The Simple Things

DSC_0060One of the things I love about homeschooling is how every activity becomes a springboard to learning. Whether it be a trip to the aquarium leading to an in-depth look at the creation of in-home aquatic habitats, which is still currently under discussion. No, we cannot keep jellyfish in our pool! Or, a simple family outing for ice cream sparking curiosity about how ice cream is made. There is an abundance of opportunities available, that don’t require a book.

DSC_0072After one such trip out for ice cream, the boys practiced reading a recipe, following measurements and listening to directions in order to make their very own blueberry ice cream.  They were intrigued at how the cream thickened from a liquid into ice cream, as they know it. However, they were not impressed by how much time and work the process took. While they enjoyed the experience and treat, they still prefer to get their ice cream from the store. Oh, well. Perhaps, next week I will show them how to make their own butter!

DSC_0100Whether an outing is the culmination of a learning experience or the start of one, don’t miss the simple opportunities available within your own communities. These real-world experiences are what make education real to our children. These will be the lessons they remember.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Back” to School

“Back” to school is always an exciting time. As a year-round homeschooling family, I find it important to be intentional about making this time of year special for the boys- and mama! Back to school is a way for the children to mark the passage of time and its a time of renewal. For Mr. Man, moving up a number is a big deal. This year is extra special because Monkey officially joins brother in the ranks of “big”. So, how do we make this time special? Of course, I take advantage of the sales and renew our supplies. I go through the children’s clothes and donate all the things that have become too small. We are sure to take the obligatory first-day photo. My husband thinks I am insane, but its a mom thing.

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All summer the boys have been excited to see the ever-growing stack of new curriculum. We’ve made some changes this year and are excited to dig in. We’ve added a lot of reading books to our shelves over the summer and will be doing a lot more notebooking this year. At the moment, The Bad Guys series is one of our favorites. I’ve also added quite a few in the way of non-fiction, including the Who Was/What is? series. I’ve also worked on adding some fun thematic days into our plans and we will be focusing more on Science and Social Studies this year.  We will be trying out the Masterbooks’ curriculum including God’s Design for Life, Math Lessons for a Living Education, My Story, and Language Lessons for a Living Education. Monkey will start out using the curriculum from Lifepac, as well. These are complete changes from the curriculum we did last year and we’ll see which we decide to continue forward with. I did decide to bring A Reason for Handwriting back into the mix because the boys were getting very lazy in that area.

The boys are excited to have their own assignment boards. DSC_0906This helps give Mr. Man a visual and helps him transition between activities. We will also be implementing a new incentive activity that will, hopefully, eliminate some of the whining I hear when I say the word “school”. Since Pokemon is currently THE thing in our house, the boys will be collecting Pokemon eggs. Each egg contains a Pokemon which they can add to their book as they try to “catch them all”. To earn an egg the boys will collect tokens by doing schoolwork without whining and following the newly implemented Family Rules. Tokens will go onto their token boards and can be traded in for a Pokemon egg when they have ten tokens.

The Bean boys are definitely looking forward to new adventures. What do you do to celebrate the beginning of a new school year? What are you most excited for?

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3-2-1 Blastoff!

DSC_0756Summer is coming to an end. It’s hot and we’re burnt out. We school throughout the year but have been pushing to finish a few areas before moving on in August. Curriculum boxes are arriving. We are anxious to start the new and the boys are tired of the (same) old.

Sometimes, you just need an escape day. A day when you mix it up and do something different. Luckily, Mr. Man is flexible enough now to handle this without too many issues. Provided I give him a list of what we are doing.

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Blasting off!

Today’s destination: Outer Space. With the 50th Anniversary of the moon landing, the boys have been asking a lot of questions about the moon and stars. Of course, discussing the sun and temperature is also a daily topic around here. Over 110 degrees and Monkey declares, “We are toast!”

On a recent trip out of town, I picked up several books on the topic and planned a special day to remember why we enjoy homeschooling. The boys were extremely excited to begin our adventure.

