Tuesday, 29 December 2015

2015 in Review

Well, it's the end of another year, and it's time for a roundup of what's been happening over here in 2015!

Monday, 21 December 2015

Is Giftedness a Bad Thing?

Picture from Pixabay
There was a conversation that I had quite some time ago that is still bugging me, and being a writer, inevitably that means I end up putting words on paper  in order to figure it out in my own head.  The conversation, for all its twists and turns could be boiled down to one question . . . 'Is giftedness a bad thing?" You see, once you let go of the assumptions and myths that surround giftedness, and start to understand how many of the characteristics and behaviours of gifted people either resemble certain other conditions (like Autism, ADHD, OCD etc), inevitably, giftedness starts to lose some of the false-shine of being a 'gift' . . . 

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

I'll Be Over Here ... Hiding In The Cupboard

Recently, I've realised how hard it can be to do all the things. I have lists of things I have been staring at in a state of almost-horror, and the longer the lists get, the more I hide from them. It has taken me a while to realise that the reason I am not getting 'things' done - is because we've stumbled into one of those times when busy takes over. It's not just the Christmas season, though that's usually enough for me to go into full-on hide in the cupboard mode.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Fostering Creative Play in 2e Homeschooling

When planning out a homeschool plan, it can be easy to think of creating and making things as nice extra, but creative play is also essential for brain development, as it helps foster problem solving ability as well as a whole host of other great things, like out of the box thinking, adaptability, and flexibility, as well as enhancing the ability to retain ideas. Which for our family, means it is bumped up pretty high on the 'must-do' list.

Due to the imaginational OEs often associated with gifted/2e kids, some kids ooze creativity and imagination and everything becomes an elaborate story or creation. Anything in their reach becomes part of their imaginative world. Other kids (particularly those with some types of special needs, like ASD), might also exhibit large amounts of imagination and creativity, but it will come out in more unusual ways that might be easy to dismiss or miss. Having lots of different ways for kids to express their ideas, with materials ready to hand for practical creations can really help with spontaneous creative play.

But an adult's idea of creative play doesn't always match up with the way kids like to create and explore. Which can be a challenge for parents and other adults. But letting go of expectations of finished products or following the instructions can have huge benefits for everyone! Creativity can come in many forms and for my family, fostering my kids ideas has been far more useful than trying to bend their ideas to fit preconceived ideas about creative play.

So, how to foster creativity with gifted or twice exceptional kids? Here are some ideas we have used to foster creativity in our home:

Friday, 13 November 2015

Anxiety: Battling The Impossible

Some days I feel like I can do it all. And some days I can't. This is one of these days. We're now embarking on our third straight week of illness without a break, and our sixth week of 'let's catch something this week'. Though I know it's the season for catching things - Melbourne spring weather loves to put on a good show and the constant radical changes in weather aren't exactly great for us just recovering folks.

But it's at times like this that all the 'should haves' back up - alas it is rare that they go quiet just because our schedule has been (metaphorically, but I'm contemplating literally) chucked out the window.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Unconventional Learning

We're a geeky kind of family. With me being a mathematician and my DH an engineer, it would be hard to not be geeky. We're also not going to score high on the 'doing things conventionally' test, if one of those existed. But sometimes, just sometimes, the paths my kids take to learn are so unconventional that they leave me with a feeling of stunned awe (and a little bit of 'where in the sweet unicorns on a pegasus did that come from'?).

Being the kind of family that we are, we were never going to let our kids going to coast through on understanding how computers work. And being the kind of homeschool mum that I am, I had grand plans of my kids learning how to program, helping them navigate through learning the basics of making computers 'do things' - I had plans.

And then the kids got sick. And then they got sick again, and again . . . and just when I thought we'd have a week free of illness, another nasty virus took up residence. So instead of doing all the fabulous strewing I was planning, I ended up with two very sick little children who spent the next few weeks in and out of bed (and yes, it's still ongoing, sigh). Now we have one very important rule in our house - sick children get to rest. And with kids whose minds won't stop, both embarked on a long, bandwidth hogging binge on streaming videos.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Wrestling with Wisdom: Lessons I Have Learned About Dealing With Medical Issues

As a parent who has spent, on average, a minimum of two days every week for the past 6 years going to hospitals, doctors and specialists, I have learned some harsh truths and had some amazing moments of pure serendipity. Somewhere along the way, I picked up a bit of wisdom, though it tends to get lost again pretty quickly. So while I wrestle wisdom to the ground in a head-lock, here are some hard-earned insights I have scraped together that I think are worth talking about.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

The Breadth of Gifted Still Knocks Me Flat

Sometimes I can take it all in my stride.

Sometimes I forget, even for a moment, all that giftedness entails - and that's when I run into the 'oh, yeah, I forgot about that' wall.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Unschooling Ain't The Boogie Man

Every now and then, usually when news is a little slow, prominent papers like to do little fluff pieces on the edges of the educational world. One week might be about lambasting 'pushy parents,' another week an angry remonstrance on the horrors of alternative education. Personally, I find it deeply amusing that, depending on the flavour of the month, our little family can be both academically pushing and overly restrictive tiger-parents, and laissez-faire, academically neglectful parents at the same time.

