Oct 262017
 

IMG_20160224_144515343

By now, I think most of you are aware that one of our children is home schooled.  The other one technically is out-of-home schooled, a.k.a. goes to public school.  In the end this makes both of our kids ‘schooled’.  However, the schooling each receives is not the same.

The difference?  The goal of each.

This fact has become more obvious over the past year, and is something I have begun to feel guilty about.

Public schools have various goals, some official, others not.  In the end, their focus on academic measurements shows they are more worried about imparting facts and “knowledge” upon students.  Yes, they would also like them to become good people (hence anti-bullying campaigns, food drives, etc.), but the diploma at the end has everything to do with whether you could recite back what they told you.

Our home school focuses not only on the academics, but also the person.  That last part (the person) is something I would argue is even more important than the academics.

How we work on that aspect of the kids’ education takes on different looks at different times and ages.  Some of it is so subtle, even I did not pick up on it at first.

cooking hotdogs child

Moving has afforded us a welcome change, a small thing that most would have brushed off, but which I was so happy about – George rides the bus to and from school.

This means I no longer have to get George ready for school and:

  • gather up all I need to drive to school
  • warm up the car
  • wake up Jack
  • try to get  him dressed, or carried to the car half awake in pajamas, kicking the whole way while he is abruptly shocked out of Dream Land (he is one of those slow to wake sort of kids lately)
  • drive to a building with lots of kids around, reminding Jack of all he is missing
  • a quick “Goodbye” while I try to get my social, talkative ADD kid into a building on time, while sitting in my car (his theory – Time? What is time? Life is too short to be constrained by something as pointless as a clock!)
  • back to the house
  • then both Jack and I inside, where we both are so out of sorts it takes us another 30 minutes to transition back to being at the house and ready to move on with out morning.

Then we repeat it all for the afternoon.

We only lived a mile from school.  So it was not even the transportation time that was the issue; it was the disruption of routines, the emotional reminders.

We could have paid $50 a month and cost George 2 hours of his time each day to ride the bus. The mile to our house.  With a bus driver I did not impart full confidence in being able to keep the older kids from harassing the smaller ones.

It did not take much to see that the cost to George (40 hours of his time each month and potentially bullying) was greater than the discomfort to me.

Now?

  • Jack gets to sleep till he wakes up naturally – 6:30 or 8:10, it does not matter, and he can take 2 minutes or 20 to wake up
  • George rides at most 20 minutes on his bus each way
  • The bus ride is just enough to help George begin his mental transition from school to home
  • For the most part, our routines at home are not disrupted by the brief minutes needed to collect George from the bus stop
  • I am very confident in the bus driver, as all the kids are sitting two to a seat, fairly in order, and disembarking in a very regulated state every day
  • Jack no longer has be presented daily with a reminder of what he could be missing out on

There are days when we still have to pick George up or drop him off, but those days are very limited.

Then came the issue of what to do once George was at home.

to be continued…

 

 

Oct 182017
 

This post contains affiliate links.

You miiiiiiight have missed my post a few days ago about a  that will change dinnertime in your house in a big way. I don’t want you to miss it though, so here it goes again!

I’m excited to be connected with Katie Kimball, the “kitchen whisperer” who has taught thousands of families how to cook and tens of thousands of kids to (gulp) use sharp knives safely (including ours). Apparently, her kids actually stay at the table all throughout dinner most of the time – and she’s willing to share her strategies with us! 😉

These secrets will make dinner with your kids sound better than a hangnail, and you can expect more veggies to be going down the hatch than ever before. #itcouldhappen #evenpickyeaterscanchange

It’s kicking off soon – the first event is on THURSDAY OCTOBER 19th at 1PM EASTERN (10AM PACIFIC), so take 20 secs and register now:

YES! RESERVE MY SPOT!

You definitely should plan to make it LIVE because you get a special gift just for coming(a 10-minute cooking lesson for kids!!!)

If that time doesn’t work for you, you can also catch it on:

* Tuesday, Oct. 24th, at 7PM Eastern (4PM Pacific)

or

* Saturday, Oct. 28th, at 4PM Eastern (1PM Pacific)

Here’s a bit of what you’ll learn:

  • 7 Tips to Help you Raise Adventurous Eaters (even if you’re not one yourself…yet)
  • How to Make the Clean Plate Club Totally Unnecessary For the Good of Your Kids
  • The Magic of Doing Something Crazy at the Table
  • The Biggest Mistake Parents Make when inviting their kids into the kitchen…and how to avoid it.