The Plan:

  • Read our new space books, together
  • Create notebooking pages for each story
  • Create our own planet
  • Create an alien
  • Watch a space-themed movie (including Planetary Popcorn)

DSC_0739Space day was a hit! The books we read (Moon! Earth’s Best Friend, Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years, Sun! One in a Billion and A Place for Plutowere beyond cute and full of great facts. The humor was enough to keep Mama (and later Dad) enjoying them, as well. Of course, Peppa Pig HAD to be included, too.

I love notebooking and was very excited to see the DSC_0748boys having fun with it, as well. We had tried it in the past and I was a little concerned that it wouldn’t work for us. However, the next day Mr. Man specifically asked to do school that way, again. Success! Mr. Man completed his notebooking page on his own. Monkey is still learning to write, so he dictates to me and I write it down using a highlighter, which he goes back over and traces with his pencil. Then, he adds his own artwork.

 

I had to laugh at the boys’ planets. Mr. Man created a lava planet (so like him!) and Monkey made an ice planet. Typical, that even in their creations they are completely different. I was also excited to see how well Monkey completed this project because he typically balks at any activity that requires him to color.

 

I gave the boys outlines of aliens, so they could design their own creature. I was thoroughly impressed with the muscles on Mr. Man’s alien. Does anyone else see the Thanos resemblance? Monkey was very creative here giving his alien a lot of eyes, polka dots, and spikes.

 

I let the boys choose any space-themed movie that happened to be on Netflix for our afternoon calm down on this day. They chose Planet 51, though they didn’t make it through the entire movie. They did, however, finish off the Planetary Popcorn.

I love seeing my boys be creative. Sadly, this is an area Mama has struggled with this past year. But it is definitely something that we will be focusing more on as we start our new year. We will be doing more science topics this year and will definitely plan on scheduling more themed days, like this, into our routine.

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Melting Crayons in the Desert

It’s summer….it’s Arizona…..and this Mama doesn’t do the heat. This is one of the reasons we continue to school throughout the year. Not the most important reason, but one of them. Keeping our schedule as consistent as possible is extremely important in our world. But we make sure to occasionally incorporate fun learning activities that break up the monotony of hibernating in our AC. This summer, our local mall has opened the new Crayola Experience and I have heard many ask about it. So, I decided to take a moment and let everyone know what we thought about it.

In an attempt to avoid the crowds at a brand new indoor attraction, we decided to go check out the Crayola Experience to celebrate Monkey’s birthday on the 4th of July. I was delighted that our plan worked and we were not overwhelmed by large crowds. VERY important in our world.

What is there to do at the Crayola Experience?

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When you enter, you are given coins which you can use to get modeling doh or create a personalized label to put on a crayon. The boys enjoyed this activity and Mama found the process of putting the labels on the crayon oddly mesmerizing. The rest of the experience is broken into several stations that the children can move between creating various types of art.

