02 January 2011

Aaah, Very Nice.

But it just won't work for me. Watching this video from edutopia, I felt like a total failure. This is exactly what I wanted my homeschool to "look like." Children cooperating and learning. Standing nicely or sitting in their chairs. Agreeing on the classroom rules and having some sort of idea, socially, as to how to get along with others. It looks like the teacher is doing a great job, but I'm guessing he is NOT teaching any autistic children.

Math as a social activity?

I'm a bit jealous. I admit it. Not saying I would trade my kids in for the world, but I'm jealous that this guy seems to have it easy. I'm letting a five-minute video totally sap my confidence.

But I don't know how to teach Elf not to cry and freak out over not getting the right pencil in the morning. How to teach Emperor not to constantly call out the answers to the math problems or just plain old chat, chat, chat WHILE working?

How can the children learn that bird squawk noises and the same three lines from the last Star Trek episode, repeated over and over to one another, is NOT something other children do?

These other children, bet you, can cross the street safely. Know not to tell strangers about the noble gases and the personality of Argon. Or the fact that there was a big fight in our house about grape jelly the other day and other details.

I'd be afraid of some of these strangers coming to my house to rob it were it not for the fact that my children STILL don't know their addresses and phone numbers, and they've lived here all their lives! AND they've forgotten how to tell time and tie shoes. I know, I know and I KNOW I spent a lot of time teaching them this.

But still, they know about five lines from every episode of Star Trek that they have watched, and they repeat it over and over to one another. I'm not complaining... exactly... so much as expressing my sadness and frustration that here I have been teaching these children diligently and thoughtfully - for years!- and Elf will show up in public school next year not knowing his address or how to figure out if someone is actually friendly or just being mean and pretending.

Elf is only just now starting to get the idea that he did NOT come from the Keebler factory. And some of those other children will be dating. He's a little more than a little socially behind, and doggone it, he's a cute little Elf. But they will eat him alive. G is begging us not to send him because they will "mess him up." So sad...

Ok. I'm just disappointed in myself, I guess. I don't know how I could have done much better in the overall picture (yep, everyone has spots they KNOW could have been better!). And my class is not like this guy's on the video. This film was shot during his first month of teaching these children... and look how they sit and pay attention. I've been working sooo hard on "sit and pay attention" that it isn't funny. For years, working... this is not funny.

I am left with the feeling that I don't have much time left with Elf at home, and no way he's ready to go to school next year, but D wants him to go. By the time he goes, he will have been home almost five years. D has been patient with me doing things my way, and he says it's just time next school year.

We've signed him up for social skills classes, and hope that helps. Chess league. Not having any family or community support really stinks at a time like this. :(

8 comments:

  1. First off, I'm sending some virtual hugs your way. Homeschooling is a challenge without having special needs children in the mix. I struggle with my boys and they are all considered 'normal.'

    The video you shared is inspiring for a classroom setting. I found it interesting that this teacher is just down the road from us. If I had a good sized group to teach in a co-op setting, I would love to implement his ideas. But, in our small group of 4 with big gaps in age, it won't be happening.

    Finally, my husband and I are also prayerfully considering whether all the boys should continue being homeschooled this coming year. While we have issues with some aspects of public school, I can see that for some kids it might be a better fit. Maybe you will be blessed with a wonderful educator that can help Elf blossom in ways he has yet to do. (If you saw my house, you'd know that my boys distract each other far more than other kids do for them.)

    As for my situation, I see my eldest slipping back in abilities and I don't want to look back when he's 18 and feel like I failed him. He just might need more structure than I've been able to give him here with a toddler underfoot. Sadly, he's not self-motivated for anything that involves work...so if I can't 'sit' on him, it doesn't get done.

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  2. I know it's difficult and sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees (or some such expression like that would be suitable here. I'll thing on that point some more and come up with the perfect proverb or cliche....) But, some of the things you attribute to your children being autistic really can just be attributed to them being KIDS!

    Seriously, you should see a day here! It would be quite normal to for a child to lose something they had ten seconds ago, to freak out because their pencil sharpener is missing, can't get their work done because their tights are itchy or their brother keeps looking at him or she doesn't have the right shoes on or they are currently perfecting the art of armpit farts. It's like a three ring circus sometimes! And don't even get me started on the things they have said to strangers or people in church!!! Sometimes I want to crawl under the nearest chair! The other day my almost 10 year old "forgot" how to spell her last name! Would have been not-too-bad if it hadn't happened when we were at JPL signing in to see the Mars Rover. I was afraid to look the sign-in lady in the eye!

    And repeating lines from movies over and over and over ad nauseum? Check! Particularly nice when one little boy picked up "chicka wa wa" from Alvin and the Chipmunks. Great. Now it sounds like my kids are watching some weird p*orn show or something! And he'd say it ALL day, in response to any question or just while he was playing or doing other things. Always "chicka wa wa." Nice.

    Anyway.....take a deep breath! They are kids and will behave childishly! Other kids will, too! Trust me! Those kids in the video don't live in a TV show (and you do know they were coached on how to behave for the camera and then there was editing, right?)

