Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Deciding to Homeschool part 2 "The Public School Years" (Pre-K and K)

Pre-K and Kindergarten

I really debated for a long time about starting him in Pre-K. He already knew how to count, how to add and subtract, how to read sight words, all of his colors and shapes, how to write his name, and everything there was to know about Hot Wheels.
He had quite a collection of Hot Wheels by now and could spot a fake from across the room!

My baby seemed awfully young to send out to fend for himself in the real world. But, I finally came to the conclusion that he may be at a disadvantage socially if we waited another year and sent him straight to Kindergarten. I assumed the majority of the kids there would have been in daycare since their very young years and also would have completed Pre-K. His Dad and I figured that he needed to "learn the ropes" about how to be in a school environment before starting Kindergarten- because that was when the serious schooling would start.

Well, I did it. I signed him up for Pre-K at a daycare center that was about 5 minutes away from where I worked and even closer my parent's house. Which meant that on my day off I would have to drive 30 minutes each way to take him to school and pick him up. But that was way better than knowing my precious child was 30 minutes away from any of us the other 4 days a week.

(For the sake of anonymity, I'll call him 4-LOM from here on out because he is a HUGE Star Wars fan. I originally wanted to refer to him as Luke- but that wasn't COOL enough- he wanted to be known by a Bounty Hunter's name. The name is appropriate though- considering 4-LOM overrode his original programming.)

I would take 4-LOM to school everyday and walk him to his room in the back of the daycare center. I would stay just long enough to finish a worksheet with him or to play with one of the before school activities and then head off to work. By the end of the school year he would let me leave without trying to follow me or having to be distracted.

Well, 4-LOM did not like school- he did not like the fact that there were kids there; he did not like the fact that they had to take a nap; he did not like having to sit on the floor during circle time- in fact most days he tried to sit in the teachers seat during circle time. When lunch time came around, he would not eat. On the playground he would usually find a spot by himself and play in the sand under a shade tree. Most of all 4-LOM would not talk to anyone.

For what seemed like an eternity he would come home from school and have major meltdowns for about an hour from the stress of going to school.

This was all making me sad.

Its not like he had never been around other kids before, because we had been taking him to church every week since he was in the womb. He didn't really talk or play with other kids at church either. But at first I attributed this mostly to the fact that his dad, being a very large kid himself and this being our only child, would usually stay in the Nursery with him or Sunday School when he was a little older. I on the other hand, because I was certain his Dad was having a little separation anxiety as much as 4-LOM was, would try to do the drop and run thing - because I wanted him to learn it was ok to be away from us.

Anyway, all of this concerned us. We talked to his pediatrician about all of this. He assured us that if 4-LOM was talking at home he would surely grow out of his "shyness". And 4-LOM certainly did talk at home - to certain people. He had a very large vocabulary.

Despite all the social issues going on with what we thought was him adjusting to being in school, 4-LOM was learning new things that Pre-K kids learn- but most of the things he already knew. And it was all good, because that is how it was supposed to be. Right?

That fall it was time for Kindergarten. I drove 4-LOM to school everyday and walked him to his class. I would stay just a few minutes and he would tell me good-bye and everything was fine. I would leave work in enough time to pick him up in the car rider line.

Well, 4-LOM still wouldn't talk to anyone at school. A lot of the other kids made fun of him because he was different. He did make one friend though. My little boy had a friend!!! I was so excited.
I packed his lunch everyday, and he was eating at school too! And the teacher assured me that he was interacting with other kids on the playground.

My little boy was maturing! (sniff, sniff).

His teacher suggested that he may have an anxiety condition called Selective Mutism..again his pediatrician assured us if he was talking at home then he would grow out of it. And boy did he talk at home! Now, I was learning everything there was to know about Hot Wheels AND Dinosaurs from my little boy.

Well, 4-LOM settled into the routine of Kindergarten for the first few weeks, then he began showing his teacher his STUBBORN side. He would refuse to sit in circle time, crumple up worksheets that were given to him, and wander around the room at different times during the day.
"NO!", I thought. This is not supposed to be this way- you see I was a PERFECT student. My child cannot be doing these things.

Well, we gave him a good "talking to" and did all the disciplinary things that "good parents" do.

I came to the conclusion that 4-LOM was afraid of failing at certain things therefore he would not try and that also, if he already knew how to do something then he decided that he was not going to do the busy work.

She suggested starting a Student Support Team so we would have a whole TEAM of intelligent adults to try to figure out ways to get Luke to talk and do all the other things that typical students do. So we did...and all of us together outsmarted him just enough to get him to talk to his teacher- sometimes...

Sometime around January of that year, I was beginning to get all kinds of reports. 4-LOM refused to do _____ (fill in the blank) today in such and such class. I even had the music teacher come out to meet me in the car rider line one day because he refused to participate in something in her class.

