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Teaching kids about mindfulness is an important skill for them to master. It will help them navigate the world and everything it can throw their way. Including mindfulness tasks and activities throughout the week is an essential step. One way to do this is by using games to help your kids learn mindfulness at home.

Being mindful allows children to enjoy life as well as maneuver the obstacles they encounter. As the saying goes for many other subjects, practice makes perfect.

If mindfulness is new to you, keep in mind that this technique requires you to be intentional about your actions and feelings. This applies to all feelings both good and bad. It helps explore feelings while being in control of the situation. This book, The Little Book of Mindfulness, has given me a wonderful insight into mindfulness. The activities only take about 10-15 minutes, which makes it ideal for any hectic schedule. One thing I’ve noticed with children is that they follow by example. If you would like your kids to become more mindful, start practicing the theory and they will surely follow.

  Games to Help Your Kids Learn Mindfulness at Home

Mindfulness Matters: This is a fun game to play with kids and teenagers… parents might even learn a thing or two about mindfulness while playing this game. It helps kids learn different mindfulness strategies and how they can apply them in their own lives.

Totem The Feel Good Game: In this mindfulness game, players are assigned a totem. Their totem creates a positive environment that promotes team building. The perfect intentional game of positive intentions and results.

Yoga 4 Kids in the Rainforest: Being intentional about caring for your body and mind can easily be incorporated into Yoga. Play this board game as a family to learn how to relax, stretch, and meditate.

The Mindfulness Game: Use this card game to become focused, find ways to calm down, and above all… have fun. It encourages self-care and even has a booklet of ideas on how to engage teenagers to not only play a mindfulness game but to learn through fun.

Totika: Totika is known as the self-esteem game. It is a bit like the classic game of Jenga but this one includes a deck of cards and revolves around positive reinforcement. Through play kids, teens, and adults will learn about self-confidence, achieving goals, and valuing each other.

Cards for Calm: Players learn how to stay centered and calm to combat anxiety and worries. This is a great game for the entire family to play. I like this game because it doesn’t require a lot of time, but is still meaningful.

      

Better Me: This game requires players to work within a group. It has an emphasis on accountability that involves real problems. The perfect way to give your family the tools they need to succeed.

Wood Zen Garden: Technically, this may not be a game, but it is a way to be intentional about your actions through a relaxing and calming experience of playing in the sand. I like this one because it comes with a variety of tools.

Anger Management Thumball: Practicing mindfulness includes learning how to react to a variety of situations. Use this game to learn how to curb anger when different situations arise.

Mindful Games: Use these activity cards to help kids understand the purpose of practicing mindfulness.

Emojinks: Here is a fun, fast-paced card game that can get younger kiddos to identify their emotions. It helps players practice their attention and focus skills as well.

Be Mindful: This deck of cards is made for teens. It can help them become less stress through activities and actions.

      

Other games to help teach mindfulness at home include good old classics such as Kerplunk, Sorry!, and even blowing bubbles. You can find many mindfulness actions throughout every activity. Try to remember to be intentional about actions and always acknowledge feelings, even when they are difficult to handle.

The post Games to Help Your Kids Learn Mindfulness at Home appeared first on Raising Lifelong Learners.

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Before I began this journey of advocating for my differently-wired kids, I used to think that “learning disabilities” meant dyslexia. Just dyslexia. It was the only disorder I’d ever heard mentioned in a classroom, and my knowledge of it was severely limited to a broad, stereotyped version of a very complex, neurological condition. The more I spoke with other parents, the more I learned about brain differences, the deeper I went into researching my own children’s differences, the more I stumbled upon diagnoses I never knew existed: dysgraphia, dyscalculia, executive function disorders. 

 I received a copy of Helping Your Child with Language-Based Learning Disabilities and was compensated for my time spent reviewing this book, but rest assured that my opinions remain honest and my own.

With each parent I met who was struggling to make sense of their child’s new label, the more I learned how these disorders profoundly affect a child’s ability to learn. I could not have been more in need of understanding and equipping tools when I read Helping Your Child with Language-Based Learning Disabilities: Strategies to Succeed in School & Life with Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia, ADHD & Processing Disorders by Daniel Franklin, PhD.

My own journey into language-based learning disabilities began a few years back, when one of my children went through rigorous intelligence and achievement testing with his school district. 

“It looks like he’s showing signs of dysgraphia,” the administrator said, “but he’s so smart that he’ll figure it out on his own.” 

Apart from my anger at hearing the dismissal of an apparent struggle due to his high IQ, I felt jolted – what was dysgraphia? The school district had no plans in place or professionals on hand that would be able to offer any support, so it was up to me and Google to figure out just what was going on… and just if I could help him in any way. 

This scenario isn’t new. Parents discover their child has one of several language-based learning disabilities and are left reeling, wondering, searching… and oftentimes unsupported. Whether in a traditional school setting or a homeschool co-op, language-based learning disabilities will affect a child’s ability to learn… and will eventually affect their self-esteem. 