  • Be a Star: At this station, you can take your photo and design your own personalized coloring pages. We really enjoyed this activity and brought home several pages for the kids to color later. My only complaint is that once you push the ‘take picture’ button, the camera is quite slow in responding. We all know kids don’t sit for that long! It took several attempts to get a good picture. Though, we did bring home some great outtakes, too.
  • Melt and Mold: DSC_0402 copyHere, the children were each given a crayon and chose a mold to design a ring or racecar crayon. Of course, the boys chose racecars. They would insert their crayon into the machine and watch the crayon melt and fill up the mold. Then, they watched as the crayon was cooled and rehardened. After the activity was complete, they were able to take their racecar with them. The children enjoyed watching the process and I was surprised that they were patient throughout the activity.
  • DSC_0397 copyDrip Art: Like Melt and Mold, the children are given crayons to put into the melting machine. At this station, the crayons are dripped onto spinning paper, similar to the old paint spinners I remember as a child. The outcome is a unique work of art. There is a lever that allows you to control the speed of the spinning and change the effect of the design.
  • Silly Selfies: This station is set up with several iPads and allow the children to create silly faces before taking a selfie to add their image to their creation. Monkey especially liked this station (of course he did!) and kept asking for Mama’s email, to send his pictures to me.
  • Colossal Caddy: This station consists of a giant carousel of crayons with plenty of coloring pages for the young artists to enjoy. A child who enjoys coloring (or one that can sit still) would definitely enjoy spending some time at this station.
  • Rockin’ Paper: At this station, the children got to color (in our case) a frog. The frog is then punched out and given metal clasps on the feet. The Crayola workers will then place your frog on a special stage, add music and watch your frog dance.
  • Meltdown: At this station, you can create artwork using melted crayons in special glue gun style pens. The idea at this station seems like a lot of fun, but we found the pens were often running low on crayons (replaced by workers) and the effect was disappointing.
  • Color Magic: DSC_0408 copyAt this station, you color a picture (dragon, unicorn, fairy, etc.) and then scan it into the computers. Your picture is turned into a digital design. You can choose a background for your creation and email it to yourself.
  • Rainbow Rain: This station was one of the biggest hits. The children stood (or in our case danced)DSC_0450 copy in front of a screen. Their picture was projected in front of them as a rainbow of paint poured down over their heads. The kids spent quite some time enjoying this station.
  • You Design: This station was another one of our favorites. Here you design a car or create clothing for a fashion model. After scanning your creation, you can see your designs come to life on the giant tv screens in front of you.
  • Scribble Square: At this station, the world is a chalkboard and your little ones can go graffiti crazy creating their own world. There is also a giant LiteBrite, next to Scribble Square, for the children to get creative with

DSC_0474 copyThere is also a snack and dessert shop available if you get hungry. We stopped here to enjoys some brownies (who needs birthday cake?) The last activity we enjoyed was a panning for gold type station. Although, this is an added cost activity. You purchase a bag of sand and pan for different types of rocks. Monkey loves rocks, so for his special day, we went ahead and got the kids some sand. This activity was much faster than expected, but they were happy with the treasures they were able to take home.

Is it educational?

There are definitely some educational aspects to the Crayola Experience. For us, any outing that involves interacting with others, waiting in line and following directions is educational! Obviously, this experience is filled with a great deal of art and creativity. I liked how the children had the opportunity to see how crayons are created at the Melt and Mold station. I also liked how the children had the opportunity to see the different ways they can use their creativity to create something bigger than a simple picture. My husband is currently looking for a graphic designer for a project he is working on, so I loved that my children had the opportunity to see how they can take what they create on paper and bring it to life on the screen in a unique way.

 

Is it worth the cost?

This is a question that I have been asked a lot! So, here is my honest opinion. For those with super young children, you can probably go through all the stations in about an hour. Older children and those who enjoy spending more time coloring and creating could definitely spend longer there. At $14.99 a person, this seems a bit steep for this Mama. However, since the location is so convenient for us, the annual pass (at $29.99) is quite reasonable. We can stop in for a little break whenever we are in the area. If Mama needs to do something at the mall, there is something the kids can easily look forward to, as well. Plus, with the annual pass, you get 20% off of food shops and the attached Crayola Store….which can easily be a dangerous place!

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Rainbow Rain

Take away – If you enjoy coloring and are looking for a cool activity to get out of the house this summer, you should definitely check out the Crayola Experience. Both Mr. Man and Monkey said they enjoyed it a lot and want to go again. I was also pleasantly surprised that Mr. Man handled the lights and sounds very well. We did not have a single issue/meltdown and I do not recall any whining…..success!

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Why We Play Games

My family enjoys board gaming. Especially my husband. He works on writing for a local gaming company and has his own blog over at The Eclectic Bean where he reviews board games. So, our children have grown up around the game table. In a time when children are exposed to far more screen time than they need, we find board gaming an important part of our their social development. Human interaction is important, especially in this age of technology. By why else would we find it so beneficial to include games in our homeschool day? There are so many benefits to gaming.

