Jun 30, 2011

Why Boredom Can Be a Good Thing!

Have a look at this article about why boredom can be a good thing

Why Boredom Can Be a Good Thing!

And this is the book they are talking about

Jun 29, 2011


We are taking it easy. At least that’s what I always try to say. We have
Vacation Bible school at our church every night this week, which I am the director and then we are heading to Tennessee and Arkansas next week for 6 days. Then we decided not to sign the boys up for any sports stuff this summer so we could have more time as a family to swim and stuff like that but they will start soccer in September. We continue to read daily together but otherwise not doing much other school work except day to day things and planting flowers and stuff outside.

Jun 28, 2011

Schooling over the summer

I like to do some school in the summer so we can work more within a 4 day week in the winter. I will have my teen boys start their new Math books and do 1 or 2 lessons a week to keep their hand in it. Also we never seem to get the Spanish stuff done so I want them to do some of that too. They both have part time summer jobs; carpentry and mowing. They love to fish and will be going to some camps.

My almost 7 and almost 5 yr old have just started K together and since the 7 yr old is LD I expect to supplement a great deal and take at least 2 years to complete it, so with them I will school all year lightly.

I do Flylady off and on, and summer is my time to really clean and organize so I am trying to get back on the wagon! My dh also seems to think I should get more done but he can not ever manage more than existing when I am gone!

Jun 27, 2011

What are you doing over the summer?

I spoke too soon with my son and said he could have the summer off from school. So, we'll be doing stealth schooling

He will keep reading, I'm sure. I have been amazed at his progress this year! I can only imagine how much better he'll do as I spend more time actually teaching him reading (we use the Wilson Reading Program).

I will also read to him every night, as always.

We will spend a lot of time at the pool and visiting friends. I also have signed him up for a 3-week day camp. It's a drama camp and I hope he really enjoys it. I know I will.

My son has made a new friend. He has met very, very few people he clicks with, being the sweet and quirky kid he is. A mom advertised on the local email homeschooling list and I wrote back to her, and now he has a really cool new friend. And the mom and I could be twins! We have the same type of children, the same health issues, the same education and profession and many more similarities. Once again, it's a miracle.

I love Flylady, but am happy to report a maid is coming today, and I am so relieved to have the help. DH was supposed to do some things around the house while I attended a homeschooling conference this weekend, but he argued that he couldn't do anything because of my son’s demands! And yet he thinks I should be able to handle so much more around the house.

Jun 25, 2011

Planning Curriculum for your Preschooler

Preschoolers have lots of energy in short bursts, a wonderful curiosity and a short attention span. Here are things you should plan in your preschool curriculum or homeschool preschool curriculum.

Planning Curriculum for your Preschooler

Jun 24, 2011

How do I help my child to unschool?

I like the idea of an experimental month, it seems safer than just jumping in. I casually asked my daughter what she thought of picking out something to study for the month and she said she would like to study dogs. So, I asked, "How would you go about doing this?" And she said that she would just watch our dog. This led to wondering how many hairs he had and if she could count them all. Then, she decided it would probably take 1000 years to count that many hairs, and that there were probably several million of them. She also said she liked observing his reactions to different things, and wondered what he was thinking when she threw snow at him and in his face. But she was not interested in observing other dogs or going to a dog show or checking out any books on the subject. So, how do you "study" the dog- would you leave it up to her to decide what she wanted to observe, note, etc.? What if she doesn't do a thing?

Jun 23, 2011

Books on Native American Indians

Here are a couple of books on Native American Indians by Scott O'Dell I would recommend

Jun 22, 2011

How to Organize Your Homeschool

Homeschooling is not easy in a disorganized, messy environment so here are some hints on organizing your life and your homeschool.

How to Organize Your Homeschool

Jun 21, 2011

Is unschooling a good idea?

I've got a 10 year old daughter who is working on overcoming her dyslexia. She still needs a lot of one on one attention. Anyway, I've wanted to get some input on unschooling. My daughter really has a bad attitude about "formal" schooling (probably because I didn't understand and know how to handle her dyslexia until recently). And we really don't even do much in a formal sense, if I were to compare it to some of the very structured homeschoolers I know. I'm debating on trying "total unschooling" or just a more "relaxed" form of schooling. I'm just tired of fighting with her attitude about learning. I don't know how she'll learn anything with the attitude she has now.

She told me the other day that she doesn't want to get up in the mornings because she knows she will have to do school work. But she likes to get up on the weekends or when we are doing a special project, because then she has something to look forward to. The biggest problem I have now is convincing her that she CAN learn. I guess this is not an uncommon attitude for kids to have if they have been struggling, as she has. Now that I've got a better idea on how to teach her, she doesn't want to be taught.

