GUEST BLOG: AN AUTISM JOURNEY – WHY I CHOSE TO HOMESCHOOL

My 13-year-old son, Johnny, was diagnosed with autism when he was 4-years -old. Johnny started Pre-K and attended the brick and mortar school until the second grade. By the second grade, I was done with both schools! They were doing the most {messed} up in school! My son was secluded from the kids in his classroom and wasn’t allowed to sit at his desk. His teacher was allowed to decide if she wanted him as a student in her classroom after he was already assigned to her class. He also wasn’t allowed to play at recess with his peers. He was placed in a storm shelter that the school used as a classroom for him along with his special education teacher. I sat inside the Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting fighting for my son to be able to be in a classroom with his classmates and I was told, “No!” I refused to sign an IEP! Parents, please be aware that it is your legal right to refuse to sign an IEP! Do not allow the school to bully you into signing something you don’t agree with. They will be upset but who cares?! Their reasons for being upset are because most of the time they don’t like doing the work that is required in the IEP because it is too much like asking them to do their ACTUAL job! I thought that my IEP team would be more supportive and knowledgeable about what we needed to better serve my son. The lack of support from both schools proved that I was the only advocate for my son. Dealing with the school system was extremely overwhelming. I even found us as an autism advocate, who like myself, the school hated to see coming. She would attend all of my son’s IEP meetings with me and would speak on my behalf we would have a list of things that we thought would be beneficial to Johnny’s education. The way that she fought for my son’s rights was admirable and I will never forget her. She was my inspiration to become an autism advocate!
The school called the Department of Children and Families (DCF) on me and opened a false case against me stating that I was “neglecting” my son because I decided to take him off of his Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder (ADHD) medicine (the meds were causing him to grow female breast and it started to become difficult for his teacher to wake him up from his naps). They also stated that Johnny was seen walking on our main highway at 3:00 am. SMH! The lies that were said about me were outrageous and for months I was investigated DCF would do random pop-ups at my home. She took us to the autism center where he had to be retested for autism for her records. She also took us to the JD McCarthy treatment facility for children with autism to see if he could be accepted for a 30-day “monitoring” I had already decided against that as I wasn’t leaving my son in a facility. I cooperated with the caseworker. I had nothing to hide nor had I committed any crime. I was doing what I thought was best for my son. My caseworker was extremely resourceful and begin to point me in the direction to link me to services that were beneficial to us. I was investigated by DCF for months before the case was closed due to a lack of evidence that supported their claims of child neglect or abuse.
I took back the reigns of control and unenrolled my son out of school in October of 2014 – he had just started the second grade. The principal bought the forms to our home, I signed them and that was it! Johnny currently homeschools with me and he attends Epic Charter School an online academy that we love! He meets with his teacher once a week here at our local library and is getting ready to go into the 7th grade! He receives occupational therapy once a week and speech therapy twice a week through teletherapy which is convenient because it’s done through the Zoom video chat app, it also saves us a drive every week to Oklahoma City. His teacher is amazing! And so is our IEP team. This is the first time where I have felt like our team cares and we finally fit in somewhere. Homeschooling and autism are challenging because of the way that Johnny learns I have to always come up with ways to fit his specific learning style whether that is cutting his school day from two hours a day back to thirty minutes a day or using counters to help him learn addition and subtraction. But it is not the end of the world or punishment to any parents because I have spoken with parents who blame themselves for their child’s autism. Keep fighting the good fight for your children as you’re their biggest advocate!
                                                                                                                       Lashanda Wallace, Inc.
                                                                                                                             Autism Advocate

IT’S THAT TIME OF THE YEAR AGAIN FOR HOMESCHOOL PARENTS!

We are about to say, “Hello” to 3rd Grade! I went nuts researching what curriculum would be right for our daughter. One of my biggest things was she must see her own likeness in her books. If there were no black children present, we weren’t doing it PERIOD! Also, I live in a state where the laws are very flexible for parents to teach and pick whatever curriculum we want. Every district has FRAMEWORKS that they follow. (You can google frameworks in your county and see everything they are teaching.) I choose to follow Massachusetts frameworks because they seem to be the best in the country at this time.