If you’re already registered, awesome! Really try to make it live to get that knife class for your kids, but no matter what, you’ll get the replay, so you can register without checking the calendar and still feel good about it:

REGISTER HERE

We all put a lot of time and effort into being good parents, and training our kids in life skills and mealtime manners is part of it – but it can be hard to know just where to start. I often feel like the focus of mealtimes are getting the kids to not complain about some aspect of the meal, or to stay sitting till they have actually eaten enough to not be hungry again in 15 minutes.

So whether you feel just like me or the polar opposite, unless your kids are already competing for the healthiest eater award, you can probably use some encouragement and fresh ideas for meal times (and kitchen prep).

I’m looking forward to hearing what Katie has to say!

PS – The live event is totally free and all online. Expect no more than an hour with as much actionable info as possible packed in to respect your valuable time as a parent!! Don’t miss it!

Oct 152017
 

Here is a list of resources I have used in years past with my children.  Nothing fancy with this list, but it might hold something you find useful.

Language

A Song – Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read Kindergarten – “-at”, “-an”, “-ack” words

CVCC Word Family Song (to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus”) – “-ack”, “ick”, “-ock”, “-uck”, “-all”, “-ell”, “-ill” words

Rhyming words Word Families by talbert – videos for 23+ rhyming endings

Read Word Family – videos for various word endings

Word Families by LearningAlong – some videos I like, some I think you’ll find better ones for.  Videos for various word endings.

Craft or activity ideas you can use with your child to practice words

Word Family “ack” Book – reading of a picture book.  

Word Family “ack” Bingo Game – make a board with the specific words your child needs to learn

fun “dragon” story  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOqa7dRjNs8

Math

Intro to Addition & Subtraction, 1’s Facts,

Oct 152017
 

This post contains affiliate links.

A lot has been happening here lately.  Not in the canning or freezing portion of life, but life in general.  After a few months off of my normal cooking methods, I am slowly getting back into making some of our favorites, and some of the more attention and time consuming meals.

I have also been able to try a few new recipes with the goal of saving time and using what we have on hand.  Thankfully, most of the ‘new’ stuff has been well received by over half of the household population.

A few of the meals are planned such that my husband eats something different than the rest of us:

  • He likes to have salads. My kids are not huge lettuce fans.
  • My kids like chicken, fish, and pre-made meatballs.  My husband does not.
  • I can tell my kids, “This is what is for supper. I am not making something else.”  And they eat it.  My husband, well, he can always make himself a sandwich later.

This means a few times a week my husband has salad and the kids and I eat something else.  It works for us at this time.

But what if we had really picky eaters?  For reasons I am not happy about, my kids really like food and have few dislikes.  Some of the things they do not like, we can work around fairly easily.  Others, well, eggs are eggs and we have them at least once a week.  “Sorry, Kid, that is what is for supper tonight.  Would you like cheese melted on it?”

Katie, from Kitchen Stewardship and Kid Cook Real Food, has a FREE online event later this week if you have kids who are pickier than mine (usually are).

Raising Adventurous Eaters: 7 Proven Strategies to End Mealtime Madness and Get Your Kids to Eat Healthy Food (even if they’re picky!)

Katie Kimball, who is a teacher and mom of 4, will show you:

  • 7 Proven Strategies to Make Family Mealtimes Peaceful (even if you have picky eaters) Plus The Surprising Reason Some Picky Eaters Have More Going on Than Just Food
  • 3 Choices to Give Your Kids That Will Make Healthy Food a Reality in Your House — but They Still Think They’re in Control
  • 2 Way-too-common Ways Parents Sabotage Dinner Without Even Realizing it
  • Why the MS90 1-and-Done Snacktime Rule will be your new best friend
  • The Biggest Mistake Parents Make when inviting their kids into the kitchen…and how to avoid it.

Are you ready to experience a family dinner that everyone enjoys – even the adults?

You won’t want to miss this free event – your kids’ futures depend on it!

SIGN UP NOW!

For attending, you’ll also get a free knife skills video from her Kids Cook Real Food eCourse that you can use to teach your kids (of any age!) how to use dull and sharp knives safely, in a fun and kid-friendly way.

Over 20,000 families have used this class to teach kids knife safety and techniques. I’m so excited that you get a chance too (it’s usually part of a $20 set of 5 videos)!

