It’s All About Attitude

Anxiety

A positive attitude has helped my kids be more joyful.

Not long ago, Pookie posed a new dilemma for me.  For a child whose life has been sprinkled with one dilemma after another since he was born, this was not novel, but this dilemma was particularly heartbreaking.

You know how your kids get all worn out at the end of the day, and suddenly little things become more upsetting?  A request to pick up the bedroom floor becomes a form of martyrdom, or a missing stuffed animal turns into a full-fledged sibling conspiracy–that sort of fun.  Well, like most families, we’ve got that going on.

But Pookster was taking it to a new level.  Not only was he getting upset about random stuff because he was tired, but he started soliloquizing about all that had gone wrong over the course of his day.  Never mind all the wonderful and exciting things that we had done, he was focused on all the minor disappointments and frustrations.  While that was enough to make me pause, I became even more concerned when he took to wailing things like, “I hate my life!” and “I wish I’d never been born!”

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Homeschool: The Social Factor

Yep, that’s right–a homeschool post on socialization.

First of all, a little detour on what is meant by socialization.  Google defines “socialization” as

  1. the act of mixing socially with others
  2. the process of learning to behave in a way that is acceptable to society

For many people, “socialization” means that a child is enrolled in a school with same-age peers, spending the day under the tutelage of their instructor and mingling with other children during group projects and recess times.  While this certainly does offer a child social experience, it’s only part of the picture.

socialsiblings

Siblings offer built-in socialization.

Socialization begins at home, and it looks different for every family.  Children who attend brick-and-mortar school will have different social experiences both in and outside of school, depending on personality and family values.  Some kids keep mostly to themselves or play with only a few friends at school, while others play with a large group of children.  Some families spend much of their free time quietly at home.  They may interact with each other constantly, or they may engage in more solitary activities.  Other families schedule frequent playdates, interact regularly with neighborhood friends, or are involved in activities at church or in the community.  Each family chooses the way that they feel will best teach their child the social skills necessary for life, modeling social interaction for their children in all they do, whether they realize it or not.

If each family socializes differently, then clearly socialization will look different for each homeschool family.  Some folks have social opportunities built-in, with a houseful of siblings or a multitude of cousins living nearby or a neighborhood teeming with children.  Some families are involved in myriad activities, getting their kids out of the house and interacting with others every day of the week.  And some families prefer to spend more time at home, limiting their outside engagements or simply taking advantage of opportunities as they come.

My husband and I are both introverts.  We could be perfectly content spending a majority of our time quietly at home or enjoying bike rides or hikes as a family.  While we enjoy a good conversation, we find large groups of people to be exhausting, and we don’t eagerly seek chances for a night out with friends.  He has several gamer friends from a former job that he meets online for a couple hours at least once a week, strapping on headphones to chat about gaming and work and life.  I chat with other moms during my kids’ class times and field trips, though my mom and sister are probably my closest friends.  And we’re fine with that.

However, we want our children to have experience interacting with a wide variety of people.  We want them to understand how to introduce themselves and start a conversation, how to join a game, how to deal with someone who is irritating or unkind.  Since they are not in school all day, they don’t have that built-in opportunity to practice social skills with unfamiliar people and a wide variety of different personalities; I have had to deliberately seek out opportunities for exposure.

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DIY Vision Therapy: Another 6 Exercises To Do at Home

Since so many people have stopped by to check out my post on 12 Vision Therapy Exercises You Can Do at Home, I thought it might be helpful for me to post a handful more for those who need them.  As I mentioned in the previous blog post, we learned that our youngest child was in need of vision therapy, but the cost was not affordable.  Immediately after learning this, I ran into a friend who happened to have a binder full of vision therapy exercises given to her for her OT work in a poor South African school.  None of the pages of exercises have any publication information or copyright information, so I think I’m safe in rephrasing and sharing their content.

Pooh

Mr. Pookie reads a story from The House at Pooh Corner.

We chose 2-3 exercises to do daily for a week, and then we switched to new exercises.  After about 10 weeks, Pookie spontaneously started reading.  We continued the vision therapy exercises for around six months before we petered out.  That was about a year ago.  His reading skills continued to improve steadily since then.  At this point, Pookie can fluently read material like Winnie the Pooh, and he started telling me about the content of War of the Worlds this morning.  He still prefers picture books, but that might simply be his age.  If we see a need, we can always do more vision exercises in the future.

