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History Cookbook, Thoughts for Dena, Eyes Looking Upward

By Heather Idoni

Added Thursday, December 1, 2011
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Vol. 12 No. 42, December 1, 2011, ISSN: 1536-2035
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(c) 2011, Heather Idoni - www.FamilyClassroom.net
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Welcome to The Homeschooler's Notebook!

If you enjoy this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend! 

Not a subscriber? Get your own subscription to The Homeschooler's Notebook here:
http://www.familyclassroom.net

And please visit our sponsors -- they make our publication possible.

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=================
IN THIS ISSUE:
=================
Notes from Heather
-- Encouragement for Dena
Winning Website
-- Cookit's History Cookbook
Helpful Tip
-- Field Trip Ideas - U.S.A.
Reader Question
-- Son Keeps Looking Up
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

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Notes from Heather
===================

Reader Feedback - Life's Disruptions

---

"Thank you! The reminder about life disruptions couldn't have come at a more appropriate time. Our disruption came in the form of building a house and the discovery that we put our trust in a crooked general contractor. It has turned in to an exhausting, emotional experience for us all. Needless to say, it also played havoc with our daily learning. Thanks for the reminder." -- Kathy H.

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Encouragement for Dena

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"Hi, Dena -- I've been in shoes similar to yours. Off and on for the better part of 4 years, I cared for my father as he dealt with serious health issues. My kids ranged from newborn to 8 years old when we first really started having to help my dad. I am so sorry for the stress in your life right now, but want you to know that you will never regret having 'been there', but you would regret not being there! Your children are very young and what they might learn from taking care of grandma is irreplaceable. Why not take a week or 2 or even a month or 2 off from formal 'school' and just focus on the household members. You might consider implementing a simple loose schedule. When my dad was so sick and we were in maintenance mode, I just sat down and made a list of the things that would really make me feel more in control. My list included things like having my oldest pick up the living room and vacuum every night as part of his evening routine. We had a basket to put things in, so it wasn't that big of a deal, but it really made me feel better to get up in the morning with one room that felt 'together'. I also focused on keeping dishes done -- it brought order to my life and gave my hands something to do when I really just wanted to cry or pace. I swept the floor every night before I went to bed, but I really let a lot of things 'go'. Again, having a room or two that felt 'together' helped keep me together, but I didn't stress out about having a perfectly clean house -- we were in maintenance mode. Having harmony and a peaceful joy was more important that having every room clean every day!

As for school, we really just used this time to read and work a lot together. The kids were involved in cooking and household tasks. We spent a lot of time talking about seasons and how things work, how to interact with others, how to be gentle and when and where to be quiet. I used a lot of coloring books, blank paper, and notebooks to draw in, etc. Really -- do workbook pages and stress have to be a part of the day? Nope! And in the end I am so glad for the time that we could enjoy being with Papa. My kids didn't fall apart from not 'doing school' everyday and they were blessed by having a mom that wasn't upset from not having the schedule met. They also learned a lot about how to be around people who don't feel well, how to listen, and how to be a loving caregiver. On the days that we could be home, I tried to make sure we had a quiet time for EVERYONE -- but especially the littlest.

Finally (and this is something that I am NOT good at), if you have people around who offer to help -- let them. Sometimes just not having to cook a meal really does make the evening so much nicer. An afternoon out for a child with a friend might let them come back in a much better mood. I think now that I have been there, I would maybe make up a little list of things that would make life lovely... and if someone asked, I would say 'Wow, if you could, would you mind bringing over some cookies and visit for a minute? My kids would love to see you!', or 'You know, I really could use some help folding a load or two of the kids' clothes'. I know that I had friends who offered and really meant they would help, but I was very stubborn and didn't let them. Now, I think it might have been nice to not have done it all on my own. Blessings to you." -- Brenda

