T.H.E Conference Plug and My Boy Who Fits in The Box

2014conferencelogoThe weather is finally a nice spring weather. I have been enjoying my bike rides outside. The 6th Annual Torah Home Education Conference is almost upon us. For those who have not attended, it is such an amazing experience! Aside from the wonderful lectures and chizuk (inspiration) from the various speakers, I there are no words to describe finally meeting various people we meet through the internet. If you have not yet signed up, please do so now! (And below also find my little blurb on The Box.)

The 6th Annual Torah Home Education Conference will take place, G-d willing, on Sunday, May 25 2014. The conference opens with check-in at 8:15 AM with complimentary morning refreshments and concludes at 6:00 PM.

 A kosher catered lunch will be served. The cost is $15 per meal and can be purchased along with your registration. .

Vendors will be on hand to display and sell the materials they’ve created to enhance your Torah homeschooling experience. It will be possible to visit these vendors from the lunch period through the end of the day.

Our confirmed speakers are Avivah Werner, Nechama Cox, Leah Fine, Dena Schweitzer, Chai Gross, and many, many others.  We will have sessions on Hebrew for the Homeschooling Parent , High School/College/Yeshiva/Seminary preparation, Home with a Pre-schooler?, Homeschooling your Child with Special Needs, Schedules and your Homeschool, a Teen Panel and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly:  What Happens When It Doesn’t Go as Planned!?, as well as talks by homeschooling fathers and communal rabbis.

Sign up today here – http://www.eventbee.com/v/2014theconference


The Box 2bWe know how different each child is, even children from the same family. I have recently talked about putting (or not putting) children in Boxes, especially for their schooling, but what do you do with a child who actually does fit in The Box? You let him sleep in it of course! He told me he had a really good sleep. 😀

More Thoughts on Boxes

20140115_183338I thought I posted this two weeks ago, but I guess it helps if I press the “publish” button when I am done. (Oops.) In any case, just wanting to wish Mr. Big Boy #2 a wonderful and Happy Birthday! We did not take a picture of the cake that his brothers made for him today, but here is the picture of his Tu B’Shevat cake.

Last time I wrote a blog regarding putting children in boxes – making all people “the same.” I definitely could have written so much more, but that would have taken a book to write it all down. However, it was a starting point and something that was asking for comments. Comments are great for they get everyone thinking. I find that good comments help me think and really get my thoughts out better. I did have one person write me, and I am going to try to summarize their email as well as my response back.

This person was saying that change is not always a bad thing. One of her children is on medication and he feels so much better. Before, he had so many thoughts roaming around his head that he could not think properly, nor comprehend others properly for his thoughts kept getting in his way. Now, he feels in control of himself and is able to make appropriate decisions. He feels very happy with himself now.

As for school and a box, well, 100% agreement on that. And, no, it’s not the number of kids. It’s what the teachers are given to work with. If a child misbehaves, they cannot tell them no or that they are doing something bad. They must be ‘redirected’. So, they never learn, and the teacher has no teeth. Kids act up in class and there are no consequences. An ADHD kid may not always control their actions, but cannot be given a free pass. They need to learn to control, they need to be given the tools to control.

Important things for all ADHD (and non) kids? Exercise, sleep, diet. People were not made to sit for hours at a time. Change school – these kids are not20140115_182808 farming anymore. They should be spending a full day in school. They should have a decent break between classes. They should be forced to move. They should have a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack. They should have time to work on schoolwork during the day in case they have questions. They should have a minimal amount to take home to teach them how to use their time.

No, this does not work for every kid, but would certainly work a lot better than what we have now!

Now, here is my response:

As I mentioned, there is a time and a place for medicines, and there is absolutely no way I can comment on your son. There are children that should be on medicines, BUT I feel the percentage is rather low.

So, why are there so many people on medicines now? I think the answer is rather simple (though doing something about is not.) You hit the nail on the spot – not that long ago we were all moving around a LOT – farming, etc. It reminds me a lot of pit bulls. Pit bulls have gotten a bad rap for hurting people. Pit bulls are not meant to be cooped up in a city life, they NEED to be running around in a field/meadow/farm, etc. They have so much energy that in a city life it just builds up and without the ability to release it, they snap.
We all need to move around and exercise. We never had to make time to exercise until we stopped farming – not that not being on a farm is a bad thing. Children need to move around, and boys in general usually need more. When we take a child that just has so much energy and make them sit still for 6-7 hours a day, they can’t cope and they “snap” and interrupt and disturb the classroom.
I have heard of the following kind of classroom (not sure where this classroom is except that it is in the US):
They split boys and girls up for girls and boys learn differently. Not sure what they do for the girls, and it might be a boys only school, but especially for the boys, they make them move around on a very regular basis, for example, every 10 minutes or so they move seats. The learning style is more physical and active, not just worksheets. Yes, worksheets are easy, but not always the best way to do something. With the constant movement, the boys are able to control themselves for they are able to release it all. Yes, you are still going to come across a boy once in a while who needs more or something else in addition, but you won’t need to give it to that many.
And no, I am not doing this very well, and I understand it. I am struggling to try to incorporate this into our learning, but at least I understand the need and hope to try harder at it.
And, not to mention that a lot of parents feel that kids should be seen but not heard and that does not help at all either!
So, the answer is to let kids be kids and understand the different learning abilities between girls and boys (btw, girls do well with the standard learning and they will usually do well with more of the “boy” style learning while boys can do the boy style learning but not nearly as well with the standard learning taught today,) and teach each according to their ways. 🙂

