Merry Christmas From The Austen Authors!

Merry Christmas From The Austen Authors!

By luck of the draw, I have Christmas Day. I know that I am busy watching my daughter open her gifts at my parent’s house in Virginia. And this past week, my family experienced a minor miracle of living arrangements and will be moving into a new home, complete with an office for me, before my post in January. 🙂

I thought about writing a long post about a technical topic, but I am moving that to January. It just doesn’t feel right to do anything else but to say that being a member of Austen Authors this year has been a huge blessing in my life, I was honored and ecstatic to meet fellow Austen Authors Sharon Lathan, Rose Fairbanks, Melanie Schertz, Regina Jeffers, and Sarah Price at AGM in October. This year has been tough for me personally and it shows in my book production, but being a military family, moving years are always hard.

In my post in October, I shared about a very special person in my life, my daughter, Catelynn. The outpouring of support on that thread came in handy! On November 10th, my daughter nearly left school property during recess over a disagreement with another child to “get some alone time because I was so frustrated,” and proceeded to have a 30-minute+ meltdown in the principal’s office. At no time did the school CALL ME, they waited to nonchalantly tell me what happened when I picked her up at the end of the day. Thankfully, we had Veteran’s Day break the next day and I had a calming off day. She did not go to school on Thursday, we went shopping for school supplies. On Friday, after speaking with her teacher (who was out that day she nearly was walking the street because there are no closed fences around the play area, even she was stunned no one had called and it had happened, they KNOW to watch for her at recess, we’ve had 3 accidents this year at recess), she attended school for 2 hours to give a nice farewell to her friends, and that was it.

Only now do we have a routine where I am writing again. But it has been an awesome month! I was never a big advocate of homeschooling before, but I do see how once you start doing it, your eyes are just opened to all of the drawbacks of public school that never even entered your mind.

First week of homeschooling, I got this comment: “Thank you, Mommy, for doing math until I got it.” Just off the cuff. I nearly lost it, but I nodded and hugged her and said at Mommy’s school, we always work on it until Catelynn gets it.

Second week of homeschooling was our first “But I miss my friends!” moment. We talked it out and she really missed recess. But we have added in 2-3 playdates a week and are members of a few homeschooling groups online for our area.

We just finished our first month and my daughter is flourishing. We have a fairly strict curriculum compared to other homeschoolers, in that I have lesson objectives and progress planned for every week (our state also requires quarterly reports and 225 hours a quarter). Even with the state requirements, families are still able to teach what they’d like. Many families are into unschooling, which is great for them, but not a good fit for us. But if that works for them, great. We do flexible schooling in that I will change things up if she’s struggling, maybe change subject or think of a new way to present the material.

This Christmas, I am so thankful for my family, for my country that allows me to protect my children (homeschooling, it turns out, is illegal in some countries), and that my family is soon to be in a safer living environment.

Merry Christmas, Austen lovers everywhere. And thank you for visiting here and know that I am sending you virtual hugs and kisses.

merry christmas

16 Responses to Merry Christmas From The Austen Authors!

  1. Wishing you and yours a Happy,Healthy New Year full of Blessings. Catelyn is a beautiful young lady. She is a blessing.
    Marilyn and family

  2. Aw Elizabeth, What a nice way to celebrate your Xmas post. I am so happy for both you and your daughter that you have seen so man successes. I have several friends who home school and several home schooled students who come to my house for lessons. Many blessings to you and your family this holiday season and in the new year. Jen Red

  3. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas with your family and so glad that you and Catelynn have worked it out so beautifully! Best of luck in this exciting new adventure and hats off to you both! Have a wonderful New Year!

  4. Thank you for sharing. I am so happy home schooling is working for you and Catelynn. I tried it with my son but did not have the patience and our school district gave him all the support he needed. Thank you for the advice on programs that will help change lectures into notes.

  5. So happy to know that things are finally working out for you and Catelynn. I know that I was not cut out to be a teacher but I do admire those willing to take on the challenge when their child’s future is at stake. I did enroll my son in small, Christian schools for I felt that I had more ‘say’ in what was done and he flourished in the smaller environment. So glad you are going to have an office and, hopefully, get back to writing. Merry Christmas to your family!

    • Yes the new house is PERFECT! It’s another military family renting to us! 4 bedrooms PLUS an office PLUS a den PLUS a living room PLUS a dining room and a fully renovated kitchen. So I will have a school room, an office, and hubby gets a jam/hobby room, and the kids have their own bedrooms. I have died and gone to renter’s heaven. 🙂

      As far as patience, I think it’s easier for me because my daughter had 2 years of formal schooling, so she has good classroom habits. As long as the environment is quiet and distraction managed + regular breaks, she is amazing in the material she is able to go through. And I am able to reinforce things with visuals more than her traditional classroom does. We regularly do math with manipulations over worksheets. She can do math worksheets, we still do that, too, but I am able to reduce the amount of paper activities for hands on ones.

