by Michelle Noonan from Blooming Sounds

 

Just as Mary Poppins says, “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”, music can make parenting so much easier! Somehow instructions sound better when they are sung, resulting in faster compliance than with nagging for sure. 

Songs help us remember routines, facts, how to spell, etc. Music helps us change the subject, redirect, change the mood, and self-regulate. 

Two great resources on parenting through songs are PBS’s Daniel Tiger and this great post on the Music Together® Worldwide Blog. 

 

My favorites from personal experience are:

  • Singing “bad opera” about things left around the house or chores being left undone. I get stress relief for myself and it seems to motivate my child, and husband, in getting it taken care of. Pick it up and the bad opera stops!
  • Teaching my child important phone numbers, addresses, etc: I changed the lyrics to a couple of her favorite children’s songs to my cell, my husband’s cell, and my parents’ phone numbers. She was able to recall our numbers at a very young age. Changing up familiar songs also works great for addresses and names. 
  • Using music to help with transitions: Time to leave the park? Use Daniel Tiger’s “It’s almost time to go, so choose one last thing to do.” song followed by a quick segue into a game of Name That Tune on the way home.  
  •  Using music as a timer: “Let’s cleanup for 3 songs and then take a break.” Music helps pass the time while doing the dreaded chores of picking up around the house, cleaning your room, brushing teeth, thank you Elmo’s Brushy Brush song!, and just about everything else that needs to be done.

 

Need some tunes to get you started or inspired? Download the Hello Everybody App that is preloaded with 8 Music Together ® favorites. Want even more? Join us for class!

 I would love to hear some of your favorite ways you use music to make parenting easier. Please share at info@bloomingsounds.com

 

Michelle Noonan is the owner of and lead instructor at Blooming Sounds LLC, an inclusive online music center licensed by Music Together LLC and Canta y Baila Conmigo LLC to provide these amazing early music programs to 0–8-year-olds and their grown-ups, including homeschoolers on the go! Older children are welcome. You can follow Blooming Sounds on Facebook and Instagram. You can reach Michelle at info@bloomingsounds.com.

 

 

 

 


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By Ali Sanders, SPED Homeschool Community Member

 

Mistake #1 – Compared myself to other homeschoolers 

This never ends well. Sure, there might be the rare occasion that you find out your child is further ahead in math, but more likely, you will think about all the things your family isn’t doing that others are doing. The problem is there are ample opportunities for comparison, especially if you are on social media. This becomes even more problematic when you have teenagers and the stakes are higher – who got into what college or who had 60 hours of dual credit and a 4.0 when they graduated. For parents of special needs kids, this is even more insidious. The jealousy that creeps in from comparison can steal the joy of your child finally being about to button their clothes themselves or tie their shoes. Their big accomplishment might be getting a part-time job, but we should celebrate it just as much as another child’s volleyball scholarship. It is impossible to do all the things: karate, violin, soccer, track, theater, volunteering, etc, let alone do them well. In fact, some children may not be able to handle much beyond one extra activity and the part-time job may count as that. Which brings me to number two.

 

Mistake #2 – Over-scheduled our time 

Do you know what happens when you over-schedule one of my sons? Complete and utter meltdown. I didn’t do well with it either. He was already worrying about the afternoon soon after he woke up in the morning, and it affected our school days at home. Some kids thrive on being out of the house every day of the week, but in my experience, my special kids thrive when they have one specific activity they love. It might be more than one day a week, but it must be regular and predictable. They love regular and predictable. Often they would be happy to just stay in their rooms for hours on end. There, they can focus easier, or their anxiety is quieted. However, too much of that can lead to the next problem.

 

Mistake #3 – Let things become too stagnant 

It is lovely when things feel “comfortable”, but it is dangerous too. Sometimes that turns into laziness, and we might not be challenging ourselves or our kids anymore. As much as they need routine and predictability, they also need challenges and flexibility. That may be with academics that we are being too easy with or it may be with not pushing them out of their comfort zones. One of my kids loves theater and loves being the center of attention. She wanted to do a drama class once a week. It was an easygoing drama group, so I pushed my son to go with her. He complained often, but it turned out to be one of the best things for him. I watched a few times and got nervous every time they did improv exercises or warm-ups, but he got comfortable with it and actually enjoyed it. They ended up doing it for two years and he performed on the stage twice with lines and songs and everything! I never would have imagined that happening before. This goes along with number four.

 

Mistake #4 – Stick with something for too long 

Everybody will do this at some point. Years later, they will still mentally hit themselves for not quitting that sport or co-op sooner, for not noticing the emotional toll it had on their kids. It took me years, too many years, to learn how to be okay with ripping pages out of the curriculum and NOT checking every box. I had to learn that I was not a failure because we quit a very rigorous classical co-op that was not a good fit for some of my kids. Nothing is one size fits all. With kids on every end of the spectrum, it makes it particularly tricky finding things ‌we can do together, but not impossible. We have been at our current co-op for the last four years, and it has a pleasant mix of eclectic and academic. We also do cross-country together. The season is short. We can run together. It is not a hyper competitive team sport or an activity with judging, so it feels easy going. Most of all, it teaches them perseverance.

