Thursday, April 6, 2017

Guided Note Taking

This I made from the Social Studies lesson
on the Increase of Spanish Power (no plagiarism was
intended but this one follows fairly close to the lecture) 
James and I continue to grow in our home schooling experience.  I have enjoyed having him home and being more involved in his education and how he learns.  He has limited Executive Functioning skills, like a lot of kids with Autism. One of the main deficits James has is note taking. It is difficult for him to listen to a lecture, organize the information, and write at the same time.  One of the ways I have helped him with this is to listen to the lecture before he does and create "guided notes." These notes take the information and leave spaces for important words to be written in.  This does several things.  First, it removes the problem of a blank page that needs to be filled up with the wise words of the lecturer.  Second, it keeps him focused because he has to follow the lecture more closely.  Third, James remembers the information because he is getting it through many different avenues. I have asked his charter school to contact the company that makes the curriculum to see if this can be part of their program for next year.  Happy Note Taking!!!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Happy Homeschooling!!!

It has been so long since I have sat and blogged but today was just a day that I couldn't not blog. Quick update:  I am now homeschooling James because he had an illness that kept him out of the classroom for 3 weeks.  His charter school offers a home school program so we transferred him and although the first couple of weeks were rocky, we are now in a really great pattern of getting work done before lunch.
This morning, James was taking a quiz in Social Studies on European Exploration in Southeast Asia.  Up popped this question:

James cracked up rhyming Albuquerque with turkey!  He needed several reminders to focus on the task at hand.  He really wanted to take his break and he knew that he needed to finish the practice and quiz before he could do "James stuff." He eventually finished this question and finished the practice and quiz with 100% on both and was able to take his break.
I never thought I would home school either of my kids.  I have always said that I am a much better mum when my kids go to school and I have time alone during the day.  I am finding that with James, I am having fun, well most of the time.  I am relearning 7th grade curriculum and for the most part, James is cooperative.  He has very negative times but I have worked out a plan for that, (we have had several days without "James computer time." Today has been a great day, well so far.
I hope you enjoy this little clip of my silly guy enjoying Social Studies.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Came at the Perfect Time

James is currently studying Meiosis in science and they have gotten to sexual reproduction.  I have been working on a new pamphlet for my website >>click here<<  about him growing up and starting puberty.  It is a very basic little book about how to talk about relationships, girls, boys, puberty, body changes and the dreaded M word.  (if you read the pamphlet you will get it)

Please let me know if there is anything else you might like me to include or research for you and your growing pre-teen.  >>click here<<

Hold on.... It is going to be a wonderful ride into adulthood!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

What Does "No Homework" Really Mean?

I used to LOATHE doing homework with James!  He would tantrum for hours over putting 5 words in ABC order or doing 3 addition problems.  I have requested countless IEPs to discuss homework modification. I have been a strong advocate for teaching kids at school and allowing them to have time to just be kids at home.  I have spent so many years dreading the minute James walked through the door knowing that the next 30 minutes - 4 hours were going to be a living H E double hockey stick time!  Fast forward to August 2016.  I am not sure what happened but time at home supplementing what has been done at school is now a pretty special time.

The following is an actual recap of the class from my son's teacher's website,

"Today, we reviewed percents, decimals and fractions.  It has been a while since we have had a full day without MAP testing, so I wanted to go over the material again.  We will be reviewing this information tomorrow and have a quiz on it by Wednesday. ​NO HOMEWORK" (Thank you Mr. H. I chatted with him briefly when I picked James up today and he said that there is no homework but that doesn't mean James can't study.  Huh... is that going to be the next battle in my house?  I think I will stick to not telling James we are studying and continue what we are doing because it is working.)

Most kids would probably dance a jig when told there was no homework but for James, that doesn't apply.  No homework in our house just means that there is no formal homework but there is Mum work.  We go over vocabulary learned in Science, and currently we are tirelessly going from decimals to percents, percents to fractions, fractions to decimals and every combination that can be done until James doesn't even need to think about the process.  James reads and is read to.  We do about an hour every day after school as soon as he gets home.  It is working because James is doing very well.  

This is the picture I think of
when James does his best
Not every kid with Autism is like James.  But it doesn't matter if your kid is in preschool or high school or a special day class or a regular class with or without supports; every kid can do some kind of Mum work, Dad work, Grandma or Granddad work when the backpack gets dumped in the hall.  It could be learning a new PECS word, hanging their coat up and placing their shoes neatly in the hall, matching colors, sorting silverware, listening to a story and pointing to a picture in a book, memorizing multiplication tables, or unraveling the mysteries of Shakespeare.  EVERY kid on the spectrum is capable of great things!  Just don't be fooled; most but not all, will require additional support from the home team.  

