Kids With Disabilities Shut Out of Gifted Programs According to Study


So, I just read this article that explains, among other things, how new data shows that kids with disabilities are shut out of gifted programs.  I have seen this first hand.

First, back in my day in grammar school, I was a straight A student (except penmanship), always had creative projects, and always scored 96-99% on my Iowa tests, yet I was not included in the gifted and talented program until 6th grade when I had a teacher that actually fought for me to be in there.  Nobody knew what dyspraxia was then, but I had it.  I was awkward, clumsy, and sloppy so I was left out of the program and my talents were ignored.

My dyspraxic, dyscalclic daughter with sensory issues was included in the enrichment program for one year, but for no apparent reason was left out the year after.  It happened to be the year we got her diagnosed and shared the diagnosis with the school.  Was this a coincidence?  Not sure.  She made the Principal's list and not many students did, had the most creative projects, won a poster contest, and was asked to present her work at a board of ed meeting, but still was not included.  As I mentioned before, she also never got the monthly "Terrific Kid" award in all her years in school while her friends received it multiple times.

Sadly, I agree that kids with disabilities get penalized for things that they have no control over and they miss out on opportunities to be challenged and to learn.

The other day I got a free download of gifted activities from a homeschool blog giveaway.  I printed out a logic activity for A.  I thought it said for ages 7-12.  She completed the activity, which was extremely hard, and then I realized that the paper actually said for grades 7-12. (She is 10 and in 4th grade).  I think this shows that she would have benefited and thrived from enrichment.

This is yet another benefit to homeschooling.  When you school your child yourself at home there is no boredom and busy work.  You can challenge your child and everything they do can be interesting and stimulating.  In addition to all the normal stuff, A learned how to diagnosis sickle cell anemia using genetics, build a cell phone, and build a digital camera.  She has done multiple research reports on animals and created plans to save endangered species.  She's worked on self esteem and looked within.  She knows all the major battles of the Revolutionary War.  This is just what I can think of off the top of my head.  The best part is that since I am doing all this with her, I can bring it up later and help her to apply the information in real life.

Not everyone has the opportunity to be schooled at home though, and even A will eventually be going back into school.  That's why we really need to advocate for our kids and ensure that they get the education and opportunities that they deserve.

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Computer Programming For Kids


I was just doing my lesson plans for this week and realized I really hadn't shared the computer programming resources we've been using yet.  They're too good to keep to ourselves!

Mainly, we are using Khan Academy's computer programming course.  A does it faithfully, one lesson per day.  It's great!  The lessons come in the form of video tutorials.  After watching how something is done, you then have access to the scratch pad to do it yourself or to tweak the code.  The kids can change the programs slightly to create new programs and really see how they work.  You can look at the spin off programs of others and make changes to those as well.  As kids complete courses, they earn virtual rewards.

As a supplement to Khan Academy, we also play games on Code.org.  These cute games are meant to introduce kids to programming so that they do not even realize they are learning.  Eventually, kids reach the point where they are building their own game!  (We haven't gotten there yet).

In addition to these amazing resources, there are some other sites I have heard about that teach kids programming as well.  Here are the others on my list to try:

Scratch

Tynker

Alice


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Your Child's Vestibular System: The Fidgeting, Zoning Out System


When your kid has dyspraxia, sensory processing disorders, and/ or ADHD, the vestibular system plays a huge a role.  When you understand this medically, you cannot blame the child.  My daughter did not ever get a monthly "terrific kid" award in all her years in school.  Her grades were pretty good and I was never told anything bad about her behavior (and I asked- A LOT!) but she was consistently marked down on her report card for "zoning out," "not following directions," "fidgeting," and "losing focus."



Zoning Out is something that cannot be helped.  Info just stops getting through for a bit.

Not Following Directions when you have an auditory processing disorder is usually due to not hearing all the directions.

Fidgeting is actually great for kids with dyspraxia, ADHD, and sensory processing disorders because it helps them keep focus and balanced.

Losing Focus happens when you have to put all your energy into being still.