The b0X → █

20131216_132634Hope everyone is staying warm and having fun in the snow (those that have!) It’s been a while, I know. I can say it’s been busy (which it has,) and it has been hard to get back into the swing of things after the Bar Mitzvah – between family visiting, Thanksgiving, having a few weeks before getting ready for more family coming to visit, etc. All that is true, but there were times where I could have sat down to write, and I have thought about it for weeks. The real reason for not writing is simply because I could not think of anything to write about; school has been slow. However, as we are finishing our vacation, and hopefully tomorrow we will get back into the swing of things, I came across some videos and readings today that I do want to talk about. The topic is nothing new to homeschoolers, but it seems to be something that few non-homeschooling teachers want to talk about very much, or perhaps better put, something that might be talked about but few think there is much they can or want to do about it.

When we first started homeschooling, about 8 years ago, when asked why we were homeschooling we just answered because we wanted to. That answer was true, but it was not the complete truth. Almost 8 years later I now feel comfortable talking about the complete truth. The real truth, the real reason why we even considered homeschooling is because our son did not fit inside the box. No, we are not talking about the cardboard box that he did fit into, it is the school box – the one that the schools want to put all students into so that they can teach our children the easiest – the box called “NORMAL.” Teachers want each child to have both feet and both arms, both hands and their bodies all in the same box. I don’t really blame them, teaching more than one or two children at a time is not easy, I know, I have 4 children of various ages in my daily classroom and I have taught in a preschool that had 4-5 times as many children all the same age than I teach now. Teaching is not easy and I have great respect for teachers.

Those who read my posts regularly know that I have one boy that thinks really differently than the rest – and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that and I would not change him for anything. My husband was tired Shabbos night and we were just sitting and talking about ADD medicines. He preceded the conversation by telling me that he was in no way suggesting anything, he was just talking. Oh, medicine would work well on our one child, he would be a textbook patient. His concentration would be great, his learning would jump up, etc. Um, yeah, I think medicine would work well for me too. I get sidetracked often, can’t seem to focus, etc. I believe most of us would benefit from medicine! But No. Not just “no”, an unequivocal No. One thing that most people do not think about – these ADD medicines do one thing I refuse to do to my children – it CHANGES them. Even once off, the child is changed. The child would not be the same kind of child they were before the medicine. There are other negatives to being on these medicines, such as becoming stubborn. The medicine is made to make a person focus. That might be fine and dandy until a child has a tantrum. The medicine makes a person focus on the negative so much more just like it makes him focus on the good. Oh, but then my husband told me that there are medicines they give children for defiance as well. Nice. (There IS a time and place for everything, and there is a small, small, small percentage of children who actually do need it, and should probably be on it. I just believe there are too many people (children AND adults) who are on it that do not need to be and people are just confused as to when the medicine is really needed.) When I hear that there are many classrooms in the country where all the children are on medicines, shouldn’t that concern us? I could go on. We are destroying our children’s creativity when we make them focus with medicines. When someone has focus medicine, there cannot be creativity. Yes, children need to be taught to focus in learning, but by making them focus all the time we remove their ability to be creative. 

Why do people like medicines? It makes it so much easier to teach a room full of children if they are all the same. Imagine; 15 or so children who are not able to sit still, not focus and interrupt, or 15 children who are sitting dutifully in their chairs, are quiet and listen.  On the other hand, it is hard for me to look at any particular parent and say they are doing wrong for the school systems are set up for almost 100% failure if a child does not fit into a box. It is something that has to change from the top. The schools have to change before we can suggest change to others.

My oldest, while in preschool, had at least 2 arms and one foot outside the “box.” For three quarters of the year the teacher thought my child was not as intelligent as the rest of the children. She told me that my son was not able to compete with them. At the end of the year parent-teacher interview she exclaimed, “Your son is very intelligent!” By this time we had already decided that to keep him in school past the next month was going to be a big mistake. We had already decided we were going to homeschool. As the years go by, I am constantly seeing how every child learns differently, and it is not just that girls learn differently than boys – I have 4 boys and each is very different. We have to expect that. Why? Each person that is created is unique. We know that each one of us has a unique mission to fulfill and if one of us does not fulfill our mission, the world is not complete. Hashem gave each one of us a unique set of qualities that match our specific mission, therefore there are no two people the same. If we know that and understand that, why should it surprise us when someone says each child learns differently?

חֲנֹךְ לַנַּעַר עַל פִּי דַרְכּוֹ – Train (teach) a child according to his way (Mishlei/Proverbs 22:6)

Teaching is not a one-size-fits-all. My answer to my husband as to how to deal with any of the children who I might be having a harder time dealing with – I have to change my teaching style, not change the boy. I don’t want to change any boy, that would be taking away from who his is and his ability to fulfill his mission in this world. I can see all my children when they are older and they are going to be able to live just fine, it is just that right now their parents need to guide and mold them into who they need to be – not change them. I have found, through experience, that by adjusting myself and growing myself, my boys tend to follow suit, on their own, without having to argue and fight with them. I have to change my ways to teach according to his way.

Here are the links that spurred today’s blogging:
The Box Child – Rabbi Dovid Abenson
Rabbi Abenson’s website is: http://shaarhatalmud.com/

Educating Yorkshire – Mushy Finds His Voice
Short Version    – Long Version