Aug 31, 2011

Homeschooling in New Zealand

Here is an article I enjoyed reading.

Homeschooling in New Zealand

Aug 30, 2011

Vision Therapy

I was talking to one of the doctors at my daughter’s vision therapy the other day. I was commenting on how before we started the therapy she would never guess and now she does (some). The doctor was saying that she has what they call tight vision. She asked if her personality was loosening up as we loosened her vision. It was a light bulb moment. She has mellowed a lot. I thought it was just a confidence thing, but now I can see that it's more than that. The brain is such an amazing thing.

Aug 29, 2011

Being a Perfectionist

My daughter played soccer last fall. Actually she only played the last couple of weeks. She just watched and hung out for the first 5 weeks or so. She is a perfectionist. She has to feel totally confident that she knows what's expected of her before she'll do it. It was so frustrating taking her to the field all those times. I actually suggested she quit several times, but she said she didn't want to. It was so great when she finally went out there and played. She smiled and laughed and had a great time. It was a reminder that I have to give her time and relax.

Aug 27, 2011

Hypotonia (low tone)

With his hypotonia (low tone) and motor-planning challenges, he has never been the best athlete. At the same time, he plays tag and climbs on the playground equipment like all the other kids. (Can't ride a bike, though.) He was on the swim team this past summer and showed promise in back stroke. He was not at the same skill level as his peers, but he was not horrible by any means.

I would like for him to be involved in a sport for all the obvious reasons, and also because I like to feel a part of our community and enjoy watching him gains athletic skill and mature. The problem is that he hates being involved in sports. He started Karate classes and the teacher and atmosphere could not be more supportive and sensitive. Yet, he is balking big time. On Saturday when he was done with a class, he said he had fun. He's expressed some pride in what he'd learned. But then Tuesday we went to the dojo and he refused to go in the room. He said he just didn't want to. He said he still feels a little shy.

I know him well enough to know that if he isn't enjoying something wholeheartedly, he will become less and less willing to do it. Also, the program costs money and requires a large advance payment, and I'm afraid
I'll waste our money.

It is so depressing to have a child who is not typical in this regard. I know it's not the end of the world if he doesn't do this, but at a deeper level, I'm worried he won't engage in life when it's challenging. He won't work past his perfectionism, shyness, and awkwardness, whatever it is. And he is capable, even with his disabilities. At the same time, I have never had the heart for competition and have been pretty inhibited in some respects. I don't want him to be the underachiever I have been.

I know he is unusually sensitive, and that is not a bad quality, but it does make things tough at times.

I also worry that he won't be fit. I already feel guilt about his eating habits. He just won't eat any veggies and eats only bananas and apples.

I know I can get out and take walks with him, etc., that's not really what
I'm concerned about. It's really more the fear I have about his future and his happiness. I know I have no control (or very little), but I still am obligated to give him the best chance possible. A sensory integration/coach told me a year ago that he needed to work on mental toughness. I thought karate might help with that. But now he's probably not going to do it.

I hate it when I can't sleep and I'm overcome with guilt and fear.

Finally, my husband will not do any physical activities with him for
his own good. I feel very over burdened because of that.

Aug 25, 2011

The Explosive Child

I would like to recommend "The Explosive Child". Although my son isn't quite as explosive as those in the book, some of the techniques it mentioned helped us. I was also interested to read stories from other people with much worse problems than mine.

The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children

Aug 24, 2011

Flying with Children

Last week as we were coming back from San Antonio and I said to both children as they were behaving badly in the car, "If we had a choice, I would put you both in timeout right now and we wouldn't go anywhere, but the truth is that we have to take this trip and get on the airplane, so I expect you to give us our best behavior." Incredibly, they did. But I also afforded them the opportunity to run as much as possible in the airport before take off and in between flights. We also make it a practice to take games, books, food, coloring/drawing stuff on excursions like this.