All this from a Kindergartner....by this point in the school year, I had come to the realization that it was going to be a very long school career with this precious child of mine!

Some teachers really don't see all the humor in these sort of things. And I am sure if I was dealing with a bunch of kids all day, I, too, would feel the same way. But I had learned years ago that you cannot "make" 4-LOM do anything that he doesn't want to do, and you had to keep on you toes if you even wanted a chance of staying one step ahead of him. And if I couldn't see some humor in raising this child, I don't know what I would have done. After all, I choose to think of things from an eternal perspective. One day he will be grown and all this will be a memory. AND I am only human and can only do my best.

This began my hobby of necessity of reading all kinds of parenting books- especially the ones about strong willed children.

Well, February came around, and that's when my illness started..(that's in itself is a long story for another time)

Anyway, because of my new-found illness, I had to quit my job and quit driving. Well, actually I took a leave of absence from my job - just until I got better...that never happened.

But back to this story.

Now I had to get 4-LOM to ride the bus! He would only agree to be brave enough to ride the bus home from school- not in the mornings.

Mornings were already difficult because getting him ready for school began with 30 minutes of trying to wake the dead, followed by "my breakfast tastes funny, my pants are too tight, this shirt is itchy, my socks have lumps in them, my glasses have a spot on them, and "Mom- you did ____ in the wrong order! You know breakfast comes before getting dressed, but after I watch "x" cartoon." I was too busy trying to get him out the door on time to even notice there was an order!

God forbid if we ran out of the thing he had been eating for breakfast since the first week of Pre-K. Once they changed the flavor ever so slightly- it through the whole morning out of whack because we couldn't move on to the next step without having breakfast.

(Now most of you would think that this is just a spoiled child, I know I did...and I'll be the first to admit that he is spoiled... but it only took me 2 more years to suspect a pattern to a lot of his behaviors... all signs were beginning to point to something on the Austism spectrum, but first I would have to learn about Austism to realize this..)

So anyway, my dear mother-in-law would come over every morning for the rest of the school year to drive me and 4-LOM to school, and I would do my best to walk him to class. But that was too much for me now, so he became brave enough to be dropped off in the car rider line.

Well the end of the school year finally came around and we both survived it. 4-LOM had learned all the things that Kindergartners learn- a lot of which he already knew. But more importantly he had made one friend, was eating lunch, and would talk to his teacher- sometimes...

And everything was good, because that's how it was supposed to be...right?

To be continued....
In case you missed part 1- Accidental Homeschoolers

Part 3- 1st & 2nd Grade
Part 4- 3rd Grade
Part 5
Part 6- 4th Grade

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Why I Love My Kindle

A few years ago I was watching Whoopie on The View. She began talking about this wonderful new device that stored books electronically - called a Kindle. I wanted one! I can't remember how much they cost at first- it seemed to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $300. That was out of my price range for something that was a want- not a need. So I just put the idea of getting one out of my mind, but I never stopped wanting one.

I have neck problems and spend way too much time on my computer, so I'm always looking for something else to replace that "addiction". I love books, and I especially love to read non-fiction.

Earlier this year I began seeing Kindle commercials on TV. So I looked them up again on Amazon. Now that they had been out a while, they were a little more affordable. Still a little much for a want- not a need. But I decided I HAD to have one. Finding out that there are TONS of free books to download to E-readers sealed the deal for me. I used the excuse with my husband that this would be my Birthday/Anniversary/Christmas present.

Now, I'm the type of person who has to research just about everything before I make a decision. Then I have to thoroughly weigh the pro's and con's, and check out all the other options. So, needless to say, I read several reviews about all the different styles of Kindle's and a lot of the other brands of E-readers. Then I even read articles that explained exactly what e-ink is and how it works. After that I read every product review on Amazon about the Kindle. Over the course of several days, I finally made up my mind that the Kindle was the E-reader for me. Mainly I think I decided to go with the Kindle because I just LOVE shopping on Amazon. You can get FREE SHIPPING on just about everything. Some people gravitate to the word CLEARANCE. My word is FREE SHIPPING.

I took the plunge and ordered it. Sometime back in October, my Kindle arrived! I took it out of the box, read the set up instructions, plugged it into my computer to let it charge, and ever so patiently waited for the green light to come on. Finally it was ready. I finally had a Kindle. I was like a kid on Christmas morning!

I spent the first few days just downloading FREE books, and FREE samples of books, and organizing them by category. I felt like that I could just go on forever looking up books and never get to the actual reading part.
Mind you, the majority of the free books are older books, but that doesn't matter to me. I daydreamed about reading all the classics, from biographies, to poetry, and anything else that caught my fancy.

Next, I read some of the owner's manual- on the Kindle. I found out how to send documents to my Kindle, and how to use the experimental web browser.