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"My husband and I moved to his home town to help his sister who had recently been widowed and left with 5 small children. Thankfully we were unified in our decision to move. Little did we know that we would end up being there to care for both of his aging parents. At the time we were homeschooling 3 elementary kids, watching nieces and nephews and being the primary caregiver for his parents, plus he worked out of town every other week! When I read your note Dena, I immediately remembered all of the chaos that comes along with being the 'sandwich' generation. Caring for our kids and parents at the same time. My house took a beating, but no one seemed to notice except me. My kids did their school work in the waiting room of various medical offices. It usually sparked great conversations! My kids learned to help grocery shop for two households, how to take a grandparent around Wal-Mart and Sam's club and the importance of truly caring for family. The most important aspect of that journey was that through the relationship our children built with their grandparents (who did not support homeschooling), my daughter led my mother-in-law to Christ the week before she passed away. My daughter was eleven and knew her grandmother very well, and spoke the truth in love. What a glorious reunion those two will have one day!

My mother is coming to live with us this weekend. She is a believer and supports homeschooling whole heartedly. My daughter is now in college and we have two teenage boys who keep us hopping between sports and music. When I told my daughter that Grandma was coming to live with us she said, 'You and Dad have always been such a great example of caring for family. Noah, Matt and I are thankful to see how important family is'. That makes everything -- the crazy schedule, dirty house, unfinished lessons and exhaustion all worthwhile! Hang in there -- there is light at the end of the tunnel." -- Heidi

---

Thank you so much, Brenda and Heidi, for sharing your experiences and insight. I was very encouraged to read your stories and I know many of our readers will be, as well! :-)

-- Heather

Your feedback is always welcome -- just send your email to heather(at)familyclassroom.net.

Thought for the day:

"A bend in the road is not the end of the road... unless you fail to make the turn."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

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==================
Winning Website
==================

History Cookbook

www.cookit.e2bn.org/historycookbook

Do you know what the Vikings ate for dinner... or what a typical meal of a wealthy family in Roman Britain consisted of? This project looks at the food of the past and how this influenced the health of the people living in each time period -- a great resource for anyone planning a history-related unit study! :-)

===============
Helpful Tip
===============

Planning Field Trips for 2012 (U.S.A.)

Families and groups planning field trips for next year might find this page helpful:

www.hiphomeschoolmoms.com/2011/03/hip-homeschool-field-trips

I saw a few in the Michigan section that I had never considered before!

==============================
Last Issue's Reader Question
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"Hi -- I was wondering if anyone has a child (mine is a 12 year old boy) who at any given time will stop what he's doing and his eyes will 'look upward'. I know it's hard to understand, but I don't know if he does this because of lack of confidence, or maybe when he is overwhelmed by something. Is it just the age? He doesn't have a learning disability that I'm aware of. He excels in reading and history. I've never mentioned this to a doctor because I don't want them to run a series of tests on him just so they can put a label on him, but I would like to know if anyone else has experienced this with their own children. Thanks." -- CM

=======================
Our Readers' Responses
=======================

"Dear friend -- Have you talked to your son about this? Is he able to respond and/or look anywhere but in the upward direction when this is going on? If not, it is possible that your son is having seizures. Some people do have seizures which cause them to look up. As far as labels are concerned, labels/diagnoses are tools which you may or may not use. The choice is yours. Two of my kids are labeled and it helped tremendously in our approach to school and other things in life. Provoking behaviors can also be a symptom of food issues. The thing is, if your son has a physical problem, it's probably not going to go away. If it were me, I'd talk to him about it just in case it's simply a habit and not really anything wrong. May God bless you with the wisdom you need to sort this out!" -- Esther

---

"I do stop what I am doing and look around when I am thinking. I think this is normal. There are books out there about how looking at which way a person's eyes move when they are talking indicates what they are thinking (remembering an event, making something up, etc.)

However, if he seems to be 'out of it', it may be that mini seizures are occurring. This is something that I would talk to your son about, and talk to the doctor about (since you are concerned enough to ask here). This is a label that for his own safety and that of others would need to be known before be starts to drive a car or even ride a bike (as you would not want him lapsing into a trance-like state and going into traffic). But in reality, I think that talking to the doctor will reassure you that what he is doing is normal, and that perhaps you do it too but haven't noticed because it is part of your 'thinking' routine.