Dr. Franklin wrote Helping Your Child with Language-Based Learning Disabilities from his own unique perspective – someone who grew up with his own LBLD and wished someone had given him the support he now offers through his book and Franklin Educational Services Company. Throughout the book he peppers in his experiences in helping students work through their LBLDs, as well as his own feelings, struggles, and triumphs, and repeatedly emphasizes the importance of relationship between parents and children, rather than focusing solely on exercise and worksheets. 

There are large portions of the book devoted to advocating for a child with learning-based language difficulties in the public school system, as well as explanations and step-by-step instructions for how to progress through the levels of intervention a school district offers. This information is also enormously helpful for homeschoolers who may feel unsupported in their attempts to educate their child with a learning disability, either by equipping them with information to advocate at a co-op or to approach a possible umbrella school for support. No matter the educational setting you find yourself in, this book will prove to be enormously helpful and full of practical resources.

Because relationship is emphasized above all else, any parent can benefit from the techniques no matter their child’s educational setting. Homeschoolers will love the focus on the value of play and those using traditional schools will appreciate the practical explanations of an IEP versus a 504. 

The real meat of the book includes in-depth explanations and examples that offer insight and understanding into just what language-based learning disabilities are and how they affect a child’s learning. There are tips on how to collaborate with your child, how to support them at home and not just in a classroom. What I really appreciated was how older children were addressed in addition to topics like teaching phonics. So often learning disabilities aren’t identified until well past the beginning stages of literacy, yet it seems that much of the information available to parents is for the very young student. Suggestions on supporting teenagers is hard to come by, so Dr. Franklin’s experience and recommendations are enormously helpful. He points out that children with language-based learning disabilities are not only capable of, but in need of still learning high-level content, despite their struggles with a wide skill gap. And all of the parents of twice-exceptional kiddos released a resounding cheer!

Over and over, relationship with your child is accentuated. Dr. Franklin stresses that we cannot guide our children towards independence – be it in an educational skill or in life – without first providing support. He offers several practical steps and suggestions for helping a child with the mechanics of their LBLD, but he also describes and prescribes a lifestyle change, a shift towards collaboration and relationship, patience and support, rather than just writing exercises and daily word challenges. His methods regard the whole of a child, their self-worth as much as their writing. He offers up, he repeatedly points out, what he wishes he’d had, and in doing so has been able to help families grow stronger as their students grow more confident. 

If you are the parent of a child with LBLDs, or an educator looking to expand on your knowledge and skillset, you will absolutely want to download or grab your own copy of Helping Your Child with Language-Based Learning Disabilities by Daniel Franklin, PhD. You can also check out the many services Franklin Educational Services has to offer, follow Dr. Franklin on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or YouTube, or contact Dr. Franklin yourself.

The post Equipping Parents to Help Children with Language-Based Learning Disabilities appeared first on Raising Lifelong Learners.

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I love talking with parents of gifted and twice-exceptional kiddos. Apart from the comradery and the peace that comes with knowing you’re not alone in this often-difficult journey, it’s so uplifting to encourage them, hug them, to be there when the lightbulb goes off as you explain why their child behaves they way they do. The relief that washes over a mom when she realizes that her child is wired to act a certain way and that it is not a reflection of her parenting – whew, that just fills my bucket right up. The tears stream and the shoulders relax, we all want to shout YES! from the rooftops as we begin to make sense and find hope in the midst of the overexcitable storm we’ve been living in.

Often times, these conversations lead down the path of twice-exceptionalities – those kids who are both gifted and living with a disorder or diagnosis that makes life (and gifted identification) a little bit harder. ADHD, dyslexia, autism, and my favorite, anxiety, are the most common difficulties that parents are struggling to help their child manage (though certainly many more exist). Frequently, though, this glow of understanding and acceptance is interrupted when the subject of therapy and medication comes up.

“No, we don’t really feel like medication is right at this time.”

“I don’t feel comfortable putting her medication.”

“We’d rather not try counseling, we’re working with behavior charts at home instead.”

“I honestly just don’t believe in therapy.”

Over and over, sentiments similar to these are said, with deep conviction, when discussing the needs of their child.

I fully admit to having felt similarly at one time. I tried everything possible to avoid putting my child on medication – diet, oils, herbs, prayers, exercises, routines, counseling, and yes, behavior charts. I felt like picking up a big orange prescription bottle for such a little body was perverse in some way, defeating in another. As though giving his body the chemicals and relief it needed were somehow admitting a loss or a failure on my part. 

I get it, I do. 

When my own mother was first diagnosed with mental illness and began taking strong medications to help counteract the chemical imbalances, I balked. I chastised. I judged. I saw each fistful of pills as a sign of weakness and each new prescription as an indicator that she just hadn’t worked hard enough at getting better. 

Then I went to college to earn a counseling degree, and within weeks I was tearfully apologizing over the phone to my poor, sick mother who just wanted to get better.

