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Chronicling our adventures as a small homeschool family with mom and dad both as teachers

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Emetophobia

(This post is not about our homeschooling, but I wanted to share this story here as it has been a major event in our family’s life.  Honestly, trying to deal with the issue addressed in this post is a major reason why I haven’t posted in almost a year.  It has consumed much of our family’s emotional bandwidth.  As a warning to anyone who might have come across this post that has emetophobia, I will be discussing this phobia and the treatment of it.  This post will contain possible anxiety trigger words and topics.  Also, I apologize for the length of this post.  I want to share as complete a version of our story with this as possible so that it can hopefully help others.)

Have you ever heard of emetophobia?  This is actually one of the more common phobias in the US, but very few people have even heard about it because, quite honestly, it’s difficult and  embarrassing to talk about.  Emetophobia is the fear of vomit and vomiting.  Yes, it’s a real thing and before you dismiss it or think it simple or silly, I ask that you read on.

I have decided to write this post in hopes that it might help and encourage other people who have this phobia and their families.  I want you to know that there are many others like you and that there is treatment for this.  More importantly, my 12-year-old son wants you to know this.  After all, he’s the one that’s been living with this day-in and day-out for over three years, and he asked me to share his story with you.  In this post, I’ll call him NDEW.

About three and a half years ago NDEW traveled with me for a job interview I had.  We had friends who lived in the area where I was interviewing and he spent the day with them while I was at my interview.  During that day, NDEW came down with the norovirus.  I will spare you the details, but he was sick for our entire six-hour drive home.  I’m not going to lie.  It was pretty darn terrible, and I wasn’t the scared, sick 9 year old.  I will also say that during this time our family life was in a lot of upheaval.  My husband had lost his job, and we were looking at moving to a brand new place, where we knew no one.  I’m sure all of that didn’t help the situation.

NDEW’s first panic attack around getting sick happened less than two weeks later.  We honestly attributed his anxiety at the time to all the change going on in our lives and didn’t even consider that he could have developed a specific phobia to throwing up.  Soon after we moved we had him start seeing a counselor to work on his anxiety.  Yes, it helped in some respects, but this fear around getting sick never got better and actually got worse.

So this post doesn’t end up being even longer than it already will be, I’ll jump ahead and describe to you how severe things got before we finally found the help that NDEW needed.  Fast forward three years from those first panic attacks about throwing up-to December 2014-and this is where we were:

  • NDEW essentially refused to leave the house, especially if there was a chance he was going to be in crowded environment where someone might get sick or if he heard about some illness going around.
  • NDEW did not want to be around other kids, especially little kids, because they might get sick without warning.  Just the mention of someone being sick would send him into a panic attack.
  • NDEW couldn’t ride in the car for more than 30 minutes or so at a time without a panic attack setting in.
  • NDEW refused to use his bathroom in our house (needing to use ours instead) because that’s the last place he got sick.
  • NDEW had developed many superstitions around getting sick.  He felt that there were many things that if he did do them or didn’t do them it meant that he would get sick.  This aspect of this phobia can look very much like OCD.  We weren’t even aware of many of these superstitions and when we would force NDEW to do something that went against one of these (often unknowingly) he would act like a caged animal-total fight or flight response.
  • He became completely hyper vigilant about any physical sensations he experienced, especially in his stomach, and would be convinced that each meant he was getting sick.  A growling stomach from hunger would send him into a blind panic that could last for hours.
  • NDEW developed a vocal tic that sounded like a short cough.  He would do this to provide a physical release to the anxiety that he would feel.  Of course, this release was only temporary and the more anxious he became, the more he would do it.  At his worse moments he would cough 20-30 times a minute.  I’m not going to lie; that sound became like fingernails on a chalkboard to my husband and me.  It was like a big, red, neon sign or alarm shouting “I’M GETTING ANXIOUS!!!!!”  There was no ignoring it.
  • NDEW would regularly dissolve into full, screaming, crying panic attacks that could last for hours.
  • NDEW severely limited what he would eat to a few things that he believed couldn’t ever make him sick.
  • NDEW has always struggled with sleeping, but it got worse because he would be convinced that if he fell asleep, he would wake up sick.  We were all exhausted.
  • Because of his face blindness, NDEW is not a fan of being away from his dad and me because we often act as his “recognizers”.  This got much worse though as his emetophobia got worse.  The thought of getting sick out in public and not being able to find or recognize a “safe person” to help him was an absolutely terrifying thought.