It wasn't just the monthly awards- my daughter also went from being in enrichment to being left out of it and her grades were impacted because of the check marks given to her in these social-behaviorial categories.  My daughter's school was one of the first to use the new common core report card which I hated because it seemed to be more based on teacher opinion than facts.  With the old report cards you added numbers together and averaged them for your grade.  With this one it was all about interpretation.  You were graded 1-4 with 4 being the best, but the teachers said you could never really expect to get a 4 unless you creatively applied the information outside of just what happens in the classroom.  My daughter does this all the time, but the teachers said they did not see it and the behavior check marks seemed to impact the numbers...

Anyway, here is a video that explains in terms anyone can understand how the Vestibular System works.  Share this with your kids' teachers!


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Mystery and Detective Lessons

*This post contains affiliate links from Amazon, which means that if you click on one of the product links and buy something, I’ll receive a very small commission.


I am a Girl Scout leader for A’s troop and tonight the girls got their Detective Badge.  This was a lot of fun and I think it is something that might be enjoyed in (home) school as well so I decided to share it here.

Fourth grade seems to be the year of falling in love with mysteries.  A has read a ton of mystery books and played lots of mystery games this year.  She is also very into brain teasers now.  Detective is even a career option she is considering, along with veterinarian, artist, and actress, of course.

For the Junior Girl Scout detective badge we started off working on the power of observation.  A lot of troops do "Find the Difference" pages for this, but I think my girls are getting sick of doing paper work, so we used a cool book we have at home called Where is Strawberry Princess Moshi, which is sort of a cutesy Japanese Where’s Waldo.  My daughter has a thing for Japanese culture.


After we found some Moshi's we turned out power of observation onto one another.  The girls formed two lines facing each other.  Then one line went out into the hallway and they all changed one small thing about their appearance such as untying a shoe, removing a necklace, turning their sash around, etc.  They then had to guess what the girl across from them had changed.

Next we wrote messages in invisible ink.  I learned this here. We mixed equal parts of baking soda and water and wrote with Q Tips.  Each girl wrote a message.  It could be anything. One girl wrote, “I love One Direction.”  Another said, “I have an Instagram account.”  Some tried to create inspirational quotes.  When the messages were dry, we handed them back out randomly.  The girls then dipped tiny sponges in grape juice, dabbed it on the paper, and watched the messages appear.  It worked well.  I was glad because I hadn’t had time to test it at home first!

Later, the girls used an ink pad to take their own fingerprints.  They looked at a handout to see what kind of patterns their prints have. Some of the girls got fixated on trying to get the ink off their hands after.  Others like my kids, couldn't have cared less that her fingers were stained black.  Just an FYI though- black ink pads will stain the fingers.  The baking soda from the invisible ink helped get it off some.

I then had the troop solve their own mystery in order to find their snack.  They found clue number one in an envelope in the classroom.  In there was the same code George Washington used during the Revolution where Z=A, Y=B, X=C, etc.  When decoded, the message said, “Your next clue can be found under a chair.”  The troop them had to search under all the chairs until they found clue number 2 which had a picture to decode.

This read, “I believe you should go to the swings.”

Excited, they rushed outside and found the third clue taped to a sign near the swings.  This one had letters to unscramble and told them that the snack was in the front seat of my car!

While having snack we learned a little more about the science of being a detective.  I had some information from the FBI kids site about polygraphs, DNA, and special computer programs the FBI uses.

Voila!  Detective Badge complete.

Here are some resources if your child loves mysteries as much as mine does!

Here are some of the mystery books A has enjoyed:





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Little Passports Giveaway!


**The links in this post are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link. More on this at the bottom of this post.

Little Passports 12 Month Subscription Giveaway + Melissa and Doug Toys

 

I am really excited to be able to offer the opportunity to my readers to WIN a year's subscription to Little Passports.  Personally, I love this product. I think it is a great way to mix up the social studies lessons and to enhance what your child is learning about geography and history.  Your child gets to know two characters, Sara and Sam, who travel from place to place and send your child stickers, letters, souvenirs, photos, and more every month.  Your child also receives activity sheets to do and is given access to online games.  The first month is particularly adorable because your child receives a passport, suitcase, and map in preparation for all the upcoming trips!  

In celebration of Little Passports turning 5, they are granting their affiliate bloggers the ability to offer their readers the chance to win their very own year long subscription to the program and that's not all!

