Learning That Looks Different

I can imagine that to outsiders looking in, my Instagram feed looks strange.  What we consider homeschooling doesn’t look like schooling at all.  Where are the text books? Where are the worksheets?  And how is going to the gun range “schooling” at all?

The whole gun range rant is for another post.

But in essence, the truth is: If I wanted to recreate “school” at home I may as well send them to school and save me the trouble.

If “school” was producing such great results, with amazing prodigies in science, sports, and art, our education would rank higher than that of other countries, and our college graduates a much more formidable force in the competitive labor market across the world.  But it doesn’t.

I’m not saying that there aren’t children who do absolutely amazing in public school – because there are.  However, I would argue that succeeding at Public School is not necessarily equivalent with being a successful individual.

So in my personal experience, I need to determine what would my child look like as a successful individual, and work my way backwards from there.  And here is my flow chart:

  1. Being uninhibited in kindness and compassion is a big priority for my children.  They are very tenderhearted, and I don’t want them to be “toughened up” by bullying.  I don’t want them to learn through peer influence and unsupervised socialization to be callous, or rude.  As a result, at this time public school is not the best choice for them.
  2. My kids are argumentative and struggle with submitting to authority.  There is (believe it or  not) a benefit to this: they don’t accept any information at face value.  Everything is questioned, researched, debated… from a history lesson to the chore of washing dishes.  If I want the learning to be meaningful, they would benefit best from a Socratic approach to learning.  And that’s just not a style of learning in most public or private schools.
  3. Creativity helps my children de-stress.  It’s also how they express themselves.  I’m sure there may be a charter school that would allow them to turn in their report in Manga form *somewhere*, but I haven’t found it.
  4. There are learning disabilities to consider!  My kids aren’t behind as a result of ADHD but I also know that the way I work with them at home has helped them to not be handicapped by this condition.  They can stand on their heads, pace back and forth, bounce a ball, and overall wiggle their way through all their learning assignments without being reprimanded for the inconvenience it would cause to the class.  Homeschooling for the win!
  5. A strong family unit is by far the most influential and beneficial factor I could give my children.  I don’t know whether they’ll be doctors or game programmers, but I know that they will grow up and be in relationships, get married and have children of their own (possibly).  And regardless of what they do as a profession, they need to learn how to love their children and their spouses.  Research shows they learn that from experiencing it at home, and I don’t think a few hours around the dinner table is enough.

Am I a helicopter parent? A little bit.  But there is science to back up that a happy heart leads to a smarter mind.  Looking at each child as a unique individual and helping them feel joyful means that they will retain more of what they learn and *gasp* develop a LOVE for learning.  Not learning for passing the test sake.  Not learning for passing the class sake.  Learning because knowledge is worth acquiring.

This is why homeschooling looks different in every home, and it varies within the home from school year to school year.  It’s fluid and organic as the students themselves.  And it will provide very different results from what you might have experienced in other children.  That’s the point.

Raising Accountable Kids

I shared on my Instagram that I was super happy to have set up the Accountable Kids system in our home, and my friend Mrs. Lo Tanner challenged me to explain more on my blog, so here it goes.

Disclaimer: I’m not an Accountable Kid representative or affiliate.  Please follow the link to their site for more info!  I will not receive a dime if you click on the link.  I was also not paid to give my opinion.  I purchased this program out of my own pocket and this is just my honest review.  My blog post is not to be considered as a statement from the company.

But if you are like me, you can easily find yourself in this circle of repetition that wears us moms down to the bone.  How much time have you physically spent reminding kids to do what doesn’t come naturally?

If you have a child with ADHD you understand me.  It’s not laziness or unwillingness.  They just sincerely can’t remember a series of instructions over the course of the day.

CalebI read a couple of books on ADHD and, as far as discipline goes, the suggestion was not to “engage in battle” or “lecture” the child (as it just builds frustration and can be ineffective) but instead to develop habits through positive reinforcement and natural consequences.

That is why this program works well for my family! We brought it home and watched the video.  As a family.  My kids were excited to do this!  My youngest (who has ADHD) said, “Mom this is a perfect way for me to remember all the things I have to do in a day!”

