I made the correct decision

I just saw this memory (below) on my Facebook page, and it was so amazing to realize that 2 years ago I walked into the MOE and asked for an Exemption Application so that I could home educate Sophia.

I was so determined that I could do it, regardless of my doubts and fears, and here we are two years later, and I know I made the correct decision on that day.

Seeing the growth in Sophia and the changes in such a short time has been amazing. Not only in her, but myself as well and our family as a whole.

At the time I made the decision to file for exemption, Sophia was self-harming, had panic attacks, had insomnia due to the fear of the following school day, had a bunch of tics, said through tears that she hated herself, cried and begged not to go to school and was physically ill from stress and anxiety. Not to mention a lot of bruises on her which she had gotten in school.

Now, she is relaxed and confident, sleeps 10-12 hours every night, is rarely ill, has very few tics left (and only when in a stressful environment), she eats well and has truly discovered and likes her Self.

By her Self; I mean she has her own views and likes, she has discovered her love of art, she has found her love of video editing, she has found music enjoyable -including creating it, she knows which books she likes, she loves baking and cooking, She loves science experiments, she loves learning about other cultures and their history, and she is always trying to learn new ways of creating. She has taught herself several complicated computer software programs as well as computer programming. All this, is in addition to her regular studies and Cognitive and behavioral therapy we do at home.

It is so nice to see her redevelop that deep curiosity and love of learning that she had before starting school. She is constantly asking questions about a variety of topics which we then study until she is satisfied that she knows enough about it. She is also sharing the knowledge she has gained. She is willing to give anything a fair go as long as it is approached in the right way at the right time.

Our home is part library, part music studio, part museum, part artist studio and part cinema, but it will never be a classroom as such and learning happens all through the house, as well as in the world. Learning it is a lifelong venture, and we model that to her as well because we are natural seekers of knowledge and experience and it is no surprise that our kids would take after us in this way.

Max on the other hand, loves school and this is great. We allow him to choose how he wants to learn, but we also encourage his other passions. He has joined the cadets, Air Training Corps, and yesterday our sweet son was flying above the earth in a glider and had the best day learning something new and amazing. He hopes to be a pilot for the Air Force when he gets older, and that is awesome.

Sophia thrives at home, Max thrives at school, and I guess that is the key, finding here they excel and supporting them in any way we can. Letting go and allowing them to make choices for their future can be hard, as with Devin moving out, but as parents we hope all that we have taught them over the years is instilled enough courage, intuition and good sense for them to make good decisions and be the best version of themselves they can be. We are proud of all of them.

 Parenting is not easy, and some days you feel like you are not up to the task, but in the end, if you are doing the best you can for your children and truly allowing them to thrive, then you are doing a great job. Today I feel proud of us as parents, we are doing well.


MEMORY: March 20, 2015 at 8:57am

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Lydia, this picture is just like we were saying the other day. I went straight over and got my application from MOE just after our visit. Just another reason why we love you, thanks for helping me retain my clarity.

Goomy, Leafeon and an AJMV -Radioactive

In her science book today we did some pretty cool science visual illusions and experiments. It was interesting noting how her mind can only pick up certain shapes and the others must be pointed out, but even after pointed out, they disappear again to her if we turn the page and go back. (We will do some more of these to see if she increases the ability to spot the other shapes with repeated exposure to new ways of seeing.)

Somehow I forgot to post a picture of ‘Goomy’ (a Pokémon) that Sophia did last week.

goomy1ajartstudioThis art was created using the Paint programme in Animal Jam. Isn’t it glorious?

Today, she drew a Leafeon (another Pokémon) but tried something different using SAI Paint Tool. She decided to lighten the opacity of the outlines and it looks amazing. She has developed a new style again, and it is pretty cool to witness her developing art style.

This character is based on Leafeon and she calls it Fern. She will be trying some other positions and backgrounds while she is developing this OC.

