Archive for February, 2013

At the end of this month, we will half way through our 2nd semester of homeschool. In planning out the rest of the current semester, I am thrilled to find that if we stay on our current schedule, this year’s school term will end on June 4th. Of course, that is thrilling news for me. It means that they will have nearly the entire summer for a break. Looks like a lot of trips to the lake or water park in our summer this year!

As I think back on this school term, I am humbled at the growth that both children have made. Each has blossomed in their own way. Little Miss is becoming more independent in her studies. Where I needed to direct her and keep her focused in the beginning, she now is able to work through her work folders and stay on task much more effectively. I give much credit to the workbox system for this. It has allowed her to learn the important skill of time management and self discipline. Her reading has become more fluid. A highlight for us was when she read a scripture passage during my husband’s and my wedding vow renewal ceremony on Feb 17th. She did very well and we couldn’t have been more proud of her. It took great courage for her to stand up and read the passage in front of everyone. Geography has quickly become her favorite subject. Her Daddy is especially happy to know this. As a truck driver, he has often had to train new drivers and teach them basic US geography along the way. At the beginning of the 2nd semester, Little Miss began doing more notebooking as a part of her studies. Next term, the curriculum will include notebooking in several of her class subjects. By incorporating it now, she will be developing the habit as well as having more work to show her Daddy when he is home from the road. So far, she enjoys notebooking. It gives her a creative break in between her subjects.

Pookie has shown much effort in his schooling. We are still working at a preschool to Pre-K level with him. Some days go easier than others, but even on his worst day, I can usually encourage him to do at least a little school work. At the beginning of the term, he required much assistance to complete his fine motor tasks. Now, I am able to start backing away from some of the activities and he will finish it on his own. Some tasks can be a challenge, such as getting him to write when he isn’t in a mood for it. I stand firm with him and he usually will do the assignment without much fuss. I think that is one of the hurdles that we face with him. He becomes focused on what he wants to do, but has to learn to do his school work also. I often see glimpses of a stubbornness in him, but like with all children, it has to be eased so that he can progress. Even a typical child has their stubborn moments that has to be curbed. I always enjoy those times when I can recognize in him a behavior trait that a typical child would demonstrate. We are so blessed that not all traits that he displays are autism related! It is refreshing to manage a “terrible two’s” moment or a stubborn attitude. It proves to us each and every day that there is so much more to him than his autism diagnosis. We already knew that, of course, but it is always nice to see it happen.

We have already planned out our curriculum for next term. I am really excited about the materials we will be purchasing. We will be using Heart of Dakota for both children again. This year will be the last time I end up buying 2 full curriculum packages. The kids are close enough in age that after Pookie finished the next level of curriculum, he will start using the books that Little Miss has already used. The only materials I will have to buy for Pookie are the consumables such as math workbooks and notebooking pages. A portion of Little Miss’ curricula will also come from Keepers of the Faith. I will write about our curriculum choices for next term in a future blog after I have had a chance to review them.

Over the school year, the kids have been working on their Keepers of the Faith programs. Little Miss, as of her birthday in 2 weeks, is doing the Keepers of the Home for young girls ages 7-13 years. Pookie is working on the Little Contenders of the Faith program for boys ages 4-6
years. Both programs contain awards that can be earned not only for academics but arts & crafts, outdoor skills, and much more. Both children have earned awards already. It was a really proud moment when Pookie got his first award last autumn for completing a unit study on the Creation Bible story. Little Miss earned some awards also, but more than being happy to receive her award pins, she celebrated Pookie earning his first one. It was a very humbling moment for us all to watch.

Now that we are fast approaching the 2nd half of the school term, I am beginning to plan out the end of the year celebration. We love to make a big deal out of the achievements that the kids have made. So, with that in mind, I am saving any awards that they earn for a special dinner that we will have after their last day of the term. Maybe a BBQ at the lake or a special dinner out? I am not sure yet, I only know that I want it to be something that is sure to celebrate them and all the hard work they have done this year.

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As we teach our son, I am becoming very familiar with the prevalent attitude of what is expected for him.  As I has mentioned before, the majority of cases of autism are moderate to high functioning. Society’s expectations seem to focus on the idea that ALL autistics are able to perform at these levels.  Nearly everyone can relate a story about an exceptional autistic person who is a genius or a protege in one area or another.  While I do agree that every parent feels that their child has talents, not every autistic child is a savant, genius, or gifted protege.

