Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Disco Chronicles, part II

*Sorry about being AWOL yesterday. Mo came into town for a doctor appt. and drug me to lunch and shopping all day. I really mean all damn day. We even had to pick Sean up from where he was working with his dad because hubby had a meeting. So the three of us had dinner and continued shopping. We got home at 10pm and I promptly crawled to my bed. Mo made me a cup of tea and joined me for chatter until hubby kicked her out when he came to bed. This morning my body's all "the hell chica?? You were thinking what?? That you could abuse me like that and still expect me to function the next day? So not happening. Legs, show her we're not taking this. No walking for you today missy!!" If my story rambles today, it's the muscle relaxers I tried to appease my body with. Just for the record...Fibromyalgia sucks monkey toes. And by toes, I totally mean a**! On a good note Mo's platelets were still solidly in the normal range so she can stay off the meds. And doesn't have to have another check for 3 whole months. He did warn her however, that she's not cured, they will drop again. So she has to vigilantly watch for the signs that they're low. And she got fussed at because her hemoglobin had dropped even though she's on enough iron to choke a horse. Turns out she'd been a little forgetful about taking the morning dose. But overall, it was a good visit.*

So when we left off in the last installment, we had just discovered that our third graders IQ was higher than most adults. But he had some learning issues. I say most adults because obviously there's those freakish Mensa people (no offense if any of you are one) and rocket scientists and stuff. So there are people with high IQs. It's not that rare. And thankfully his mommy's IQ is way up there near his she just doesn't get all braggy about it. Because really? What does that prove? But it's just odd to get that kind of news about your 8 yr old. So I did what I always do...I researched. When in doubt, learn. And I try to read as much as I can and then interpret things in a way we can live with. I think the best book I read was The Edison Trait. Did you know that Thomas Edison was kicked out of school for being "dumb"?? I know right? How ridiculous. But luckily, his mama was a smart woman and she homeschooled him. What if she'd listened to the school and gave up on him? We'd totally still be reading by lantern light. Well, okay, someone would have invented the light bulb eventually, I guess, but still.

I'd also learned alot from the autism seminars I'd attended given by Barbara T. Doyle. The woman is amazing. She's a clinical consultant for many programs, state board of educations, she's written books, when it comes to autism, she knows her stuff! But in her seminars she also talks about the different ways people learn. I'm a visual learner. I need to see it. I need to read things to actually get them in my brain. I'd always doodled in school. And during lectures in college I'd take some notes, but they'd be surrounded by silly doodles. She explained that visual learners doodled to engage the visual part of their brain so that the information was processed. How cool is that? And auditory learners do best when they can listen to the information and then discuss it verbally. So it was a matter of incorporating different methods to help him learn.

Towards the end of his third grade year, hubby took the position with the boy scouts and we moved half an hour north and into the country. The move was awesome in many ways for the kids. Who wouldn't want acres and acres of timber to explore? They spent most of their time outside on adventures and since their dad is nature boy to begin with they learned alot. But it also meant switching school districts. They were now in a much smaller district with small schools and small class sizes. Sounds better right? Not so much. They started school in the fall and I liked both teachers. Sean's teacher was more than willing to work with his IEP and he was doing okay in her class. But he really didn't like school. And Mo, well I'll save most of it for her biography, but she was way ahead of the class and bored. We'd discussed homeschooling before and it just seemed the right time to give it a try. So I studied up on the laws and regulations about homeschooling in Illinois which are probably too lenient and we withdrew them from school. I was lucky in that they were only a grade apart so alot of classes I could combine. Obviously, Sean was no match for Mo in english so they had separate workbooks for that. I bought Sean phonics workbooks to try to help his reading and spelling issues. But we did science, social studies, and literature all together. We used our library alot. We rented and watched alot of discovery channel programs both for science and social studies. For PE I'd send them out to the woods to play or on the trampoline or we'd go for a walk. For literature we read books out loud and then discussed them. We also started doing books on tape in the van when we had to drive. One book I picked up about the time Sean was in 5th grade was Timeline by Michael Crichton. I wasn't sure if it would be too much for the kids but it wasn't. Mo and I listened to books on tape and we got the basic story and enjoyed it. We discovered that Sean remembered minute details of the story that we'd totally missed!! And he was the one who understood the theories of quantum physics that were explained in the story. In 5th grade!! I knew then that he was going to far surpass me in science. I studied my butt off in senior physics just to get a C+, when this kid seemed to just get it naturally. We loved homeschooling. I loved it. The kids loved it. Don't get me wrong, there were bad days when someone was out of sorts, or I had trouble getting a concept through to Sean. He's still very obstinate and sometimes we'd both have to take a time out and come back to it later. There were days I was sure that I'd end up screwing them up. One day a friend called and I was like what if I screw this up and ten years from now on Mother's day Mo calls me to wish me a happy Mother's day and she's got seven kids and the littlest one only speaks spanish and she works at a gas station??! And Sean can't even call because he's in prison? And it's all my fault??! She told me that the fact that I was worried proved that it wasn't going to happen. I still have my fingers crossed that she's right. We discovered that Mo can do work anywhere. Sprawled on the floor in front of the TV, in the van on the road, in the middle of a huge group. Sean has to be sitting at the table, in relative quiet in order to focus. He has to have all of the things he'll need in front of him so he doesn't have to get up and search for things and break his concentration. He can't have a radio or TV on. So mostly it was a matter of finding out what he needed to succeed and making sure that's how we set things up.

