Miss Em

Transitioning to High School (Part 2 of 2)

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In my last post I described the rocky start we’ve been having as my daughter transitions to a “real” high school. It was her idea, and it is part of the larger goals she has set for herself, but her anxiety has been worse than expected. She’d had a good week previously, and I thought we were over the worst of it, but then this past week her anxiety resurfaced. It was terribly discouraging and she was beginning to doubt that she could get through this. I was worried for her: worried that if she quit she would never forgive herself, that she would lose confidence, and that it would take years for her to try again. I knew in my heart that she was ready for this step, I just had to figure out where the anxiety was coming from. So I thought about what had transpired over the last couple of weeks.

The week before had been great, but it was also rather unique. It marked the start of a new semester, a week where the school comes together for team-building exercises and lectures on basic skills (e.g., inquiry, logic, rhetoric); there are no formal classes. Each day began with a morning ritual that included a drumming circle (which she enjoyed) followed by a series of games and exercises that she found easy and fun. Importantly, the week had a predictable routine and required little from her in terms of knowing where to be next or what she should be doing because the whole school participated in the exercises together. The rules and expectations were new to everyone and clearly laid out to the group for each activity. And although she came home pleasantly exhausted, she made it through each 4-hour half-day without any trouble.

The following week, classes began. She had Mondays off, and on Tuesday she left after the first class, but she seemed mostly okay, just a bit confused (see below) and tired. On Wednesday she asked me to come get her after the first class, and she broke down as soon as she got in the car. She was terribly upset, and she refused to go back the next day. The next night she told me she didn’t want to go Friday either. I’m afraid I tried pushing her (gah! I know better than that – it never works!!) as my own feelings of worry and anxiety overcame me, which of course was the wrong move (pro tip: increasing anxiety in someone who is already anxious does NOT help!). She broke down and started saying maybe she had made a mistake, maybe she was not ready for this. That got me really worried so (after I apologized) I went to bed and thought long and hard about the situation. By the next morning my thoughts began to settle on a coherent explanation for what was going on.

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I know from years of dealing with my son (who has more severe autism than his sister) that one of the most effective ways to reduce anxiety is through routine and predictability.  When faced with a new situation, we engage in a process our therapist calls “front-loading”. We let our son know exactly what he can expect, which helps ease the transition to the new activity or environment. I realized that my daughter was not getting any front-loading. It’s tricky because the things you explain in the front-loading process are usually so “obvious” to neurotypical people that it can be difficult to even identify them. I thought about her first week, and how front-loading might have helped.

Her first class on Tuesday was Math. She came home not even knowing if she had been in the right classroom (and was too embarrassed to ask). She told me later she felt “stupid” because she was certain that she was far behind everybody else, which she based on the fact that everybody else seemed to “know what they were doing”. She felt utterly lost, but nobody knew it because she is so good at hiding her feelings in front of strangers (a typical trait of Aspie girls).

The next day was science class, which she was so looking forward to, but which turned out to be a review of lab safety procedures followed by a pantomime exercise which she didn’t understand. To make it so much worse, she became convinced that she had embarrassed herself in front of everybody. After that was lunch, which she had been excited about because she and her new friend were going to walk to the nearby convenience store. But she got so worked up about “making a fool of herself in class” (which I am quite certain she did not do) that she was “too terrified” to enjoy the outing (interpretation: she was a wreck thinking about how she had embarrassed herself in front of everyone).

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After lunch was teacher-supported study block, but when one of the kids told her that it was a time to work on projects, she got anxious because she didn’t have a project, and the idea of sitting through an hour of not-knowing-what-to-do was just too much for her. By then she had reached the breaking point and needed to come home.

In reviewing all this (most of which I didn’t know until she told me Thursday night) I could see the perfect storm that led to her anxiety overload. My suspicions were confirmed when I met with the math teacher the next morning. I learned that because math class involves kids at different grade levels and abilities, each child works on their own curriculum. The teacher goes around to the kids helping them with their workbooks and sometimes gives talks about new concepts if a group of them are working on that. I can see why my daughter was confused about whether she was in the right place, because she was expecting a teacher standing up in front of the class lecturing. Also, the teacher had given her a workbook but she didn’t understand what to do with it, and she felt too “stupid” to ask.