Also today she finished an AJMV (Animal Jam Music Video) she was working on. It is a remix of the song Radioactive by Imagine Dragons (one of her favourite bands.)

Here is the link to it on her YouTube channel.

This AJMV was done using Screencast-o-matic to capture the green screens from Animal Jam, and Camtasia Studios for putting it together.

I think she did an amazing job with her colours, concept, wording and keeping the rhythm.

I also love the way she is moving the character around on the page and adding more large wording.

She had a missed typo (cathing instead of catching) but she knows, and will be editing that.

She is upstairs doing more artwork, so I will just let her continue with her creative flow.

Sophia is in the creative zone today, and that is great for me, because I am too.

 

First Day of Year 6

Today we started Year 6 at Lawless Academy. Yay!!

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It started out a bit rough, just getting back into routine, but we got through it.

Sophia has a hard time writing with a pencil so she had a bit of a hard time doing her book work, but she did finish it.

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We may need to move her up to the next grade book as she is getting bored with the problems and whizzes through them verbally, but won’t write the answers in them. This is frustrating to us both because she knows the work, but we need written records.

Although, if I do the pages verbally and the tests written, that could be enough to prove she has learned the material. (Hmmm, I may qualify as her Reader-Writer because I am her teacher. I will ask Cynthia about my options.) Alternatively, I can edit the books we have, or create our own based off of them but make them all about Pokemon or her other special interests.

I may give these ideas a go and allow her to move ahead in her work to the grade/age level she is more comfortable with, so that it keeps her attention. I will discuss it with her; I am sure she will love these ideas.

I usually show her all of her workbook work at the beginning of the year and she knows when she finishes it, she is done for the year. She usually does the whole year’s work in the first two terms, due to a combination of wanting to be done with it and her ability to pick things up so quickly that she can figure most of it out on her own without needing instruction or assistance.

I will buy (and edit or use as a template) the next couple of years up in workbooks, and she can just keep going if she wants to see how far she can go, but I will only have them here if she wants to do them, but not make her do them.

She still loves doing digital art and video editing, although that has slowed a bit compared to the past two years. She is moving in different directions with her creativity, she really loves cooking, projects, painting and crafting at the moment so we will be doing more of that this year.

We will also be doing more gardening and science experiments, especially with growing things as she absolutely loves observing the process, and it gets us outdoors more and helps feed the family.

She also received some amazing books from her Aunties in the states, on Big Cats so I imagine she will be doing something with those as she loves writing about Big Cats… well any cats really.

Also she has a new emotes journals for critical thinking and exploring who she is and what she likes. Getting to know herself as her own person is awesome. She wants to start on them, this will be up to her, but it is a great tool for decoding who she really is becoming as a young woman. (Plus it helps her practice her writing. 😉 )

One activity I absolutely love, is that since daddy taught her to ride her bike, she rides everyday and it has a great calming effect when she starts to get stressed.

This is a great tool for calming her body, as she is self inspired to use it and knows she can at any time, and usually she gets straight into her work afterwards. We usually ride our bikes together as I love it too and it is great exercise as well as makes us have fun playing together.

We also will be doing Tae Bo (an exercise programme) this year as she finds kicking and punching the air good to calm, she never aims it anyone, but it had me thinking how much I loved Tae Bo as it helped me regulate my body and my emotions.

  • Total commitment to whatever you do
  • Awareness of yourself and the world
  • Excellence, the truest goal in anything you do
  • (the) Body as a force for total change
  • Obedience to your will and your true desire for change

We have already started learning about puberty and the body and we will continue to do more of this as well. I got some special information about puberty and Asperger’s sent to us from All Together Autism, and it is great material.

Sophia also plays Age of Empires (version three is her favourite) with her brother and dad and absolutely loves it. This is a huge teaching tool for history, and social studies (as well as commerce, building villages, battles, producing food, building armies, hunting, etc.) and it peaks her interests and she asks about historical figures in the game which we then research.

