Fun-Schooling Family Stories: Britt Stilwell

Today we welcome Fun-Schooling mam Brittany Stilwell for a guest post!!

Hi, I’m Britt! I am a homeschooling mother to 7 children ages 12, 11, 9, 7, 5, 2, and 3 months. Together we live in sunny South Florida, right on the coast. We are very familiar with neurodiversities as 3 of my children are autistic, as well as myself. We also have one child gifted with dyslexia.

Finding curricula for my children was quite the challenge considering their different needs and abilities. I never wanted them to feel frustrated or like they were “less than” for not being able to properly fill out worksheets with information they may never remember. Instead, I desired something more for them. I wanted to provide them with an education that would help them learn more about themselves while focusing on their gifts and talents. When we found The Thinking Tree, I was intrigued. Could my children really excel using these beautiful books? We tried several of the Minecraft journals as a family–a favorite theme of ours. Our homeschool was forever changed. We haven’t looked back yet!

I wanted to share a little of what I’ve learned over the years that we have been using Fun-Schooling journals and what things look like for us now that we have found our groove. 💕

  1. Keep it simple! Don’t overcomplicate things. Don’t overthink things. Go in with a clear head and an open mind. Be ready to say yes more often than no. ✔️
  2. It’s okay to buy all the journals. 💸 (Yes! I just said that! lol) It’s okay if your child wants to use all of the journals at once. It’s okay if your child wants to use just one at a time. As long as they are learning and getting work done, roll with it. 🤓
  3. Let your kids pick out their journal(s)! 📚 This is so important to my kids. They really feel in charge of their education when they have the freedom to study exactly what they want and how they want. 🌎 🦋 🔬
  4. It’s okay if all of your child’s books are relevant to their journals, or none are relevant at all. Maybe they liked the pretty horse cover but they want to study George Washington. 🤷🏽‍♀️ It’s their journal after all. Let them really own it and create something that reflects themselves. 🪞
  5. Let them loose! Maybe they only do a few really good pages a day or maybe they get excited for the next page and hurry through. ✏️ Don’t discourage their learning by telling them how you’d rather it be done. I have done this plenty and it has always hurt their spirit. 😞
  6. Believe they are capable, because they really are! 🥰
  7. There is no wrong way to use Fun-Schooling journals, but there is a right way. The right way is to always be sure there is FUN in each day! 🎲

And lastly…

8. Lead. By. Example. 👯‍♀️

I can’t stress this one enough. Emulate the behaviors and habits you wish to see in your children. Yes, personalities are different. I have 7 children and no two are alike, but they are all watching ME. The best things we can teach our kids will not come from library books or curricula, but from within our own hearts and what we do with our hands. 💗

With all that said, below are 5 of the journal and book choices of my kiddos. I love the variety!

Want your story to be featured on the blog? Reply in the comments with your ideas!

Inside the Heart of Sensory Processing Issues

Consider this a letter from a loved one who is having a meltdown because of a panic attack, an autism spectrum disorder, or sensory processing overload…

My friend,

Please be patient, I’m trying to sort things out. I need to feel some comfort and acceptance from you right now. I’m really sorry for the way I responded, but I’m just trying to cope with something that is making me feel anxious and afraid for reasons that I can’t explain. So be my friend and remember who I am.

If you ask me questions, or try to get me to make decisions, or if you treat me like I’m a child who is misbehaving, beware I might slip into a deep well of sadness, feeling all alone. If you tell me that I should get over it, or tell me that I’m being irrational, I would certainly agree with you, if I could think clearly, but I can’t. Those kinds of comments will actually work against us, since I already know that I am wrong and I don’t desire to be in this place of fear and confusion. I’m embarrassed, but I can’t pull myself out. I can’t just choose to flip a switch that makes me feel like all is well.

You have the power to show love, comfort, kindness and compassion, to bring me back to a place where I feel safe and protected. You may feel like pushing me away or avoiding me right now. If you choose to treat me like I am a problem, I will feel like I am alone, abandoned, and in danger.

Choose loving words, a gentle and firm touch, be kind, encourage, and remind me who I am and why I am loved, why I am wanted, why I am safe, why I am treasured and worth it.

Right now I am most likely struggling with feelings of misplaced fear, and humiliation because I can’t be who you want me to be. I love you so much that it breaks my heart to know that when I face the pain of this sensory overload, I can’t be myself.

When I am melting down and wrought with confusion because of this social situation… I can’t be cheerful and funny and sweet. Maybe you think that if I really love you I can choose to snap out of this mode, but I can’t figure out how to be lovable right now. Even though I resemble a hedgehog, but less cute, I need love and acceptance more than anything in the world.

So maybe you will try to show me a little love, but I won’t respond like you expect. I know that this is really hard for you, but don’t give up. I need you now. Don’t give the silent treatment, don’t try to force me to choose a restaurant, don’t try to get me to apologize for my bad behavior.