Related: Mislabeled Behavior and Undiagnosed Giftedness , Homeschooling Because of Mental Illness 

It’s hard being a kid, harder than it was when we were kids. There are sources of pressure and input that exist all around them that weren’t even a thought when we were in our formative years. Add in the confusion of a brain that works faster than they know how to handle and a misfiring brain with crossed wires and chemical imbalances, and it can be downright torture. Kids who are struggling with anxiety, depression, ADHD, mood disorders, personality disorders… they’re hurting. Their brains and bodies are failing them and they are tiny little people who don’t know what to do about it. Their small shoulders cannot bear the weight of our pride, our fears, our hopes that a diet change will make them better. 

If a child were in need of a wheelchair ramp, would we think twice before installing it? If our sons were in casts or our daughters nursing stitches, would we hesitate to accommodate them and ensure the best possible environments for them to heal in?

If a child has type 1 diabetes, do we hesitate to provide them with the insulin they depend upon to live?

If a child has dyslexia, tracking issues, speech issues – do we hope they’ll resolve themselves or do we seek accommodations and programs that will meet them where they are, provide scaffolding, and teach them vital skills to grow and learn with?

Mental health issues are brain issues, just like a brain with dysgraphia. Many mental health issues are the result of a chemical imbalance, not unlike diabetes or anemia. Yet they carry a stigma that often results in a hesitation to seek treatment. These things are beasts that must be battled. They won’t slink away, embarrassed at having been caught. They won’t fade with time in the sun like a stained sheet. These are very real, very quantifiable invaders that are threatening to steal our childrens’ happiness, childhoods, even their lives, and we cannot agree to play nice with them in the hopes of a peaceful parting between us. When it comes to our children’s mental health, we must go on the offensive or we will forever be living defensively. 

Related: Name It to Tame It | When Anxiety Looks Like Anger , Helping Your Child Cope With Anxiety

With a counseling degree that hangs beautifully framed, yes, I’m a little biased.

With an anxiety disorder myself that is treated with medication, yes, I’m a little biased. 

With a mother who is mentally ill and wasn’t always medicated, yes, I’m pretty biased. 

With children who have benefitted greatly from therapy and found help, strength, and relief they otherwise would not have stumbled upon or figured out for themselves, yeah, I’m a lot biased. 

These kids of ours, we’re entrusted with their care. We make a lot of decisions on their behalf, hoping and praying and fretting that they’re the right ones. I realize that seeking counseling or agreeing to fill the prescription isn’t a light decision. I’m well aware of how over-diagnosed and thus how over-medicated so many of today’s children are. I’m well-versed in the scary side effects of some very strong medications and I know that the first therapist you waited 10 months to see isn’t always a great fit. 

I’m not advocating completely sedating your child. I’m not asking you to risk their lives. If the risks outweigh the benefits, then by all means, move on and find an alternative. All I’m asking is that you consider their pain. Consider how scared they are to feel anxiety without knowing what it is. Consider how painful it must be to wake up depressed and not understand why. Consider that their understanding of their condition is not the understanding that you have, and that you have access to people who can help. 

It’s hard, very hard, very humbling and scary to realize and admit that you can’t do this yourself. To recognize that you, their parent, who loves them and knows them and supports them more than anyone else, cannot fix this yourself. 

You just can’t. 

You need help.

Our kids need help.

Needing help from someone else is painful to admit.

But oh, how life-changing it is when that help comes. 

I still feel a bit of shame when I think back to how I graduated with a 4.0 when I earned my counseling degree and missed my own son’s anxiety. I tried for years to fix it by myself. I read all the books, dusted off my notes and texts, contacted colleagues – I tried to be my son’s counselor. But even with all of the training that the state of Texas requires, I needed help. I just couldn’t do this by myself. I couldn’t help him on my own, and that was a hard pill to swallow… no pun intended. 

If you’re on the fence about seeking professional help, if the next steps beyond what you’ve tried require an appointment or a prescription, please take the time to soul search and ask yourself why it is you’re so hesitant. 

You’re not failing as a parent to get them help. 

You’re not failing as a parent because they need help at all. 

You’re not failing as a parent because you’re changing your stance on medication. 

You’re not failing as a parent because you don’t fully understand what’s going on in those little minds of theirs. 

You’re not failing as a parent, period. It’s just time to expand your village. 

The post When You Just Aren’t Comfortable Getting Help for Your Child appeared first on Raising Lifelong Learners.

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A few years ago, my daughter (then nine) stumbled across a table filled with the most beautiful books she had ever seen (her words) at a homeschool convention she was attending with me. She begged me to stop everything I was doing and go over to the booth with her to buy any of their curriculum that was appropriate for her age and ability right then and there. 

As I was speaking that weekend, and unable to break away from the booth where I was meeting and consulting with other parents of differently-wired voracious (and opinionated) readers, I never made it over to peruse their table, though Molly happily took my debit card over with instructions to choose no more than four books to buy, and to grab me some literature to look through when we got home. 

Note: I received this literature pack and was compensated for the time it took to facilitate this review.  All opinions are my own.

