressed. He also did quite well with balancing the egg. It's so nice to see him doing well with peers.

I recently heard about a mom with a wee one diagnosed with PWS. Another homeschooler in fact. I'm revisiting this older post from years ago because I think it is worth posting again!

Monday, November 8, 2010

There are positive things with Prader-willi syndrome!!

Just a's been a long time since I've blogged. Lots of changes...lots of stress...and consequently the way my body deals with stress is lots of neck/back/ and headaches. Nothing I can really blog about as I do not want it OUT THERE in blogland but we are plugging along...our family is GOOD. God is just redirecting us where he wants us to go. God is good! :)

There have been many tv shows dealing with PWS...and one that aired just last week. I haven't seen any as we do not watch tv/cable but a friend is going to send me a dvd of it. From what I have read of PWS mom comments on shows such as this they show EXTREME cases...I guess that brings awareness but I wish they would air positive things too. (Maybe they do?? ) I hate to see new parents of pws children get that shock. There are positives. I hope people reading my blog...or people that know my son see that. My son is so much more than the EATING OBSESSION part. He is is a riot...not always appropriate but he makes people laugh. Kindof in a Jim Carrey sortof way (think MASK). He genuinely cares about people. If I know a friend/relative is sick sometimes I avoid telling him as he will obsess over it...worry about them. Here is an example even though it was a stranger.

With some exceptions I have given up on my son NOT talking to everyone we come in contact with ( to have DEEP conversations with). I let him...if things become bordering on rude I intervene. ;) Last week we went to Walmart..we rarily go to Walmart but he knows most of the cashiers. Let me describe the customer in front of us- 60ish,well to do, her cart looked like she was preparing for a dinner party of some sort. She was very snooty IMHO to the cashier who was the same could tell she thought she was better than this lady that worked at Walmart.  She leaves...enter my sons conversation.  This lady he remembered had cats...he asked her about them. Then he noticed the back of her neck was bandaged. He asked her what happened. She went into graphic (too much ahahhaha) detail about some sort of growth she had (I'm sparing you the graphic details) that had to be removed...and she said she was in a lot of pain. What was my sons reaction? He said "I WILL PRAY FOR YOU" . Now these are not just words for my son...if he says he will pray for someone he deeply means it. As a friend recently told me..he has a heart of pure gold.

With that I must say goodnight. Oh but just incase a dear local friend/blogger is reading this...we are praying for you with your surgery. I didn't tell A~man the specifics but he is too! I'm making you a sprize too for your birthday!! Z is helping! Hugs to you K!!!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Time4Learning Review

I've done a lot of curriculum reviews in my blog over the years but haven't done a single one for the main curriculum we have been using since beginning to homeschool 8 years ago. Weird. Yes, I also work for the same place but the fact I was using the curriculum BEFORE working for Time4Learning should say a lot!

Time4Learning is an online curriculum that includes-

A language arts curriculum with a strong literacy foundation which I LOVE. For the preschool to eighth grade curriculum it has phonics, grammar, reading comprehension, spelling, vocabulary, writing skills and more.

A math curriculum for preschool to eighth grade that has multimedia lessons, interactive activities, plus worksheets to teach basic arithmetic, number sense and operations, measurement, geometry, pre-algebra and more!

Both language arts and math correlates to state standards.

They also offer social studies lessons to students at a 2nd through 7th grade level and science at the 1st through 8th grade level. Elementary science is grouped from kindergarten to 5th grade by each individual grade level. Middle school science is grouped from 6th through 8th grade level. It includes Earth/Space Science, Life Science, and Physical Science. They also add in Nature of Science as an added supplement to the middle school science courses.

Social studies and science are added as a bonus and may need supplemented to satisfy each state's requirements. 

How have we used Time4Learning in our home? My son (14) who has Prader-Willi Syndrome, autism, and ADHD, is a visual learner and the animations that some of the curriculum contains really hold his attention. I have heard some criticism on the humor used in the programs but....hahaha....THAT was definitely not an issue for us and further helped to hold A~man's attention.He used it for Pre-school to partway through 3rd grade level. No, he did not go through each level in one year but that is what makes it great! A child can progress through it at their own pace and in our house we do not pay a whole lot of attention to "grade levels" anyway. I want my children to progress at their own rate. We haven't used it as much for A~man the last couple of years as in the upper levels it requires more reading and although he does read at a 2nd/3rd grade level he reads slow...and a lot is lost when it is a long passage. There are ways to make some of the curriculum be read to the student but I didn't have a lot of luck with it....but that is most likely user error and not the program itself. So the last two years I have been totally focused on getting his reading skills to his highest potential and also working heavily on basic math skills via other ways. Next year I plan on him jumping back in where he left off.

