These Are A Few of My Favorite Things: May

Here’s a branch of snowy May,

A branch the fairies gave me.

Who would like to dance today, 

With a branch the fairies gave me?

Dance away, dance away,

Holding high the branch of May.

-from Spring: A Collection of Poems, Songs and Stories for young children by Wynstones Press

I love May, in all her green and blooming glory.  Down here in the South, the weather can be quite warm and the pools are opening for the season.  It is the end of the school year, and everything is bursting with vitality!

This month we are celebrating:

May 1 – May Day; also the Feast of St. Philip and St. James

May 2, 3, and 4 – Rogation Days

May 5 – The Feast of Ascension

May 8- Mother’s Day

May 15 – Whitsun; The Feast of Pentecost

May 19 – The Feast of St. Dunstan

May 20 – The Feast of St. Alcuin

May 30- Memorial Day (and our wedding anniversary!)

May 31- The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

These are a few of my favorite things for small children:

  • Hiking on The Feast of Ascension, watching clouds
  • Making Pentecost crafts
  • Gathering for May Day and dancing around a May Pole!
  • Making crafts for Memorial Day, Memorial Day parades
  • Pedal toys – trikes and bikes! Have your own Memorial Day parade

These are a few of my favorite things for grades-aged children:

  • All of the above, plus
  • Following Screen Free Week May 2-8
  • Swimming and miniature golf
  • Playing in the water and sand
  • Observing all the dragonflies, bees, and butterflies
  • Calming rituals for rest times and the end of the day.  I strongly believe that children ages 8-13 still need earlier bedtimes and I work very hard to make that happen. Calming rituals and rhythm are soothing for sleep!

These are a few of my favorite things for teens:

  • All of the above, including screen free week
  • Spring cleaning and spring decorating of the home, gardening tasks
  • Spring cooking, making special treats for The Feast of Ascension and Memorial Day
  • Planning surprise May Day baskets for neighbors, and doing things to serve others.
  • Picnics at the lake
  • Later night walks in the warm air – great time to talk after the smaller children have gone to bed

These are a few of my favorite things for myself:

  • Celebrating our family with family meetings and family game night.
  • Celebrating our marriage with a night out.
  • Vigorously moving 5 to 6 days a week, whether that is through yoga, hiking, at the gym, or whatever I choose.
  • Drinking lots of water and herbal teas.
  • Going through the “You Are Loved” Bible Study by Sally Clarkson and Angela Perritt.  I am really enjoying it.

These are a few of my favorite things for homeschool planning:

I haven’t planned too much yet and am finding it hard to get back on track. My plan right now is to spend several afternoons this month at the library and see if I can write up some of the missing presentations for sixth grade and then that grade will be done, along with finishing up soe plans for ninth grade biology.  Then I will start to start write for first grade. I have an idea for a quality of number/first math processes block and am still searching for just the right idea for presenting the letters.

Hope you are doing some celebrating this month.  Please share your May plans!

Many blessings,
Carrie

Celebrating The Feast of Ascension With Children

The Feast of Ascension is such a beautiful festival.  In the Western calendar, Ascension Day is coming on Thursday, May 8. This used to be a day of sabbatical in many places in Europe, where processions through a town or village went forth with a banner depicting a lion trampling the devil was at the head of this procession, and the procession stopped throughout the village to view little medieval pageants. It also used to be a day for Divine Liturgy, where the Paschal Candle was extinguished, perhaps a statue or picture of Christ was raised (sometimes elaborately through a hole in the ceiling with ropes!) and the mass of parishioners were showered with rose petals and flowers, which symbolized the gifts which the ascended Christ bestowed upon the Church.

Much of this no longer takes place.  Many Anglican Communion churches now celebrate Divine Liturgy for the Feast of Ascension on the Sunday after the feast, and the Paschal Candle is extinguished on The Feast of Pentecost.

 

For the day of the Feast, those who are religious can attend Divine Liturgy and read the Gospel story about the Ascension of Jesus.   We can ponder the mystical nature of the whole of the Church.   This can still be a beautiful sabbatical day of hiking to a hill or mountaintop and looking for clouds in the shape of lambs, which is traditional.

Clouds are a theme in Ascension, and the clouds, according to the authors of “All Year Round”, can link us to the “stream of blessings which united heaven and earth”.  The section on Ascension also talks about “between the common ground of our daily life and the vaulted heights of our ideals, the longings of our heart swell like summer clouds.”  These are lovely thoughts to ponder as we re-fresh and re-new our souls on this special day, and the nine days following The Feast of Ascension in order to prepare for Whitsun (Pentecost) – the renewal found in this festival makes room and space in us to receive the gifts our Creator has bestowed upon us, and to ponder how we can use these gifts in truth to serve all of humanity.

