Dyslexia and ASD and ADHD–Oh Yes!

Who else is homeschooling a child with symptoms of ASD, ADHD or Dyslexia? Did you know that the whole idea of Fun-Schooling was started to make homeschooling work for these kids? Kids who learn differently are the driving force behind all our books. I started designing “Do-It-Yourself Homeschooling Journals” because my kids could not do traditional schoolwork.

ASD kids love the built in schedule provided by the Core Journal. They LOVE how they get to study their special interests. They love the look and feel of the Journals. They love how the journals are logic based, and include puzzle type activities. They often want to work independently and focus on their “research”. Thinking Tree Books encourage this depth of learning.

ADHD kids love how they get to move from one activity to the next with lots of variety. Our journals are designed to rotate activities: Academic – Creative – Academic – Passive – Academic – Active – Academic – Playful! ADHD kids are not bored when Fun-schooling! They get to learn about things they love, and when ADHD kids focus on what they LOVE they are so much easier to homeschool.

Kids with Dyslexia thrive because the books are created with the Dyslexie Font and include games that help with dyslexia. Thinking Tree Books include a lot of room for creativity and imagination, and they have just enough structure to keep kids learning without squelching their drive to learn through play, curiosity and adventure. We also don’t teach through memorization, but through meaningful experience and research. It’s so hard for dyslexic kids to memorize information. There is a better way!

FunSchooling.com

DyslexiaGames.com

Pollyanna, Anna and Fun-Schooling

“At nine o’clock every morning you will read aloud one half-hour to me. Before that you will use the time to put this room in order. Wednesday and Saturday forenoons, after half-past nine, you will spend with Nancy in the kitchen, learning to cook. Other mornings you will sew with me. That will leave the afternoons for your music. I shall, of course, procure a teacher at once for you,” she finished decisively, as she arose from her chair.

Pollyanna cried out in dismay.

“Oh, but Aunt Polly, Aunt Polly, you haven’t left me any time at all just to…to live.”

“To live, child! What do you mean? As if you weren’t living all the time!”

“Oh, of course I’d be breathing all the time I was doing those things, Aunt Polly, but I wouldn’t be living. You breathe all the time you’re asleep, but you aren’t living. I mean living doing the things you want to do: playing outdoors, reading (to myself, of course), climbing hills, talking to Mr. Tom in the garden, and Nancy, and finding out all about the houses and the people and everything everywhere all through the perfectly lovely streets I came through yesterday. That’s what I call living, Aunt Polly. Just breathing isn’t living!”
― Eleanor Porter, Pollyanna

What is the result, when our children are allowed “just to live”? Click here to read some thoughts written last week by my daughter, Anna Miriam Brown.

Do You Have a Super-Creator?

Two of my kids are Super-Creators. They seem incapable of learning anything directed by another person, unless they need the information to help them in their creative pursuit.

SUPER-CREATORS have a powerful mental image of what they want to create and their life quest is to create it. Anything that gets in the way of the creative process turns into a struggle and is seen as a threat to the Super-Creator’s quest. Some have projects that will be completed in a day, while some take years and never lose focus.

They imagine the end result in great detail, and they seem to work backwards to bring the concept into reality to match the vision. Often the imagined creation is something far beyond their skills and abilities. If they are leaders, they will enlist others to fill in their gaps or show them how to overcome obstacles. They are not intimidated by the dream as long as they feel supported.

Super-Creators have no time or energy for anything they feel is irrelevant to their quest. They are very focused on the task and very distracted and even slothful when a parent or teacher tries to divert their attention. If the parent gets on board with the project and just responds to the needs of the child… and does not try to take over…results can be out of this world!

We have a habit in our culture of trying to make Super-Creators into respectful and obedient students, thinking we are teaching “discipline”, and we destroy who God created them to be. Super-Creators are rare and, if you have one, consider yourself to be entrusted with a rainbow unicorn!

Who else has a Super-Creator?

What questions do you have? What victories have you experienced?

Here are some journals to help inspire your Super-Creator!

Let’s Play “What Will Happen Next?”

How to play:
1. Set up an interesting activity and take the first creative step.
2. Leave everything out. Take a photo of the set up.
3. Don’t tell the kids what to do. Just tell them what not to do…. ” No school until after lunch today. No computer time.”
4. Go have a smoothie or cup of tea. Do Mom School.
5. Come back in an hour and take a picture of the results.
6. Post both pictures in our Fun-Schooling with Thinking Tree Books – Mom’s Homeschooling Support Group under the blog post in the group!
The photo above is my “before”. Here is “after”. It took five minutes for 2 of the girls to notice the table. Even an hour later, Susie was still at it!