In July, it was Mamamia's turn to have-a-go at the punch-the-alternative-education bandwagon.

The topic this time around? Unschooling.

So what is unschooling? And why does it raise so many hackles?

Monday, 21 September 2015

Frugal Apartment 2e Homeschooling

There are many ways we have changed our lifestyle in order to be able to homeschool our children. Adjusting to the reality of a one-income family involved rethinking many of our assumptions about what we needed and what we could do without. It's an ongoing process as our needs have changed over time. Some of our decisions have been lifestyle based, and some have been more focused on how we create an environment that is conductive to learning. So today I'd like to step through some of the things we do to try and keep us on the correct side of the ledger.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Becoming a Sensory Detective

Whether your child has Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, or is Gifted/2e with mild to extreme OEs, dealing with sensory issues is going to be a part of life. But as a parent of a child with a different sensory profile, it can be difficult to understand why they are having problems, and it is also equally difficult to figure out what is causing the problems.

My own journey to becoming a sensory detective has taken time, observation and patience. It's not easy understanding where the problem is when I can't see, smell, touch, taste, or hear the same way as my children. One thing that helped me get my head around this idea was flowers. Yes, flowers.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Apartment Gardening: Homeschool Biology 101 - Seeds

It all started with a sale: the local supermarket was selling garden beds at a rock-bottom price. We'd been talking about making our own vegetable garden for over a year, and even living in an apartment wasn't going to stop us forever. Hope springs eternal and all that . . .

Monday, 17 August 2015

Playing to the Positives

It's very easy to fall into the habit of only thinking about the negatives. I do it. In fact, it runs in my family - anxiety is a fact of life for more than one generation. But today, I want to talk about the positives. It's easy to talk about the positives and negatives of my family's special needs, and it is also easy to talk about the negatives of giftedness. It's even marginally socially acceptable. But today I'm breaking the mould. I am going to talk about the positives of being a gifted family. Because without talking about those 'oh wow!' moments, it's hard to understand why being gifted is so different from the norm. Today I'm being brave. So here we go.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Programming Revisited

Computers! It's the passion of the week here at the moment. As almost all kids sporting or other 'extra-curricula' activities pause over the holidays, it has allowed my son to focus on his passion-of-the-week. Which is programming.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Pear and Miso Stir-Fry

It's been a while since I did a foodie post, so I thought I would share one of my more surprising successes. This is a lovely and simple gluten-free vegetarian stir-fry I made with what was left in the cupboard at the end of a long week. It's a slight variation on our usual stir-fry sauce, but it worked! I particularly loved how well pears go in a stir-fry. It was a rare success in the what's-in-cupboard-oh-that'll-do method of cooking.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Gifted . . .You Know What That Means, Right?

Every now and again, more often than I am comfortable with, various memes pop up in my news feed. They're usually positive, with a cute picture - a happy child, a beautiful baby, a rainbow over a lovely green field. Rinse and repeat.

And you know what? I love the pictures. They're cute, they make me go 'awww'. But it's not the picture that's the problem. It's the words.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Scheduling the Chaos

It's been a while since I've had time to write a post. This has less to do with actually being over-the-top busy (which is almost always the case), and more to do with being completely disorganized!

So last week I decided ( after we showed up over half and hour late to a gymnastics class) that I needed to put a bit of scheduling into our free-form natural-learning journey.

This week is our trial week. And so far it has been a success. So far.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Perfectionism and Anxiety are No Fun

"I have to be perfect"

It sounds like a great thing, doesn't it? A drive to get better at a task until you are the best you can be - a perfect swim, a perfect score, a perfect canvas, or a perfect story.

Um, no. For our family, it sucks.

Friday, 15 May 2015

The Advantages of Homeschooling My Special Needs Kids

We've been doing this homeschooling gig for a while now, and while our family are by no means experts, I'd like to share some of the advantages of homeschooling.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Where Did That Come From?

It has been a week of unexpected language development. Just when I thought I was beginning to grasp where my children were at developmentally, they go and break the rules ... again.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Coping With (Not-So) Distant Disasters

I was going to do a post on our most recent holidays this week, but under the circumstances, and given the fact that many of the places are under water at the moment due to record-breaking flooding, I thought it might be a tad out-of-place.

This has been a difficult few days. With family in every part of the flooded areas, (and being so far away), we have been relying on social media, the odd phone call and news services to find out how family and friends are going. We've heard funny stories, scary stories and terrifying stories.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free Banana Biscuits

After a number of tasty disasters, I have finally been able to create my first success at gluten-free, dairy-free and egg free baking. These lovely biscuits did not last long - my kids (yes, both of them which is a miracle) gobbled them up. My daughter really loved them, and as she has an aversion to all baked goods, this was worth a victory dance or two (or three, who's counting?).

