Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Natural Learning Initiative

The Homeschool Year in Review

Time to explore at length the way things work...

This school year started out with some trepidation.  Fourth grade
is a big step from the lower elementary grades.  There are so many skills taught at this level.  Many students feel overwhelmed, as they sense the increased pressure and transition to self-responsibility.  Thankfully, we don't find ourselves under this type of stress because
we are creating our own learning environment.

Appreciating things others may not even notice...

This year the main focus was on getting lil' guy's health back on track.  Plagued with allergies, asthma and sensory difficulties since he's been very young, we have been working on resolving these issues to give him a better quality of life.

The other priority was to work intensely on social skills. 
Having the freedom of homeschooling allows for so many opportunities to practice these skills.  Every time we encounter someone new, we concentrate on how best to communicate what we are thinking and feeling in the most appropriate way.  Not an easy task when you consider that kids with Asperger's have very little in the way of social skills.  Each and every encounter is another opportunity to practice what doesn't come naturally.

Being able to learn in a way that suits him best,
with his own self-made curriculum.

The flexibility with natural learning this year has allowed us to really focus on areas that needed strict attention.  I think it's fair to say that great strides have been made.  Lil' guy can now have friends over and take turns playing what they each like to do.  He is initiating more social conversational skills such as asking a friend what they think about any given subject.  His vocabulary has been extensive for quite some time, but the challenge lies in using his communication skills effectively.  These social pragmatics are the mainstay of every interaction.  He has also made a concerted effort to improve in the area of manners, and he will tell you that he wants to "always be polite". 

Caring for loved ones,
even if they aren't human...

One major accomplishment is his ability to now use the phone to call friends and family.  Until this year, he would balk at having to talk to someone on the phone, even someone for whom he cares deeply.  My take on it is that it was difficult for him to talk to someone without being able to see their face.  Kids on the spectrum need lots of visual support, so this unwillingness made real sense to me.  Over time, he has now gotten comfortable picking up the phone and dialing a friend to invite over.  He even remembers to end the call with a proper "bye".

Discovery at his own pace,
in his own comfort zone.

These milestones may not seem much to anyone outside of our family, but we know how significant they are.  Academics will only get him so far.  Typical of Aspies, he is extremely bright, so learning comes easily to him.  He retains every thing he's ever read and can recite word-for-word book pages and video clips.  His incredible memory allows him to "see" the page in front of him as he describes it.  What a gift!
Our studies are more along the realm of social interactions and maintaining healthy and reciprocal relationships. 
These skills can only be taught in the school of life. 

Fire Safety is a current obsession interest.

Before I became a momma to a child with Asperger's, I never really thought too much about the importance of social skills.  It's something that I thought came naturally to everyone, although now that I know more about it, I can say it's something I myself have struggled with throughout my life.  I feel so grateful that lil' guy can be at home to learn these vital life lessons.  They will carry him through his life
and make it so much better. 

Homeschooling has been one of the biggest blessings
of our lives.

Lots of time with family...

For more information about Asperger's,
you can go here.

Love to Learn blog hop | link up | linky | blogging | homeschooling | education | kids activities | kids craft ideas


  1. Oh, Daisy, they are remarkable accomplishments in anyone's school year. You are so smart to recognize and focus on what your lil' guys' specific needs are and then devote yourself to helping him with them. I home-schooled 2 of our children and I know how much effort it takes. You have exceeding challenges and you are managing them with grace and courage. Your son will benefit in so many ways being home where life is lived out and example after example of life lessons are presented. Yay for you and him and the family!
    Now for some summer fun...

  2. Meems-Thank you so much your your kind words and obvious compassion. Homeschooling rocks!

  3. Hi Daisy,

    Homeschooling IS great, isn't it! I've already started with my son - he hates math though. He's really good at it, but hates it! *sigh* Well, he doesn't have the option to fall behind where he would be at if he kept going to regular school.

    I didn't realize your son had asperger's. How old is he - 10 or 11? Mine's 11, and he was diagnosed as - "autism, high probability; asperger's, borderline" - so autism it is. Verrry high functioning. But he can't read body language or emotion and he lives in a very literal world. Most people just think he's rude; I don't feel like telling every person we meet he's autistic so I just put my arm around him and we go off to find someone more understanding.

    But he also does not like to speak on the phone. He used to look at it like is was a foreign object of curiosity - to be looked at but never interacted with! Now he can get chatty sometimes, which is a plus, but mostly he doesn't like to talk. And I understand, I don't either.

    He also has an irrational fear that fire will cause damage to our house while we are gone. (This could possibly have something to do with the fact I burned something in our oven when he was about 5 - just maybe... I had to call the FD and everything! He was so upset that dinner was ruined.)

    But I understand how great it is when every social and emotional milestone is reached, because we fight for them. And smart? I understand that, too. AJ's super smart, although he can't repeat things verbatim lol.

    And oh, my jam? It overcooked because I didn't realize it would take so long to boil the water for processing, and the jam was done 30 minutes before the water boiled. So it tastes as if it's almost burned, but not quite. Still edible, but not something I'll be reaching for unless I run out of beans. :)

  4. Build A Better Life-My boy is math shy too. I just try to present it at every opportunity in our daily lives so he can see how valuable it is.

    Lil' Guy is 10 1/2. He was dx at 6with Asperger's. He is a vaccine-injured child. I know exactly what you mean about folks thinking he is rude. They always assume...
    They don't realize that he doesn't have the skill set he needs to navigate through the social world. We work on it every single day...

    It's funny how our kids are forever changed after certain events. I hope he grows out of his fear about fires.

    Better luck next time with the jam! I haven't yet attempted canning, so you're ahead of me!


Thanks for taking the time to leave your thoughts!