Things got this severe gradually and it honestly was really bad before we realized how really bad it was.  Our entire life began to revolve around trying to manage this issue.  Needless to say, we weren’t very successful.   In many ways, the ways we were acting were making things worse and reinforcing NDEW’s anxiety, but we were so deep in it by that time that we couldn’t see it.  We were just trying to make it through each day with our family and our sanity at least somewhat intact.

When you think about phobias, most people think of things like spiders or flying or public speaking.  Not to downplay these phobias at all, but in many cases, someone with one of these phobias can avoid their trigger.  But how do you avoid a trigger that’s internal to you?  All of us at some point feel queasy, nauseous, “a little off”.  Maybe we ate too much.  Maybe we let our blood sugar get too low. Maybe that car or boat ride bothered us a little.  Maybe there’s no reason at all for it.  But you can’t avoid something internal to you and, when you are emetophobic, you carry around your phobia with you.  You can never totally get away from it, no matter how hard you try.  And try hard NDEW did.  I have seen emetophobia compared to PTSD, and in many ways, that’s probably an accurate comparison.  The speed at which the panic reaction sets in, the tie there often is to a previous experience that causes an almost “flashback” reaction.  All are similar to PTSD.  When NDEW was in a time of panic related to his phobia he would have honestly, seriously, told you that he would rather die than throw up or be around someone throwing up.  In his mind, this was literally a life-or-death situation and he reacted as if that were the reality.  No logical explanations or rationalizations could convince him otherwise.

One night in November 2014 when NDEW’s anxiety was at a particularly high level, I had reached the end of my rope.  I had heard the term “emetophobia” by that point and had even briefly read through the website of a woman in British Columbia who had suffered from it herself, had gone through treatment, and now almost exclusively treated people with it.  Her name is Anna Christie and I emailed her that night asking her for help, any help.  We were truly in a desperate place.

Ironically, NDEW really was sick the night I sent this email; it was not just his anxiety.  It was another experience with the norovirus.  Some people have said to me, “Well, didn’t throwing up show him it wasn’t the terrifying experience he imagined it to be and that he could live through it?  Didn’t getting sick help him?” No.  It most definitely didn’t.  His anxiety was some of the most severe I had seen it that night.  We actually ended up in the ER, looking for a way to help him keep down food and water but also, honestly, in the hopes that they might give him something for the anxiety as well.  After the illness was over we were right back where we had been.  His anxiety level didn’t reduce at all.

Ms. Christie emailed me back within an hour and gave me the name of a therapist that specialized in treating this.  He was located in Charlotte, only two hours from us.  At that time I would have driven 12.  The next day I called this therapist’s office and we scheduled our first appointment.

We have now been working weekly with Dr. David Russ at Carolina’s Counseling Group since that first appointment in December.  This phobia, like many others, is treated through a process called exposure therapy.  Trust me when I say that it is not an easy form of therapy but it works so it’s worth it.  Essentially, in exposure therapy, you expose the person to the thing they fear the most and then not let them use any of their defensive, distracting, or safety behaviors to deal with what they feel.  They sit there and feel the anxiety and fear that results.

Imagine the thing you fear the most in life.  The thing that makes your heart race.  That makes you feel short of breath.  That maybe causes that “unsettled” feeling in your stomach. That thing that your brain tells you threatens your very survival. Now imagine interacting with that thing on purpose.  It.  Is.  Hard.  No way around it.  As a mom, I will readily admit that there was a part of me that didn’t want to do this.  What parent wants to not only watch their child in distress but willingly exposes them to the thing that causes that distress?  After we met the first time with Dr. Russ though, I believed that it would work.  I believed that it would help NDEW and that we could get control of this.  So I was willing to go against that first, initial mom response and give this a shot.