It was Beautiful Feet Books, and as soon as I looked through the catalog she’d procured for me, I was smitten too. 

That catalog was filled with the most enticing literature-rich programs for science, history, character development, and even quirky and fun things like, “The History of the Horse” and “The History of Science.”

Like most things, the idea of grabbing some of the literature packs for the next school year totally slipped my mind as I got back into the hustle of the routine and end of the year craziness. Though, from time to time, I’d read something about Beautiful Feet Books and remember Molly’s delight, and then forget about actually purchasing again.

Boy do I regret my distraction!

We were given the opportunity to use and review the Teaching Character Through Literature Pack for intermediate students, and I’m completely blown away by the quality of the books and the discussion guide. 

The Books

Teaching Character Through Literature for Intermediate Grades (roughly 4th-6th) includes the following titles:

Are you getting as excited as I was when I saw this for the first time? It’s such a wonderful collection of stories, each with a unique focus on different aspects of good character. I am loving the conversations the kids and I are having with these titles. 

My biggest problem, actually, is that my 11yo keeps stealing the books before I get a chance to read them with her. She’s annoyed with me because we got a late start to the program and we’ll likely have to put the remainder of the literature pack on hold until we resume more formal schooling towards the end of the summer. We’ve only gotten through the first few lessons in the guide, and she wants to keep going.

The Guide

I can understand her impatience, as the questions in the guide are designed to spark conversation — not be answered absolutely. This means that they’re open-ended, higher-level thinking, and designed for parents and kids to read the books together AND discuss them together. 

I love it.

It’s a curriculum custom designed to forge those relationships based on shared experiences we crave with our children. Do you think that way too? I often think, when I’m evaluating my resons for homeshooling in the first place, that my biggest and most important goal is to really create deep and lasting relationships with my kids. 

I want us to have shared stories.

I want us to sit around and remember our homeschooling years as adventures we’ve had together.

Books like the ones in this Beautiful Feet Teaching Character Through Literature Pack, along with a guide that encourages parents and their kids to explore a deeper connection to the text together, help us create those memories. 

Why Beautiful Feet?

There are a bunch of different literature-rich programs on the market — some I’ve tried out, and some I haven’t. And, if you’ve followed along here or on the podcast for any length of time, you know that we use a lot of different curriculums and sometimes none at all. 

Beautiful Feet Books works well for families like ours with eclectic tendencies and the propensity for falling down into rabbit holes and abandoning curriculums willy-nilly, then picking them back up again at a later time. The study guide in the unit we’ve chosen, Teaching Character Through Literature, builds on itself, sure… but, if we find ourselves in a busy season (like now), we can easily shelve it for a bit, then pick it up with the next book, revisit a few of the previous talking points, and continue on from there. 

There are also additional booklists and favorite author suggestions in the guide. They’re like built-in extension ideas, and any parent with gifted or twice-exceptional kiddos knows that the need for extention ideas can pop up unexpectedly with our quirky, voracious readers.

Beautiful Feet Books is a great option for families looking for a versatile, engaging, and literature-rich program that’s going to build relationships around stories, and encourage kids to dig deeper in conversations with each other AND Mom or Dad. 

I won’t wait two years to pick up my next literature pack.

And neither should you.

In fact, Beautiful Feet Books is giving away a literature pack of the winner’s choice to each of FIVE winners. Simply enter in the widget below. 

Let me know if you enter and what feature you think you’d like best about the Beautiful Feet program in teh comments. I’d love to hear from you.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Teaching Character Through Literature | Beautiful Feet Books appeared first on Raising Lifelong Learners.

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Are you an introvert? Guess what?! You’re not alone! Today’s guest, Jamie Martin, is the brilliant mama behind the website Simple Homeschool and has just released a new book called The Introverted Mom: Your Guide to More Calm, Less Guilt, and Quiet Joy and we’re talking all about the beauty to be found in introversion, how and when to step out of one’s comfort zone, and the freedom that homeschooling brings to introverts. You’ll love this episode — I hope it brings you encouragement.

Links and Resources from Today’s Show:

         

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The post RLL #47: The Introverted Homeschool Mom with Jamie C. Martin appeared first on Raising Lifelong Learners.

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It’s late. Really late. I should have been in bed hours ago, but instead I’m sitting up, trying to calm the fears, trying to shush the irrational thoughts, trying to calm the breathing, trying to wipe away the tears. Anxiety has reared it’s ugly head again. This isn’t a new occurrence in my home. It’s not the first night anxiety has stolen bedtime, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. All three of my kids struggle with anxiety in various forms and manifestations, so tears, worries, and struggles to breathe aren’t strangers to us. The only difference is that tonight those tears, worries, and gasps for breath are my own. 