What games teach us…

  • Gaming teaches our children patience. Games require learning to wait and take turns.
  • Games teach cooperation and healthy competition.
  • Games teach us that we don’t always win. Yes, I said it. Not everyone gets a prize, not everyone wins. No, we don’t let our children win (believe me, they win plenty of times, on their own).
  • Games teach a variety of academic skills. Scorekeeping reinforces math concepts and many games require reading and other such academic knowledge.
  • Games teach our children critical thinking, problems solving and logic skills.
  • Games engage our children and grab their attention. They don’t realize they are learning. Shhh!
  • Interacting around the game table gives our children the opportunity to observe and understand social norms.

As you can see, all children can benefit from gaming. But for our Special Needs and ASD children, these benefits are even more important. I have seen amazing growth in Mr. Man’s ability to win/lose gracefully. I have seen him learn empathy. He has the opportunity to practice social skills and learn appropriate social interaction in a real-life environment and he has fun doing it. Yes, I know we can only handle so many rounds of Candy Land and Hi Ho Cherry-O! Therefore, over several blog posts, I will introduce you to a few of our favorites that may be a little less mind-numbing for the adults.

 

Rory’s Story Cubes

We picked up a set of Rory’s Story Cubes to help Mr. Man build language and storytelling 65386702_2448446508568229_815360706051309568_nskills. Each player takes turns rolling nine dice. Each die has six unique pictures on them. The roller will use the pictures to create a story. This is a great game for children who still struggle with competition, winning and losing, since they are not a factor in this game. For Mr. Man, this game helps him plan and order his thoughts. The game may also be altered for younger children by allowing them to roll fewer dice. Both Mr. Man and Monkey enjoy this game and adore listening to Daddy tell stories on his turn. Playing with your children provides them with examples of how to order events and tell oral stories. It is also a wonderful way to build relationships and laugh together.

 

I have found Rory’s Story Cubes to be of excellent quality and there are several themes to choose from. My boys love the Batman version. I plan on using our Story Cubes as a way to springboard into some writing activities, in the future.

Here is an example of one of the stories…..

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“Once upon a time, there was a treasure and the sun comed down. The guy said, ‘Go to the castle.’ And he saw a balloon. He comed to a ladder and the poison comed to the sun. The sun comed up and that was bad!” (Monkey, age 4) As you can see, we are still working on some skills.

 

 

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Interactive Notebooking

Notebooking is an activity I have discovered this year and have fallen in love with. It’s easy, it’s meaningful, and the boys love it. In our homeschool, we use two different styles of notebooking. There is traditional notebooking (which I will blog and link to at a later date) and there are interactive notebooks 65569073_406008366680192_8918714222544683008_nwhich I came across more recently and love! These are hands-on activities put out by Carson Dellosa Education and come in a variety of subjects including math, science, words study, language arts and seasonal. The idea is to have the children complete an interactive activity on one notebook page and then use the next page to show their learning and skill mastery. I have included a few examples of the pages my boys have completed. Why do interactive notebooks work for us? First, my boys love it! When I tell them we are notebooking I get “yays!” instead of the typical moaning about school time (we are still working on this). The activities are fairly quick and easily show me if they have mastered a skill or need more practice. Monkey loves “cutting” and it’s an excellent way to sneak in some extra fine motor practice for Mr. Man. I also love that, after an activity is completed, there is an opportunity for the kids to tap into their own understanding, personalize their work, and become active participants in their own learning. This is also a great way to engage them and get them ready for a more traditional style of notebooking. One of my favorite things about the interactive notebooks is that I can use them with both boys and differentiate the activity to fit their individual needs.

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On this particular day, we were learning about the five senses. I was easily able to alter the activity so one child could focus on labeling the picture and the other on simply identifying the parts.

 

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I would not use these books as my sole curriculum for a given topic for the year, as I do not think the subjects are complete enough to cover an entire course of study, but they are definitely a wonderful add on to other curriculums you may be using. I find them wonderful for the days when plans get changed, mom hasn’t prepared as well as she needed to, or the boys are just extra squirrely and sitting still isn’t an option.

