Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What about autistic children?

I want to go back to something I touched on in my last post. More and more we're hearing about autism, especially with many people believing there might be a link between the disorder and vaccines. I know this scares many parents, including myself, who actually considered postponing some of my little one's vaccines. However, the cause of autism is still unknown.

We know children with autism don't follow the same pattern of development as other children.
I've even read that many individuals believe that autistic children have no feeling or understanding of others emotions and that it needs to be taught. The Crazy Carrots game I mentioned last time helps children learn about emotions. It's something I never really thought of, but can make such a difference, even if your child isn't autistic.

So what do you do with an autistic child when it comes to school?
Homeschool, regular school? I've heard/read horror stories about autistic children in regular schools. Stories that will make you cry. The thing is, autistic children need more time than other children to start a new activity/subject, and since some don't function as well socially, many are bullied and made fun of by their peers.

As tiring as it can be for a parent, it is much harder for the child. Autism and school don’t always mix well. A typical day in school for a child with autism is like pulling double duty – not only does he need to learn his academic subjects, but he also needs to adapt to the classroom environment – often on a daily basis – the sounds, smells, or lights of the classroom, the interaction with other students, adjusting to changes in the daily routine, and more. It can be exhausting.

Those wild and crazy carrots

Learning is such an awesome gift. I don't think people actually stop and think about this. You can learn something anywhere at anytime. Maybe you don't even realize you learned something, or maybe you think it's trivial. And it's not just things like, 'Oh, I just learned the state capital of Hawaii!' It's other things, like learning about people's thoughts and feelings. I found this amazing game that helped me realize this and how important it is for young children to be aware of others emotions.
It's part of a preschool curriculum and the game is called Crazy Carrots. It's extremely simple and the carrots have different facial expressions that the child needs to identify. For children at a young age, sights and sounds are crucial in keeping their attention and this game does just that.

Time4Learning is an easy-to-use online preschool curriculum for young learners, featuring animated activities with fun characters and sound effects. The characters in the learning games guide children through the steps of the learning activities, making it simple for pre-readers to follow and enjoy.

I realized that learning isn't just cognitive, it helps others, in the case preschool children, learn about feelings. In general, this helps them when dealing with their own feelings and helps them understand why others act a certain way, thus inciting feelings of empathy. This can be especially important for autistic children, who many think have no awareness of others emotions.

I found a ton of information online about research done on emotional education. Like I mentioned earlier, learning isn't just about geography, math and spelling, it's also about learning and growing socially and emotionally--everyone knows that. Notice how so many people have street smarts but not book smarts and vice versa. Yes, some people are just built like that and that's what they are good at, but for others, there is the possibility that they didn't get enough of the other. I've met people that are so incredibly smart, Mensa material, and seem uncomfortable and awkward when in a group setting. Then on the flip side, I've met some who might be considered 'airheads', but are so incredibly funny and social. We all know people like that. Then of course, there are those who have just the right combination---which of course, is what we would ideally like our children to be.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Read this blog and just relax

I found a great blog the other day and think many mom out there can benefit from it. I couldn't help but feel so at peace while reading. THis mom seems to just know how to not let herself get wrapped up in the craziness of the world, and to be more specific for this time of year--- Christmas.

She shares recipes, advice, poetry and of course everything in between. I wonder if she lives in a little cottage right by a beautiful lighthouse somewhere. That's exactly where here blog seems to takes me. I look forward to reading it everyday.

Some blogs are longer than others, but even the 2 sentence entries are meaningful. She's also a great photographer. Definitely worth a looK!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

So am I homeschooling or what?

So I'm a stay at home mom and I'm trying to get a head start on giving my little munchkin a good education. But how do I know if I'm officially a homeschooler? Do I have to fill a form somewhere or go to a website or Dept of Education office??? Also, where do I find curriculums and how do I know if they will work? I'm not a teacher, so how do I know what the proper balance of subjects is? I'm so confused!! But I want what's best for my child, like any other parent.

Obviously the web is a great place to get information on everything and I came across a few websites that I would definitely recommend to other moms in my situation.

I found one site that has an approach that really caught my attention in addition to their basic curriculum:
The Playground is yet another tool which helps to reinforce ideas while providing enrichment through games. This feature is initially set up to be used after at least fifteen minutes of lesson time, however, is adjustable at the leisure of each parent.
Preschoolers first complete structured learning activities before moving on to the preschool educational games, teaching them important study habits to
'do work, then play' that will be invaluable years afterwards.

This is something I would have never thought of, which is why doing our homework as parents is so important.

Two other helpful sites that I would totally recommend are chock full of information.
homeschool.com has live chats every week, plus a boot camp for new homeschoolers and a section with free stuff. who doesn't love that?

http://www.gettingready.org is all about ensuring success when children enter school for the first time.

Alright, back to my homework.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Should I teach math to a preschooler?

I have a preschooler (who is still very small) but I'm wondering what I should teach her in the early days about math? I was thinking of calculus (LOL).

I would like her to be less confused and intimidated that I have been by math. Is there a good approach to teaching them when they're little?

I've heard that the start of math education isn't really dealing with numbers, it's really learning about things and their characteristics and comparisons....I read this about preschool math.

Preschool math students learn to identify and compare objects by size. They will measure and weigh themselves and be introduced to the concepts of volume, length, and weight. Though they are very young, preschool math students are able to use proper vocabulary to describe quantity, length and weight. They will learn to use the proper expressions such as 'more', 'less', 'one more', 'bigger', 'smaller', 'shorter', 'taller', 'longer', and 'heavier'.

The site also talks about some other basic concepts but stresses that math starts not so much with arithmetic but really with a broader set of concepts. I now remember why we spent so much time with Sesame Street singing: "One of these things is not like the other one, one of these things just doesn't belong..."