The flight attendants complimented us on our well-behaved children. Did you get that? And the truth is, that they were. I think that sometimes children just need to test the waters.

Also, if I can make whatever is bugging them less, it helps. For instance, while hubby got the tickets, I had the children leap frogging around a small portion of the floor to see who could jump the furthest. In between flights, I did some movement songs within a contained area. Yesterday, while shopping, they got maxed out, and while spanking/disciplining them didn't help, singing a song about how hungry we all were did. They actually behaved better as we went through the check out line and into the car, and even discussed the best place to get food we all liked fast, and whether to call dad to join us there. Sometimes when I just playfully – or even if the situation warrants it seriously - accept where they are and don't make a bigger deal of it than it is, that in and of itself saves the day.

Aug 23, 2011

The Nurturing Heart Approach and Active Alert Child

I really enjoyed both The Nurturing Heart Approach and Active Alert Child. I think that the first helped me to set up boundaries we could all live with. In addition, I really have been more explicit about consequences, which makes sense since, in this world, we have a lot of them, whether or not they are explicit or implied. I have not instituted the credit system, and don't plan on doing it. I don't think that I want to get into that type of reward system, though if I were to use one, that is the one I would choose. Instead, when things are out of hand, I will take away an activity and say you are losing privileges for that behavior. This has happened a few times, and I have found it helpful.

Transforming the Difficult Child: The Nurtured Heart Approach

Aug 22, 2011

Transforming the Difficult Child: The Nurtured Heart Approach by Howard Glasser , Jennifer Easley

Transforming the Difficult Child: The Nurtured Heart Approach

It is an easy book to read, written for a busy parent in crisis, who needs to be able to read quickly to get through it. The authors already took notes for you, putting the main points in bold, and using a format which accommodates reading on the run - which is, at least for me, the only way reading gets done - in the bathroom between things while the children are getting along or getting ready for bed. I have been able to read for less than a minute and get something useable. It is written as a tool book.

I recommended Transforming the Difficult Child I just finished reading Backtalk. I must say, that the former helped me lots more, though the latter is good for feeling secure in your decisions. I found that just taking away privileges wasn't working in my home because we were caught in a cycle of negative reinforcement. We needed to get out of that, and Transforming the Difficult Child empowered me to do that. Now we are all doing tons better, and I appreciate the latter. It is because I am now in a position of strength.

Aug 21, 2011

John Holt Quote

"What is most important and valuable about the home as a base for children’s growth into the world is not that it is a better school than the schools, but that it isn't a school at all." John Holt

Aug 20, 2011

Introducing the Dentist to Spirited Kids

Don't forget that while you have yucky associations with the dentist, the sound and smell of the drill, she has never experienced it before and may have a completely different view of it. Also, if your dentist, even though he isn't an expert with "spirited" kids, has any experience with kids at all, he probably has a routine that introduces the drill, explains what is going on etc. Keep an open mind. My spirited one did pretty well with that stuff. (Until he reached the braces stage! Another story) this is something that you'll handle in one way or another and then it will be over. Good luck!

Aug 19, 2011

Spirited Behavior at the Dentist

My son went to a couple of orthodontists and both wanted to do a Herbst device. It basically does the same job as headgear (slows the upper jaw while the lower jaw catches up to correct an overbite, his is minimal) and he wanted no part of that!! It did look primitive and uncomfortable. So we settled on just a space retainer for his bottom teeth, this will maintain a little bit of space while his permanent teeth come in and prevent them from being too crowded. He still needs braces but you know, his teeth really aren't bad and we wanted to see how he would be with just this little thing. He spent two days absolutely crazed, crying sobbing saying his life was ruined! Typical spirited kid fashion. By day three he had forgotten about it. So, we may get the braces yet.

Aug 18, 2011

Planning at the Beginning of Homeschooling

I would sit down by myself with a good cup of coffee (or whatever you drink or eat as treat) and begin to think through the whole home schooling process. *Why* did you choose to home school your son? What method is your preference? Do you have an educational philosophy? What is most important to you in educating your son? What do you want to achieve with him?

