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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Snap That - Take a Photograph it Lasts Longer.

A funny thing happened last night. I was whitening my teeth and Boy kept asking me questions about how it worked. Muted by the mouth guard, I attempted sign communication. Unable to decipher my sign language (I feel another home school activity brewing around this), I gave Boy the instruction manual and pointed to the relevant sections.

Boy read aloud like he had completed a master class in reading. He attempted words he had not come upon before and got all but one correct. The whitening treatment took 30 minutes. During this time Boy oscillated between reading and teasing me with the camera as he threatened to take photos to show people how ugly I am when I'm trying to make myself pretty!!!

And speaking of cameras: In my search for helping Boy progress in his learning maturity I came upon a photographic idea from Aussie Home Education: How, What, When, Where, Why? (Check out their other photographic lesson plans too on their website). They advocate a photographic hunt ending in pictorial representation of the concepts How, What, When, Where and Why. They suggest arming the student with a camera and sending them out to snap answers to questions such as: How do you do it? What next? When did it occur? Where did it happen? Why is it this way?

Snap. I'm going to use it this week with Boy. It is brilliant and fits in nicely with my struggle to get Boy to write movie reviews. Busy with last minute wedding organisation, the in-laws will be helping Boy with his school work. However, Boy is as much out of routine as I am. He won't want to do boring stuff while I'm out doing exciting stuff. The idea of giving him a camera and sending him off with the step grandparents appeals to me. Boy loves to use my camera so this has got to be a win/win home school project. He can do a review on what they did in my absence. Displaying the project on the wall is going to enhance the learning and make sure that the higher learning and understanding of difficult concepts last longer and becomes integrated.

Reviews: In preparation for our crazy week, I hit the video store and got five space and war documentaries for Boy to watch with the step Grandies. Boy is fairly knowledgeable around the Vietnam war (my father was a career soldier and did three tours of Vietnam) and he is looking forward to educating step Pop around the types of Guns used during the conflict. This positive anticipation that Boy is displaying is music to our ears. One of our short term goals was for Boy to like learning and to want to learn. We are well on the way to achieving our goal: even if it has occurred as a result of wedding madness.

And the wedding: this Saturday we are getting married at the bottom of a beautiful waterfall, surrounded by rainforest and the people we love. We are going away for a honeymoon and family is coming to look after Boy.

From now until after Easter my home school diary blog is going to be sporadic. This does not mean that Boy is not learning or involved in educational pursuits. Instead, it means that mother is too busy or without Internet.

No matter how busy I am, Boy still has to do the dreaded spelling words every morning with the step Grandie there to encourage and correct. This week the list of words has come straight from Education Queensland's list for grade seven children: teeth, cascade, waterfall, adventure, different, Easter, explain, moment, yesterday and suddenly

Take care, stay safe and I'll see you all on my return (or on those times where I sneak some time at my beloved computer).

Photo is Boy's big sister filming me as I snapped her.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

How to Make an Australian Wedding Quilt

A teachable moment has presented itself in my desire to make a wedding quilt. Not being a quilter myself (how I am longing for my retirement so I have time to learn) I have asked my quilting in laws to quilt up our wedding squares. On our wedding blog I have posted my plea:

I have decided that I rather fancy a wedding quilt. If you're up for it, I would like a decorated square from each of our wedding guests that will be sewn into a wedding quilt card for our marriage bed.

So, for all you crafty men and women...don't buy us a Hallmark card. Instead, a six and a half inch by six and a half inch cotton square, embroidered, beaded on or indelible penned upon will make a precious, treasured and most personal quilted wedding card from you. Alternatively, a knitted or crocheted square of the same proportions would fit the long as it's made by you.

I know that some of you are inherently craftless so I'll take some squares of cotton and indelible pens to the wedding in the rainforest. Please, upon these squares, write us your message and help us to create a lasting memento of our wedding in the rainforest.

I've started my square and it will take pride of place in the centre of the quilt. Beautiful fillet crochet in fine white silken thread, it will read, "Make the bed yourself." Just joking, I would never say anything like that!

If you want some hints on what I hope to achieve by sewing a combined wedding quilt, re watch "How to make an American quilt" (Winona Ryder, 1995). It's one of my favorite chick flicks and I intend to pull up a whole therapy around life story quilting by the time I die.

While matching my cotton squares to cotton thread, Boy became interested in what quilting is.
"Can I make one too," he asked.
"Of course you can. You can draw, write, crochet or I could teach you some stitches," I lied while I thought that kids and quilting just wouldn't go together.
"Can I do a bit of each on one square?"

Boy's enthusiasm and seriousness was real. I have tried to teach him to crochet on many occasions. He makes long snakes and ties everything in the lounge room together: a trap for us to become ambushed in. He likes sewing because he can terrorise us all by sticking the needle in us. The thought of sitting with Boy while he makes a square for the wedding quilt fills me with dread, BUT, I cannot pass this teachable moment up.

Today (Saturday, a traditional non school day) I will teach Boy Blanket and Daisy Chain stitch. I will show him how to sew one of his long coloured snakes into a circular pattern - a snail perhaps. I will let him choose whether he wishes to draw with indelible pen or fabric paint. I will encourage Boy to produce a square that will have pride of place in our wedding quilt and when I pull our quilt over us, I hope to have his square nearest my heart.

From Aspergers obsessions about guns and World of Warcraft to learning how to make a square for a quilt: teachable moments are everywhere when we adults open our eyes and allow learning to be a 24 hour per day job. I must admit, I had never considered quilting as a home school project. How badly I need educating!

Photo courtesy of SXC Photo Exchange.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Wedding Reading, Spelling and Craft...or Math...NO DANCING!

Today’s home school readings are:

Navajo Indian Blessing.

Now you have lit a fire and that fire should not go out.

The new fire represents a new beginning,

A new life and a new family.

The fire should keep burning;

You should stay together.

You have lit the fire for life,

Until old age separates you.

The Dragon and the Knight by Michael Leunig

Once there was a damsel in distress.
She had become a bit of a dragon and it was consuming her.
A knight in shining armour confronted the damsel, and, seeing her reflection in his shiny breastplate, she realised what a dragon she had become, and she didn't like it.
In earnest she set about getting the dragon where it belonged and making sense of it.
"You have saved me", she cried, "Take off your armour that I may kiss you in gratitude".
"The removal of armour requires assistance", responded the knight.
So, together they removed the heavy armour and the damsel embraced him warmly.
The knight had never been so warmly touched. He felt immense relief.
He felt lighter; less weary; more free.
"That's how I feel too!" cried the damsel joyfully, and after some healthy, passionate kisses they had some healthy, passionate children.
They kept the dragon and the armour, which were useful from time to time; and generally speaking, in their own funny way, they lived quite happily ever after.