 

65287722_2599907006694184_7786422102990520320_nThis page I loved because I didn’t even know he could read number words! I wrote the numbers, gave him the words and was shocked when he did this independently. What a great skill assessment!

 

 

(This post contains affiliate links, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. However, I never recommend an item unless we use it and love it!)

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Why Did I Think This Would Get Easier?

Why did I think this would get easier as they got older? When they were little and had no language, I remember thinking….When they get older it will be easier. When Mr. Man learns to talk the meltdowns will lessen and things will be easier. When Monkey isn’t a toddler, dealing with Mr. Man’s behaviors will be easier.60002327_10215851453573427_6452811242636574720_o

Well, the behaviors have changed, but is it easier? No. Sadly, no.

It’s been a rough few weeks in our world. We seem to have fallen into a pattern. We have periods when we see amazing growth and progress. Then, we hit a wall. Progress halts, behaviors increase and this Mama finds herself in a dark, low place. This is where I find myself now. Mr. Man has ‘hit a wall’ as we refer to it. He’s older, language is doing amazingly, meltdowns have lessened, but it isn’t easier. It’s just different. Meltdowns have been replaced with attitude, defiance, obsessions, and other exhausting and frustrating behaviors. His deficits are more obvious to those outside our world, and that brings a whole new set of issues to struggle with. Add to this, Monkey has been dealing with his own struggles about which Mama has had to open her eyes and deal with. I 45066103_10214433495645365_5884390132240351232_oknow we will walk through this and come out the other side. I know we will walk through more valleys along the way, too. But for now, I must wrestle, and come to terms, with the fact that it isn’t going to get easier.

Maintaining Mama’s sanity while dealing with mental and neurodevelopmental disorders is HARD. Rest in the valley’s Mamas. Don’t make camp, but rest. Climbing the mountains is hard, the views are worth it! 

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The Battle Before

So, here’s the thing about being a parent of a child with “High Functioning” Autism….

I wish people understood.

I wish they understood the battle. The daily fight that occurs before we arrive at any given place. Then maybe, just maybe, they would be able to understand why I am always on edge and perpetually exhausted. Maybe then they would have a better understanding of why I don’t care (unless it’s mid-summer) where my kids’ shoes are.45077208_10214439990247726_9160495227469824000_o

I get it. My kid can put on a show. We know this. Although, as he gets older it does seem to be more difficult for him to hide because the differences are becoming more apparent. I know when you meet him you see a kid who is quiet, well behaved and excited to be part of the group. I get that it takes getting to know him and spending time with him before you can glimpse into our world. “He’s fine,” you say, as you wonder why I seem overly concerned. “He’s SO good!” You say and wonder about a comment I made about our difficult day. But what most people don’t understand is that in order to get to the moment they see, we’ve already waged full-on battle at home. Let me share an example…

Going to church

His teachers love him. They always do. “He’s so sweet and good!” For this I am glad, I truly am. But usually, after I have battled him, I battle myself and wonder if I should have flown the white flag and stayed home. Was it worth it?

Getting dressed… Just because we’ve worn the shirt 50 times just fine does not mean it’s not going to be itchy, too big, too small or simply the wrong color today. There is no precedence to the crimes committed by clothing. Believe me, if there were rules…I could dance that dance. But there aren’t rules. Don’t even get me started on the evils of socks and shoes.

Then, there is the breakfast battle. It’s not what he eats, but how much. Usually, around third breakfast, he is banned from the kitchen (no joke, I have considered a locking fridge) it’s non-stop and it’s obsessive behavior. By now, we are usually in a ball crying because he has realized my intention is to take him outside of the house. “BUT I DON’T NEED TO BRUSH MY TEETH!” Sorry, $1500 in dental work states otherwise, kid. No deal, negotiations over, the line is drawn.

