Saturday, November 1, 2014

Reader question...RE: Homeschool - PART THREE

In a comment on one of my other posts, girlfrog2003 said this:
We are also new foster parents and received our first placement about one month into school (a sweet newborn baby girl). How do you juggle having any kind of routine for school and all of the foster care stuff??? My daughter is autistic with a healthy dose of anxiety (and it's been amazing how much of that has gone away and how much more "focus" she has now) and she does so much better with a routine, but routine has been such a foreign concept the last few weeks. Constant requests for meetings appointments tomorrow, and then oh we cancelled it, and I need this paper today, etc. I suppose it doesn't help that due to my daughters disabilities I can't just put something in front of her and let her work on her own. I really have to sit down and work with her. Any wisdom or tips are so much appreciated.
Please don't think that this is going to turn into a blog all about our homeschool. It's not. But I do love answering reader questions so I will continue with this theme as long as people want to know more. I also want to be sure to clarify that this is OUR homeschool and not how I think homeschool should look in general. This is what works for our family.

Anyway, back to the do I juggle the crazy routine of foster care and homeschool?


That's a hard one!!

My answer probably isn't going to help you much, girlfrog2003. It's really lame. But all I can really tell you is do school when you can.

When Daisy was with us, her therapy sessions made routine perfectly impossible. We really did just have to "do school" whenever the house was free from extra human beings and when the baby was settled enough for me to sit with my boys. Because like you, girlfrog2003, I have to sit with my boys most of the time too. Whenever I give them work to do and then go about my own business there is sure to be unnecessary competition and outright fighting along with lots of off topic conversation and wandering in general. Bart can drag a math worksheet out over two hours when he's having a bad day.

I know what works best for my boys though so we've always had a routine - of sorts - that plays to their strengths. I try to get started pretty early in the morning. (Their attention spans get shorter as the day gets longer.) I do "difficult" stuff first and I rarely do two "difficult" subjects in a row. (For example, we never learn a new skill in math and then follow it with a writing lesson.) I make sure to keep blood sugars even all day long with frequent snacking for TT. (It keeps his anxiety at bay.) And I try to get them to do something physical (where they raise their heart rate) after lunch before we sit down to work in the afternoon.

One thing that helped my boys, because due to foster care in our lives I couldn't ever put together a "set" schedule, was to write all the subjects/activities for the day up on a large dry erase board mounted on the wall where we do school. The boys know that their free time comes when the whole board has been erased. They know we don't necessarily work in the order of everything on the board - but that it does all have to get done. I usually color code things. One color for school, one color for foster care appointments, and one color for chores.

Everyone does homeschool just a little bit different. I'm sure you'll get into the swing of things eventually, girlfrog2003. It does take quite awhile though to switch from brick and mortar school to an effective homeschool. I've read that some people say to plan on one month of homeschool for every year of brick and mortar the child had done before things start to work well at home. And for some families it takes longer than that. If I'm being honest, I'd say it took us almost 1.5 years. of those years was still technically public school as TT had A LOT of demands on him to complete all the work the online charter school required. Also, the boys and I really did have a lot of grief to work though when Dude and Dolly left.

I know quite a few of my readers homeschool. I don't personally read any homeschool blogs so I don't have any good links myself. If any other readers want to help girlfrog2003 out with more scheduling tips or other pointers for homeschooling special needs, please comment with advice or links to blogs.


Anonymous said...

If you are travelling to appointments, I would recommend getting the audio versions of books you want to read/discuss or do activities on.
Don't know if this would make the anxiety worse or not, but my son finds it easier to get work done when he sets the kitchen timer for a certain number of minutes and tries to get an assignment done before the timer goes off.
Again, if you are traveling to appointments, maybe a small dry-erase board, some flashcards and coloring pages (depending on your daughter's age?) that can stay in the car for travel/office visit wait times would help review concepts and give her something soothing to do.
(When I taught high school I would let my students color in maps or historically themed coloring pages I had printed off while I introduced new topics...they loved it and retained information better than you would think!)
FOr planning ...look at what you need/want to cover for the year, break it down by month, then week, then try by day. Then cut that amount by 1/3 and you will have a realistic amount of material to try for.
Remember....brick and mortar schools RARELY if EVER finish any of their books. ;)

Charlene said...

We are homeschoolers and foster parents too. I just want to say that we do very similar, work when our son is at his best, hard subjects first with easy in between, lots of snacks and short breaks. I also have a must do list in my head (this is what we must get done, minimally today for me to feel like school is progressing well. Somedays it is comprehensive, some days when things are crazy, it might just be math.
I also let everyone on the case know up front that we homeschool and thus don't do morning appointments unless there is no other choice. I try to set apptsfor after 2 whenever I can.

girlfrog2003 said...

Blushing! Thank you for answering my question so thoroughly and embarrassed that it took me so long to come back to see... I think we are kind of working into a routine that works for us and I am trying to plan more lessons that are "mobile" so to speak. Love reading about your experiences and your family.