Today’s spelling netted a return of 90%:

Congratulations (this is the only one he got wrong)
Best man

Yes, today we are in full on wedding practice mode. Boy is in a FOUL mood and a melt down looms over our house like a Charlie Brown cloud of doom. We managed a single Kinetic Education unit on rhyming but Boy was solemn, fuming and disinterested.

I asked Boy if he’d like to help me finish some of the wedding crafts. Oh dear, you’d swear I’d said witch craft to the most devout religious. So, I’m sitting here being a good mother and trying to quietly remove the wedding stress associated with things being different; out of routine. Boy is not coping so well today and I am wondering what I can do to lift his mood.

He suggested that I go away and leave him alone. You know, I might just do that. When step dad gets back, I think it might be time for me to take a walk and smell the roses. Between home school, teaching at uni, running my business and organizing this wedding, I have had almost zilch time for me.

Mother in law is coming down for two days next week to do home school with boy while I go and do the girl things (hair cut, eyebrows, etc). Boy firmly stated that he DOES NOT want to come with me to “stupid girl appointments”. He'd rather dance and he hates dancing. I so can’t wait for him to realise that not coming and helping equates to doing school work while I play!!!

Best of all, I’ve arranged a mini working party to come and help me finish the wedding favours. Boy is just not interested in making platypus for art and crafts anymore so while we roll and mould the clay, Boy is going to have to do some math. Big brother (22) is coming for the wedding and big brother is stricter than I am with Boy’s learning. Boy is going to have to show big brother the evidence of home school learning. No work will equate to no fishing with the beloved big brother. Yip Yah! Calling in the support troops is the best thing I’ve done in a while.

Eight sleeps to go until our wedding in the rainforest.

Photo 1 is of Boy dancing at his sister's wedding.
Photo 2, "Congratulations" courtesy of remind at stock.xchng

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Aspergers, Isolation and Support.

Is Aspergers isolating for families? I hear daily from people with children or relatives who have Aspergers. It seems that for many, the condition isolates the majority of family members, even extended ones. This has piqued my curiosity and I smell some research coming on.

One thing I have really noticed is the frequently desperate voice of people caring for Aspergers kids. Desperate for information and support, the carers seek comfort in chatting with others who understand the dynamics of a home where Aspergers social skills take dominance.

There are plenty of academic, text and parenting books around about Aspergers but I have not found a single book containing the multiple voices of non-aspergers family members affected by the meltdowns and impaired social skills of the person with Aspergers: a support group book if you like.

How do you cope with friends who label your Aspergers family member as naughty, rude or lazy? What is it like in your family when the meltdowns last for hours? How do you recover from the obsessions, anxiety or isolation when your Aspergers loved one refuses to leave the house? These are questions I receive from readers who are just beginning the Aspergers paved road leading toward having a different life.

At times, I have used creative and formal writing as my sanity sanctuary (Parenting a child with Asperger's Syndrome and Living with Autism). At other times I ring my partner and vent on him (he doesn’t want to come home then!!). I research, read and seek out different strategies of coping. I reframe my child’s behaviour and accept that this is our family life: different and focused on preparing our son for a life where he will always be viewed as a little strange. The best thing has been the contacts with others throughout the world who are going through similar situations as us. Hearing of their life, their difficulties, their ways of coping and adjusting has given me strength. I owe an enormous amount of gratitude to Elisheva at Ragamuffin Studies: she came into my blogosphere life on a day where I wondered if I’d make it through without going stark raving mad. Talking with another adult who instantly recognised the challenges of Aspergers parenting and home schooling has cemented a friendship that I hope will eventuate in meeting face to face.

I value and appreciate those people that contact and tell me of their journeys. We have rich material that can help each other and I would love to see someone collect our data and turn it into a support handbook for other parents of children with Aspergers.

Is Asperegrs isolating for your family? Would reading a book about the experiences of others be helpful?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

What is Algebra? Can I wear it with my Wedding Dress?

Wednesday is Math day (aka Mum's day of teaching at Uni). Step father came home to teach Boy and I asked them to do the excel spreadsheet of family worries Boy and I have already classified into sections on the worry tree.

I came home from uni to find a very happy Boy and step father. "He worked solidly," step-father announced. "Scored over 75% on the five Kinetic units on Algebra". Algebra??? "What's that, in relation to our current Math plan?" I wondered aloud trying to keep abreast of Boy's learning. I thought they were doing the worry analysis.

Step-father claims he forgot (now that's a worry!!) they had to complete a task started by us last week, but, oh well, Boy worked well anyway. "Algie-bra is cool," he intonated in a very bad sexy sounding accent of what I know not.

I asked Boy what Algebra was. My reply was "A= B2". I guess in his Aspergic way, he answered my question. Further, I dared to ask for evidence of learning right in the middle of a World of Warcraft raid. How inconsiderate I can be sometimes. Step father (an accountant) gave me a much more informed answer but I still googled it to sate my curiosity and because Google doesn't bung on that pretend sexy accent.

Algebra is a branch of mathematics that uses mathematical statements to describe relationships between things that vary over time. I wonder what the algebraic equation would be for the pre wedding relationships in our house at the moment? How much fun would it be to have access to that drop dead adorable Math guru from the television serial Numb3rs. I could give him our problem situation (household is out of kilter because we are about to have a major event) and see what math equations and theories he uses to describe why and how we're all going to get back to normal in 12 days time.

In Crime and Computation, Rhonda Hillbery states, "Leave it to television to work out a way to make a national symbol of nerdiness—mathematics—into something sexy". I had to laugh when I read this because my first reaction this afternoon to the word Algebra was, "Okay, strapless bra, U bra, algebra". Oh dear, (I am again laughing aloud) how normal we will all be when this wedding is over and done with.

Win a Children's Book about Protective Behaviours

Here's a competition that may interest some of you home schoolers:

I can't enter the competition because I wrote the book and I'm one of the competition judges.

Bitss of Caramel Marmalade on Toast is a children's book about body ownership and protective behaviours. In our house, child safety, particularly protection from sexual predators, is considered very important. In Queensland, Australia, Protective Behaviours are embedded into the curricula, across all key learning areas. In our home school program we include child safety learning in Health and Physical Education and Studies of Society and Environment.

Using emotional intelligence as a start point, we focus on feelings and intuition as early warning signs of danger. All my kids are trained to listen to their early warning signs and to go to someone they trust and discuss why they are feeling the way they are.

Here's some examples of how we play games to teach about personal safety:

Why not write up a lesson plan on staying safe from child sexual predators. Enter it into the competition, and, you could even use it as your blog entry for Blog Against Sexual Violence Day on 5 April 2007.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Stress Balls, Fires and Lapidary Classes.