I am already tired. Not to mention, 4-year-old Monkey with his own temper and opinions has stripped and been reclothed at least four times by now. Throw in some brotherly squabbling, hitting and possibly some biting and we have a fairly typical morning.

Today’s outing (church) is a treat… Spring Festival. Which means today Mr. Man does not need to suffer through the torture that is Worship. He hates this and it would mean certain death if it wasn’t for our ever handy noise canceling headphones– which we managed to misplace the week before (THAT was a bad morning!) The kids get to enjoy bounce houses, face painting, balloon animals and popsicles.

However, this change in routine has confused him and he leaves his class no less than three times to come get me during service. The teachers (who are just outside the door and are still getting to know him) seem confused by my concern that he has interrupted service. It’s not the interruption that concerns me, but that he has left without telling anyone. Yes, he seems like all the other kids for the most part. But, please be aware, when confused he becomes a flight risk.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not upset with the teachers. Most 6-year-olds do not require this level of supervision. However, Mr. Man lacks an understanding of cause and effect. He is impulsive. He does and does not think. He appears to understand directions (but if you gave more than one, he doesn’t) and they are not yet in tune with him. You can see why I am always a bit on edge. Most people aren’t as tuned into him as I am. I think “High Functioning” often causes people to overestimate his understanding and underestimate the need for diligence.

I have now spent the service thinking about morning combat, his flight risk, and the effort it takes to pretend everything is “Great!”

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So yes, I did just go into life-saving action to spare balloon Spiderman from an untimely death by blade of grass.

Nope, I am still not concerned that his shoes are AWOL.

(BTW- I keep extras in the car.)

 

 

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Things We Love…

Okay, Autism Mama’s, let’s be real…. life is crazy! I wanted to take a few moments to share a few items we have found that have made our lives just a little bit easier. Because, anything that can make a struggle a little easier is GOLD!

Noise

Mr. Man struggles with loud noises. Public restrooms are torture. Movie theaters are too loud. A classroom of 30 talking   kids, overwhelming. A screaming younger brother- the worst! Someone suggested we try noise canceling headphones. We got these sport earmuffs and they have been a lifesaver! He now reminds us to bring them and knows to get them from his pack independently when he is getting overwhelmed. They helped him tune out the kids chatter and focus on his teacher’s voice. We can’t go to a movie without them. I have a different pair that folded smaller for portability, but the process to unfold was too complicated and took away his ability to be independent while using them. We love this set!

 

Water Bottles

Water bottles have been a constant struggle for us. We live in Arizona, he needs to bring a water bottle to all activities. However, motor delays make opening most water bottles an issue. If he CAN open the bottles there was always the issue of them breaking with one drop. We drop water bottles… a lot. I needed a more durable material. Water bottles are pricey and I was over them breaking the first time we used them. The other issue was that I had to be able to clean it. If i need to disassemble 20 pieces and use some type of Swiss Army cleaning tool…forget it! I don’t have that kind of time. I look for 4 things when buying water bottles.

  • Durability
  • Mr. Man’s ability to operate it independently
  • Price
  • Ease of cleaning

I came across Contigo Kids Trekker water bottles and love them! They meet all my criteria and both boys love them. My only complaint is that I wish they were a little larger.

 

Bento Style Lunch Boxes

When Mr. Man was in Preschool, I had a problem which I have heard many parents struggle with. I would pack a lunch with a variety of food and I find out teachers were deciding what was appropriate to eat first, last, etc. and would only open (because he wasn’t independent in this skill) certain items. This frustrated him and irritated me. I didn’t pack junk and anything I packed, I wanted him to be able to access. I needed to find a way to give him access and independence. After some searching, I came across the Yumbox. These boxes are great. With the flip of one latch he can access everything I pack. No more overly opinionated teachers dictating his lunch and he no longer depends on others to open all of his food. This became even better when he started Elementary school and he didn’t need to ask for help with his lunch. The boxes are fun and appealing, too. They are also truly leakproof. Yogurt and applesauce…no problem! The containers come apart into 2 pieces for easy cleaning. Note: The outer shell (with silicone for sealing) is NOT dishwasher safe- this will destroy the leakproof seal. I found it best to simply hand wash these with a soft cloth.