If I don't unschool or relax a bit, and continue pushing on as we have, I hope that as she does better she will gain confidence and begin to enjoy it. I just don't know what to do. I just want her to enjoy learning, is that possible?

Jun 20, 2011

Refusing to Test

My favorite story to tell regarding my spirited girl is about her first day of partial school a couple of weeks ago, the teacher walked her out to me and said she refused to do our placement tests or to read or write or do anything not fun. He had asked her why and she asked him who said they HAD to do it anyway? I laughed and said she is here for morning meeting, centers, snack, and recess what does she need to be tested for? I then said try again tomorrow after you explain to her what the word test means because she has never heard it, then we shook hands and left. Tomorrow is her last day and she has yet to do the tests or writing or reading or anything not fun.

Jun 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

Here's my Father's Day quote:

No husband has ever been shot while doing the dishes.

Happy Father's Day to all the dishwashing dads.

Jun 18, 2011

Is my son from another planet?

My husband looks at our son like he's from another planet sometimes and says things (to me only) like, "I would never have done that or spoken to my parents that way." Well, his cousin laughed when I told her that, she said that he was way more spirited than our son and THEN SOME! My husband found cycling as a kid and ended up focusing all his spare time and energy on it. His report cards said things like, "doesn't apply himself" "could do better" "needs to work on his attitude". But my husband doesn't remember any of that and can't see how similar he is to his son. He thinks he was well-behaved and obedient and I think that's because he was raised for many years by his grandparents--who wanted a boy and ended up with four girls--and he was their Golden Boy, the son they never had but so desperately wanted, and he could do no wrong in their eyes. Lucky him. I want that for my son too. We love homeschooling for many reasons but have little support with my wonderful kiddo's regarding it, especially if I want to get something accomplished.

Jun 17, 2011

Daily Tantrums

My son had daily tantrums, the smallest of things would spark him off. I would tell him to go to his room and calm down, but that just made things worse. He would go into his room and trash the place, giving us hours of work when once he had calmed down.

By the time he was 4th grade he seemed to turn into the Incredible Hulk when he had a tantrum, and gain extra strength for someone his age.

What I did was I took him out for breakfast once a week and we discussed the previous week. I asked him what caused the tantrum, how he had reacted and how he should have reacted. That way, we reduced the severity of the tantrums and gradually reduced the frequency.

We learned to recognize what happened in the minutes before he blew. And he said that being sent to his room made him angrier. He decided to go into a different room and sit quietly in a chair when he was feeling like exploding, or had just exploded. Then he made the decision to return to family life when he felt he was calm enough.

He’s a teenager now and recently told me he didn’t think he ever got angry as a small child. Gee, I wish I’d had a video camera back then!

Jun 16, 2011

Removing my emotion from the situation

It took me many years of parenting a spirited child to learn to remove my emotion from the situation.

When my son had a tantrum I would become really angry. He would yell at me and I would yell back. Things escalated. It was only when I sat down and thought about it that I realized I could control the situation more than he could, and although I was really mad, I didn’t need to show it.

It was really hard when he showed anger for me to reply back calmly, to comment on the situation but not argue with him. But as I learned to do that, he quieted down much sooner.

Years ago, when autism was first diagnosed, autistic children were thought to be the children of “refrigerator mothers”. Maybe it wasn’t so much that the mom was cold in the first place, but that she learned how to cope with her child’s emotions.

Jun 15, 2011

When my son had a major tantrum

Today my son had one of his worst tantrums in a while and I actually handled it better than any I’d seen in the past.

He just became a sobbing blobbing mess. He couldn’t talk, he couldn’t walk, and all he could do was blubber and sob. And it was really over nothing. But it has to be over something, it just wasn’t very obvious at the time. Thinking back, he woke up mad, so it is really no surprise, but it really is a surprise to see him in such a state of collapse.

I was trying to get him from the playroom to his bedroom because he was so upset. I said in a quiet, low toned voice “you are having a tantrum. You need to go to your room until you calm down.”

I kept repeating “I need you to go to your room until you calm down” always using that low, calm monotone. (I am so proud of myself for maintaining that!)

He didn’t want to be touched so he kept scooting away from me, luckily in the direction of his room, and when he hit the wood floor of his room I gave a little push and he was all the way in. Then there was the battle over the door closing. When it became obvious I couldn’t win that one I held him for a while, but he was a mess and pretty non-responsive, so I set him on the bed and closed the door. He didn’t fight this time, but pounded the walls and floor. I fully expected to see holes in the wall, but I don’t think anything was damaged.