RESERVE YOUR SEAT FOR THE LIVE EVENT

The training has 3 times to choose from so it’s even easier to get there:

* Thursday, Oct. 19th, at 1PM Eastern (10AM Pacific)

* Tuesday, Oct. 24th, at 7PM Eastern (4PM Pacific)

* Saturday, Oct. 28th, at 4PM Eastern (1PM Pacific)

It will be recorded and signing up is the only way to get the replay!

Aug 092017
 

Summer break.  A time away from public school.  A time to visit the public pool, the library, various parks in the area … yeah, I had great and wonderful plans.

How many of them turned out? Well, let’s not go there right now.

Something George’s teacher sent home at the end of last school year as a pack of papers.  His OT even send home ideas he could work on.  These were great, and would fit in easily to my plans for a simplified home school/summer school.

I was organized.  Truly.  Each kid had a bind of work to do, a sheet at the beginning saying what needed done that day, etc.  In all, it should have taken us less than an hour a day.  Should have.

Even if things did not turn out like I had them planned, they could have gone worse.  Not exactly optimistic thinking is it?

I have learned over the years to not beat my head against a brick wall if I do not have to.  Though it might take several hits for me to be reminded, I do get there.  Here is one great example:

This is a simple enough worksheet. Or so I thought.  George was to work on this page one day.  I should have taken, oh, 10 minutes.  2 or 3 days later I decided that God gave George his own way of looking at things and I was not going to let a worksheet squelch that trait.

Here is how things were going…during Week 1:

Me – George, for each line there is one item that does not go with the others.  When you find that word, write it on the line to the right.

Already, we are at Problem #1 – George’s reading skills are a bit behind.  While I thought this could be independent work while I read aloud to Jack, it turned into him needing clarification on almost every word.

Problem #2 – even if he figured out the word, he would have to write it out.  Writing takes a lot of effort for him, sometimes he uses creative spelling even if the work is right there, and he gets upset about it and wants to give up immediately.

Solution #1a – “Try your best and I’ll go over the ones you don’t know when I am done with Jack.” Yeah, like that is going to work. Silly me.  He lasted 10 seconds before declaring he didn’t know any of the words and chose to play with his toys. Right. In. Front. Of. Us. While I am trying to get Jack to follow what I am reading. While I am trying to get Jack to sit still.

Solution #1b – “Go play in your room and we will work on this when I am done.” 20 seconds later he is back out again, walking in circles around us.

Solution #1c – “If you do not leave this room right now, your brother is going to get to pick all the movies for the rest of the day.  Now get a book and go. to. another. room. (For further clarification) As in, not where we can see you.”

Once I finally was able to give George my full attention I tackled the second problem.

Solution #2 – “Don’t worry about writing it out.  Just circle it.”

Okay, so now we were off and running.  I sat trying to do paperwork while George asked about 90% of the words.  I leaned over to check his work at one point and asked for clarification.

Me – For #4, why did you write that rain did not belong?

George – Wind can blow around sleet and snow. Sleet and snow are both cold. Wind can be cold too.

Me – Um, okay. What are sleet and snow exactly.  Is rain or wind similar to them in that way?

 

Me – For #9, why did you say coral did not belong?

George – The rest are animals.

Me – Well, that is true. Is there any other way the to make some of the words relate to each other?

 

Me – For #10, why did you write that a ‘kite’ did not belong in the group?

George – Because a cactus grows in sand and you can carry sand in a bucket.

 

At this point, I gave him a hug, told him he could be done with the worksheet, and to go play.

See, none of his answers were necessarily wrong, they were only not the ones the authors were going for.  Most people would see that “sleet, snow, and rain” belong together because they are precipitation, “anenemone, coral, and octopus” belong together due to them being in the ocean, and “sand, bucket, and kite” belong together because you play with them at the beach.

George’s brain doesn’t work that way.  I tried to lead him there.  I was painful.  So painful.  He was frustrated because he just could not see where I was trying to go.

Our relationship is more important than a worksheet aimed at getting him to think like the author wants him to.

No worries, I am not just letting him get by without learning, but there are other ways than worksheets to teach this concept.

Aug 022017
 


This post contains affiliate links.

A day with fun mail, not a bill or notice or advertisement for a new furniture store, is a somewhat rare day lately.  It is even rarer for the fun mail to be for the kids.

