Students At Home

For Everyone who Learns at Home

Happy New Year!

Welcome 2017!

How are you celebrating? I’ll be watching movies with my family and enjoying traditional pork and saurkraut with homemade mashed potatoes and biscuits, a Pennsylvania Dutch tradition.

It’s also a day often set aside for making resolutions. I doubt I’ll do that because I usually end up falling off the wagon by the third day, but I did think it would be fun to learn something new today.

So what will I learn? How about how to say “Happy New Year” in 165 languages. Want to join me? Check out the list compiled by my freelance colleague Daisy Mariposa at http://hubpages.com/education/Saying-Happy-New-Year-in-165-Languages

Shana Tova!
2017
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DIY Made Easy

One of the bloggers I follow wrote an interesting post today. She introduced Kathy Ceceri, a DIY professional. Check out the post and learn about some fun, creative projects you can do with your kids!

I Want You To Meet Kathy Ceceri

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We All Learn at Home

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When I first started this blog, I was homeschooling my two children. Home education had always been a dream of mine because I wanted my kids to have the opportunity to learn at their own pace and study topics that interested them. I also wanted a flexible schedule that allowed us to sleep in if necessary, enjoy a short school day and help my husband in his business.

We homeschooled for five years until my daughter asked to attend public school for third grade. To be honest, I resisted at first. It took a few weeks for me to let go of my dream. And it turned out to be the best decision we could have made for her because she flourished in her classroom.

The next year, her younger brother started public school under different circumstances. He has autism and other special needs, and his needs because more than I could handle at home. Because his transition to school was a little more challenging and because I was no longer homeschooling, I stopped writing this blog.

A month ago, I decided to revive it. I was reading through my journals over the last three years and realized that we have learned a ton of lessons in our home even though we were no longer doing school at home. I’m also a writer at heart and needed a space to express my thoughts, opinions and things I’m learning.

Seth Godin‘s blog post from July 3 hit a chord with me. He’s a writer and business mentor, and here are his words.

We are all home schooled

“Day after day, year after year, it’s the interactions we have at home that have the biggest impact on who we become.

Public school is an essential part of our culture. But the inputs and foundations that parents create are essential and they are truly difficult to outsource.

What would happen if you figured out how to spend two hours a day, every day, without electronics, with your kids? Looking them in the eye, being present, doing projects, setting standards, raising the bar, learning, seeing, hearing, connecting, challenging, questioning, being questioned…”

Whether you home, public, cyber or combo educate your kids, they and you are learning when you’re at home. You make an impact on  your kids, and they can teach  you lessons, too. I know my kids teach me new things every week. What have you learned today?

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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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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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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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The Perfect Classroom Environment

In the hustle and bustle of balancing back to school with my day job, this blog has suffered.  Sigh.  I certainly do not want more hours in my day, but I would like to be able to skip some of the less interesting portions of my daily routine–like sleep and waiting in line.

Anyway, we’re trying out a routine at home so that my first grader can finish his school requirements and have plenty of time to play, which is where he applies the school lessons he learns.  Our cyber school includes required lessons online this year. and my guy is learning how to sit still in the kitchen chair by the computer and listen.

I build plenty of rewards into the schedule so he doesn’t grow weary of class.  In addition to two mandatory classes, he also has other core subjects.  When possible, I combine lessons so we aren’t wasting tons of time reviewing concepts he already knows.  That is one reason I love homeschooling–we can work at our own pace!  I also allow him to manipulate a squeeze ball or magnets while he’s listening because those tools seem to help him concentrate.

Michael G posted today about Swedish schools, and I love the concept.  I’ve reblogged his post and welcome comments about design elements you would include in your perfect classroom.

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Adventures in Public School

First day of public school. Bring on 3rd grade!

First day of public school. Bring on 3rd grade!

I recently answered some questions for a reporter at Mommyish.com about my decision to enroll my daughter in public school. After homeschooling her since preschool, the transition is bittersweet. She’s very excited, though!

Happy trails to all you parents who are sending your babies off to school for the first time, whether that’s kindergarten, high school or college. Blessings on your first day of school!

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Do students need a desk?

My husband is home this weekend, a rare treat.  However, he’s also playing Wii with the kids.  They saved their coins, we searched for a secondhand console and games, and we finally found one this week.  As a result of the fun and games, I’ve had to give up my favorite working chair that sits in the middle of the gaming action.

At a chair at the table, I attempted to meet several deadlines.  Somehow, the dining room chair and table just didn’t seem right.  I found myself struggling to concentrate and mentally write what otherwise would have been easy assignments.    

This involuntary move started me thinking about the upcoming school year.  Would my son be able to better concentrate if we established a regular spot designated solely for school work?

Nearly every professional agrees that a routine helps them concentrate and prepares their mind for work.  Why is school any different? 

I know I perform better when I sit in my favorite writing chair.  In the next few weeks as we prepare to head back to school, I plan to find a designated spot for my son.  At his desk, he can complete worksheets, listen to lessons and hopefully find the concentration he needs in order to succeed.  

 

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