Lapidary classes started today. My little gem of a child started his soap stone carving project (pictured) and drove me to distraction in the process. Talk about Aspergic obsessions and anxiety coming out…they were fully alive and thriving today.

Due to his young age, Boy cannot do the jewelry making classes just yet. Disappointed, he wanted to begin carving so that he could move straight into making a gem tree (pictured below). After spending the morning with all the gem cutters and receiving tidbits of information and advice, they sent us off to purchase the required tools. Me in a tool shop is like me pretending I hate chocolate – the two just don’t gel. However, after selecting a basket full of stone carving goodies from the local hardware store, I encouraged Boy to remain patient and to come and briefly look at the packaging section with me. His gratification quickly reaching immediate on the “when to begin the project” scale, he agreed to allow me 10 minutes browsing.

There we were, in the aisle, keeping our distance from each other lest one of us explode when the fire alarm went off (wasn’t us, I promise). Staff scurried toward us asking us to leave the building immediately. “Cool,” I thought. “Evacuation means going home. I can dump the basket full of $180.00 worth of tools and step-father can bring Boy back when the fire has been dealt with.”

Boy was not leaving without his tools. Let’s just say that I am now exhausted and possibly banned from the store, Boy is OVER stimulated and the soap stone we got this morning has already been filed away to nothing. Boy has also asked 1,000,000,000 times whether our fire alarms work. AAAAAGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, how hard is it trying to balance Aspergers obsessions with real fire danger. Those firefighters just should have listened to Boy’s fire assessment: low risk, now let me take my tools.

The fire incident has encouraged me to organize a home school excursion to our local fire station. Even though we’ve had a bad day, at least an idea for another educational experience has come from it.

Boy made some cute stress balls at youth group yesterday afternoon. I’ve seen them at markets and wondered how to make them. Simple, simple, simple, Boy has assured me. You just need dough, sand or birdseed, a pair of scissors and lots of balloons. Boy was supposed to write up the instructions for me as a writing project for today but he is far too busy on the back verandah happily grinding stone into talc. Instead, here’s some instructions for Squishy Balloon Balls from Craft Bits.

Now, where did he put those stress balls, I need to go squeeze them because there’s only 11 sleeps left until our wedding.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Carnival of Family Life

The 46th edition of the Carnival of Family Life is up at Digital Rich Daily. Take some time to poke around and check out all the great family-related posts (many from home schoolers) The site took a while to load on my machine but the wait was worth it. Everyone came running to find out why Mum was playing music on her work computer! Would have been a great marketing ploy if I was marketing for the Carnival of Family Life.

Only 12 sleeps to go until our wedding. Don't have to run a competition for everyone to know that I'm stressed! My partner is away on business twice between now and then and my wedding dress still isn't altered yet. Family life....I so want to just go to bed and wake up in time for the ceremony!!!!!

Marriage: A Gem of a Spelling Word

Spelling this week concentrates around everything associated with weddings (only 13 sleeps to go): Saturday, wedding, congratulations, thirty-first, March, bucks, best man, present, vow, marriage. Boy amazed me by getting eight out of ten on first testing. Being the original doubting Thomas, I went and checked the words against our states suggested spelling words for years three to seven. Week days, months and numbers were all there and I assessed that the types of words I today presented to Boy were equal matches for other words on the state public school list. While Boy did exceedingly well (he is definitely improving in this area), I also think I need a merit sticker because boy tested me for “marriage” and I finally got it right. What a gem I am. Do you think I can usually get the “i” and “a” around the right way!!! Marriage is one of those words that I have perpetual difficulty remembering the order of letters. Boy made a rude comment about it being no wonder my previous marriage went wrong. I chose to ignore him and we moved onto…..

English. Boy completed another three low level Kinetic units. Once again, he got 100% correctness but he sought constant approval from me. This need for approval encouraged me to relook at applying Blooms taxonomy of cognitive processes in relation to the instructive words that I give to Boy. Whereas I tend to use words that fall under the classification of Application or Analysis, Boy is still operating at Knowledge with the occasional foray into Comprehension. I have to learn that for English, I must present the learning to Boy as though he is seven, not eleven.

Math: I made the mistake of doing English before Math. Boy was on edge, cranky and horrible to sit beside. His strong subject, he would only entertain completing one unit of Kinetic Math because he had “done more than enough” (his words) and school sux. Note to self: NEVER do English first up.

Worry Survey: The extended family have been sending their worries in. Boy and I printed, and sorted them this morning. Unfortunately, our worry tree became too weighed down with the worries of our family upon it, and we have had to move to container based sorting. This in itself was advantageous because I was able to explain the worth of having a data collection and methodology that remains standard so that bits of information do not become lost, distorted or influenced by other factors. I talked a bit about the research I have done and how his attendance at a day care centre led toward me researching parental views and then publishing some educational material to help parents teach their children about protective behaviours. It is this very real application of learning that Boy relates well to. If he thought that surveys were something that he would never use then he may be reluctant to embrace the activity.

Health and Physical Education: Monday is youth group day (self esteem and anger management). While Boy was otherwise engaged, I was looking forward to having a couple of hours to myself to make hair and waxing appointments but alas, my family is revolting. The cupboards are bare, children are starving and I have to go grocery shopping. I am resigned to looking like myself on my wedding day!

Extra Curricula Activity becomes Inter Curricula: Boy and stepfather hung out at our local lapidary club over the weekend. We are joining as a family and Boy is going to attend two hour classes every Tuesday morning – starting tomorrow. Boy’s first project is to carve soft stone. Excited by this, he is going to be ecstatic when he sees the wedding present we have him: a box of gemstones. And to my family who I know are reading these entries to become familiar with our home school program for when they are staying here with Boy while we’re on our honeymoon – tell him and you’ll wish you hadn’t!

Photo (Heart of glass) courtesy of noohoo at stock.xchng

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Boy Shaved for a Cure - Right Before the Wedding

Boy wanted to Shave for a Cure to raise funds for people with Leukaemia. A family that fully supports our children developing social awareness and empathy toward others, we supported his desire to be brave and shave. Boy wanted to raise $1,000.00 for kids with Leukaemia and by yesterday afternoon he had already raised $170.00 from family and friends who happily sponsored him to lose his hair. I wasn't too worried about the difference between $170.00 and $1000.00 because there were still a few weeks worth of fund raising to go.

By the time I realized (last night) that the public shaves occurred today, just 2 weeks before our wedding, it was far too late to pull out. I suggested that Boy perhaps have his shave at our reception and we hit all our wedding guests up for a donation to the Leukaemia Foundation.

