Monday, March 31, 2008
If you read this blog with any regularity (friend, relative or cyber pal) you know that we have a son with child-onset or Pediatric Bipolar Disorder. His name is Ben. Ben also has significant learning differences and is socially quirky. Ben is 11 but acts more like a boy who is 8 or 9. Ben, when smaller...say 4 ish, before his moods started rapidly cycling around 7, was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder, pdd, anxiety, adhd, dyslexia, sleep disorder (which was really just being a wide awake manic little kid until 2am everynight), etc... When he had his first psychotic break (which is a mental disconnect with reality) he was 7 years old. It was the months following this first break that lead to more and more and faster and faster mood cycling that almost landed Ben in a psychiatric hospital because he was suicidal. God saved the day by putting us in touch with a fabulous, one of a kind, psychiatrist: Dr. C. He figured out what was really going on with Ben and we got him on stabilizing meds slowly and gently in order to get him to a place where he could emotional handle any given day. Prior to Dr. C we were dealing with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on an hour to hour basis.
Okay, so that is the back story. Moving forward: after Dr.C we put Ben in a special needs public school. It is a self contained school attached to a regular elementary school. There are good things and bad things about it. Why did we do it? I needed a break. Dr. C doesn't just take care of Ben e, he takes care of the family. No we are not all on meds. It's that he talks with us and helps us works through things. One of those 'things' was my need to have time off from Ben's constant demands.
Ben was in this school for all of 2nd grade. Then they tried to mainstream him into regular 3rd grade. BIG MISTAKE! So, I took him out of school after Christmas. Then he was home until after Christmas of the following year. That December he took a huge nose dive in mood...and we had to add Lithium. Then, because I was on the brink of becoming unglued (because December had emotionally annihilated me too) we sent Ben back to the special needs school for the last half of 4th grade. This year, 5th grade, Ben's been there since the beginning of the year. (BTW, Ben is no where near actual grade level, but chronologically they put him tin 5th grade, he only has 6 kids in his class of varying ages, ablitlites and levels of progress). Can I say that I really Hate so much about the public school and school in general? Well, I am going to, because I do.
The things I am sooooo angry about:
1)that even though Ben has an IEP that states he can come to school an hour late, and not have it counted as tardy, due to sleep issues, I STILL get letters from the school board saying Ben has too many tardies and social services may be called. Gimme a break.
2) that even though I am Ben's mother, I am treated like one who doesn't know my son, oh but they do. Everything I bring up is questioned and I am treated with disrespect and disdain. The very strong feeling is that 'they' know Ben and 'I' don't. After all, they have him most of the day. I should bow to their expertise. Well all I can say is: *#^%^(&@((^%@)_*)#(&$*@@()@_!!!!!
3) that if I want to keep Ben home for some really fun homeschooling outing that has come up, I have to lie and tell them that Ben was sick or else it is counted against him and again, I would be threatened by a visit from social services. And that I am treated like dogsh*t when I come to pick Ben up from school, because they would rather him always take the bus. That's one of the reasons I get crap about him being late...because they want him on the bus in the AM too. Forget it. He has better things to do in the morning (like sleep) than ride around on a bus for half an hour.
4) that Ben's class of kids are treated like trained dogs. They are given point values for every hour which tally up for the day and then the week. At the end of the week he gets a prize. He is so into this that he has come to expect this kind of treatment at home and I don't like it! I want him to be good for goodness' sake, not because of some cheap-made-in-China-by=Christian-Prisoners-dollar-store-piece-of-crap-toy!
5) that even though they are better than the average public school classroom (I admit) they *still* with all the money and special services they are given, helped Ben to read beyond what he was taught by a really wonderful reading tutor last year. She worked with him 1x a week for several months. School has him everyday! (There's proof for all homeschoolers out there who think schools teach kids to read...bullsh*t!)
The good things:
1) that Ben has only 5 other kids in his class
2) that there are 2 teachers for the 5 kids
3) that they agreed in the IEP not to give him homework (they send it home, tho, and I throw it out.)
4) it has helped Ben to see that he can leave me and he will be alright
5) that they go on a field trip several times 'per month'
My beef is not with the teachers. They seem very dedicated to these kids. It's the school system, the administrators who don't see the forest for the trees. It's No Child Left Behind. It's the mindlessness of so much of what they do.
