Even before we started home educating I liked the idea of unschooling but unfortunately found it didn’t work too well for us. Although Jack doesn’t need routine as much as a lot of children who have autism he does need to have some idea of what is happening and when. I plan our week with topics/subjects but not necessarily set tasks or work and see what he chooses at the time mostly but at the same time am flexible and some days change quite a bit. This week has been quite different and we have hardly stuck to the week plan at all and yet still got lots done. Jack got back into Reading Eggs in a big way and completed four spots on a map on Monday and then several more throughout the rest of the week. He has wanted to use the BBC Bitesize site quite a bit and really likes a particular game on Cool Maths games where you have to run a hot dog stand. The days have gone fine and we have just followed wherever each went so I may try and have some more free times in future.
We watched another episode of Planet Earth and read ocean themed books and explored a new park and woods in Shalford, which I have figured out a new short circular walk round for next week. We are hopefully going to Alice Holt as well next week if the weather stays nice. Friday we are going to Cleethorpes for the weekend to see family and friends.
Every week I make a planner and although it is divided up by days it is more of a weekly thing – ‘I’d like to get this done this week’ sort of thing. We do tend to stick to the days though as Jack liked the structure and he can easily follow the printed planner for himself. Monday he started out with Reading Eggs and ended up doing four whole lessons as he was really enjoying it and then we had lunch and set off for swimming. Went to Sports Direct on the way and bought some goggles and one of those float vests. I think they are a pretty good idea anyway but with the unpredictability of his seizures it also gives some extra safety and I don’t have to be quite so hovery, which I would rather not do anyway. It was great and Jack totally loved it! HE got me to swim out holding him to the deepest end (1.5m) so he could see how he could float, went on the slides a few times and spent quite a lot of time in the jacuzzi as he loves the bubbles. He wasn’t keen on the goggles at first as he had a bad experiences with some letting water in once that put him off (until recently he was scared of being splashed and especially of water getting in his eyes and face) but he saw two girls swimming under water and that interested him enough to get him to try them on and trust me that they wouldn’t leak as they were better ones and could be adjusted to fit. After trying for a while he did put his face under and was so proud of himself! 😀 Afterwards we walked into town across Stoke Park and went into Sainsburys for a few things before getting the bus home.
The rest of the week has gone really fast and feels like we have done nothing but somehow have been super busy. Tuesday was iffy, I think due to changing medications maybe but thankfully now we are weaning out the Epilim his aggression is fading so I was right on that being the cause. It was excessive and I’m glad it had an easy to solve cause. Most likely he would be been coming off it anyway as it wasn’t doing anything to help with the seizures. We didn’t do much though the BBC Bitesize website was a hit. Wednesday we went to home ed group in Farnham and met with friends. Today was mainly computer based stuff and Polish. Tonight Jack came downstairs, hugged me, said something in Polish I didn’t understand and then went back to bed so I think he is really picking it up 😀 He has asked about learning French again too. Initially he loved it when he was at school and picked it up easily but later he came to hate it and had to be taken out of the class during lessons or when a teacher spoke in French (one of the teachers in his year spoke French and took his class one morning a week) because he would become instantly frustrated and scream. When asked he told his TA and me separately that it hurt him to listen to it.
I did my teaching assistant exam this week and hope it is not too long before the results are back. First TMA of my OU module is due in next week which has come around fast and tomorrow is ice skating.
After swimming the rest of the week went well and Jack has asked to go back next week. Monday he says because he doesn’t want to wait lol It is a little under 3 miles to the Spectrum from us but will most likely walk all the way tomorrow so we can pop into Sports Direct on the way for a float or similar and also because I miss walking. Now Jack is home he cannot manage the long walks I take and although we have a the Special Tomato buggy I tend to only use it when we are out for a whole day, going far from home or know it is likely that there will be sensory/meltdown/safety issues. I have been worrying lately about the fact that if he has a seizure (he has several a day) and then needs to sleep I’d be stuck because I honestly cannot carry him far any more and what if I have other things with me? That hasn’t happened since he started taking melatonin though which I hope is a good sign. I miss all the walking I used to do and now I am not even doing the school run I spend a lot of time sitting even if I am working, studying or crafting. From now I am going to start walking now and take the buggy. jack can walk as much as he can and then I can push him. He does ok with most things but walking 3 miles, swimming or skating for 90 minutes and then walking another 3 miles is a lot!