No wonder she felt so lost, confused, and insecure. Had all of this been explained to her ahead of time she would have known what to expect and what to do, and that would have greatly eased her anxiety. For the science class, if she had known ahead of time she could have thought about the pantomime, I could have helped her understand what the purpose was (they were supposed to act out what not to do in the lab; it was supposed to be funny), she could have rehearsed her bit, or practiced how to politely decline.

I began to mentally berate myself: how could I forget how important it is for my kids to be front-loaded? It’s the curse of her being so high-functioning, and so capable of masking her true feelings when out socially. But I was now certain that the key to reducing her anxiety was for her to know what to expect ahead of time to a much greater level of detail than was being provided up to this point. She had to feel competent and capable, and that meant knowing what to expect and knowing how to prepare for it.

The plan I came up with was to work with her at home before each class in order to ensure she was prepared for the day. And we would also review the materials after each class so she understood what was required of her. 

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To pitch the idea to her, I framed it in the context of University (which she is excited about attending one day). I explained how at University (particularly in the early years of huge class sizes) you don’t really go to class to learn the material. You go to class to get the material. Then you take home your notes and handouts and you review it (i.e., you study the material). If you have questions, you book an appointment with the professor. And the really successful kids find out what the next lecture will be about, and they study the subject beforehand. So I suggested to her that we create those same habits at home. It would help ease her anxiety, and as a bonus it would help her develop good study habits.

When I told her my idea, she responded positively. Although the night before she had told me she didn’t want to go to school, she agreed to come that day for French class while I met with her math teacher to begin our new plan.

She had a great time! None of the kids have had much French (the school has been doing German as their second language for the last few years) and so she is not behind at all. The format was simple: the class reviewed words and phrases together, repeated them following an audio prompt, and they got a list of all the words and definitions. She told me that she was glad she’d gone to school, that she really liked the class, and she was invited to a get-together by her new friend and another girl! The class has a pretty straightforward format, she was able to follow along without any trouble, and she is not feeling anxious about going to the next French class on Monday (yay!). We are going to review her homework tomorrow (making flash cards using the words they learned that day – she is excited about illustrating her cards!), so that she comes prepared and confident.

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For science, I’ve emailed her teacher to find out what subject will be covered next class. She and I will review the topic at home so that she has a basic understanding of the context when she arrives at class. This will help her feel less anxious and insecure. After class, she and I will review the material that was covered, research anything she doesn’t understand, and prepare for the next class.

As for Math, I brought home her workbook and explained what I’d learned at my meeting with her teacher. I could see how relieved she was when I explained the format of the class, and she was rather excited by the fact that she had her own workbook. She has the choice to work on it at home with me, or go to class and work on it there. Right now she wants to work at home, which is fine. We will go through it together until she feels more confident, and then she can attend math class at school. If she wants help with something, she can go to a math class or to the teacher-supported study block.

We are both feeling optimistic about this plan. This week she will attend for French and Science and work on her math at home. It’s only one (2-hour) class a day, four days a week, but after her big setback this past week it’s important to proceed slowly. I’m feeling confident that this new plan will go a long way to easing her anxiety levels. I promise I will keep you posted (thanks for all the lovely messages of support!), but for now both her and I are feeling very hopeful!

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Categories: autism, Education, learning, Miss Em | 4 Comments

Transitioning to High School (Part 1 of 2)

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In my last post I explained that my daughter, Miss Em, has begun attending a “real” school. We found a lovely little private school that seemed the perfect fit for her, and a great place to move forward with her social and academic development. Unfortunately, neither her nor I anticipated just what a huge change this would be for her, and it ended up triggering her anxiety to levels we haven’t seen in a long time.