Here is a great example: Ben told me the other day to send him with extra snacks because it was too hard to buy 2 lunches (Iet him get 2 lunches on somedays because he doesn't like to eat in the morning). Well, a new rule was started that if you get up you lose points (remember those Friday prizes?). But, he can't grab 2 items each per 1 lunch tray, so he *has* to get up to get a 2nd lunch, yet his still gets penalized for it. So, Ben, who is an ANGEL at school (he saves the Demon side for me) stays hungry and won't get up so as not to lose his points. What the....ugh!
Oh, I gotta tell you this. When Ben was mainstreamed we sent Autumn to the same school for Kindergarten to help Ben with his transitions. Autumn thought Kindergarten was fun (who wouldn't) so I wasn't really worried about her. However, since that school was across the street, I would go over often and have lunch with the kids. They went back to back, so I would come for Autumn and stay for Ben. Well, because Autumn was 5 and a half, at the time, I would sit her on my lap while we ate lunch. A NOTE WAS SENT HOME, FROM THE PRINCIPAL, SAYING I COULD NOT PUT MY OWN DAUGHTER ON MY LAP BECAUSE I WOULD MAKE THE OTHER KIDS FEEL BAD WHOSE PARENTS DIDN'T VISIT FOR LUNCH!!!!! Can you believe that!?! BTW, I still would put her on my lap.
However, when we pulled Ben out of that regular school (because it was just too much for him) we took Autumn out too...never to return....thank God. Here I was thinking I would be focusing my time on Ben, and Autumn would have fun in Kindergarten (our intention was to bring her back home for 1st grade), but she dealt with a bunch of garbage too. She once came home with a 'red' note, which is supposed to be really bad. I called and spoke with her teacher and it was because she screamed (with joy, mind you) over how cute one of her classmates was, while they were in the bathroom. Sheer stupidity!
Okay back to Ben's story:
This whole time we were thinking that Ben could finally come back home for 6th grade and up. However, Georgia passed SB10 (senate bill 10) that gives the parents of children, who have an IEP in place while attending a public school (for 1 whole school year), the equivalent funds it cost to teach, said child, to put toward a private school which has been approved to take the funds or to send, said child, to another public school, outside their home district, that may have more fitting programs for, said child's, IEP.
According to the administrators at Ben's school, Ben, because he is in a self-contained special needs school, would get the maximum amount of funds. That is cool, right? Yeah. On the surface.
But now it sets up a whole'nother set of complications. The first was fairly easy to surmount. It was finding the right private school. There happens to be, not 3 miles from here, a private school for kids like Ben. We applied, he got in to the tune of 18K! (choke, sputter, cough, hack!) But wait, we have this SB10 voucher to apply and then we have a special needs kids benefit program through my husband's job which covers a percentage as well. After that assistance has been caculated, we are probably looking at 3K out of pocket. Not too bad! Of course the paperwork for all of this sucks. However, with the exception of being able to play video games or watch TV, this school he'll be going to won't be a whole lot different from being home.
They don't pressure kids academically. They say their goal is to keep their students' self-esteem and self-respect in tact. The whole student body is made up of kids who don't learn the same, or as fast, as typical school kids. Most of the kids in this school are probably one or more of the following: ADD/ADHD, NVLD, Aspergers, Bipolar, Dyslexic, LD etc... I think ADD/ADHD is the #1 "issue" of the majority of the kids there. Ben will be in perfect company.
The reason none of this is sitting well with me, is because I kinda wish there was no voucher program. I feel like we would never have considered any of this stuff and Ben would have just stayed home. I am sick of school...sick of it. I can't wait for Andrew to be done with high school. And, as I have said before, I am hoping against hope that Autumn and Ben won't want to go to high school (private or otherwise). I hate the restrictions. I hate the hoops to jump through. I hate not having freedom. But, my dh, doesn't really agree that Ben should be unschooled.