I would take notes on your thoughts and ideas and think them through. How can you achieve the things that are the most important to you in regards to his personal development, your relationship with him, and his education?

Then I would have a little hot chocolate date with him and find out what exactly he is looking for in his education. It is his education after all.
What is important to him? Are there any things that he really wants to learn about? Any places that he is really interested in visiting?

Don't forget too that there is the whole deschooling process to go through too. It usually takes about a month for each year of traditional school to deprogram, settle down, and learn how to listen to his own ideas again. To not think in that mass education model.

It is certainly ok to take a break to re-group and to develop your plan of how you want to proceed. I don't know many 9 year old little boys who will want to sit and do school work as in paper work. Be thinking of ways to engage him, make a volcano with sand and baking soda and vinegar, show him the live-cam of Mt. St. Helens if it’s still up, and talk about Vesuvius.

It is important to kind of develop a road map for yourself, even if you have decided to unschool. You still need a plan of how you will facilitate for your son.

Aug 17, 2011

Starting the Homeschooling Journey

How long have you been "home"? Some kids need a chance to deschool after being in a school environment. Take some time off of academics to just enjoy being at home and together. Kind of a getting to know each other in a new light, being on a homeschooling adventure together. I've heard something like a month for every year spent in school. He will catch up later on, since most homeschooled kids are ahead in the long run. Taking even a month off won't put you behind. Play games, read books, watch movies, build stuff, make crafts, cook, visit museums, take lots of field trips with no focus on academics for a while. Just have fun together. Then ease back into the planned things a little at a time, starting with what he is most interested in. There is plenty of time for academic type book learning with a curriculum. And, he will still be learning from things you do each day. Keep a portfolio of what you do, and I'll bet you'll be surprised at how much he has learned even while you were taking time to deschool. It's a journey not a race.

Aug 16, 2011

Being in School

I remember being in school (especially when I was in high school) and I came home feeling that the entire day was a waste because I didn't do anything the whole day. There are days when a teacher is absent or if the school has an assembly and they don't do work at all. So relax and enjoy the journey of homeschooling.

Aug 15, 2011

Keep Learning Fun!

Maybe if your son likes computer games then you can find some educational sites with games and he can do those. Or if he likes basketball he could shoot hoops while you give him an oral spelling test, etc, etc. Just keep learning fun!

Aug 14, 2011

To Make Homeschooling Work

To truly make homeschooling work then you need to find what works for you and your children. No two families are going to be successful by doing everything exactly the same.

Aug 13, 2011

Take a Break

How old is your son? I think that maybe you need to take a break. Find more fun activities that you can do together. If it means a much happier mood for everyone then maybe you need to homeschool for only 4 days a week or maybe just take a week off and see what happens. To me it is better to get a little behind and keep spirits up than to stay on task with everyone feeling frustrated. I know my girls are much younger but we don't always do school everyday. Today we took the day off from doing anything. They played and watched TV most of the day and I took this time to read a magazine and just rest. Now there are days when we might do school for 5 hours in one day but for most days we only do about 2 hours. You need to find a routine that works for you all.

Aug 11, 2011

Knut Schmidt-Nielson Quote

It has been said that the primary function of schools is to impart enough facts to make children stop asking questions. Some, with whom the schools do not succeed, become scientists. - Knut Schmidt-Nielson

Aug 10, 2011

Toy gun rules

I used to have a no gun rule in my house but 2 years
ago I dropped it and this is why.

I read about boys who cross dress (dress in women's
clothes) and they had the desire to dress in girls'
clothes when they were young and were denied it. So as
adults they wore women's clothes. I reasoned that I
should let my boys play with toy guns then when they
were older they wouldn't have the desire to use real

Aug 8, 2011

When my son needed stitches

Our youngest, now 4, and by far our most spirited, had to have stitches on his scalp last year. The instant I saw the cut I began to dread what lay ahead. It was clear from the depth of the cut and where it was located, he would need stitches. As he saw me reach for the phone to call out pediatrician he cried even harder. I pictured 10 people holding him down while they did stitches. Instead I began to calmly tell him we were going to the dr., that the dr. would have to look at his cut, that he would need to close it with stitches.