Our whole family was excited about her first day, and so was she. But only a couple hours into it she begged me to come pick her up. She was having a huge anxiety attack and was terrified of having a meltdown in front of all these strangers.

The next morning I met with the teacher support person who helps students both academically and with their social/emotional needs. Although Em took to her immediately and her presence was comforting, Em continued to suffer from anxiety. It was hard for her to put into words what the problem was, so it was hard for the rest of us (me and her teachers) to figure out how best to support her. I was blown away by the concern and desire to help that was expressed by the staff: I could not have asked for a kinder, more supportive environment for her.

For her part, Em remained positive and determined. She knew that the first little while would be tough, and she knew that eventually she would get to know the other students and teachers. She looked forward to feeling part of a family, as she had at her previous program. Still, she was struggling to make it through one class per day.

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Last week was the start of the new semester, and they begin with a week of team-building and group exercises. She had a great week, and I honestly thought the worst was behind us. She even made friends with a girl who loves to draw. I really thought that was the final turning point, and from there on in, we would have smooth sailing. The following week (this past week) the new coursework began, and we were both feeling positive about it.

So it was with dismay that I found myself once again responding to a text message asking me to come and take her home. As soon as she got into the car she burst into tears, saying how hard this was, how she was beginning to doubt herself, etc. My heart ached for my daughter, and I recalled with sadness all the struggles she has faced in her short life.

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I lay awake for a long time that night, thinking about the problem and what we could do to help her. I recalled the words she had said to me in anguish: how she felt so lost, how she felt she must be much less intelligent than these other kids, how she dreaded going to sleep at night because it would bring another day that much closer. Even though my own life was currently worry free, my heart was suffering for her.

But then early the next morning, as I was slowly waking up, I had a lightbulb moment. I felt I had finally figured out what the problems were and – most importantly – I came up with a solution.

Continued next post…

 

 

 

Categories: autism, Education, learning, Miss Em | 2 Comments

Big Changes for my Big Girl

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A couple of weeks ago my 14-year old daughter, Miss Em (who has Asperger’s Syndrome), started attending school for the very first time since preschool.

For the past two years she has been attending a local learning centre for kids with autism and related challenges, as part of her overall homeschooling program. This provided a safe environment in which she could practice her social skills, improve her focus and attention skills, and build enough stamina to get through a full day of activities. And she did very well. As of last fall she was attending 4 days per week. She was excelling academically and socially but…she was starting to get bored. She wanted to dive deeper into her school subjects, engage with a mentor, and she was also starting to look ahead to her goals beyond school: University is definitely in her plans. She also wanted to expand her social horizons beyond the small group at the learning centre, and see how she fared in a more neurotypical crowd.

For all these reasons, she decided to give high school a try. I knew that a regular public school would be too much for her: way too many kids, not enough personal interaction with mentors, and I knew from hearing other families’ tales of woe that our local public schools fail pretty miserably when it comes to supporting special needs kids. Not to mention the social environment in a large high school can be positively toxic, especially for a child who struggles with social interactions.

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Alternatively, we have several elite private schools here, and although I was sure that the hefty tuition fees we’d be paying would net us some serious special ed support, their academic schedules are very intensive and the kids are carrying the weight of some very big expectations placed on their shoulders by the adults around them. I didn’t think my daughter would do well in such a high pressure environment.

Fortunately, there was one little private school I’d discovered a few years ago that happens to be within a 5 minute drive of our house. I had thought back then that if she ever wanted to go to school, this might be a good place to start. We toured the school just before the Christmas holidays and fell in love. It’s a small building, and there are only about 30 students in the whole school (grades 9 – 12). There are 4 teachers, and classes are either split in two (Grade 9/10 and Grade 11/12) or done with the whole school. So you can imagine that the teachers develop close relationships with the students, and the students with each other. I’ve found through my experiences with homeschooling that bullying is far less likely to take place in small groups with lots of adults around, and in multi-age groups.  