"No way," he and step-father appealed. "It's tomorrow and that's it. At least everyone at the wedding will remember how brave Boy is and how kids can help sick people. It'll be good motivation for others to help."

I swallowed my nervousness around having a prickly headed ring bearer and sent the boys off to do their thing. Here's the results:




If you'd be willing to help Boy reach his target of $1000.00 please either donate straight to the Leukaemia Foundation (contact me to find out Boy's registration number) or through the below secure pay pal donation button:

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Worry Tree and Mother's Other Worries.

After a worrisome start to the day (Boy awoke in bad mood) we’ve had a great day of learning.

Following up on our Worry Survey Project that we began yesterday, Boy and I created a Worry tree (pictured) and stapled our immediate family worries under the headings of; All the time, A lot, Sometimes, and Not very much. The idea is to help Boy group the data and to begin to look for trends. Without doing any computer-based analysis we can already see that we are a family that worries a lot because there are more worries under that heading than the others.

His interest piqued, we sent email worry surveys to our extended family. They have all agreed to participate in a wider family survey so that Boy has some experience in sample size affecting analysis. Stepfather is going to show Boy how to enter and analyze data in excel. What a great way to learn Math and Information Technology.

Even better still, Boy is very interested to find out what other home schooled kids throughout the world worry about. We have posted the survey here and we would appreciate other home schooled kids sharing their worries to help Boy get a grip on surveys as a real life research project. The idea for this came from a Behind the News survey on What Australian Children Worry About.

Spelling: Boy aced his Friday spelling test with 100% correct. Celebrations all round. Boy has put extra effort into his spelling this week because he wanted to prove that he could get them all right at the same time. Every Monday I make a list of ten new words and we use the list for the week. Every morning Boy is tested on the words he got wrong the day previously. On Friday, he gets tested on the entire list. It appears to be working well. Friday also brings a financial bonus for Boy. I sit with a pile of ten 20 cent pieces beside me and Boy gets 20 cents per word correct. Today is the first day where he has ever walked away from a spelling test with $2.00.

Math: Using the Kinetic Education computer program we have just installed, Boy did three Math units on measurement and got 100% for each one. He rather likes the practice games and would have preferred to spend his entire time playing them, but…when Boy does a Kinetic unit we have access to telephone tutors (if needed) who can log in and see: his score, the types of questions he got wrong, what themes are arising in the mistakes and how long he is taking to complete a unit. I Love it and Boy is aware that he needs to both beat his previous score and time. Best of all the program is based on the state curriculum and comes with a money back guarantee if your child does not improve after spending half an hour, three times a week, completing units. Designed by educators and psychologists, I am very impressed with the program.

English is not Boy’s strong point. We have started him on Kinetic Grade level English below his age and my aim is to get an idea of where he’s at so that I can design a specific “Boy” program to help bring him up to speed so that he can embrace Kinetic's English units rather than shy away from them. Once again, he preferred to play the games. He has fallen in love with hangman but seems to like the clicking rather than actually having an educated guess at what the word might be. After much encouragement (aka Mum biting her tongue) he moved into a Kinetic unit on matching words to an incomplete sentence. While he got 100%, he was unsure and did not want me wandering away to make coffee. His self-esteem around English is very low and I’m not convinced that working to curricula is going to improve his ability. Yesterday, when we read the poem about drought, he read well, confidently and even managed some rhythm. This was because it was nothing like school. Unschooling for English is the best way for him to go (I think????). I really worry about Boy's English - far more than any other subject.

If any of you Aussie or New Zealand home schoolers are interested in the Kinetic program, contact me and I'll put you in touch with the consultant we dealt with. He was very patient with my one million questions and dogma that Boy is treated with respect and acceptance. Knowledgeable and passionate about children achieving at their level, the consultant spent a lot of time with Boy and was never once phased by Boy's Aspergic idiosyncrasies.

Only 2 weeks now until we get married and Boy has a holiday from home schooling. We’re both counting the days, but for different reasons!

A Global Worry Survey for Home Schooled Kids

Boy is doing a survey for home school and we are hoping to collect data from outside of our family members. The data will be collated in an excel spreadsheet and then Boy and I will do an analysis on it.

The survey is on Worries. If you would like your home schooled child to participate in this global home school project please seek 1) their willingness and permission, and 2) your child's answers to the below. Record their answers in the comments section of this blog.
You have until Friday the 23rd of March to send your Worry comments back (and remember, you can include this activity in your home school diary as a legitimate piece of home school work).
Worry Survey

What do you worry about?

Please list 5 worries and add if you worry about them:
not very much,
a lot,
all the time.
For example: 1. Bird flu (a lot),
2. Not learning enough (sometimes).






At the end of our worry project, the collated information will be placed on Boy's home school blog (this blog), WITHOUT any names of who is worrying about particular things. This is an educational experience for Boy, to help him learn about surveys, differences in people and using Excel. Your personal information will not be shared with anyone else. Perhaps it would be best if you registered your comment as Anonymous so that the rest of the blogoshere has no idea what it is that you worry about.

Thanks for helping Boy with his Worry Survey.

Associated article about our Worry Survey Project:

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Droughts and Flooding Rains: Home School Australian Drought Relief

Parts of Australia are in severe drought. Cattle, crops and farmers are dieing. Suicide has become an option for our farming men who internalize drought-induced inability to pay debt, as personal failure.

Boy is becoming socially conscious (a rich task focus for us) and has an understanding of environmental protection. Last night I was telling him about the shower time limit in Brisbane – the motel I stayed in had a big sign asking people to limit their shower to four minutes. This started a discussion on water conservation and why drought happens.

Discussion turned into today’s home school lesson for SOSE (Studies of Society and Environment): Australian Drought and what we can do to conserve water.

Using an excellent lesson plan from the ABC's Behind the News we began with talking about what worries Boy in relation to having no water. The lesson plan will become an ongoing project where Boy has to interview other kids his age to find out what worries them. I aim to get Boy to do a blog questionnaire so that other kids who are home schooled can answer the questions and share their comments.

ART: Boy also completed a simple worksheet on dry weather and trees needing water (pictured). His insight into other things that require water to survive astounded me. Despite verbalising his knowledge, the only thing he would draw was a tiny frog in the branch of a tree.

READING: To finish up, Boy read a poem written by Murray Hartin (Australian Bush poet and storyteller) as part of a Salvation Army DVD project to help our depression affected farmers:


Murray Hartin
February 21, 2007

His cattle didn't get a bid, they were fairly bloody poor,

What was he going to do? He couldn't feed them anymore,

The dams were all but dry, hay was thirteen bucks a bale,

Last month's talk of rain was just a fairytale.

His credit had run out, no chance to pay what's owed,

Bad thoughts ran through his head as he drove down Gully Road.