Because we live on a Boy Scout property and summer camp is just down the road from us, the kids and I spent alot of time hanging out down there. I got certified to be a lifeguard and helped out at the waterfront. Mo, being a girl, stayed with either her father or I. But Sean got to pal around with the counselors and join the merit badge classes. The summer before seventh grade he completed every single merit badge the program offers in the nature category. The boy is a sponge. He just soaks up that knowledge.

Next up...Sean's middle school years, in which he returns to school, becomes a legend and wins the science fair.


  1. I HEART Timeline! : )

    On a more disappointing note, you'll have to tell Sean that I can't run away with him - aside from the fact that I'm twice his age, my current boy (whose name, oddly, is also Sean) might not be too thrilled. Please break it to him gently... I may be living in Kuwait, but I am still a nice Canadian. : p

  2. Amazing, Spot. You have courage to home school your children. I think it's a great idea, especially if kids are bored.

  3. What a unique, and awesome kid! I can feel the proudness radiate off the page. The tremedous undertaking of the homeschool and moving out there. Wonderful! I bet it's gorgeous too.
    I will have to catch up on the rest this weekend. I have to go to my Dad's funeral :-(

    But I wanted to pop in, and read a little, and just enjoy the blogging community. It was really good thank you!

  4. Spot,

    Can I say how refreshing it is to know a parent is taking time and putting in effort for their childrens' education? Having worked at a school, there were many children that would register (having been home schooled), and they turned out to be years behind because the parents never actually did the schooling...So, it's good know that their are parents who take it seriously. Thank you!


  5. My gf home schools her 3 kids and it's a lot of work. I'm amazed at her efforts and the kids are doing very well.

    Kudos to you for taking the time to do this for your kids.

  6. Haven't finished the article but why are you hating on the rocket scientists?
    The mensa people deserve it, they are smug.

    Ok finished the article. Sounds like a good experience for the kids. Looks like you have smart ones which is good.

  7. It's pretty amazing how much times have changed. There are so much more out there now a days, to help kids with learning difficulties. Just like Edision, my brother was kicked out of school. Now he does some kind of mathmatical coding for computers (don't ask me, it's way over my head), but still can only read or write in the 4th grade level.

    It take such detication to home school. Thumbs up!!

  8. Wow I am thoroughly impressed by the homeschooling. I don't know if I would have the patience, or if my kids would be willing to learn from me (especially the hard-headed one who thought I knew nothing unless she needed me to know everything about something!). Your dedication to teaching them is inspirational.

  9. Lovely story....I feel like I'm there with you! You are one brave woman attempting (and succeeding) at that homeschooling thang....you're a braver woman than I!

  10. I'm loving these Disco Chronicles...Sean seems like a pretty special kid! And I'm really loving to hear you tell his story! And trust me, I get the whole "I'm totally going to screw up my kids" train of thought. I pretty much think that about 30 times a day, mostly when I continually turn on new television shows for the 3 year old to buy me some much-needed time. He says, "But I don't want to watch a show." I say, "Yes, you do. Now watch your Spongebob." God.

  11. You just never cease to impress and inspire. I'm blown away by anyone who takes on homeschooling and succeeds like you have. It's a huge undertaking!
    (I especially loved reading about how differently Mo and Sean learn. That amazes me.)
    Good stuff, Spot.

  12. C~ Sean just want's you to know that it's okay, he can wait. Lol. I loved Timeline also and they even did a half way decent job on the movie. And Gerard Butler...yum!

    BA~ thanks. It worked out well for us.

    Angelia~ I'm really sorry about your dad. And yeah, I'm pretty proud of my boy. And it is beautiful here. Thanks for stopping in.

    Una~ Oh I know!! I'll get to that part. I can't imagine not taking an interest in my kids education. It's such a vital part of life. I was lucky though in that the kids love to learn.

    LMB~ thanks. It is a lot of work. You don't really realize how much until you get into it. Definately a full time job!

    Danica~ thank you!

    Mepsipax~ I'm not hating on the rocket scientists! I'm probably raising one. Lol.

    Heather~ exactly. Schools don't know what to do with children who might "think outside the box". And they don't have the time or money to figure it out. Thanks!

    DfG~ Thank you! I think from your posts you probably could have done it. I think the most important thing is you have to really really like your kids and not mind spending all your time with them. Which is harder than it sounds. Lol.

    Kathryn~ thanks! It's a fine line between brave and insane. Don't you think? Which side I fall on remains to be seen. Lol.

    Mindy~ Thanks! I'm glad you're enjoying it. He is pretty special. And don't worry about it...we have all bought time with the TV before!! It's a tried and true bribe.

    Cynica~ Thanks so much for your kind words. It was huge and again, I just had the right circumstances! And the different learning styles and personality quirks amaze me too. The human mind is fascinating.