Now I could Facebook from my Kindle too! The web browser is pretty good for looking things up. Some things come up really tiny, but it does have a zoom feature. Its really good for looking up articles on Wiki sites and stuff like that if you don't want to head on over to the ole computer.

I was also in the process of deciding to homeschool my son around the time my Kindle arrived. That was no decision I was going to take lightly, so imagine how much time I was spending looking up information on the internet about homeschooling. Now, I was able to copy articles from the web to Microsoft word, and then email them to my Kindle to read later in a more comfy spot. How cool was that!!!

So far, I have sent documents of the State Performance Standards, lists of library books, recipes... all sorts of things to my Kindle.

Oh yeah, it also has a built in dictionary, MP3 player, and text to speech for some books. There are also some games that you can download to the Kindle- like word games and Sudoku.

Above all, the best thing about my Kindle is that its all MINE. My dear husband and son just don't understand how cool this little thing is- so they have no interest in using it. I hope to keep it my little secret!

Deciding to Homeschool part 1 "A Strong Willed Child Is Born"

My son and I have recently become what the Homeschooling community calls Accidental Homeschoolers. 

Accidental Homeschoolers are typically families who had not planned to homeschool. Many of these families had children in school but found that it was not working out and as they ran out of traditional school options, started homeschooling.

Not working out...now that has become an understatement in our situation!

Before I get into the thought process of my decision to homeschool, I think I should give a little background on the subject...

Shortly after the turn of this new century I gave birth to a beautiful bouncing 8.8lb boy. He was so healthy and PERFECT in every way.... then we brought him home from the hospital!
It only took a couple of days to realize I had given birth to one of the MOST STUBBORN and INDEPENDENT human beings that had ever been born! I should have known something was up when he "decided" to stay in the womb up until the very day they were going to kick him out through "induced labor".
I am not exaggerating when I tell you he was holding his head up, looking around the morning after he was born. The nurse at the hospital was amazed!
At a few days old he would struggle like he wanted to leap out of my arms and take off walking. I would laugh and tell him he was a newborn and that newborns could not do that!
In fact, he has always acted and talked like he is a little grown up stuck in a child's body.
Now, he may be my first and only child, but he was definitely not the first baby or child I had ever cared for. I had a LOT of previous experience through babysitting as a teen and as an adult. I also had a hand in raising a few nieces and nephews, and teaching children at church during the 12 years my husband and I had been trying to conceive. I'm not trying to sound conceited here, but my husband and I were great with children and they loved us. Having a child of our very own would be a piece of cake..or so I thought!

Little did I know that The Good Lord had decided to give us a child like no other we (and many others) had ever experienced!

Our little bundle of joy, grew, and learned, and grew some more. Each step of the way asserting his independence in the learning process. Teaching him anything would become a challenge because he wanted to learn it HIMSELF! Oh, he would learn things from us, but the second he suspected he was being taught- the shields went up and the resistance began.
(Among other things he has taught himself to swim, ride his bike, ride an electric scooter, play video games, and use the computer.)

Well, time flew by and one day before we knew it, our precious little bundle of joy was old enough to go to school. We debated about whether or not to put him in Pre-K. I had also entertained the idea of homeschool, but decided it would be best for him to be around other kids in addition to the kids at our church. (Since I worked part-time, and my parents had been watching him during my working hours.) I also had decided that just maybe he would let someone besides us teach him things. It turns out he did..mostly...

To Be Continued....

Part 2 - PreK and K
Part 3- 1st & 2nd Grade
Part 4- 3rd Grade
Part 5
Part 6- 4th Grade
Part 7- 5th Grade - The Dramatic Conclusion

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

My First Blog....

About Me...
I am a 40ish Christian, Wife, and Mom of an only child.

I became a Stay-at-Home Mom to my son about 5 yrs ago. Over the course of a few months my body suddenly decided to stop cooperating and I began experiencing a slew of neurological symptoms.I haven't worked at my job- that I loved- since March 2006. Heck, I've hardly left the house since then. I give a new meaning to the word Stay-at-Home Mom.

Medical Doctors couldn't come up with an answer and tried to blame it all on depression and psychosomatic illness - which I emphatically denied and still do. (Not that there is anything wrong with being depressed- its just that I was not depressed then nor am I now.)

Some time after I had given up on MD's I found a wonderful Chiropractor who I see regularly for my neck. She actually listened to me and had an explanation for almost every symptom I was experiencing- WITHOUT me telling her. She keeps me functioning and I don't know what I would do without her. I'm not where I want to be yet, but I'm not as bad as I was when this all began- most days.

But that was then and this is now..so anyway, like the saying goes..it is what it is.

So here it is...my blog.

Oh yeah, if something sounds a like it could be taken literally or sarcastically...go with the latter.
I'm known for being a smarty pants. :)