 

Mistake #5 – Had a panic attack about homeschooling 

Sometimes the responsibility of being the teacher, principal, guidance counselor and parent bears down on us with the weight of a thousand suns. For me, that day came when my oldest at 16 decided ongoing to a very competitive college. I am a lifelong homeschooler, but suddenly, I realized ‌it would be all my fault if he couldn’t get into college. Suddenly, I couldn’t breathe. Of course, that wasn’t totally true, but it was all I could feel in that moment. The good news is that after many weeks of prayer and heavy research on “how to get your homeschooler into college”, we figured out how to pick the right courses and path to get him what he needed on a transcript. And thankfully, he is now in college (though I think he should get all the credit for that). The thing to remember is that it is impossible to teach your kids everything. There will be gaps. There may be things they know ‌other kids don’t and vice versa. Work on their weaknesses, but remember what the big picture is. What are your primary goals with homeschooling? What is your focus as they grow into adults? I would guess it’s not just academics. Maybe it is character, relationships, building confidence, etc. Make a list and keep it nearby. When things get too heavy, look at your list of reasons, and take a deep breath.

 

About Ali:

We have five kids age 10 to 20 years old, two of which joined our family through adoption. Some of the differences in our kids include autism, ADHD, dyspraxia, and vision impairment. I am so grateful to live in Texas and get to home school my kids, and some of my favorite things are books, animals, dark chocolate, and the color green. 

 

 

 


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By Charl Rae Cobb

 

Denial, anger, rationalization, bargaining, depression, anxiety, and eventual acceptance. In nursing school, I learned that everyone goes through several stages during the grieving process. I was taught to help support people whose loved ones have died. What I now recognize is that every diagnosis, whether it is medical or not, brings out these emotions. Realizing it is a natural, and unfortunately, a necessary process helps our family deal with each new health challenge.

 

Whether we are dealing with the symptoms of an acute illness like a virus or an allergic reaction, a long-term condition such as an auto-immune disorder or cancer, or an unexpected change in medication, illnesses wind up disrupting our current and carefully planned academic and household schedule. Honestly, it can be upsetting, overwhelming, and confusing until I remind myself that teaching my child how to handle change is as important as teaching math and writing skills.

 

Some days I want to cry because of the unfairness and disappointment of a new medical diagnosis or medicine that we now have to deal with. At times, I am anxious or fearful that the academics will slide. Sometimes I feel emotionally and or physically exhausted. Some days I want someone else to take over the multiple roles I am responsible for in our home: teacher, cook, laundress, chauffeur, social coordinator, cheerleader, budget balancer, time manager, etc. Just so that I can be the mom and/or nurse that my child needs or I can just focus on my own health needs or those of another family member.

 

After I allow myself some private time to identify that as part of the grieving process, I find myself better prepared to move myself and my student who studies and learns from everything I do as well as say into the acceptance stage of the grieving process where we can empower ourselves with education and a can do attitude. This has become our “Step Number One“.

 

Step Two, is a chance to reassess our priorities. We like the analogy of filling a glass jar with large rocks, small rocks, sand, and water. No one can be successful in filling the jar with all the items if they try to put all the small things in first. Anyone can be successful if they put the largest rocks in, then the smaller rocks, then the sand followed by the water. Our family finds success and satisfaction when we prioritize our needs and our wants. This becomes an important life lesson that translates into financial budgeting and time management as well as health and academics. We also find this to be a powerful opportunity to teach discernment. If our child learns a healthy decision-making process so that he can continue to do so independently as an adult, then we have invested our time in a worthwhile endeavor rather than wasting it with worry.

 

Step Three is based on Step Two. If one or more of our family members need to focus on sleep, bedrest and antibiotics or other treatments to recover from a short-term illness, that becomes the priority and other things can wait. We may choose to progress slowly toward reading literature, watching documentaries, or playing games prior to resuming academics. It has been helpful to record what we did in our lesson planner retrospectively during these times. We have been pleased to see that we actually have satisfying discussions about a story we read together or a documentary we watched and were inspired to explore more about that particular topic or interest. When social distancing is due to illness, it has been helpful to maintain connections with others via FaceTime, phone calls, texting, and letter writing. It has amazed me at how much my child and his pen pals are lengthy and detailed letters to each other as well as watching their handwriting, typing, and spelling skills improve!

