Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Learning to mix Natural Learning with Healthy Structure in an Autism Family Tapestry

Once again I have a gazillion blog posts swimming around my head! Before I move on to more Fiji shares, I just wanted to post about something that I've been wanting to document as part of our autism journey.


As I mentioned before, we have 2 children officially diagnosed with Autism and other family members with various special needs.
 I find it hard to actually put into words all the feelings and emotions that swim around in my head in regards to this.
Some days we feel like a very 'normal' family and other days we feel completely dysfunctional. I go between being totally ok with the level of special needs that I have to take into consideration on a day to day basis and other days I feel so sad and weep for what I feel was a dream that will never happen.

Yes, I ABSOLUTELY do know that Yah has given us these amazing children and I am INCREDIBLY thankful for that. But that does not diminish just how tough it is some days having to deal with the level of special needs that we do along with dealing with criticism and opinions of others'.
Some may read this and think, "But your kids seem fine to me! What are you whinging about?"
To this I have two things to respectfully share:
1. You have never walked a day in my shoes so please do not presume or cast judgement about the challenges in my life.
2: My kids may 'seem' like that because of the amount of work we've have been doing with them over a number of years. And while they are able to function well most days, it takes ALOT of effort, prayer and encouragement to keep it that way.

I post these things here as a record of OUR family's journey; not as a formula for success for every family who has to deal with similar issues.
I post these things so I remember what we tried and what didn't work for us. I post these things that maybe some other mama out there may be encouraged in helping to connect with their child.
We, by that I mean OUR family, are a work in progress. Broken. Healed. Restored. Changing. Growing. We do what works for us until it no longer works for us or until Yah shows us that we can do something different.

Recently on a homeschooling forum I am apart of, a question was asked of me and I thought I would share my answer here.
The question was basically,
"I was wondering... you have alot of experiencing with autism and combining it with a natural learning style. I imagine that would have been very challenging finding that balance with where you wanted to head the family and what members of your family needed. How did that journey look for you? How did you know where you had to put more structure in place and how did you implement that given the kids had alot freedom of choice in other areas?  I know this has probably been a very difficult journey".
While it has been a difficult journey in some ways, it has also been a very rich one for us as a family.
We have learnt to weather the stoms together.
We are learning about how to listen more and how to understand better.
We are learning about what humility looks like in a doctor's waiting room with people looking on and a child melting down and having a very hard time.
We are learning about how arrogant we may have been had we not had to deal with special needs' kids and how we don't want to be like that to others.
We are learning to be flexible but that structure is not something to be feared either.

We have and continue to make mistakes along the way.

For instance, putting too much structure into our day in some ways taught me to look at the effect that had on my kids and learn to relax a bit. This also gave me more confidence in my ability to look at the needs of MY family and then put in place what is right for US....not what is right for any other family but what is right for US.

Sometimes I listened to the advice of loving and well meaning friends or aquaintances when I should have politely said, 'Thank you for offering that" instead of thinking I HAD to put that into place.
It wasn't right for US.
 It may have been right for THEM but it wasn't right for US and I should have never tried it.
This has happened with a number of different things and I am learning to just listen to Yah as He leads our family. Some may scoff at that but I can personally attest to the way that Yah has helped us on this amazing journey.


I'll give you a quick-i'm-totally-digressing-from-the-main-story-kind-of-story for a second ;)
We were taking Elijah to an occupational therapist a couple of years ago. He liked going. It was hard work on our part to get him there because it took 50 minutes to get there, the appointment time was 5.20pm and so Liji would always fall asleep on the way there. This meant that by the time I was able to rouse him (he's very tough to awaken!!!) and he adjusted to where he was, he really only had about 10 good workable therapy minutes in him. It also meant that I had to have dinner organised and if we were going down as a family (which we mostly did) that I had dinner and drink bottles etc packed along with a packed picnic basket with clean plates, cutlery and sports equipment for the others who would play at the park while waiting for Liji's session to be over.