Soph would also like to visit Japan this term with her Passport Studies. She has some ideas of what she wants to learn and write about, and has asked to learn some of their language as well, so we will be getting some supplies from the library (and some friends).

Next term we will be re-visiting France in Passport Studies, as she wants to go more in depth into the language and culture. She has already been teaching herself french words by playing in the French server of Animal Jam. (Clever monkey.)

Mexico was the other place she wants to visit with Passport Studies, so that will be term 3; she also plays in the Spanish servers and loves to learn from Max when he comes home and tells her what he learned in Spanish.

We have not decided the destination for term 4, we will have to see what peaks her interest.

This may seem like  a lot, but for a kid whose mind is always going, anything less and she would get bored and grumpy.

Most of these areas can be tied into the Passport Studies so it is actually a nice smooth rounded way for her to learn. With learning the currency, science, historical figures, language and scriptures, and by doing some art, listening to or playing some music and sampling and cooking the foods, she gets a broader view of each country while lightly touching on all her subjects in a tangible and practical way.

We also can ‘extend our visas’ if she finds she wants to explore a country longer and push the others forward a term, or have short ‘stopovers’ if she wants to visit more. This is what is so awesome about Home educating; we can change our schedule to whatever works for her curiosity and learning.

I am really looking forward to this year and seeing what she can accomplish and how she develops. She has grown so much in so many ways the past couple of years.

She rarely has anxiety anymore and her meltdowns are less violent and pass more quickly as she is able to self regulate more easily now.

Her Tourette’s Syndrome / Tic Disorder has not yet been diagnosed, we wanted to wait to see if the tics stopped and they have not. It has been a few years now that she has had the tics.We may talk to her Autism Pediatrician this year and get the diagnosis if he feels it would help her in the future.

She still has some of the old tics and some new ones, but they are waxing and waning. Some are barely noticeable unless you know her and some are pretty obvious. If is she is tired or stressed they appear to increase or become more obvious. Max also has tics, as do I. This is another reason home educating is good for us as she will not get bullied for her tics like her brother has at school. (As did I.)

Here is a great video I found, on Tics to help get a better understanding of some of they ways that they present. The boy in this video gave a great description, and I feel the same way – it feels like a build up in your muscles and joints, and you have to make the movements or sounds for relief. It overrides and worry of social stigma for the moment.

Thank you for stopping by to read about our home education journey.

Feel free to leave any comments or questions and like our posts.

It will be a good year.

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Puberty – Educational Video 6:8 vagina and menstruation

I came across these excellent EDUCATIONAL videos on Puberty, from Norway.

They have English subtitles but I found them pretty awesome. This is for open minded people who don’t see any shame in the body.

These are very well done. There are 8 in the series, and you can watch them in order, or play them as the questions come up. This is the approach we are taking.

Sophia and I have been talking a lot about menarche (the first occurrence of menstruation), monthly menses and how our bodies change through puberty and continue to change throughout life.

We have been discussing her breast development and how the mammary glands provide milk and how breasts are all different sizes and shapes, etc.

Also we have been discussing  changes in her shape; her waist, hips, legs, buttocks, etc. and how she may look in a  few years and of course, about body hair.

So this was such perfect timing, to find this series of videos.

 

I watch them first so that I can prepare her for what is coming and we discuss what is in the video before we watch it, just in case she has an aversion to something.

I like that they are visual and artistic in the way they are presented. I also like how everyone is comfortable talking about and showing their bodies throughout the videos.

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Here she is discussing tampons and pads

They are done in a tasteful way and are very natural. Real bodies, fun facts, and humour in a very relaxed teaching style.

Remember, this is from Norway, and they are not afraid of the human body so there is a lot of nudity.