"Geez, great grandad bought the place back in 1898,

Now I'm such a useless bastard, I'll have to shut the gate.

Can't support my wife and kids, not like dad and those before,

Christ, Grandma kept it going while Pop fought in the war."

With depression now his master, he abandoned what was right,

There's no place in life for failures, he'd end it all tonight.

There were still some things to do, he'd have to shoot the cattle first,

Of all the jobs he'd ever done, that would be the worst.

He'd have a shower, watch the news, then they'd all sit down for tea

Read his kids a bedtime story, watch some more TV,

Kiss his wife goodnight, say he was off to shoot some roos

Then in a paddock far away he'd blow away the blues.

But he drove in the gate and stopped - as he always had

To check the roadside mailbox - and found a letter from his Dad.

Now his dad was not a writer, Mum did all the cards and mail

But he knew the style from the notebooks that he used at cattle sales,

He sensed the nature of its contents, felt moisture in his eyes,

Just the fact his dad had written was enough to make him cry.

"Son, I know it's bloody tough, it's a cruel and twisted game,

This life upon the land when you're screaming out for rain,

There's no candle in the darkness, not a single speck of light

But don't let the demon get you, you have to do what's right,

I don't know what's in your head but push the bad thoughts well away

See, you'll always have your family at the back end of the day

You have to talk to someone, and yes I know I rarely did

But you have to think about Fiona and think about the kids.

I'm worried about you son, you haven't rung for quite a while,

I know the road you're on 'cause I've walked every bloody mile.

The date? December 7 back in 1983,

Behind the shed I had the shotgun rested in the brigalow tree.

See, I'd borrowed way too much to buy the Johnson place

Then it didn't rain for years and we got bombed by interest rates,

The bank was at the door, I didn't think I had a choice,

I began to squeeze the trigger - that's when I heard your voice.

You said 'Where are you Daddy? It's time to play our game,

I've got Squatter all set up, you might get General Rain.'

It really was that close, you're the one that stopped me son,

And you're the one that taught me there's no answer in a gun.

Just remember people love you, good friends won't let you down.

Look, you might have to swallow pride and get a job in town,

Just 'til things come good, son, you've always got a choice

And when you get this letter ring me, 'cause I'd love to hear your voice."

Well he cried and laughed and shook his head then put the truck in gear,

Shut his eyes and hugged his dad in a vision that was clear,

Dropped the cattle at the yards, put the truck away

Filled the troughs the best he could and fed his last ten bales of hay.

Then he strode towards the homestead, shoulders back and head held high,

He still knew the road was tough but there was purpose in his eye.

He called for his wife and children, who'd lived through all his pain,

Hugs said more than words - he'd come back to them again.

They talked of silver linings, how good times always follow bad,

Then he walked towards the phone, picked it up and rang his Dad.

And while the kids set up the Squatter, he hugged his wife again,

Then they heard the roll of thunder and they smelt the smell of rain.

To Murray Hartin: Thank you for such a moving poem that beautifully captures the depressive plight of our farming families. In the words of Boy, "That was sad. Can we help those men?" Yes, Boy, we'll go and make a donation to either the Salvation Army or through the Westpac Bank. We'll also buy Murray Hartin's Drought Relief DVD as soon as it becomes available.

Related articles by me about the Australian Drought Relief:

Photo (Outback 5, Images from a farm after a 3 year drought) courtesy of matmos at Stock.xchng)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Wedding Award Tops off the Kinetic Education Install for a Carnival Finish

UPDATE 17.3.07
We won the GNMParents
Hot Stuff Award for our article

Exciting news: We've been nominated for a wedding article award. Only 16 sleeps left until our family focused wedding in the rainforest. Over at Child Protection: Serious Business, I posited whether children at weddings are acceptable or not. Overwhelming support has been pro children at weddings, BUT, even more exciting, somebody unknown nominated the article for a Hot Stuff award from GNMParents. Go vote if you agree that kids and weddings go together.

We now have a Maths and English program installed on Boy's laptop. He is this minute playing a spacial game (over and over again) and attempting to better his score and time. Impressed by his willingness to begin the program without prompting, pleading or bribing from me, I can only assess that the Kinetic Education program is a HIT! Eager to learn and navigate my way around the program, I sat with Boy and encouraged him to show me other things. "NO!" was his stern reply, "I do Math with [step dad], not YOU." Thank goodness step dad is home from his business trip today. Step Dad can learn Kinetic's math program with Boy and then show it to me.

After the install yesterday, Boy spent over an hour playing hangman (on Kinetic's English program). It was interesting watching him attempt word recognition and letter blends. This is a fantastic outcome as Boy is fundamentally opposed to learning anything to do with English. In Boy's words, "English is dumb."

Do we recommend the Kinetic Education program? We sure do. Thank goodness for computers and Kinetic's computer based educational programs. Boy is going to be in his element.

The Carnival of Homeschooling (Number 63) is ticking away over at Why Homeschool. The carnivals are magic places to find a plethora of valuable home schooling articles all in the one place. If you have any interest in homeschooling, the Carnivals are the place to hang out. I have learnt a lot about motivators, educational philosophies, lesson plans and time management by reading the home school occurrences of home educators world wide. Similarly, the 45th edition of the Carnival of Family Life is also up at Adventures in the 100 Acre Woods. Be sure to take a stroll in the woods and check out all the great submissions received. Tons of home schooling and other family related articles. And, while we're on the carousel, the Carnival of Hope: Volume 1, Number 7 is also posted at Rickety Contrivances of Doing Good.

Related article on the Hot Stuff Award: What's Worthy of a Hot Stuff Award? Parenting is.

Photo is of my oldest daughter on her wedding day.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

How to be a STAR Problem Solver

Participation in the Youth Group focusing on anger management and self-esteem issues is providing Boy with valuable interpersonal resources. Despite this being my professional field (I am a child therapist), I am first and foremost a mother. There is no way Boy would accept training from me if he thinks it has anything to do with my work.

Emotional Intelligence is happening big time across the key learning area of Health and Physical Education. Boy spoke volumes last night on the STAR Problem Solving model. The model has come from Boy's Talk: A program for young men about masculinity, non-violence and relationships.

  1. Stop and Recognise
    Do I have a problem?
    What is the problem?
    How is my body affected?
    What feelings am I showing?
    What feelings am I keeping to myself?

  2. Think and Communicate
    What do I want to happen?
    What do others want to happen?
    What are the facts of the situation?
    What are my beliefs and opinions about the situation?
    Have I observed, gathered and remembered all the facts?
    Have I clearly expressed my feelings and thoughts?
    What are some different solutions and their consequences?
    Are the consequences safe for and respectful to others?
    Have I consulted others affected about the range of solutions?
    What is the best solution?