{2007 Having dinner (low salicylate cottage pie) together in a park near Liji's therapy clinic}

As I said, taking him there while good, was also ALOT of effort for our family.
On one of our travels down there Brett said to me that he was thinking that we should maybe stop taking Liji to this particular therapist. He wasn't sure it was helping him enough to justify the effort basically. We didn't want to stop it if it was going to have a positive impact on our cracker, but we also didn't want to keep going to something that was really not all that helpful in the long run.
We weren't sure what to do.
Brett just prayed for clarity on the way down.
He asked God aloud that He would show us what to do.
It was a simple, heartfelt prayer from a Dad who wanted to do right by his son.
I went in with Liji to the session while Brett took the other kids to the park.
About 3/4 of the way through, Liji's therapist just out of the blue looked up and said to me very calmly, "Well, I think we've probably taken Elijah as far as we can. He's doing really well and I don't know that you coming here is going to do any more good to be honest".
I was gobsmacked.
It wasn't the last week of term or even close to the end of term.
He hadn't done anything terrible to make her want to terminate the sessions in fact he'd been responding to her more and quite well too.
She wasn't upset at all. She was just very matter-of-factly telling me that they had taken our boy as far as they could.
And there in that moment we VERY CLEARLY had our answer.

See, that's how Yah has worked in our lives.
When we aren't sure what to do, we pray. He often gives us a clear thought on which way we should go although sometimes when he doesn't, we wait and then often an answer comes clear in time.
Perhaps in those times he's teaching us to be patient and content.

Ok digression over.


Back to the question on how WE'VE integrated both a natural learning approach to our homeschooling journey AND structure to help our kids.
Once again, this is a reflection on OUR journey not a one-size-fits-all-kind-of-thing ;)
We began our homeschooling journey with ALOT of structure. I kind of felt like I needed that to 'prove' to others that what I was doing was valid.
I've learnt that I don't need to do that.
However, I've also learnt over the past 4 years especially, that my kids (all of them!) actually do thrive and CRAVE a certain level of structure.
Again, that may not work in some families but in ours it DOES!


We term this kind of structure our 'rhythm'.
I blogged about our rhythm a little while ago in THIS POST: 'RHYTHMS, RELATIONSHIPS AND RESOURCES'.
This has remained something that works for us.
We have a basic rhythm for our mornings and our afternoons.
This means that in a week we cover our KLA's (key learning areas).
However, we are also quite flexible.
We don't keep to a time schedule.
So we are not sitting down at the table at 9am.
More than likely you'll still find us in our pj's eating slow cooked oats and chatting then!
But it means we DO have a plan for our morning and we more than often actually stick to it in a loose kind of way!
Just as a side note, yesterday my kids were raring to go bright and early and had knocked over chores, maths and spelling by 8.30am! And I LOVE that the flexibiliy of our weeks means some days we have that kind of morning and other mornings are harder and slower and that's ok too.


Let me touch a little on some of the tools we use and give you examples of how using them helps us.
Brett, when teaching the kids about using tools from their tool box, always says to them, "You have to have the right tool for the right job to get the right result".
This is true of our family's approach to using the right tools for our children in order to help them not only have safe and happy learning and living experiences but also aiding them in self regulation, healthy expectations of others, social situations and communication.


Every morning after chores (more on this in a sec!), the kiddos know straight up that they do maths and some spelling. Now in the past we tried not 'making' them do these daily and trusted that they would just learn maths concepts and liteacy as we have a very literature-rich environment.
This is still true; we still trust they will learn every day and in many varied ways however we also help them to COPE in their day by providing rhythm help.
We found that ALL the kids actually struggled with not having things to do each morning even though we made suggestions.
They were ASKING for bookwork and wanted us to give them some structure.
I remember when I put back up the photoboards:

