Students At Home

For Everyone who Learns at Home

A Ten-Month-Olds Letter to Santa

GE DIGITAL CAMERAThis wish list is too cute not to share.

Merry Christmas to all you dads and moms, and your kiddos young and old, out there!

 

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When Your Kid’s Not Normal and You Just Want To Quit

Some days, I just want to run away.

My youngest takes a toll on my emotions, strength, patience and self worth. It’s draining hearing him scream because of a shirt that doesn’t feel right (he was wearing it cheerfully a second ago) or moaning as he looks for the paper he misplaced (he had it in his hand when I saw him last). I feel helpless as I hear him complain about his hair as he tries to play with Legos or fight with the blanket at bed time.

I wonder why he can’t just deal with it.

But he can’t. He’s got wiring that prevents him from coping with certain things.

And I have to accept and love him. I get to accept and love him.

That’s where I have a lot to learn. I’m way too selfish and unkind. I don’t want to be inconvenienced or patient.

Instead of demanding my own way, I can learn to stop and exercise compassion.

We have a long road ahead. Our first psych eval is Monday. No matter what happens next, I have to put on my big girl panties, grow up and remember—

There is no such thing as normal. We are all different, unique and special.

And we are made in God’s image. He can’t make junk. And he knows what’s going on in my little guy’s mind and body. And he knows me. He has a plan, and I can trust him.

So for today, I’ll take an extra breath, thank God for my son and smile as I keep plugging away.

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Your Child’s Disability Isn’t Your Fault

As I cope with the possibility that my son has a learning disability, ADHD, etc, I can’t help feeling a little bit responsible.

  • I should’ve had his ear tubes inserted sooner. Then he would have heard sounds clearer, which would have helped his language/reading ability.
  • I should’ve pursued testing sooner. I wonder if we’ve waited too long and if permanent emotional damage is done to my son.
  • I should’ve fought more when the insurance company denied the initial eval. It took an educational battery from a school psychologist for us to get permission to do the testing we need.

I could go on and on, but I have to come to terms that my child’s disability isn’t my fault. I’m grateful for my friend D who reminded me of this truth today. I needed to hear her wisdom, and maybe you do too.

We can’t change the past. And just like we can’t control our kids’ actions, we can’t cause or take away their disability. But we can do something about the disability.

I’ll be calling first thing tomorrow morning for the next eval we need. And I’ll be pushing until my son and our family gets the help we need.

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Mom and CA: Child Advocate

My son participated in an IEP evaluation today. A freelance school psychologist (we’re in a cyber charter school so they outsource therapy and evaluations) gave him a grueling educational battery–and plenty of breaks–that lasted four hours. He saw the good and the bad sides of my child, the sides I see every day.

After the evaluation, it was my turn to provide a family history and answer questions. The first thing the psychologist said when I sat down to talk with him was, “Your son is very smart, but you need help.”

Finally, we’re moving forward!

I’ve been trying to get help for over a year.

We started three years ago with an early intervention evaluation for speech therapy. Our school gave us speech therapy services that have helped my son speak clearly. Our speech therapist this year is amazing with so many good ideas and a supportive and listening ear (we love her!).

Last year, I pursued behavioral help, and our school sent us to the Occupational Therapist. That evaluation indicated my son’s need for emotional assistance.

The school said emotional issues don’t interfere with schoolwork (they obviously haven’t seen him throw a fit when he doesn’t immediately succeed at reading, drawing or sports). They did give us 30 minutes of occupational therapy, though, with instructions to work on handwriting.

Our OT said she can’t help him write if he throws a fit whenever he picks up a pencil, so she’s working on emotional issues and resilience with him (we love her!).

This spring, we’re due for a full evaluation of his IEP. The educational battery eval is checked off. Now, we need a psychiatric eval.

I’m tired. I’m frustrated. I’m stressed.

But I’m my child’s advocate.

He needs me to persevere, fight, de-stress, calm down, rest.

He needs me to be his mom and his CA, and I’m ready for the challenge.

 

 

 

 

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Mommas Need Friends Too

As a home schooling parent, do you ever hear questions about how your kids receive socialization? I’ve been lucky/blessed/hiding under a rock and in four years have only heard one person question the social aspects of my decision to home school. However, I question why people never ask about socialization for parents.

My daughter has a friend over for a play date today, and I’m listening to them play school together. I suddenly feel lonely.

I do have a companion all day. He wakes me up with a tap on my shoulder (and sometimes a kiss) before he rushes at full speed into the play room for Curious George. While I love my six-year-old and his conversation, I miss adult connections.

Sometimes, I miss out on adult time because a little one is ill and needs momma or hubby’s working late so I can’t leave the house. The other day, I tried to call a friend while hiding in the bathroom, but my hiding place didn’t stay secret for long. While I  sneak peeks at Facebook throughout the day to stay semi in touch, that’s not the same as personally spending time together with a friend.

Other times, I’m with women but thwart any attempts at friendship because of my introverted nature. I wonder if I have anything of value to say, I question how to start a conversation and I fear no one will like me. If I struggle with these thoughts as a grown adult, how must our young kids feel?

We owe it to your children to model friendship. Maybe your child easily makes friends but struggles to build relationships or deal with the ongoing commitment a friendship requires. Maybe your child is painfully shy and can’t even introduce herself to other children. Maybe your child hasn’t mastered the art of sharing and struggles when children come over. Perhaps you recognize one or more of these traits in yourself.