Even if his brain is giving him the silent
treatment, it is often willing to spend
time thinking, learning and becoming
the best student he can be
To be a successful home team takes planning, research, great communication with teachers and other school personnel, and sometimes the patience of Sisyphus. Start small; 2-3 minutes for each subject, and work your way up to 15-20 minutes.  Put it on your child's schedule, (Unless it is on his schedule, James won't do anything without me knowing how unhappy he is about it.) Take many breaks, have finger snacks available, invite a lovey to the table for comfort and settle in.  In the beginning, you child might need a lot of support.  Give them the support they need to answer the questions and feel proud of their accomplishments.  I promise that in time, your child WILL become more independent.  James and I have been working on this plan for many years and we have finally found a place where all I have to do is set the timer and let him go at it.  Sometimes he wants me to correct as he goes, and that little extra support is usually all it takes for him to finish the Mum work in good spirits.  


Sunday, July 17, 2016

WHAT??? A Name???

I have tried really hard to raise my children in a musical home.  They have both taken music lessons and we have just about every live action and animated musical ever made on our DVD shelves.  I have always been a singer and played clarinet from 5th grade through high school.  Growing up, my family went to movies and plays that encouraged my love for Broadway.  
Recently, I have found a wonderful way to encourage active participation while watching some of our favorites.  There is a movie theater not too far from where we live that offers "sing along" versions or some of the greatest musical movies ever made.  We have seen Mamma Mia, The Music Man and last night we got to see Aladdin.  Each time we go we get a "kit." Inside the kit are props to encourage participation.  Favorite one last night at Aladdin... a small packet of crackers that we got to force feed to the person sitting next to us.  For Mamma Mia, fake money we got to throw in the air because that is what people with a lot of money do with it.  Anyway, usually there are about six props for each film.
James has only seen Aladdin on our TV and it isn't a movie that he frequents.  I wasn't sure if he would love it as much as my husband and I do, but I knew it was an experience I needed him to try.  James got surprisingly into the movie, (minus the very loud scenes but my husband's hands over James's ears solved that problem.) The movie got to the scene where Aladdin and Jasmine had been caught after the marketplace scene.  >>click here<< Jasmine was upset at Jafar for (supposedly) carrying out the punishment for "kidnapping the princess."  ("Death... by beheading.") The scene ends with her crying into the thick fur of Rajah's coat, lamenting that she didn't even know the boy's name.  James had been very quiet during this part of the movie.  However, upon hearing that line, he slumped further in his chair and loudly belted out, "REALLY? That is what she is concerned with?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Boy, do I love this kid!!!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

I Guess the Extra Math Practice This Summer is Helping.

½ off sale
James came to me last night just before he was heading off to bed.  
Every night as we put James to bed,
we call Kiefer and he comes trotting 

like a puppy, jumps up on the bed and 
settles in.  I know he is mostly there 
for the fuzzy blanket, but James loves 
this part of his end of the day routine!
"Hey, Mom."
"Do I have a 3 pack?"
"Ah... what?"
"Well, I don't have a 6 pack so do I at least have a 3 pack?"
"Ah... I don't think so."
"Well then... I'm just fat."
Before I could respond with my motherly quip to help with his self-esteem, away he cheerfully went off wishing me a good night and calling his favorite bedtime fellow, Kiefer.  

Just another night in the Laughter House. 

Friday, July 1, 2016

He is Growing up SO Quickly!!!

Okay, I know that I should expect it because my son is twelve, but it took me by surprise this morning. James has had crushes before, the most notable one in the second grade.  During that one, the young lady's parents contacted the teacher and were very unhappy that James had such affection for their daughter, almost to the point of trying to have him moved to another class. Autism or not, I believe it was an appropriate level of attention for a young child trying out love for the first time.  Anyway... fast forward to today.  James has been doing an online camp for beginning coding using Minecraft. He almost immediately really liked another participant, a young lady only identifiable by her Minecraft username. Today was  the final day of the camp and I spent some time before the camp prepping him for this disappointment. >>Pizza Therapy after last Minecraft experience ending<<  He talked himself into having a great time and it was very successful.
Today, the kids got to do pretty much what they wanted to do, and James and this young lady had a wonderful time.  Towards the end of the camp, the counselors invited all of the kids to the dance floor.  James and all the other kids went and when they got there, James gave a poppy to his young friend.  He whispered to me, "Mom, I have a crush on her."  He blushed, his hands went automatically over his face, his hands got clammy, etc. He was experiencing everything that young boys and girls experience when they truly like each other and want to spend a lot of time together.
At the very end, the counselors let the kids write bios and disclose their first names to the other campers. James wrote that he was twelve and entering the seventh grade. He hoped to have fun and have a lot of friends in the coming school year.  He also wrote that he lived in California.  (I had to stop him from giving out our town.)  His young friend wrote that she was eleven and lives on the East Coast.  (She additionally gave her state, but for her protection her name and location won't show up here.)  James got super excited and he started bouncing in his chair saying that she lived close and we could meet with her. I had to tell him that the East and West Coast are on opposite sides of this very large country.  He took it well, asked her to meet him on his personal Minecraft realm and off he ran to meet her in a place that defies all geographic limitations.  I hope she will be taking the game design camp towards the end of July. That would be so fun for James to meet up with her again in a camp.  However, for now, they will be on his realm in Minecraft and giggling.  The time difference may be difficult for them to work around but Minecraft doesn't follow many of the rules we have on this planet we live on, so I guess it won't be too difficult.