In the most basic description I can give, the program sets up chores on tickets they flip once completed.  They get rewards in “tickets” for the chores they do – in my house, they can earn a ticket for completing all their morning chores, day time chores, and evening chores.  I basically go through their flipped tickets and see if they did everything they were supposed to in the time frame alloted.  Tickets are then used in exchange for rewards or privileges.

AnakinOur family decided to use tickets on everything electronic (Family TV time, computers, xbox, pads, etc) and  activities outside the house.  So each ticket is 15 minutes and they need to have 3 tickets before they’re allowed to turn something on.  If they want more time, they can choose not to spend tickets one day (not turn on an electronic device) to use another day.

The chores are very simple.  They have cards that say, “Brush your teeth”, “Take vitamins”, “make your bed”.  They also have chores like, “Dishes”, “Mop”, and “pet care”.  My kinesthetic learners don’t have to rely on memory for EVERYTHING.  They go to their board, read the task, do the task, then flip to the “Finished” peg.  In doing so I have eliminated HOURS of asking them to do things.

BrielleIt’s also effective because it doesn’t take away their volition; they can choose to not make their bed… then they don’t earn the ticket… then they have to go sit in their room while the rest of the family watches “The Flash”.  The natural consequence of the system has lifted discipline off my shoulders too.

Why would you spend money on this instead of setting up a chore chart?

  • Chore charts are visual. My kids are kinesthetic learners.
  • Chore charts show you the day or the week.  That is visually overwhelming and distracting for children with ADHD.  They only need to worry about one task at hand.
  • Chore charts leaves me entirely responsible for providing the consequences of success or failure.  With Accountable Kids, that responsibility falls entirely on THEIR hands!
  • Chore charts don’t provide a tangible and immediate reward for success.  These tickets provide that satisfaction even if they can’t “spend” that reward immediately.
  • Chore charts have to be consistently followed through to be effective.  Accountable Kids makes that easier on the parent.
  •  A Chore Chart is a list of things to do (how much do we like those as adults?), Accountable Kids helps my kids feel successful and in control.

I would say its a great program for any family and any child.  It is definitely worth reading their book on it!  If your parenting heart is like mine, we want to raise children  who are responsible for their actions.  We want them to take ownership of their contributions to our family so that as they mature, they’ll contribute to society! To that end, every family can strive to raise accountable kids.

 

 

The Creative In The ADHD Brain

Anakin typing

Confession: I have been guilty (along with a list of teachers and coaches) of accusing my child of either being lazy or sabotaging his opportunities.  A lot more before I understood what it means that my oldest has ADHD, and thankfully a lot less now that I understand the balance between his attention and his distractibility.

I don’t think we give these children (and adults) enough credit.  Yes it’s hard for them to engage in some things at the same level as other “normal” children – either gazing out the window absent-mindedly or cutting off their peers every five minutes – but their brains don’t just stop there!  There is something amazing on the other side of this disability and it’s their God-given, creative genious!  When they reach that sweet spot, man can they take off!

DifferentI strongly recommend you pick up the book “Different” by Sally Clarkson and Nathan Clarkson. [Disclaimer: This is not an affiliate link, it’s my honest mom’s recommendation.] Nathan was diagnosed with ADHD, ODD, and OCD – making him a very different child growing up.  Now he’s used his talents to create movies like “Confessions of a Prodigal Son” and he acted in “The Purge”.  His adult life now is the result of Sally Clarkson’s labor of love, and raising an ADHD child to reach his “sweet spot”.

I’ll share about my younger son in another post, but I wanted to highlight something amazing about my oldest, Anakin.  We’ve always struggled with writing assignments, although he’s advanced for his age, because of the work it took to get him to sit still and focus long enough to write a book report/essay/story that made sense.  And then something was unlocked in him that has him taking off, publishing e-books [Anakin does receive a percentage of the purchases from this link, so it’s as close to an affiliate link as I have], illustrating his own cartoons and writing like crazy; he found a passion for history.

Anakin and Caleb reading

He says history is his favorite subject and he wants to become a writer.  He says things like, “Now that I’ve read the book ‘Unbroken’ I’d like to see how Angelina Jolie directed the movie based on his life.”  His passion – at the young age of 10.5 – is to write fiction stories in historical context so you learn about history without the rote work of memorization.