We received a warm and enthusiastic welcome, and they were happy to consider accepting my daughter on a part-time basis. As a bonus, our homeschool program is paying the tuition fees! She was due to start right after the Christmas holidays, and there was a great deal of excitement in our family as that time approached. The plan was for her to attend 4 days/week for half-days at first, moving to full days in a week or two. They were just finishing up the first semester, so this would be perfect timing.

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However, it turns out that neither my daughter nor myself anticipated what a huge change this would be for her. It’s not just dealing with the social situation – being a stranger in a crowd of unfamiliar faces, worrying about every word she says in case she embarrasses herself, etc…

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But I didn’t stop to think about all the things she wouldn’t know by virtue of having never gone to school. Little things like transitioning between classes, how to distinguish handouts from assignments or homework. How to organize materials from different classes, what to do during class (take notes? Just sit and listen?), what to do on a break (stay in the classroom? Go outside?), etc. We had a steep learning curve ahead of us.

 

To be continued…

Categories: Education, learning, Miss Em | 1 Comment

How Living Space Affects Parenting

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You might not think that how you parent and the space you live in are related, but as I wait for our new house to be built I’m anticipating aspects of my parenting that will be positively affected by the change. Having separate rooms for the kids and having a proper dining area are just two of the important changes from our current situation that will help me as I guide my two spectrum-kids through adolescence.

The feeding therapy program for Mr. Boo is going well. His weight has stabilized and he’s eating a well-rounded diet, but I have been unable to make meals at the table happen regularly. Even just doing dinner has been difficult, due to the fact that the one space we have for eating serves as my desk and home office. To prepare the space for a family meal, I need to clear off the table (which means finding space to put all my stuff), pull the table out from the corner, and then gather chairs from various locations around the home.

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Having a proper dining table, a dedicated space for eating, will be a huge help with that. I plan to have ALL meals take place either at the dining table (family meals) or at the eating bar (kids’ meals and snack time). Not only will this help expose them to a wider variety of foods, but it will provide some much-needed family time…yes, despite being homeschoolers with mostly-work-at-home parents, older kids means less time spent interacting with each other. The few times we’ve had family dinners, I have really enjoyed the conversation and the sharing that goes on.

Having separate bedrooms is also going to help me address some parenting issues. My brother and I shared a room for the first 12 years of my life, and I have very pleasant memories of playing with him and whispered conversations after the lights were turned out. My kids have enjoyed the same relationship, for which I am very grateful. But now that they are entering their teen years, certain issues are coming up around privacy and needing a space of one’s own. They get moody, and when they are together each provides an easy target. Personal space and personal stuff is becoming increasingly more important. But bedtime is also an ongoing issue, and that’s what will change for the better when they have separate rooms.

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Miss Em has been independent in regard to bedtime for a couple of years now. Hard to remember now that I had to put her to bed until she was 10 years old! Now she puts herself to bed, and at a reasonable time. When she knows she needs to get up early, she goes to bed early.

Not so for Mr. Boo. He still lacks the maturity and self-regulation to forgo the pleasures of whatever-he’s-doing-at-the-time in order to get a good night’s sleep – even though he knows that having to get up when you haven’t slept enough really sucks and makes your whole day lousy. Up until fairly recently, I was putting him to bed, ensuring that lights got turned out and computers put away at a reasonable hour. He always hated being told it was bedtime, and I always hated having an argument when I was at my most tired.

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There were other reasons to hate bedtime: I couldn’t go to bed early if I was really tired or sick (Hubby is often away for work). Miss Em couldn’t enter the room while I was putting him to bed, because she was too much of a distraction for him. It didn’t seem fair to boot her out of her space at a time of day when she was winding down herself and wanting to relax in bed. Mr. Boo was also chafing at being “treated like a baby”, but a few trials over the holidays showed that he just didn’t have the self-discipline to pull it off on his own.