This particular day was one of those extremely rare days.  The kids were vibrating with excitement to see what was in the box, and even more so once it was opened.

I am always in search of sensory items, things which may make our day a bit easier or fulfill a need one of the kids seems to crave.  I have found that sometimes the best items are not marketed as such.  When I was given the opportunity to review a Tiny Headed Kingdom stuffed animal, from Calendars.com, I hoped it would become one of those items.

 

The stuffed animal arrived quickly, and thrilled its new owner – Jack.  However, an custody battle quickly ensued with joint custody being negotiated between Jack and George.  It was cute … until it wasn’t.

Apparently both were drawn to the large stuffed animal, “Twist”, thinking they could provide the best care to the newest member of our household.

Twist even came with information about his origin, his birth date, and a bit about his personality.  Jack loved the silliness of one of the stories involving Twist, mentioning it again that night at bedtime.

When I mentioned the Tiny Headed Kingdom animals being large, I am not talking about baby doll big.  When the kids were sitting down, Twist easily covered Jack’s face.  When I held him, I was able to see over his head, but could have rested my chin on it.

While Twist is large in size, he seems to have worked hard to keep the weight off, as he does not weigh much. (I tried weighing him on our scale but he would not register.  My guess is a pound or less.)  If you are looking for weight as a sensory input, this stuffed animal is not for you.  However, if you are looking for something to cuddle, to be able to add pressure to your chest or arms while squeezing (Proprioceptive), these animals would be perfect.

George, our lover of all things stuffed, was quickly found with his arms wrapped fully around Twist, watching t.v.  After an argument, again over ownership of Twist was settled, all was right with the world … and Twist was back in Jack’s bubble of ownership.

Even I was able to cuddle with Twist while watching t.v., after both kids were asleep, feeling fully like I was hugging something, not a limp rag and air.  His stuffing, while not heavy, is dense enough to push back when given a hug or carried around.

 

At night, Twist can now be found in Jack’s room, next to his pillow.  One of my hopes for Twist, and the reason I “gave” him to Jack, was to help Jack gain a sense of something being near him while he is sleeping.  He often seeks out a wall, bed, table, etc. when asleep, only resting fully once he finds an object which will not move.

In the end, Twist did not quite fulfill the need I was looking for in regards to Jack.  I think his weight needs to be more.  Jack did like the soft texture of his fur, though, as well as his size.

As for custody of said Tiny Headed Kingdom animal, for now he resides with Jack.  I do not foresee George taking over care, as Jack has fallen in love, in his own way.

In the photo above, Tiny’s belly is actually pure white.  My camera was having trouble with it and the red curtains behind it.  So, while it looks to have a grey spot, in reality it is pure white. Next time I will know not to sit him next to red curtains. 😉

For the price of the Tiny Headed Kingdom stuffed animals, if you are solely looking for a new stuffed animal for a lover of plush, you might do better looking elsewhere.  If you are looking for something which feels denser than air, is great to cuddle with, is unusual, will withstand daily use, and ships quickly, then this would meet your needs.

To make it even better, through August 31, 2017 use this coupon code to receive 20% off any purchase at Calendars.com

If you happen upon a 2018 calendar you really love, now would be a great time to pick it up. Through August 13, 2017 Calendars.com is offering $1 Shipping on ALL 2018 calendars.  How great is that?!  You do not even need to leave home and you will be able to have this end-of-the year chore taken care of well ahead of time.

 

Shop Toys on Calendars.com

May 302017
 

Time spent outside fighting dragons, conquering the great flood threatening your kingdom, surviving the natives who are chasing you, or perhaps soaring so high on the swing that you can almost touch the sun – Summers are for adventure and new experiences.

While this is true, not all adventures need be saved for summer or for disposing of the forces of evil.  Some can take place over a few minutes on the back deck or kitchen counter.  Some of these “forces of evil” turn out to be not so bad, maybe even friends.

We have always tried to expose our kids to a variety of foods.  The words, “I don’t like that” do not come out of our mouths in regards to a food being served.  There are food we may not prefer, but I also point out to the kids that I eat certain things anyway because that is what is being served. (Yes, I am the one making the food, though they  have not thought of that fact yet.)

While I do not like green peas, my husband loves them.  They get served and I quietly do not take any. Sorry, Mom.

