Saturday, November 26, 2011

What are we doing to our kids?

I'm an eff up, from the word go.  I'll admit it.  But there is something happening in our schools that is downright evil.  It's systemic.  Luckily for our children, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. 

"Learning Disabled".  Okay...we got lots of labels.  Do I really have to go there?

ADHD, Aspergers, Autism, LD, Dyslexia,...Those are the biggies.  Then there are the shades of grey:  dyscalculia, dysgraphia, Sensory Integrative Disfunction, Apraxia, PDD-nos, Bipolar, Tourettes...I don't know, my mind is going blank.  I'm not even including Intellectual Disabilities.  I'm sure they have their own spectrum. 

All these labels to place on little teeny, tiny kids who are scared and feel inadequate to begin with.  It is no wonder that they,  along with gay kids, make up the majority of teen suicides.

Children, forgive us.  We know not what we do.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Teaching Math without Words...

Amazing, amazing approach to those who learn in pictures.  I'd like to study this further if I could.  Benny's troubles were in math, I remember him coming home and sobbing, "I'm stupid!"  We had been so hard on him, making sure he completed homework, like it was more important than him.  He still was echolalic, and unable to freely answer a question.  He was very, very language delayed. He just didn't get math, and my baby thought he was stupid.  His kindergarten teacher had told him "Boy, numbers sure don't like to stay in your head."  His first grade teacher...well, I'm sure she was very frustrated. 

We found out later, he thought in pictures.  Like many kids labelled dyslexic.  Like many who suffer for their difference.  (Learning Disabilities can be deadly...

The TED clip below is very interesting.  Dr. Matthew Peterson has developed a way of teaching math without words.  He was quite dyslexic himself. 

What if, what if it's "too hard" for teachers to teach this way?  Will they be "teaching disabled"?

I just bought this book by the Dr.'s Eide, which is where I found the film.

Dr.'s Brock and Fernette Eide have a website here, which is quite heartening, and they were still pretty approachable, but that's before the book came out.  There have been wonderful discussions I've taken part in there.. 
The thing I like about today's websites is they are all about changing the world for our kids, not the other way around.  They, because of past experience, or present desire, try to see the world from the kiddo's eyes.

We put so much pressure on some kids to learn the way we teach, when it is only effective 20% of the time.  They are babies.  It's cruel.  Where is our empathy?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"Bullied by the curriculum" learning differences affect our kid's hearts...

Those were his exact words.  Ben has been having a tough time, emotionally, lately.  With all the pedophilia going on in the news, he wondered if it was something he wasn't remembering.  I've been down that road.  You remember something, even if you don't remember the actual event.
Daddy and I have apologized for everything we did before we knew better.  Raising a child with such severe language discrepancies is tough.  It's different from regular stuff.  Things that work for most people don't work for your child because there is a bit of a disconnect between  behavior and intentions.  We had a lot of anger when Ben was young.  We thought he was being willful or oppositional.  I think those attitudes came about secondarily after trying to please us, and not being able to figure it out. 

"I'm sorry Ben."  I remember those years.  I never wanted to face them.  I hated who I was, looking back, but we thought he needed punishment to hit the straight and narrow.  Turns out, he was trying, but we (I) just didn't have the patience he needed to grow.  Within a few years, I found it.  Our relationship became the most important thing.

"Are you crying?  Listen, it's not your fault.  I was an ornery kid."

"It's not your fault, Ben.  You were the child.  It was our job to figure out what you needed.  I'm so sorry...when we knew better, we did better."

Then, he brings up a strange thing.  I am asking him how he "feels", because he is trying to intellectualize the discussion, and it's going nowhere.

"I don't know how I feel.  I shut off my feelings to survive in Middle School."

"What do you mean?  Why?  Were you punished?  Were you bullied?"

"Not by the other kids..."  Ben had developed a persona of an Englishman.  He spoke with a cockney accent at school.  It amazed me, and hurt, too, a little bit, that he seemed to be so insecure of himself.  But I had never seen him mistreated at school.  He was so different, so "artsy" that he seemed to have an air of impermeability about him. A coolness.  Some kids gave him a lot of respect for his guts, others just avoided him.

"Not by the teachers...I guess you could say I was bullied by the curriculum."

It was his inability to achieve matter how hard he tried, that led to walling off his feelings in order to survive.  At school, he was stupid, a "retard", even though his IQ is far above average.  He walled off his feelings because of a learning difference that made him feel stupid.  I had no idea how hard it is on our kids.

Imagine going to work every day, and never having success, no matter how hard you tried.  You'd quit...try another job that fit your abilities more.  But kids can't quit school.  Every day you have to tell yourself you aren't stupid, that it's the school.  He hated school, wanted to blow up the place.  It was the source of his failure.  It was a job he couldn't leave.  In adults, stress can lead to severe health problems.  In children, it can lead to shutting off feelings in order to survive.  I think it was how he avoided suicide.

It's taken me a few years to catch up to it.  I had no idea how much Ben suffered for his Dyslexia. As an adult, he has more control regarding what he learns.  He is inspired by his dreams, and takes those classes that help fulfill it.  He is in Tech school, and enjoying success for the first time in his life.  He can't be alone.  How many other kids are suffering?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

#Homeschool Science and Environment Ideas...Websites

I am looking at these to add to the   website that I volunteer for.  Ms. Arlene is a jewel, and started the site herself.  I just help a little.  There are more science sites there!

You may find some helpful, some may appeal to a younger or older child. (physics + math) Science hobbyist (environmental, green) grade school,” echo the bat” Gorgeous pictures taken with microscope + nova alien worlds Find NASA stuff by grade,subject, etc. education resource directory Lemelson center of invention National history museum labs. periodic table of elements and info Nuclear energy fun for amateur scientists—gr 6-12 adult sup. Science exper 6-12gr adult sup Mad scientist with a sense of humor. Gr 3-8 ?
periodic table of elements and info presented visually—unique! Upper grades Science misconceptions REALLY GEEKY   Part of Science Friday in the news.

Now, here is a website that has lots of links that appear to be good:     Click on science mouse, and there is a whole page of science related websites that I haven't looked through, yet...

I hope y'all enjoy this Science Friday!