Category Archives: Jude Aidan Lieb

My maturing 7 year old

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I am so proud of Jude. Specifically this week I’ve notice a huge growth and maturing in him. He’s still the excitable and unique little boys he’s always been but he’s starting to grow up. I’m both thrilled to see his advancements but also sad to know this new phase means the end of my little boy Jude. But before I get to weepy let’s rejoice.

You may remember we’ve had some struggles with meeting Jude’s needs. Well, recently he’s really started to make progress in overcoming his weaknesses. Ever since we started homeschool I’ve been encouraging him to take the lead in his education. I encourage him to select the specific work he gets to do for the day (I offer suggestions and require him to choose a set number of subjects), the order in which he does his work, allow him to choose how much work to complete (occasionally). It’s freedom within a set of boundaries. He has to do work but he gets to select which work (most of the time).

He understands what the end goals are and what the rewards are for completing the goals. If the goals are met he gets the reward, if not he continues until he meets the goal. It’s fairly simple but I’ve found that allowing him this personal responsibility not only encourages him to obtain a reward but he’s learning how to manage his time, plan, and become self motivated. He also developing a love for learning because it’s self guided(mostly).

Giving him responsibilities has been such a huge confidence builder. I give him the freedom to approach a task on his own and the understanding that I will be there whenever he needs help. I’m essentially his biggest cheerleader. We celebrate success. We hit pause and evaluate the situation when things don’t work correctly. We approach tasks with a positive attitude.

This process within his homeschool has naturally spilled over into everyday life. He’s generally very helpful and eager to do chores and tasks around the house. He even occasionally asks to do more cleaning. Most recently he’s developed a love of cooking and I try to incorporate him as much as possible in our meal preparations. I always make sure to let him know how much I appreciate his help. And try to use positive reinforcement as much as possible.

I’ve found that so much of my parenting successes are based on my attitude and approach to situations. Jude is a very sensitive child and quickly picks up when I’m stress, agitated or angry and these emotions spill over onto him. My interactions and reactions with my boys are so critical. I make plenty of mistakes but I’m learning to be quick to ask my children for forgiveness so they understand what forgiveness is.

Jude has taken the responsibilities that were given to him and has started to make them his own. They are slowly becoming a part of his character and I’m so excited and proud of my amazing guy.

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Homeschool Curriculum selections for this year

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We are starting our 2nd year of homeschooling Jude. As you may remember last year we abruptly made the decision to pull Jude out of the private school he was attending to homeschool him the remainder of the year. It was by far the best decision we made and he thrived and grew tremendously the remainder of the school year. So this year it was a no brainer for us to continue with our homeschool plan since he has been doing so well.

We homeschool Jude because it’s what is best for him.

Since we first jumped into the homeschool world I’ve done a lot of research and I think we have a pretty good plan for this upcoming year. Jude flies through school work so it might seem like a lot but I have to keep him engaged and learning. After looking through the curriculum I have selected for him I realized that he’s mostly doing 3rd grade level work even though he’s in 2nd grade. He masters his work very quickly and we just keep moving. We will continue to use our weekly homeschool schedule although I might adjust it a little this year to fit his curriculum.

Math: Math-U-See Gamma
We used Math-U-See Beta last year and I really liked the simplicity of the lessons and the use of manipulatives. They have a ton of worksheets for each lesson but Jude never uses that many. He also rarely uses the manipulatives but I do like having them for reference if needed. I might explore Singapore Math for next year because I’ve heard it’s more challenging.

Grammar: First Language Lessons – Level 2
I borrowed Level 1 from a friend last year and we really liked the discussions it brought about. Again, Jude would have the memory work memorized rather quickly which made some of the lessons redundant and boring. But overall I really like how the lessons are designed… we just fly through them.

Spelling: All About Spelling – Level 2
Again, we used Level 1 last year and I saw so many improvements in Jude’s reading and spelling. I like the hands-on magnets that help him understand spelling without the struggle of handwriting. I think we probably could have jumped into Level 2 last year but he really struggled with reading and I wanted to give him a good foundation.