That leads me to the question: is unschooling just for those who fall within some kind of 'normal/neurotypical' range? Ben is not *that* different from 'normal'. But he is very obsessive. More than the average person. He is the type who doesn't do well with self-limiting. But this little part of me says, "Why can't he be home and unschooled?" "Why can't we see what would happen?" Of course, my dh would say, "We can't because if we do, Ben loses the SB10 voucher." The irony here is killing me. The school system is using my tax money right now to educate (Yeah, Right!) Ben. However, they (the school system) is now willing to give me the 'choice' to find Ben a more appropriate education outside their system (because it SUCKS so badly and they know it) by giving me back my tax money in order to use it where it will best serve Ben. BUT, and this is a big BUT, I can't used my own tax money, in the form of a voucher, to homeschool Ben, he's got to go to 'a' school. Either a better public school (as deemed by us, his parents) or a private school that takes the voucher. So, my choice and my money are STILL not really my choice or my money. I am STILL being told what my choice has to be (a school) and I am being told that my money really still belongs to the school system and they'll give it to me if I play by their rules. IT SUCKS!!!
I mean, with the money I would get from the voucher, I could probably find a homeschooling teenager to come and hang out with Ben a couple times a week and give me the break I need from Ben without him having to be shipped to school. Autumn would then have her brother back, and though they do fight like Israel and Palestine, she does talk about missing him during the day. I would rather use that money to put Ben into neato classes he'd like to try.
I am so frustrated about all this stuff. I don't even know if there are any answers or what they are? I have prayed until my head hurts over all this stuff, yet God seems silent or hard to understand. Anyway, I have to go. I have been working on this post in bursts over the course of a day. You know 5 minutes here and there.
It just seems that when it comes to Ben NOTHING is ever simple. I have an idea how I want our family to be able to live it's life, but because of Ben's issues, it seems the world is never going to let us.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Friday, March 28, 2008
Today I have read the first 4 chapters to Autumn and it is great. The reviews at Amazon gave all the books in the series, so far, 5 stars. What we love is that it is about cats. It's reminiscent of Watership Down, except it's about cats. Well, we LOVE cats. So, we are really enjoying this book. Of course, I love reading to Autumn, but my prayer is that someday she will take off reading on her own. I figure if I keep reading to her, eventually it will happen. Clearly, she already loves books...so that is just fine with me.
Now...if I could just find my net...
Thursday, March 27, 2008
The following post, in bold, is a post in the comments section of Melissa Wiley's amazingly wonderful blog. I am reprinting one of her comments to her own post because I know some friends and relatives of mine would probably never make it over to Melissa's blog. What Lissa has written below has so perfectly captured the mindset of many a homeschooling mom. I think it's important for those close to me to know that this very same "GOT it" moment, which Melissa writes about, is something I have finally found my way through as well, but she put it into words...perfectly! (Note: the term CM is referring to a homeschooling method called Charlotte Mason. However, one could substitute any other method/philosophy here, for example, Waldorf, Montessori, Classical, Traditional Pre-Packaged Curriculum etc...)
Oh, and after this on/off again marathon day of posting, I am taking a break. I'll check back in a few days.
Melissa Wiley wrote:
But I’ve been (for months, really–you can see it in Lilting House posts from last spring and summer) pondering deeply WHY I have, always, in the past, inevitably drifted back into a CM mindset at certain times of the year. Why such a strong pull in two opposite directions, with CM on one side and unschooling on the other?
And I suddenly GOT it. But let me just say here that I’m speaking for myself only, about my experience, and not making a sweeping statement to apply to everyone, everywhere.
What I have grasped is that the Charlotte Mason ideal appeals to the schoolgirl *I was*. It’s the kind of school experience I wish I had had, the kind I yearned to have without knowing how to articulate it, back when I was having an entirely different kind of school experience.
In high school, I wrote a big long story all about Plumfield, Mrs. Jo’s school from Little Men. I went through some kind of time warp and wound up at Plumfield and went to school there. And as an adult reading CM’s work, I found Plumfield again. In those descriptions of happy, busy mornings spent with great books and nature study and poetry and art and music and all the things I love best, and long afternoons free for personal interests, I found a vision of school as I would have loved it, myself. IThe schoolgirl inside me leaps at the prospect of that kind of school life.