In our family, our son is treated as a child of his chronological age in most areas.  Of course there are certain situations where we do accommodate for his delays.  In most situations though, we expect him to behave as we would a typical child.  We know our son well enough to tell the difference from an autism related meltdown from stimuli and a child who is simply having a tantrum.  There is a definite difference between the two and we handle each situation appropriately as they happen to arise.  We do not and will not ever allow our son to use his autism as an excuse for bad behavior or doing work below his ability.

There are times that we do have to make allowances.  One example is that it is very difficult for him to write his letters.  Holding a pencil, crayon, or marker is very challenging for our son.  He lacks the ability to grip a writing tool well enough to write without assistance.  He also finds writing lower case letters more difficult than upper case.  This is one area where we do make allowances.  Is it truly necessary for him to be required to write in lower case?  Isn’t it more important that he be able to write in any way that he can?  For now, he is doing upper case only.  We try the lower case, but do not demand it.  I am sure that many parents would not agree with this but that is fine.  Each parent has to focus on what is best for their own child.  It is more important that our son can write than that he can write in various forms.

It is very easy for other parents to share their opinions of what he should be learning and when.  Many have the opinion that the amount of learning and skill development that he demonstrates should be equal to that of a higher functioning or a typical child.  Maybe not at his chronological age level, but at a level as close to it as possible.  Some even express the idea that he should be medicated so he doesn’t act autistic.  News flash! My son IS autistic.

Medicating him will not get rid of his autism.  Why should he be medicated to simply make him more “socially acceptable” to others?  I can think of far worse social behaviors than for my son to flap his hands or walk in small circles.  Why is it so important to outsiders that an autistic child not look autistic?  Are they really wanting the child to appear like others for the child’s sake or their own?  I believe that my son has no concern for how others’ see him.  If he were to develop that level of self-awareness, it would be a giant leap forward.  If it disturbs anyone to see him flap his hands, that is THEIR problem, not his.

I don’t expect society’s version of perfection for our children – autistic or not.  They are already perfect in God’s eyes.  He created them and allowed them to be as they are for a purpose.  Who knows?  Maybe our son’s autism is a lesson for those who meet him.  Maybe a lesson in how to have the same type of unconditional love and acceptance for others that the Lord has for each of us.

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I have found that Little Miss and Pookie are doing well in their homeschooling but there was one area lacking.  Do the the amount of hands-on and reading in their curriculum, there was very little to show Daddy when he is home from the truck.  The answer — Notebooking!  Tucking a notebooking page into her workbox file is easy.  I am gradually building up a supply of a variety of notebooking page designs for her to choose from.

It takes a bit of planning, but I am finding it to be easy to plan out notebooking activities.  I look at the week’s assignments and find ways to make it a notebooking page.  One example is the grammar assignments.  In one lesson, there were about 5 simple sentences that I was to discuss with Little Miss.  She was to tell me what the subject of the sentences were.  Instead of doing this orally, I typed up the sentences on the laptop and printed them out as a worksheet.  At the end of a reading assignment in her history reader, there are usually questions to discuss.  Again, this is turned into a worksheet.  I added maps that I have found online to show where the historical events took place.

For her free reading, she chose to do the Little House books.  On Homeschool Share, you can find free unit studies for each of the Little House books.  We are doing these.  They take up quite a lot of space in her notebook binder, so I bind them with my comb binder.   I keep track of her free reading books on a reading log.

When I was doing a web search for notebooking ideas, I found free printable covers for the various subjects at the Crafty Classroom.  She has other free printables available also.  These work great for Little Miss.  Each week, she has assignments in the binder to show her work and give Daddy an opportunity to go over her work with her.

More free notebooking printables can be found at:

Notebooking Pages has a free membership that allows you to access free printables

The Notebooking Fairy has a large selection of printables

Homeschool Helper

Jimmie’s Collage has a list of links for a variety of school subjects and includes links to posts describing how to do notebooking.

That Resource Site has a large number of printables available both for notebooking as well as other homeschooling projects.

Activity Village is one of my favorite “go to” sites.  When you go to the website, type notebooking in the search field.  You will get pages upon pages of link to their site for free printable noteboooking pages on a large variety of topics.

Contented at Home is a homeschooling blog.  Type notebooking in the search field and you will find the notebooking pages available in the blog.  Some topics are Bible related while others are not.

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