From My Makeshift Homeschool to Yours

Crisis Schooling Day 2 & Time to Read Tuesday

Yesterday went pretty well at our house – how about yours? It was my first real “school day”, as I had been pretty slack before the break. The Junior High/High School boys have contact with their teachers through D2L and from what I can tell, I think it seems to be working fine. Jaxon thought today was VERY weird – video chatting with his teachers, having people pop in and out of the video and seeing his friends in their own homes, doing school. I logged onto both of the boys D2L accounts and did find some surprising info, like assignments that will be due and a novel Nate is supposedly reading. I have colour coded my kids and that’s how I keep track of their various activities in my bullet journal (life changer, if you haven’t heard of it…) so I think I will try to stay on top of their assignments this way in my BuJo (that’s what the cool kids call Bullet Journals…) since they might need a little extra help organizing their lives. Especially Jax, since that is one of the main things he struggles with ADHD-wise.

Still haven’t heard from Logan’s teacher, but that’s OK. We are going to keep going this week with what we started on Monday. We didn’t get to the writing and I’m actually kind of glad. Here’s why. I changed my mind. Today’s teacher tip: WRITING. I think the three best subjects you can cover for your children during this time are: math, reading, and writing. Don’t underestimate the importance of writing.

One of my FAVOURITE texts from my degree is a book called “The Art of Teaching Writing” by Lucy McCormick Calkins. It is a beautifully written text for ELA teachers, so I pulled it out again and started re-reading it. I absolutely LOVE the way she approaches writing for children. She believes that we are all writers and that at some point in our lives, writing was very meaningful to us. That writing should not be a chore, with brainstorm sessions, topic lists, or even prompt sentences. That writing should come out of the lives we live and the experiences we have. By valuing our children’s stories, we value them and we value their writing. Writers should have an audience, even if it’s only an audience of one.

“Writing allows us to hold our life in our hands and make something of it. We grow a piece of writing not only by jotting notes and writing rough drafts, but also by noticing, wondering, remembering, questioning, yearning…Writing….is not a process of recording details but one of making significance of them.”

She shares some of the simple stories that her students have shared from their lives over the years and how this has allowed her to get to know them and love them, and it was this that allowed them to love writing. Isn’t that beautiful? I learn so much from my children when I just listen to them, which is difficult in this day and age. I literally have to make myself listen sometimes – to turn off that podcast in the car I really want to listen to, to put down what I am doing, to stop talking and to hear their stories. And then I see a whole new side of the child that I bore and am raising and thought I knew so well. Lucy again:

“As writers, what we all need more than anything else in the world is listeners, listeners who will respond with silent empathy, with sight recognition, with laughter and tears and questions and stories of their own. Writers need to be heard.”

Here is the catch. We are all writers. Call your students “authors” and they will become authors. Treat their work as amazing, precious and valued. As I said yesterday, do not worry about spelling, grammar, vocabulary, sentence structure, development, etc. We are just writing.

So today, you shall find/create your writer’s notebook. The best way to teach this is to model it. So as your children’s current teacher, you should also find a writer’s notebook and use it. Value it. Keep it with you where ever you go. If you go for a walk, bring it with you! How can you jot down your observations if you don’t have it? This is not an opportunity to scold your children when they leave it laying around or don’t use it. Instead, you can say something like – “Oh no! You haven’t brought your notebook! How will you remember all the things that happened on our walk?” Writing is the most important thing in the world! What you value, they will value. Maybe next time, they will bring it! (Accommodation…children with ADHD will not remember things like this no matter what. Gently suggest they go and get it before you head out, or maybe they have a special place for it, so they can’t lose it. Whatever works for your child, but do not berate them for misplacing or forgetting it. They literally cannot do these things the same way as other children.)

Your writer’s notebook can be anything their heart desires. Want to cover it in special paper? Want to doodle on it? Want to paste stuff into it? Want to use different coloured pens? (I mention this because I am a stickler for using a pencil in math.) When they write, they can write whatever they want. Lucy suggests”

“I like to think of a writer’s notebook as a collection of strings too short to save. It’s a place for bits of life that may or may not emerge someday as major pieces of writing. When our youngsters begin the writing process by collecting bits and pieces – entries – in their notebooks rather than by listing and choosing among possible topics for writing, they are more apt to experience writing as a process of growing meaning.”

  • As you read a book, jot down words you don’t know the meaning of, or words that you love
  • Jot down memories that come up and you are reminded of as you go about your day
  • Ideas for stories
  • Things you did
  • Moments, things, people that strike you as fun, beautiful, sad, exciting, interesting, funny
  • Dreams
  • Curiosities and questions
  • Feelings – things that make you angry or frustrated, sad, scared, happy, excited

There is no time limit, there are no rules. I have a feeling that if you spend time creating a notebook today, the excitement of it will last a few days and might get the wheels turning. Don’t force it – model it. Don’t have a million extra notebooks lying around like I do? Staple blank pages together! Make a title page. I would LOVE to see pics of any writer’s notebooks that you create. It would make me so unbelievably happy. Writing has always been very important to me, but there was a significant time in my life when writing was everything to me and it was all I ever did. In these troubled and traumatic times, give your children the space, support and resources to write.

Accommodations – students with LD’s might struggle with this. Encourage them to write anyway, even if it is just words at a time. You can make this digital – speech to text on a mobile device would work! Use Google Docs and make a folder for your ideas. Whatever works best for your child and allows them to feel successful.

Time to Read Tuesday: In that same vein, let’s read – the other thing that has probably saved me thousands of dollars in therapy! Logan doesn’t love to read, although he’s starting to get into the book he’s reading right now and it’s less teeth pulling, more enjoyable. But he will let me read to him. So we will choose a novel to read together and set aside time for this. If you have more than one child, this is a great way to get something done with all of the children at the same time, but still have that close family time together. Reading out loud to my boys is one of my favourite things to do, especially when they were younger. If you have time – read to them individually. That can make for some really special quality time with a parent – a book just for them!

Need suggestions? I have SO.MANY.BOOKS. and I am willing to share! Have I mentioned I love books? I can make recommendations and/or act as your library!

Lego Challenge: Under the sea!

And now for some ADHD information!