(Be aware: They show the vulva of a young girl, a pubescent and a woman to show how the body changes. However with the woman, they do explore the vulva in depth, showing the venus mound, labia and clitoris and show all the parts. The internal; vagina and cervix are shown on a dummy and the ovaries and uterus are drawn on a nude woman in an artistic way with body pens.)

If you are offended by seeing a vulva, vagina, labia, clitoris, breasts, penis, testicles, etc. then do not watch these videos. (Although it may do you some good to look at what you are afraid of and explore why that is so. You may find it is because you were not taught with such great videos lol)

I also love how they state that all labia are different sizes as I know many girls worry about labia size, in fact labiaplasty is one of the most sought after plastic surgery for teens. So showing them these videos so that they know that they are perfectly normal and not in need of surgery, is definitely a plus!

Also, talk to your girls about boys and how they should never change their body for a boy -because the most common reason (according to the surgeons) why those girl are wanting surgery is because their boyfriend asked them to. Because there is a false perception about labia due to what they are taught in sex education via a 2d drawing with minimal labia.

Sophia really liked this video: 6:8 vagina and menstruation. She said it was very educational and answered questions she had such as: “How much blood do we loose during our period?” and “How much is that compared to what is in our bodies?

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Here she is showing the average shed during menses.

Next, we will watch episode 2:8 Breasts as she has some questions about how they develop. I have watched it and it has some great information, which I will talk about in more detail, in the post when we watch it.

I believe knowledge frees us from fear, and when it comes to puberty all girls and boys are fearful for they have no idea what is happening to their bodies. When you compound that with Autism, it can be very scary as they often do not like change.

I also believe that the more we know about both bodies, the better we are able to understand human interactions and sexuality. (Age appropriate of course.) I will let her ask, and when she is ready we will explore each one.

We will write a post about each episode/video we watch, and document how Sophia responded to them; what she found good, and what bothered her or questions she may have had.

So far, nothing bothered her so this one (episode 6) was great as it had some things that she did not know how to ask -or how to put her thoughts into words to form the questions.

Sushi and the park

After we did our work this morning, we went out to lunch with Daddy.

Sushi is a great motivator for schoolwork! 😉

 

Then we went to one of our amazing parks for some exercise and physical therapy.

Sophia about gave me a heart attack today. When we arrived her hat blew off of her head and she ran after it. Straight over the guard rail at the park, and into the street.

She knows better, but that tunnel vision of catching her favourite hat overrode her sense of danger. I am so thankful that no cars came around the corner and hit her, as it is a very busy street.

It was a reminder to me of how she has no sense of danger in some cases and how I must be closer to her as my yelling at her to stop did not break though her focus on the hat.

After thanking the Angels for watching over her, I talked to her about how a car could have killed her as they would not have seen her bending down and running in between cars that were parked.

I reminded her that I will get anything that leaves the park fences, no matter what it is.

She was quite upset when she realised what she had done and I had to be sure to not drive the message home too hard, yet strong enough to hopefully stick in her mind.

I had her pull her hood up over her hat so that it would not blow away again.

This park has great equipment for working on balance and strengthening muscles.

She really likes the activities and I do them with her so it is more fun.

She brought along her handheld microscope and checked out some flowers, leaves and twigs. This is such a great device because it is portable and it works well.

I let her play on the swing a long time as she goes into a zone on the swing and finds it very peaceful, she has always done this.

Then we went back home to be there four our Maximoo and made after school ice cream cones.

Yes, of course I had one too.

Another great day of learning and fun.

Later on, Sophia and I watched one of the videos in the series on puberty from Norway and had a great discussion.

See the post Puberty – Educational Video 6:8 vagina and menstruation

 

 

Bella Donna and book work

Sophia has finished these books over the week.

She really enjoyed the Bella Donna books.

We tried some loom band projects as well.

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We also did some book work and then she did some digital art and explored outside.

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Later on, she did some research for some videos she is planning.