I started off wanting to do a video school but was like why should I pay $1,500.00 for kindergarten and first grade. Now at second grade, I see it doesn’t have to be that expensive. I don’t think I have spent more than $300 a year including field trips, and the great thing is when homeschooling you don’t have to purchase all at once. My biggest fear when I started was am I sure we are doing enough? Was she getting as much as children in school? What I found is she is getting WAY MORE!! We only do school for an hour and a half a day! She gets a snack and recess in-between and the rest of the day is hers to do as she pleases. These are some of the resources we use in our homeschool!

Masterbooks – We use their Math and Social Studies Only.

My referral code

https://www.masterbooks.com/r/V3bEoJlk/

History comes from Urban Intellectuals. They have flash cards which are small and so cute for little hands. The facts aren’t overwhelming but sure opened my eyes about American History. Black History at this point is it! My little one is so young that black history is all I teach. I figure she has time for the Gold Rush and things for when she’s older. Right now, Ima work on her pride and self-esteem as the white curriculum does for white children.

https://store.urbanintellectuals.com/aff/CherieJ75/

I also use another resource that comes from Blessed Heritage. It’s written more like a teacher’s guide than a text or work book but pointed me towards some great literature to back up things like Christopher Columbus got lost and never stepped foot on US soil that’s was written in a way my daughter fully could understand. http://www.blessedheritage.com/primary-vol-1.html

Health comes from ABEKA (I found ours on eBay for like $6 in perfect condition)  https://www.abeka.com/abekaonline/bookdescription.aspx?sbn=197564&gclid=Cj0KCQjwpavpBRDQARIsAPfTwiwCSIQ4PK9WIIdac3foUypVUm6fJuELyQ0xUoB7sm7R4BZZFVing8MaAhjIEALw_wcB

So as far as language arts, when she was younger we did kindergarten using a lot of worksheets from The Big Book of Kindergarten & 1st Grade https://www.amazon.com/School-Zone-Kindergarten-Workbook-Matching/dp/0887431461/ref=asc_df_0887431461/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=198066994475&hvpos=1o2&hvnetw=g&hvrand=8751043359419606877&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9028267&hvtargid=pla-404115530087&psc=1

Spectrum workbooks https://www.amazon.com/Spectrum-Grade-1/dp/1483816257/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=spectrum+1st+grade+workbooks&qid=1563113938&s=books&sr=1-3 and a workbook called Head of the class. The workbooks helped to guide me to make sure I was teaching what kids learned at the grade level and also to have hard copies of what I was teaching. Here is where I feel ABCMOUSE.com prepared her by the time she got to the worksheets, she already understood what to do. I make sure I read with her a lot and we pick out things she learns in the workbooks in her literature as well.

Core Knowledge has also been a great FREE resource for language arts. I’ve read a lot of mixed reviews with people complaining it’s not the vintage literature we grew up with, but my daughter enjoys it and the characters and subjects are diverse unlike the stories we grew up with! Native Americans, Immigrants and Job Hunting are just a few of the amazing topics they cover! Real world things in text that’s age appropriate.

https://www.coreknowledge.org/curriculum/

For Writing, the Dollar store!!! They have those workbooks with the ABC’s in them. I buy like 5 for every grade and she does 2 pages a day. This year she will be doing cursive!

Science, she has a spectrum book we will pull from as well as a book she was gifted by her tutor, which is full of experiments! She has a science lab her Aunt Vickie, Uncle Mark and Cousin Vivie sent her. (Yes, a whole little LAB) that came with a box of experiments and a microscope so please pray she doesn’t blow up the house! Science is her favorite subject!

I also teach Spanish. Amazon and YouTube have great kid resources. We purchased a workbook from Amazon that was under $10.