More importantly, after that first meeting with Dr. Russ, NDEW believed it could work.  I cannot tell you how proud of him I am for facing this and dealing with it.  He would definitely not tell you that he enjoys it.  But he walks into that office each week and finds the courage to repeatedly face the thing that his brain, his nervous system, tells him is deadly.  I have seen him draw on reserves during this process that I honestly didn’t really know he had.

So what is involved in exposure therapy for emetophobia?  (Don’t worry.  I won’t go into lots of detail.)  The theory behind exposure therapy is that repeatedly exposing a person to the thing that causes them anxiety in short, but progressively more realistic or graphic doses, retrains the brain and nervous system to not see the thing feared as a threat.  NDEW’s exposure therapy started with different words that are used for vomit.  (As a side note, NDEW couldn’t use any other words other than “getting sick” when we started this process without a panic attack setting in.)  Dr. Russ would show NDEW a card with a word on it and then would ask NDEW where he fell on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of anxiety.  His goal was for NDEW to never go over a 5 or 6 on any given exposure, and to get him down to under a 2 before moving on to the next exposure.  The trick is to get that number down to under a two without using “safety” behaviors.  To sit and live through the 5 or 6 level anxiety and to see that it’s possible.  Some words bothered NDEW more than others, so we spent longer on those words.  The repeated exposure involved things like NDEW reading the word to himself, Dr. Russ or me reading the word aloud, NDEW saying the word aloud.  We would even make up silly songs where we repeated the word over and over.  I know this sounds a little wacky, but you know what?  It worked!  Over time, NDEW’s report on the anxiety scale would start to come down and, before we knew it, he was saying, shouting, singing the word without any reaction or anxiety whatsoever.  He would even get to the point that he could laugh about it! Once we got to that point, we’d move on to the next word and start the process all over again.

Now, a word of caution: By my description, it may seem like this would be something you could do on your own without having to pay to see a therapist each week.  Here’s the deal.  Dr. Russ has been working with phobias, including emetophobia, for many years.  He knows how to present a “just right challenge” to NDEW-to challenge him and not let him “take it easy” but also to present a challenge that wouldn’t completely overwhelm him and send him running out of the office in panic.  In other words, he knows just what to do to get NDEW up to a 5 or 6 but not take him all the way to a 10 (which is called flooding and is most definitely NOT helpful).  He can watch NDEW objectively and know when to push a little harder and when to back off a little.  Honestly, even with my background and training in counseling, it would be really easy for me, if I was trying to take NDEW through this on my own, to not push him hard enough or even to try and push him too hard at times.  In addition to NDEW’s willingness and courage to take this on and actually do the work, Dr. Russ’s guidance, insight, compassion, and experience is what has made this successful.  If you have emetophobia, please, please find someone to work through this with you.  Don’t try to do it on your own.

For NDEW, after words, we moved on to sentences, which got progressively more descriptive.  And then onto paragraphs, which, again, were progressively more descriptive.  Then we moved on to images.  The first images were line drawings.  Then more detailed cartoons.  Then photographs of actual people.  With each new exposure, we worked the same process and didn’t move on to the next one until NDEW was ready.  He passed through some exposures quickly.  Some bothered him a lot and maybe took a whole appointment and the week after’s homework to bring NDEW down under a two.  Yes there has been homework involved.  The homework has never been a new exposure.  It has always been practicing one that we’ve worked on with Dr. Russ to help cement the exposure as non-threatening to NDEW.  We may or may not have had various interesting pictures taped up around our house during this process.

We are now in the last phase of this process.  I suspect that we have a couple more months, maybe three, left working with Dr. Russ.  We are now working on videos.  Again, the first ones were very simple-Claymation and very simple computer animations.  Then we moved on to more graphic cartoons.  Now we are on videos of actual people.  Again I will say, this is not an easy process, but the results are so worth it.

What results?  Well, again, we aren’t finished with the process, but, already, there has been more of a change in NDEW that I can probably put into words.  All of those things I listed above? The unwillingness to leave the house?  The unwillingness to be around other kids?  The severely limited diet?  The tic? The superstitions?  They are all so much better.  Are we 100% there yet?  No.  Does this phobia still rear its ugly head occasionally?  Yes.  But when it does, NDEW is able to bring his anxiety under control so much more quickly and easily and we are learning how to support him without reinforcing his anxiety.  Last week, after we got home from our weekly trip to Charlotte, we were talking about how NDEW feels about how things are going and he said to us, “I feel like I’m getting my life back.  Like I can be a normal 12 year old now.  I will never regret doing this work and I owe Dr. Russ more than I could ever tell him.”  My husband and I feel the same way.

