It’s Monday—like no Monday we’ve ever known.
A Homeschool RDI Mom share her valuable wisdom and invites you to turn this period of isolation into an opportunity:
Greetings from an RDI mom in Texas! “Bloom where you are planted” is my mantra. I’ve got 3 kids, including one (now 20 year old) on the spectrum. I’m an RDI and homeschooling veteran. I’ve benefited from many people’s advice over the years and am always happy to pay it forward.
I am a type A woman. When I first became a stay-at-home mom, it was hard for me to leave my organized, productive professional workday and wade into…..whatever structure I created. To keep my sanity with three kids and no plans, I had to develop a “rhythm” to my day. It wasn’t set by the clock but just a general flow. During summer it looked like this: all kids up and dressed and fed by 9 AM. Some kind of short chore with everybody helping. Morning activity out of the house (pool, children’s museum, park, errands, whatever.) Then home by lunch. After lunch, everybody pile on Mom’s bed for story time. Then kids have quiet screen-free play/nap in their own rooms for an hour while Mom does whatever she wants/needs to do. Rest of the afternoon, kids on their own to entertain themselves (computer, TV, puzzles, toys, whatever) while Mom fixes dinner and does household chores. Then dinner. Then family activity (board game, bike ride, whatever). Then bedtime routine. “Different but same” each weekday – the rhythm was the same, but the specific activity varied day to day.
Later, when I began to homeschool, I realized that some of my son’s resistance to doing what I wanted him to do was that I was pulling him away from his favorite things. I realized he’d be more willing to sit down to do math if he knew that he would still get TV and snack time. So I made a visual schedule. It was a foam board with Velcro tabs. I had cards that we would lay out on the board together each morning, then pull off as they were completed. It included cards for mealtime, chore time, math time, reading time, TV time, exercise time, etc. Again, different but same. Some days “exercise” was doing calisthenics together, and some days it was walking at the park. I also had cards that said, “Appointment time” or “errand time” or “field trip” to throw in the mix when needed. Those days, we would talk about when the appointment was and think about how we might reorder our day to accommodate the extra thing. “Gee, we have to go to the dentist this morning. Hmmm…what should we leave out to make room for that? Maybe we should move…..” Plenty of opportunities to develop flexibility with just our everyday demands.
Friend, I also realized early that it was impossible for me to be “RDI Mom Extraordinaire” all day. Instead of beating myself up that I wasn’t doing “enough,” I tried to consciously choose points of connection during the day. I can’t go “slooowwww” with my mounds of laundry that need to get done. But I can get my child to help me sort the first load in a deliberate, mindful, guided fashion. Be purposeful in choosing at least one point of connection each day when you will thoughtfully guide your child. Maybe you can’t spend as much time as you feel you should – just take a baby step today.
Chores are a great way to do guided activity together. They have to get done – how can your child join you? If you need ideas, go to Pinterest and look up “age appropriate chores.” You’ll get a lot of ideas for small but real jobs that you can teach a child to do. Just look around your own house – you’ll see dirt and disorder to inspire you! Don’t make the job too big – the point is to do it together and work towards the child being able to do it independently or in parallel with you. Likewise, we gotta eat three times a day. I heard one RDI mom saying that she weekly “apprenticed” one of her children to work with her in the kitchen. I did my own adaptation of that idea. My habit was already to make weekly menus. I had my kids look at the week’s list and sign their name next to 2 meals they would help me with. During that meal’s preparation, I’d find a connection point for teaching or give them a small task to do independently (butter toast, measure spices, tear lettuce, etc.)
Lastly, if you are looking for screen-free, no-prep family fun while you are quarantined, you might want to take a look at this great collection of ideas https://www.whatdowedoallday.com/
Best wishes, friends! We can do this!
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