All in Homeschooling

July Backyard Visitor: Fireflies

When we decided to homeschool this year, I did not want every piece of our day to be remedial and fixing weaknesses. I wanted to do something that built on Nathaniel's strengths and things we enjoy. His receptive language skills are fantastic. He loves stories. He loves being outside. This intersection is where I am building some fun learning into our day.

"Backyard Visitors" is the name I am giving to our nature study. We are learning about one animal a month through children's literature, crafts, and time outdoors. We are working on core AAC vocabulary. The first critter that we learned about was the firefly.

When Medical Conditions Influence Educational Decisions

"Why don't you homeschool Nathaniel?" The question was the first thing my mom asked when I answered the phone early Tuesday morning. It was asked last Saturday by a college friend, who has close to thirty years experience in public school special education, after she read my blog post about a Christian school's denial to consider enrolling my son. It is a question Rich and I have repeatedly asked ourselves, and it is a logical one given that homeschooling has been our educational choice for our other children.  Answering the question and making any educational decision on Nathaniel's behalf forces us to reflect on his journey.

When placed in our home through foster care, Nathaniel was enrolled in early intervention services offered through our state Department of Education. We have homeschooled for twenty-five years. Our experience with public education was limited to our older two sons who attended while living at their mother's home. Despite the unfamiliarity, we continued the services. The intervention model identified the child’s greatest need and offered one therapist to address concerns. Nathaniel was assigned an occupational therapist. We loved her. However, together we quickly realized that Nathaniel had more needs than she could meet in an hour a week.  Speech and physical therapy were added. Nathaniel’s experience with early intervention speech therapy has been documented here. Not soon after we began sessions, we stopped them. We sought private speech therapy to tackle what we knew would be long-term communication needs.

These Are a Few of My Favorite (Preschool) Things

I have been a stay-at-home mom for twenty-eight years. Next week I start my twenty-fourth year of teaching my children at home. Josiah was born into a homeschool family; he nursed through older siblings' math lessons and overheard first, second, and third grade reading lessons all the same year while playing in his high chair. He was the youngest before Nathaniel and is a senior in high school this fall.

Both Joe and I reap the benefits that he has never known family life apart from homeschool life. For us, there has always been a blurring of what is daily living as a Rankin kid and what is homeschool; Joe has always known his parents, and mother specifically, to carry the duel roles of parent and educator. There were no "before we started homeschooling" habits or relationship patterns to overcome.

Augmented Communication and Messy Play

I realized something new in our quarterly AAC consultation earlier this month. We were discussing Nathaniel's ownership of his device and the need for him to have it with him at all times. I've been honest with the team and on my blog that I struggle with this idea. He is three, little for his size, and his device is a full size iPad. It is cumbersome even in the lightest case. I know he needs his words available. I dislike putting the responsibility on him to carry them or wear them at all times.

I brought up messy play. "Nathaniel shouldn't have to give up messy play because he is wearing his words..." I said. We use our water table daily three seasons of the year. On warm summer days, it is my son's "afternoon at the pool" experience. His words and device are exchanged for water, sand, shaving cream, cooked and dyed spaghetti noodles, mud, and rocks.