 

If I am the one who is ill, my child may proceed with lessons he feels more confident about. He may give me a short progress report each day or ask his dad or grandmother to help him work through a question if he did not find understanding by searching the Internet or textbook. If we are dealing with a long term health challenge or a newly diagnosed learning disability related to an illness, we tend to approach it as a health related unit study and learn what we can about the symptoms, treatment or therapy, etc. Therefore we can plan for success with physical health, social interactions, and schoolwork. Occasionally, this has led to combining nutrition and cooking lessons with biology, physics, and physiology in fun and memorable ways!

  

Every family goes through health challenges in their own unique ways. I hope that sharing our perspective might encourage someone else, as I have been encouraged by other parents who are homeschooling through medical challenges.

 

Charl’s work experiences include writing, education, healthcare, and art. She loves helping homeschoolers learn how to identify dominant learning styles and how to plan strategies for success. Respecting the individual requirements of her multi-generational household, she strives to create tasty, family-friendly meals while juggling multiple dietary requirements, provide social and educational activities that encourage those dealing with multiple special needs, and balance life in general. 

 

 

 

 

 


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 by Jen Dodrill from History at Home

 

For some people, homeschooling is synonymous with being unsocial or even antisocial. We as a collective of homeschoolers don’t know why. We know our kids are socialized. At least we try to make that happen, but what if your child has social or sensory needs and you feel like socialization isn’t happening?

In this post, I want to look at what socialization is and offer some tips for socialization for kids with social and sensory needs.

My personal experience – I’ve learned so much from my granddaughter about sensory needs. She is in therapy to learn how to adapt, and my daughter passes on what they’ve learned so that we all can work with her. Anything we can do to help my granddaughter is what we will do!

Let’s start with defining socialization.

 

What exactly is socialization?

In a paper on Home Schooling and the Question of Socialization, the author says – “What makes this question so puzzling is that different people mean different things by the word socialization. Some people mean social activity…. Others mean social influence…. And some mean social exposure…. but socialization can be more accurately defined as “the process whereby people acquire the rules of behavior and systems of beliefs and attitudes that equip a person to function effectively as a member of a particular society” (Durkin, 1995b, p. 614).”

I will not put down people that have their own ideas of what socialization is and how to achieve it, but I want to point out that the above definition is not restricted by place, time, or age. 

Socialization is truly less about activity or influence and more about equipping our children to function in their world.

Keep that in mind!

 

Direct and indirect socialization 

When our kids are small, they play alongside each other or in the same room. This is a form of indirect socialization. All children do this, but as they get older, they typically start interacting directly with their playmates.

For kids with social or sensory needs and disorders, indirect socialization is all they want, and it can be very helpful. However, if your child has social or sensory issues, you know that direct socialization can be difficult. For some it is doable with lots of cues and repetition, but for some kids it is almost crippling.

In the article 5 Tips for Homeschooling Your Child with ASD, the author says we still need to provide ways for our struggling kids to socialize – or interact – with others. Some ways they have listed include:

  • Homeschool co-op
  • Homeschool class at the zoo, museum library, etc.
  • Playing a sport, gymnastics, ballet
  • Music/choir lessons
  • VBS or other church activities

You know your child, and you either know how much to push or you’re learning! It may be a constant, on-going process. That’s okay, we are all learning.

 

Tips for socialization for kids with social and sensory needs 

Too many people can be overwhelming for many kids, and adults. Loud noises, too many lights, it adds up to overstimulation and it can happen fast! Once they’re over stimulated it’s hard to get them regulated and they might shut down or meltdown.

Some socialization tips for our kids:

  • Safe spot and person – Identify a safe spot or person for your child to go to if they’re becoming overwhelmed – my daughter always does this. Even early on, before we knew there was an issue, we did this.
  • Knowing someone there – It’s hard being the “new” kid, so knowing someone at the place or event can help lower anxiety.
  • Just being around others but not necessarily interacting – A baby step towards more direct interaction.
  • Library story times or other small groups are usually easier.
  • One person talking – This can cut down on overstimulation.
  • Give choices – Help your child to identify when they can make a choice and then offer it. You will learn if you need to push a little or a little more. For example, my granddaughter sometimes wants to order at a restaurant, but not always. She knows she has a choice.
  • Split birthday parties – Have one for friends and one for family. Holding it outside is a great idea, and even here you can assign a safe place and person.
  • Consider a lower-key holiday celebration. I have 5 kids (all grown), plus their spouses/significant others and children.  Our celebrations are always loud and busy. This can be super hard on my granddaughter, and even a couple of my kids. Be mindful of this and accommodate as you can.

 

Wrapping it up

What other people think about socialization is their business. We must equip our children to function in the world in the best way we can, while meeting their needs.

It can seem like a lot of work to teach our kids with social and sensory needs to socialize. And it is. But keep doing it! You’re learning right alongside your child.

Ask for help, look up other tips and ideas to do the best for your child. And keep in mind what your goals are for your child. No one else can define that for you. It might be helpful to seek help from someone who specializes in the sensory area, ABA or OT,  to help you define those goals and figure out exactly how to reach them.