This is the first time I have successfully used the even-tone technique. I don’t think it helped so much as avoided an escalation, which is, I guess, help in itself.

But on the topic of behavioral therapy, I’ve been replicating some of the techniques from books. It seems pretty basic, from what I’ve read, but I’m sure I know a lot less than I think I know. I use some of the techniques with my son, especially reframing situations and modifying behavior.

To reframe you take a negative and turn it into a positive. You can look at the glass as half empty or half full. When he is upset that we didn’t get to do something I take the time to acknowledge how he is feeling and then list all the wonderful things we had done instead. If that happens often enough, his grumpiness starts to ebb and he starts telling everyone what he GOT to do.

With behavioral modification I try to work on little things gently, like instead of snatching something out of his sister’s hand I suggest that a gentler approach might work better and I’ll show him how to do it.

Focusing so much on this stuff has certainly changed MY approach with my kids, so maybe some of it will start sinking in with THEM!

Jun 14, 2011

Spirited Son is Refusing to use the Potty

Right now my spirited son is refusing to use the potty. He trained himself a year ago. I was watching for this when the baby was born, we had other rockiness, but not potty. Now the baby is close to crawling, spirited son refuses to wear a diaper, but will hold and even refuse to let it out when he is on the potty, screams in pain but won't release. When at home we can tell him that his choice is potty or a diaper and that if he wets the floor he'll have to help clean it up, which is what usually gets to him eventually. But when we are out, or in the middle of the night? At night he will scream for an hour or more. We are exhausted and my head is pounding. His issue (the direct one) is that he doesn't like his bottom telling him what to do. After last night's marathon he was adorable and cuddly and agreed to wear a diaper at night. But I know it won't reduce the battles, just the, ahem, "fall-out".

The Nightmare of Encopresis or Extreme Constipation in a Young Child

Jun 13, 2011

Reading Reflex - Teaching Your Child to Read

Yesterday while doing the Reading Reflex lessons with my daughter, we tried something a little different. I spread cornstarch out onto a cookie sheet and she "mapped" her words in that instead of paper and pencil. It was a major success. After we were done I let her mix water into the cornstarch and it made that gooey, slimy, kind of texture and she played with that for at least an hour. There are all kinds of suggestions in the book to have them map their words in, sand, salt, clay.

I really like Reading Reflex. It is so simple to use, no worksheets, and it covers everything and gives a good foundation. You cut the book up and use these little alphabet tiles for the lessons. It is very effective for most kids.

Jun 12, 2011

Ida B : --and her plans to maximize fun, avoid disaster, and (possibly) save the world by Katherine Hannigan

We just read Ida B : --and her plans to maximize fun,
avoid disaster, and (possibly) save the world
Katherine Hannigan. We loved it! It's about a girl who
starts school and doesn't like it, so the parents
decided to homeschool her. When her mom is diagnosed with cancer she has to go back to school, and she has an attitude about it. The little girl's emotions seemed so real. I also love to read books about homeschoolers too.

Jun 11, 2011

Happy 11th Birthday

Today is my daughter’s 11th birthday. To celebrate I am writing this blog about the first year of her life. Some years fly by and some stand out in memory. This one was memorable.

I’d just had three crazy years with 3 little boys growing into slightly bigger boys. They wore costumes of Superman, Batman and Robin. Me, I thought I was Wonder Woman. Just as the youngest was 3 I sighed, looked at my husband and said, “Things seem a little easier now.” Within a month I discovered I was pregnant with my fourth child.

By the time my daughter was born the boys were 4, 6 and 8. I had a difficult pregnancy with extreme tiredness. Actually I think I’d have had extreme tiredness without being pregnant. The boys were energetic beyond anything I’d ever known.

What was really nice about having my fourth child was that everyone was homeschooled. I was running on my own timetable and not having to get the older children to school and back (maybe even multiple schools) every day. We stayed home a lot, we did as much schoolwork as we were able and we learned to function as a family. Well, dad was at work, but I learned to function with 4 children.

As soon as she was born I wondered if I could cope with 4 children, 3 of whom were very energetic boys. What I did was to take all 4 of them to a park as soon as we were ready each morning, which was often 10 or 11. I let the boys run around and play for an hour while I gave my daughter an extended feed. By the time we got home the boys had a little less energy, I was relaxed and my baby was ready for a long sleep.