I have anxiety. Sometimes it feels like anxiety has me. I am an anxious parent raising anxious children, and I see myself in them way more often than I’d like. They all three have my dimples, sure, and I’m more than pleased when one of them makes a particularly sarcastic joke or a Lord of the Rings reference – they get those from me, too. They mostly resemble my husband so I’m always grasping for traces of me in them, delighting at my chin on my oldest or my flair for the dramatic in my youngest. As an only child, seeing pieces of me in my children is meaningful in more ways than just novelty, and I burst with pride and amazement that they are mine. Until anxiety kicks in, and I am overwhelmed with the guilt at what I’ve done to them.

The age-old question of nature vs. nurture has long considered all of the factors that contribute to the forming of a person. Did genetics cause this trait to be present from birth? Did the environment in someone’s home form it over time? With anxiety, the answer to both questions is yes. There is a genetic link that suggests anxiety can be hereditary (though it is not guaranteed to be passed down). Environmental behaviors can also contribute to anxiety disorders in children. So, scientifically speaking, I, the anxious parent, have created anxious children. I, the anxious parent, may have caused anxious children

Sure, they were also likely to be born without anxiety. They could easily have been born with a frazzled, anxious mother and grown up with nary a worry in the world. But they didn’t. 

They all three struggle with anxiety, and I, in turn, struggle with the guilt at having passed it on to them. 

Hindsight is a funny thing, isn’t it? That boyfriend you look back on and can’t believe you dated. That college major you chose and can’t imagine being employed with now. The raging childhood anxiety disorder you lived with and had no idea

I was an anxious child. Very anxious. But I had no idea. I didn’t know it wasn’t normal to imagine every possible way a burglar could break into your home. I didn’t know it wasn’t normal to quiz your parents because you feared they’d been replaced. I didn’t know that OCD could look like anything other than excessive hand-washing or lock-checking. Apparently my pediatrician didn’t know, either, because when I complained of episodes where my chest burned and I couldn’t catch my breath I was diagnosed with asthma, not anxiety. I carried an inhaler for years, only exacerbating the panic attacks I was having by treating them with steroids. Hindsight again. I was a very, very anxious child, not an asthmatic one.

I learned to channel it as a teenager. I stayed very active in school, in church, with my friends. I never sat still, never stopped doing, reading, making, going. I distracted my brain from the thoughts of impending doom and had the time of my life in high school. In college I double-majored and took 24 hours of classes per semester. I took summer classes, winter classes. I joined a comedy troupe and planned my wedding. I stayed busy, I stayed distracted.

Then motherhood hit.

Related: The Anxious Parent of the Anxious Child | Using Social Stories  , The Lies Anxiety Tells You

Suddenly I couldn’t go and do as much. Suddenly I had an entirely new crop of fears. Suddenly I was overcome, wrapped tight, squeezed, enslaved, and totally consumed by anxiety. I managed to keep it in for the most part – I still didn’t know what it was. I thought I was just a worrier. I even considered myself a little intelligent for being able to come up with just so many things to worry about. But then my not-quite-two-year-old son had his first night terror, and I fell apart. 

“Associated with anxiety.” I remember reading that when I was researching just what was making my sweet baby boy scream and thrash in the middle of the night. It was like something from a movie – I dropped the book when I read it, practically in slow motion, as the realization of what I was and what I’d given him crashed over me. I had anxiety, and now my innocent baby may, too. I sobbed that night, for hours. The night terrors continued for several years, and with each one I felt the guilt wash all over me anew. Each cry of terror sounded like an accusation to me, a finger pointing at what I’d done to him simply by having the genes that I do. I had anxiety, and I’d passed it on to him.

The years have gone by and we now have three children, each a glowing, burning reminder that I have given them something I didn’t want for myself: anxiety. 

It’s remarkable how much guilt and anxiety are alike, how similar they can feel. Both fill you with an overwhelming feeling of something being out of your control that shouldn’t be, the feeling that you could have stopped it but didn’t (even if that’s not the logical truth). Both leave you grasping, gasping, desperately searching for a way out, a way around, a way to fix what’s broken. Anxiety will make you feel guilty, and guilt will cause you to feel anxious. They’re a perfectly-suited pair, and they will crush you. Guilt will make you feel at fault, and anxiety will list every way that it is. 

Related: Name it to Tame it | When Anxiety Looks Like Anger , Helping Your Child Cope With Anxiety

I should have known better, I’ll think. I was selfish to have children, I lament. They deserve better, I cry.

They could just as easily have been born without stress hormones wreaking havoc in their brains – and some studies suggest they’re more likely to have been born without anxiety than with it, regardless of my history. Heck, they were more likely to get my dimples than my mental health. There was no guarantee, either way. I did not knowingly condemn my children to a lifetime of fret and frazzle. I may have passed this on to them, but I did not do this to them. So I remind myself, frequently. So I forget, more frequently.

My poor baby, I sob as I watch one of them struggle. My chest tightens – guilt or anxiety? This is my fault. My own parents don’t struggle with anxiety so I’m not sure who I blame mine on, but I am intent, at least this time, on taking the full responsibility of my childrens’ anxiety. They don’t deserve anxiety… but you know what? Neither do I. I do not deserve to punish myself, to dwell, to list my faults as though anyone were asking for a resume. There’s another thing anxiety loves – a martyr. Anxiety is all too happy to make me feel like the cause, the root, the flawed genetic pool from which my children draw all their struggles. My thoughts continue to race. 