My husband does not like fish.  The kids finally picked up on this when we had it one night while my husband was not home, yet he refused to try some of the leftovers the next day.  They now know we only have fish on nights Dad is not home. 😉

As for liver, “Grandma makes great liver.  I think we should wait till we visit and she can make it for us.”  Turns out, the kids like fried liver.  Sorry, I will stick to eating it in Braunschweiger.

Finding Adventure to Fit Your Life Right Now

These past few months have seem time and energy on my part limited.  However, I wanted to keep new things happening for the kids.  One day I realized “adventure” did not have to be synonymous with lots of time and money.  Instead, I added something new to the grocery cart during a routine shopping trip.

That night I make a slightly larger deal of this new item.  We went around tasting it and giving our opinions; describing the taste, how it felt in our mouths, how it smelled, and how we might like it fixed a bit different.  You were allowed to not like the item, but you had to take at least two bites before saying, “No thank you.”

If we had it before and you did not like it then, you still have to take two bites.  Your taste buds may have grown since last time, meaning you might like it now.

A recent adventure contained an item I thought I did not like – sardines.  While I like fish, I had it in my head that I did not like sardines.  My dad likes them, took them to work fairly often, and was teasing me about them recently.  When I saw them in Aldi I figured this would be a great lesson for the kids – to see Mom try something she did not like.

With a can of sardines in mustard sauce and a can in oil, we grabbed a box of crackers and proceeded to go out to the back deck in hopes of keeping the fish smell out of the house. (We failed on that front, by the way.)  Over the next 30-40 mintues we talked, played, watched birds, and found that we all liked sardines, preferably in sauce.

We also found out that while the heads had been cut off, there were soft bones (?) still in, as well as the skin of the fish.  As these are small fish, the skin was thin and the bones were not an issue.  The kids still had fun throwing the bones over the railing “for the birds”.

This Adventure was marked as a success.  Two of us really liked these, while another said they were okay.  Everyone tried it and we all had fun with our impromptu picnic.

May 192017
 

Kid in Library

With summer looming very close in front of us, one of the items on my non-gardening to-do list involves signing up for various summer reading programs.  This is also a great reminder to keep participating in other reading programs that are not season oriented.

One of my highest goals for our kids, to love reading.

Participation in summer reading challenges is one of the ways we use to hopefully create kids who turn into young adults who love to read. My thinking is that if they can read, they can learn anything.  They can also travel to places otherwise unavailable to them.

In addition to your local library’s reading program, here are a few more you can check out.  (Pun intended.)

Meatheads Burgers currently offers the Voracious Readers reading program during all seasons.  There is no guarantee that this program will continue, so make use of it while it is here.  The kids love being able to order their own burgers and ‘pay’ for them with the certificate they earned by reading books.

 

book cover 2

From the website:

The Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program is here to help you on your way, encouraging you to read books of your own choosing and earn a FREE book, simply by following these three easy steps:

1. Read any eight books this summer and record them in your Summer Reading Journal (English or Español).

2. Tell us which part of the book is your favorite, and why.Bring your completed journal to a Barnes & Noble store between May 16th and September 5th, 2017. Find a Store

3. Choose your FREE reading adventure from the book list featured on the back of the journal.

My kids are excited about being able to choose from the books and have already selected the ones they want to work towards.  I love the fact that they are excited to be reading.

 

Download Now!

Books-a-million’s 2017 Summer Reading Program runs now through August 16th.  As the image above shows, read 4 books from their Reading Challenge secelction, fill out the form and return to receive a free Maze Runner series water bottle.  Click here to find a store near you.

There are book selection for both kids and teens.  The Kids’ selections online are not easy readers, so you may have to help your young reader choose something appropriate (or maybe read aloud to them).


Half Price Books’ summer reading program for kids 14 (or 8th grade) and under is for June and July.

Once you’ve read 300 minutes, turn in your completed log to earn HPB Bookworm Bucks.   By August 31, cash in your HPB Bookworm Bucks in store for books, music, movies & games.- Half Price Books bookmark

While 300 minutes may seem like a large amount, it works out to just 10 minutes a day for 30 days.

If you need ideas for young ones, they have put together a list of Alphabet books as well as books for even younger ones. You are encouraged to read aloud to your kids if needed.

LifeWay R.E.A.D. - Summer Reading Program 2017

Join us on our 2017 Summer Reading Quest with Bibleman, June 1 to Aug. 31. We want to help you and your family promote the love of reading in your home as well as encouraging the love of God’s Word through reading His Scripture. This program is geared toward grades 1 through 6, but all are welcome to join in the adventure.