So we came up with a compromise: I would no longer put him to bed, but when his sister said “lights out”, he had to obey. Miss Em is naturally a “take-charge” kind of gal, and doesn’t find it difficult to enforce bedtime (most of the time). She also somewhat enjoys being able to set bedtime for the both of them. They have even developed a routine where she reads to him before lights out (bad fan fiction and not-so-creepy pastas* are favourites). But on occasion, he gets resistant and she has to deal with his antics. And sometimes she just doesn’t feel like taking on that responsibility. That’s when I feel guilty; it bothers me that I have essentially pawned off my parenting duties onto my daughter. But it was the best solution we could come up with, and all agreed it was their preferred choice, if not an ideal one.

But…when the kids have their own rooms, Miss Em will finally be absolved of bedtime parenting duty. She can go to her room whenever she pleases, independent of her brother’s needs or moods at the time. Hubby and I will be able to enforce a lights-out time that meets his needs, while still leaving Miss Em with the freedom to set her own hours. She will be able to get away from her brother and claim a space of her own, which is increasingly important as she gets older.

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As I dream about moving into our new home and how that will change our day-to-day lives, I see a connection between the spaces we live in and our ability to find solutions that meet everyone’s needs. Our current house was never meant to be permanent, but with the kids getting older I’m finding myself increasingly hampered when it comes to implementing new parenting strategies. Perhaps that has made the relationship between parenting and living space more apparent to me. It was certainly on my mind while I was designing our new house, and I can’t wait for it to be done!

 

* creepy pastas is the Internet term for what we used to call “urban legends”; some of them are written badly enough that they end up being funny, and those are the ones my kids enjoy reading

 

Categories: family life, Feeding Therapy, lifestyle, Miss Em, Mr Boo, New House Build, parenting | Leave a comment

Good Times with my Big Girl

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The positive effects of Mr. Boo attending his new learning centre twice a week continue to ripple throughout our family. One of the many great things is that now I have two full days a week to spend alone with Miss Em. We’ve been making the most of it, especially with this wonderful weather we’ve been having.

First, we set out for a walk and some geocaching. I used to go on woods walks with the kids when they were little, but when they got a bit older the whining started and I soon learned that if I wanted to enjoy myself and not come home drained and frazzled, I’d best go by myself! But lately she has decided that maybe walking isn’t so bad, and with geocaching she gets to enjoy the thrill of the hunt as well. One of the things I like about geocaching is that you get to see places you probably wouldn’t know about or go to otherwise. We found some lovely trails not too far from here, and logged 4 cache finds that day. Here she is perched on a large stump, tucked into the side of which was one of the caches we found.

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The next day I took her to see a special concert by the Victoria Symphony that was put on for school-aged children. We arrived at the theatre to see about half a dozen huge school buses unloading hordes of kids. It was chaos! We homeschoolers also had a section reserved, and it was great fun to pass through the yelling teachers and children marching in line to get to our group. We were well represented, with two rows of seats taken up by homeschoolers! The concert was themed on Nature. Miss Em recognized Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and Greig’s Peer Gynt (“that morning song”), and we especially enjoyed the final number: John Williams’ theme to Jurassic Park.

The day after that, Mr. Boo was back at “school” (despite the negative connotations that word has for homeschoolers, it’s the simplest way to refer to it) and me and Miss Em took a field trip to the Royal Museum of BC in Victoria. We went with a mother-and-son duo: I’m great friends with the mum and Miss Em is great friends with the son, so much fun was had! The kids wandered through the galleries, and the grownups followed – it’s the first time I’ve been there and been able to look at exhibits I’m interested in, even if my kids aren’t!

The photo below shows the kids at a photographic exhibit – this station asked them to come up with thoughts about what happened before or after the photo was taken. Miss Em ignored their instructions and drew a picture of a lion (since the photo had lions). I noticed that a few other kids had skipped the instructions and done their own thing on the papers provided. I thought it was funny: I think these “educational” activities are often rather contrived, and the kids saw right through it. It was fun to see a few other rebel souls doing their own thing with the exhibit!