Phonics: Explode the Code – Books 5,6,7, and 8
Jude loves Explode the Code. Again this program has really helped him understand reading. I think once we finish book 8 we probably won’t move to Beyond the Code but I want him to at least finish out the series, especially since he loves doing them.

Handwriting: Star Wars 2nd Grade Handwriting Workbook and A Reason for Handwriting C – Cursive
The Star Wars book is a fun way we can continue to work on his penmanship while we try out cursive. He doesn’t have great handwriting so this is something we will work on in all subjects.

Reading: Library Card
I looked into a few reading programs but ultimately Jude likes to read what he likes to read. We already go the library very frequently so we’ll just continue to explore new books for him to read. I will set aside time during his homeschool day that he can read to me so I can observe his progress and aid him in any areas he struggles. He also reads every night right before bed.

Bible: Gotta Have God Ages 6-9
I want to encourage Jude to start a daily devotional now that he loves reading so much. I’ve heard good things about this book so hopefully he’ll enjoy it.

Classical Conversations
We are part of a Classical Conversations community that meets once a week. This program will cover our history, science, geography, art, Latin, math, English and more. I have printed out some supplemental worksheet for Jude to use during the week since he is a very hands-on learner. This will also act as a way for him to practice his hand writing. I know a lot of people say Classical Conversations doesn’t require a lot of additional curriculum but I know Jude craves learning so that’s why we’ve added so much.

I should also note that he won’t do all of this every day. I’ve set up a schedule so he works on different subjects on different days. I also let him pick which subjects he wants to work on first. This gives him control over his learning and helps keep him excited and engaged.

 If you homeschool what curriculum do you use for your kids?

Double Birthday Celebration

Noah and Jude have birthdays that are just 10 days apart. So we’ve been in birthday mode for the last 2 weeks. It’s been a busy yet fun-filled  few days. We make it a point to make each birthday special, without spending a ton of money. On their actual birthday they get to decide what we do and what we eat.

Noah selected donuts for breakfast, peanut butter and jelly for lunch and tacos for dinner… with a cookie cake.

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We took him (and the rest of the boys) on a surprise trip to Marbles Kids Museum.

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Jude requested Honey Nut Cheerios for breakfast but we made him blueberry pancakes as a surpise (which he loved), hot dogs for lunch and pizza for dinner.

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He requested to build Legos, play video games and go to the pool.

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On the weekend between their birthdays we threw a party for both of them. Joe’s parents came up for the weekend and lot of friends came over to play.

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Last minute we decided to rent a bounce house, our neighbor has one she rents so we got a great deal!

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We also added a pinata and lots of yummy food.

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We also celebrated Father’s Day.

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Jude won his first heat in a swim meet.

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Overall, it’s been an awesome yet busy week and eventually it all caught up with the boys.

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So this week we’re taking it easy and going to enjoy the less hot/humid weather and all the new birthday toys.

How Do I Explain

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I’m watching from a distance as he jumps up and down with excitement awaiting his turn to dive. He’s completely focused on expressing his excitement, he doesn’t realize he’s disturbing the kids around him and he doesn’t hear the coach right away when she asks him to stop.

On occasion I try to intervene and help direct him toward an appropriate behavior but more often than not these days I’m too preoccupied with other children.

But I do notice.

I notice the disapproving looks I get from other parents.

I notice how he’s treated differently for a behavior he can’t always control. (He’s learning but it’s really hard work for him.)

I notice him being judged by his actions.

I notice me being criticized for my parenting.

I notice but I don’t really know how to explain why he is the way he is.

There is no short and simple explanation. He doesn’t have a diagnosable disability. We’ve seen doctors, taken tests and seen specialists. It’s not Autism or ADHD (although he does have some ADHD traits). It’s sort of SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) but not the kind most people are familiar with. A lot of his challenges stem from his extremely high IQ and asynchronis development. But mostly he’s just MORE.

I want to have a simple answer to give people so they will respond in understand and accepting way. I think of telling them he has ADHD but too many people have strong opinions on how to treat ADHD (drugs, parenting, diet) and in reality it’s not totally ADHD. I want to say it’s SPD but SPD is such a new diagnosis most people don’t know what it is and think it’s made up. I want to say, he has a really high IQ and his brain is probably working a million time faster than the speed of light but I don’t want to sound like a show off parent. Even though most people with really high IQs have trouble with social development.