You have a choice in how you make socialization happen!

 

Jen Dodrill has been married for 35 years, is a proud mom to 5 kids, and she homeschooled the three youngest. The “baby” graduated in May 2020, but Jen refuses to bow to empty-nest syndrome! She teaches Oral Communication as an adjunct instructor and writes curriculum under  History at Home at TeachersPayTeachers and  Boom Learning. When she’s not working, she is spending time with her kids and, adorable, granddaughters. Connect with her on her blog – Jen Dodrill History at Home , Instagram, Facebook, and her favorite place – Pinterest!

 

 

 

 

 


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by Michele Nuckolls, SPED Homeschool Community Member

 

During a hard season, I was reading a book and had a God-ordained moment of clarity. I went to my daughter’s room and asked her, “Do you think about your birth mother every day?” She gave me an astonished, “YES!” The look on her face said, “How could you possibly have guessed?” 

 

After praying for answers, I read a book by adoptee Sherrie Eldridge who is gentle with adoptive moms like me who didn’t know. Since that day, my daughter and I have embarked on a journey of adoption grief together and it has been healing for both of us.  

 

“Chasing the why behind the behavior” is a phrase coined by Dr. Daniel J. Siegel M.D. and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D. This dynamic duo has written quite a few books together, including No Drama Discipline where they specifically talk about this parenting tool. When I thought about how I have simplified my homeschool, this was the first thing that came to mind. When I “chase the why,” sometimes the answer changes everything.  

 

If you are a seasoned SPED homeschool mom, you have probably already been chasing the why behind the behavior when your child might just not be developmentally ready for what you are asking him to do. We have learned to “lower the bar,” so that our kids can meet expectations and feel success. 

 

Here are a few of those examples:

My child melts down every Sunday morning while getting ready for church.

  • Why? Perhaps, church is too loud and chaotic and my child is overwhelmed by it all.

My child protests and doesn’t like to read aloud.

  • Why? Perhaps the book is too difficult to follow. I have one child who struggles with following any type of fantasy book, but real-life books like Ramona and Beezus or Junie B. Jones are loved. As an aside, I have two kids who struggle with emotional regulation and they both LOVE Junie B. Jones. I think it’s nice to read about another cool kid who isn’t perfect either.

My child refuses to write.

  • Why? Low muscle tone? Poor hand, eye coordination? Perhaps a weighted pencil, a marker, or a pencil grip can help?   

My child refuses to go to speech therapy.

  • Why? Because last time he went, he had a meltdown and is now embarrassed to go back. He needs to talk through that embarrassment.  

My child doesn’t want to play at the park in the summer.

  • Why? Because feeling overheated puts him into sensory overload.  

 

Then, there are the deeper struggles. Perhaps a child is disrupting the family rhythm so much that things are harder than they should be, or could be. Here are a few deeper examples:

 

My child is struggling with a math problem and when I ask a simple question, what is 2+2, he intentionally gives an incorrect answer of 500.

  • Why? He is embarrassed that he doesn’t understand, and he decides to act like he doesn’t know anything. He needs a break (maybe until tomorrow), and he needs to watch some more examples worked out for him to watch. He needs to hear that I know he is smart and it’s okay to need extra time to learn. If my child is adopted, he may be afraid of being abandoned, even if I took him home on the day of his birth. If this is the case, maybe he needs to hear that he is my son forever, even after he is old like grandpa. He needs to know that this math thing is just not that important.     

My child is very angry and frustrated today. He is roughly setting the table with snappy remarks.

  • Why? Some children were making fun of him on the playground this afternoon, and he needs to be able to tell the story and talk it out with a parent. He needs me to hear and understand how he feels about it. As Dr. Siegel would say, “he needs to feel felt.”

My tween suddenly does not want to complete his work this school year and seems angry or sad. 

  • This year is the first year of mostly independent work. He feels neglected and misses me. I need to carve out some read-aloud time together, one-on-one time to work on school together, or just special time together, even if it’s just ten minutes a day.

My child is speaking harshly to his brother.

  • Oh no, that was a direct quote FROM ME!  

 

I think our kids with special needs or unique, difficult histories (like adoption, divorce, or illness) have heard and possibly internalized a lie that is troubling them. This is when we, as parents, need to pray and seek the Lord, asking him to reveal the truth. Don’t be afraid to sit in silent stillness with your child to give them a gentle space to share when they are ready. It’s okay to ask questions or make suggestions, but then try to stop talking. Sometimes I will sit down with a child and say something like, “I think something is bothering you, and I hope you will share it with me,” or, “I noticed you were loudly washing the dishes tonight. Could you tell me about what is on your mind?”  

SPED Homeschool has additional articles and resources that address the unique situation for adoptive and foster families.

