### The Sad Elf at Homeschool.

One of the GREAT things about homeschooling is that you can do things just as you wish.  I just didn't mean for it to evolve into something quite so specialized.

Every day, the Elf wakes up.  He has Froot Loops or Marshmallow Mateys.  No milk.  Except in his special "elf-sized mug."  He can NOT drink out of the glass mugs.  Noo.  He needs a special "elf-sized" spoon.  Proper bowl.  His special chair.

Time for school.  He has HIS special pencils, though how he tells these apart from the other identical pencils, I have no clue.  Still.  His pencils.  We begin our math first.  Always.  Elf has special squeezie toys to play with during math.  And his special eraser.  Special chair.  And the "official butt cushion" that has been sewn with his special fabric.

During English, he reads the first page of the lesson as well as the special "Remember:" box on EVEN days.  On odd numbered days, he reads the second page and is sad that he doesn't get to read the special box.  On odd numbered days, he also must play white in chess.  We have several other odd rules and trust me, the children remember them all.

Elf doesn't like odd numbered days much.  On odd days, he must do his reading-aloud time SECOND.  But... he deals with it.  It used to be that Elf would always, always get to go first until Emperor figured out that this wasn't fair somehow.  (I would say "who cares," but it's a biiig deal apparently).

Elf answers only even-numbered questions.  This way, there is no dispute as to who did which whatever last and he is reading more than me today and blah blah blah.  Imagine the horror when Elf discovered that the ends of some months are odd!  And months begin with an odd number!  Eeek!

Lunchtime!  Must have Elf-sized cup, special Elf food and food in divided dish (no touching foods together!  Gah!).  We must do reading and award "Golden Tack Awards for Most Dramatic Reading."  Lately I've been tired of handing out brass brads (you know, the things they give to first-graders to make paper-plate "clocks?") and have tried to spice it up with happy sticker awards and the like with no luck.  Somehow earning a tack is more of an honour.

Lately I've been thinking that perhaps Elf needs to get used to things not being exactly the same each day.  If he's to go to public school next year, I should imagine the teacher won't likely ensure he gets his special desk, his special pencils, reading only even-numbered questions and the like.  I find no academic harm in settling things the way I have (it prevented many fights just to say sorry, it's an odd day today), but it's time to switch things around on the Elf a bit so that he can get used to not always having things as cozy as they are here in the Happy Elf Homeschool.

So... sometimes he will not get an Elfie spoon because Mom is mean and "forgot."  Sometimes he will not be able to use the very BEST (ok, identical to all the others) pencil.  And sometimes, just sometimes, I will make him read and solve an odd-numbered question.

That is just too much, though.  There was much crying and screaming and slamming of books.  He can NOT do this.  It is not fair.  Ensue totally irrational "not like Elf at all" sort of rant.  He felt very badly afterwards.  He said he felt stupid.  But it is hard for him to deal with all the wrong pencils and question numbers.

Awww... ((hugs)) Mom loves ya, mister.  I had a little snuzzle time with the Elf and explained how he needs to do a little growing so that he will be ready for school next year.  Okayyy.  Off he goes to watch tv.  We all need a break after that emotional flipout.

Annnnd... not five minutes later, he flips out again.  Apparently it is awful - AWFUL!!- that Emperor has put some "mini-movie" on that he does not want to see.  And he is SO. MAD. ABOUT. IT that he just hates Emperor.  Why?  Well, because he wouldn't change the movie to something HE wanted to see.  (Nevermind that it's an odd day and Emperor's choice!)

Um... no.  Emperor's turn today.  You need to deal with it.  Elf says that he will NOT deal with anything, and he does NOT want to learn to deal with anything.  Because he does NOT want to go to public school next year.  He will fail any test they give him.  He will rip up all the books.  He will run away.  He will stay RIGHT HERE and HOMESCHOOL (stomps foot) and not GO TO SCHOOL EVERR AGAIIN!

Doggone it.  I realllly don't want him all confrontational like that.  And I feel like a big meanie, shaking up his whole world with the wrong pencils and whatnot.  Seriously, he's really upset and angry.  He had to spend about half the day in his bed crying.  I'm at a loss here.  :(

1. I'm sorry. :( I have no advice, but I will pray. I am sending cyber-hugs to you and Elfie...and another prayer for minds to be changed on the public school thing.

2. How come you are thinking of putting Elf into school? Because of the special services he will be able to get?

Sorry Elfie and Mom had a tough day.

3. I think I have found Elf's long lost twin sister. She seems to have a very similar inflexibility on routine and schedule, and likes her cozy little world of how all things shall be run, too.

It just plain sucks to know that they "have" to adjust to the world doesn't it? Seeing your child make strides and feel comfortable and somewhat confident and then to know that they have to feel shaken, unsure, upset....all to 'blend in'.

I'm sorry. It hurts your heart and makes you want to protect them even more.You have loved him longer, and known him longer than any other soul on this Earth ever will. You two have a bond that makes him safe and helps him navigate his Elf world.

