Tuesday, March 26, 2013

It's Purple Day!

Wear your purple today to support those with epilepsy and to promote awareness of seizure disorders! We'll be wearing our purple today to support my son, Austin!

Thank you!!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Finally...

Last week I was reading a chapter from one of the books we're studying for Government - Are You Liberal, Conservative, or Confused? by Richard Maybury.

As usual, when I finish reading the chapter, I pause and give everyone a moment for reflection. (Actually it's more like 60 seconds... and yes, I usually count it in my head! LOL Remember that kids on the spectrum require extra processing time!) Usually, I get blank looks. Or someone will say, "Can we go now?" Most of the time, I start giving my own narration, "That part about ______ got me thinking." or "I never really thought of _____ that way before."

But this day, something unusual happened.

As soon as I was finished, Austin said, "I think I see his point of view." and then he continued to add a few more comments.

THEN, Riley replied, "But I disagree." and she continued to add a few more comments.

It went back and forth like that for a few minutes. (It seemed like a lot longer than it actually was, I'm sure...)

Then Austin said, "I see what you mean, Riley."

Then they both looked at me and I was in such shock and awe that I had nothing to add.

Finally! A real, live discussion over a school topic! And it only took 11 years!



Thursday, March 21, 2013

More about the upcoming high schooler...

I mentioned in my last post that Riley and I have started discussions on her future plans, and naturally that turned to her future in homeschooling. I've not tried to hide that it's been a challenge to homeschool her for the last few years (middle school), and while it has gotten much, much better this last year, it's still been a struggle.

She is a very different person than I am, or than her siblings are. She takes after her dad, without a doubt, but she is first and foremost her own person. She craves busy-ness! She loves to go from one thing to another and have a lot on her plate. She and I constantly argue about her school work because she will wait until the very last minute and then rush around to get things done - that's how she works best. She loves being busy!

Being busy, unfortunately, does not mesh with our RDI philosophy. "Slow it down" is one of the first things you are taught in RDI parent training. Autistic kids needs it. I think in general MOST people need it. Riley is not one of those people. She is bored at home. She told me that flat-out last week. But she doesn't want to go to full-time school, either. What she wants is to do what several of her friends are doing, which is a hybrid form of homeschooling where they go to classes a couple of days a week and work on assignments at home the rest of the time. These are pretty pricey programs, however, and they are simply not in our budget.

We did discuss the public school high school option. Her first reaction was "NO!" but I suggested that we make an appointment with the guidance counselor and take a tour of the school. We are not obligated in any way by doing this, but it might be nice for both of us to see what they have to offer. We may find out that it's not what either of us wants, or we might be surprised to see that it's a good match for Riley. She doesn't like the idea of getting up in the morning at 5:30, spending all day at school, coming home around 3 and doing homework before spending 2-3 hours a night at dance, coming home to shower and get to bed to do it all again. But it would definitely keep her busy!

A few years ago, I wouldn't have even given public school high school a moment's thought in my brain for her. But she has shown me with some decisions in recent months that she isn't as much of a follower as she used to be. She is thinking deeply and critically about things and making decisions based on her faith, her character, and her knowledge of right and wrong.

Would I be happy for her to go away to school? No. The hybrid option would definitely be the best thing for us, if we could afford it. But I have to acknowledge that I may not be able to give her what she needs at home. And I don't want to hold her back from what she wants to do strictly out of a bias towards homeschooling in general.

If I am supposed to continue to homeschool her, then I have no doubt in my mind that God will shut those doors and provide us with whatever we need for her high school years and to prepare her for her future life. But if He is leading us to put her into school, then I am not going to fight against it. I am simply praying that I follow His lead and remain sensitive and open to his directions. And I hope that you will all pray for me (and for Riley) in that same way!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Already thinking 2013-2014?

Spring is in the air! The bradford pear trees are starting to blossom here in Georgia, and homeschooling parents throughout the state turn their attention to next school year! LOL After all, it's so much nicer to think about a fresh start with a new school year than it is to continue to drudge on through a year that is close to being over but not close enough so that you can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

The first important item that I've got to consider is the PSAT for Austin. He will be in 11th grade next year and it's time for him to take this first important step towards college admissions. Now, we aren't certain if college is in his future plans at this time (at least, not in the traditional, 4 year university sense), but I would rather he have these tests taken in high school so he has them if he needs them! The PSAT is offered only one time per year, in the fall. The testing is done at local high schools and a homeschooling friend of mine told me which school allowed her daughter to test with them when she took it a few years ago, so I will contact that school.

