Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How NOT to Handle a Meltdown!

If you have a child who has special needs requiring special education, you don't need me to tell you what a challenge it is. A normal day can very quickly morph into a migraine inducing afternoon long meltdown. Your child, not you! Ok, maybe you too. I had this happen recently with RoboBoy. He is 10 years old and has Asperger's Syndrome, also known as high functioning autism.

He is on medication for ADHD which also helps to control his aspie symptoms. He also takes melatonin at night to help him sleep. A very common issue with aspies is that they tend to be chronic insomniacs.

So our day started out as usual, with me insisting that he take his medication first thing. When I walked into the kitchen to make sure he'd taken it, I saw his pill bottle sitting with the lid still on it. Strange...usually he forgets to put the lid back on. I let it pass and went on with my busy day.

That morning I was making out chore charts. I presented each of my three children with their new charts and informed them that if I caught them playing video games or watching a show before ALL their school and chores were done, they would be grounded.

RoboBoy was being difficult about doing his schoolwork and the thought passed through my mind, “I wonder if he really did take his medication?” Then I turned from my work on the computer to find him playing a game on the other computer! He had done NONE of his schoolwork. I had no choice but to ground him.

This is where mom goofed up BIG TIME! RoboBoy begged me to unground him if he did his schoolwork, and I caved. So he did his schoolwork and then wanted to play on the TV, which his sister was occupying at that time. The arguing ensued and his meltdown began. I ended up having to ground him for fighting with his sister. Then I told him that I was wrong to unground him for doing his schoolwork. Poor kid! Mom was waffling all over the place!

In my defense, I also have Aspergers, and I was stressed due to all of this arguing and RoboBoy melting down. As you can tell, I don't deal well with it.

When bedtime finally rolled around, (none too soon for me!), RoboBoy came and told me that he had been “doing some thinking in bed” and realized that he accidentally took his melatonin that morning instead of his other medication. Well, that sure explained a lot!

The main thing I learned from this incident, is that mom needs to stick to her guns and not cave when the little darling tries to bargain away his punishment. It would have made my life much easier that day in spite of his having not taken the correct medication. He wouldn't have spent the rest of the day melting down and trying to get me to change my mind again.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Those Rebelious Dolch Words!

Have you ever heard of Dolch words? These are a list of 220 words that Edward William Dolch collected in 1936. None of these words can be “sounded out” because they don't follow the basic rules of phonics.

Even if you've never heard of these before, you may be surprised to find that your older kids still need practice with these. I can't count the times during the day that I hear, “Mom, how do you spell...?” I would be willing to guess that 9 times out of 10 the word my child is attempting to spell is a Dolch word.

My husband's standard answer to, “How do you spell...?” is “d-i-c-t-i-o-n-a-r-y”. In other words, “Look it up.” My kids usually groan when they hear this answer, but it really is a great practice for them to get into. In the meantime, I will continue to have my kids use www.spellingcity.com.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Homeschool Portfolios

Did you know that in most states we are required to keep homeschool portfolios? You'll have to check the laws for your particular state. A portfolio is basically just a record of their work. The recommendation is to save a sample from the beginning of the year, the middle of the year and the end of the year. You will want to include their best work as well as samples of their not-so-great work. This will help to show progress in your child's learning.

There are lots of different ways to keep a portfolio for your child. In the past I have kept 3 ring binders for each of my children with all their school work in each. Some people simply put the samples into a cardboard box, others are very systematic about setting up the portfolios. One of my dear friends used to scrapbook her son's portfolio. This brings me to another purpose for portfolios! They can be a great way to preserve memories of your homeschool.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Minecraft Spelling

RoboBoy is enthralled with the game "Minecraft". He will play it for hours and hours at a time if we let him. So I decided to turn this fascination to my advantage, by making a spelling list based on his favorite game. I even printed out a wordsearch based on this list. RoboBoy also likes wordsearches so hopefully this will be something that he can get excited about doing. Anything to get them excited about doing school in my book!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Our Favorite Spelling Program

We used to really struggle with what spelling program to use in our house. For some reason my kids have wonderful reading levels but their spelling stinks. Go figure! Then we discovered Spelling City.com. At the risk of sounding like a commercial, I LOVE this program! It frees me up from spending time with each of my kids going over spelling lists and testing them. I can add my own spelling words or use the spelling lists by grade feature. My kids practice their spelling words throughout the week using the games and activities on the site. I can even print out handwriting practice sheets using my kid's spelling words for that week. Then at the end of the week they can take their spelling test right there online. My favorite feature is that with the premium membership, Spelling City will keep records for me. All I have to do is print them off for my kid's profiles. With all this available, perhaps my kid's spelling abilities will eventually match their reading levels!