But honestly, I don’t want to explain his short comings or his differences. I want people to see the amazing in him. His passion to create. His ability to do huge math problems in his head faster than most grown adults. The way he approaches each task with vigor and determination. His ability to recall the tiniest details of events that occurred years ago. His love for his brothers, cousins, friends and his plans to care for them all. The way he can hear a song once and play it on his keyboard almost perfectly.

I want them to look past the jumping boy and notice that amazing kid flying among the clouds with the purest passion for life.

 

The Challenges of Parenting a Child with a High IQ

Since I started homeschooling Jude I’ve been observing his educational development. As we entered into this homeschool thing I didn’t have much understanding as to where he stood educationally. I didn’t know what he knew or how he learned.

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After his full psychological evaluation we learned that he has an above average IQ but not just across-the-board above average. Parts of his IQ sky rocketed to the top of the charts while other parts were moderately above average and this was ultimately the reason he struggled with school. After doing a bit of research I learned that all of the “problems” we were having with Jude were a direct result of his high IQ. I never would have thought that a high IQ could pose problems in school.

I’ve since learned that people with a high IQ tend to be independent, lack social awareness, hyperactive and often present other behavioral challenges. It seems weird to me, and probably others, that having a high IQ could present so many challenges. I always thought having a high IQ was some grand achievement but IQ has very little to do with what we know but is more about how our brains our wired.

Jude is a very quick learner. He remembers things with extreme ease, especially if there is a visual or physical component. I’m also learning that he requires a great deal of mental stimulation. (He always needs to be doing something productive.) And he works very quickly. He completes most of his school work within a 1-2 hour time period after which he wants more mental stimulation. He doesn’t want to complete his school work so he can mindlessly watch TV, he wants to play educational apps on my iPad, build structures, draw detailed plans for his imaginary buildings, solve puzzles, etc…

Having this insight into how his brain works and having worked one-on-one with him over the past several weeks has been very eye-opening. Most of the work we’re doing is review for him. At this point he doesn’t need a lot of instruction from me and he is just flying through his workbooks. We are almost half-way through some of our subject books and we’ve only been doing school for about 3 weeks. At this rate we’ll be done with most of his curriculum by Christmas.

Not all children are wired the same and it took us a long time to figure out what makes Jude tick. We’re still working with him to find a plan that gives him the opportunity to display and strengthen his skills. Parenting Jude has it’s challenges but ultimately I am so blessed to have such a creative, bright and gifted son.  It can be overwhelming to parent a child like Jude but it’s important to highlight his strengths and be reminded of just how blessed we are to have him as our son.

An Accidental Home School Mom

Home school mathSo after much prayer and counseling we decided to home school Jude for the remainder of the 2014-2015 school year. We planned on withdrawing him from school the end of October but after several discouraging turn of events we thought it was in his and our best interests to do it immediately. So yesterday afternoon Joe picked up Jude from school and that is that… I’m now a home school mom.

I never thought I would home school my children and at this point we aren’t planning on doing this forever or for all of our children but right now it is the best option for our family. We are jumping into this home school thing completely blind and are praying we don’t screw anything up. Thankfully I have a number of friends who home school and are involved in local communities that can offer us advice and support.

My biggest hesitation with home schooling Jude this year is simultaneously managing 2 toddlers plus caring for a newborn (in just a few more months!). However, we’ve decided to enroll Noah in preschool for at least a few mornings a week so I will have a little more opportunity to teach Jude, plus Noah has been begging to go to school.

Jude is a very bright young boy and I worry that I don’t be able to keep up with how quickly he learns things but we’ll just take it one day at a time.

I was surprised to find so many curriculum and subject options but I think we’ll start small and add new books as needed. This is primarily to keep me from feeling overwhelmed.

So now I need to set up our home school (anyone have suggestions for a name?), order some materials and make a plan. But today we’re taking it easy, no school work just relaxing and enjoying a beautiful day with my family.