In preparation for the PSAT, I need to look into getting Austin accommodations for his special needs. The deadline is in August, so I have plenty of time. There aren't any direct instructions for homeschoolers, at least not that I see, so I will have to contact the college board and ask for assistance. I will be sure to document my experience so that it can hopefully help someone else.

Another preparation step I am taking is to sign Austin up for a group testing experience - in this case, the ITBS, since it's offered easily for groups of homeschoolers. Austin has done the ITBS before (as well as many other tests for his LDs) but he has always been alone. For the PSAT, especially if he is denied accommmodations, he will need to be able to handle the distractions of people being around him making noises (shuffling papers, tapping fingers, even just breath or pencil sounds). He will also have to adjust to being still for a long period of time. He uses motion to self-regulate so this will probably be his biggest challenge. But I have no doubt he can handle it, with some advanced preparation!

I am also going to have Austin take his first outside class next year! In Georgia we are fortunate to have many programs for homeschoolers to take group classes for a fee, but many of these programs list stringent academic requirements or the student will be put on "academic probation." I do not want that sort of pressure for Austin, especially for his first class experience. Luckily, the lady that did some testing for us a few years ago (former homeschool mom and Georgia homeschooling advocate) offers classes in her home! Austin has chosen a Speech/Debate class (surprising!!) and I have contacted her to see if she feels her class would still be appropriate for him!

Riley will be a high schooler next year as well, and she and I have been having discussions about her future as well. But that is a topic that requires a post of its own... maybe this evening or over the weekend!

For now... it's time to work on THIS year's work again! ;)

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Rebooting

Wow, 2 months since my last blog post. I can't blame this on the kitty, though. However, since I did mention the kitty, how about a more recent picture of his adorable self:

He has really adapted to family life quite well, and as you can see in this picture of him sitting on Reece's lap, he really likes to be a part of whatever we're doing!

Reece just celebrated her 11th birthday last weekend!

It is hard to believe that she will be a "middle schooler" this coming school year. I know that isn't really applicable in the home school setting, but it does affect our outside activities. She will be in youth group at church! After this summer, I won't have any kids young enough for VBS or Egg Hunts or things like that. It's hard to believe!

Riley is our next birthday girl, turning 14 in only 2 more weeks! She'll be a freshman in the fall - and so far, she'll be at home. I have been praying long and hard about what is the best for her (and for the entire family) and I have not been led to put her in public high school. This is a big decision because in Georgia if you try to transfer in from an unaccredited setting (like home school), there are many hoops to jump through to get credits. Basically, if you decide to homeschool for high school, you are committing to do it for the long haul. And with a child who has been as difficult to home school as Riley has been, it's a serious commitment. 

Riley just read over my shoulder and would like for everyone to know that she's not some horrible delinquent child. LOL Hmm, I think I am going to have her guest blog one day soon! That would be a terrific writing assignment!

We finished up our Term 2 last week and have been enjoying a break this week. I didn't give us a break since Christmas because I knew we have a lot of interior home remodeling coming up this spring that is going to require us to move the entire contents of our house OUT of the house! I was hoping to do this over the next two weeks, but it is just not going to happen. So we will take our break week now, get started on Term 3 next week, and the home remodeling will happen in April. I'm not sure how much time off we'll have to take to get it all done, but we'll do the best we can. I just hope we don't have to do much school work in the summer! That was horrible! It threw us all off to be schooling in July and taking our break in August! LOL

So, Term 3 begins on Monday. I am determined to be as diligent about praying for our homeschool as I would be about praying for my running, or a friend's health, or another friend's job situation. In other words, I seem to be ready to go deep into prayer when it comes to everything else, and yet with our homeschooling - without a doubt the MOST IMPORTANT responsibility of my life - I tend to just whine and lament and moan and feel discouraged and overwhelmed.

That changes right now!

Yes, having a special needs high schooler is stressful. Yes, having a teenage daughter who wants to do nothing but dance is stressful, especially as she also begins high school. Yes, having the youngest cross that pretend bridge between elementary and middle school is stressful. But it's nothing I can't handle with God's help. And it is nothing I CAN handle WITHOUT God's help.

My prayer focus right now is that God would restore my enthusiasm and enjoyment for homeschooling. That will go a long way to changing the face of our homeschool with very little work on anyone's part! :) Basically, I need God to REBOOT my attitude! :)