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  3. The first two comments were awesome! I totally agree. I can't even imagine how worried you must be, but at some point if you are going to try it D's way you have to hope for the best. Have you all talked about a back-up plan if it doesn't work?

    Also--I think you are an amazing educator. You have taught the boys so much more than math and science, or even how to sit still. That's the beauty of home education--everything becomes a learning experience. Elf will remember much more than you realize. Best of all, he will always know that he has a loving family behind him. Praying for you all always!

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  4. Great comments - oh, so true! If I hear another "you took my eraser, didn't you?" I may have to jump off the balcony! It's not only at your house, dear friend.

    Yet, I understand the anxiety as you think about sending Elf off to school. Oh, do I understand! Let's keep praying for each other. ((((hugs))))

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  5. ((Hugs)) I so understand your fears about sending Elf to school. Social skills and the issues around it were the reason we pulled Princess Belle out of school.

    I also understand your feelings of disappointment in yourself. I feel like with the baby and the moves and everything else, I haven't given Princess Belle as much as I should have. I have to let that go and only resolve to better from now on. ((hugs))

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  6. I did not look at the video clip. I'm not about someone else's "way"...I know what our "way" is, and that it doesn't look or feel like anyone else's, and I am good with that. I won't be corrupted or deflated with someone else's image of what it should/could/might be, simply because it's just not for everyone.

    You have written several times about 'D' wanting the boys to go to public school.I agree with the other comment that you need a back up plan. I'm not going to pretend to know your family's business, but I know for our girly her neurologist has been adamant that children with sensory/Aspie etc, are better off in homeschool/tutor educational experiences. Is 'D' prepared to bring the boys' home if school doesn't work out in a pre-determined number of weeks? Is this his sole decision, or are your boys doctors and their Mom behind this decision, too?

    Do NOT be disappointed in yourself. I cannot imagine your day. Sure, your little bloggy self shows glimpses of your life, but glimpses aren't the deep down ugly, the moments of utter pain and despair, the moments of true heartbreak and breaks in your sanity. You have done a wonderful job with your kids. It took us YEARS to just potty train the girl. YEARS. To the point where I worried she would never not need Pull-ups. There are things she grasps quickly and won't let go of to the point of driving us all crazy. Then there is division which for whatever reason is never, never, never the opposite of multiplication in her mind, and she acts as if it's the first time she has ever seen it every single day.

    Her reading is amazing, but handwriting is atrocious and spelling can be down right frazzling. She can read the word, but she can't spell it. Or she doesn't care to spell it, who knows?? Throw in tears and tantrums, it's not easy. But she loves school. She loves it because it's not mean. It's not a place of bullying or comparision to others. If she needs to keep her jammies on to cooperate, she does. If she needs a break to crack her knuckles and snap gum to bring her focus back, she can. If she needs a quiet spot, she can find one with her cat in her bed or on our lawn in our hammock.

    There are areas where everyone could polish more, that goes for teachers in public school settings, too. We are only human. I think your head and your heart are on such different pages when it comes to the boys going to public school, you need to listen to both and find a balance that you, 'D' and the boys can all live with.

    No one, no one on this planet will ever care as much about your children's education as you will. I would hope that 'D' would see this. (I hope I don't sound as if I am judging him, I am not) Your son could go to public school and not know his address. Ever. Would that be a failure? No.

    We couldn't get the girly to remember our address or our phone number until last year. Most kids know it by kindergarten. We used the melody to a favorite song of hers and it finally clicked. Maybe something along those lines could work for you?

    I'm sorry you are hurting, and I'm sorry you have to make these choices. But please, give yourself credit where credit is due. We have a neighbor with Autistic triplets. She has placed two of them with the state because she cannot cope with them and their needs. You have helped make a world for an Elf and an Emperor. That's not an easy task. You did it while wrangling 4 other children as well! I don't have any brilliant advice that will make this better, but don't be disappointed with the one person who has shaped the world these two live in. She has done a great job. :)

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  7. I really, really like what Blondee said as I've pondered the same thing about your situation and I agree completely with not allowing someone else's supposedly successful approach to undermine my confidence.

    There are some things we need to keep in mind about videos like this--A) They only show the best moments--meaning that it is not always like this. These are kids--meaning there will be meltdowns and arguments because kids--especially in fifth grade--are still working out the rules of the road. B)It is early in the school year and the new has not worn off this new system of learning yet. I'd be more interested in seeing how it's working at the end of the year. Further more, I'd like to know if these kids' test scores are higher, the same, or lower than those in traditional classrooms. C) While he is absolutely right about creating the right atmosphere from the first day forward, I have serious questions about math as a social learning experience. I saw this in action when my oldest was a freshman in high school and I saw it fail him (along with a a number of other students). It's not to say that it should never be used, just that it should not be the central focus of acquiring math skills.

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  8. Mrs C, I'm sorry I don't have anything helpful to add. I agree with the commentors and I, too, send hugs.

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Non-troll comments always welcome! :)