About Me

My photo
I am a wife and home schooling mother to four kiddos. It's not always easy, but I am blessed to have the opportunity to be there each step of the way as my kids grow and learn.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Disadvantages of Mom Being Teacher

Trust me. TRUST ME. I am one to talk up the advantages of homeschooling. I do it constantly, as anyone who knows me can attest. Heck. I'll even do it right now. Here goes: I have the precious opportunity to witness those lightbulb moments when my children "get" a concept for the first time. There are few things in life as rewarding as witnessing that moment. I also have the unique opportunity to tailor my kids education for their specific needs. One needs to repeat math but not necessarily the entire grade? Fine. We repeat math and go on to the next grade with the other levels. Everything always balances out in the end (after all, sometimes kids aren't ready to understand things in a cookie cutter fashion). I never need to worry or fret about what my kids are being taught. I am always aware and up to date on what their education. I even learn with them. I can almost hear myself getting smarter as they do. Yet. There are decided disadvantages. Of course, for us, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages and that's why we do what we do. The thing that's on my mind most lately is my high (astronomically high) expectations that I have set for my kids. I have always had a tendency to push to hard, sometimes even to the point of utter frustration. Somehow, once we cross that line, it's like I can't stop pushing it. Then more frustration leads to anger and leads to the kids shutting down and not learning but regressing instead. I actually found that I'm not alone in this. A lot of us homeschoolers would be guilty of this. Thank goodness that a sweet friend gave me the best advice the other day. I was struggling with my daughter, my sweet, delicate, adorable daughter....... struggling with getting her to count up to 20 without skipping 16 and 17 which she constantly does. I had been patient for weeks. However, after witnessing her decode several difficult words on her own and watching her read and write so well, something in me became really irked that she constantly forgot to say 16 and 17. Somehow I convinced myself that she was doing it on purpose, maybe just to annoy me even. I sat there and probably tortured her (figuratively of course) making her recite 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 over and over. And after 30 grueling minutes of that, when asked to count again, she still couldn't get it. I made her leave the table in anger. Just told her shortly and un-politely to go off and play. She left in shame, knowing she had disappointed me. She cried and I felt....just wrong. It's hard to describe really. So later I brought this issue up to some of my homeschooling support people (aka, fellow moms). I recieved lots of great advice on how to help her remember how to count, but the best advice I heard was simply this: drop it for a while. Drop the issue and seek God's guidance. Ask the Lord to help her remember (and I thought on my own to ask Him to soften my heart toward my sweet little girl and to help me remember that she's still such a young little child). The person's (who gave the advice) reasoning was so that my sanity would be saved and my girl's heart would be protected. My girl's heart. Here I was thinking of nurturing my kids' minds and I almost forgot about their most precious and important part. Their heart. I almost forgot how tender and trusting they are. I would never want to drill and force that sweetness and tenderness out of them. After all. I could turn the disadvantage of having me (their mom) as a teacher into an advantage. Who should know better how to protect their children's hearts than their own parents. I pray that I'll take this lesson to heart and never forget it again.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


I am about ready to take my "plan" book and burn it, rip it, or purposely feed it to Hercules.

I mean honestly, it does me nor the kids any good. I'm a pretty straight-through-the-book kind of girl. The kids know that tomorrow we will simply be working on the page or lesson that comes after the one we did today. I know that a few days a week I'll read out of the history book...on the days I don't read out of the history book, I'll read out of the science book. Everyday we will do spelling, language, math, and Bible verse stuff. Why do I have to write this down? I know for legal purposes just in case, but quite frankly, I'm not too worried about that.

I have attempted to schedule certain days for history and certain days for science but it rarely rarely works out the way I "plan". I mostly wind up doing it completely opposite of the way I wrote it. I just try to think of everyday as Opposite Day. I don't plan for sicknesses so even though I write in pencil, don't you dare think for one moment since we were "absent" on Thursday and Friday that I'm going to go back and erase all I wrote for those two days and move it all over a notch. No. Sir. Eeee.

So here's my confession of sorts. I haven't written a thing in that bleeping plan book for the past three weeks. Yet we've done school everyday (except the days when the kids were sick) through those recordless three weeks. I'm sure HSLDA would spank me if they knew....

My dining room table vouches for me

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Asperger's in a Nutshell

I looked at several websites to find a good link to clearly and simply explain Asperger's Syndrome. Nearly everything I found was too lengthy for my purposes. After sifting through many websites, I finally found the description I was looking for.

Aspergers syndrome
As·per·ger's syn·drome[ ás pùrjərz sìndrōm ]NOUN
1. developmental disorder: a severe developmental disorder, similar to autism, characterized by difficulties with social relations, strange behavior patterns, concentration on details of objects, and often a heightened ability to memorize.

Gasp. There! That's perfect. That tells you everything. AND it doesn't even call it "autism". The definition calls it "similar to autism" which I dig. Since nearly everything I read says "a form of autism" or the like. Only a handful of times have I seen it referred to as actual autism. Here is a video the kids and I enjoyed watching. It was made by a 16 year old with Asperger's Syndrome.