The best thing that I remember about my daughter’s first year was that she was always held. One brother or another was always holding her. When dad came home he wanted to hold her. Sometimes she needed feeding and the person holding her wouldn’t give her to me because they would tell me, “I’ve only just got her!”

I’m not sure how much schoolwork was done, I know it was always on my mind. But I know the family bonding time was huge. I’m so thankful that for the first year of my daughter’s life she wasn’t put in and out of a car seat all day and had her sleep regularly disrupted. For most of the first year of her life she was given the message that she was much loved with 4 family members round her constantly. Whatever education my other children received or didn’t receive, family relationship has got to be a higher priority.

Jun 10, 2011

No one understands how difficult it is to homeschool a spirited child

My daughter could be the poster child for the spirited child!

I was thrilled to find there are other people who would understand both the homeschool mentality and the spirited temperament.

I’m looking to find some answers to difficulties we're having.

We are just beginning our homeschool adventure this year. My daughter’s temperament is one of the reasons we're homeschooling. We wanted to help her overcome the difficult parts of being spirited before she got crushed, penalized or labeled in school.

What a Godsend! I cried when I read Raising Your Spirited Child for the first time. It gave me hope that I wouldn't always be clashing with my daughter, and it was so affirming of our temperament. (Yep, I'm spirited,too! My poor husband!)

I feel no one understands this journey, I am looking for others with spirited children to share in the experience and not feel so ALONE.

I am very seriously considering home schooling my son. He has specific learning disabilities and is also both language and speech impaired.

I have read of these home school families where the dad is there, helping with the home schooling, being a part of all of the decisions as to what to study and how, it is very rare and personally I think they should stop printing those stories because they discourage the moms, the new homeschoolers who think that is how it is for everyone.

Jun 9, 2011

Why would You Choose to Homeschool Your Spirited Child?

A spirited child is one who is “more” intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent, and uncomfortable with change than the average child. They are just not easy to raise, so why would you want to homeschool your spirited child?

The answer is simple to a parent of a spirited child, they just don’t fit into the school environment. They are the children who are always being disciplined, told they are doing the wrong thing and whose parents are being called to the school to deal with the problem. Homeschooling that child will allow you to work with the child’s temperament instead of fight against it. It will allow you give the child permission to be different and to help them along the path that is truly theirs to take, all without feeling a failure. Now, wouldn’t any caring parent want to do that for their child?

The simple fact is that spirited children are harder to raise than other children. Other parents will frown on you and tell you that you should be stricter or parent a different way, but if you go with your gut feeling that school is squashing the spirit of your spirited child, you will do all you can to give your child the best homeschool environment possible.

Be encouraged, there are many of us homeschooling spirited children. You are not alone.

Jun 8, 2011

Deschooling and unschooling

I'm just tired of fighting with her attitude about learning. I don't know how she'll learn anything with the attitude she has now. She told me the other day that she doesn't want to get up in the mornings because she knows she will have to do school work. But she likes to get up on the weekends or when we are doing a special project, because then she has something to look forward to.

I have an idea-- let her take a month off of everything but one project of her choice. If she's avid about Pokemon, I can't help you think of ideas, but if she's an avid birdwatcher, let her revel in it. Find books with tons of pictures about birds, help her build bird feeders for the yard, etc. I know my son hates to write, so after the first week or so I very gently mention something like counting the birds, which land at the feeder one morning. Just let her go and very surreptitiously note how much time she'll spend on an activity that she enjoys.

If you keep track of the time she spends working over this "project month" you may be surprised to find that she spends much more time on it than is required for your state, and there may be small gaps in things like mathematics or social studies, but who cares as long as she is learning?

Your daughter may be older but she is definitely in need of the chance to discover for herself that she can learn, that she is smart, and that other people can value her learning. My advice would be to totally remove the burden of "school" from her. As she has just come out of traditional school she may need a time of decompression or deschooling.

This time is usually just a time relaxing and finding out what their interests are all over again. From discovering their interests they are able to launch off from there and begin to learn about what is important to them thus enjoy learning and education once again. Her first idea on school is that it is a lot of work, no fun. No matter how wonderful or dedicated of a teacher you are, her ideas have taken root. She needs the soil to be re-tilled with some fresh air, some added nutrients, lots of variety, and lots of time.