Confession: History was MY WORST SUBJECT EVER.  And then came math.

Now I can’t make him just write a “paragraph” on anything, as you can see in his assignment on The Silk Road of the Middle East.  The instructions were to write a paragraph or short story on what it would be like to trade along The Silk Road. And here comes Anakin, 809 words later, he has created quite the plot – with developed charaters, dialogue, and within the historical context of the times.  One I’m happy to share with you (for free) because my son wants to know if it’s readable enough for younger children to stay captivated – in the hopes of developing it into a children’s book, complete with illustrations.  Y’all let me know!

The Life of a Silk Road Trader

 

Old Goku

Original Artwork by Anakin Hass, “What would Goku look like when he’s finally old?” based off the Dragonball Anime universe.

The point is, successful adults with disabilities are those that are able to major on their strengths.  The key to raising successful adults, then, is to be parents who let children major on their strengths! If you would’ve asked me last year if Anakin was a good writer I would’ve answered with a, “Eh…” and a half smile.  And I would’ve been wrong.  I missed his gift because he just had not found anything he was passionate enough to write.

 

I want to encourage you, from one mom to another – whether you homeschool or not – to give your children the space and time they need to pursue their passions.  Even if it doesn’t look like the things you are passionate about! We are raising world changers.  I believe, prophetically, that the battles to be won will be fought by those who stand their ground at the intersection of a Kingdom Need and a Heart-Filled Talent.  This intersection will be their posts as adults, and we need to shepherd them in that direction.

Have you ever been surprised by something you didn’t think you could do, but you did very well?  How did that experience impact your perspective on life?

You Might Be a Mom If…

Confession: I dropped off the kids at gymnastics camp and ran an errand at Walgreens. An attendant asked me if I was doing OK and I replied with, “We are.” I was entirely, obviously by myself. True story.

So here I am at home, with 3 hours to myself. I could catch up on laundry, make phone calls, and get ahead on the Zumba or Spanish classes I teach. More than likely I’ll read a book and take a nap.

But the whole drive home I thought of all these different mom-isms I put myself through (aside from sounding schizophrenic):

10) I spend most of my time getting ready to go out just arguing with a smaller version of myself about proper hygiene.

9) I’m so used to eating meals standing up that I almost do this at restaurants too.

8) A nap is a treat – sexier than chocolate or roses. And coffee is a mom’s best friend.

7) A “bad day” is characterized by adding Bailey’s Irish Cream to my coffee.

6) I can spin the whole “no one listens to me until either I’m raving mad and screaming or crap hits the fan” monologue into ANY situation. It could be as benign as, and “Hun, we need to replace a light bulb”, to “Caleb has cat litter in his eye”. That speech applies every time.

5) I clean everywhere I go. I help waitresses, Walmart staff… If there’s anything I can wipe down every where I do it, not because I care, but because it’s such a repetitive motion for me I do it on auto-pilot.

4) I have smiled and encouraged my youngest to show me how he can play that High C on his recorder even though I was fighting a migraine.

3) I drive a van, wear leggings and a hoodie, and don’t match socks.

2) In true “Momma Bear” fashion, I can go from “perfect example of proper manners” to “Tasmanian Devil from Detroit” in 0.2 seconds if you mess with my kids.

1) I’m the sole undefeated champion of the “does this belong here” game. No one in my home can put things back where they came from better than me!

If you have any mom-isms please share them below! Otherwise laugh, grab a second cup of coffee and enjoy reading a few more blog posts. Thanks always for stopping by.

Healthy Moms Pray

“An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy” Spanish Proverb

Confession: I am fasting my personal Facebook Newsfeed in exchange for more prayer time and less politics.

And I have learned that, in order to maintain myself at my healthiest, I have to pray – regularly and often.  It’s not that there’s anything magical about prayer (although there is a supernatural element), it’s just that momhood is by far the most difficult thing we’ll ever do.

For all the mom-bashing and blogs on both sides of any fence, there is no manual or instruction book.  Really.  Every child is a unique combination of DNA and experiences that even within ONE household, how you parent one child may not necessarily work for the next one!