A few weeks ago I tried to explain Asperger's Syndrome to Lane, but it flew straight over his head. He was thinking about Mario at the moment and nothing would deter his train of thought. However, this weekend, while were were eating lunch he blurted out "No one at this table has Asperger's Syndrome, whatever that is." and continued on eating. Clearly he had heard us talking about it. This was his way of letting us know that he was ready to talk about it and wanted to know what it meant.

So we talked to him about what it meant as carefully as we could. We explained that he would just have to learn some skills that come natural to many other people (a thing we know can be done). We told him how far he's come already. We told him his good memory is a gift and how proud we are of him. We said that now we know better how to teach him and how he learns best. He stared off, maybe listening, maybe not (but I think he was). It is always hard to tell how he is taking things. His happy face is quite similar to his angry face. He keeps his thoughts and feelings locked up so secure. It is only every now and then that we get a glimpse of true joy, sorrow, amusement, etc.

Probably in a few weeks I'll know if he understood any of it and if he did what he thinks about it. It takes him a long time to think about things. Sometimes when we tell him some bit of news or interesting info we get zero feedback. But then one day, maybe even weeks later, he'll finally say something about it as if we were speaking of it just a few minutes ago. And what he has to say is usually pretty insightful. I look forward to hearing his thoughts.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Flowers for Algernon

This is what made me think about getting help.

I have read Flowers for Algernon many times. It is one of my favorite books. I want to watch the movie one day, but I worry that it will disappoint me. I have in my mind how the story goes, and I don't want my idea to be ruined by a stranger's interpretation.

This ficitional story is about a man (Charlie) who is mentally retarded. His IQ (eye-Q as he writes it) is around 68. That is very low considering "average" is right at 100. The whole story is written with him as a narrator, so at the beginning it is horribly misspelled with countless grammatical errors. His childlike innocence is perfectly portrayed in his own words. Yet there is hope! He is a candidate for a surgery that will enhance his mental capacity. The surgery is a success, but the downside is that the effects of the surgery do not last. So even though he gains extreme intelligence and wonderful insights, he is doomed to go back to where he came from intellectually.

The reason this story effected me so much is because as the main character (Charlie) gains intelligence, he also regains his memories from his childhood. He remembers his mother trying to force him to learn something he wasn't capable of learning. He remembers being afraid and punished without really understanding what he was being punished for.

So, it was in this way, I realized (or maybe I should say that in this way God showed me) that I was trying to force Lane to be something he either can't be or would take extra time to become. I would become exasperated at Lane for his lack of response when people would talk to him and lecture him on manners. I would try to make him stop rubbing his face or force him to sit still, or answer my questions....which would only make him act worse.

In Flowers For Algernon, Charlie said his mother was always trying to make him be smart when what he really needed was her love. He needed her support. Reading those words I realized what I need to do. Lane needs my love and my support above all else. If there is no one in this world who can identify with him or understand him, then he needs his family here to be the ones who can. It is not so important that Lane be this or that. It is so important that he has a safe place to fall when he needs it. That will ensure his success more than anything else.

My only concern now is that it took me this long to figure that out.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Special Needs

I never really thought about what it means to have a "special needs" kid. I usually would think of severely disabled kids or severely autistic children. Maybe I would even think of extraordinarily gifted kids. I never really thought any of my kids would fall into the special needs category.
After years of struggling and second guessing my parenting methods, I finally broke down and took my oldest child to be evaluated by a psychiatrist. She confirmed what I already knew in my heart. Our oldest child as a high functioning form of autism called Asperger's Syndrome. At least now everything makes sense. The obsessions, the social disconnect, the spinning (Literally. Lane is almost 9 years old and he loves to spin around in circles like a two year old. Who knew they would actually have a name for that? Stimming - self-stimulation).
I have always beat myself up over why and how I must've failed Lane somehow. That is before his official diagnosis. Did I not hold him enough as a baby? Should I have nursed him longer (his dislike for being held even as an infant caused him to wean himself at nine and a half months. He hated to be cuddled and nursing was hard for him). Though I felt like I talked to him and included him in everything I did, still...should I have talked to him more? Read to him more? Should I have disciplined him more gently? I used to sit in my room and cry and pray that God would help me help him on our worst days.
So while one might imagine that this diagnosis would be upsetting to us, it is actually encouraging. I feel freed from that guilt and feeling of responsibility for some of Lane's issues. I know now that there is nothing I could've done better to help Lane. He was born this way. As a matter of fact, the reason he does as well as he does could be because of how hard we have worked with him. We did read to him every day as a young child. Book after book. I did wear him in the sling everyday. I did breastfeed him. Etc. etc. I did everything I knew to do that was good for my little boy. It is a good thing I did.
So with time, Lane can learn social cues and become quite successful. He may always struggle in social situations, but now that we know what we are dealing with, we can begin to teach him how to cope. I will post more info on Asperger's Syndrome soon.