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Life Changing ... Not Life Destroying

There's a funny thing that happens with medical practitioners when labels change. A thing that took me by surprise, and not in a good way.

You see, in the last few weeks, I have had the very strange experience of being subjected to what I will call 'shallow caring'. This is a strange phenomena where medical people metaphorically put their hand on my shoulder and imply that I am living a life that must be difficult, impossible and life destroying. It's a strange and slightly humorous situation that always seems to end with the suggestion that my children would be far better off with professionals (read teachers) taking some of the 'burden' of raising my children.

But I think the part of this that I find most amusingly irritating, is that some of these are the same professionals with whom I have had to previously work hard at convincing that my children actually needed help. The difference? Labels, not behaviours.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

What We Do When We're Not Doing Anything

It's been a week since we returned from our holiday (which I plan to write about soon), and we've come down with the Something-My-Child-Caught-While-Exploring-Germ-Covered-Surfaces bug. As a result, we've not exactly gone swinging back into our usual routine, but kind of limped close enough to wave dispiritedly in its direction.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Tools to Tame the Rule Monster: A Review of Fluxx

It was a number of years before children that I was first introduced to Fluxx**. A good friend brought the game out at a party (the kind of party where everyone ends up watching old Dr Who episodes until the early hours). I remember it being a blast, but didn't really think about it again for many years.

Then my son fell in love with board and card games, and my DH remembered 'this old game that was kind of cool'. We now have 4 different versions of the game and they get played regularly. It has become an essential part of our homeschool.

**This post contains amazon affiliate links. If you decide to purchase a product using them it does not affect the price, but I do receive a small amount as well. Think of it as shouting me to part of a cup of coffee...

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Asynchronous Homeschool Central: Our Learning Spaces

Unlike some of the quite lovely Pinterest pictures of homeschool classrooms, we don't have a dedicated learning space where we do homeschooling - it just happens wherever the children decide to learn.

But I do have a few spaces organised.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Developing a Tough Skin

It's a thorny subject and one I haven't found the answer to yet. If I ever do.

When people (almost always strangers) ask me about my son - do I use the word 'gifted'? Or should I use 'asynchronous'?  Some of the more fraught conversations I have had have been with parents of homeschooling or special needs kids. Which was a surprise for me.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Asynchronous Homeschool Central: A Day in the Life

We are very rarely at home all day these days, but today was as close as we get!

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Asynchronous Homeschool Central: Curriculum

Having an overarching plan for the year is something that  I have never quite managed. I can never be sure how long my kids 'passion of the moment' will last ...a hour, a day. a week, a month or longer. 

As a result I tend to have overarching goals rather than exact plans - and I'll try and put them here in some kind of logical order!

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Asynchronous Homeschool Central: Students

In Australia, it's the start of a new year for school, so today I am participating in a 'Not Back To School' Blog hop extravaganza. Today's theme is students, so let me introduce our wonderful scholars.

Our little homeschool has two students, my 7 year old boy, C (aka Canary) and my 3 year old girl,  J (aka Jubilee). 

Everyone's homeschool looks different, that's the beauty of it, but ours probably looks a bit more different to most. Some days it feels like my children are poster-kids for asynchronous development

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Using Bayesien Logic to Decide if You Should Homeschool

"I can't homeschool"

"It's too difficult"

"I have to work"

"I don't have the patience, smarts, fill-in-the-blank"

So, you've thought about homeschooling . . . back and forth, pulling hair out until there are little bald patches appearing that can't be easily covered with a comb-over. You've read too many books and articles, and you still can't decide.

Have you thought about applying a bit of Bayesian thinking to the problem? What? Huh? It's OK, I'll walk you though it.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

In My Nightmares I'm Theresa Wiggin

[This post has amazon affiliate links, just so y'all know. It doesn't effect the price of the items, but might one day enable me to buy a cup of coffee if I'm very, very lucky.]

I've been trying to come up with good introduction, something punchy, y'know. But I can't. Closing my eyes I can hear my son avidly discussing trains with DH and my daughter thumping her fork on a table as she eats her breakfast. A few moments peace in order to coherently gather my thoughts, nope, not going to happen . . . oh well. It could be worse. I could be Theresa Wiggin.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Coding Camp

It's been a little busy here at homeschool central. And not in the usual way. I signed C up for a coding 'camp'. No, not a real camp in the bush.  Actually just hanging out in a room with other kids who love programming, with mentors for each child to help them learn how to code. After one day, C begged to be able to go back - so I signed him up for another day - and that wrecked my schedule, so this post is a day late! But it was worth it.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Living in My Head

A long time ago, so long it's BC (Before Children), I decided to write a novel. I took a year, battled the muse, created so much stuff that it can be hard to store and that's just the paper-trail, not the electronic dump! And then I put it aside, got a job and went on with life. That was that.

The problem is, that though I can stuff all the chapters in a cupboard to gather dust, I can't remove them from my head. My characters haunt me. Every now and then, they will pop out at an inopportune moment (is there an opportune moment I wonder?) and insist that I need to get on with it - they're not getting any younger. . .

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