My daughter was a phenomenon to me. It seemed like we would work and work on a concept and then finally out of frustration let her have a two week break and she would come back with it mastered! My method would be to let my daughter know that you are done for the rest of school year with workbooks, or whatever it is that is making school drudgery for her. Then I would read aloud to her, I would take her ice skating, to plays, museums, cook together, walking each day if she is open to that, see what you see. Collect things along the way. Talk about life, answer her questions, and enjoy each other’s company, no pressure on either of you. Walking, nature walk, pressed some flowers in a book, flower identification, read a historical novel aloud, history, read some silly Shel Silverstein books (my favorite), talk about different forms of poetry, watch some ants scurrying about, insect identification, ant lifestyles and habits (ants really are interesting little creatures.) This way you can be sure that some learning really is going on, and hopefully feel good about the time off from what would seem to be more traditional schooling. Last but not least, if you both find joy in this, keep it up. Let her pursue her interests. You have nothing to lose but a lot to gain!

Jun 7, 2011

Do we need an official diagnosis?

I've gone through feeling the need for a "diagnosis" to try to explain this--then I talked to a friend whose mother is a psychologist and would constantly suggest that she have her daughter tested for various disorders. She decided to not test for anything and just work with her "personality" the way she would likely be told to do if she had a diagnosis. That's where I am with it now. He is who he is (like the boy in the piece by Anne Ohman) and I'm working hard to embrace rather than try to change it--easier said than done some days!

I was listening to Dr. Dean Edell a week or two ago (he has a radio show that plays here on Saturdays) and he talked about diagnoses and what you do with it once you get it. He said that had there been such a thing as an ADHD diagnosis when he was a kid, he would have gotten it! He went on to say that while he frustrated his teachers, his parents supported him and he found his way. He said that had he ended up in a typical practice like most doctors end up in, he would have likely been very unhappy, but not able to pinpoint why. But he feels thankful that he's not in that position--that he has a career he loves and that works for him. That's what I want to do for my child--help him find something that works for him. (Although I sometimes have to redirect myself BACK to that when I find myself trying to make him fit into MY box of wishes, hopes, and dreams for him).

Jun 6, 2011

Spirited for a Reason

I believe our children are spirited for a reason. I believe each child comes to earth with a purpose and a mission to fulfill and that our children need these increased sensitivities, insights, energy and abilities to accomplish their missions. My goal as a mother is to help my children learn how to use their spiritedness to their advantage as opposed to just trying to keep it under control. I'm a spirited adult myself and there are times that I curse that, but there are other times that I know I can accomplish more, be a better friend and learn things more deeply because of it.

So many times as a parent, especially dealing with my little children, I feel like their issues are nothing but a challenge but now my older children are starting to show glimpses of how it is also a blessing.

Jun 5, 2011

Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity

Click on the link to see an amazing video

Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity

TED Talks Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.

Jun 4, 2011

Homeschooling Spirited Kids is not Easy

I have to fight to get my son to do his work. He seems to easily loose focus and at times is more stubborn than I am.

I hope she remains that strong willed when she grows up and wants to change the world, in the mean time I hope I survive to tell her about it.

How well I remember those comments about counseling and therapy, only they were often meant for ME :)...I guess spiritedness often looks like bad parenting.
We understand here. Join in. Ask questions. Just vent.

Some days it's tough to be together 24/7. When I occasionally consider school, it's because I'm feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. It would sometimes be nice for him to have to answer to someone other than me for SOMETHING. But then I realize I'd just be making him sit and do homework anyway--he'd just be physically away from me for part of the day (something I can accomplish in other ways at his age (13), I'm sure).

Jun 3, 2011

Raising Your Spirited Child

I always wanted to be a mom, but when I had 3 boys in less than 4 years my life became crazy. Then I decided to homeschool them and it became more crazy than ever. Many years later I discovered one was borderline autistic/dyslexic and another was ADHD, but I'm jumping ahead. When the boys were 2, 4 and 6 I thought I was about to lose my mind and then I discovered Mary Sheedy Kurchinka's book, "Raising Your Spirited Child." The book saved my sanity as I discovered some children were just "more" than others. She defines this as spirited and I discovered all three of my boys came under the diagnosis of "Spirited" and so did I. No wonder my life was tough. With understanding came the ability to cope, and so I did.

The problem with choosing to homeschool is that if you ever have a bad day (and believe me, you will have many) you have to choose who you complain to. For most people the answer is obvious, put your children in school. But for the committed homeschool parent the answer is not to let someone else look after your children during the day, but to work through whatever the problem is. It is in facing the problem we can solve it and that is what homeschooling is all about.

This blog is about my journey and the journey of fellow homeschool moms, many with spirited children.  This blog is about real life homeschooling with kids who are not quietly compliant and immediately obedient. This blog is about real life, real moms, real kids and real situations, not the ones you read about in homeschool magazines.

Many stories will be written in the first person, and not always by me. There are multiple moms contributing to this blog.