 

Pencils

Mr. Man struggles with handwriting. He has a strong grip and pushes hard. We prefer mechanical pencils because pencil sharpeners are either loud or difficult to use. However, his grip is so hard, using a regular mechanical pencil is pretty much impossible. They break more than he is able to write. Then, I found these Handwriting Pencils by PaperMate. The lead is 1.3mm, so it holds up to his intense grip without breaking. Its triangular shape has been wonderful in reminding him how he is to hold a pencil (also, amazing for Monkey who is just learning to write and his hold is awful!) I am so impressed by the improvement in their handwriting since we found these.

 

As you can see, we strive for independence. I can’t always be there to help him and we cannot expect the world to change for him. So, we strive to get him the tools that allow him to be successful and independent. Hopefully, some of the things we love will help make your day just a little bit smoother. Goodness knows, we could all use smoother days!

 

(This post contains affiliate links, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. However, I never recommend an item unless we use it and love it! Any items linked are items that I have been recommending to friends and family long before this blog!)

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What I Learned My First Year Homeschooling…

29064136_10212772547282694_7215172234656523124_oWe have officially been homeschooling for a year now. I see so much growth in the boys and I have learned so much, myself! As I reflect on the past year, I thought I’d share 3 things that I have learned…

  • De-schooling is a real and necessary thing.

I use to hear this term ‘de-schooling’ and I would laugh….that is NOT a thing. Why waste time? Get in a routine and get started. Okay, I am not above admitting that I am wrong from time to time. Okay, I am pretty much wrong most of the time. But here is what I learned about transitioning from traditional school to home. School is hard! It’s even harder on our little ones, and harder yet for those who have struggled. We bring our children home with these lovely visions of magical things in our heads. But our kids….they just see it as home, it’s their safe place. If your child is anything like Mr. Man, then you just brought home a little ball of stress and anxiety. Now, he’s home and starting to relax when, boom, you decide to go all teacher on him. Stress BACK! But now, it’s entered his safe place. I like to think of it as mini-PTSD.

  • Don’t be married to a curriculum.

Yes, I get it..curriculum is expensive. However, please do not feel that if you chose a curriculum, you HAVE to finish it. If its not working, STOP! I am on my fourth math curriculum this year (math is hard) and that is JUST math. *Face Palm* There are many reasons this happened. The biggest reason being that a year ago, I wasn’t in tune with Mr. Man’s learning style. I chose curriculum I liked. Wrong! (Important for sure, but wrong). It is important that both of you enjoy the curriculum and it fits your child’s learning style and needs.  It can take awhile to figure this out. We are getting there, I don’t think we are there yet. But, I feel closer with each step we take. Plus…..shh…I may have a slight love of curriculum and an inability to make decisions. I want them all! I may need to seek help. But really….if something isn’t working, toss it up on ebay and move on! No one has time for that.

  • Focus on what is most important.

I had 3 goals for Mr. Man when we started a year ago.

  1. Spend more time outside.
  2. Learn to read.
  3. Learn addition facts.

I recommend posting these goals somewhere visible. I find that I need a constant reminder to keep myself focused. I often get sidetracked trying to do everything at once. Often, I find that I revert back my classroom teacher way of thinking. I get overwhelmed and my boys mutiny. When I simplify and focus on what is most important, we are all happier. They learn more and I am reminded of WHY we started homeschooling to begin with. I am happy to report that we are reading….voraciously! Our addition facts are coming, it depends on the day. This frustration is another post altogether. One day he knows them, the next it might as well be Greek. Sigh. We have spent more time outside. Not as much as I’d like, but it’s a start. 

I am excited to see what the next year holds for us. Monkey is now joining us at the table and is going to be my math whiz. He’s already shown us that he will keep us on our toes and is going to be a completely different monster than his brother. Aren’t kids fun?

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