We know that we will probably always have to keep an eye on anxiety in NDEW’s life.  Especially because of his prosopagnosia, he is more prone to it.  But it feels like we have overcome a huge obstacle over the past 4 months and have tackled something big.  If you or someone you know suffers from emetophobia, please know that you aren’t alone and, if at all possible, do what you need to do to get the help you need.  It can be conquered and you can get your life back!  I hope that reading our story has encouraged you and given you hope.  Please feel free to leave a comment or contact me if I can help you in any way.  Many blessings on your journey toward healing.

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It’s so nice to have this smile back.

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Science, Literature, Snow, Blogging….whew!

Happy Valentine’s day everyone!  I can’t believe February is half over!  I just wanted to share a quick update.  (Who am I kidding, I don’t usually write quick posts!)

Valentine

(I recently took a personality quiz that said I was a reliable realist that was faithful, consistent, well-balanced and sensible but that had little time for extravagances and flightiness.   It also said that I tend to show my closeness to people who are important to me by deeds, and that my partner “should rather not expect romantic declarations of love.”  So, in light of that, I thought this Valentine was appropriate!)

Okay, back to school stuff:  NDEW’s been working really hard with his school work.  (Although he was super excited that I had scheduled a “day off” for today!  I guess every kid likes a break from school every now and then!)  In addition to math and grammar/writing (the two subjects that we take a more structured approach to), he’s been doing lots of cool science and literature work.  We take an almost unschooling approach to these topics and NDEW really guides a lot of what we do by his interests.  For literature he’s reading myths and legends from lots of different time periods and cultures and is really enjoying these rich stories.  I’m not surprised that he likes these stories though with as much as he loves Star Wars (movies, books, games, TV shows, etc. etc. etc. etc.), the Warrior book series, and the Redwall book series.  They definitely all have some similar themes.

In science NDEW is still learning lots about weather and meteorology. I had no idea that this would become such a science focus for this year!  He just keeps finding more and more that he’s interested in learning about it.  He’s currently going through the lessons included in the National Weather Service’s JetStream Online School for Weather and is getting a lot out of the content.  It’s fun to watch him apply it to what he experiences in real life.  I honestly think that part of why he likes learning about weather so much is that it gives him a sense of control.  Even though he knows he can’t control the weather, if he understands more about it, severe weather isn’t quite so scary.

We’re also learning more about electronics by working through the experiments that came with the Snap Circuits Kit he received for Christmas.  It is really, really fun (even for me and hubby!) and he’s learning lots of great principles through it.  On the life sciences front, NDEW has been learning about cells and their structure and then is starting to learn some human anatomy, starting with the brain and nervous system.  He said that he wants to learn about this body system first because he wants to know more about how his brain functions and how it relates to his prosopagnosia.  NDEW has really struggled with anxiety at points and we have definitely found that gaining knowledge is a way that he deals with his anxiety.  That’s why just learning about his prosopagnosia was such a big deal.  Being diagnosed didn’t cure him or really change anything at all in terms of his experience, but just knowing and understanding what was going on made a huge difference in the anxiety that he was experiencing.  I do think that some of his interests start with trying to cope with something that worries him, but then they blossom into a genuine interest as he learns about these subjects at deeper and deeper levels. Isn’t that just like God to take something that we fear or worry about and turn it into something positive!

In addition to these science and literature topics, NDEW’s still learning music and painting and you know there’s some history and social studies being thrown in there with hubby’s love for it!  NDEW’s also continuing his theology/Bible lessons and it’s leading to some awesome conversations around some really deep topics.  Love seeing him maturing and growing in his faith.  So all in all, lots of great learning going on!  Each day looks a little different but each day truly is awesome.  We’re committed to continuing to find and take advantage of the incredible learning opportunities that everyday life presents us.  If you were to walk into our house on any given day, you would definitely see something different than what you might see the day before or the day after.  We never know what awesome things each day might bring us!