      When I tried to test her in a traditional way on sight words for example it was an epic failure. She was frustrated, I stayed calm and set it aside. She doesn’t do well being sat down in front of a list of words and each one revealed, because she really struggles with getting things wrong. I am working on reducing that reaction, but I also understand that so much of what she’s been expected to do was beyond her abilities and frustrating, any kind of challenge just immediately becomes a reminder of everything else she struggles to do. So here is how I redid things: we put sight words on notecards and with the bulletin board, Catelynn got to pin her words under two columns. One column was “Words Catelynn Knows” and “Words Catelynn Can Practice,” she had a BALL sorting the words and it helped reinforced that it’s OK to have words we don’t know yet. Only a few times did I have to override her on my clipboard (we did it gameshow style with groups of words) but we learned she could read and recognize over 70% of the list of 225!

      I understand why many schools had to move away from oral examinations, it’s just not practical when you’re talking 1 teacher and 23 kids. But one-on-one, anytime taking a test in written form is creating a barrier to her expressing what she knows, it’s just as easy to ask her the questions and have her explain what she knows that way. And since I already have dictation equipment, I can even record the sessions for record keeping so I have proof we did hit all of the material. 🙂 We are careful to not allow her to just stop writing etc. I won’t let her disabilities becomes a convenient thing for her to avoid work, but I do think we should accommodate her when reasonable. My school is tear-free 🙂

  6. I am sitting here with tears in my eyes. Yes this country is great, not perfect, but great. We do have choices about schooling: be it for religion or special needs or a desire to do it at home. I admire the many men and women who find the energy and patience to do this at home. The latter quality is one I always thought I would lack if I home schooled my own children (3). Yet many times with others’ children I was very patience, i.e., Girl Scouts, teaching CCD, teaching Sunday School, substitute teacher or even when I taught Kindergarten or 5th grade. I didn’t teach for many years but do have my certification. I am appalled that your daughter was on a playground with no fence and almost walked away. So glad she is safe and that she recognizes the extra time you take with subjects like math. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    • Thank you!!! And Merry Christmas to you and yours! Yes, we did EVERYTHING they asked. When we moved into the district I told them everything about her. Gave the full history, the challenges (like she doesn’t feel pain like other kids). They wanted a New York doctor to evaluate her, because a Connecticut doctor isn’t good enough. So we did that, too. New York doctor says “Autism and ADHD” and school STILL would not do more than a 504 Plan with motor breaks they never gave her because they didn’t have the staff and just decided she could deal. For months when I picked her up from school, she gauged her day by telling me how many times she cried that day.

      The recess and meltdown situation was just the last straw for me. Then I learned that New York is pretty cool about how they do homeschooling. They do require me to file what’s called an Individualized Home Instruction Plan, which is just an outline of the curriculum we will complete at least 80%. Our IHIP is based on a series recommended to me by Jane Grix, another JAFF author who has homeschooled her autistic daughter in the past, The Core Knowledge series. I like it because #1 it’s affordable, and #2, it’s just what I need to teach Catelynn with freedom to change it up. We support those lesson materials with the Harcourt Family Learning Books, worksheets. Then I also use which is a UK based site for additional worksheets and supporting materials, and we used Reading Rainbow for virtual field trips (in addition to actual field trips once a week) and books on her reading level. Plus, weekly trips to our local library.

      In New York, you also have to do what’s called quarterly reports. This is more detailed than what I will actually turn in, but this is “internal” for our family. I like to keep detailed records for her benefit, not because the state requires it. This is 30 days of Homeschooling. 🙂

      Most importantly, she is THRIVING. We are a military family, so we will move again and again, and with homeschooling we will be able to keep her curriculum robust and consistent. She will eventually be allowed to go back to public school if she wants to, but I don’t think she will. It’s been a tough month for me to keep everything juggled, but now that we are moving out of the apartment to a house, life will be MUCH easier. 🙂

      • Wow, I didn’t expect such a detailed report. I did read the linked document and am thinking how much time you just put into that document. I also read the list of books with interest as to which my children and/or I have read. For many years I used to watch for the Caldecott and Newbury winners so as to read them even when my children were grown but dropped that as life became busier. God bless you in all your efforts. I do realize how important each of our children is and yours in truly blessed with a mother who goes above and beyond. Happy New Year.

  7. Thank you for taking the time to post this especially with all you have dealt with this year. I would like to wish you and your family a very happy Christmas and hope you have a wonderful 2016 ?

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