Friday, April 16, 2010

Struggling Learner? How About Struggling Mom?

I'll have to admit, it has been a rough week. I had great plans to approach the week with less formal lessons and more "fun" type learning. Is it me or does less to do mean less is done? I mean, MUCH less. More blank stares. Less compliance. More resistance.

While I know intuitively that I need to find SJ's spark, his currency, if you will, I seem lost in finding it and even more lost in convincing myself that he will ever master anything that resembles a school standard if I follow this style. And doesn't he have to meet a few standards to eventually graduate?
In school, a teacher proffers a passing grade and promotes a child to the next grade level. When learning happens in such a different order and on a totally different timeline at home, how does a homeschooler measure progress?

Couple this with the learning disability and it's not hard to see why I am lost. As my friend (who is conveniently also a therapist) noted, SJ is "p-d off" at failing all the time and until he finds something in which he can succeed, he will use all his energy resisting me and my efforts. But what is that thing? 'And how will it be enough to urge him toward independence, adult literacy, and character, for isn't that the ultimate goal?


  1. Carrie,
    what things have you guys tried thus far in regard to 'curriculum'...??? I have a son with Autism and we have some learning hurdles as well...I also have a teaching degree...maybe we can share ideas, successes, and failures :o) Where is he struggling the most right now???? If you don't mind my asking ;)

  2. Melissa,

    A little of this and a little of that. I started with textbooks since we jumped in midstream. I've since ditched most of them except for math.

    Just had a great conversation with my handler (ES) who encouraged me to 1) relax and 2) go back to the basics and work on the foundational skills he needs. Who cares about the intricacies of the Medieval period or how to identify a present participle if he cannot make sense of a sentence? She reminded me that he will progress nowhere fast unless he ignites. Period.

    She suggested using either Aleks math or Teaching Textbooks. Also, I am looking at Learning Upgrade's reading comprehension program that looks to build skills from 1 through 100.

    Today's curriculum will be to arrange for a yard sale, marking items, and figuring out our profits and losses. Real life stuff.

    Would love to hear more from you but couldn't find a email on your blog site. Good to meet you. Nice to know we are not in this alone!

  3. Here's the thing: You can't find his spark. He's the only one who can do that. You can watch and provide resources and opportunities -- and be ready to nurture the spark when it appears -- but you can't find it. And it's very likely that he doesn't know what "it" is either. After years of classroom learning, years spent being told what he wasn't good at, he's had little to no time to figure out what he *is* good at, what he likes. That's where the whole de-schooling period comes in. Your son will not be a failure if he spends a few weeks (or even months) away from anything that looks vaguely academic. He WILL be learning things, I guarantee it. But far more important than any facts he learns will be what he learns about himself. He needs to re-discover himself as a competent person. He needs to learn to trust his instincts and desires. Think about it: If you've spent your entire lifetime being told when you're hungry and what to eat to satisfy that hunger, you'd need some time away from that, to learn how to identify "hungry," to learn what your own internal cues are that suggest a need for food. You son and learning is kind of the same way right now.

  4. Thank you Jennifer. Wise words.Keep reminding me!