Is Fun-Schooling for You?

Fun-Schooling wasn’t designed to work for every family.

So, who does it work for?

Who does it NOT work well for?

Instead of having to give it a try and discover it was a waste of time and money, let’s first get a few things out of the way.

1. Fun-Schooling is not for parents who love testing, grading and correcting their child’s schoolwork in order to make sure their child is standardized.

2. Fun-Schooling is not for parents who believe that education is all about discipline and perfection, all work and no play.

3. Fun-Schooling is not for parents who feel that children should not be allowed to follow their own interests but must study a formal curriculum designed by professionals. If you believe that your child will never be able to teach himself and needs to be taught through rigorous memorization of facts, maybe Fun-Schooling will be a disappointment to you.

4. Fun-Schooling is not for parents who want to play the roles of “teacher and student” rather than “parent and child”. If you want to teach your child every lesson and recreate school at home, maybe Fun-Schooling will not be a good match unless you and your child are both “friend learners or followers”.

5. Fun-Schooling is not usually a good match for parents who plan out every minute of every day to make sure the child stays on task. If giving your child freedom (balanced with responsibility) scares you, don’t Fun-School. You won’t be comfortable.

6. Fun-Schooling doesn’t work well for parents who love teacher’s keys and multiple choice workbooks with answers in the back. Our journals are very open ended and there are no answers keys or teacher’s guides. Why? Because the books are based on research and curiosity so one page in a Fun-Schooling Journal will be one-of-a-kind when a child completes the activities. For example the Journal may prompt them to choose their favorite extinct animal and write down four interesting things about it. Trust me. An answer key would not be helpful because your child’s answer is completely unpredictable.

7. Fun-Schooling is not for parents who do not appreciate creativity, imagination and fun. Seriously there are zillions of parents and teachers who work hard to keep schooling serious. If you are this kind of parent/teacher don’t waste your hard earned money and precious time on Thinking Tree books.

Was this helpful? Is Fun-Schooling for you? Click here to learn more about How to Flip to Fun-Schooling!

Never Judge a Child by His Ability to Sit Still and Be Quiet!

Do you have a child who can’t sit still and be quiet? GOOD!  This may be a problem at school, but not in the real world. In today’s world you need a little ADHD just to get by.We must NEVER judge a child by his ability to be passive.  Passive children often turn into passive adults, and that is a problem.  Did you know that classrooms and desks were invented for the convenience of teachers, not for the best interests of the child? 

Every child development specialist (and wise parent) knows that children need lots of time to play, imagine and invent. Children NEED to learn about the world around them by asking questions and experimenting. Children are naturally ACTIVE, ENERGETIC, IMAGINATIVE, CREATIVE, and NOISY.  They were NEVER meant to sit still for hours on end and be passive.  Why train up a generation of couch potatoes?  Children were designed to learn through PLAY, DISCOVERY and by IMITATING their parents and the people around them.  Do you realize that your child was smart enough to figure out how to walk, sing, turn on the computer, and learn a language by age two and a half?  With NO lessons!  He wanted to be like you, so he figured it out on his own.  How is it that we live in a society where passive children are rewarded, but creative and active children are punished.  Real life does not work this way.  Not anymore.

 Contemporary schooling is all about controlling the child and training him to be a good student.  A good student is expected to be silent, to stop asking questions, and to stop being active.   The highest praise goes to the students who can follow a teacher’s instructions… instead of their own hearts.  The applaud goes to the child who can fill in the blank and memorize facts, not to the child who would prefer to explore his own interests.  

Why? Because schools are designed to train people for institutional jobs. Schools were invented during the industrial revolution, at a time when the best job you could get was in a factory.  Schools follow a model that require individuals to let go of all of their individuality.  The child is trained from a young age to be a good employee who will work for the boss, no questions asked.  the goal is to train them to complete assignments and be dependent on an authority figure to control the their time and activities. 

