Tag Archives: homeschool

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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1 Year (almost) Later….

Wow, I cannot believe it has been almost 1 year! We jumped into homeschooling out of desperation and haven’t looked back. It has been a huge journey/adventure! I was a classroom teacher for many years and started last Spring with on point of view- boy has that changed! Homeschooling is so different from classroom teaching. I have had to make a lot of adjustments to my style and approach. Mr. Man has surprised us all with his growth. When I learned to back off and take more of a Charlotte Mason/Unschooling approach with less pressure, he began to thrive! We also quickly realized that, for him, therapy days = school days and attempting both was NOT happening!

Benefits….

… Mr. Man was able to get 3x the therapy that he got in school. (I say was because we have now traded therapy for a private tutor 2x a week. This was the happy medium we all required to survive the overwhelming stress therapy brought into our lives. In the 45102785_10214439991767764_2496063601765253120_oend, the benefits of therapy did NOT outweigh the stress. Our tutor is amazing and is able to give him one-on-one attention, while giving Mama a break and the ability to give Monkey some much needed….uh, demanded…. attention.)

… We have amazing flexibility! (This alone….worth it!)

… Our house is 100% calmer. (Which is actually quite scary considering it is NOT calm!)

… We actually enjoy our time together. Now, we are the unit we were meant to be.

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Because There is No Instruction Manual…

Why…why do I seem so hesitant to write/post when I know how important it is? To myself and to that mom who might be at the beginning of her journey feeling alone and wondering if there is hope (I have been there). I know it’s important….so why do I find myself consistently failing at it? I’ve come up with a few reasons…..

1. I don’t have the answers! It is so hard to put into words what you are doing and what you are going through when you don’t even know if you are doing the right thing! What is the right thing? I am certain what is right for us isn’t necessarily going to be right for another family. It might be, but more likely it won’t. For that matter, I don’t even know what IS right for us.
2. How do I share our experiences honestly, openly, without overstepping the line to my son’s privacy?

So, among all the other things life has been throwing in front of me the past few months, these are the things I have been struggling with, the things that have kept me from hitting the publish button.

So here’s a little of what I have come up with. There is no manual….there may not even be a right or a wrong! What might be right for one season may change and be the wrong thing the next season….isn’t life great! The point is, my goal, to share our journey and help encourage others who find themselves on their own journey and hopefully something will give them hope, peace and strength to continue finding their way on their journey. Sometimes I can be completely transparent and sometimes I will need to omit details to respect Mr. Man’s privacy. Heaven help me be mindful of this and may my children forgive me when I fail.

Update on Mr. Man.
So, we’ve made a major change to our life this past week and we’ll see how that adventure turns out. Due to several personal family situations we decided to pull Mr. Man out of Kindergarten and finish the 4th quarter at home. Even though I realize the extra amount of work this is going to add to this Mama’s day, I have an amazing sense of calmness and peace now that the decision has been made. We will take some time to give Mr. Man his Spring Break, decompress, adjust to our new daily routine and start fresh in a couple of weeks. 29366491_10212717486826217_3734108845622951936_o

Mr. Man has made some amazing social progress at school and we are extremely happy with this. We loved the school and teachers. For these reasons, I tortured myself debating if we were making the right choice. In the end, logic and a long list of pros made the decision obvious. While I don’t think Mr. Man has a full understanding of what this means, he is thrilled at the idea that he doesn’t have to go back to school.

My first goal is to unlearn some bad habits and behaviors that have entered our lives this year, and find my happy boy. My second goal is to finish the year focusing in on a few specific, foundational academic areas that Mr. Man is still struggling with. Wish me luck!

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