Just protect me, cause right now I am very weak. Be strong. Be like Jesus who loved us and gave himself for us, when we were yet sinners. To love is to deny self, and I’ll thank you later. Right now just remember who I am and keep me safe.

Tips for Using “Faces & Feelings”

Good news! Both covers are now available for this journal. The “Autism Spectrum” cover can be found here, and the “Faces and Feelings” cover can be found here.

Do you want to be super successful with this therapy?

Moms, you understand that kids learn best by example.

Please get one book for yourself and one for each of your children who need to understand feelings and facial expressions better.

Set up a cozy little station with drawing supplies, chocolate, a rock salt light, candle, a small mirror. Whatever feels cozy to you. Some drinks or even a tea making station. Just create a cozy spot.

Put the books in a little basket on the desk.
Light the candle, make the tea and go work on a couple pages in your book. Be an example of exactly what you hope your child will do with their book.

Invite the child to help you “figure out” what the face on the page represents. Ask your child to help you.

When you get to the page where you can write anything make up a little story about the five characters on the previous pages. Give them names and give them an adventure. In your story they can experience something that causes the feelings. Read the story to your child. Ask them to help you choose a name for each character.

The writing pages in the book do not dictate anything about how to use that page, we want the student to have freedom, but this is what I would do with it.

Don’t offer a copy of the book to your child on the first day. Just have a couple extras on the desk. If they don’t ask for one after helping you with yours you can offer it to them or just tell them it’s part of school.

If you feel like the child is going to resist you can let them know that they get to work on this book instead of math this week, or instead of a chore that they don’t enjoy. Keep it positive!

New Neurodivergent/Autism Journal

I embrace my Asperger’s as a gift. I feel like it isn’t something I should be ashamed of–we are just wired differently, yet have so many unique gifts and talents. I was about 30 when I realized what made me different, at the time my nephew and several family members were diagnosed with Asperger’s and my daughter Anna, with Dyslexia. It was refreshing to begin to understand my quirks, gifts and reason for my struggles. All through school I mystified the teachers, they couldn’t understand how an intelligent girl with a high IQ could fail so terribly in school–and why was I such a target for the bullies?

I was very uncomfortable with conversation, and did not enjoy playing with kids my age. I liked babies, enjoyed talking to some adults, and had a strong connection with animals. I always avoided looking at people, and loved gadgets and spinning things. I was constantly counting everything and was obsessed with patterns, space travel, genealogy and genetics. I was one of those kids who could solve Rubik’s Cubes and logic puzzles in a flash, but was terrified of my classmates. I would rather eat sand than talk to the kids in the lunch room. I wore my hair over my eyes to keep out the fluorescent lights, and to keep people from seeing me. I was always designing things and drawing things and building habitats for small animals. I created a museum in my own backyard. I was a weird kid, and I knew it. I didn’t care what anyone thought of me.

Until I was 14 years old I refused to make eye contact and my symptoms of Autism were much more severe than they are now. Something changed. People with Asperger’s tend to have very intense special interests. My interest was drawing people’s eyes and doing makeup. I became fascinated by the human face. Once I began to get comfortable looking at faces I quickly began to overcome many symptoms related to socializing.

I started with magazine tutorials teaching step by step how to apply make up. Looking at models on a page wasn’t as uncomfortable as looking at people in real life. I even took acting, photography, and modeling classes. I worked specifically on becoming comfortable with eye contact and began doing makeup on myself and others.

Once I was comfortable with looking at faces, I began to get curious about the color of everyone’s eyes. So I would look at people. I also began to draw pictures of people in magazines and would focus on eyes and expressions.

I didn’t know that I was overcoming a lot of social anxiety in the process.

Once I was willing to look at people’s faces, and even study people’s faces, I started to understand the connection between their words, tone of voice, feelings and facial expression. I didn’t have feelings of empathy until I started reading faces.

Getting over the discomfort of looking at a person’s face was incredibly hard. When I would make eye contact as a young child I felt like I could see down into the soul. It was too much.

The goal of this book is to gently help the student to study faces, color the eyes, trace the faces and expressions, and identify the emotions of the person or animal in each picture. As the student engages in these activities they subconsciously begin to work through the feelings of resistance and anxiety that often accompany eye contact. Once the student becomes more familiar with faces they may begin to experience stronger empathy and feel more comfortable while engaging with others.

I can’t promise or claim that this book will help your loved one, but it’s worth a try. I’m releasing it for less than $10 so you can easily become part of this research experiment if you would like to. I know that my Dyslexia Therapy has been incredibly successful, and our Dyscalculia Games have made an amazing difference in the lives of struggling learners. So far I’ve seen positive results using these activities with children who are on the spectrum. So if you are willing, give it a try!

I know that there will be people who are skeptical and will want to tell me why this is not the professional way to help people with Autism. If you are that person, please wait at least one month before judging the program. Thanks!

For those who prefer not to have the word “Autism” on the cover, this option is now available.

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