He asked if it would hurt. I bit my lip, took a deep breath, and said "yes." The tears and howls increased but I was firm. We were going. By the time we reached the doctor’s office my son had calmed. They were all very gently with him and told him everything they were doing. That helped immensely. Instead of talking to me, then to him, they spoke directly with him. They placed a large numbing patch over the cut that we held on for 15 minutes I think. The stitches took even less time than that. I was amazed at how well the whole thing turned out - I never would have believed it in a million years. I was very grateful to the staff and let them know I appreciated them bringing my son into the treatment instead of ignoring him and his pain level.

Aug 7, 2011

The Freedom to be Different in an Environment that Conforms - Stargirl


This is one of my all time favorite books. Stargirl was homeschooled and then she started high school. She was different from the other children. At first the other children were suspicious of her, but then they grew to love her. Because she had been homeschooled she had the self-confidence to be herself and that is the story of the book.

I heard the criticism that the story in the book takes place in Arizona and the facts about Arizona aren't fully correct, but not knowing much about Arizona I didn't find anything incorrect when I read it.

If you like the book, there is a sequel, Love, Stargirl and the other Jerry Spinelli book I like is Maniac Magee

Aug 6, 2011

Explosive, Impulsive Temperament with Occasional Aggression

My son will be 5 at the end of this month. At the age of 15 months he contracted meningitis and lost his hearing. Cognitively, he is fine. He has a slight delay due to the hearing loss. We sign, but the hearing still impacts his language acquisition. He is a smart little guy though.

Anyway, about 6 months later, we began to experience some pretty scary tantrums. I began to refer to them as rages due to their severity. We had a difficult time getting any kind of help initially because everyone insisted it was normal two-year-old behavior, but trust me, it wasn't. My son has a very explosive temper and would often act out aggressively when upset (kicking, biting, scratching, etc.) Once he started school (at age 3) we had already found a child psychologist who was helping us with some behavior modification strategies that seemed to be helping. We only saw him for a short time because we moved closer to the state school for the deaf. I thought that maybe if he was immersed in a signing environment, his language would improve and maybe that would help him communicate through language rather than through aggressive outbursts. This was a huge mistake! We had very little support for his behavioral needs (classes were way too big and they refused to provide a personal aid who could address his behavioral needs appropriately). The entire year was a waste and he was completely out of control by early spring. There wasn't a day that I didn't get some kind of negative report back from the school "T bit a child today; T refused to go to the lunchroom; T ripped up one of our bulletin board displays while in time out" You can imagine what a nightmare this was for all of us. I was scared to death for my child's future and had no idea how to help him.

I ended up pulling him out of school that spring and had started to look into homeschooling. About this time, we found a wonderful neurologist who began to evaluate him. He diagnosed him with a combination of disorders (Oppositional Defiant Disorder -ODD-, Sensory Integration Disorder -SID-, and ADD) which I think basically describes his behavior more than really diagnose why the behavior occurs. Regardless, we started experimenting with meds and after several failed to show much improvement we tried a medication called Risperdal. He has been on a combination of Risperdal and Tegretol and is functioning MUCH better! He is still a daily challenge and still has problems with an explosive, impulsive temperament with occasional aggression, but nowhere near what we experienced that school year.

We ended up giving our home district a shot the following year and were VERY pleased by all they were able to accomplish. He started off the year in a very restrictive setting (a small preschool class for children with disabilities) so that we could get his behavior under control. His teacher was amazing and by the end of the first semester, they were recommending that he be placed in a mainstream classroom. He continued to improve and while he still needed a lot of supervision and attention to his behavior, he was socializing much better, participating more, and his noncompliance had reduced significantly.