My only solution is to keep working at it. Friendship is a process. We don’t cultivate “best friends” in a day. By navigating the big world of friendship for ourselves, we help our kids learn how to be a friend too.

With that solution in mind, I’m off to call a friend. I think I’ll try hiding in my closet this time.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

My daughter and son finally had a chance to make an Apple Turkey food craft they’ve been wanting to try since last Thanksgiving. They embellished an apple with cereal, marshmallows and candy. Of course, after pictures, they ate it. :)

From our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!

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Teaching Kids to be Thankful

Some kids naturally show gratitude and are content with little. Others crave more and more and more stuff. I think a child’s attitude is highly dependent on their upbringing and their parents’ attitude toward stuff. But that’s another post.

I woke up this morning thinking about Thanksgiving, since it’s tomorrow. Are my kids grateful for what they have? Do they appreciate how much they have? Will they be grateful for the presents or lack of presents they receive for Christmas about 34 more days?

We want our kids to be thankful. We want to be thankful too. It’s just way too easy to grumble, complain, envy and wish for more stuff, money, clothes, etc. Several tools teach our kids to show gratitude every day of the year.

1. A gratitude journal is an effective tool for teaching kids (and ourselves) to be thankful. In a simple notebook, write one word or a sentence that describes something you’re thankful for. Try to write something every day. In addition to teaching gratitude, this journal is a great tool for teaching handwriting and spelling.

2. Learn about other cultures. Billions of people live well below what we in the U.S. consider poverty level. It helps sometimes to have a reminder of how little other people have. Watch age-appropriate documentaries, read picture books or research countries together, and teach your kids about all the blessings they have, even if they’re have to wear secondhand clothes, don’t have the latest tech gadgets or can’t buy every toy they want.

3. Support a child through Compassion International or a similar organization. Your children receive a picture of the child they are sponsoring and letters throughout the year. The program gives your children insight into how fortunate they are, and it emphasizes the blessings of  having access to education, food and other resources that are easy to take for granted.

4 Raise money for a good cause. Hold yard sales, bake sales or Craigslist sales to raise money for a charity. Consider donating to a teen pregnancy center (baby supplies are appreciated), Operation Christmas Child (pack a shoebox for kids of all ages), Toys For Tots, Coats for Kids or a food bank. When your kids help raise the money, they’re personally involved in sharing their wealth with others and in making the holiday brighter for others.

5. Focus on serving others. The holidays are a great time to donate to charity or participate in a community service project. When your kids buy gifts for other kids, help prepare a meal for a neighbor or serve hot chocolate at a community event, they learn to appreciate what they have–a home, toys, a tree, family and other blessings.

6. Give stuff away. The holidays are a perfect time for your kids to purge their toys, books and clothing. Outgrown items can find a good home at a children’s hospital, family shelter or thrift store. When your kids help sort and take their outgrown and unwanted items to a donation center, they take part in making the world a better place for everyone (and as a bonus, your home has less clutter and is easier to clean).

Teaching kids to be thankful is something we can do every day. What are you favorite techniques for teaching your children to be thankful? May we as parents learn along with them.

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Child Proof Your iPad

We don’t have an iPad, but my son uses one for both his speech and occupational therapies. If you have an iPad or plan to buy one for Christmas, check out this blog post by iGameMom. She shares her love for all things tech, which is great for non-techies like me!

http://igamemom.wordpress.com/2012/04/03/how-to-child-proof-ipad/

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Thanksgiving

Never underestimate the power of one person. I’m sharing this post by Laura Grace Weldon as an encouragement to every home schooling family. Your children hold great potential. They simply need you, their parents, to show them the way. No matter how long it takes, keep up the good work! Your efforts will see fruit one day.

http://lauragraceweldon.com/2012/11/19/thanksgiving-a-holiday-to-prevent-war/

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Breaking a Finger Sucking Habit

My daughter has sucked her fingers since we was a baby. During her first year, every picture shows her with her fingers in her mouth. I accept part of the blame because I didn’t want to use a pacifier. I did change my mind after two months, but she wasn’t interested despite the variety I tried shoving in her mouth.

Her teeth now show the effects of her habit. At the dentist yesterday, the hygienist mentioned that a partial spacer helped her 8-year-old son stop sucking his fingers. I scheduled an othodontist consultation for next year–the earliest we can get an appointment–but the habit needs to stop before then.

In the past, we’ve tried to help her stop. Gloves, punishment, pulling her fingers out of her mouth, pepper. As a mom, I knew the only effective habit breaker would be for her to decide to stop. Because she wants a straighter smile, she recently decided to give up her finger sucking habit. She’s doing a great job keeping her hands occupied, and I’m really proud of her.

This lesson makes me think of how we educate our kids. We can preach facts, review spelling words and push phonics until we’re blue in the face. If the child doesn’t want to learn, the lessons go in one ear and out the other.

I’ve found more success when I tie an important lesson to an interest my child has. My son loves matchbox cars so we place them in rows and count them during math class. My daughter enjoys reading books about girls her age so she read Katie Kazoo and American Girl Doll books for Language Arts.

All kids won’t eagerly embrace every lesson they need to learn.  Give them a motivation to learn, though, and they’ll surprise you with their ability to master the material quickly. Have you noticed that with your kids? Have you figured out what makes them want to learn?

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