 

 

 


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By Jan Bedell, Ph.D., Master NeuroDevelopmentalist, SPED Homeschool Partner & Board Member

 

Behavior and character are topics parents are always interested in pursuing. The privilege and responsibility we have in raising our children in the way they should go can often be a challenging and frustrating journey. It would be easier if we knew what influenced certain behaviors and how to determine if a negative interaction with a child is a heart issue or if there is something else at the root of it all. 

 

When thinking about the root cause of behavior issues, we must look at several different factors. Some might be more obscure than others. 

 

What is the root cause of challenging behavior? The source of negative behavior could be metabolic, having to do with body chemistry. It could also be the sin nature we were all born with. Or, from my perspective, it could be caused by neurodevelopmental deficits. We will look mainly at neurodevelopmental causes, but the others are well worth mentioning. 

 

  1. Metabolic Causes

Diet and nutrition can play a significant role in negative behavior. If the child reacts to food or the environment, it can cause a wide range of difficult behaviors like irritability, anger, and even aggression or destructiveness. This is beyond the child’s control and care should be taken to consider this as a cause since you cannot discipline this out of a child. One approach to this is to create a food diary each time you see negative behavior, especially if the behavior is uncharacteristic of the child in general. If you see a pattern in food consumed and negative behavior, try eliminating that food type and see if the behavior changes. 

 

  1. Neurodevelopmental Causes

Underdeveloped brain pathways can cause challenges in receiving sensory information correctly, processing information in your short-term memory, as well as storing information for good retrieval. These, like the metabolic causes, are beyond the child’s ability to control. 

Let me give you a few neurodevelopmental examples. This is by no means an exhaustive list.

  • Sensory Overload: If the child is hypersensitive to touch or sound and noises or irritating touches invade the child’s sensory system, the immediate overreaction is fight or flight because the brain is interpreting these stimuli as pain. When you are in pain, you want to get away or retaliate. The result can be negative behavior which is misunderstood by people whose sensory system gives the correct messages.  
  • Underdeveloped Central Vision: It might be considered a negative character quality not to look a person in the eyes when you talk to them. We tend to require this of our children, especially when we try to get our point across about a behavior or character issue. When the central detail vision (how you see right in the center of your vision field) is underdeveloped, the child can move his eyes toward you but soon look like he is looking over your shoulder. You have trained him to move his eyes toward you, but since he can’t really see well in the center, the eye moves so he can look with his peripheral vision. This is often interpreted as defiance or disobedience when, in fact, it is beyond the child’s control.
  • Following Directions or Staying on Task: Parents often comment that their child REFUSES to follow directions and exhibits the poor character of not staying with their work. Look no further than the inability to hold pieces of auditory information in short-term memory when you have these behavioral challenges. When children’s auditory processing is low, they literally can’t hold the pieces of the instruction together long enough to complete the request. Often, this gets them in trouble for not “obeying” or not being “diligent” when it was simply beyond their control at this point. Read more about auditory processing and attention here.  

 

  1. Sin Nature

Unlike metabolic or neurodevelopmental causes of negative behavior, the sin nature CAN be controlled by the child. The discerning eye of a caring parent can determine whether they are dealing with a metabolic, neurodevelopmental, or heart issue in a particular situation. 

 

To identify which of the three root causes of behavior or character issues you are dealing with, I suggest watching a couple of videos I recorded called Create a Positive Learning Environment Part 1 & 2 on the  Brain Coach Tips YouTube Channel. These videos will help you better understand the different possible causes of negative behavior that I discussed here and how to change this for better compliance in the future. 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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by Monica Irvine, from The Etiquette Factory, SPED Homeschool Curriculum Partner

 

“How dare you think that you can teach character!” was a comment left by a parent on our Facebook page. “Ouch,” I thought. 

But, I know that we can – I can, you can, we all can. If any parent is under the illusion that only they can teach their child character, well, I think that’s sad.  

 

As a child, I was taught character by many people – my parents and other adults. There were two common factors in those who were successful in slowly, gradually, but steadily, improving my character: patience and love.

I know this truth: you cannot help others improve their character unless they know that you love them beyond a shadow of a doubt. Unless we know that someone loves us and has our best interest at heart, it is difficult for us to soften our hearts toward them enough to allow them to influence our character and moral compass. It always starts and ends with love.

 

When I was in the 4th grade, I cheated on a social studies test. My teacher, Mr. Luckett, picked up my test and saw the notes I had hidden under my test. He asked what they were, but I lied and said I didn’t know they were on my desk. He just nodded and kept moving. You see, Mr. Luckett was my favorite teacher. I was lost in his class and struggled to learn, but he was always kind. Honestly, I struggled in many of my classes. After class that day, he never said a word, and I moved to my English class. 

I felt consumed with guilt by the time I got to my English class. During English class, I couldn’t take it anymore. I went up to my teacher, tears streaming down my face, and told her that I needed to talk to Mr. Luckett. She walked me down to his class and asked him to come out into the hallway, where I gathered the courage through many tears and heaving breaths to confess my betrayal of his confidence.  

