Take the Miserable Out

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It’s a cool autumn day. By my estimation it’s a day that ought to be spent tramping through the leaves, perhaps making huge piles and jumping in them, gathering acorns, or enjoying the last rays of heat to be felt outside for months.

However, for right now, we’re all stuck inside mastering times tables, learning to read, studying the skeletons of the English language, or trying to remember which hands of the clock mean what — depending on which child (and therefore grade) we’re referring to.

My mind spins as I struggle to explain to a young mind that c-a-t spells cat — not because I said so, but because those letters make those sounds. My other ear is listening to the older child explaining why she can’t possibly understand her English lesson — and refusing to pronounce predicate, pre-di-cate.

Mission sufficiently accomplished for the time being, we move on to some arithmetic. “Now, remember. When the long hand points to the number 12, it means that it’s something o’clock. The short hand points to the number that you read as the hour.”

“No, 7×4 is not 30. You’re close, try again.”

“No, you read the hour from the short hand, not the long hand.”

“YES! 7×4 is 28. Great job. Now try the next one.”

“Alright let’s try some adding. Grab some toys.” And, I proceed to explain that when you have two trucks and add one more, you now have three trucks— that’s the same as 2+1=3!

That’s my description.

Perhaps you’d like to hear the 6-year-old version:

“We do descriptions that are very fun and I write ‘sis’ now. ‘Cause you made me get out cars, toys. We used them for counting. They made a road ‘s,’ and a road ‘t.’”

“The short hand and the long hand are hours. Wait, o’clock. Wait. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no …. The short hand is the time, and the long hand is the hours.”

“At school I write about my room. I have shelves under my bed — toys on my shelf under my bed — and I have drawing books and pencils and pens. I’ve got a dresser with three shelves.”

“Mommy reads a book to me when I’m done with school, and Sis takes me out to ride my bike. It’s fun, I like it, and it’s sometimes miserable.”

(On second thought, he says …) “That’s horrible! Take the miserable out — it’s fun!”

by Samantha Edeliant
(homeschooled graduate and daughter of blog author Sheila Edeliant)

Finding that First Job (Life Skills for Homeschoolers Series)

One of the goals of education is to equip the student with the needed skills to go out into the world and find employment, preferably a job that leads eventually to a career. When considering the neuro-typical child, finding the first job is not really that difficult for the homeschooled child. In fact, due to the reputation and skills of most homeschoolers, it is usually very easy for the neuro-typical child to step into a nice position.

When considering the special child, things become a bit more of a challenge, especially if the family lives in a small community like many Adventist families. Right now, my 19-year-old son is facing the situation in finding his first paid employment. Recently, we moved 2,000 miles across the country to the Bible belt of the south, where Sunday employment is not an option.

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Like many homeschoolers, my son has many life experiences that have equipped him to do well in a number of venues. He earned his Eagle, which looks very well on his resume. He attended Pathfinders and 4-H, which also gave him job skills and a wide variety of life skills. However, due to his challenges, he is unable to seek the common places of first employment such as fast food or a type of position with heavy involvement with customers. In the small community we presently live in, this cuts about 90% of the jobs available.

The next consideration is that, although he has many hours of volunteer work (more than 250/year in high school) and has held position of leadership in various youth organizations, these do not count when first entering the job market. None of these positions were paid, so do not count for an entry level job.

After many hours of pouring over job listings, my son heard of a position that appeared to fit him and his interests. This was a position with the state park. Initial interview went very well. We knew from someone who worked there that he was top of the potential hires. After a period of time passed, he finally heard back from the park director. He went in for a second interview and was offered the job.

The problem was that he would be required to work on Saturdays. We discussed the situation before he went in for the interview. At first, my son said that maybe he could work Saturdays with the premise that he would get to work alternative hours as soon as something opened up. I expressed my opinion that I felt it would be better to stay true to his beliefs regarding Sabbath. If we stay true to God, He will provide.

I left the final decision to him, as he is an adult. He turned the job down, telling the director he would love the job if he could work on Sunday rather than Saturday. They were not willing to consider alternative work schedules. It was disappointing, but he is hopeful that he will find something that will prove more advantageous to his future.

What were the results of this decision? Family members who are not Sabbath-keepers have been putting a lot of pressure on my son that he will not be able to find a job unless he is willing to work on Saturday. This causes a lot of stress.

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Although my son continues to look at job listings, he has decided to look into some creative employment. With the use of the internet, there are many jobs a person can do online to make some money. It might take some time to build up income, but it is something a young adult could do from home, without any worry about Sabbath. Some resources for online employment: Rat Race Rebellion and Penny Hoarders Blog (not the employer, but has listings of many online jobs). There are also sites like eLance and Fiverr. Please be careful since no one should have to pay to get a job.

There are many other choices for self-employment, depending on skills and abilities. One option for a parent is to seek assistance from a job coach who may do testing. Career coaching is one service this writer offers through Kindling Dreams.

It’s hard for the youth with challenges to find their first job at times. It is harder when a person chooses to keep the biblical Sabbath. Sometimes it is necessary to get creative when seeking employment and following God’s commandments. The rewards are well worth it.

Sensory Fun With Playdough

Playdough is so much fun! I remember my mom making playdough for us when we were kids. She would let us add the ingredients into the pot on the stove, and then she would quickly stir, stir, stir, until the soft beige dough would form. Then she would take the dough out and begin kneeding it while we added drops of food coloring. I loved getting that soft playdough fresh from the stove, all warm and perfect. My sister and I would spend hours creating snakes, snowmen, baskets, and whatever our imaginations could come up with!