Many Blessings,

Carrie

 

Holistic Support for Children With ADD/ADHD

So our last post was more suggestions from published studies,  ADD/ADHD educational literature and the US Department of Education regarding general support for educational success.  Today we are going to focus on some of the more holistic options and ideas for general support for the child with ADD/ADHD that I have cross-referenced with just a few studies as I could find them.

The list of complementary therapies parents have used to support ADD/ADHD is long and cannot be adequately listed in one post:  elimination diets, avoiding food allergens and food colorings/preservatives, Omega 3 and other supplements, chiropractic work, craniosacral work, Traditional Chinese Medicine, EEG biofeedback therapy, Occupational Therapy , Physical Therapy, massage, yoga, homeopathy, work with naturopathic doctors.  Other things from a Waldorf perspective may include light or color therapy, sound therapy, anthroposophic medicine, therapeutic eurythmy.

Regular lifestyle choices that many parents who read this blog are familiar with but also supportive to children with ADD/ADHD include regular rhythm, simplification in the environment and outside of the home activities, a great diet of outdoor time and sensory play in the outdoors, warm and natural materials for warmth and play, not burdening smaller children with too many choices.  I am sure there are many other options that exist that I have left out.  Please be sure to leave a comment and let me know what you have used in your family if I have.

In just digging around, here is just a tiny sampling of the links to research I have found that you as a parent could share with your health care or educational team for your child or delve into for yourself.  Parents can sometimes end up spending lots of money on therapies for their child; I think that not everything wonderful has studies behind it, but on the other hand it is  nice to see some do and maybe that is a place to start if you have limited funds and want to look into supportive therapies.

Is there a link between ADD/ADHD and Celiac Disease?

Omega-3 and Zinc Supplementation; the role of zinc 

Case study of chiropractic care and another case study here.  A 2010 systematic review.

EEG Biofeedback (there are many studies out there; this is well-researched.) Here is an example of one study; some studies include only children or teens on Ritalin, so look through and see the study criteria when you look at a study.

Traditional Chinese Medicine efficacy versus Ritalin; meta analysis of acupuncture and its affect on AD/HD

The relationship between Obstructive Sleep Apnea and  AD/HD; outcomes after surgery

Yoga and ADD/ADHD

This is just a tiny, tiny tip of the research out there. I urge you to go onto PubMed’s website and search for yourself under these topics to see what is out there.  Please share with me what complementary choices or lifestyle choices your family has made that you felt had the greatest impact and success for your child with ADD/ADHD.

Blessings,
Carrie

Teaching Children With ADD/ADHD

(The suggestions in this post are more being pulled from research and mainstream literature and really geared more toward a traditional, not homeschooling, environment – although some of these ideas could work quite well there.  They do not represent my independent total ideas of general suggestions, which would include more holistic options as well. However, I feel it is extremely important that parents know what mainstream health care professionals are saying, what research is saying, because if a child is in a traditional school setting particularly I think parents need to have familiarity with what is out there from this perspective.  There are more posts to come in this series in which I hope to detail some other suggestions for teaching)

In our last post, we looked at the neurobiologic differences of children who have ADD/ADHD compared to children who don’t.  However, this often leads to the inevitable question of how to best help children who are experiencing these challenges.  The work of the family due to children who have ADD/ADHD and its often related co-morbidities are real.    And, although not all readers who read this blog homeschool, I think it can feel very difficult in the beginning for the homeschooling parent who is teaching a child with ADD/ADHD where it feels like finding all the answers are on their shoulders.

Here are a few things I would think about regarding teaching and support in general.  Some of these are ideas borne out in studies, some are ideas that parents of children with ADD/ADHD have told me were helpful over the years, and some of my own ideas based on the children I have worked with when I was an actively practicing pediatric physical therapist.

Some very general things:

Exercise – Exercise improves learning in general for all children, and especially  for children with attentional deficits, exercise helps increase neurotransmitter activity.  Here is an example of one study regarding exercise and boys with ADD/ADHD.  Here is one meta-analysis  on this subject from February of 2016.  There is some evidence that exercise in nature is particularly wonderful.

Positive strengths – making a list of your child or student’s positive traits is so important.  It can carry a parent through hard times, it can help to have something to say when a child with ADD/ADHD suffers with low self-esteem or feels rejected socially, and it gives a teacher a place to draw from in teaching.