But then something almost beautiful happens. 

My son is struggling. He can’t sleep. He’s worked out all of the ways someone could break into his room, and he’s terrified. I see myself in my child again. It’s not what I’d like to see. It’s not my good handwriting or my green eyes, but it’s me. And I know just how he feels. 

All those years of childhood hand wringing, all those years of sitting alone in the dark, eyes flitting back and forth, writing down every license plate I saw, all those moments of absolute terror, no one knew what was happening. No one knew what I was experiencing, and no one knew it wasn’t normal – which meant that no one could help me. But I, the anxious parent, know just what this anxious boy of mine is going through. I know the thought process and the tight chest. I know what he’s feeling, and I know what he needs. I can help him. 

Sure, he’s likely experiencing this fear because of me. But even if it comes from me, he can find comfort in me, he has an advocate in me. He is not alone. He is not misunderstood. He is not misdiagnosed. He is an anxious child with an anxious parent, who can tell him he’s okay and mean it. He can walk into my room after midnight and simply say, “I’m having a lot of anxiety tonight,” and know that he is accepted, understood, empathized with, and not alone. He can speak freely about his struggles and know just what they are, can give voice to his feelings (which often helps to weaken them). 

My boy may have gotten this anxiety from me, but he’s also gotten understanding, love, acceptance, and tools from me. Because their anxiety is recognized by me, my children have access to therapies and methods and advocacy that I did not. Because their anxiety is treated, their struggles will look a lot different than my own did. Because they have an anxious parent, they are not alone.

The post The Anxious Parent of the Anxious Child | The Guilt of Passing it On appeared first on Raising Lifelong Learners.

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Cynthia Heren joins Colleen today to talk about what it’s like in the trenches homeschooling differently-wired kiddos. She gives us a peek into her schedule, the rabbit holes her family dives down, and how they incorporate online learning and Minecraft (yes, Minecraft) into their days.

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The post RLL #46: Homeschooling Quirky Kids with Cynthia Heren appeared first on Raising Lifelong Learners.

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I shrug a lot, shake my head with a smile, even chuckle. My kids are a blast. They’re different and difficult and quite the handful, but at the end of the day I don’t know what I’d do without the constant excitement of their excitabilities or the quick wit (that also gets them into trouble). They do something in the back seat or an adult comes to tell me something they’ve said, and all I can do is shrug, shake my head, and laugh. Gifted kids, man.

They’re gonna gift.

There’s this belief that floats around from time to time, that gifted programming is elitist. A small group of kids being taken from the general classroom and attended to apart from the rest of their peers, it just doesn’t sit well with everyone. “They’re getting enrichment opportunities that not everyone else has access to!” is the battle cry. “Why don’t all kids get to do extra work on the solar system?” The perception is that it’s a club, something exclusive that denies entry and opportunity, something kids get into rather than something they need. But there’s the truth – gifted services are a need. An academic, intellectual, social, even emotional need.

Gifted kids are those who, in the strictest of descriptions, have IQ scores two standard deviations above the norm. They are statistical outliers – they’re different. Not better, not faster, but different. Schools service those populations who fall two standard deviations below the norm, so it stands to reason that if those groups are so removed from the median that they require specialized services, then so do those on the other far end of the curve. Gifted kids have different, special needs. In fact some states even consider giftedness to fall under the umbrella of special education! Gifted kids, no matter how you feel about them, are gonna gift.

They’re going to grasp concepts more quickly and won’t need repetition or review in order to achieve mastery.

They’re going to be able to make inferences and conclusions.

They’re probably going to be reading several grade levels ahead of the class.

They’re probably going to be operating a few grade levels ahead in mathematics.

They may have vocabularies, senses of humor, and interests that are not like those of their age peers.

They may struggle socially because of the differences.

They may experience emotions more intensely.

They may be twice-exceptional and dealing with a disorder that is misunderstood or overlooked in the context of their giftedness.

They’re absolutely going to be different. Statistically and anecdotally, they’re different. They’re gifted, and no matter how anyone feels about it, that’s just what they are. We didn’t pick the term, we didn’t pick the need. Meeting the different needs of these different kids does not equate to elitism and extending gifted services to those who don’t need them isn’t equality. Gifted kids are gonna gift, whether you like it or not.