It was like the kids felt secure again and HAPPY!
They all sat down eagerly, pulled out their books INDEPENDENTLY and finished off their 2 pages and were EXCITED about what they had achieved.
I remember thinking, "Man, why have I been fighting this?"
This is what our kids like, it is what they ask for and it is what they need. I now embrace that and will do my best to facilitate those kinds of healthy happy feelings towards their learning!
Liji actually said that on days when he didn't know what learning was going to just 'happen' that he'd felt lost. I'm SO GLAD we found our way with our learning rhythms and that these have worked for us.
Some days when the kids are a bit more 'antsy' and need a bit more of something different, we invite them to use the Ipad app Splash Maths or the Maths games on SHEPPARD MATHS ONLINE. Sometimes they use their 'blue books' (some books we got from Target/KMart that have really helped them) or sometimes they'll use their Math U See books.
Either way, there is flexiblity but there is also predictability and security.

{These are laminated photos of parts of the rhythm of our day including snack and lunch breaks. Predictabilty definitely helps my kids feel secure and much more confident knowing what is to come. These photos have velcro dots and can be moved about when needed}

The photo boards have been a real help to us.


Here's a bit of an example for you from a day last week:
Ok so the kids have done chores, maths and some work on either spelling/handwriting/writing...and it's a Monday.
On Mondays we have 'Learn from the Past' (ie history) as our morning rhythm and Crafternoon (art) as our afternoon rhythm.
Last Monday I read to the kids from our Story of the World (Ancient History) book.
Our kiddos LOVE this book and I love the layout of the narratives and maps.
I read aloud to them about the Medes and the Persians in the sun while we snacked on apples.
While I read the kids coloured in a map of the Persian Empire.
Liji immediately identified 'the Boot' (ie Italy) in the map and they had a discussion about which bits of the map were sea and which were land. They also talked amongst themselves about which continent they were looking at and where Israel and Egypt were. The other colouring sheet was of King Cyrus. We realised this was THE same King Cyrus that we read about in the Bible so we grabbed a Bible and read some verses from 2 Chronicles 36 and also from the book of Ezra.
The reading, colouring, identifying, listening and discussing took a hearty hour or so.
By this stage Brett's sis had arrived for a lovely visit
While they chatted with their Sulley (my SIL), I made some lunch and the kiddos enjoyed that outside. They then came in for their 45 minutes of silent reading time.


Autistic people often need very clearly defined boundaries.
There needs to be little to no grey areas because that unpredictability can be very unsettling.
Believe me, we've tried.
We've tried being very free... 'please just sit where you like' in the lounge room. But when you have a child who has very real personal-space issues and then someone just comes and tries to squish in next to them...i'm telling you now, it aint gonna look pretty!
So we established each person's reading space.
Then we also agreed on a good amount of reading time for everyone.
45 minutes definitely seemed to feel right for us all.
The timer gets used here ALOT.
Timers are predictable.
Timers do not forget how long their kids have reading for and have very concrete parameters...ie you push the button to start it, the noise sounds when it is finished and then you push the button to turn it off. Many people reading this post may not understand what this means but I can tell you from having lived this out, people on the Spectrum definitely DO respond more postively with clear boundaries, expectations and predictability.

Ok, so the timer goes off, silent reading time is finished and then it is normally time for Crafternoon. That particular afternoon it was warm (for a change here!) and so we decided to let the kids have free play in the arvo and instead we'd do something else for Crafternoon later on. They all agreed it would be great to make the most of the sunshine!

Once again, our rhythm was there to guide us but not to dictate to us what should happen without any flexibility.

Before dinner that night, I pulled out a special new book on Leonardo Da Vinci that I'd found in a book sale.
While dinner was finishing off in the slow cooker, I gathered the kids in the loungeroom and invited them to come check out the new book. We'd just watched Ever After (the movie) again and Da Vinci features in it so they were excited to see the cross over and that he was a REAL person!
We read through the book, stopping to talk about the things they noticed in the sketches, taking time to look at details in his works and giving them room to say why they liked his work )or why they didn't like!).
The next day they were still talking about Da Vinci's flying machines and Liji had asked if he could finish off drawing and designing one. He showed it to us over breakfast.
Even though it was a different rhythm day, we decided to fill out our 'Name that Artist' sheet that morning for our handwriting. This still allowed them to write and it was something that I didn't push the day before being the end of the day when they were tired. But starting with fresh eyes that morning (and with chewing gum to help them regulate) really did make a big diffence.