Read six books over the course of the summer and memorize six Scripture verses. Then, turn in a completed summer reading journal at your local LifeWay store to earn a free book and a new free Bible.

Join them in-store for a Kickoff Party May 26-27 to receive your FREE Summer Reading Program Journal, Bookmark and Pencil. At that time you will also be able to purchase books from the recommended reading list at 40% off!

Turn in your reading journals by August 31, 2017

Read 10

For every 10 books you read, we’ll give you one free*. What’s the catch? You just have to write a short report telling us: 1. Your name and age 2. The title and author of the book 3. Why you liked or disliked the book You can even include drawings. When you’ve finished your 10 book reports, bring them to your favorite Bookmans and we’ll reward you with a free book for all that hard work.  – Bookman’s Programs Page

Bookman’s Entertainment Exchange has locations in Arizona.  While many of you may not live or visit these areas, it is a great example of finding a reading program at a location you may not have thought to look.  We visited a Bookman’s a few years ago, while in the Tuscon area on vacation, and loved it.  The initial reason for going was to attend their story time, as we were looking for things to do with 4 little boys  under 4 (we had nephews along with us).  While the kids were listening to the story, I got to indulge myself (my husband was with the kids) and look through a large selection of used books.  We came away with several classics for a very reasonable price.  I probably would have bought more, but we were flying home, so space was limited.

There is also a Kid’s Club, which offers enrolled kids a discount on books, as well as sending them a gift certificate on their birthday.

*The free book come in the form of a $10 certificate to be used in the store. I could not find the information online, but a call to one of their stores confirmed they are still doing this program

mcalendars

Chuck E. Cheese is a restaurant I did not grow up living near.  However, there was a time or two that we went for a party and I always had fun going.  With George and Jack being on the young side, and easily overwhelmed, we have not gone before.

I was surprised to find that they offer a very diverse reward program.  Fill out one of the calendars, bring it in, and earn 10 free tokens.  Their calendars are one that will help you form good habits in your kids and include the following calendars: reading, picking up your room, doing homework first, no picking your nose, daily chores, and more.  In all, they have 15 different calendars to choose from.  Additionally they have other awards you can earn and redeem for 10 free tokens.

A food purchase may be required to receive your tokens.

“Book Adventure is a fun, free way to motivate your child to read! Kids in grades K-8 can search for books, read them offline, come back to quiz on what they’ve read, and earn prizes for their reading success.” – Book Adventure website

We have yet to participate in Book Adventure, as our kids have been too young previously.  Their prizes page does include some unique items that the kids can earn points toward.  Teachers can also set prizes for their classes.

summer-reading-challenge

“The Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge is a free online program designed to motivate and excite your kids around reading books this summer. Kids can log the minutes they spend reading, play games, earn virtual rewards, and enter sweepstakes, all in an effort to set a new reading world record for summer 2015!” – Scholastic Reading Challenge

Scholastic’s 2017 Summer Reading Challenge begins May 8 and ends September 8.

“During the summer months, DoD-MWR Libraries around the world will host a range of free activities for children, teens, and adults that encourage and support a love of reading. Participants also can earn incentives by reaching their reading goals.”

If you do not live near a base or libray on base, there is also a Virtual Summer Reading Program available.

 

Keep an eye out for the following programs this summer:

Kids can earn $10 with our Summer Reading Program.

TD Bank had a summer reading program in 2016, which rewarded readers with money in their bank accounts for reading so many books.  They have not said yet whether they will do it again in 2017.

 

 

May 032017
 

god made rainy days quote

I should be mowing the yard ahead of the rain.

I should be planting beans ahead of the rain.

I should be making sure everything is in order outside, ahead of the rain.

I should be grocery shopping ahead of the … no wait.  I need to shop because we are almost out of milk.

What I am doing is paying bills … not ahead of the rain, but because they are due. A much better reason than the rain.

While doing so I emailed a question to our insurance person, which then led to me “clearing out a few emails”.  You know how the rest goes.

What I came across was something I thought might interest a few of you – it is not gardening related, but a free offer that might help you in your parenting or working on school with your kids.  No looonnnnngggg drive required.

From May 8 – 23, the GHC is offering a free online home school convention for parents of 5-12 year olds. (They are not going to card you, so if your kids are out of that age range, you are still welcome to “attend”.)