Later in the day, when I was calmer, he came and walked me to an empty gym (a female teacher accompanied us). He invited me to sit down on the bleachers and asked me why I felt the need to cheat. I don’t remember what I said but, I do remember how I felt. I knew he cared about me. He reminded me of that through his words and the way he spoke to me. I decided at that moment that I never wanted to feel like that again. I didn’t like how it felt disappointing someone whom I respected.  

He helped develop my character because instead of condemnation, he sought understanding. He taught me other options I could do when I felt overwhelmed or lost in my classes. He reminded me that I was a good girl and that he knew I was good. He reminded me that he had confidence in me and my mistake did not represent who I was. He accepted my behavior as a mistake, not a representation of me. That was huge for me.

 

Parents, hopefully, our children will be surrounded by people who have their best interests at heart. How do we teach character to our children and other children that we come into contact with? We remember a few things:

  • Showing every child that they are valued and loved by the way we speak to them and treat them.
  • Never allowing a child’s mistake to become the focal point of who they are. We do this by never saying things like, “You are dishonest” or “You are selfish”. Instead, we might say, “That was a dishonest answer” or “That was a selfish decision.”
  • Continuously showing each child how much we believe in them and their ability to make good choices by being their biggest cheerleader. We do this by saying things such as, “I know it’s difficult but I believe in you” or “I love how you are always striving to make the right choice, even though it’s painful to do so sometimes,” etc.
  • Reminding ourselves that it’s difficult to always make the right choice. You and I don’t make the right choice each day, and neither will our children. But, we can learn from our wrong choices and give each other and ourselves more grace.

 

Yes, character can be taught. It is best taught by example. One thing that cripples too many parents’ ability to influence their children is when there is hypocrisy between what they tell their kids to do and what they do themselves. Children are so smart. For them to respect us enough to listen to us, they have to believe that we, too, are trying our best to live what we profess to believe.

Developing character is a life-long journey, not a race. We are on the same journey as our children, trying to be a little better today than we were yesterday. Some days we do better than other days. May we never give up on ourselves or anyone else. Just keep going.

 

For resources to help you teach the skills of character, good manners, and life skills, please visit our website at www.TheEtiquetteFactory.com.

 

 

 

 

 


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by Alicia Goodman, PhD, NCSP, SPED Homeschool Partner Simply Psychology, LLC

 

From the time children are born, they are interacting with others. As infants, they cry and coo as they discover how to get our attention. As toddlers, they are mobile and engage with others verbally to develop friendships. As tweens and teens, they are exerting their independence. By 18 years of age, a typical human will have approximately 78,840 interactions (information extrapolated from the 2018 study of Zhaoyang, R., Sliwinski, M, Martire, L. and Smyth, J). That’s a lot of behavior!

 

Behavior is “the way in which one acts or conducts oneself, especially toward others,” according to the Oxford Dictionary (2021). Meaning behavior can be positive or negative. In this article, the term behavior will refer specifically to unpleasant or unwanted behavior that impacts others. We want to start with an unwanted behavior and then consider the more appropriate behavior within a given set of circumstances. 

 

Let’s meet Emma. Emma is eight years old. She goes to her grandmother’s house every Tuesday and Thursday morning and other times when her parents have other obligations. Emma clings to her parents at drop off and begs them to come inside the house. Emma loves her grandmother, and they like to play together and do crafts; however, she is not willfully separating from her parents at drop off.

 

I see many children who experience separation anxiety who “refuse” to physically separate from their parents. The word “refuse” is in quotes because we need to understand that it may be due to anxiety or lack of skills, but this is how others usually see the issue. Separation anxiety comes in all forms, including separating for school, playdates, going to a relative’s house, and bedtime.

 

STEP 1– The FIRST STEP is to objectively define WHAT the target behavior is that you want to see. You may want to write the goal as “Emma will stop clinging to me.” It is a common mistake to focus on the behavior that we want to stop. Instead, focus on what you want to happen. Also, “Emma will go into grandma’s house independently,” is slightly better than “Emma will separate from parents,” as it is more specific. This step can also include the WHO if someone else will be involved, which, in this case, is grandma. You can also add something like, “with one prompt from parent” or “without prompts from others.” Of course, there will be age-appropriate variations for this. For a 2- or 3-year-old, you are likely helping them with the car door and walking them to the door. Emma does not need this assistance. In this example, we will start the goal with, “Emma will independently exit the car and enter Grandma’s house with one prompt from a parent.”

 

STEP 2– Define WHEN the desired behavior needs to take place. When will your child separate? Think about how often drop off is. Do we want Emma to separate every time we are dropping off at grandma’s, even if there is no warning? Typically, anxious kids need a heads up, and, let’s assume, this is a goal that gets lots of practice. For this goal, let’s answer the WHEN. “On Tuesday and Thursday mornings or when given a one-hour warning, Emma will independently exit the car and enter grandma’s house with one prompt from a parent.” Looking great!! Your fail-proof goal is well on its way!

