Today we started homeshooling (?) our four year old. (And yes, I know it’s a Friday, but that’s the beauty of homeschooling. I can do it any time or place I want.) This would be an adventure even without the autism diagnosis. As it is, we’ve been experiencing some growing pains.
Castle isn’t rigid or routine bound. This has always been a bit of a blessing, especially when we travel. It means that we can work in doctor appointments or add a playdate without World War A (Autism) breaking out. However, it also means that we’ve never had to have a fixed schedule either. Except for the 9 hours a week he spends in therapy/therapy group, we’ve done whatever, whenever. Yes, he went to school or therapy every weekday morning last year, but that still left afternoons and weekends free.
Castle is not appreciating the new routine.
Dont’ get me wrong. He prefers staying at home and playing with me or Daddy. He just doesn’t like the part where he doesn’t get to chose the activity. In the past, the only real limit has been screen time. As long as it wasn’t an ipad, Nintendo, or TV, he could chose to do whatever he wanted. Now, we’re trying to make sure he does certain activities every day, kind of like what they do in therapy. So instead of just telling him to play, he had the option to do board games, tanagrams, and workbooks. It didn’t matter what order they were in, but he had to do them. This went fine until we got to the workbooks. For some reason he did not want to do any workbook time earlier today. Since he normally likes workbooks, I was quite surprised. It was only after spending some time in time-out that he finally decided that doing some mazes wouldn’t be that awful.
And even though we’ve only been doing it for a day (that technically isn’t even over yet!), I’ve already learned a few things that we’ll need to do for Monday:
- Make a visual schedule.
I’m going to make it fairly generic with activities like “School Time” instead of the individual activities. That way there’s still some flexibility for the day.
- Make a written plan.
For some time, I’ve been trying to work on Castle’s auditory processing. He’s incredibly visual, so at home we try to do as much stuff orally as we can. However, for something like “school time,” we need to write our plans down. That way we have something to refer back to later. I think that may help some of the reluctance to do certain activities. Plans are also empowering and let kids feel like they have a say in their day.
- Develop some more activities that I will find interesting.
Turns out I still find school boring. (This is coming from a university adjunct professor, mind you.) I’m sick of the 10 tangram cards we have, and Castle’s not quite adventurous enough to come up with his own patterns yet. We’ve also been doing a lot with his snails board game and Chutes & Ladders to work on sportsmanship. It’s great that he’s learning that he can’t always win, but I’m sick of counting squares.
We’re looking at this year as an experiment for next year’s kindergarten. If he’s in anything but the peak of health, he’s unable to cope in a group setting, so we already know that there’s a good chance we’ll be homeschooling for real come next year. It’ll be interesting to see how we do.
(?) Is it really homeschooling when you don’t send your four year old to preschool? Isn’t it more keeping the kid at home? It’s not like we’re following a curriculum or anything although there are many preschool homeschool curriculum out there.