What about Z~girl? She has used it for Kindergarten through this year. She is roughly finishing the year somewhere between 6th and 7th grade. I cannot say enough about how helpful it has been in her becoming an independent learner. Yes, mama brag coming up....She gets up every week day (and sometimes on Saturday) at 6:45 AM (who's child is this?) to do her online schoolwork before *ahem* the rest of us get up. She gets her work done before 9 AM. This allows her the rest of the day to unschool and she is the queen of delight directed homeschooling. If frees up her day to read for hours, take care of and play with her pets, and learn about whatever she is currently interested in. It also allows a lot of freedom for all of our many extra-curricular activities.

She uses all but the math and especially loves the social studies and science lessons. (me too!) I am able to look through what she does and how she scores on the tests online but periodically I do sit down with her to observe how she is doing also. So many of the social studies and science lessons have sparked an interest in her to explore a subject more deeply by looking for books at the library on the subject.

We are Christians that homeschool but not all of the curriculum is strictly faith based. Time4Learning is one such example. There are a handful of things in the curriculum that we do not agree with as parents/educators but instead of sheltering Z~girl from it I have chosen to have it be a way of discussion. She will go to college one day and I think it makes more sense for her to hear about other theories early on....along with the way we believe. It truly just makes more sense for her to get to a college level science class and not be surprised by a different teaching idea.

Time4Learning also makes lesson plans super easy and offers tools and tips on planning out your school year. I do not have a lot of experience with this particular aspect as I have found if I plan out every day of the "school year" something happens. For us letting them go at their own pace works best but I do like the option of planning out the year and can see definitely using it when Z reaches high school level and is doing a world history high school course.

Oh speaking of which I forgot to mention that just this last year Time4Learning added HIGH SCHOOL! I do not have any experience with that yet but very happy to see that they added it. 

What is the cost?

Sometimes they have specials but generally these are the prices as follows-

PreK-8th grade- monthly membership cost is $19.95 for the first student and $14.95 for each additional student

High School- monthly membership is $30 per student which includes 4 courses. Additional courses can be purchased for an extra $5 a month per course chosen. Having one student does allow you to receive the discounted rate of $14.95 for a child in lower grades but there is no discounted rate for high school students. 

I definitely recommend Time4Learning for a homeschool curriculum for typical children and those with special needs. It also would be a great way for students in public school to do "summer school" online! 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Adventure Weekend!

On Tuesday night I received a call from one of my nephews asking if I would photograph his sister's wedding if he bought me a plane ticket. (the scheduled photographer had fallen through) I do not do well with HUGE spontaneous changes in plans but how could I say no? Six months ago I had hoped we all could attend but four plane tickets was not doable and either was driving 3,000 way. Still I REALLY wanted to go to her wedding!

I've been praying for a long time that this sweet niece would find someone.This is a picture of three of my nieces and one of my nephews. The one getting married is in the girl in the dress at the bottom. The older girl is my oldest niece who is just one year younger than I am. I'm the youngest of 5 and grew up with many of my nieces and nephews. This sweet niece S, was a preschooler when I was a teen and I distinctly remember her terrorizing my bedroom with a container of Vaseline and talking non stop with the constant" why " questions.

I also distinctly remember teaching her how to tie her shoes when she was staying at our house. I was/am immensely blessed with MANY nieces/nephews (and many greats too now!) So I am very much looking forward to seeing them even though I so wish the rest of my gang was coming too. I do not remember the last time I have gone anywhere for more than one night without the rest of my family coming along.

Still...I am pretty stressed about taking the pictures even though I was so flattered that my nephew thought enough of my photography skills to ask me AND pay for most of the ticket. I am all OCD right now about making sure I bring everything I need and I'm praying that the weather cooperates as I do so much better with natural light.

I'm also a bit out of sorts because two of my family members I have quite a bit of issues with. (or rather they have issues with ME) Needless to say if a family member is reading this they are not who I'm referring too. I love all my family with all my heart but these two I just do not feel like I measure up to what they expect of me...and they can be extremely hurtful to me and my sweet family. Still...I know that it is no coincidence that I am able to go on this trip and God will get me through whatever is thrown at me. ;)

Weeks like this one, and the couple before this one, make me realize WHY we home school year round and why using kids learning software and online curriculum works so well for us for our family. It leaves us more flexible for the occasional spontaneity.