 

STEP 3 – Determine the baseline for the current behavior. How often is Emma already doing the desired behavior? Take some data to truly know. The easiest way to report assessment data for growth is out of a certain number of trials or a percentage. For example, currently, Emma is completing this goal in 2 out of 10 drop-offs (2/10 trials) or 20%.

 

STEP 4 – Decide on the percentage of success you want to consider the goal achieved. You can use objectives under the goal to set smaller targets. Or, set your goal at 50% and then write a new goal for 70%, 90%, etc. When you write your goal, you should also consider how you will be assessing the progress. “On Tuesday and Thursday mornings or when given a one-hour warning, Emma will independently exit the car and enter her grandma’s house with one prompt from a parent 75% of the time as measured by counting successes over a 2-week period.”

 

Behaviors are tricky. Behaviors are communication, a way of expression, and I urge you to understand what is behind the behavior. With appropriate intervention, addressing deficient skills, empathy, structure, and appropriate expectations, unwanted behaviors will melt away. That means that we often have the power to impact even the toughest of behaviors, not by forcing them to change,  but by changing our approach and reaction/response. But sometimes unwanted behaviors persist, and behavior goals are necessary.

 

BONUS: Helping promote success

  • Discuss and develop goals with your child and explain the purpose behind them. Having buy-in will help tremendously.
  • Pre-teach expectations, role play, and model target behavior for your child.
  • Identify and address any skill deficits that might be impeding success.
  • Have your child take data on the goal. This is a great way for them to get involved and take some ownership.
  • Break down the goals into manageable subgoals or objectives.

 

Find additional resources and workshops at www.simplypsychservices.com

 

 

 

 

 


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Dr. Melissa Shipman, SPED Homeschool Partner Learnwell Home Education Collective

While homeschooling can often be a solitary endeavor for a parent, there are many reasons why all of us benefit from homeschooling in community.

 

Accountability works.

Just like when we train for an athletic event or try to lose a few pounds, having people around us to support our journey is crucial. If there is no accountability outside of our own motivation, it is easy to get behind, have a bad week and push school to the side, or altogether lose sight of our educational goals and feel discouraged. 

This is one of the primary reasons why homeschooling in community works. Knowing that your community is tracking with you is priceless! Knowing that there is another parent who is following the same curriculum and the same timeline or list of assignments provides instant accountability. You know that they are sticking to the same guidelines and subject matter. You know that if you have a particularly challenging day, you can reach out and ask for help from someone who is running the same race.

 

Questions come up.

Whether you are homeschooling for the first time or a homeschooling veteran, you will have questions. Maybe you need to find a new program or curriculum or need ideas for new teaching strategies. Unfortunately, when you are “going it alone,” it is easy to let your circumstances overwhelm you. 

However, a community of like-minded parents gives you something you may not get on your own: a different perspective. 

When a question pops up about how to keep a pre-K student busy while teaching your fourth-grade student math, another parent of similar-aged children can share tips. If you are both parents of third-grade students studying pictographs in social studies, then you can put your heads together for solutions when your children need more help.

In community, the sharing of ideas can ensure that speed bumps don’t become dead-ends.

 

Isolation is lessened.

Sometimes the choice to homeschool feels like a choice to step out of community. You may miss out on shared moments that revolve around a local school – unless you’re in a homeschool community. 

As you exchange ideas, help, and encouragement, the parents who have students in that same grade become your friends. 

The truth is that isolation becomes the perfect breeding ground for self-doubt. But over the past 15 years, opportunities for both online and in-person homeschooling community have grown exponentially.

Living in community can shed light on our fear and self-doubt. Homeschooling in community allows us to share our doubts and questions and fears, and receive help from those around us.

 

Laughter really is the best medicine.

Here’s the truth: sometimes what we teach today is not what we learned when we were in school. Whether it’s a new way to teach math or a variation for teaching prepositions, some teaching strategies change over time. This can be frustrating at your worst moment and hilarious at your best. Imagine texting a friend who is also finding a new math strategy a little tough to master. Laughter is almost guaranteed! 

Homeschooling in community lightens your mood, and probably your child’s mood too. Laughter really can diffuse tension and stress in both you and your child. You have a sounding board, someone in the same proverbial boat, with which to share. We choose if we’re going to homeschool in isolation – rarely very funny – or share the journey with others and laugh sometimes along the way!

 

It’s ninety percent mental, ten percent physical.

It is said that when a person trains for a marathon, only ten percent is about the physical aspects of training, and the other 90 percent is about building mental fortitude for when your physical limitations kick in. 