That's right! You can win a 12 month subscription to one of the best learning tools for your children, Little Passports. Enter now and you could have your own subscription by the end of the month as well as some of the hottest toys on the market from Melissa and Doug! This prize is valued at $250, but let's be serious...you cannot put a price on your child learning fun facts about the world we live in! Little Passports allows your child to develop knowledge on all kinds of different historical figures, eras, locations and traditions, turning them into a true citizen of the world. And YES...it is super fun! The deadline to sign up to win this prize is April 25th. If you miss out on this weeks opportunity, don't fret...There is one more week of giveaways to enter. Use the link below:

http://platform.votigo.com/fbsweeps/sweeps/Birthday-Giveaway




** As you may know, I am a work at home mom, and I also have a work at home blog: Work at Home Wisdom.  One of the opportunities I talk about and take advantage of myself to make ends meet, is affiliate marketing.  I recently became an affiliate of Little Passports because I love the product and I believe in it.  Because I am an affiliate, if you were to order Little Passports by clicking on the link in this post, I would receive a small commission.  I do not receive anything for you entering the contest.
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"I Don't Like You!"




It perplexes me when kids say they do not like someone.  My family and I, we do not dislike anyone unless someone has done something to hurt us.  Our default setting is that we like you and it takes a lot of reprogramming to change that.

I know in high school and, sadly, well beyond people begin to judge others by things like what they look like or imagined slights, but I feel like it is so strange for young kids to have it in them to dislike someone for no reason at all.

I am bringing this up because of a situation with my daughter.  She has a good friend that she has been close to since pre-school.  This friend also has someone in her neighborhood that she plays with.  So when my daughter goes over there, they all play together.  Therefore, my daughter considers this other girl her friend also.  We see this girl around sometimes at different activities in town.  She ran in a fun run with my son and my daughter cheered her on.  She has been at events at the library and my daughter has played with her.  She has been at girl scout parties and dances and my daughter will ask her to come over and play with her and her troop.

So, recently my daughter’s BFF informed her that this other girl said she does not like her.  I guess my daughter asked the girl if this was true the next time she saw her and the girl bluntly replied that, “Yes, I don’t like you.”

A rolled with it. She went back to her friends and had a good time.  She told me about the incident very nonchalantly.  But still, OUCH!  I mean, that hurts when someone says that, especially if you did nothing to deserve it!

Then there are other scenarios like with certain groups of friends that she has where the girls like to gang up and leave one person out all the time.  The person who gets left out usually varies.  One person will not be invited and the rest of the girls will talk badly about that girl while she is not there.  I do not allow this.  If A is having a sleepover or playdate she is to invite them all so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings.  If it is not possible to have them all, then she only has one of them and will invite the others one at a time at other times.  Leaving just one person out is not an option.  I also correct the kids if I hear them talking badly about a friend, so now they usually whisper as if I do not know what they are doing.  Thankfully I do not hear my daughter participate in this.  The most I have heard her say is “Wow that’s mean,” or “Oh my goodness,” as a response to the gossip.  

Last year my daughter was the one who was usually left out.  The other 3 or 4 girls would traipse off and go have sleepovers, openly talking about in front of my kid. Sometimes they would leave her standing alone at an event and go whisper together.  Again, A never expressed that she was upset by this and she never commented on it, but it made me hurt for her.  

Despite what has been done to her, we continue to not do the same to others.  I have heard some of her “friends” be downright cruel to her at times.  There are certain ones who are really sweet and others who just insult everyone and say things like “You’re an idiot!”  I have seen my daughter tell her friend that she really has to use the bathroom and then watch her friend run into the bathroom ahead of her just to cause her suffering.  Yet still I remind myself that these are children and they know not what they do.  We don’t want to cause them pain.  They must already have some pain inside to lash out this way.  Even the kids who disrespect me and refuse to follow my rules, I still do not leave them out.

This is partially why I think it was so difficult for A to excel in school.  She thought of everyone as her friend, but some days she would come home crying because she got picked on, insulted, or ignored.  I am not saying my kid is perfect by any means, but I honestly do not think she ever tries to hurt anyone on purpose.