I refuse to take the arts out of her schooling just because most schools have done away with them! It’s a fundamental part of children’s minds and let’s face it for many of us, it was the most fun we had all day! All work and no play is never the way to go in my book!

art

She takes art classes for $3 a session at Michael’s! If you have an Amazon Firestick there is an art class on there that has taught her how to draw animals. The Dollar stores and 5 and Below have become fun places to buy art materials and projects. I’ve found ways to tie in unit studies with her art as well and that’s fun!

art project

My daughter was gifted a Ukulele from her Uncle Mark, Aunt Vickie and Cousin Vivie, so she takes music lessons at the Guitar Center.

I am blessed to be surrounded by educators. I work along with a few great teachers if you ever want to speak to them as well for guidance. Reach out to me and I will connect you, because all kids are different!

Tae Kwon Do & swimming and soccer are my daughter’s P.E. Don’t forget to get them out and moving.

I keep records and I keep EVERYTHING! Some states, you just need a portfolio of your children’s work for the year. Just in case someone gets bored and wants to question what we have covered, I’m ready for Back to school night. They will get EVERYTHING!

I hope this helps and takes away any second guessing yourself that you have. All children are different and there are so many homeschooling options! Education isn’t cookie cutter…listen to your child’s needs. Children will express their interest to you. When my daughter started talking about hot lava, I knew it was time for a volcano unit which I goggled and Homeschool pop on YouTube was fun. When she was talking about butterflies, we did a butterfly unit. I found a butterfly farm (who knew they had those). Kids will lead their own education and it’s the perfect way to keep it fun and free as long as we can.

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Good Luck and I am always here.

IT’S 4 A.M. AND I’M AWAKE CUTTING UP FLASHCARDS!

It’s 4 a.m. and I’m awake cutting up flashcards! Preparing for 3rd grade, homeschool is about to take on a whole new form and I am ready for it. This year will be more fun, I’m convincing myself. This year I will be a better teacher, now that I got the hang of it. This year I am going to prepare and get all of the paperwork done earlier. I will lay a foundation that will not be broken because NOW I know exactly what needs to be done. Hahaahahah

Truth is my daughter will come in, take the reins and guide her own education and let me know everything she needs. While prep is good, I have also learned to be flexible. Just because Tuesday went exactly as I planned, Wednesday was totally off course but on that beautiful Wednesday, we had fun and we both learned a lot!

Children are resilient and flourish in their own environment! With their own tribe, on their own time. Life is a lot different for them when they can receive a hug after a ruff assignment. They also can feel when those around them lead with love! So, as you’re planning your homeschool year, remember to schedule in the love!

Good luck, parents. It’s a dirty job but we are the best ones to do it!

MY DAUGHTER’S NEW FAVORITE SCHOOL SUBJECT

My daughter’s favorite school subject has become social studies, thanks to the amazing layout of these books. It’s big for my daughter to see her own likeness in books and they have done a great job at representation of all. My Story takes children on an amazing colorful adventure through all the continents and the waters. I tend to teach a more secular curriculum but MASTERBOOKS is bible based. It makes a few references per chapter but not in a way that’s overbearing so I don’t mind it. I want her to be educated on all religions so it’s a nice intro to understanding conversation pieces that will be made through her life by Christians.

My Story and the World Around Me is a lower elementary social studies course that introduces students to history, politics, sociology, economics, and geography, while providing an understanding of God’s world and the cultures of the countries. Level 1 begins with children in their homes, helping them to think about their lives from their immediate families and beyond, as well as learning about local governments. Equivalent to a first-grade level.

Life is an adventure. Why not spend the school year with your children traveling the world?!

My Story 1 & 2.

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My referral code

https://www.masterbooks.com/r/V3bEoJlk/

MY GUILTY PLEASURE HAS BECOME COMPARING CURRICULUM!