“But I am not  a home schooling parent. I have absolutely no interest in home schooling.”

That may be true, but there are several talks which may interest you anyway.  I find that these are not only useful in the schooling we do at home, but also in helping with homework and parenting in general.

There are two options for this online convention:

  1. The FREE option which allows you to see a session for up to 2 days.  If that does not seem like enough time, the second option may appeal to you.
  2. Get Lifetime-All Access for $99.  The talk will be available to you at your convenience, as well as having access to pdf summaries of all convention sessions.

The GHC online convention website outlines which talks are happening on each day, with Sundays having a break, which will help you plan your time wisely.  They also offer more information on each talk and the attendance options available.

I have not attended this online version before, but look forward to seeing how it compares to the in person one we attended a few weeks back.  While the session offerings are not a diverse, the convenience and price can not be beat.

 

May 022017
 

broken concrete in driveway

Has it really been 3 years since I put these thoughts out there?  Wow! 
It is interesting to reread the insecurity we felt in taking this step, even though we felt it was the right one to take.  I am so glad we did and have no regrets.  He is responding so well to this learning environment.  While it was not a solution to all his struggles, and there are new ones as there are with any journey one travels to become a more mature person, it had defiantly helped.

Every time something new goes on here with the construction, I feel bad that Jack is not here to see it.  George too, but Jack is more into construction stuff than George.

That is no longer going to be an issue, as come Monday, Jack will not be going to the public school for Kindergarten.  We have decided to try homeschooling him for various reasons, part of it being the hope that with one-on-one attention and more time with Mommy and Daddy we can address some issues related to his past.

After talking with someone who has more experience in the area of early childhood trauma, and asking if homeschooling was a completely unadvised option or if it could be a possibility, I was advised to be careful of homeschooling as “the emotional attachment right now between you and him is more important than his education.”  They meant that we should not let being his ‘teacher’ come before being his ‘Mom’, that the stress of teaching should not get in the way of strengthening our attachment.

That evening I repeated to my husband what I was told, reminded him of how much better Jack was last Spring when it was me and him, and that we still had the stuff we used when we supplemented George and Jack’s schooling over the summer.  We were pretty sure what we were going to do, but he said he really would like to ask someone else’s opinion or get some been-there-done-that advice.

book I am

All the homeschoolers I know near us have ‘typical’ kids, none with beginnings like our kids.  So I turned to a group of foster parents I know and asked their advice.  Everything I heard back was encouraging, especially on the part of getting the attachment and security down before focusing too much on academics.

One mom even said what were were thinking, “If that is what is needed during this season, then do it.  Life may change and the next season may not need him to be home for school.”

That night we decided to take him out of school, where he was just not ready to be, and keep him home.  At some point we may change our minds again, but we feel this is the place we need to be at right now.

This is the main thought my husband finally came to, and one I have been feeling for a while but was unable to put into words – if kids are not emotionally in the right place (or if they are continuing to experience triggers), learning will not happen to the best of their abilities; you will be fighting the current to get ahead.

book I am a

This interview, done during the Attachment & Trauma Network’s Educating Traumatized Children Summit 2014 between Anna Paravano, MS, ATN Education Director and Christine Moers, Therapeutic Parenting Coach,  says very much how we are feeling right now:

“… one of the things that I tried to help parents grasp that it took me a while to get and really absorb it was that children with a history of traumatic events, abuse, neglect, neurological struggles, mental health issues – there are some gaps, in particularly kids who have experienced early childhood trauma. There are gaps in their development. They either miss stages because of what was going on, or the things that did happen. They’ve got skills that are underdeveloped that a lot of other kids got. Those first couple of years of life and they need that first, period. And being therapeutic with them and creating a safe space for them to heal, we are re‐parenting them through those gaps…. And if I can help my kids get through and start to parent through those gaps and create this space over and over and over again, the academics are going to come.”

Also:

“In addition, many of these children have difficult times allowing themselves to trust and attach with their parent or care‐giver and end up needing more time, not less, with these key individuals to help them grow and heal. For these reasons and more, home schooling can provide the answer parents and care‐givers need for the educational piece for of the child’s life puzzle.”

But what about learning, it has to happen right?

