Remaking Education

“Technology is now enabling personalized learning that helps each student master the one absolutely essential skill: learning to learn on their own.”

Sounds like homeschooling to me, but it’s actually from a good article about how to remake education to truly educate today’s students. If you’re a parent of children or teens, it’s well worth your time!

College Advice from a Ph.D.

In Thriving in the 21st Century, I described how to assess whether or not your teen is “college material.” In this video, a man who holds a Ph.D. and has taught at several universities explains just how crucial it is that parents ask the right questions before sending their sons or daughters to college. This is well worth watching:
 

 

Engaging Your Child with Down Syndrome

I have an email from Catherine, who writes:

Hi Barbara I came across your blog today so glad I did
I am homeschooling my son aged 10yrs who also had Down syndrome he pretty much refuses to engage and am looking for any advice thanks

I’ll answer this publicly, for the sake of parents who may find this post in the future.

Catherine, when you say your son “refuses to engage,” I’m assuming you mean he’s not interested in sitting and learning with you.

Of course, there’s a wide variety of abilities and behaviors among 10-year-olds with Down syndrome, so it’s hard to know exactly what your son is like, but I do recall that Josh, my son with Ds, was not very interested in many of the things I did with him during our years of homeschooling, even though I tried so many different things in an effort to pique his interest and get him involved in learning.

Perhaps our greatest successes were spurred on once I discovered how competitive he was. I learned this by accident. A relative gave us a gaming system, something I’d successfully kept out of our house while raising our three older children. Once this thing was in the house, it quickly became the favorite new toy of all the kids and my husband as well, and the next thing I knew, they were teaching Josh to play on it. He became very good at it; in fact, his love of video games continues to this day.

But what that showed me was that I could reach him through games. I bought some “Concentration” type memory games, and we began playing those at the end of each day after he had successfully completed his schoolwork. This gave him an incentive to get his other work done. His goal, of course, was to beat me. Given the state of my memory after raising four children, that wasn’t hard most of the time. His love of winning fed his desire to play the games.

I also used flash cards as games. I’d hold up a card, and if he got the problem or question right, he kept the card. If he got it wrong, I kept the card. Whoever ended up with the most cards, won. He just loved doing flash cards once we scored in this way. Again, his desire to win kept him engaged.

Another technique that worked for us was using his interests to make lessons easier for him. For instance, he loved doing jigsaw puzzles. Since he needed to practice his speech sounds each day, I had spent years trying to get him to repeat these sounds back to me. But once I began rewarding each successful speech sound with a puzzle piece, practicing his speech sounds became so much easier. He quickly worked through the list, amassing pieces that he could then assemble when we were through. It was amazing how much better that method worked than all my previous years of verbally coaxing him.

Ultimately, I just had to keep trying until I found things that worked with Josh. For instance, I tried for years, from the time he was tiny, to teach him the alphabet. I used every method I could think of, and more that I found in books. But after he got an “Arthur” software game for his birthday, he learned his alphabet quickly, because one of the screens on that game showed Arthur in his room with the alphabet arranged around the top of the walls. All Josh had to do was click on a letter and he would hear the name of the letter in Arthur’s voice. I couldn’t believe how quickly he picked up all the letters once he got that game. Clearly that was the way to reach him when it came to learning the alphabet. Who knew?

The bottom line, Catherine, is that you must keep trying until you find something that works. This will always be true with your son. Even now, there are times when Josh challenges us in various ways and we need to keep trying until we come up with a solution that works for him and us. This is just life with our son, so we’ve gotten used to it. You will, too.

Best wishes on your homeschooling journey, Catherine!

 

Happy 2016!

I spent much of the last part of 2015 working on two quilts that were Christmas gifts (photos to come). I managed to finish them in time but I must have been crazy to put myself under such a deadline. There were several interruptions, including emergency surgery on one of my kids (she’s OK now, thank God), the purchase of a car and a broken part on my sewing machine.

The Christmas season was full of surprises, the best of them being the announcement by our daughter and son-in-law that they’re expecting their first child this summer. We are very excited about this wonderful news! This will be our third grandchild; we were blessed to spend some time over the holidays with our first two bright and gorgeous grandchildren, and they are a delight :) We Skype with them every week and love it, but there’s nothing like being there in person.

The holidays gave me an opportunity to reconnect with some old friends, which is always nice. Some were also homeschooling parents, so we have much to talk about. I continue to find it interesting that some of their kids are doing very well as adults while others continue to find their way. I mean this in terms of their faith lives, not their work or personal lives, as all seem gainfully employed and/or busy raising their own children. These things are also true of my own children. It appears to me that homeschooling creates wonderful family lives and good educational experiences, but cannot create an adult who handles everything perfectly, no matter what the speakers at homeschool conventions may tell you! That said, it’s a privilege to watch our adult children navigate the world with all of its joys and challenges.

In 2016, I hope to update Life Prep for Homeschooled Teenagers with additional projects and information. We also have a couple of eBooks in the pipeline at Cardamom that will hopefully be published this year. And of course, there will be more quilts….and a new baby to love!

Wishing you a blessed 2016,
Barb