I think this bothers me so much because it triggers memories of my own childhood.  It was probably later for me, junior high or so, when random girls who I did not even know would decide for no reason that they disliked me.  They’d say to me, “I don’t like you.”  They’d insult my clothes, make fun of how I walked or played sports, and call me names.  Like Abs, I was dyspraxic.  I was too much in my own head and had little control over my body.  This gave other kids a lot of material.  Inside I was so upset, pathetically wondering what I had done to deserve this.  But on the outside I closed myself off from everyone.  I also withdrew from most activities so I would never stand out and be on display to be scrutinized.  I was a straight A, super smart student and I dropped out of taking honors classes so I could no longer be called a nerd.  Eventually, my friends and I, we who had been hurt at home and at school, sort of dropped out of everything altogether and made a conscious decision to stop caring about anything.   We became party girls,we laughed at everything and we stopped trying.  This took the pain away.

If I had been taken out of school and homeschooled my life would have been so different.  I could have concentrated on my work and continued to excel.  I would have wound up in college early and I would have been a success.  I don’t have any regrets because I love my family, I love my life, but I sure don’t want my kids to have to experience what I did.

The thing is, I never thought A would experience this.  She is so friendly and outgoing.  I was shy and awkward, a glutton for punishment.  I let things bother me, I cried a lot.  A genuinely likes everyone and if someone is mean to her she just moves on until that person gets over it.  She goes out of her way to talk to people if they are alone, even when it is uncomfortable to do so.  She makes sure to keep in contact with all of her friends, even those she meets on vacations who live far away.  She just is a natural at friendship.  For me, it was always hard because I was always so afraid to trust and put myself out there.

I just do not understand how kids can be so mean to one another or why their parents allow it.  Their parents know full well when their kids are excluding someone and talking badly about them and they somehow give this a stamp of approval.  They even participate by not inviting the other child!  Why?  Probably because they do the same thing to the other moms, too.

I guess if you get a high from putting us down and treating us poorly and if that is what makes you feel good about yourself, all I can say is, “Fine, glad to be of service.”  I suppose you are doing me a service as well for bringing these painful memories to the surface to be dealt with.  Personally, I do not like your brand of fun, and maybe, finally, I am going to feel okay about us saying, “We don’t like you either.”
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The P Words





Puberty and period. There I said them.


Girls are going through these P words earlier than they used to either because of some weird evolutionary shift or, more likely, because we load our farm animals up with hormones which then get transferred to our children.

Because I have seen the weepy eyes and the irrational anger coupled with inexplicable stomach pains, I thought it best that I let my daughter know about menstruation, just in case it happens some time soon.  She is ten now and I was only eleven when it happened to me.  My mom was eleven, too.  My grandmother had only been ten.  We start early in my family.

It was uncomfortable to bring the topic up.  I wish I could say it wasn't and that I am the coolest, hippest mom ever who can talk to her daughter about anything, but I felt weird about it.  I didn't want her to have to know about this.  I don't want her to have to go through it.  The fact that she gets completely grossed out when we discuss anything having to do with the body did not help matters.

I don't think I showed my feelings as I explained things to her.  It turns out she already knew about periods and she informed me that she did not want to talk about it because "it's gross,"  but we talked about it anyway.

We watched this nice, innocent Disney movie from the 50's that made everything seem simple and tidy.


This movie does not discuss the S word at all which I was grateful for. I'm not ready for that yet. Only now I worry that she might know about this, too. My son, wanting to have a baby brother or sister, told my husband to kiss me on the lips so that he would get one. My daughter said to him, "That's not how it works. It's grosser than that." So I guess I better not wait too long to talk to her about that one either.  I downloaded a free PDF book online called "The Talk" which is seven lessons on explaining sex to kids from a Christian perspective.  I think I will use that.  Only I was hoping not to have to use it for a few more years....
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My Own Experience With Dyspraxia


I saw this picture on Facebook posted by Dyspraxic Me via Fixers UK.  The UK is light years ahead of us with Dyspraxia.  They have it out in the open and talk about it all the time.  They have a good understanding of what people with dyspraxia go through and they are learning to tolerate it and work with people on it.

Here in the US, a lot of the doctors we have seen have no idea what dyspraxia even is!  The first developmental pediatrician I saw kept asking me, "Where did you even get this word from?"  She diagnosed A with ADHD.  She said even if it was dyspraxia A would get more services with an ADHD diagnosis.  She said I should go to an OT for a dyspraxia diagnosis.  OT's seem better versed in dyspraxia and when we finally got in with one after an endless waiting list they did think it was dyspraxia, as I had, only they said that only a doctor could diagnosis, so we had to start over again!  It was very frustrating!