During the 20th century almost all parents expected children to get a good education and a good job.  The good education was expected to be the golden ticket to a good job.  All the parent had to do was put the kid on the big yellow bus, no worries.  The government would take care of everything, mom and dad could go to work, junior would spend all day in a nice school and get educated for free.  The world has changed.  People who want to live the “good life” are no longer finding good jobs.  Many highly educated people are living on unemployment or living with mom at age 35.  Many people who own businesses are no longer looking for employees, taxes are high, risk is high, minimum wage is more than they want to pay, minimum wage is less than an educated person is willing to work for anyway.   (click Page 2 below to continue reading)

The “Waiting Room” of the Mind

the waiting room of the mind

QUESTION: A mom in our homeschool group ordered one of the spelling books and commented that it seemed very simple, especially with some pages being just coloring. I remember that Sarah said something about the purpose of the coloring pages in the book… like downtime for the brain to process what it has learned. Does anybody know what I’m referring to?

ANSWER: When you learn something new, the brain stores it in “the waiting room” before sending it into long term memory. The brain needs to take time to process new things and store them properly so the new things can be retrieved in the future. If you move from one activity to the next, and don’t have downtime to process and reflect on new information, the waiting room gets really crowded and the brain starts to dump many of the new things into the trash, to make room for more information in the waiting room.

The waiting room does not have a lot of storage space, so the brain needs to process the information, and make room for more. Some things take just as long to process as they take to learn.

In the old days people used to learn a little and then do necessary work just to keep life on track. A lot of that work is thoughtless, like washing dishes and pulling weeds. You don’t need to “think” to pull weeds, so the brain takes that time to deal with all the new things in the “waiting room”.

There are a few things we need to do to learn AND REMEMBER new information:

1. We need to be introduced to new information.

2. We need to be curious about it.

3. We need to engage in it, and research it.

4. We need to use the new information.

5. We need to SHARE and talk about the new information.

6. We need to reflect on and ponder new information.

7. We need to get creative with the new information.

8. We need to attach emotions, experiences, stories and memories to the information. (click here to continue reading)

How Your Child Thinks: The Inventors (Part 3)

visual thinkers inventors creators

The visual thinkers of the world were created to be the designers, inventors, the artists, the musicians, the sailors and explorers. We say they have a problem with obedience and respect or we call it Dyslexia, Asperger’s Syndrome or ADHD. We try to tame them. Honestly, we have failed them . If a child is failing in his classroom, it is the classroom that failed the child. The child is not the one with a problem just because he learns differently.

The child must be set free to be the inventor, the artist, the dancer. So who will teach the inventor? Who will train the artist? The child must become his own teacher, and his parents and teachers must become his students, to learn from him, to understand him, to realize that he has within him the power to become great. We need to discover how to help him become who he was meant to be. We must accept that it may never happen in a desk, in a classroom and behind a pile of textbooks, even if you give the child medication and take away his crayons. Do you want to be the one to take away Albert’s compass, Benjamin’s kite, or Leonardo’s paintbrush or little Thomas Edison’s mirrors?

What is the solution for the child who fails in the classroom? Set him free from the classroom. Ask the child what he wants to learn about. Ask the child what he wants to do. Take the child to the book store, take the child to the art store, take the child to the beach, the forest, the ruins of a castle. Give him pets and let him catch lizards. Read to him until he learns to read to himself. Search for learning materials that captivate the visual mind–things like compasses, clay, mirrors, and paintbrushes. Let him sail, play instruments, and dig in the dirt. Let him take things apart and give him colored pencils. Let him watch people at work doing all different things in the world, take him to the kitchen, take him to an art studio, take him into factories and show him how to use sewing machines, instruments, scroll-saws, and tools. Let her dance. (to continue reading click here)

How Your Child Thinks: Visual Thinkers (Part 2)

children who are visual or creative thinkers

My child has a totally different way of seeing the world! He thinks in 3D Pictures.

Stop for a moment and look up from your computer. All around you are things that were designed by someone. Even the webpage in front of you was designed. Your computer was designed. The room you are sitting in, and the clothing you are wearing? Everything was designed, and chances are they were designed by a person with the gift of being able to think visually.

Some people are able to imagine something in their minds that has not yet been created. They are able to envision a better way of doing things. They are able to envision an object and change the size, shape and color using the power of the 3D workstation called the imagination. The people who designed the objects all around you were often called bad students, day-dreamers and doodlers. They are the visual thinkers.

Creativity journal for artists, songwriters, poets, writers, dreamers, thinkers

What if your child is a visual thinker? Only 10% of the population has the power to think visually, rather than to think with words. The people with the most powerful of visual minds often have an imbalance when it comes to standardized learning situations. The visual mind swirls with colors, ideas, music, art, and creativity and drives the visual thinker into a state of constant creativity and movement. Standardized systems of learning try to conform the child and make efforts to normalize him through medication, punishment, and control so he will not be a disruption in the classroom.