Fortunately we DO have guidance! And it’s found in God’s Word.  I cannot think of a verse to answer whether you should eat glutten free or vaccinate.  Free range versus helicopter mom? Who knows?! But the Bible gives us foundational wisdom that helps us to check our attitudes at the very depths of our being, in order to make every decision for each and every child with our hearts and minds in the very best place.

For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12 HCSB

I’ve often shared that balance is the key to health and fitness.  And a healthy body cannot even be reached if your soul and your relationships are off kilter.

This is why I love Doorposts.  I’m not an affiliate with them but I have used some of their material.  I received a piece for free in exchange for a review on my blog.

I came to know about Doorposts through my Faith Homeschool Co-Op.  We have catalogs and a Mommy library, from which I borrowed some of their materials and used it for my own personal Bible Study and Devotion.

The first resource I used from them was “30 Days in Colossians 3“.  I have never devoted so much time to one chapter.  I have never done so much high lighting and notes.  But it was mind-transforming!  What I learned from this chapter planted a seed in my heart that transformed my attitude and my disposition towards my kids.  As you may already know, I homeschool, so we get on each other’s nerves during the day.  Maintaining a God-honoring attitude that allowed me to have a pleasant day with three kids AND not dive into a tub of ice cream AND set aside some time to exercise is not always easy, but it is doable if the foundation of your day – your attitude – is in the right place!

Next, they sent me a free sample of their “Love Is…” Chart and Bible Study for the family.  It goes over 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 in detail.  It was DEEP!  Like, we’re still working through it and revisiting deep.

Every fragment of that verse is broken up into key points to learn about God’s character, how Jesus showed us this character trait, and what the Bible expects of us as His believers.  So if you wonder how we are still working through those three verses, it’s because every day we read about 50 verses from all over Scripture!

I also love their action points – I used them as journal entries – that got the kids thinking about how to apply it to their lives.

And when we had incidents where the kids were less than loving, there is a chart above our fish tank (crooked, I know) that we went back to in order to discuss the disciplinary issue at hand.

Many moms know that it’s difficult to carve out the time for our personal discipleship without neglecting the kids, and much like when I exercise, I try to have the kids join me in my Bible studies so that we proverbially kill two birds with one stone.  I need to study God’s Word, and they do too, might as well do it together.  Doorpost’s resources are designed to make THIS work!  They are for the homeschooling Mom who may read a small devotional in the kitchen over coffee or may have to do it while rocking a sick baby over one shoulder, or with the kiddos around you during “circle time”.  I have yet to meet a Christian publishing company that “gets it” quite like Doorpost.

Next I’m looking at the Busy Mom’s 30 Day Guide through 1 Corinthians 13.  I personally love their mom devotionals more than anything.  You can really soak it in!

The key point is, to be at our healthiest as Moms, we need to be moms who pray.  Prayer is a two-way communication with God where we talk to Him and (let’s not forget this crucial part) God talks to us through His Word.

My fitness journey began with prayer.  I had to get my heart and mind centered on the right things.  I needed to clear myself of a lot of lies.  I also needed supernatural intervention in a lot of outside areas so that I could make it.  If you want to wait for your kids, your body, your schedule, your finances, your home, your marriage and your work to just “fall into place” harmoniously before you start taking ownership of your health… Well… You will probably be sitting there a LONG time.

#Prayer gives us the courage to live with a #noexcuses attitude in regards to our #health

How do I incorporate prayer in to my diet and exercise all the while juggling all my other responsibilities as a mother? Here’s what I pray for:

  • I ask God to give me the strength to do what is important even when I’m tired.
  • I memorize Scripture to recite while I’m at a difficult point in the exercise and I want to quit.
  • I turn to worship music to fill my soul when I’m tempted to open the fridge door for comfort.
  • I drink water while I read my Bible.
  • I give to the Lord the priorities of the day, and ask Him to help the children and I cooperate so that we get the important things done.
  • I make exercise a God-honoring, important thing – right up there after reading my Bible and praying every day.

So go check Doorposts out, and take a peek at their resources.  And pray!  The beautiful thing is, the Bible says we serve a God whom we can approach confidently or boldly.  He invites us to the throne of grace for us to present our needs to Him.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time,[a] casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you. – 1 Peter 5:6-8 HCSB