We were also told that our son had not integrated a bunch of primitive reflexes.  Since I was trying to cover any possible deficit, I also added one primitive reflex integration exercise to our routine for each week.  (A YouTube search will give you examples.)  I have no idea if these had any impact, but I thought I’d mention that we did some of these exercises, as well.

Please let me know if you have any questions–or success stories!  I’d love to help other parents stuck in a similarly stressful situation. Continue reading

So You’re Worried Your Kid Might Not Love (or even like?!) Reading

You’ve heard it all before.  Plenty of people have written articles and blog posts about how to guarantee that your child loves reading.  But can you REALLY guarantee it?

LittleMe

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love to read.

I am the youngest of four children.  Three of us spent many happy childhood hours with our noses in a book.  The fourth sibling utterly surprised me when he showed up at our parents’ house as an adult with a book under his arm.  Several years post-college and working a job that required weekly cross-country travel to job sites, he said he didn’t have much else to do while he was in transit.  “It’s actually not so bad,” he sheepishly admitted.

I hardly think my family was unique, so I find it difficult to believe that there can be a guaranteed way to raise a child who loves reading.  I think everyone can enjoy reading a just-right book, but not everyone will want to spend hours of their free time curled up with a book.

So, if you can’t guarantee that your child will love to read, what can you at least do to encourage a positive attitude toward reading?  Continue reading

Childhood Anxiety: Pookie’s Journey

Pookie is taking anxiety medication.

Pookie is five years old.  I feel some vague sense of horror that my five-year-old takes anxiety medication, but there it is.

Mental health issues run in my family.  There’s the story of my great-grandma, who was intensely angry about her last pregnancy and thus refused to touch her youngest or look at him for most of his first year of life, leaving her oldest daughters–young teens at the time–to mother their newborn brother while she locked herself in her room.  My grandfather (the older brother of the unwanted little guy) struggled with depression as an adult, and my dad has dealt with it off-and-on over the years.  My sister was depressed for a year or so recently, and I battled its shadow for several years from late-high school until about the time I had my oldest child.

Anxiety2

This is my child who was afraid to go in water deeper than his navel last year, the child who clung to my side even in said shallow water.  This year has brought an amazing transformation!

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5 Ways Your Kids Are Learning While Playing Video Games

I married a gamer.  Since gaming is ‘Love’s hobby, it’s something the kids have always been interested in, and it’s been a natural activity for them to bond over.  Unfortunately, I feel as if I’m constantly apologizing for the fact that my kids spend an hour most days taking turns playing computer or console games with Daddy.

I’ve decided that the time for apologizing is over.  While there’s always a chance that they’re picking up negative habits or beliefs from slaying pixelated zombies or conglomerate monster-things (and we are pretty careful about the types of games we expose our kids to–though interestingly enough no one seems to think we should abandon Bible reading when the kids role play David killing Goliath or Solomon threatening to cut the baby in half to determine its true mother), the more I’ve watched and listened to them gaming with Daddy, the more I’m convinced that gaming, like most other hobbies, has many benefits.

gaming

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DIY Vision Therapy: 12 Exercises You Can Do At Home

If you read my last blog post, you know that we found out that our youngest needed vision therapy, but the price tag was beyond what we could afford.  Immediately after that revelation, I took my kids to gymnastics, where a former-OT friend informed me that she had been given a whole binder full of vision therapy exercises during her time working in a low-income school in South Africa.

We’ve now been doing vision exercises about 3-4 times a week for 9 weeks, and little Pookie has gone from only sounding out single, large words written in magnets or on the white board to eagerly reading Biscuit books for bedtime.  (In case you missed the last post, he’s been able to sound out single words in this manner for more than a year, but he just wasn’t making any progress.)  While correlation does not necessarily equal causation, I figured it can’t hurt to share some of what we’ve done with other parents who might find themselves in a similar situation.
*Update: We continued doing exercises for about 6 months.  Pookie continued to make steady reading progress during and after, and can now (two years post-vision-therapy) read fluently well above grade level.*
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