Porridge, sodium and creativity

Sophia made her breakfast again today, she learned how to cook porridge (oatmeal) and put all the toppings on it.

She loves butter, brown sugar and raisins (only California raisins!) and almond milk.

I love how her newfound  independence is developing.

We have been working on making her more self sufficient as she gets older and it is nice to see her now self motivated with so many things.

Tomorrow will be laundry day for her, unless she decides to do it today – we are trying to maintain balance between being too stuck in routine, but yet routine enough to keep things done.

She is also working on some digital art and just turned around to tell me this joke:

“Mom,  was going to make a joke about sodium, but na…”

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Clever little monkey.

I have noticed that she has a knack for science, it appears to be her favourite workbook and she is breezing through it. She also loves doing experiments and animal sciences.

I found an awesome resource for the periodic tables where she can look them up and watch videos for each one, in her time when she is ready. Here is the link: TED-Ed Periodic Videos

It is  drizzly day here, and she is all curled up in a blanket, on the sofa in the lounge with her laptop.

Our duck is running all over the yard being crazy as she loves the rain and waddles about flapping in circles like a wind up toy.

I love days like this, it energizes me and makes my all my senses feel alive.

Sophia has been alternating between drawing her OC (Original Character) based on MLP, watching old MLP episodes for inspiration for her new character, working on a showcase video for her art contest she hosted and creating music on ACID music Studio for her soundtrack album she is creating for her YouTube videos.

I love watching how her mind works in a non-linear fashion, just like mine -especially when she is feeling creative.

Days like this give me time to get caught up on my writing, as my desk is in the lounge.

I will get back to that, as soon as I finish darning these socks.

I hope you are having a great day.

I will try and remember to add the links to her finished works from today after she posts them, but you can always look on her Google+ or YouTube to see what she has been up to.

 

Lining up cats, livestream, swimming and salmon

Another beautiful Sunday morning. Perfect weather and a great day planned.

Sophia started off playing with her blocks and cats, I love that she enjoys these old wooden toys so much.

She pulled all of her cats out first and lined them up, then added her blocks.

After that she got all set up for her YouTube livestream that she had scheduled.

After lunch we all put on our suits and went to our local swim centre.

This was a big deal for me as I have not been in years. Sophia was always was afraid I would get hurt and got really anxious if I wanted to swim with her. This day however, she said I could go too and I was pretty stoked to be back in the water.

We had so much fun playing keep-away and swimming together. It was just Sophia, Daddy and myself this time, and we had great fun.

We were so lucky in that they had the paddle boats out. She gave it a go and liked it, but not for too long. It was so brave of her, she just walked over and asked to go all by herself! They were so kind and helpful with her.

At least I snapped one picture before I got in the pool.

After swimming we went and got an ice cream at the dairy and then went grocery shopping to pick our favourite things for dinner.

Sophia and I love salmon, and daddy loves steak and mushrooms (or as we call them: yuckrooms), I had asparagus that we got from Brent’s employers/our friend’s, and Sophia loves peas; so we had those as well.

Brent and I cooked it together, and it was all so delicious .

Another great day, and we were all pretty tired by bedtime.

Animal Jam essay

Animal Jam is a safe online kids game made by WildWorks, in partnership with National Geographic. In Animal Jam, you can create your own animal in the online world of Jamaa. You can make online friends, play games to earn gems, come to parties, play adventures, and decorate your den and animal.

The friend list on Animal Jam is called the buddies list. So far, you can have up to 200 buddies. You can also buddy your friends and family who play Animal Jam. If you feel safer only buddying people you know, that is completely fine. If you want, you can click the settings button in the top right corner of the screen and turn off buddy requests, and you can unbuddy anyone at any time. If you don’t feel comfortable buddying someone, you can always decline their buddy request.