Take yesterday for example:  We woke up to almost nine inches of snow-by far the most snow NDEW has ever seen.  He was so excited.  Luckily, it wasn’t terribly cold so we could get out and enjoy it a little.  There was lots of sledding, visiting with neighbors, learning about snow structure and how it forms (There’s that weather thing again!), even saving a little mole we found on our walk around the neighborhood!  Yes, we have set lessons and curriculum we work through, but the world is definitely our biggest and favorite classroom!

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In addition to all this great learnin’ going on, we’ve also seen some wonderful strides in NDEW in “growing up” type stuff and we’re super proud of him.  NDEW has always matured in spurts rather than in any continuous, smooth fashion.  Just when we think he’ll never “get it” it’s like someone flips a switch and he grows up overnight.  We’re so proud of him for taking the steps and facing the fears he has faced lately!

One last exciting update (I know, I know…this has been super long!  Thanks for hanging in there with me!); I shared in my last post that I was going to start writing for a wonderful homeschooling site called So You Call Yourself a Homeschooler?  Well, since then, this site has merged with another site, Managing Your Blessings.  Both sites were founded and managed by an incredible woman, Carlie Kercheval, and she had the vision to combine the sites for a variety of reasons.  I’m so excited to now be a part of the Managing Your Blessings writing team.  What an amazing group of ladies, from a variety of backgrounds, coming together to share their hearts and their faith!  My first post with MYB is up and I’d love for you to take a look at it.  You can find it here: Managing Your Blessings:  Yes, He is our only child.

That’s all from our world.  I’d love to hear what everyone else is up to.  Have you seen any big strides in your child’s development lately or come across a great resource?  I’d love to celebrate those with you and hear all about them!

How Technology is Changing How We Homeschool: Revisted

Back at the end of October I wrote about how we were starting to use some technology tools in our homeschool plan.  I thought I would revisit this topic and give you an update.

First, before I get into that though, I wanted to share some exciting news with you.  Starting in February, I will be a contributing writer over at the site So You Call Yourself a Homeschooler.  I’m so excited to be joining this great group as we travel our homeschool journey together and to have the opportunity to write about homeschooling an only child.  I’ll be sure to let you know when my first post is up over there, but head on over now to check out all the awesome stuff that’s already there!

Now, back to an update on our use of technology in NDEW’s homeschool experience.

First, we still LOVE his Kindle.  Like love it so much that he uses it at least a little every day.  It was so worth the money we spent on it.  Some of our favorite school apps right now are:

  • (Still) 5th grade learning games
  • (Still) Stack the States
  • (Still) Rhythm Cat
  • Jog Nog
  • Grammar Up
  • Arithmemouse
  • All the (free!) classic myths and legends books from around the world (I know it’s not an app, but we still use these a lot!)
  • Notebooks

I have to say a little more about Notebooks:  With this app you create virtual notebooks and can then write information in them.  You can make as many notebooks as you like, for as many subjects as you like.  You can write in each notebook as well as attach things like pictures and drawings.  Here’s the really cool part to me.  You can export the content of each notebook as a pdf (including attached drawings and pictures) and then save it or print it out.  NDEW has five notebooks currently.  They are Khan Science, Khan History, Myths and Legends, Electronics, and Weather.  After he works in one of these subjects he does a brief entry in his notebook describing what he did and what he learned-like a learning journal.  Then, at the end of the year, we’re going to keep the pdf of each as a part of our records for the year.  It’s a great little tool!

Back in October I also mentioned that we were beginning to use Asana as a record keeping and planning tool.  This is working out so well.  Every Sunday night I go into Asana and enter NDEW’s tasks for the upcoming week.  The tasks are organized by “project”.  For us, a project might be a subject or a source of material that NDEW uses.  Some of our projects include (not a full list):

  • Khan Academy Math, Science and History
  • Literature
  • Other Reading
  • Kindle Extras (like the apps I mentioned above)
  • Non-Kindle Extras (like music and karate practice, doing the Wii Fit, even, sometimes cleaning his bathroom!)
  • Other Science
  • Grammar
  • E-Learning for Kids (more about this in a minute)