Related: Why it Stinks to be Gifted in Schools Today , If He’s REALLY So Smart… When Gifted Kids Struggle

It happens a lot in social settings: a group of parents, chatting about their kids, commiserating, swapping stories and nodding our heads in agreement. Everyone is smiling in understanding, basking in the glow of empathy, when you mention how tired you are because your kiddo was up late having an existential crisis or how you’ve got to stop and pick up new bacteria slides from the post office on your way home. Maybe a friend’s daughter is struggling to get past her current reading level and she asks you what level your kiddo is on, hoping for some reassurance, and you tell her, almost apologetically, that your child is on a level 3 grades above the rest of the class. Maybe its a homeschool play day and all of the moms are enjoying some adult interaction, casually chatting, and the question of why you don’t attend a co-op comes up. You explain, as humbly as you can, that your son needs an environment where he can learn at a really fast pace, faster than a classroom or large group setting allows for… and that all of the classes offered by the co-op are subjects he mastered a few years ago.

Whatever the situation – and these have all happened to me – you find yourself “outing” your child as gifted. The other parents may react in a number of ways – sometimes they think you’re bragging and roll their eyes, sometimes they see your child’s abilities as an attack on their own child’s, sometimes they counter as though this were a negotiation of intelligence or a competition of IQ. Sometimes they’re intrigued, sometimes they treat your kiddo like a novelty, sometimes they walk away while you’re mid-sentence (someone really did this), but rarely do they just roll with it.

There’s this discomfort, an uneasiness, about discussing your child’s giftedness. There’s almost a tangible guilt in the air when you discuss your child’s abilities with friends who are parenting kids who struggle academically or developmentally. We invent resentment, create tension that may not even be there. It must be nice… we imagine they’re thinking. What must they think of my child? We worry they’re comparing, sighing, feeling misunderstood or dismissed themselves. We rush to include the list of their weaknesses, the areas where our gifted children struggle. To make our kids more human? To make ourselves more relatable? To paint a clearer picture of our reality? To encourage our friend that they’re not alone in the struggle? Why is it that we feel the need to discount our children in order to feel less insecure? What kind of social arrangement requires struggles to make achievements more palatable? 

These kids of ours are different. They and their abilities stand out (yet their struggles so often seem to be invisible). Any parent is allowed to be proud of their child, so why should we feel the need to minimize or apologize for our kids’? I am genuinely happy for my friend whose child was finally approved for reading tutoring, thrilled for the friend whose son worked incredibly hard to finally pass that math test. I don’t compare their kids to mine and I don’t lessen their accomplishments because their struggles are different from my own children’s. My kids are gifted, and sometimes they’re just gonna gift. It’s time that we stop apologizing for it. 

Related: The Gift of Giftedness , 100 Hints That Your Child May Be Gifted

It’s time we stop sheepishly saying the word “gifted”.

It’s time we stop minimizing what makes them so unique.

It’s time we discuss their struggles openly, without assuming we’re being dismissed.

It’s time we stop allowing their struggles to be dismissed at all. 

It’s time we take advantage of gifted programming without feeling like we’re leaving someone out.

It’s time the world accepts our children, their gifts, their battles, their intensity, without prejudice, jealousy, stereotype, or eye-rolling.

It’s time we show the world how to treat these kids of ours by being the example, by not shying away from what or who they are. 

My kids are gifted. I didn’t push it, cause it, or train it. They were born this way, and we live this way. These are the grades they make, this is the cool stuff they do, these are the funny things they say, and these are the very real battles we face. I say this not in comparison to anyone else’s kids, without a hint of superiority or shame. My kids are gifted, and it’s time I let them just gift. 

The post Gifted Kids Are Gonna Gift appeared first on Raising Lifelong Learners.

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Throughout the year we are met with a list of loved ones to buy gifts for…. this takes thought, time, and creativity to find that perfect gift. The goal is to find that meaningful gift that they will love and use. This list of gift ideas can help you do just that.

There are a variety of items for every age group. There are some ideas for kids and you’ll even find some ideas for moms, teachers, and maybe even a neighbor. Just keep in mind that all of these gift ideas are for the bookworm on your list.

Decorative Bookends

There are so many creative and unique bookends out there. Take a few minutes to check out the ones that caught my eye. You might find some that you love too.

Octopus Bookend: Now this bookend resembles a sculpture much more than a book prop.

Blue Agat Bookends: These beautiful polished stones make great bookends thanks to their weight.

Gear Bookends: Use machine parts to keep books straight on the shelf.

Superhero Bookends: It appears as though a superhero is preventing a stack of books from tumbling over. There are also Superhero Girl Bookends!

     

Creative Bookmarks

Keep tabs on the spot you left off with these fun bookmarks.

Zipper Bookmarks: I love these bookmarks! They make it look as though there is a zipper on books!

Finger Point Bookmarks: Keep track of the exact spot you left off with the help of a pointer finger.

Handmade Wicked Witch Bookmark: The ruby slippers will keep your place in any book.

Mermaid Tail Bookmark: For all of the mermaid admirers who also happen to enjoy a good book.

Robot Bookmark: Beep. Bop. Boop. This robot is kept tucked away inside of the book while his feet dangle just to keep your place.

     

Amazing Gifts for Book Lovers

The items below include a little bit of everything. From silly bookworm socks to Hogwarts candles. You will find something for book lovers of all ages to enjoy.

Kindle E-Reader: Pick out a Kindle and give the gift of millions of books. These new versions are waterproof.