The visual thinker learns differently, and if you ask me, I would tell you that they can not be taught, they must discover. They struggle with the lifelessness of flat pages, the discomfort of the desk, the buzz of the fluorescent lights, the dullness of flat words on a page, and concepts void of emotion, dimension and wonder. They will ponder the mysteries of measurement and time, but their minds go blank when sitting at a desk staring at repetitive lists of math facts. They create works of art and new inventions from items rescued from the trash can, but can’t hold a pencil correctly when asked to write down their spelling words. They can tell the most amazing stories and their words will take you to far off lands and fill the air with magic and mystery, but if asked to put a sentence on paper, they might just cry. They are brilliant, they are amazing, they are curious and brave… until they are forced to conform to a way of learning designed for children who have no dancing, no questions, no music and no colors in their minds.

The majority of students will be content to follow the instructions, fill in the blanks, and make their lists on paper, but the visual thinker was not created for desks, for charts, for lists, for textbooks, for flash cards, for teachers, or for chalkboards… they would dance on the desk, and challenge the teacher. They would add color to the chart, they would roll up the chart to make a telescope or a musical instrument, they would stack the text books and build houses for invisible people, they would turn the flashcards in to a magic trick and turn the chalkboard into a work of art that belongs in a museum. They are constantly in search of the third dimension, the music and the movement.

Find Part 1 of this series here: How Your Child Thinks (Part 1). Continue to How Your Child Thinks: Inventors (Part 3)

“Failing” at 8 Years Old

You have no idea how many people talk to me about how worried they are about their 8-year-old.

Eight-year-olds are the most harshly-judged kids in the entire world because there is such a vast diversity of ability among them. For some, their brains turned on early and their academic skills are great. These kids can read, and write, and win a spelling bee. And then you have the 8-year-old who still can’t read the word “dad”. That was my daughter Anna. We all think we want the super smart kind of 8-year-old who is good at spelling, and most of them are not. Especially the boys. And a lot of the girls are not even ready yet to begin reading two-syllable words. So if you have an 8-year-old who is reading two-syllable words, that’s amazing. It’s actually kind of rare to have a child that age who is naturally really good at that. They have to learn to spell and understand 45,000 different words on their way to adulthood, so don’t expect that child to be able to spell much more than words like farm, dog, cat, pig, and house.

Give grace to your 8-year-olds and let them play games, color, draw, watch educational videos and listen to audio books, and don’t limit them by their abilities, disabilities, or challenges. Just let them be 8 years old. If you let them be that, they are never going to lose their curiosity and wonder and personality and humor and energy and joy. We ruin our 8-year-olds by making them feel like failures. No child that age needs to be considered a failure that young in life, so quit. I was a “failure”…I failed third grade. Do you know how embarrassing, humiliating and heartbreaking it is to fail third grade? Little kids don’t fail. We fail them by having expectations that are completely unreasonable for the individual child.

We worry that our kids’ struggles and mistakes and lack of abilities are going to destroy them for their whole lives. I just want to tell you that failing third grade was part of my story. It was a really important part of my story that I needed to struggle through. I needed that pain and difficulty in my life, because it was a very important part of what made me who I am today. If my education in public school had been easy, and people had respected me as being an intelligent and creative child, and if I had been able to understand the materials and everything and hadn’t failed, I would have no motivation to be helping all of you and creating curriculum for struggling learners.

It’s from my experience as a struggling learner, as a child who was hurt by the system, that I give you Fun-Schooling. I give you Fun-Schooling because as a little child I had a dream of what it would be like if it was always summer vacation. My mom and dad did summer vacation like nobody else. We had the best summers. We would travel all over the country. We had a giant map in our RV on the table. We were always doing geography, following the map, and figuring out where we were going. We did business. We went to art shows. We made art. They let me make art and sell it. I used money. We had a cabinet full of board games—Monopoly and Clue and Mad Libs. It was like the grandest unschooling adventure ever. My mom would read the Chronicles of Narnia books to us and all kinds of other amazing books. We were Fun-Schooling. That was my dream—that education could always be like that.

Fun-Schooling is the dream of a child that was failed. I saw my kids really struggling with trying to do Classical education because I was feeling pressured to do a really structured kind of thing. I’ve seen that the more freedom and tools I give my kids, the more skills I encourage, the more hobbies that they have–the more they become real learners.