The reason I went into all that boring detail was simply so that you can see that our 'Crafternoon' that day in fact ended up being something we did AT NIGHT AND the NEXT DAY!
The kids' desire to play in the afternoon sunshine was NOT trumped by our need for a schedule, nor was it viewed badly the next day when it was time to sit down and write about Da Vinci.
 Just trying to tweak that balance sometimes is hard but I feel mostly that we are getting there with Yah's help.


Tapping into our kids' interests, likes and dislikes is something that we are very passionate about.
We seem our kids as people, not just kids if that makes sense. Therefore, we recognise that they have things they are really keenly interested in and therefore NEED TIME to develop those interests or to let it ride out naturally and seem them develop whole new interests!
All our kiddos love nature and what's there not to love about tadpoles? I know most kids love them but man Liji REALLY loves them!
So one day he kept asking and asking about going to catch some. We organised to take them down to the lake that afternoon and enjoyed watching them get dirty, talk about the different taddies they were catching and how long it would take for them to grow into frogs!
Once home, Liji spontaneously pulled out a Childcraft book which had a beautiful illustration of the life cycle of a tadpole. My not-so-into-reading-yet boy was really enjoying reading up a storm in this book.
Liji then went and gathered some 'clean' paper and pencils and stapled a 'book' together.
You guessed it...he wanted to make his own book on tadpoles.
He formed a sentence, told it to me then asked me to write it for him to copy.
He then illustrated the pages beautifully and then proudly announced that one day it would be printed in the library for all small children to read ;)

I'm sure I don't need to tell you this as to me it is bleedingly obvious; I didn't then say to him, "Now you STILL haven't done your 'spelling work' son. You will need to get that done'.
He had done a GREAT job writing in his book and had been creative, resourceful and shown initiative all in this one exercise. How wonderful! How fantastic that he had the space to be able to do that!

Now, just in case you were wondering, we have tried letting our kids do that kind of unschooling ALL day EVERY day and while I do know that they were learning (without a shadow of a doubt) as I said a gazillion times earlier, it did not work for our whole family.
And that's why we have had to work at getting a balance between natural and structured kind of stuff.


Ok, so this post has been epic enough but I thought I'd leave you with a couple of snaps of phot charts and tools we use around here to help one another.
These are not to help us lord it over our kids.
These are used to help each of us love and respect each other.
These are in place only because a need has arisen to have them.
These have been put in place because they help our visual learners, help those who need predictability, help those who don't to still be able to be free enough to grab something, help those who need help with self-reglulation of energy and emotions and help ME (mama!!!) to maintain some sanity!!!

So here are our:

{laminated posters of 60 fun things to do -mostly without help - }


{The calm down Space - a place to come and chill out when 'engines are running too high' ie: too much emotion, energy, whatever the case may be. A box of fidget toys is right there next to the chair filled with chewy necklaces, spinning tops, stress balls to help encourage self regulation}


{Attached to the kitchen wall with 3M removeable velcro like tabs, these are something the kids love. We get them down each morning, the kids carry them around like prompts to help them remember to get through their tasks like their morning chores, brushing their teeth, tidying up their floors. They then have the satisfaction of ticking the little box (believe me when I tell you how much my kids LOVE that part!!!!) and then they earn themselves 10 extra minutes up at night. This has been a very motivating incentive for our kiddos. I'll do a whole 'nother post on bedtimes but yep we've done the bedtime where they take themselves off whenever and it just didn't work for our family. Having a set bedtime has worked for ALL of us.}


{These baskets can be also seen in the above link to the post on 'rhythm, relationships and resources'. The kids can help themselves to anything in these baskets. Draw it, read and write it, observe it, join it, create it....are all names for the baskets' contents}