Knee-High Bookworm Socks: Too cute! Sport your reading obsession through socks!

Wizard of Oz Book Locket: A miniature book keeps two photos inside of a locket.

Professional Bookworm Mug: Use this to snuggle up with your favorite drink….. don’t forget

Comic Book Ornament: This ornament is filled with strips of a comic book! Very creative. You could also customize these by writing the year, or maybe even a name with a permanent marker.

Personalized Custom Embosser: Makes a perfect personalized embossed mark on the inside of a book page! You create your plates online, and they ship for free. You could also use it to make labels and other personalized stamps.

      

Secret Storage Book Box: Create a secret hiding spot within a few stacked books!

My Quotable Kid: Make a memoir of all the rememberable quotes that come out of kid’s mouths.

Rechargeable Booklight: Don’t let lack of light keep you from reading. Kids of all ages would love to have this gadget!

Library Tote Bag: You can fill this canvas tote with several books all while showing your love of reading.

    

To add a little extra to your book lovers gift you could include a Gift Box of Hot Chocolate Sticks along with a box of Gourmet Oreo Cookies to really make reading time a treat!

If you’re shopping for a kiddo and would like to include some books with your gifts, visit our Book Lists Page where you will find a ton of kids books.

How do you spoil the bookworm on your list? Share your favorite book gifts with us.

The post Amazing Gifts for Book Lovers appeared first on Raising Lifelong Learners.

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I cringe every time I sit near my kids as they use their chromebooks or the shared desktop computer. Hunt and peck. Hunt and peck. 

It’s excruciating. 

In fact, since typing takes them so long, in most cases my kids just use talk-to-text when they need to search for things, so they’re not getting any practical, hands-on practice with their touch typing. As clever as that feature may be, it won’t come in handy once they’re in a working office, taking notes in a college class, or really doing any kind of work on a computer. These kids have to learn to type.

Note: I received a family subscription to Typesy Homeschool and was compensated for my time in writing this post. I only share things I find valuable and my opinions are always my own.

As hard as it is to focus on handwriting and penmanship, especially with some executive function issues that tend to pop up, our society also demands competency when it comes to computers and typing. When my kids recently participated in online testing it became clear that it was time to take their typing skills up a few notches, and I could not have been more thrilled to hear from Typesy

Typesy is an online typing program that offers several different options, including homeschool family and co-op plans, boasting over 1500 lessons and an unheard-of 12-month satisfaction guarantee. The courses are available with unlimited downloads on all of your devices, so if a kiddo starts out on her Chromebook in the morning, she can pick up right where she left off on my MacBook later that afternoon. Not only will her work transfer, but the program adjusts and adapts to each learner’s needs so that she will begin to work on weaker areas as they emerge. 

My kids are a bit of a tough sell sometimes. They need buy-in, crave novelty, and are hard to motivate if the work isn’t something the deem valuable or exciting. Typing hasn’t always been at the top of the excitement list so it’s been a struggle getting them to improve their skills. With the Typesy games, however, my two youngest kiddos actually ask if they can practice their typing! The homeschool program we’re using comes with an interface I can use to keep track of all of my kids’ progress as they learn to type, and those games are working. The hunt-and-peck method they’ve been using has begun to evolve into a method using precision and memory, and this course is turning my kids into typists. My mama heart sings to hear the tap-tap-tap of well-placed words. 

Each lesson is presented by an actual person, a video with explanations and instruction, a feature my kids seem to appreciate and pay attention to. There are accompanying games and exercises, and as each child works the practice adjusts to meet their needs while reporting back to my parent interface with their progress. Having four kids take different levels of a single course could easily become confusing and disorganized, but every kiddo has their own profile set up that reports to me in one place what they’ve done, what remains, how they’re approaching their goals, and where they need some extra work. It’s user-friendly and organized with bright graphics and real-time results. This is so much more than simple memorization and muscle memory, it’s a program designed to engage and educate learners. Really, there’s not much more a homeschool mom could ask for! 

What I most appreciate, apart from the fun games, organization, and multi-device usability, is how Typesy actually teaches homeschool typing. The programs are designed to make students proficient in touch typing, a skill that will serve them well in any area where they ever find themselves working on a computer. There are no ads that pop up in the middle of games and Typesy offers unlimited 24/7 support – the focus really is on strengthening the typing skills of students of all ages. In fact, Typesy is so focused and successful when it comes to teaching touch typing that it is actually the same curriculum offered by many top schools. This is a program that is committed to doing what it says it will do, and I’ve seen the results. 

If you have got a kiddo who has struggled with their keyboarding, have been looking for a more engaging way to instruct your homeschooler in typing, or maybe just want a program your kids can use on their own that you know you can trust, Typesy is an absolute homerun and has multiple options to choose from to best suit your family’s needs. Sign up now and enjoy years’ worth of lessons for your whole family! 

The post The Best Homeschool Typing Program | Typesy Homeschool appeared first on Raising Lifelong Learners.

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