But the mother in me, the grownup Lissa watching her own kids learn and grow and live, sees something beyond the ideal *school* experience. Unschooling is outside school, bigger than school. It doesn’t need to be the ideal best-possible version of school. It is something broader, richer, more rife with possibilities. And so I think, if I am reading my heart correctly, that my movement between two ideologies (and it has been almost completely a very happy process, this seasonal shifting–everything I have blogged is absolutely true; my children and I have had great fun with our tidal learning lifestyle, though of course we have foundered sometimes and I’ve swallowed a fair amount of water in my day)–I was saying, my attraction to both CM and unschooling has to do with the two parts of me: the schoolgirl I was, and the mother I am.
The mother is the stronger part of me, and she reads her children well, and places a high priority on their joyfulness. And I think–though it feels like going out on a limb to say it, and I certainly mean no disrespect or implied criticism of those friends for whom the CM philosophy is more than a means of offering balm to the soul of an inner schoolgirl–I think that having identified the source of the attraction to that ideology, I am now able to let it go. My inner schoolgirl is satisfied. Here, in this house, we’re doing something that is other than school.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
The Deeper Effect of a Child Learning to Read: Confidence
a Mom in a discussion online: A homeschooling friend has shared that she feels we need to teach the basics then unschool them.
Joyce Fetteroll:Your friend is wrong. If she's never experienced a child who learned to read or do math without instruction then of course she's not going to be able to imagine it's possible.
Sandra Dodd: If what the friend is imagining is that a child who reads will then acquire all the other knowledge on her own, that's not the worst vision in the world If what the friend is hoping is the child will get past the point that the mom worries about getting in trouble or failing entirely, I can understand her reasoning.
If she REALLY wants to unschool, though, it will help her immensely to see how many ways children can learn without reading. And it will help the children immensely to have the deep confidence that they can learn without instruction. Any child who has learned to read without "being taught" (and I have three of them) cannot doubt that he can learn other things without finding a teacher and following a prescribed course.
Holly takes fiddle lessons. In the course of a month she has private, paired and group sessions. She really likes that. She shows me what she learns and I play with her at home. I found her some songs and a book and she goes outside of just what the teacher has assigned. Many music students don't. School-trained, or just lacking courage and joy, they will only play what the teacher "makes" them play, or what the teacher tells them they can play, without thought to the idea of figuring out that through experimentation and analysis, they can figure out themselves what other songs might be within their range of ability.
Kirby studies karate at a dojo where he's gone for seven years. He's part of a longterm group, there are many adults there who have watched his progress all those years, and once a week he teaches a class of younger children. So although there is a prescribed course, there are several different aspects and there is flexibility to the learning and activities he's involved in there.
Had I just taught my kids to read and THEN unschooled, they would not be the calmly confident people they are today. They might be saying "Okay, mom, time to teach me division" or "Mom, you didn't teach me to spell yet." Instead of that, I help them learn whatever is in front of them.
Somebody asked Rosie, yesterday, who taught her to read. I was there, listening. She hemmed and hawed a little - then said, brightly, "My own BRAIN taught me to read." As if that answered it. The other kid (one of her girl scout friends) was questioning her about homeschooling, not looking for THAT kind of answer at all...but Rosie couldn't figure out any other way to answer the question. I helped out by stepping in and saying, "She means she taught herself."
P.S. I just gotta add that Iconoclast is down in the basement practicing. You can hear them all over the house though the distance between floors dampens their sound a bit. They are *really* good. Andy's first band was more Indie-Pop kinda Killers-ish, but this new band is more atmospheric Interpol/Radiohead-ish. Anyway, Andrew is not only the drummer, but the lead singer now. His voice has a really cool low whispery quality to it. It's kind of (for those in the know) Sisters of Mercy meets Coldplay meets Interpol. It jazzes me to no end what a neat kid he is.
I picked the following woman to be my Patroness because she is English (I am of English descent), she was a Protestant who converted to Catholicism (me too), she had two sons and a daughter (same here) and she was passionate about her Catholic faith (guilty as charged). I love that she didn't back down in what she believed and I like to believe I am becoming more and more like her each passing day. Here's to you, Mags!