{Another interactive laminated photo board on velcro dots. Zip decides what she'd like to do during the day; painting, beading, playing with beanbags, dollhouse play etc. Again, this kind of visual prompt helps her as we try to extend her past some current rigidities. We don't always use this chart and I can really tell when we don't. I just get lazy sometimes and forget to get the photos out with her in the morning. It's something we are working on at the mo a bit more ;) }


{Pretty self explanatory but these are the two biggies we try to uphold around here; using gentle words and hands to communicate and listening to each other. We're reminded about this as we look at our fridge!}


{The kiddos' chore charts which get swapped over each week. They have a once a week chore on there, plus a section of the dishwasher to do daily along with dinner table chores and a morning chore. We all work at the same time and encourage our kids that working as a team helps our whole family to flow more freely. Gotta say they are really good with their chores because I think they can see how it affects our whole family positively when they are involved and contribute.}


{This will probably seem very OTT to some people but I can not tell you the amount of fighting, whinging and bickering this has stopped! It was worth the effort to hand draw at like midnight one night! lol! It lives in a plastic sheet on the inside of one of my pantry doors. It helps our kids to see what they are getting that day (although they also know that sometimes we HAVE to change plans too which is also good for them to learn). This also helps me with the shopping and planning and in a family with 7 needs to consider that is one more help for me! Honestly, again, this has really worked for us.}

Well, not sure anyone will make it through alive to the bottom of this post but if you have, well done! lol!
I honestly hope that sharing some of these things which we have put in place over the past 4+ years will help a child out there somewhere who, like my children, maybe need that little bit more of a mix of both natrual learning freedom + healthy structure and rhythm.
I praise Yah for helping us through and for teaching us about ourselves, our world and Him along the way.
I continue to look forward to the learning journey He may have for us down the track...whether that is how it looks now or COMPLETELY different too!
I trust He will continue to lead our family well.
Is there anything that has helped you achieve a balance of natural learning and healthy structure in your home?
I'd love to hear your ideas!

Love Lusi x


singing mama said...

Lusi, what a wonderful post!! SO much meat here and I'm thinking on lots of things!! One thing I wanted to ask for your wisdom with is how do we as parents fit in our own needs with our precious kidlets who have different needs. Any advice? I'll give a practical example, I actually do not function well on super predictable routine, it actually sends me inti depression, I need to have an element of spotaniety in my day, but I've being thinking more and more how Mira probably would do better with more structure like your crafternoon on a particular day each week. Now while we do have certain things we do on days, I'm just mulling over how to meet her needs for structure as well as mine for spontaneity? Luv Donna.

lusi said...

Hi lovely! Mate, I wish I knew the answer to that one for you but I don't unfortunately :-( I am POSITIVE that this kind of life our family lives won't work for every child or every mama. To me it has to be a balance that you guys tweak. Thanks for nothing Lusi, right? Sigh. I wish there was some simple answer but I know there's not. You just do WHAT you can WHEN you can. It has taken as years to get to this point and we STILL have heaps of bumps in the road. Is there some way you can have some structure but not around time? What I mean by that is maybe Mira could help you organise a craft box that will get pulled out on a day that suits YOU and that becomes crafternoon TIME rather than a whole crafternoon day or afternoon? You could still have a bit of structure around the craft time but it's at your discretion rather than you being dictated to by the calendar? Not sure if any of that's helpful or not. You do SUCH a great job mama and as I said in the blog post, I'm only posting about what's worked for us and am certainly no expert! Im sure you'll continue to find something with Yahs help mate...just wish I could help too!
Hope this post hasn't made you stress or worry about things. Please don't let it if it is because you are an amazing mama, wife and friend x

Leah-in-the-Kia said...

AMAZING!!!!! what a fabulous post Lusi!!!! I love reading about stuff like that, i love to see how other families function and in my field of work I love helping children and families of special needs kids work together and see the light at the end of the tunnel. My kids function so much better with routine, we do a lot of the things you do and it also works for us.
My new healthy lifestyle is going great! It is day 10 today and i feel great i havent weighed my self yet as my scales are broken, but i feel really good and focused. I love reading your blog and hearing about your family!
Have a great day! Love Leah

Tess Elise said...