“My goal as a teacher is to teach my children how to find information and I keep that as… And if they can grasp that, and we can connect and attach and practice love, they can always find their way through life and they always know who to call, “Mom, I think I would like to do this and I’m not sure where to start,” “Well hold on, let’s look up some resources.””
“And again because we should always be learning – adults can always learn, it’s always there and it has helped me to breathe and remember what is most important for my children now. And I encourage all parents regardless of their schooling situations to remember that too.”

IMG_20140907_164139230

So what about George?  He seems to be doing fine in public school.  It provides the structure and social setting he needs.  A large part of this is due to how we have his day set up there.  Advocating for your child’s educational needs happens no matter the setting of said education.

Talking about different needs in different season, George’s education from year to year has never looked the same.  We started with him in Early Childhood (preschool) in the morning, followed by Head Start (preschool) in the afternoons.  It was a long day, but he was immersed in structure and enrichment.  There was also consistency and encouragement.  All things he needed during a time of emotional upheaval.

As the year came to an end, we realized the following year would not need as much out-of-home support, so we pared down to just Early Childhood (preschool) and I got to spend more one-on-one time with him.  (Jack was in preschool at this point.)

Then Kindergarten was getting ready to happen.  We worked with his EC teachers to set up a routine that we hoped would enable him to succeed, or at least not get left behind.  This involved having him attend Kindergarten for half the day, then return to the EC classroom for the other half.  He would get the extra support in Kindergarten, but in a smaller setting with fewer distractions and at a slower pace.  Thankfully several other friends of his did the same thing, so he never realized it may not have been the ‘normal’ way.

At the end of the Kindergarten year, there were still weak places in his learning.  He had struggled and pretty much given up on the reading front.  Over the summer we continued working on reading, but in a different fashion and not sitting and reading.  He played games and had fun with words and letters.  I am not sure if it clicked finally, or if it was the relaxed atmosphere, but he ended the summer about where he should have been at the beginning of it.  Math, however, took a bit more time and desperation on my part before we figured it out for him.

If you remember, George also deals with apraxia, which affects his speech, and is now almost unnoticeable to those outside the family.  It also seems to affect his learning style and the ability to retain information.  After 2 years of Early Childhood and 1 year of Kindergarten/EC, we think we are starting to figure out the pattern and his style.  This has helped a lot in 1st grade, though he still has to work harder and some things are just downright struggles.

We can also pretty much predict the causes of the few minor behavioral issues he may present.  This helps in avoiding those issues and making his day easier.  Thankfully, George has two things going for him that aide a lot in his success.  1. God made him a talker.  Even when he could not get his words out or think of the right one, he was determined to make you understand.  And before he even ‘found’ his words, he would jabber and jabber as if you could completely understand him.  2. He is a friendly kid, ready with a smile and to be your friend.

Again, do what works for the season you are in.

Okay, so back to homeschooling.  I told George that he could also join in on some of the extras, like learning about the stars (nature study/science) and learning new songs, but that all the other stuff he was already learning at school so he did not need me to reteach him.  He was thrilled with this arrangement and excited for the change.  In reality, with his homework and how we do it, he already gets a lot of extra support from here at home and I did not want to make it more official than it already is.

Sandbox

Here are a few more things I found while looking online:

RESPONDING TO CHILDHOOD TRAUMA: THE PROMISE AND PRACTICE OF TRAUMA INFORMED CARE

“Children are not “little adults,” and it becomes clear, once the process of development is understood, that they are more vulnerable than adults to trauma – whether such trauma occurs in the community or, unfortunately, even in the name of “treatment.”
“Trauma informed care also involves seeking to understand the connection between presenting symptoms and behaviors and the individual’s past trauma history. “

How To Thrive As An Adult After Childhood Trauma – K Expert on Kirsty TV

Helping Foster and Adoptive Families Cope With Trauma – “The purpose of this guide is to support adoptive and foster families by strengthening the abilities of pediatricians to: 1) identify traumatized children, 2) educate families about toxic stress and the possible biological, behavioral, and social manifestations of early childhood trauma, and 3) empower families to respond to their child’s behavior in a manner that acknowledges past trauma but promotes the learning of new, more adaptive reactions to stress.”

This PDF was relatively short but did have a few good, basic tables showing how certain stresses may manifest themselves in behavior and academic related ways.  There were a few behaviors that I saw which I had never associated with stress, I thought they were just bad habits.  So, while this pamphlet may not have been a thorough study on trauma and children, it was a quick look and a good first place to start for someone who is beginning their process or for pediatricians to begin talking with their patient.

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