Labels can be helpful, and often are not totally permanent when in the learning fields. I sought labels for my son because by knowing the issue, I know how to teach him best. He started out with speech therapy -- the label was Apraxia, and as he has gotten treatment, it changed to motor delays. When he finishes speech therapy, there will be no label. He has had other labels too -- but again, they help me know how to teach him best, not to hinder him, hold him back, or anything negative.

He was diagnosed with ADHD two years ago (we chose not to medicate), but after he finished vision therapy (for the dyslexia) that one went away with the dyslexia. And, 'healthy' is a label, too -- one that we all want!" -- Cheryl in WA

---

"My son is 11 and does something similar. He rolls his eyes up or closes his eyes completely so he can visualise an answer. For example, in math he will roll his eyes up and say, 'Just a sec', while visualising the number chart. His answer is always right. His dad is a physicist and says he can visualise things the same way without having to do the calculations.

My daughter, on the other hand, does something along the same lines but very different. She has absence seizures that look like eye rolling, but instead if she is in the middle of a sentence, she will have forgotten what she was talking about and seems rather stunned when she recovers only seconds later. We ended up videoing my daughter and played the video for the doctor, because it never failed that she wouldn't do it while we were there. Even then they said it was not worth worrying about unless it got worse.

I guess the thing to do would be to ask your son what he is doing or how it feels for him. Is he thinking really hard, visualising something, or does he need to be assessed for minor seizures?" -- Liz G.

---

"Dear CM -- Without more information about when these episodes happen (if your son is responsive during them, etc.), it is hard to know just what may be going on. As a nurse and home school mom of a grown son and 2 teen daughters, I wonder if it might be a minor seizure disorder. I would encourage you to definitely be in touch with your doctor about this. I do not know of anything like this that could be considered 'just the age'. Your doctor would review his health history, probably do an exam and go from there. All the best to you!" -- Betty in Maine

---

"Hi CM -- My son will do the eye thing on two occasions. The first is when he is frustrated with his work and he is actually looking up to keep from crying. At this point I look at him and tell him to take a deep breath before we tackle the issue together. The other time he does this is when he is really thinking. It is almost as if he is taking his eyes off of all the distractions around him so he can focus on what he is doing in school. Sometimes I just sit with him and smile to reassure him during his work time. My son does not have any learning difficulties; he is just a kid who needs extra focus because he so wants to please. I hope this helps a bit." -- Tricia

---

"There is a possibility that your child is having a type of seizure. You might want to mention it to the pediatrician." -- Annette

---

"Could your son be having petit mal seizures? You don't mention if he seems suddenly 'unconscious' when he rolls his eyes up, or if it's obviously just something he does when he's thinking or avoiding something. Here's a link to a description of petit mal seizures: www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000696.htm. Best of luck!" -- Erin C.

---

"I don't know if this is what is going on or not, but I have read that spelling bee participants frequently 'look up' when they are spelling a word, in an effort to help themselves visualize the word they are spelling. I also read, not long ago, about having children 'look up' when you are teaching them to read, to help them focus and visualize. Maybe your son has developed this technique himself and is using it to help remember or 'see' how to do something. Have you ever asked him about it? I think that in a non-threatening way you could just say, 'Hey, I noticed that when you are doing (fill-in-the- blank) you tend to stop and look up -- what's that about?' Maybe he doesn't even know he's doing it. It might open up a lot of doors for both of you if you approach it in the right way!" -- Brenda B.

---

"Can you tell whether this is a voluntary or involuntary reaction that is occurring with his eyes? If he is deliberately stopping what he is doing and looking up, he may be trying to absorb what he has just read. Sometimes you need a moment to think on something new to make certain you understand it. If it is something he can't control, you should take him to see a doctor. You might also point it out to him when it occurs and see if he can tell you why he does it. It's possible that he has developed a habit he is unaware of.