I was the kid who hated school but loved education! Those two things were misunderstood by my authority figures growing up. I wasn’t able to articulate it, and nobody listened enough to try and read between the lines and understand. I loved to learn and research but hated the instruction I was given, and the guidance was misleading. The techniques were outdated, and the misinformation was sickening.

I was being taught so many lies. Sitting in a room full of peers who were all white watching them soak up the fact that the only history my people had in this country was slavery was disturbing! It was a lie and every time I spoke on it, I got in trouble. My grandmother armed me with the truth at a very early age. So being taught lies, misconceptions and stereotypes didn’t fly for me.

I was not a child who needed repetition: it bored me to DEATH, it turned me off and made me shut down! I felt stagnate and like I was stuck from progressing. (I see the same thing in my child.) I know the technique works well for many, but the truth is EDUCATION IS NOT 1 SIZE FITS ALL! Many teachers fail to care, and do not listen. They teach what they know and what worked for them.

The idea of alternative education hit me through a conversation with my lifelong friend, Andrea. (Hi baby, thanks for always reading my blogs.) Andrea is young, hip, innovative and is also a teacher. She taught me I don’t have to do exactly what everyone else is doing as long as I follow the FRAMEWORKS. Researching frameworks was the start of my daughter’s homeschool journey. I found that there is no solid curriculum I love through and through. I tend to mix and match a lot! Andrea has become my guidance counselor on this homeschool journey.

We are halfway through 2nd grade and I am already starting to look at 3rd grade curriculum! There are some things that we are doing now that I will need to change up for next year because they simply aren’t working. School should be fun and interesting not a drag or a fight.

I won’t let her start 3rd grade until 2020. I feel it’s moving too fast since she’s only 4, so I am just going to add on unit studies about things that interest her when the fall hits. My daughter has become amazing in guiding her own education. I am still looking for a great math curriculum that will keep her interest. While she is very ahead of her time, she still loves colorful pages and artwork on her work sheets. (That’s the key to keeping her engaged at this moment.) I’m flirting with the possibility of using “MasterBooks” 3rd grade. Right now, we use their social studies “My Story 2” and I am in love with it, because it seems to be her favorite workbook. She also enjoyed “My Story 1”. They take the children all over the globe. It’s a mixture of Social Studies, Culture, Languages, and Vocabulary all in one. Their history programs at first glance don’t seem to be a turn off either but haven’t tried them yet. Until she is of school age, which is like 6 or 7 years old, I am only going to teach her Black History so by the time she learns what’s required, it won’t be a play on her self-esteem. Right now, we are using “Blessed Heritage Our Story-History” and we like it a lot, mixed in with her “Urban Intellectuals Black History flash cards” and “ABC ME Flashcards”. I love Abeka’s health curriculum, it seems to be my favorite Abeka pick for now, but I still mix in their health with an anatomy book because my daughter loves the human body. She also likes to watch My 600 Pound Life, breast implants and butt implants. (I may have a plastic surgeon on my hands.) Her YouTube time is spent on plastic surgery, but she says she would never do that to herself which I love! I am also on the hunt for a new language arts curriculum, it would be nice for my daughter to see her own likeness in some of her required English work. So, if you know any language arts curriculum with little brown girls in their stories and on worksheets, please share it’s worth a look.

If you are a homeschool parent with a child who has gone through 3rd grade, I would love to know your curriculum picks. It takes a village please share with me.

Also, if you interested in the Urban Intellectuals Black History flash cards, here is my affiliate link: https://store.urbanintellectuals.com/aff/CherieJ75/

EVERYONE DOESN’T AGREE WITH MY CHOICE TO HOMESCHOOL & I’M OKAY WITH THAT!