I set all the due dates in Asana to the Friday of the week and then, each morning NDEW and hubby go online to Asana and select which of the tasks NDEW will do for the day.  At the end of the day, they go in and check of the completed tasks and I get an email showing me what he checked off for the day.  Getting this email helps so much with the “What did you do for school today?” question when I get home.  Even homeschool kids like to give the “some stuff” or “not much” type answers!  Now, I get home and I can say, “So I see you read __________ myth today.  Tell me what happened in the story?”  or “I saw you finished that project today.  Awesome job!  Show it to me!”  As I said before, I use Asana at work but I am SO glad we started using it for homeschooling too!  It’s made planning a lot easier for me!

Lastly, I wanted to share about an online e-learning source we’ve started using.  The website is E-Learning For Kids.  Their content is divided by subject matter and grade level and it’s very well done.  NDEW really enjoys it and it provides great review of concepts for him.  He works on it three times a week.  Best of all it’s FREE!  Yes, that’s right, free.  I seriously kept looking all over the site for some kind of hidden cost, and I haven’t found one yet.  They do ask for donations, but it’s definitely not required.  If you have a kid in preschool-middle school and are at all interested in some online learning content, go over and check it out.

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I would love to hear of any online or technology resources you use in your homeschooling plan, in a classroom, or with your kids.  What are your favorite resources?  Please share!

What a year!

What a year!

Yes, yes…I know.  I’m a little late to the “Year in Review” thing, but before checking in on what we’re up to now, I didn’t want to dismiss what a crazy, awesome year 2013 was for our family.  Sure, there were things that were challenges or struggles, but overall, as we have looked back through 2013, we are overwhelmed by the ways our family has been blessed.  2013 did not look how any of us thought it would, but what an incredible year it was!  Some highlights for our family this year, in no particular order:

  • Starting our family’s homeschooling journey.
  • NDEW participating in the enrichment classes offered by our local homeschool association, meeting some new friends, and finding new interests in music, art, and karate.
  • Our family traveling to Orlando for an amazing conference for my job, a trip which included getting to spend time with some friends and family we don’t see often, getting to serve together, and getting to participate in some incredible worship experiences (Can you picture over 2500 people, representing over 100 nations, worshiping together in one room in 5 different languages?  It was AWESOME!)
  • NDEW receiving 100s of postcards from friends and family (and some strangers!) from all over the US and learning some great US geography along the way.
  • My sister and brother-in-law’s wedding!  Yay Mr. and Mrs. Johel!!! (AKA T-Tye and Tim!)
  • The incredible kindness and love shown to us by friends and family as I recovered from pretty extensive sinus surgery (and how much better I feel after said sinus surgery!)
  • Meeting Dr. Ronald Franklin, finally getting some long-sought answers for NDEW, and learning about his prosopagnosia.
  • Hubby and I having the opportunity to serve at two One Day with God camps through Forgiven Ministries at Avery Mitchell Correctional and Northeast Correctional and being able to serve Christmas dinner with folks from multiple local congregations at Avery Mitchell.
  • NDEW becoming involved with Beanstalk Community Theatre, being a part of his first production, The One and Only Santa Claus, and finding a new passion for acting.
  • Hubby’s surprise 40th birthday party and the opportunity it gave us to spend time with some of our very best friends and our family.
  • NDEW getting baptized!
  • NDEW’s 11th birthday fishing-themed party, during which the girls out-fished the boys.

As you think back through your 2013 I hope you feel all the blessings in your life, even those blessings hidden in the struggles.  Our family wishes you the most wonderful New Year you can imagine, and then even more!  We worship and serve a Heavenly Father that’s all about “even more”!

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”  Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)

Happy New Year!!

(PS  Check out my next post with an update on some of our newest technology favorites! Oh, and enjoy some pictures from our 2013!)

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January 7: What are We Learning This Week

This week, hubby and NDEW are studying:

Math: Factors and Greatest Common Factors

Spelling/Vocab: Definition, part of speech, spelling, and use of the word in a sentence: This week’s words are abundant, accommodate, allegiance, access, agony

Science: Introduction to the universe and the International Space Station

History: Introduction to the 13 colonies and colonial life in America

Geography: Review of map skills (latitude, longitude, hemispheres) and the world’s continents and oceans.