Because he is entering kindergarten, he had to change schools and the new school is in a new district. We had a meeting and were very encouraged by the people we met with and decided that he would attend their summer program to ease him into their school. We discussed all his needs and indicated that while they might experience some transition problems, if they provided a structured, consistent environment for him, he should even out and do fine. Well, they basically did everything we told them NOT to do. The first four days he was there they had him in three different classes. All the change coupled with problems with his hearing device, etc made for some serious regression behaviorally. We had a big meeting where they asked for one more chance (which they again blew in much the same fashion) and my husband and I finally decided that we could not allow them to undue all the hard work T had done the previous year.

That brings me to now. I have decided to homeschool him and have decided to use a combination of things. I've ordered the FAIR curriculum, but plan on using other activities and methods to supplement the FAIR curriculum. I am reading Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and would love to hear from anyone who may have used this in the past.

I, like most parents embarking on this journey with their child, feel a bit intimidated by the whole task. Not so much because of his hearing impairment, but because of the behavior. I worry about getting into power struggles when I want to do something "school" related and other issues of non-compliance. I worry about not having much of a break (by the way, I also work full-time at night, dh works during the day) or time for me, but
I can't imagine taking any chances with my son's future either. He really is a great little boy. He can be the sweetest, funniest, silliest little thing and he brings lots of joy to our lives in spite of the extra work we sometimes have to put in. I just want to make sure that all these positive aspects of his personality aren't completely overshadowed by all the challenging ones. I am hoping that homeschooling will allow us to do this.

Aug 5, 2011

Gas at the dentist

When my daughter needed a filling they gave her gas. It was just a little bit to make her calm. I really don't think they would have been able to do it otherwise. It was a terrible ordeal just getting the x-rays taken. And I had prepared her for it. Luckily for us the dentist has three boys, at least one of which is spirited.

Aug 4, 2011

I dread the day

I dread the day I have to take my kids for fillings. I would try a good explanation and a decent reward.

Aug 3, 2011

Going to the Dentist!

I have to take my 7 year old to get two fillings. She loves having her teeth cleaned but when I took her last time, they changed the routine and wanted to take some x-rays. Of course she "blew a gasket" (using that description for lack of better one right now). I explained very calmly that because we didn't know about this change in the routine, I wasn't able to prepare her, blah, blah, blah, and therefore x-rays could not be taken that day. We proceeded with the cleaning, no problem. So the next time we went in, I had told her exactly what they were going to do-- no problem. Yeah! But now the fillings! You know how SENSITIVE our kids are to even the thought of discomfort, coupled with the sound of the drill, the smell of the drill, the taste of the goop and possibly a little blood. I'm not telling her (obviously) that I think she's going to "blow a gasket" but experience tells me that I am not prepared to handle this and neither is she (never mind that poor dentist that has no clue as to what a child who is MORE is like!)

Aug 2, 2011

My daughter drains me

I have 3 children, "only" one who is spirited. But she can drain me where I am worn out for days. My daughter is very spirited and challenging and has always been. We've always done attachment style parenting so I never thought it could be as hard as it is now. She’s very disrespectful and I've tried a lot of different things over the years. But now I am very strict, not allowing her to be disrespectful to me. I send her to her room and now I'm trying something new of taking all her stuffed animals and dolls away from her (enough to stuff a whole garbage bag full) and making her earn them back by being respectful all day.

Yesterday I made our first appointment with a counselor. I don't want this to continue through the teen years, we need help now. It's driving me nuts. I never knew parenting could be so hard. We have always homeschooled. We're involved in a lot of different activities though, including right now she is going to a 2 week girls school program with only fun artsy classes, 5 every day. She loves it! I'm really happy for her that she is able to do this. I just wish she could go there all year. But we could never afford it. Anyway, it'll be good to be around other homeschoolers with spirited kids!