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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Think Inclusive Guest Blog

I had a wonderful opportunity to write a guest blog for Think Inclusive this week!  I was asked to discuss the reasons why we decided to homeschool Jackson.  I loved the idea since I know most of the readers of this particular site are educators seeking information and support for special education inclusion.  Since I have already wrote about this topic on my blog, I decided to give the subject a twist and use an analogy to explain it!  For those of you who know me best, you'll appreciate my comparison of autism education to BigAgra business vs. local organic family farms.

Check out my post here: My Decision to Homeschool My Son With Autism


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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Schedules, Schedules, Schedules

Many people have asked me how I plan to manage the needs of my two very differently-abled children this year.  Jackson needs a tremendous amount of structure and one-on-one teaching to maximize his learning potential, while Caroline needs more freedom and independence to spread her wings and push the boundaries of what she can accomplish.  That puts me in a tough spot...right in the middle!  My way to bridge the gap is to rely on a very unique scheduling system that allows for both the detail J needs, and the flexibility C craves.  Each form that I have shown has a link to a Goggle Document if you want to explore them in-depthly.

And it all starts with...

 Their very own clipboards, which Caroline so thoughtfully, and boldly, decorated for me yesterday:) 

Jackson's clipboard always has 2 pieces of paper on it: a Daily Schedule and a Daily Work sheet. The daily schedule is broken down in 15 min increments from 8am-8pm, with clear labels for each activity or subject.  The daily work sheet is a very detailed list of all the school activities for one day, down to the number of pages in each book. Since his audio-processing is so poor and he gets very anxious with the unknown, I have to make sure all my expectations are written down and that I give him adequate time to process the information.  The pictures below are the exact sheets I have on his board for the first day of school, Tuesday, Sept. 4th.



I plan on managing Caroline's work much differently.  One of the things I really want to teach her this year is how to organize her work and set timelines to complete assignments and projects on her own.  This will begin slowly and hopefully build to a very independent and self-guided approach to not only her school work, but her whole life.  I will sit down with her every Sunday evening to present her with her weekly work expectations. On her clipboard will be 3 pieces of paper: a Daily Schedule, a Weekly Work sheet, and a Weekly Progress Chart.  The daily schedule below is actually for Wednesday of this week, just to show you some variety from day to day.  Caroline's agenda is in the middle column.  You will notice her time is sectioned off much more vaguely with large chunks of time just labeled "work".  You can also look at the weekly work sheet, to see what things she needs to finish by the end of this 4 day week - with one of those days being a field trip to the Udvar-Hazy Museum.  We will have a meeting at 3pm every afternoon to review the work done that day and record it on her progress chart.  I am interested to see how she manages this new type of learning environment.  I have a feeling the first few weeks will be a bit rocky, but I am ready to guide her through the transition with patience and an understanding that this is a new approach for her as well and we both need time to adjust.  






For those of you who have either really good eyesight or clicked on the pdf version of the daily schedule, you'll notice that there is a 3rd column labeled "Mom".  I did this to ensure that both my children know that I also have a few precious minutes carved out for just me:  coffee and working out being the most important!!  This way, I know that no matter what is going on inside these 4 walls on any given day...I will have an hour in the morning to mentally prepare and 30 min to myself to run out all my stress in the afternoon until my amazing husband comes home from work to share a glass of wine with me on the front patio. 


Here's to an awesome 2012-2013 school year for everyone!!  


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