Anyway, when I saw this picture I said to myself, "Yup that's me!"  Once I drove I learned my right from left better because I was able to associate right with up on the blinker and left with down.  Then I could look at the arrows to see which way to go.  Eventually, I learned that when you go left you cross over and when you go right you are on the same side of the street.  I got my license at 19, but I really had no business driving until I was about 23 or 24.  Things did not really click in until then.  If I am not driving, I sometimes still have to hesitate a second before I know which way is right and which way is left.  I have more awareness now than I ever did, but I am 38 now.  It took this long.

It also took this long for me to roller skate (slowly) and be able to do an aerobics DVD and actually somewhat keep up with the people on screen.  I used to get chewed out by teachers for my messy desk and horrible handwriting.  I mean, I was humiliated in front of the whole class.  It did not matter that I got all A's in everything else, the teachers would call me a slob and hold up my messy work in front of everyone.

I'd get yelled at in gym class by teachers and by students who had the misfortune of being on my team.  I'd get yelled at by my dad when we played catch in the backyard. I could not even walk from one place to the other without being taunted for how I did that. I stopped being active to avoid the embarrassment. 

I tried cheer leading, softball, art, baton twirling.  I could never get it and the embarrassment was too much to bear so I quit.  People were not understanding. They laughed at me or yelled at me.  I never learned to swim above water and I was unable to dance.  I wanted to disappear.

I remember feeling so worthless, so fat, so ugly.  Only now looking back do I see that I wasn't any of those things.
The talents and gifts that I did have I threw away because I thought they were no good just like the rest of me.  I thought people were just trying to make me feel better because I was so defective.  I tried to hide myself, camouflage myself in other people.

When you have dyspraxia you have such little awareness of your body.  Yet you have an over abundance of awareness in your head.  You are so self conscious it's painful.  You pick up on so much around you, every snicker, every giggle at your expense.  What I would have given to be blissfully ignorant! I read and watched a lot of TV to escape.  When I got older I was a phone-aholic.  Even older and I became a trouble maker to ease my mind. Lashing out felt good.

It kills me to see my daughter suffering with dyspraxia now.  I am trying everything to make sure she does not wind up like me.  I want people to learn about this neurological difference and understand it.  I tried hard, probably too hard, to get her to learn things early to avoid the scrutiny that I suffered.  I think that was a mistake, too much pressure.  She was in dance at age 2.  Swimming lessons, drama class, soccer all by age 4 or 5.  I did not know about dyspraxia then.  I just thought if I started her early she would get it and be better off than I was.  I think all I did was succeed in making her feel bad about herself early on.

The last couple of years were so hard on her in school and I recognized this. I never thought she'd suffer like I did because she has so much of what I don't.  She is outgoing, funny, cool, independent, brave, and determined.  Yet still I saw that same pain.

I only wish my husband could understand.  He thinks homeschooling was wrong.  He thinks because I am not a licensed professional that I cannot give her a good education and he is against just about anything outside of the status quo.  He doesn't know that if I had been homeschooled that I'd be a brain surgeon right now or a physicist.  He doesn't know that if I had avoided all those things that made me feel worthless and scared I would have let my creativity come through in writing and art.

My daughter learned more this year than in all her school years combined!  She also gained confidence.  At first, she thought she could never do math, ride a bike, or play music, but she has done all these things this year and more.

Anyway, the purpose of this post is to inform people about Dyspraxia and inspire them to learn more. Teachers- don't be so hard on students.  Even if it does not look like there is something wrong with them per say, sometimes they cannot help what they do and they simply cannot do any better, not yet.  Parents, be patient and be kind.  Kids- stop being cruel.  Don't hurt others just because it's easy.

If you care and want to help, next time you order from Amazon, go to Amazon Smile and choose Dyspraxia USA as your charity.  You do not have to pay anything, but when you order Amazon will give to them.  Friend Dyspraxia USA and other organizations focused on Dyspraxia on Facebook and share their information.  Look it up for yourself, read the symptoms, and spread the word.




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