Yesterday we went to Chessington World of Adventures. We got there for when it opened and there where hardly any queues at all. Jack’s favourites are the Vampire and the Pirate Galleon and Emily got to have another go on Dragon Fury. The bumper cars and Bubbleworks are also big hits. The Sealife centre fitted in nicely with our ocean project and Jack took some photos and also filled out the quiz sheet where you have to search the centre for the clues and answers. We bought a couple of Christmas presents in the gift shop and were ready to leave by 3pm. On the way home we walk through the town centre and popped into WHS to look what books where in the 2 for £10 offer. Emily chose a One Direction book and I got Hugh’s Three Good Things. A recipe from that has given me a good idea for a few more presents too and a vegan chocolate recipe that will most likely be my next hub.
Today was a stay at home day, doing some uni work, some washing and a bit of tidying up. Jack is currently crazy about the Wii game Poke Park. Dinner was Quorn and veg cottage pie with carrots, sweetcorn and peas and ‘square chips’. My mum always made them when we were kids and they are somehow so much better than normal chips lol Just slice thickly slice potatoes and then cut into 1 cm ish cubes and fry. Don’t even need to peel them unless you really want too. I am going to plan our timetable for the week and work on my final essay for my teaching assistant course before bed.
Very good day yesterday, good start to the week really. Jack is really into his ocean project and pleased that he has achieved 200 points on EdPlace and now has enough for his reward of a new Skylander.
We started out this morning with a popcorn science experiment on what happens to how or if popcorn pops in certain conditions. We used a saucepan with a glass lid so jack could see the kernels popping which delighted him. After some Reading Eggs and lunch we set off for swimming for the first time. Jack has never been swimming at a pool before. When he was younger I used to take him the sea to paddle and I’d piggy back him out in the water which he loved. I had planned to teach him to swim there but as he got older he became really afraid of the water splashing him and especially getting on his face. Even in the bath he would worry and at one point was even very anxious of rain falling on him so swimming wasn’t something he wanted to try. I never pushed it with him, kept his baths really shallow as he liked and hunted down one of those guards for washing hair that stop the water getting near your face.
When showing friends where the Spectrum was in Guildford Jack spotted the leisure pool there as from the entrance you can look down through a glass walled area. As well as the swimming areas it has Jacuzzi pools, bubbles, fountains, several slides, waves and a small pirate ship. Straight away he asked if we could go. We had a little chat about the water and how it will splash etc. but he seemed sure and on two subsequent visits for skating asked if we could go. So I found out times, bought swimming shorts and put it onto our timetable for this week. After a little hesitation and anxiety about some sprays of water he loved it! Tried out all the slides several times and it turns out that on one you ride down it in an inflatable tyre which Jack thought was great fun. I had taken a towel to the pool with us and quite a few times he went to wipe his face and ears dry but always calmly and came straight back happy to carry on. In fact I pretty much had to carry him out at the end of the session 😀 I think we will be regular visitors from now on.
Once again it is proven that letting children do things at their own pace and in their own way works and is so much kinder and positive than forcing them because that is seen as the way they ‘should be’ or what they ‘should be doing’. He got to it in his own time and worked out his worries his own way knowing he was supported and it was ok to feel that way. Small steps will make it all the way.
On the way home we walked into Guildford town across Stoke Park and collected some conkers and also found half a birds egg. Went into the sewing machine shop but unfortunately they didn’t have the part I needed, went to Game for the Skylander and into Primark to exchange a jumper and bough Jack a knitted snowman jumper he liked. All good 🙂