Autism and Homeschool

Homeschool at the park!

It has been quite a while since I’ve posted an update. These past several months have been out of the ordinary with Covid causing schools to offer virtual or in person school, but with a lot of new regulations to keep kids safe. It has caused all families to determine what is best for their family and their kids. Marissa had a rough year last year, then spring was here and virtual learning did not go well either. We knew that we needed to find something that would work best for her. After a lot of discussion and prayer, we decided to make the jump to homeschool for both our kids. It was the BEST decision we could have ever made. I know homeschooling isn’t for everyone and I completely understand. For me however, it seemed like a good fit and things just all fell into place. I knew I couldn’t continue working the same amount of time I had been and do homeschool. I moved from working 16 hours a week to now working 7 hours a week and it has worked great for me. I’m thankful for a flexible job/boss that has allowed me to work from home in the afternoon after the kids have completed their school work.

So, how does homeschool work for Marissa? Honestly, it has been so great. There is NEVER a fight to get the day going. She knows that once 9am hits, it is time for school to start. She loves that she can do school in her PJ’s and almost everyday is a PJ day for her until after lunch when we spend some time outside. I get to focus on the things she loves to learn about and can really dive into the things that she is curious about. We dissected Owl pellets for science and it was SO fun for her (and Jacob)! We watch YouTube videos about animals and places that we are learning about almost every day. We also can really focus our efforts on coming up with tools and rewards for her doing things she hates (like math).

We use Masterbooks for Math, Language Arts and Geography. I chose them because they are very simple which is what Marissa needed for Math specifically. I looked at other math curriculum and the print was so small and there were so many problems on one page that I knew it would be overwhelming to her. Overall we have been happy with their curriculum. We use Apologia for science. It is very wordy, but a favorite for our kids, so it doesn’t bother them too much because we always find videos afterwards to learn more. Have you ever seen Brave Wilderness? It is one of our favorites on YouTube right now! “Coyote Peterson” travels all over the world and has encounters with all different kinds of animals and teaches all about them. So fun! So, I spend a couple hours each Sunday finding videos and preparing myself for the week and making sure we have the supplies we need. That is all! Super easy!

The goals that we’ve been working on in therapy are also worked on during school. Everything flows together and the same systems are in place for school as they are for home. Even though we have had our share of rough days, usually they are followed by a much better day. Just a couple weeks ago, she spit a mouth full of water into my face because her math was difficult and she didn’t want to do it. That was a tough day, but after not earning her screen time that day, she completely turned it around for the next day so she could get all her screen time. Everything flows together so nicely and the same strategies are shared through school and into the evening.

One cool thing is that our ABA therapy lines up with three of our school days/times. So, the therapist is able to help Marissa apply what I’m teaching her and help her do her work. It works perfectly. I also have two days that I am on my own with both kids and after some adjustment, we are getting it done and thriving. Marissa is making slow progress on independence with some things. She is able to get her work out by herself and turn to the page that she needs to do for the day. She tries to do the work on her own and asks questions if needed. She needs more one on one help with Math, but the rest she does fairly well on her own.

One of the most fun parts about homeschool is the field trips and school at the park! This year was so nice and the coldness held off. We did many school days at the park before it got too cold. We have also had field trips to a pumpkin patch, Grand Rapids Public Museum, Dutch Village, John Ball Zoo, The Critter Barn and lots of time at the library. Marissa LOVES to do field trips and I love it when what they learned about comes alive in front of them. When we went to the zoo, we saw an animal we had just studied made out of legos and Jacob noticed it right away. We had a great discussion about what we learned on that animal. I was so excited and proud of the connections that were being made. Being able to connect our school learning to family things we are doing is SO fun! Field trips have slowed down for now because of the rise in Covid numbers, but we are looking forward to starting those back up when we can. In January, we are starting to study US Geography and hope that we will be able to spend some of our summer visiting some of the places we learn about.

John Ball Zoo

Another great thing about homeschool has been working on things that you don’t learn in school. Marissa has learned how to mow the lawn and do laundry. Jacob has learned how to fold laundry. They both have been working on special chores, earning and saving money for items they want to purchase. Also, their minds have become curious about things as we go out to the park and they see something they don’t recognize. If we see a bug we don’t know, we look it up and figure out what it is and what it does. It has been a journey of learning at our house! Covid has certainly caused a lot of chaos in our lives, but this is one thing that I’m so thankful for and something we will continue even long after.

Marissa's Mom

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