What I Like About You

Here we are smack dab in the middle of summer, and unless you’re living up in the Northwest part of the United States or Canada, or Alaska, you’re baking.  I’m trying really hard not to whine and complain in front of the kids because I don’t want to hear them whine and complain, but this weather TOTALLY S_______S!!  I’m getting bites marks on my tongue.  This Seattle girl is NOT impressed!!  We’ve recently moved from a lovely little berg by the sea in the South Bay of Los Angeles to Hell On Earth, a place when I’m not so whiny I affectionately refer to as Our Town, which is really a lovely little town.  It just happens to be in HELL.  We hit the low 90’s before Memorial Day weekend and we haven’t been below 97 since then and there’s no end in sight.

So, in a large “put on your big girl panties and suck it up” effort, I’m going to reflect on the positive things in my life.  And in keeping with the current trend of this blog (which no one reads, so no one will take note of any trend, real or imagined), the topic for today has been stolen from Twitter.  (Thank GOODNESS for social media or I wouldn’t be able to come up with a blog topic on my own to save my life)  I can’t remember who or what came up with this idea (was it a home school curriculum company?).  But if I could I would TOTALLY give them credit for this blog post today, but someone posted a link to their company/blog site about their favorite things about homeschooling.  And so here we are, focusing on the positive, in the middle of a blazing hot summer, on what I find so great about home schooling.  Feel free to re-steal this idea and make your own list.  This only represents what’s rambling around my head today.  It may change tomorrow.

1) HUGE flexibility.  I have two kids with special needs who are on completely divergent learning paths, so being able to tailor their days to fit their needs is a HUGE bonus for me, and for them at their most basic neurological and developmental levels.

2) We own the calendar.  We can make whatever it is they’re learning more consistent for them by going year round.

>A word on “year round” home schooling:  #1) Every home schooling family is different and they tailor their schedule to what works for them.  There is NO “One Size Fits All” when it comes to home schooling #2) See rule #1

Having said that, in recent years we’ve done year round home schooling mainly because our daughter, who has autism, really really needs a daily structure.  A few weeks ago at the beginning of June we were out in my in-laws’ backyard reading some Shakespeare (we got into Shakespeare this Spring as part of what we were studying in history and it turned out that she LOVES the ol’ bard!) and she said, “Hey, what about Summer vacation?  When does that start?”,  her inquiring kohl eyes wanted to know.  “Hmm”, I paused, “Well, about that.  I’d kind of like to keep a couple of things going throughout the summer, so you don’t have to start from scratch in the Fall”, I was hoping with all that was within me that she’d take the bait and not fight me tooth-and-nail on that point.  “Ya, like Shakespeare!!”, she responded enthusiastically, “We’ll keep reading Shakespeare, right?”, “Oh yes, of course!”, I answered, like that had been the plan all along, but I was really talking more about math and violin, so I pressed those topics and she was fine with keeping those two things on the weekly schedule too.  And that’s how we arrived at what we were going to do this summer.  We also let her pretty much establish the schedule with our input of wanting at least two days each of math & violin and we’d read Shakespeare whenever.  So she said she wanted Shakespeare on Mondays & Tuesdays, math on Wednesdays and Thursdays and violin on Thursdays and Fridays.  Done, done and done.

3)  I can now see learning EVERYWHERE.  It took me awhile to come to this place because I came from VERY firmly held belief that Learning ONLY Happens in Public or Private Schools When Children Are Being Instructed By State Approved Teachers.  I didn’t necessarily believe that children only learned when they were sitting in chairs (you have to move around in P.E. and you stand when you sing in choir, right?), but I sure wasn’t going for that mumbo-jumbo of taking your kid to a museum and calling that learning anywhere near the academic level that would actually feed their brains in the long term.  Pshaw.

Fast forward seven years:  Hi, I’m Gigi, I’ll be your tour guide through the land of Mumbo Jumbo today!  Since starting on this very unlikely home education journey I have learned to tune in to each of my child’s learning styles and can now see and actually feel them learning in a variety of situations, so that now I tally so much more quantity in the learning columns for them as they learn at home.

I talk a lot about my daughter on this blog, but let’s talk about the Big H for a minute.  Probably the biggest area of “academic study” that we do with him is in the area of communication.  He is 13 years old and has Down syndrome, he was born deaf, although he has some hearing now, and his main language is ASL, although he understands a lot of verbal English.  He also survived uncontrolled seizures when he was an infant, so he has massive global developmental delays.   The easiest way to think about how we teach him is to think of your garden-variety three/four year old.  They’re learning EVERYTHING all the time and they all learn at their own individual paces.  You can’t put a three year old in a box.  Well you can, but then they start squawking and the neighbors call the cops.  But I digress.  The grocery store is a great example of a typical outing for a preschooler.  They learn things like:  color identification, the names of everything, emotion regulation, obedience, self control, etc….So when we’re out with Hayden, we’re CONSTANTLY talking with him, interpreting what’s going on around him and asking him questions about what he’s experiencing.  We work very to include him in every situation.  We talk about things before we do them with him and we talk about it after we’ve done it, so something as simple as going to watch his sister at a softball practice turns into a HUGE lesson of making friends, paying attention to what’s going on, acting appropriately with those with whom we’re sitting, etc….  So how we do put THAT into a “homeschooling schedule”?  The answer is we don’t.  We DO have specific things we’re working on with him; things like sight words, color identification, shapes, coloring, etc…..but it’s not on a set schedule.  We try to hit a couple of those topics everyday and we document it for the purposes of complying with state regulations, but I also count things like outings to a lake with friends, playing baseball with other kids with special needs and going to the library as part of his academics.

 

These are just three of my favorite things about home education.  I’m sure you can think of many more and different things that work for you and your family.  If you’re taking some time “off” this summer or going to a lighter schedule, do yourself a favor and write some of them down.  If you’re like me, it will help energize you and keep you going during more intense times!

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