The same can be said for any endeavor that is spread across a long-distance or time. Even when you aren’t communicating directly with a fellow homeschool parent, understanding that your friends are in the trenches with you can be all it takes to keep going. Simply knowing someone else who is making her way through the same curriculum with her kids is often enough to help you power through a challenging week.

 

Celebrations are all the more sweeter.

Consider this: when you are cooking for one, and you master a particularly challenging recipe, who cheers for you? But when you are cooking for a family and you get it right (meaning everyone loves it!), you have your own little fan club. 

In the same respect, homeschooling within a community is equally fulfilling when you triumph through a tough subject, or your child breaks through in his understanding of a concept that was once difficult. Who else knows what it’s like to teach your kindergartner the long and short vowel sounds? Who else would understand why you broke into your happy dance? The answer: a fellow mom who is rejoicing because she has been there too!

 

Children feel more secure.

Not all of the benefits of homeschooling in community are for parents! 

While they may be too young to voice their feelings about it, even the littlest of your brood needs community. It could be that they are reading the same book of ABCs at the same time, or that they get to meet up for a playground date nearby, or that a child their age in a different country is learning about the same author. 

When a child knows that there is someone else like him learning the same thing, it can be reassuring and bring hope, especially when the learning gets tough. Community gives a student the foundation of knowing he isn’t alone in learning all about fractions, even if the community is a virtual one. 

Our kids need to know that other kids have actually mastered their multiplication tables. This can give them the extra boost they need to keep trying. Knowing this can also be the cushion on which they rest when a break is needed, knowing that when they return after a few days off, they aren’t starting over alone – there is a team of friends around them doing the exact same thing.

 

 

 


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Renee Sullins, SPED Homeschool Consulting Partner

In working with teenagers for many years, I have learned that if there is ONE thing that teenagers understand well, it’s PROCRASTINATION. Not to say that adults are not guilty of the same, but teenagers are quite adept at it.

There are three types of procrastinators I would unscientifically categorize as the blatant procrastinator, the passive procrastinator, and the convicted procrastinator.

 

The Blatant Procrastinator purposefully ignores an assignment or task and is aware of the consequences. They are not concerned that something is due the next day or that there is even a deadline involved. It may be important to someone else, but not to them. They simply let the deadline pass and move on, much to the displeasure of their parents who may not even know.

Blatant procrastinators would rather do something they want to do and don’t see it as procrastination. This may be the teen who has a messy room, refuses to use a calendar or planner, and has a list of excuses for everything. Why bother to clean your room when it will just get messy again? Planners are too restrictive! These teenagers are also the ones who spend countless hours gaming or on social media.

 

The Passive Procrastinator waits until the last minute to finish so it does not seem to be a big problem. They are aware of deadlines and may even track things in a planner, app, or notes on their cell phone. They have good intentions of following through, but they just cannot accomplish tasks on-time consistently. They know where they want to be, but struggle to manage their time.

Passives may believe they have finished, but in reality, it is only partially done and they don’t notice until it is too late. These teens are usually the ones with ADHD and who are aware of their learning differences, but they are not using the necessary tools to focus and manage their time. Passive procrastinators know the consequences of not getting something done on time. They are often the most amenable to trying new strategies to help prevent procrastination, though.

 

If we can determine what is getting in the way of their success and help them get unstuck, then they are more motivated to cultivate new habits for their success.

 

The Convicted Procrastinator has a heightened awareness that they are procrastinating but, instead of working toward their goal, they quickly become overwhelmed and spiral into thoughts of self-criticism, defeat, and guilt. They are so hard on themselves that they self-sabotage and end up not getting anything done. Or, they are so overwhelmed about their lack of activity, there is often a resultant headache, stomach ache, or even a migraine. When this happens, they feel even worse, and it becomes a vicious cycle.

 

I would also like to mention a fourth type of procrastinator that I know well as I witnessed this type in my teen. They are a kindred spirit to the Passive but to a more extreme level. It is the Avoidant Procrastinator. This is the teen who thinks that if they don’t think about it at all, it will go away. I had one of those in my house. It does not go away. It only gets worse and can cause great anxiety and stress.  Please be aware of the signs that your teen may suffer from more than just being a procrastinator.

 

So what should a parent do? Each procrastinator has his or her own set of rules, coping skills, excuses, and struggles. The first thing I do when I work with young people is to let them know that I come from a place of curiosity, not a place of judgment. We dive deep to determine what they want for themselves, how they want to be seen and heard, what is important to them, and their “why”. If we can determine what is getting in the way of their success and help them get unstuck, then they are more motivated to cultivate new habits for their success. This takes time, patience, and intentional listening.

The teen years are transitional years of becoming more independent yet still needing the approval and counsel of parents. When you have a procrastinator in your home, instead of asking nagging questions or given them endless reminders, seek out resources to get them the support they need that works uniquely for them. This may take some trial and error, but in the end, they will find their way, and will feel empowered and in control of their lives now, and hope for the future.

 

 

 

 

 


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