Everyone doesn’t agree with my choice to homeschool and I am okay with that. I am not in a place in my life where I have to please anyone except my child.  As long as I do right by her, that’s all that matters. She is 4 years old and extremely above average. She always has been according to her pediatrician. (It’s not just a mother’s love.) She is reading at a 2nd – 3rd grade level, doing fractions, bar graphs and 3 digit adding and subtracting. The kid can tell time, count money and speak Spanish. So, I don’t feel right putting her in preschool so she can “socialize” is the right choice for her. In fact, I feel it is an injustice. Her learning will not grow in a school environment. She will be stuck in a class with a group of children saying their ABC’s. FOR WHAT TO SOCIALIZE?  Socialize is the most common thing people love to bring up, as if she is a hermit with no friends, who I don’t allow out of the house. The kid has a slew of cousins, she takes Tae Kwon Do 4 days a week and has a much better social calendar than I ever have with weekends full of play dates and birthday parties.

I understand some adults live for the weekend and their time to socialize with friends. I hate to break it to you but that’s only the working class. The employees who spend their lives making other people’s dreams come true. No offense, but I am tryna raise a C.E.O, a boss, doctor, entrepreneur or an astronaut. I want my little person to live a life that is all her design, full of possibilities and opportunity. I want her to know you can live every day of the week, not just on the weekend.

Let’s face it… it doesn’t take 8 hours in school to complete the work they assign. Most of it is fluff. I cannot send her to school where she will read the words, SLAVE AND WETBACK in her school books but NOWHERE will she read the KLAN or KKK or the fact that white people were her oppressors! I am just not comfortable with the idea of her never understanding the true history of this country until she goes off to college and takes an awakening African American Studies class that turns her head around like it did for so many of us. I will teach her who she is before the world tries to tell her who they want her to be. 

I cannot leave her education in the hands of people who look at her as a number or a check instead of a person!

If your child is average and you are okay with sending them to school to learn the same bullshit you were fed, that’s okay with me. I am not going to try to talk you out of it. If school was great for you, I pray it’s great for them. Me…myself I wasn’t challenged! School didn’t teach me shit but to read a chapter and answer the 6 questions at the end of the chapter. It taught me that even my own teachers were racist, and I was just someone they had to put up with. My saving grace was my tutor Mrs. Ruthann-Crudup Brown. That 5’2” beautiful chocolate tyrant stayed on my ass and went above and beyond what the California school system had set out for me. I’m going to let you go now because I am starting to ramble. I BASICALLY WROTE ALL THIS TO SAY EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT. I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN DIFFERENT AND THAT’S OKAY.  STOP TRYNA PUT PEOPLE IN A BOX BECAUSE YOU WANT TO LIVE THE COOKIE CUTTER LIFE. It simply doesn’t work for everyone.

NATIVITY ACTIVITIES

So, with 6 days till Christmas my daughter shows up to her desk and decides her name is Mary. As in the Virgin Mary, with a scarf over her head and all. Sometimes I really feel I’m not mature enough to be her mother. Instead of correcting her, I was impressed she knew how to spell Mary.

That’s the great thing about homeschooling. I have 1 student, so I know whose paper it is. She read the paper perfectly the first try and answered the questions. So, what if her name is Mary today? Hahahaha….

Well, maybe the fact she is walking around with a baby doll calling him Baby Jesus is something we will have a talk about tomorrow, if this carries over after today.

It all started with a field trip that my community creates for the children. It’s amazing, they literally recreated Bethlehem! They made old school crafts with the children, taught them to make flour from grains, put on a play, they made perfume from herbs and prayers for the kids were optional. It was a beautiful experience for her, whether you are religious or not. She learned a lot of history and the way the olden days really were. Best part of all, it was free!

Nativity2

I understand what works in my house isn’t for everyone. We celebrate everything, Chanukah, Christmas & Kwanzaa and are looking forward to Chinese New Year. I use all holidays as teaching tools. Introducing her to the world early, will help her understand different cultures and respect them. I think the greatest lesson of all is watching her be so empathetic to everyone’s beliefs. Religion is really about kindness and for us kindness is key!

Let me go back and finish teaching MARY!! Please share your funny homeschooling experiences.  I can’t be the only mother whose child changed their name, right?