*IF* there is no possible way for the Elf to stay with Momma Elf next year, then you ARE doing the right thing. And it stinks. It stinks that doing the right thing has to be hard and seemingly hurtful to him...but with time, and a lot of encouragement, and support...he will learn to cope. Not necessarily like it, but cope. And that would be huge...because I know how hard it is over here in this portal to make changes and get our Chickadee to 'flex'.

I know I wouldn't be happy if my world was turned upside down on a daily basis...I can't imagine how hard it must be and feel for Elf.

Prayers, for you, for him, and for his future teacher and aides to meet *his* needs.

And a hug!

4. Claire & Deb: My husband D was reluctant to go along with the homeschooling thing, but he did. For four years. Now that Elf will be "middle school" age next year - and we have had no closet locking problems at the middle school with our older autistic son - he says it is time for him to go back so that he can get used to things before high school.

We are not sure how it will work out... but I want to do what I can so that it is less traumatic. Even if it's reallllly hard now.

:(

Blondee, it DOES stink pretty bad. But even with the PERFECT teacher, there will be some megamajor adjustments for Elf. It's so easy to do these things at home, that perhaps we've enabled him without knowing it. Or perhaps we saved him from a lot of trauma from having to do it some other way... who knows...?

That's the thing with kids like ours; you always second-guess yourself.

5. We're starting middle school with Buddy Boy next year, too (though he's in a regular school now, not homeschooled). My fear is that he'll fail miserably (as middle school is notoriously the hardest on all kids). If he does, we might end up homeschooling him, though my wife isn't too wild about that.

I think you'll know within two months of starting whether it's going to work or not.

In regards changing things around, it's always hard to know when to let things slide, and when to insist on a little flexibility. My general rule is to try and consciously concentrate on 2-3 things that we're working on being flexible about (taking turns, getting treats, whatever). The problem is that if you change things, then let them stay a "new way", then the new way quickly becomes entrenched.

The other thing that I think we're starting to have to deal with is *gasp* teenage hormones starting already.

Good luck!

Joe

6. Hi, I came here from Veronica's blog, Sleepless Nights.
I have no personal experience with autism, I only know what I've read on blogs and other websites, an occasional novel.
It's a sad situation when you face meltdowns because of change, but change is necessary for everyone and I think you're doing the right thing challenging Elf in ways that will help him grow and be able to fit in better in the "outside" world.

7. Joe, I would *imagine* that Buddy Boy's already having some good public school experience (ok, in relative terms...) would help tip the scales in favour of a positive experience in middle school. Here's hoping!

River, hello and thanks for commenting! It is hard to face those meltdowns. I'm not sure if I should back off or not, because I feel like I am actually traumatizing him. Then again, the world doesn't conform to his needs, either.

I sure appreciate your coming by and saying hi. :)

### Reading Curriculum: ABeka Book and BJU Press

Did you know that in the state of Missouri, homeschoolers must teach reading as a separate subject?  I don't know how anyone could homeschool well without teaching their child to read... but OK.

I got many of my ABeka books used and collected them over time.  I'm glad I came across these readers early in my homeschooling years.  It teaches children to read step-by-step.  I don't think I've seen a more effective reading program for the elementary years.  The children love the stories, and what I appreciate about them is that there is a rich and varied language even in simple-to-read books in this series.

My set is pretty old, and some are even from the 1960's and no longer listed in the reading series.  I think if I had to do things over again somehow, I think I'd just spend on a curriculum set and be done with it.  That's the thing, though, with homeschooling.  By the time you figure out what the perfect curriculum is for you, your children have graduate…

### Homeschooling is NOT So Hard.

I wish I'd have known this starting out. I wish I'd have known that it's actually LESS work to just homeschool your child, than to be an "involved parent" at school.

We've enjoyed elementary school with our older boys. *Most* of the teachers were actually pretty competent and caring (the others, I save for another blog post, another day...). We had the children involved in extra activities like the Spanish Club or Service Club, or choir, and they got a fair bit out of the experience.

But it's a LOT of work.

You get about a ton of worksheets that must be done by a certain time. Usually on a day when you're sick or have no time. You get the phone calls about this or that, and about a zillion sheets per day that sometimes contain important news, so you MUST go through them daily. The schools also *love* to throw in half days, teacher in-service days and early dismissals. Not so bad, unless you have children at more than one school and the schedu…

### Holiday Gifts for the Homeschool Teacher!

Merrymaking hint:  leave this post up on your phone/ computer for your family to "accidentally" find!  Let the magic begin!

All teachers love a little appreciation every now and then, including homeschoolers.   I don't know about you, though, but I don't want any apple crap.  So first rule:  no apple crap!

Otherwise I'm pretty open.  I love getting gifts, even if it's just something small or simple.  One thing I love is when my children want to help out and make lunch or clean up or put their laundry away.  Or just behave themselves and get their math done.  This is a really big thing when you think about it.

And from the adults in my life, the gift of coffee always shows love - or rather, someone not wanting an "I need coffee" emergency in the middle of winter after a big snowstorm.  Somehow, I always have a lot of coffee in my pantry during the winter months.  (Guess why.) Thanks, D!

My gallery of homeschool appreciation pics: