Monday, August 4, 2008

About Me

I am a parent who is interested in how and what children learn. This interest includes the various types of homeschooling, and "school-schooling" -- private, religious, charter, and government schools.

I like to read about the history of education -- am especially fascinated by time around the turn of the 20th century, when the government really started getting involved, and about educational theories in general. I collect antique school texts, and enjoy understanding the ways schoolbooks have changed as the structure of schools and education has changed.

My main goal is to create life-long learners out of my children, and to inspire other parents to do the same with theirs.

I have a blended family which includes three children who still live at home with my husband and me, and two stepsons who have been launched successfully into their adult lives. One graduated with a BA in Business from Carson Newman College , a wonderful private Christian school that had a great football program. He is now living his dream in NASCAR, working on a pit crew, and learning all he can about the industry. I have no doubt that he will one day own a team.

The other is saving lives in the US Coast Guard and is living his dream of making a living on the water. He protects our borders from illegal drug smugglers and gets people out of stupid trouble on a regular basis. Plus he gets to surf on his days off.

Of the three children still at home, the oldest is academically inclined, which is, contrary to popular belief, not much easier to get through school than a kid with a learning disability. Putting a revved up mind into the body of a little child is like putting a GT 350 engine in a riding lawn mower....too much engine for the vehicle makes the vehicle hard to control. Plus school is boring to her, she has no patience for bureaucracy, and she occasionally underachieves. We have to be deliberate in what we talk about, provide for her to learn, or expect out of her. She is led toward the study of rhetoric, politics, history, Latin, and mock trial, none of which can be addressed in schools in our area. We supplement.

The middle child of the three left at home is a girl who has many talents that are not recognized as such in the traditional school setting. Her gifts include many hands-on abilities. Athletics comes easy to her. She is lightning fast, and has been a superb defender on several soccer teams. She also has a gift with working with animals. She grooms them, cares for them medically, breeds them when she can, and trains whatever ones are trainable. She is working on Therapy Dog certification for one of her dogs so she can take her dog into hospitals to help people, as she also has a great compassion for humans. For her, school is something to get through so she can live the rest of her day. She is a reluctant reader who has terrible trouble with spelling and handwriting and spacial orientation on paper. Her eyes focus funny and she requires eye exercises and prism lenses. Why read when it hurts and you'd rather be riding a horse anyway?

The youngest child has Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism. Contrary to what Michael Savage says, Autism is real, and he really does have it. We have homeschooled, private schooled, public schooled, done OT, PT, and speech language therapy. We have done biomedical interventions, such as the GFCF Diet -- which does work -- supplements, DAN doctors, social stories, videotaping behavior, then role playing later, and Karate. Despite our best efforts this sweet child still struggles with making friends and struggles through school and life. Our goal for this school year is to make one good friend, and develop social skills to a level that helps him navigate comfortably at school and at home.

In order to offset the costs of Autism, which is very expensive, and is not really covered by insurance, I work as a writer and editor of various things. I currently do some work with a company that I think is pretty neat. We stumbled upon them during our homeschooling days when we were looking for a program that would help my son. I started out as a client of theirs, then someone I knew mentioned there was some work available at her company, and I was interested, without even knowing it was Time4Learning.

Whether I am connected with them or not, I believe in the program. My son used it quite successfully and had fun at the same time. It presented information in a way he could process, and he not only felt smart and successful, but he learned and retained what he learned. I have placed their ads on my blog, and will honestly recommend their program to anyone who has a pre-K through middle school child, but anything I write on this blog comes from me - they are my opinions, generated from ideas that I have.

Learning, for all of us is a lifelong process, and shouldn't stop when we leave school. I hope this blog can encourage you to parent meaningfully, and make the best out of your time with your kids! Have fun, expose them to much without much expectation -- some things you do together will stick, and some will fall by the wayside to become just a memory, but the time you spend considering their "big picture" needs and the time you spend with them will create the ties that bind.