  3. Act.
    Choose the best solution.
    Take action.
    Choose to go back to 'stop and recognise' again if there is no best solution.

  4. Review
    Observe the consequences.
    If there are no satisfactory consequences go back to step 1.
Happy that he now has a plan to attach his problem solving thinking to, Boy was keen to blu tack the STAR poster to the wall. Yip Yah!!!!!!!!!!! Between that and the rules of Fair Fighting hopefully the Asperger's meltdowns will be easier to manage and leave us all less traumatised.

If ever I have doubts about home schooling Boy, I just need to remind myself of the massive leaps we have already made in emotional intelligence and calm learning. These two things alone are worthy of massive celebration in Boy's journey of home education. I LOVE home schooling. It works perfectly for Boy.

English and Maths: Today we are having the Kinetic Education software installed. As of tomorrow Boy will begin at least three Math sessions a week based on the Kinetic curricula. I intend to fully check their English program and design my own lesson plans to assist Boy to reach an entry level standard for the computer based program from Kinetic. Maths he does with little difficulty. English, well, that's just another potential meltdown waiting to happen.

Movie Review for English: Boy still owes a review from last week. I took him to see Norbit and he loved it. Boy told me he would rate it ten out of ten. While I was away over the weekend, Step Dad took Boy to see it again. Apparently the two of them never stopped laughing. Today Boy is keen to see either Wild Hogs or Hot Fuzz. Oh he's going to scream when I insist he writes up both reviews. Perhaps as a compromise I will suggest that he write only one review and clean his bedroom. The cleaning will be less acceptable than writing a movie review so I'm fairly confident that we'll get two written pieces of work.

Does anybody try making their own movies or short films for home school learning? I'd love to hear about it.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Fighting Fair in Africa with Sleepy Lush Products.

I came home from Brisbane loaded with helpful, sleep inducing goodies for Boy…I think we must be one of Lush’s best customers. I never walk out of their stores with under $100.00 worth of sleepy dream products. This time I have bought some new ones for boy: a natural massage bar infused with Lavender and a tin of Temple Balm for Boy to rub into his temples and to dab under his nose to assist him drift off to the land of nod. He sure is the best smelling and cleanest person in the house.

Spelling: The plane trip home from Brisbane afforded me some time to reflect on spelling words that Boy needs to know. This term we are spending time getting to know our community. Whereas Boy knows the names of towns surrounding us he does not know how to spell them. Hence our list of ten contains: Mungalli Falls, Cairns, Brisbane, Townsville, Port Douglas, Great Barrier Reef, Mossman Gorge, Lakeland Downs, Cooktown, and Edge Hill. Boy has visited all of these places but does he know how to spell them in order to Google them for additional information??? Well, he got six out of ten with our first spelling test this morning and did he carry on about the list being greater than 10 words. He reasoned that Great Barrier Reef should count as three words for example. If I could have sent him to the detention room I would have!!!!! When I started on about proper nouns needing capital letters I knew I had gone too far. I'm surprised I didn't have the Lush massage bar thrown at me!

Geography: Gillian’s Africa challenge beckoned us. I printed out the map and Boy and I studied the names of the many African countries. I was able to tell Boy the odd anecdotal story about some of the African countries and impart tidbits of knowledge regarding Boy favored movies set in African countries. Boy now wants to visit the Seychelles and find pirate treasure. The Seychelles has been on my to visit immediately list for the last 20 years (not for treasure hunting). Unfortunately, “visit immediately” has always been superseded by “immediate responsibility” in paying bills and caring for a large family. Perhaps Boy's weekly spelling account (we pay him 20 cents per correct spelling word on every Friday's spelling test) will be able to shout me a trip because the cost of our impending wedding is suggestive of a frugal and grounded lifestyle for the next year!!!!

Monday is Youth Group day where Boy tackles issues of anger management, self-esteem and group social skills (falls under Health and Physical Education). Last week they covered the rules of fair fighting:

  • Be willing to fix the problem,

  • Say what the problem is for you,

  • Listen to what the problem is for them,

  • Attack the problem, not the person,

  • Look for answers so everyone gets what they need.

Fouls to fighting fair include:

  • Name calling,

  • Put downs,

  • Sneering or blaming,

  • Threats or hitting,

  • Bring up the past,

  • Making excuses,

  • Not listening,

  • Getting even.
I teach the above rules for fair fighting to many of my counseling clients and as training material for my university students. Somewhat surprised that Boy came home with the same handout from the Conflict Resolution Network that I use, I was impressed that the youth group organizers are concentrating on issues of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is something we are working hard at instilling in boy. Our philosophy is that while it is admirable to have academic intelligence, academic learning is but one area to concentrate on. Life skills, knowing yourself and valuing other people are core areas of educational focus for us.

Do you include any emotional intelligence in your home school learning?

Friday, March 9, 2007

The Flying Home Schooler: Africa, Cairns, Brisbane.

Gillian from the School of St Jude's has posted a Countries of Africa Challenge! The interactive map of Africa allows you to first view the named countries and then enter a timed count down site to name as many of the African countries as you can remember. It's a groovy way to teach geography to people of all ages. Boy and I are going to get into it on my return from Brisbane.

Brisbane...yes, well!!! At extremely short notice and on my only free weekend with Boy and partner before our wedding in the rainforest, I have to do an emergency and family related trip to Brisbane. Brisbane is our capital city and is a two and a half hour plane trip from where we live in Cairns (see the map for an idea of distance). The shock of my departure has unsettled Boy who is unable to cope well with any change.

I am leaving today while Boy is unwell and I am feeling anxious for him. Step father is highly capable and thank goodness he is free to look after Boy. Yesterday Boy slept for the majority of the Day. I wrongly thought that I had tired him out with our animal audit. No, Boy has spiked a temperature and has pains in his neck and back.

Living in the tropics means a whole host of wonderfully exotic diseases and fungal infections. Being highly analytical I am this morning having to stop my stinkin' thinkin' about what possible tropical illness Boy may have picked up. Poor kid, we over sported him and he ended up with Achilles Tendinitis and I would hate to think that in my endeavour to educate Boy with the most interesting and stimulating home school activities I have exposed him to some other tropical animal germy misfit. Who knows, he may just have a cold coming on. I worry far too much. Wouldn't you think that by the time I got to the fourth child that I'd be a bit more relaxed around the kids getting sick.

I'll see you all on my return. No matter where you are in the world, stay safe.

Map of Australia courtesy of Trailmaster.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

A Sleepy Village Boy in the Home School Lounge.