Whatever the case may be, it might be helpful to visit a developmental optometrist and rule out any vision issues. My son had horrible trouble learning to read (he still has issues), but vision therapy made things so much better and we can see great improvement in his reading skills." -- Kim W.

---

"Your son may have a tic. Looking up with the eyes is a common tic. I had a child who started having eye tics at age 10. If it is tics, they may progress to other forms. I've heard various things to try to help, but don't know of anything that is sure to work. Be aware -- I did not know this at the time -- people who have OCD often have tics. OCD may not develop until later and often takes years to diagnose." -- KM

---

"I have a nine year old who does this and has for years. For him, it's due to an overload of sugar; a 'tic' comes on when he eats too much sugar. It usually takes about 2 weeks for his system to clear out and get back to normal. He is not aware that he is even doing it, but in the middle of something will just roll his eyes up and zone out, then will continue on like nothing happened -- this can last anywhere from 2 seconds to 10 seconds, which, while you are in line at the grocery store with the cashier staring, can seem like forever. While sugar is what causes my son his 'tic', I have a friend with a 12 year old son who does this sort of thing when stressed.

While I don't know if this is the same as what your son is experiencing, I just want you to know that you are not alone and, while it may be something else, it also can just be a tic that he will eventually outgrow. My friend's son's issue has seriously diminished as he has matured and he is able to cope with stress better. My son's obviously is fine as long as we control his sugar consumption. See if you can figure out what triggers it in your son. And please understand I use the term 'tic' because that is what the doctor called it and said it has to do with their system being overloaded and this is how the neuron system handles it -- it just shuts down momentarily to get things back on track. The doctor also said they generally outgrow it." -- Cyndi R.

---

"Two thoughts come to mind:

Looking up is actually very common for people who have a strong visual memory. When my daughter was working to improve her visual memory, she was actually taught to look up when she was trying to recall an image. If you watch most people try to recall a phone number or such, you'll notice their eyes look up.

However, if it doesn't seem like he is committing something to memory or recalling info, then it is also possible he is having small seizures. You don't give many details about when these episodes occur, or if he 'zones out' while looking up. If you have any doubts about this, then testing is necessary, and the sooner the better. Better to know and start dealing with it than let something progress and become even more of a problem." -- Laurie

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"I read this question then deleted the newsletter thinking that no, none of my children do this. Then I went back and retrieved it to answer as I realized that while thinking about it, I did that exact same thing! I am very visual and when I need to think about something I often stop and look up (less distractions upward) while I run what I am thinking about across the screen in my mind. It is highly likely your son is doing the same sort of thing -- refocusing himself while he takes time to process what is going on in front of him. As long as he is showing no signs of learning disabilities or delays, I wouldn't worry about it." -- El in Canada

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"As I understand in neuroscience 'looking upward' is a way to navigate through your hard drive. Specially if you are looking left you are looking inside the files of your visual tasks and long term memory storage that are stored in the right brain. Your left brain is responsible for auditory learning and short term memory. My child has learning disabilities and looks up regularly. To be honest I was very upset and even angry when I was trying to review a subject and he kept looking upward. Finally one day in one of my readings of 'brain training' I encountered a physiological/logical reason for his behavior. Notto mention I felt really bad for not being able to understand him. I hope this will help you too." -- Denise

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New Reader Question
=====================

"My 12 year old son grasps math concepts, but he can not remember basic facts. We have tried Times Tales, drills, rewards, computer games, bribes, etc. I am not holding him back on progressing, and let him use charts. He still counts on his fingers, and spends about 1 hour doing 15 to 20 problems. I occassionaly let him use the calculator, but when testing time comes around he will not be able to use one. He has been tested for and has ADD and auditory processing disorder. We strongly feel he has dyslexia, but cannot afford any more private testing. Any help would be greatly appreciated." -- Betty

---

Do you have some advice and/or encouragement for Betty?
Please send your email to: hn-answers@familyclassroom.net

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