Reading: NDEW is reading Peter and the Starcatcher

Writing: Writing is a big struggle for NDEW-not the process of coming up with what to write but the actual physical process of handwriting. Because of this, he tends to balk against any handwriting-heavy activities. So, right now, our main goal is to just get NDEW writing. Each day he’ll write for a little while based on a writing journal prompt he chooses. Some days he will type these and some days they will be handwritten. A couple of times a month, hubby and NDEW will pick a couple of NDEW’s favorite writings and will proofread, edit, and put them into a more “polished” format.

Multi-Day Projects:
1. NDEW chose to design and make a board game about the solar system.
2. NDEW and hubby will be conducting a mini “rock hound” tour of our yard to see what rocks and minerals they can find, dig up, describe, and identify.

Away from Home: Trip to the library, volunteering at the Humane Society, homeschool group music class, belated-Christmas visit with hubby’s mom. Homeschool group PE class at ASU doesn’t start for another couple of weeks.

Why are We Homeschooling?

There are as many reasons to homeschool as there are homeschooling families.  So what made us wake up and decide one morning in December to homeschool a 10-year-old kid that had been in outside-the-home daycare or education since he was 3 months old?  It actually didn’t occur nearly that quickly.  We first seriously considered homeschooling NDEW in second grade.  I know that there is no such thing as a “typical” child and that each child has a unique learning style, and their own unique blend of strengths and weaknesses.  When NDEW was in second grade we started to understand just how unique his particular blend was.  In future posts I’m sure I’ll go into this further as it will play a big part in our particular homeschool plan, but let’s just say right now that NDEW doesn’t have a “cookie cutter” bone in his body.  When he was in second grade, we started what has become a several year testing process to tease out what his strengths and struggles really are and the person who conducted that initial testing was the first person to suggest to us that homeschooling might be a good option for NDEW at some point.  I’ll never forget her saying “I think you all might find that, at some point, NDEW’s needs aren’t able to be met in a typical schooling setting and that homeschooling might give him exactly what he needs.”  While we didn’t act on that advice then, that conversation definitely got us thinking about the possibility for our family.  Two years later we decided that it was the right time to make the move.

Again, at some point I’ll go a little more into the story of what all happened during those two years, but I do want to make sure I make this point clear-our pulling NDEW from public school at this point in his education does not reflect negatively on his education thus far.  NDEW has had great teachers.  He’s had wonderful administrators.  He has gone to fantastic schools.  He’s learned a lot.  As we’ve read about helping kids transition from public to homeschool we have come across more than a few articles that seem to equate public school with the antichrist.  In some ways I can understand where this comes from.  Unfortunately, there are still a lot of myths and misconceptions about homeschooling and I do know that some families have faced lots of hardship and hurt at the hands of the typical school community.  On the other hand, as products of public school educations, and (for me) being a part of a long line of public school educators, hubby and I aren’t going to go there.  School teachers, especially public school teachers, are some of the hardest working people on the face of the earth.  They are constantly asked to do more with less.  They are often put in situations where they cannot do what they know would be best for their students due to student family situations, lack of resources, or bureaucratic red tape.  Their goals are constantly changed on them, often mid-stream, by someone in the district office, state house, or federal government.  Are there teachers who have absolutely no business being in the classroom?  You bet.  Are there parents who have absolutely no business being the primary educator for their child?  I would say yes to that was well.  I think we have to have many different educational options available for students if we are to ever have a chance of truly educating every child, and I firmly believe that both homeschooling and public school should be among the available options.  There will never be an effective “one size fits all” approach to education.

For NDEW, at this point in his education, we feel that we are better able to provide him the focused support he needs in certain areas as well as the advanced challenges he needs in other areas at home, compared to what he would be able to receive in a public school setting.  Will this be the case from now on?  Who knows?  We are not putting a time limit on our homeschooling journey.  We aren’t going to say that we’ll homeschool NDEW for the next year only or all the way through high school.  Just as we knew when the right time was to make the switch to homeschooling, we trust that we will know when or if it’s time for another switch.

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