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After seeing the exhibits we watched an IMAX movie about the Mars Mission, then headed to a nearby Board Game cafe. I’ve never been to one before and it was very cool. They had hundreds of board games, many that were relatively new and modern, and for a flat rate you can stay and play as long as you want. It’s a great way to try out a game before you buy it, and there is a small cafe too. We dropped the kids off there and went to a nearby Oyster Bar for a “buck a shuck” special. I absolutely love raw oysters and it was a very special treat to indulge (another bonus of not bringing the younger child)! When we got back to the cafe, we decided to play Cards Against Humanity with the kids. Fortunately, both our families are very open with our kids about sexuality (as in, we answer any and all questions matter-of-factly) and while a few of the cards drew some blushes, we had a great time and many laughs (and Miss Em won!).

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I have to confess that the respite earned by having Mr. Boo at the learning centre has shown me just how difficult a task I was faced with trying to homeschool both kids. His limitations in terms of what he can tolerate, and my tendency to shy away from situations where he might act out in public, have affected our homeschooling in ways I probably wasn’t ready to admit. For Miss Em and myself, it has meant more time together, and more outings doing things that I would not normally be able to do with him in tow. This past week has been really wonderful, and I’m so happy to have these opportunities.

 

Categories: family life, Homeschooling, Miss Em | Leave a comment

Animated Music Videos

Miss Em has long enjoyed making videos. Whether it’s live filming, Screen Flow vids of her playing online with friends, or animated drawings, her skill with editing grows noticeably each year.

Right now, her interest lies in creating animated music videos to go with her favourite songs (a very Tween thing to do, IMO – she admittedly describes it as “emo”). Not only does she create the animated images frame by frame, but she then must coordinate them with the music. There is a huge skill set she is building here, and it’s hard to deny that she is building expertise in an area that has much potential for a future career. Two ideas we are working on right now are creating a series of workshops for kids who wish to learn digital art skills and also leading an online conference on the subject in The Village – our homeschool program’s online hub.

Recently, she and her BFF decided to work together on a video. Each took a section of song and created images to go with it. I love that she is doing collaborative work: it is such great practice for her socially and emotionally as she navigates the potentially tricky waters of working with someone else’s creations. The clips below are part of a WIP (work in progress) that she agreed to share with me so I can provide an example of her work.

The first clip shows the video intro. HuskyDragonWolvez is her username, reflecting three of her top animal obsessions over the years. DragonWolf Productions is the name of her “company”, and Slenderchu Productions (a combination of two favourite characters – Slenderman and Pikachu) is her friend.

The next clip shows Miss Em’s portion of the video. While only a few seconds long, this represents hours and hours of work. She told me that she was unhappy with the limited options for text effects, and she figured out how to create some of her own by changing the text on a frame-by-frame basis. So those words that seem to pop out of the screen? Yeah, she did that. 🙂 And she also made the words move around and appear to fall down into the water. In fact, that drowning scene is one of my favourites, so full of emotion.

I’m so very proud of her and the hard work she has put into this (and her other projects). This is true passion, right here. This girl, who can barely sit still for busywork that is imposed upon her, spends hours and hours of time focused on the creation of these videos and her other artwork. That is the type of focus and passion that Sir Ken Robinson talked about in his book on creativity, and it’s difficult to truly nurture this without a good amount of unstructured free time. Yes, I admit, it is very validating for me as a homeschooling, freeschooling parent. But mostly my heart is filled with joy, because finding one’s passion is – IMNSHO – one of the keys to true happiness.

 

 

Categories: Miss Em, natural learning | Leave a comment

Memory Boxes

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I recently wrote about a little box that Miss Em made out of polymer clay. It was a tribute to her former obsession with ladybugs. Well, she has since added two more boxes.

I’m fascinated by where this is coming from. A while back, we were having a talk about passions and how they relate to natural learning. Unlike the system used in most schools, where a variety of subjects are tackled all at once (math, social studies, chemistry, French, etc), I have found that when learning is allowed to unfold naturally, it proceeds more like unit-based studies, where students focus on one topic and then explore it from a variety of perspectives and in a variety of ways.