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Playdough is so important for a child’s early development. It is an open-ended activity with so many play and learning possibilities. The simple activity of rolling, squishing, and pinching not only strengthens a child’s imagination, but also their fine motor skills. Through playdough play the muscles in their fingers and hands strengthen and are prepared for the time when they begin to hold a pencil and write. Sharing playdough with you, siblings, and friends also builds social skills including taking turns. Playdough also encourages skills in science, math, language, and literacy.

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You can make playdough even more fun by adding props and scents. Add a few drops of essential oils like peppermint, cinnamon, and lavender. Make sure you are aware of any allergies your child might have, and thoroughly mix the essential oils before giving to your child to play. Adding props is another fun way to use playdough. Some ideas might be to gather items from nature or to add items from around your home. One idea we did was to scent our playdough with cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. Then we gathered acorns, leaves, sticks, and pine cones. My toddler was so excited to play and create. Another idea is to add peppermint oil and white or blue glitter. You can provide a winter themed playdough for your child to explore.  Do you have a child who needs a calming activity before bed? Add lavender oil and dried lavender to your playdough to help them relax before bed.

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Do a quick search on Pinterest or Google, and you will find a plethora of creative ideas, including playdough recipes, scent cominations, provication ideas, playdough mats, and learning activities. The possibilities are endless! Below is my favorite homemade playdough recipe, from Imagination Tree Blog: http://theimaginationtree.com/2012/04/best-ever-no-cook-play-dough-recipe.html.

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How Much is Enough?

Homeschooling is a way of life, even more than it is an education. We live together, learn together, experience together and sometimes rest together.

Pool Time

Pool Time

Like many homeschool parents, I have stressed over the little things. Am I teaching them enough skills?  Will they be ready for adulthood? Have I given them enough opportunities to experience hobbies and other extra-curricular activities?

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The latter question has concerned me more often than not. Our family life is busy. My husband has a homebased business that supports us. We have a working organic farm that feeds us and helps us minister to our community. We are involved in some homeschool activities, and, like many large families, we are often busy with one activity or another, many times at home. I have always volunteered with youth activities and involve our children in these, as well. How could we possibly not be offering our children a well-rounded childhood?

Ice skating lessons

Ice skating lessons

I never considered that it wasn’t enough until our older adopted daughters begged for dance lessons and other ventures. I felt stretched to my limits, and reminded them that they were already involved in other teen activities with our older boys and I was not able to commit to more at the moment. Their obvious discontent caused me to question my current path, but I didn’t alter it, and most of our children were quite happy with the that.

Often, other activities were sought, and while I sometimes was able to say yes, often I could not. Time constraints and the family budget had as much to say about the possibilities as did my concerns for the needs of the entire family. For some time, I was concerned that they were missing a vital part of life. The two still wanted days at the beach, ballet lessons, singing lessons, and much more. We did try ice skating lessons, sewing, 4H, Sea Cadets. But, some things were just not possible.

For years, I worried that I was not offering them a complete teenage life. Looking back, I now realize that each of our children and our family as a whole has benefited greatly by limiting those options. Rather than running from activity to activity, our children must choose a limited number of extra-curricular activities, requiring them to use judgement in deciding what was more important. The responsibilities to the family farm, household, and family have been raised to a more important status than that of outside hobbies.

With our final four children now in their teens, I see the incredible benefit to having them involved in fewer, more meaningful activities. Our children are closely bonded, and they have learned to budget their time and hobbies, as much as they have their money. A lack of dance class has not harmed any of them, nor has the lack of annual vacations to far-away places.

Family Bowling Day!

Family Bowling Day!

Substituting for those missed month-long vacations are the experiences of life with family activities, strong training in business and budgeting, and a wealth of memories. I’m confident that our choice of limiting outside activity time and concentrating on our family was well worth those missed ski vacations!

It’s okay to not join Little League and ballet. Forgoing some sports in favor of more family time might be best for your family. Choosing a family day at the beach might provide more memories than pushing for a rushed vacation a few states away. The right blend of activities for your family will not be the same as those for others.

It’s important for each family to follow God’s lead in their family’s daily life. The world will often pull and sometimes obligations will overwhelm, but God has a sure and steady path for us that will keep us focused on Him and our family. When our children are adults, they will see the wisdom in following His ways and most likely will have no regrets, and the entire family will have a closeness and commitment that only God can provide!

 

Love

We had a Christmas party at our house this week. It was huge. Way more people showed up than expected, and we were all packed in like sardines. People kept, well … staying. Nobody seemed to want to leave. The house was filled with laughter and chatter, old friends hugging, new friends meeting. There was love in the air.

I think that’s why I love Christmas so much. There is love in the air.

My son was born in November, and that first Christmas with him in my arms was emotional. It was filled with joy and wonder. It also brought me to a new awareness of God’s amazing gift in sending his Son, and I found myself growing daily in respect for the “job” his mother, Mary, had accepted.

Being a first-time mom is kind of crazy and boggling and scary. A tiny, helpless life has been put in your hands, and you are now responsible for not dropping and breaking it, for feeding and changing and caring for it — for helping this tiny baby, through your actions, to define the meaning of love. Did you catch that? Your actions help another human being define how to love. That is so huge. It’s mind-numbing when your babe is a mere mortal. How much more stunning is it when the child you hold … is God?

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This Christmas Day I wish love for you and yours — love for your child or children; love in your family, your friendships, your neighborhood; love for yourself and for others; love suffusing the homeschooling journey you have chosen. Because of a one-time wonderful gift, the love of a redeeming Father and a humble, willing mother, we now have free access to that miraculous gift.

Merry Christmas.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace,” Isaiah 9:6 KJV.