The journey book in Animal Jam is an educational scavenger hunt book. There is a page for every land in Jamaa. The way the journey book works is that there are shapes in the book that correspond with what you’re supposed to find. When you think you found one, click on it. If it’s correct, you’ll get a message in game that shows a real life picture of it and a couple facts about it. When you’ve got everything on one page, you’ll get a prize.

There are many adventures in Animal Jam that when you complete, you get a prize. In the adventures, there are secret hidden passages that have a treasure chest inside, and inside the treasure chest is usually gems. Sometimes, there are passages that can only be opened by being a certain animal. In some treasure chests there are cool clothing or den items. If you’re lucky, you could get a rare or a beta.

There are educational movies in the movie theaters that teach you about certain animals and facts about the world. New movies are in the movie theater almost every day. The facts in the movies are usually things you didn’t know about animals or the world. Did you know that there’s a lizard that squirts blood from its eyes as a defence mechanism? Eww!

There are fun games in Animal Jam that you can play to earn gems and cool achievements! My personal favourite games are Falling Phantoms and Jamaa Derby! In Falling Phantoms, you move your animal around with the left and right arrow keys to dodge the falling phantoms. In Jamaa Derby, you play as a horse and click to jump over obstacles. You also get 3 carrots, which, when you click one, you get a speed boost. Other games include Temple Of Trivia, Hedgehog, Best Dressed, and many more!

In Animal Jam, there are rules that you have to follow, or you’ll get reported. Rules include not sharing personal information, no scamming, no bullying, no inappropriate behaviour and more. If you see a Jammer who you think is breaking the rules, you can report them. Some players have tried to say that reporting does nothing, but AJHQ has said a couple times that when a player gets reported, a moderator reviews the account and if the player did do something bad, they will get suspended or banned. Be sure to follow the rules if you don’t want to get suspended or banned!

The Animal Jam trading system is where you can trade for other people’s items, or get trade requests yourself. Don’t trade items you don’t want to trade, because the other player doesn’t have to trade back! Scamming is a way of getting other people’s items unfairly, such as telling you to gift your part of the “trade” then they’ll gift their part. Sometimes they’ll even claim their trading is “broken” or “disabled”. This is a scam, and be sure to report them for scamming. Remember: It’s always okay to say no to a trade! If you’re not sure if a trade is fair, be sure to check the Animal Jam Wikipedia.

There are many more things you can do in Animal Jam, though some features (Such as being able to have all the dens, all animals, and all items) require a paid membership. There is a huge community built around Animal Jam, such as many blogs, YouTube channels, videos, and social media accounts. Animal Jam has made their own blog called The Daily Explorer, be sure to check it out! Animal Jam also has an Instagram account, YouTube account, Twitter account and more! If you ever need to find something out on Animal Jam, you can always look it up and you’ll be sure to find the answers for it.

8yellowcats / Sophia, 19/10/16

 

Beadwork and Digital Art

Today we got our supplies out and did crafting.

This was initiated by her after we had been out in the Red Tent tidying up.

Sophia decided to make a rainbow catcher for my Red Tent.

I love seeing how much more agile her hands are now when doing these projects.

She had an idea of the colours she wanted, but she had a lot of beads to choose from!

She counted out the beads to make a symmetrical pattern before stringing them onto the fishing line.

Here is the finished product and of course I absolutely love it!

 

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It is now hanging in the Red Tent.

I love days like this, when we can do crafting and talk about lots of memories and random questions about life, about anything she can come up with.

Later she did some digital artwork on her computer.

She did a ‘Fan Edit’ for someone. This is when you take an item in the game and transform it into the person’s character and send it to them as a gift.

In this case it was Gellyjone’s Fox character out of a Fox Plushie.

This is the pictures of before and after.

I think she did an amazing job!

Digital art is one of her passions, she just loves editing and creating things.

She also made a video earlier in the day.

 

 

Today was a good day for creativity, community and sharing (as well as other things.)

She was in a great mood, very happy and content today.

I love when she feels like this, it makes me realise how far she has come in the past two years.