ST. MARGARET CLITHEROW
(St. Margaret of York)
St. Margaret is considered the first woman martyred under Queen Elizabeth's religious suppression. Margaret was raised a Protestant but converted to Catholicism about two to three years after she was married. According to her confessor, Fr. Mush, Margaret became a Catholic because she "found no substance, truth nor Christian comfort in the ministers of the new church, nor in their doctrine itself, and hearing also many priests and lay people to suffer for the defense of the ancient Catholic Faith." Margaret's husband, John Clitherow, remained a Protestant but supported his wife's decision to convert. They were happily married and raised three children: Henry, William, and Anne. She was a businesswoman who helped run her husband's butcher shop business. She was loved many people even her Protestant neighbors.
Margaret practiced her faith and helped many people reconcile themselves back into the Catholic Church. She prayed one and a half hours every day and fasted four times a week. She regularly participated in mass and frequently went to confession. When laws were passed against Catholics, Margaret was imprisoned several times because she did not attend Protestant services. Other laws were passed which included a 1585 law that made it high treason for a priest to live in England and a felony for anyone to harbor or aid a priest. The penalty for breaking such laws was death. Despite the risk, Margaret helped and concealed priests. Margaret said "by God's grace all priests shall be more welcome to me than ever they were, and I will do what I can to set forward God's Catholic service."
Margaret wanted her son Henry to receive a Catholic education so she endeavored that her son be sent outside the Kingdom to Douai, France for schooling. Such an act was considered a crime. When the authorities discovered their intention, the Common Council had the Clitherow house searched. They initially found nothing but later retrieved religious vessels, books and vestments used for Holy Mass. They also found a secret hiding place but no renegade priests. Still, Margaret was arrested. Margaret refused to plead and to be tried saying, "Having made no offense, I need no trial". English law decreed that anyone who refused to plead and to be tried should be "pressed to death". So on the morning of March 25, 1586, after sewing her own shroud the night before and after praying for the Pope, cardinals, clergy, and the Queen, Margaret was executed. She lay sandwiched between a rock and a wooden slab while weights were dropped upon her, crushing her to death. She did not cry out but prayed "Jesu, Jesu, Jesu, have mercy upon me. She died at age 30.
Move by her saintly life, all her children entered the religious life. Anne became a nun. Henry and William both became priests.
On October 25, 1970, Pope Paul VI declared Margaret a saint.
(Note: Some websites have Maggie's Feast Day as March 25th and others March 26th. Most of the American sites have her listed as the March 26th, so I honor that date.)
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Friday, March 21, 2008
Hey, I have a kid in school. Andrew was unschooled and he made the choice to go to high school. He wanted to do it and we said, "Go for it! You can always come home, but if you decide you like it, learn to play the game...because it *is* a game." Well, he liked it enough to continue, but we have had MANY discussions, over the last four years, regarding so much of the mindless and pointless aspects of traditional public (and private) schooling. To be honest, I don't know if I can go through high school again with another kid. These last four years have darn near done me in. So, here's hoping Ben and Autumn stay home.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
|You Are a Colon|
You aren't concerned much with theories or dreams... only what's true or untrue.
You are brilliant and incredibly learned. Anything you know is well researched.
You like to make lists and sort through things step by step. You aren't subject to whim or emotions.
Your friends see you as a constant source of knowledge and advice.
(But they are a little sick of you being right all of the time!)
You excel in: Leadership positions
You get along best with: The Semi-Colon
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Sunday, March 9, 2008
This is due to go on sale in the States in the next few weeks. Lucky ducks in England can actually go buy it and see it in movie theaters! Anyway, my birthday is at the end of April, but this will be an early present. It's gonna be AWESOME! Andrew and I can't wait to see it!
Saturday, March 8, 2008
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Monday, March 3, 2008
Saturday, March 1, 2008
In all honesty, I never saw this coming. I don't see him as remotely artistic. He is complaining over my shoulder as I type this. "Of course I am!" he insists. So I probed, "In what possible way are you artistic." This is the answer I just got, "I am always encouraging the kids' artistic endeavors...I am having a ceramic TARDIS being made for me by Tumnal at her pottery class!" He is also reminding me that he has written a book (artistic) and that he planted a tree (that is a stretch) and that he is Ron 'Frickin' Popeil as his patent goes pending next Friday for Elastic Ricochet (sounds like a Band to me). So yeah, I guess when you add his writing, arboring and inventing he is kinda artistic. So, okay, I'll give him Artistic Mother-ahem- Father Hen. I am still the Groovy Mother Hen...so let's not forget about that!