I’m both excited and nervous about this new adventure but ultimately I feel a sense of peace, knowing that right now this is the best decision for Jude.

An Update On Jude

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Tomorrow we finally have an appointment with a child psychologist to discuss a full evaluation for Jude. A few weeks ago we learned the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist after our health insurance mistakenly set us up with a child psychiatrist who just prescribes medication and doesn’t offer any evaluation. You live and learn.

Anyway, I’m excited and anxious to meet with this psychologist. A lot of people give us their “opinion” about what makes Jude special but it will be nice to have a professional opinion. Instead of playing guessing games with our decisions about Jude we will now have a point of reference from which to start. This will narrow down a lot of options and give us a better starting place from which to make decisions about discipline, schooling and other activities.

It’s taken a long time for us to get here and we’ve all been crushed along the way. It’s difficult when your child doesn’t fit societal norms but his needs aren’t glaringly obvious. As parents we’ve received a lot of judgement from other people who assume they know best. I’m sure some of their observations and comments are well meaning but unless you are fully aware of our situation you don’t have the authority to make any judgements about my child.

What makes it tough now is that over the past few months Jude has become aware of how differently he is being treated and his poor little heart is broken and confused. This morning Jude was practically in tears because he didn’t want to go to school. He asked to go to a new school. In recent weeks he’s become very clingy and is constantly telling me he loves me and doesn’t want me to leave. This type of interaction from Jude is very rare and unusual, I can tell there is something going on in his heart that he is unable to express. My heart just breaks for him and I wish I could take away the pain and fix everything right now but transition takes time. We are currently researching our options and are awaiting the opinion of the psychologist before we make any big decisions. It is very obvious that Jude is in a toxic environment but we want to be very careful with our next move because he needs a school that will nurture and encourage him to flourish.

This is by far one of the hardest things Joe and I have endured thus far in our marriage. Parenting is difficult but when your child is suffering at the hands of someone else it’s all I can do to not go full mama bear on someone. We have been seeking much counsel from friends and family who know Jude. They have become our sounding board so we don’t make decisions based on what is justifiably right but based on what is in the long-term best interest of Jude. That has been incredibly difficult to separate out. I am also very thankful for prayer and the wisdom we find in scripture which has given us amazing hope and encouragement during this dark time.

The past month or so have been mentally, emotionally, and financially draining. But I finally feel like we’re close to a resolution… and by resolution I mean a developed long-term plan that will equip and encourage Jude to thrive.

Can a Professional Diagnosis Help Us Be Better Parents?

Seeking Professional Advice

After a little outside pressure we are finally going to have Jude professional assessed. Yes, we took him to an occupational therapist last year who noticed he had several sensory processing issues but we haven’t done any thing beyond that. The primary reason we’ve put it off is finances and ignorance. We honestly didn’t really know where to start and just assumed it would be expensive. Even though we’ve started the process we still aren’t sure what we’re doing, if we’re doing it correctly or what the outcome will be. But at least we are taking a step in a new direction.

As much as I don’t want him to be defined by a “label” I’m hopeful that putting a name with his struggles will help us communicate with the other people in his life the challenges we face and the plans we develop to help him. It will be much easier for everyone to point Jude in the right direction if we are on the same page and if we are using the same terminology and outside professional input.

It’s incredibly hard for me to explain the challenges we face with Jude without people just assuming we are being overly dramatic or that we just need to try a different discipline technique. I think that after we have a professional diagnosis it may be a little bit easier to explain or at the very least people will be intimidated by a technical medical term I feel confident throwing around.

All joking aside, I do want to brag on just how far Jude has come in just the past year. Over time and much research we’ve been tweaking our techniques with Jude and have gradually seen success. Some of it just comes from his maturing with age but some of it is a direct result of our (Jude’s and Joe and I) hard work.

Jude is a very intelligent child and I partially expect them to discover that he is gifted but with that comes some other struggles like his delayed behavioral development.

In the end I know whatever the diagnosis our main goal is to help Jude become the amazing man I know he is destined to become and that makes me very proud.