According to this document regarding teaching children with ADD/ADHD from the U.S. Department of Education, it is important to assess exactly how, when, and why the child becomes inattentive or disruptive.  Then the teacher can make up a strategy based upon academic teaching, behavior management, and accommodations.

Some general strategies could include:

Older children and teens in the classroom or a noisy environment can use noise cancelling headphones for working or use white noise.  Here is a study from March of 2016 talking about this issue.

Movement can be incorporated by teachers.  Teachers in schools and in homeschools can design their teaching  to have “Brain Breaks” and get up and move every 20 minutes or so.  Brain breaks in the classroom can include any number of activities, but true physical therapy may be needed to deal with increased motor issues, as many children with ADD/ADHD do have motor challenges.

This recent meta-analysis shows that to decrease disruptive behavior during school, consequences and self-regulation techniques provide the best effects (but what “consequences” were used or what self-regulation techniques were used were not specifically explored).

“High Interest” teaching strategies are important – because children and teens with ADD/ADHD have reduced dopamine receptions and transporters in the area of the brain that is involved with reward and motivation, high interest subjects help improve academic performance.  Students with ADD/ADHD often do not learn well with just visual or auditory input – they often need a more hands-on style with visual cueing.

Understand that learning is DEVELOPMENTAL.  If a child or teenager with ADD/ADHD has delayed neurobiologic brain maturation, he or she will not have the learning or memory capacity of students of the same age.  (This is where structural maturation CAN impact function).   Working memory for student with ADD/ADHD, even a teenager, may be limited to about five items or fewer.  So, a lesson in which the student is supposed to remember ten things will not be learned in one lesson.

For children with ADD/ADHD, if you are the teacher, you must be very clear as to your objectives in learning.  This seems to really help children with ADD/ADHD.

As a teacher, you can orally ask questions as you go along and point to visual cues to help assist in answering.  In public schools, some of the methods being used include the teacher giving the student a copy of lecture notes to the student in outline form with key points marked to help the student, or to provide skeletal outlines to provide compensation for poor working memory.  Reducing notetaking for teens is important.

Showing sample completed projects or pages helps.  Reduced written work should be expected.  Having an older child or teen  write the correct answer only or fill in blank often works better than having a child try to write full essays or summaries.

Quality over quantity.  Pick your assignments for your child carefully.

These are general suggestions.  I hope to address helping with language arts and math in future posts to help parents and homeschooling parents.

Blessings,

Carrie

 

Neurobiologic Differences in Children With AD/HD

ADD/ADHD occurs in approximately 11 percent of all children, according to the CDC.  If  you are someone who is blessed to have a child or teenager who has challenges with attention and executive function, there are few things you might want to keep in mind.  Children with ADD/ADHD are NOT alike, and ADD/ADHD is considered, at this point, a complex neurobiological disorder by the medical community .  We say this because of these main medical findings:

Children with ADD/ADHD seem to have reduced cerebral blood flow to some parts in the front of the brain.  These areas typically control attention, impulsivity, sensitivity to rewards and punishments, emotions, and memory.

There is underactivity of specific neurotransmitters in the brain, specifically dopamine and norephinephrine.    This has been shown on PET scans.  There have been several genes linked to ADD/ADHD – two were dopamine receptor genes, along with a dopamine transporter gene.  Remember, dopamine plays a major role in regulating attention, concentration, movement, behavior, response to punishment and reward, learning, working memory, analysis of a task, problem solving, and long-term memory.

Some sections of the brain are smaller in children and teenagers with ADD/ADHD.  This review looks at the specific areas of the brain with volume reduction.

There is a lag in structural brain maturation of children with ADD/ADHD.  ADHD children may more match children 1-3 years younger, with the largest lags in structural maturation seen in older children in one study.

So, if you are parenting or teaching children who have attentional and executive function challenges, understanding these neurobiologic differences many assist you in developing a more cohesive strategy for helping your child.

The other thing to remember is that ADD/ADHD often occurs with other things,  including learning disabilities, Tourette’s Syndrome, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, substance abuse, oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, and executive functioning difficulties.  Sleep disturbances are also extremely common, along with challenges in transitions and changes in routine.  There are often multiple challenges to be addressed together in order to lead to success for the child or teen in school and in life.