Hey Lusi its Tess here.
I just wanted to say that your posts about your family are really beautiful! Don't ever be ashamed of what you are doing or how you are raising your children!
I know I'm not a parent so I can only share a small amount of knowledge, but I have worked with kids of all learning types and abilities. People who tell you to work a certain way are being silly. No two kids work the same or are reached the same. Like you said you've adapted to your children and worked out what they need which is, I think, the best thing to do. The way you teach your kiddywinks, I think, is a lot better than any education I have ever received! How you have the strength to do it? I have no idea other than God has provided! Your little ones need not fear because, although tiresome the journey may be, You are the kind of person who will always get along side them and teach them in a way that is beneficial! Lusi you amaze me! xx

lusi said...

Hi Leah! Thanks for your words. Am really glad to hear your new journey is coming along well mate! Feeling good and focussed is truly wonderful!
Lots of love x

lusi said...

Hey Tess!!! How are you lovely? Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and leaving such an encouraging comment. It really meant alot to me to read what you had written. And you are totally right; man without God's strength and provision so much of my everyday would be impossible! He is ever faithful.
With love to you,
Lus x

frills and spills said...

Hi Lus
I'm amazed at how many times over the years I've been reading our blog that you write something relevant to me at that moment. You and Brett do an amazing job with your gorgeous kids. I'm always so encouraged by your honesty & "realness". I love your snack list - not OTT at all (or maybe I am, so I get it lol). I need to do something like that - even in our little family of 3 this often turns into a big issue. I'm struggling to find a routine that works for all of us. Have one who needs structure, but often battles it and one who does better with a more relaxed approach. Your post has reminded me that I need to pray about it a LOT more. I'm feeling rather stretched & defeated trying to figure it out myself. One thing I've started this week is that I made up some "30 minute technology tokens". They each get 10 each per week , but can only use max of 3 per day (not including technology for homework). They can only use tokens when their daily jobs are done. They give me a token, I set the timer and off they go. It's been working really well and has saved me from having to constantly remind & say "no". I found the idea & printable tokens on pinterest.
You're right - there is definitely no one-size-fits all approach. Like you, there are certain times that I wish I had not tried yet another suggestion. But at least is now a lesson learnt. Bless you!
Love Jas xx

Anonymous said...

I do not assume to understand fully what other families go through but believe me when I say even with only having one child I have spent a lot of time crying, praying, feeling furstrated, uncertain, sad, angry and confused.

Being a parent is the hardest job in the world, but also the most rewarding :)

Some people assume I have a pretty easy routine because I only have one child to manage. I wish she made it easy everyday but there have been a lot of days I feel stressed to the max!

Like you said in your post here it takes ALOT of effort, prayer and encouragement to get through.

My daughter just started High School this year which has opened up a lot of new problems. She is a healthy, happy child but can be very shy, scared and withdrawn in new situations.

She does not cope well with big changes (but thankfully as she gets older she is improving). I knew that starting High School was going to be a big challenge for her and it is only now half way through the year that she is looking happier and feeling more comfortbale in this new environment.

It is nice to see some light at the end of the tunnel and answers to prayer.

I have always thought you are a fantastic mum Lusi and you make it clear on your blog how much effort, time, love and support you give your family. Keep up the good work.

From Susan McGuire xxoo

Stace said...

Hi Lusi!!
Loved this post!!! LOVED IT!!! xx
Just wanted to ask what your transition / routine is for packing away and also when the kids are in the 2yr -5yr age bracket - what kinds of things did you do with them when they would fight with each other / not calmly play with their toys etc??
My boys are really good kids, I just get frustrated at pack away times {resulting in us trying a once a week tidy up or having to be there every time while they pack away encouraging them... I dont have a problem with this except if Im cooking dinner etc, I cant always be there}

Also, would it be ok to see what the charts say for their morning jobs?? I think my boys would prefer the visual type reminders rather than me being on their case as it must seem sometimes... Reminding alot!! :(

Sorry for all the Q's!!! xxx Thanks Lusi!! :)

Big brother, Little sister. said...

hi Lusi, i came across your blog about traveling with kids from childhood 101. Lovely to meet and learn some more bout your family. I look forward to following more of your adventures,
Bron x

Ky said...