Boy's sleep disorder is all over the place. He says he slept poorly last night and he has been up (me too...arrrrrgh!) since 4 AM. After yesterday's animal audit, we intended spending some more time in the garden discovering what bugs are living beneath the composted cardboard. I also had an alternate plan to get Boy to help me with some weeding.

Boy must have known of my evil weeding lesson plan because just as I was ready to enter the sunshine for some natural learning, Boy fell asleep on the couch. There he still lays, peaceful and innocent. Should I wake him. NO WAY! I'm getting so much paper work completed that I want to continue my roll.

If we were traditional schooling, Boy would have had trouble at school today and they probably would have rung me to come and get him. So, in home school generosity and eagerness to clear my own work back log, Boy is having a day off school. This is only the second day off since we started home schooling (the first day off was because of us, not him, and we at least managed some art and craft).

Today is not a totally lost home school day either. In our usual routine, Boy began with his weekly spelling list. Finally, finally, he got 100%. For this alone I think he deserves the rest of the day off. Well done Boy, now just stay asleep for one more hour please.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

An Inspiring Neighbourhood Animal Audit

Today is Math day. In preparation for step father's lesson, Boy and I decided to do an audit of animals (I suggested we do flowers but Boy near puked at the thought) in our neighbourhood. What a fun way to inspire Boy and to approach concepts of Math. I was actually inspired after reading A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That posted over at Ragamuffin Studies. Elisheva's descriptions of the spiders and animals in her area resonated with me as a learning experience and further inspired me to share what we see on a daily basis.

Here's a few of the Australian animals we live with and were audit inspired by.

Sun Bird. Ms and Mr Sunbird nest on our back verandah every year. The nest stays hanging year after year with the odd maintenance occurring prior to them laying eggs. A popular food source for snakes, we keep a protective eye on our little sun birds.

Scrub Turkey. When Boy was little his nick name was scrub turkey. They are plentiful and become almost domesticated. Boy loves them and would allow them in the house if he could get away with it. For more information about the amazing Scrub Turkey, see this article we wrote just before Christmas: The Christmas Turkey is moving.

Black Cockatoo. Beautiful and incredibly noisy. White Cockatoos are everywhere. They can be a real pest. Although not uncommon to see Black Cockatoos, they are not a bird we spot every day.

Cassowary. Big, big, big flightless birds. A rainforest species, they are endangered. We had them frequent our house when we lived in the rainforest but we hardly ever see them now.

Eclectus Parrot. Beautiful or what! Their vibrant colours are breath taking. They are common and frequent our back yard.

Wallabies: Very common. They are consistent road kill which saddens us. Because we now live in town we don't have them in our back yard but a drive anywhere around our home results in several spottings of Wallabies.

Paddymelon. This is Boy hand feeding a Paddymelon. They are a small reddish brown wallaby, very cute, shy and common.

Galah. Grey and pink, these are very cute and very cheeky Australian birds. More common in the dry season, we don't see them regularly in our back yard. An Australian slanguage name for a person who is a bit of a fool is "galah."

Ibis. Commonly referred to as the "undertaker bird" (because of the way they look), Ibis' are very common. This one was trying to help itself to our breakfast on the verandah.

Rosella Parrot. These are everywhere. They're really pretty, and noisy. Curious and unafraid they are a common site in back yard trees.

Kangaroo: Boy took this photo of the Kangaroo trying to get away from me. Perhaps it didn't like my perfume. WARNING - Kangaroos can sometimes be aggressive so do not try this at home!

Tawny Frog Mouth Owl. Boy's favorite bird. Have a look at his learning about them: The Tawny Frog Mouth Owl

Jungle Perch. Can you see the fish that Boy is swimming with? Look along the front left toward centre of the picture. He doesn't like it when they come and nibble him.

Mossman Gorge. After a long day of animal auditing what else is a Boy to do but have a swim in one of our local creeks.

We are keen to encourage social understanding and knowledge within our global community of home schoolers. Have a look at an "our community" sharing idea we had. It can be found at the bottom of Scarab Beetles, Winchester House and Social Understanding .

Hope you liked our photographic math audit. We know we live in a beautiful part of the world. Home school and life inspiration is only a look through the window away. What do you think?

If you find these photos inspiring, pop over to the photo contest at An Island Life and vote (between March 9 and 11, 2007) for our natural and tropical Aussie home school inspiration.

All photos by Megan,
except for that one that Boy caught of the Kangaroo trying to hop away from my allure!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Homeschooling Carnival Does the Rounds Again

The 62nd edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling (Mar. 5, 2007) is up over at Tami's Blog.

For those who don't know what a Carnival is, it is a single blog that collates a variety of posts on a specific topic: in this instance, Home Schooling. No one view, political persuasion, religious or educational philosophy is represented.

Home Schoolers across the globe are welcome to submit posts to the weekly Carnivals, to meet new people and to stay current in knowledge about what other home schoolers are doing to home educate their children.

Wander round the Carnival and see what you find in the lucky dip.

How To Be A PERFECT Mother

Let me begin by qualifying that I am not a perfect mother nor am I sure how to get there. I do however know that I have a perfectly wonderful son who thinks I am perfect (and now I've got it in writing from him!).

A friend sent me an email containing some anecdotal research done with second grade children. I found the questions so interesting that I decided to turn them into a writing and reading review home school lesson.

I told Boy that there were some answers from other kids but that I wouldn't show him until after he had answered the questions himself. Boy's written answers, unprompted by or discussed with me, almost made me cry. Just so as there's no mistake that this is indeed Boy's work, I have attached a scan of the first page of the review worksheet I made from the questions.

Below are the questions and answers as came to me on email. The email had no information about the origin of the questions so I am unable to offer credit sorry. I have included Boy's answers as the last response to each question. Just remember that children with Aspergers are literal. It is possible that he was unable to understand the essence of the questions he has answered with ???

Answers given by 2nd grade school children to the following questions:

Why did God make mothers?
1. She's the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
2. Mostly to clean the house.
3. To help us out of there when we were getting born.
BOY. To take care.

How did God make mothers?
1. He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.
2. Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.
3. God made my Mom just the same like he made me. He just used bigger parts.
BOY. ???

What ingredients are mothers made of ?
1. God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.
2. They had to get their start from men's bones. Then they mostly use string, I think.
Boy. ???

Why did God give you your mother and not some other mom?
1. We're related.
2. God knew she likes me a lot more than other people's moms like me.
Boy. ???

What kind of little girl was your mom?
1. My Mom has always been my mom and none of that other stuff.
2. I don't know because I wasn't there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.
3. They say she used to be nice.
Boy. ???

What did mom need to know about dad before she married him?
1. His last name.
2. She had to know his background. Like is he a crook? Does he get drunk on beer?
3. Does he make at least $800 a year? Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores?
Boy. That he was an idiot.