For example, Miss Em’s interest in ladybugs manifested as: trips to the library to read books about ladybugs (reading), watching movies about ladybugs (listening), drawing pictures of ladybugs (fine motor skills) annotated with words (writing), learning about the role of ladybugs in gardening (living skills), walks through the neighbourhood looking for ladybugs to collect and identify (observing in nature), painting rocks to look like ladybugs (art), and counting spots on ladybugs to determine the species (math). A later interest in Orcas added a bit of history as she learned about whaling and the use of whale oil as fuel, and an interest in dragons provided insight into the myths and legends of various cultures around the world such as Norse and Chinese (cultural anthropology).

A tiny dragon.

A tiny dragon.

I guess this conversation about natural learning and passions really resonated with Miss Em. These boxes are an example of how children process information in a variety of ways. As she crafts these boxes, she is thinking back to those days when she was delving into each of these topics, how that relates to learning and being a learner, and recognizing her ability to learn about whatever interests her, to take ownership of her learning and knowledge. One might say she is dipping into philosophy as she contemplates these things.

It’s sad to me that the process of mass schooling interferes so much with the natural process of learning that few people get to witness it in its untouched state. I find it a beautiful thing to behold…

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Dinosaurs

Categories: Crafting, Miss Em, natural learning | Leave a comment

Miniature Polymer Clay Box

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Miss Em has long loved to sculpt things with polymer clay. She especially loves doing miniatures, and used to spend hours watching YouTube videos of people making tiny creations. She recently picked up her bin of clay and got to work on a little project.

I had mentioned to her a while back that when she was 3 years old, she went through a phase where she was obsessed with ladybugs. I told her how one day we were out walking in our neighbourhood and saw an interesting insect, which she said might be a ladybug larva. Sure enough, we went home and looked it up, and there it was in our insect book.* She smiled as I told her this story, but I figured she had about as much enthusiasm for “when you were little” stories as I did at age 12, which is to say “virtually none.” Little did I know…

So a few days ago she is sitting there with her clay and asks me “Mum, what year was it when I was 3?” I told her, not thinking much of it, and went back to my work. A little while later, she shows me what she has made. It’s a tiny box, with a lid that fits snugly over the top. The whole thing is no more than 2 cm wide! On the lid is a ribbon tied into a bow, and the year “2005” in tiny lines of clay (she still gets her 2’s backwards sometimes, so cute). Inside the box…was a ladybug. It was her little commemoration to her love of ladybugs when she was 3 years old, and it warmed my heart!

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* turns out I blogged about our discovery, and in the blog post I discovered she was actually 5 years old, not 3.

Categories: a day in the life, Crafting, Miss Em, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Learning to Sew

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Miss Em is currently working on two projects as part of our Project-Based Homeschooling approach to learning this year. Her first project is learning to sew using a sewing machine. She picked out a pattern for a pillow, which she has modified somewhat to turn it into her own creation. We had just started cutting out the fabric and sewing the larger seams when October came and she decided to work on her Halloween costume first.

She is going as a wolf this year. But not just an ordinary wolf. This is “Viper”, one of her own character creations. We are using the same pattern we used last year for her “Dragonflight” (another of her characters; a cat) costume. We could have just modified it to turn it into Viper, but she wanted to keep the Dragonflight one, so I told her she would need to make the costume (with my help, of course).

This past week we bought the fabric, lay it out and pinned the pattern pieces, and cut out the bits for the bodysuit. We finished up our session by having her sew the sleeves to the main body pieces.

I love that she is learning to sew, since I am becoming a big fan myself (having been quilting for over a year now). I think with her artistic talents she will find it helpful to be able to express herself through the medium of fabric. She has even offered to help me design a quilt!

2013-10-14 12.17.51

Categories: Miss Em, Project Based Homeschooling | 2 Comments

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