Many blessings,
Carrie

Weeks 29 and 30: Homeschooling Eighth, Fifth, and Kindy

We took a lovely week to be at the sea and had a little holiday.  I spent a little time thinking about our rhythm, which has withstood quite a number of disruptions this year.  We need a strong ending to the school year, so I think I pretty much came upon refining our rhythm to be: me working out early/breakfast; going over our Anglican Spiritual Studies; time for our kindergartener; recess; Main Lesson for our fifth grader; Main lesson for our eighth grader and then a late lunch and more recess.  Several days a week we may have to come back to finish up main lesson kinds of projects and such.  So, it feels comfortable and do-able for the rest of the school year to me at this point and I am hoping to have a great ending to the school year.

Kindergarten:  We have had a grand time with our Spring Circle.  Our story has been Suzanne Down’s “Spring Kite Music” from her book, “Spring Tales”.  Our general rhythm has been baking on Mondays, crafting on Wednesdays, and painting on Fridays with Tuesdays and Thursdays being our days out at Forest Kindergarten.  We have also been making and playing little homemade games – things such as a variation of a homemade Candyland – and other games.  We have been singing and doing a lot of little finger plays for Spring as well.  Such a sweet time.

Fifth Grade – Our fifth grader is finishing up a block that combined Canadian Geography with the Metric System.  Our main project for Canada has been a giant salt dough map where we have been painting provinces, rivers, and marking towns.  We have been using the metric system to go over the height of landmarks, distances between towns, what we would eat in our meals in Canada in grams and liters.  We have been reviewing and practicing a lot with the four math processes, and fractions.  We finished reading the book “Seabird” by Holling C. Holling and have now moved into reading about Hawaii in preparation for our North American Geography block.  We are also working diligently on spelling as well.

Eighth Grade – We finished tracing the events of the Cold War through four decades, mainly through the biographies of Eisenhower, JFK, Nixon, and Reagan.  This included the arms race and the Space Race, the benefits of space exploration and where space exploration is today (and a lovely tie in was seeing the rocket launch on the Florida coast whilst on vacation), the Korean War, the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War and the differences between a president such as Nixon and detente and Reagan’s policies.  Then we moved into the War on Terror and all the different groups and players involved from the Persian Gulf War right up to today.  Our last foray this week is into the Age of Digitality – the history of the Internet and the World Wide Web and challenges of this century.  Our Main Lesson book pages have included amazing writing and art work for this block.  We are looking forward to starting Oceanography tomorrow.  We are starting the first few days by tying in to some of the peoples who traveled the oceans in different watercrafts, and then a little about plate tectonics and a beautiful look at the all the wonders of the ocean floor.  I am very excited about this block!

In World Geography, we finished up Africa and also Russia.  We have reviewed all the geography of Russia, the different ethnic groups within Russia, Russia’s history, and the Trans-Siberian Railroad. The only place we have left to study is Europe, so it feels good we are coming to the end of our year-long geography course.

I am ready to keep forging ahead with our homeschooling year, and also looking forward to get back on planning for first, sixth, and ninth grade. I have actually felt more stumped by first grade lately in planning, but recently came up with some creative ideas that I think will lead to a fun first grade for our littlest.

I would love to hear what you are working on!

Blessings,

Carrie

Finding Peace: Connection of the Heart

Connection is the heart of what it means to be human.  Connection is what enables us to know ourselves deeply and to live into our own needs and values. There can also be connection to a significant other ; connection to our children; connection to other family and friends in community; connection to nature and connection to the Creator and Creation.

So often this is the first thing that seems to get lost in the mad shuffle.  It can be easy to disconnect from ourselves – people do it all the time with drugs and alcohol, screens, food, and sexual and other addictions.  It can be easy to disconnect from our children as well.  Some level of benign neglect is healthy, I think, but there also has to be where a child feels heard and understood and part of the family and that the child feels secure and stable so they can grow forth on their own journey from this stability. And stability comes from parents who address and heal their own wounds as well.

Sometimes people have asked me how to begin with these matters of the heart.  They will ask what to do with Waldorf Education for their children because they don’t believe in God.  I ask them what do they believe in, and how can they go from there?  What do they truly know?  One of the biggest tenets I think is that we cannot show our children that the world is a good place and that people are good if we ourselves do not believe that.  There is a time and a place to understand the reality (and sometimes horrors of the world), but small children desperately need to know stability, love, connection, and goodness.  They need to see the goodness of the world, however we find it, through our eyes.

And often, when we are in despair and in our darkest moments, we need to know about that goodness as well.  That longing for goodness never disappears completely.  Start small so we can bring that to the next generation for our world.

Many blessings,
Carrie