Why did your mom marry your dad?
1. My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world. And my Mom eats a lot.
2. She got too old to do anything else with him.
3. My grandma says that Mom didn't have her thinking cap on.
Boy. (Note from mother: Not ever a question mark here. It's obviously still a sensitive topic with Boy.)

Who's the boss at your house?
1. Mom doesn't want to be boss, but she has to because dad's such a goof ball.
2. Mom. You can tell by room inspection. She sees the stuff under the bed.
3. I guess Mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than dad.
Boy. God

What's the difference between moms & dads?
1. Moms work at work and work at home and dads just go to work at work.
2. Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them.
3. Dads are taller & stronger, but moms have all the real power 'cause that's who you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friend's.
4. Moms have magic, they make you feel better without medicine.
Boy. Mum's a girl.

What does your mom do in her spare time?
1. Mothers don't do spare time.
2. To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.
Boy. Looks on her email.

What would it take to make your mom perfect?
1. On the inside she's already perfect. Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.
2. Diet. You know, her hair. I'd diet, maybe blue.
Boy. My Mum is perfect!!!

If you could change one thing about your mom, what would it be?

1. She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean. I'd get rid of that.
2. I'd make my mom smarter. Then she would know it was my sister who did it and not me.
3. I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back of her head.
Boy. Nothing.

I was blown away by Boy's last two answers. Moved emotionally like never before, I now know that at least what I have been doing with Boy is appreciated and that he doesn't hate me.

Below is a picture of Boy and I on a recent snorkeling trip on the Great Barrier Reef.

Managing a Work/Life and Home School Balance.

Broken and disturbed sleep makes mother cranky and Boy intolerable. Every time stepfather goes away on business, Boy’s insomnia increases. I appreciate that it is the changed routine and increased anxiety about stepfather’s safety but gee it’s hard to manage and find balance: to work and to home school when we’ve both had minimal sleep.

On the eve of stepfather’s return, Boy slept well. Maybe the medication is beginning to work or perhaps Boy has some comfort in knowing step dad will be safely home tonight. Regardless, Boy awoke in a happy mood ready to go to the movies and complete his Tuesday movie review. Problem!

I have a mini training booked today for a local foster care agency. Without another adult home to stay with Boy, he has to come to the training on Life Story Work with me. This is not unusual for my children. They have often assisted me in the facilitation of my training programs and they loan real examples of how effective child focused tools are.

Boy has decided that he really does not want to come, he wants to go to the movies: he wants to do his schoolwork just as he is supposed to do. The problem is that the movie he wants to see is on at times overlapping with the mid day training I am facilitating and then again in the late afternoon. Following the training, I have a client: right at the time of the next movie screening. I can’t cancel the training at last minute so what to do???

When we undertook home schooling, we did it because it was the best thing for Boy, not for us. We agreed that Boy’s special needs took priority and that his education was of huge value. I knew that my workload (and income) would be cut by half (we school in the mornings and I see clients in the afternoon).

Going back to these original decisions on why we home school, the answer to “what to do” became very clear. I rescheduled my afternoon client so that I can take Boy to the movies and help him with a movie review. That is my most important job.

I require the income from employment because I carry sexually transmitted debt from a previous marriage. However, as a compromise, I now work part time counseling and consulting from home and I am surrounded by a terrific support network to help with Boy’s needs. On the days when my support network is unavailable, Boy, not work, remains my top priority. Debt will always be there, Boy will not.

My actions have not only prevented a potential Aspergers melt down but have also shown Boy that he has value, worth and that compromise can bring around a win/win situation.

How do you manage to balance home schooling with earning a living?

Monday, March 5, 2007

Join the Carnival of Family Life.

The 44th edition of the Carnival of Family Life is up at Be A Good Dad. They included three articles from me: one from each of my blog sites.

There's a few home school posts in the current edition of the Carnival of Family Life so do check them out and consider posting to the carnival next week over at Adventures in the 100 Acre Wood. Stephanie at 100 acres is a home schooler.

Here's a recent article I wrote (at my Child Protection blog) about Carnivals: How to Attract Site Traffic to Child Protection or Sexual Abuse Blogs.

Mentors, Bowling, Fishing and Dragons.

Studies of Society and Environment - Socialisation: Boy has finally been matched with a mentor and they enjoyed their first activity over the weekend: bowling. The picture is of Boy bowling over the Christmas holidays. He loves bowling (is 200% better than me) but has been unable to bowl since he damaged his foot.

Boy also loves on-line games and one of the reasons he was matched with this particular mentor was because of the mentors interest and expertise in gaming. The mentor plays a game called War Hammer 40, 000 Dawn of War Dark Crusade. So….guess what Boy has now purchased with his pocket money!!! A strategy game, Boy’s aspergers egocentrism will be pushed to consider the tactics and moves of others. This fits in beautifully with our rich task focus of “understanding another person’s position.”

Although the mentor is both a gamer and blog keeper, both he and Boy opted to engage in a mentoring activity that neither of them knows a lot about: fishing. We’re pleased to have Boy away from the computer for two hours per fortnight and to re-engage him with outdoor activities that he used to thoroughly enjoy. His leg has been so sore for so long now that he has done little more than sit at the laptop.

Mentoring is a structured friendship. Both mentor and mentee enter a contracted mutually agreeable activity, frame worked with aims and a final presentation of their chosen activity. Boy and his mentor have undertaken to:

  • Report on fishing

  • Have Boy teach the mentor how to fish

  • Catch something.

At the six-month celebration ending the mentoring friendship, Boy and mentor will present a log of their fishing and what they learned.

Spelling: Step-dad had worked out a list of spelling associated with the Math activity they undertook on Friday. However, step-dad has flown off to the Never Never (Aussie slanguage for the outback) for work and I cannot find the list. Using the wedding reading as a basis for new words, I just picked ten words that Boy may or may not be able to spell: dragon, Knight, shining, armour, damsel, distress, consuming, confronted, reflection, assistance. Well done to Boy, he achieved 50% correct spelling words this morning.

Reading: Boy flatly refused to read the little wedding reading this morning. He told me he doesn’t think he wants to read in front of wedding guests because he might get it all wrong. Despite my cajoling, support, understanding and encouragement he refused to budge his position and I refused to get into an argument over it. As a compromise, Boy read a page from Eragon. At least it was Dragon related and covered some of the words on this weeks spelling list.

Health and Physical Education: Boy attends the youth group again this afternoon where they focus on anger management and self-esteem. Because social skills are a required part of Boy's learning and integration into a world that fails to understand people with Aspergers, we have no difficult in counting group time and mentoring activities as home school hours.

This blog is no longer kept. I am instead blogging only to Imaginif Child Protection became Serious Business