I had no idea how this week would go. My only expectations were to transition us into a new schedule, get a feel for the third grade curriculum, and attempt to complete all of our lessons. The kids did AMAZING! I have bumped up our school time to six hours. My hope is to have our time stretched out in case we need multiple breaks during day. It helps all of us to have the day broken down by hour. (minute) Last year, I tried to get us to squeeze everything into a five-hour day. However, if it got derailed I was frustrated and the kids would get frustrated too because school would go much longer than expected.
I put too much pressure on the kids and myself.
The new schedule helps to keep me from getting distracted too. I have all sorts of thoughts throughout the day and I want to write a post, jump on facebook, start cleaning the house, or some question will arise in my head because I saw the shadow of a cricket that leads me into researching how the brain processes shadows! I need to have a schedule myself. I decided that school hours would be 8 am to 2 pm every day. Unfortunately, I just found out that Joshua’s virtual classes would be at 7 am Monday and Tuesday. Eeeek! Joshua is not a morning kind of kid.
We will have to work on that I suppose.
It could turn out to be better since, he will be partially awake and will not have time to get all frustrated about it. I hope. I like having the classes early then, I do not have to worry about it the rest of the day, and I can keep our regular schedule. This year I created a daily schedule for the wall, last year I went with a calendar instead – it did not work. However, I did not think of making one until after the fact, I will explain in a moment. I had daily visual schedules (Pictures of Schedules and Stuff) before when I was homeschooling on my own, but last year I think I was just too overwhelmed with everything.
We moved nearly 800 miles and within several weeks school started.
It was all new for us and David left during that time on a business trip too. I literally, unpacked, set up the house, rushed into the virtual school, and tried to be reacquainted with family and a city that I have not been in for almost seven years. I had to spend a lot of time helping the kids transition as well. Then, there was the whole car anxiety and death anxiety (Death Anxiety-Not Mine) that Daniel was going through – it was heartbreaking I am so happy that I have found ways to help him with those. (Turning Death Anxiety Into A Learning Experience) Yes, all of that was a bit much.
I keep getting side-tracked! Sorry, there may be more sidetrackness to come.
On Monday, after Daniel asked me for the thirteenth time, “How long is this going to take?” And “Do we have to do this forever?” Oh, and “How many minutes is this? (No matter how many I said, two to thirty) That’s going to take TOO long.” I asked myself, why haven’t you made a schedule? I made one rather quickly with visual clocks, the minutes, break times, and the subject for each hour. I decided to do math and language arts first since they are the priority. If we can knock those out the rest of the day goes by much smoother.
Those two will be the same time every day.
The other subjects rotate throughout the week. I decided to give the incentive of computer labs at the end of the day. We do thirty minutes of school related games then, 15 to 30 minutes of free time. This is dependent upon attitudes, if lessons are complete, or if they need to make up any other subjects.
However, this week I have been doing an experiment.
Since Daniel is not into computer games as much, I will come up with other ideas. I also, have to keep an eye on him because if he is on the iPad or the computer too long he becomes overloaded and at times he has gotten headaches, dizzy, and /or aggressive. He becomes aggressive when he does not know how to tell me what is wrong. It was how he communicated when he was non-verbal – a work in progress. He is able to do MimioSprout reading lessons they are free through the school. I do other things with him that does not have as much visual and auditory to process.
He normally wants things that are music related anyway.
I do have to watch Joshua too because he can become over stimulated and it causes him to have intense emotional outbursts. The school includes a multi-player learning computer game starting at third grade. I want to see if by doing about 10 minutes of the math or language arts learning game after their lessons if it helps them retain more of what they are learning. I am fairly certain that for my kids it will be beneficial, but I would like to have evidence for how it works for my family. I am not a big gaming person.
I do not play computer games.
They make my head hurt and cause me to have vertigo. I cannot even look at the computer screen when I walk into David’s office if he is playing one of his many mmo’s. It makes me get physically ill from overload. I do understand and believe in the value of playing video/computer games. I also, believe that it needs to be in moderation and that some children/adults may not gain the same benefits.
Here are a few resources that may be of interest.
- TEDxManitoba – Rick Van Eck – The Gaming of Educational Transformation (Great video)
- Video Games Are Beneficial for Students—Especially Those with LD
- 8 Reasons Video Games Can Improve Your Child
- Can Gaming Help Kids Learn? [INFOGRAPHIC]
- Computer games ‘can help children learn’
- Are Computer Games Beneficial to Children?
I have other online games for Joshua to try and I do plan to get him into the chess club with school because he LOVES chess. They do virtual chess matches and I think that will be great for him. Ariel may want to as well because she likes chess, she does not LOVE it like Joshua, but they do have some intense matches up in here.
Geez! I am all over the place, sorry.
This week turned out to go very well. We did have one day that was rough and a few moments that were not fun. Overall, we managed our days very well. We completed our assignments daily. We have adapted to the new schedule thus far and I am very happy with having a few minutes in the morning to myself! It has made a world of difference in how I feel and I have noticed that I had more patience, less anxiety, and I felt calmer this week. Another change is that I am not as anal about getting things done.
If we do not complete everything in one day we will try the next day.
I know that my kids have many challenges that would go unseen in school. I think that many times what I experienced last year with Joshua’s teacher, “Practice makes perfect” type of attitude is what other parents may experience. It does not work for my kids. If they keep practicing in the same way and see no results, they feel like failures. They feel inadequate and as though something is wrong with them. I do believe that they need to be challenged, but I feel that it needs to be in the way that they learn and process.
I also, believe that adding new skills or working on challenges needs to be done when they are able to do so.
I will not force them to write or say attempt something new when they have had a rough morning, did not get enough sleep, or are frustrated with the subject and need a couple of days to recover. I jump on new things when they are feeling good and motivated. I have found that if I do that they learn at optimal speed and we do not need to go over it repeatedly. They do not lose that information if they are at their heightened learning moments, but we do have to review. I read a great post by Inner Aspie yesterday that I think many parents and educators may benefit from Understanding the Why When Teaching Autistic Children.
I think with some of the changes that I am making this year that it will be a better learning experience for us all.
Mostly, I have changed my attitude. Last year, I did not know what to expect, I felt unsure if I truly understood my children’s talents and challenges. I wavered in my confidence because of words spoken by a teacher who spent no time with my child. I was overwhelmed and had not come up with a routine. I felt obligated to fall into the “school system.” This year, I feel much more confident in my abilities to know my children’s needs and to voice what they need that will make them have a successful school year.
I do not feel bound by the virtual school system.
I see it as a great opportunity to utilize what the public school offers, but continue in my natural giftings of teaching and implementing strategies that work for my kids. I do not know everything and I love the fact that I have teachers that I can ask and gain other perspectives from to help me, but I do understand many things about how my kids learn. The kids have worked hard this week. They have tried new things and adopted a more positive attitude. It may have to do with my attitude changing for the better.
This is only week one, but it started on a positive note so I believe it will set the tone for the rest of the year. (We will have rough days, but I feel much better about this year.)