"We began our homeschooling journey with ALOT of structure. I kind of felt like I needed that to 'prove' to others that what I was doing was valid.
I've learnt that I don't need to do that." This is, in a nutshell, where I'm at with my 2 little ones. Thank so much, Lusi for this enormously inspiring post! K xx

Moira said...

Wow Luci!!! What great ides and pictures :) thank you so much for all of your sharing on this topic, I will have to forward it to some friends ;)
Shabbat Shalom,Moira

lusi said...

Hi jas! Thanks for sharing openly too in response to what I'd shared mate. It's so hard sometimes hey but I really believe that Yah is able to show us which way to go. I pray He gives you continued discernment and wisdomas you look after your precious two!
Let me know how you go with the printable tokens too :-)
Love Lus x

lusi said...

I hear you Susan! ALL kids take alot of effort, prayer and encouragement...you are so right! Sounds like your daughter (with your support and help!) has been able to overcome many challenges. That's wonderful! Love conquers doesn't it!
Thanks for commenting Susan x

lusi said...

Hi Stace! Not too many questions at all!

So with pack up times when our kids were 2 and 5: we'd model to our 2 year old what we wanted them to do and we'd try to make it as fun as possible; 'can you see how many blocks we can put in the basket before we count down from 10? Here we go!' and pack away WITH them at that age. We'd also start small...once they learn how to pack away a few things, it won't be long before they learn to pack up more things!

As they get older, we give them a little area to pack away. We also role play when it's a calm (not packing up!) time. This helps them to understand what's expected when it is time to clean up. Our kids here need clear expectations and boundaries. Not sure how yours go but I can share what works here.

We try to keep toys to a minimum and then rotate them (storing them in the garage when not in use). They still have plenty to play with mind you!

We've always felt it was important that they knew where things belonged: boxes with picture stickers on them were really key for us.

Having said that, OMGOODNESS, if you saw my kids rooms tonight your jaw would scrape the ground I'm sure!!! Lol! We're all working on the same things hey!

lusi said...

Oops I'll add what's on their morning charts too...
* have breakfast and clear my place setting
* get dressed
* put my pjs away
* tidy my room
* brush my teeth
* do all my morning chores (on a separate rotating photo chart)
* do my dishwasher chore (they each have a rack in the dishwasher to empty daily)

Our kids love ticking off these when they've completed them! They use whiteboard markers on the laminate.

Hope that helps!

lusi said...

Hi Bron! Lovely to *meet* you here!
Thanks for stopping by!
Lusi x

lusi said...

Hi Ky! I'm so glad it was helpful to you! It's good to be reminded others are out there struggling with the same stuff we are and that we can be encouraged to do what's right for OUR own families, hey!
Good on you!
Take care and you're welcome to visit again!
Lusi x

lusi said...

Shabbat Shalom Moira! Thanks for passing this on to others. I pray they are encouraged by it in some way just as YHWH has encouraged my heart greatly too through the stories of others!
With love x

rockmelon recycled said...

What a wonderful post, thanks for sharing your journey! Rxx

lusi said...

Thanks lovely R!!! Hope you are all well! Much love x

Tricia said...

Hi Lusi,
I'm so excited to have found your blog! I've been searching for a blogger who is a natural learner with kids on the spectrum. Yay! I have been homeschooling my eldest two, now 14 and 12 for over 6 years, and am finally moving towards a NL approach. Our youngest ds8 is currently in school, but I'm keen to bring him home soon to structured unschooling. I know it's an oximoron, but there you go!

Looking forward to delving further into your blog.



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