So why is it, as homes school Moms, we wait until opportunity knocks to explore our shortcomings? We all do it, there isn't one of us who can deny it. That's where we're at here at "Aspie on the Corner" this morning. I was approached with an unbelievably outstanding offer to help catapult Bug to a new level of where he wants to go in life and all that's weighing heavy on my mind is the things that I wanted him to know before he came into opportunities like this one.
Let me explain a bit, Bug has wanted to be a chef for a long while now, and where becoming a chef is concerned he's done some pretty great things. But in our house, we tend to run before walking, so while Bug is amazing at planning menus and putting together food combinations, he lacks basic culinary vocabulary, he lacks basic culinary skills, and most of all - in true Aspie fashion - Bug lacks focus in the kitchen.
In Bug's eyes he's right up there with Gordon Ramsay and the whole cast of food Network and should immediately be signed on the the next airing season of Master Chef Junior - what Bug lacks to see is his lack of culinary vocabulary, the fact that he can barely follow a recipe, let along have the focus and follow through to plan and execute in a 45 minute (or less!) time period, or the fact that he's not quite sure about boiling water or using the stove independently yet.
As a home schooling, special needs Mom you start to walk a fine line here. You know you have to build up the basic foundation of their interest and passion so that it becomes a viable skill for them, you know you have to present that foundation in fun an innovative ways to hold that lack of focus and bay, and you know that you have to do it all while making them feel like adults and not children. You have to let him think he's ready for Master Chef Junior while your preparing him for the Culinary Technical School.
It's a fine line to walk - Momma's - no lie! In my case, I'm a little bit lucky, cooking and baking have always been things I love to do. So Bug's interest in cooking plays off of my own hobbies. That said, realistically speaking, baking and cooking with a strong willed child who thinks he's Gordon Ramsay is - well - beyond challenging. So what's a Mom to do? I'm going to share a few tips today that I use around here in conjunction with our culinary goals, however, keep in mind that with a little imagination and a few tweaks, these tips can be used for any passion your child might have. Here goes:
- Read, read, read. Doesn't matter how much you know about your child's passion, you can always learn something new and interesting, and that new thing you learn, could be just what happens to spark your child's creativity.
- The internet is your best friend. Understandably you can't trust everything you read on the internet, but just view it as a tool to gain insight into your child's passions. Professional forums, articles, news sites, YouTube, whatever it takes, materials are out there if you search for them.
- Pull in the TV - screen time can be beneficial. I'm not a huge supporter of screen time. We watch more TV in my house than any other form of technology. However, in defense of this, many times when we tune in it's an educational type show, a cooking show, or a tv show that was popular in the early 80's when hubby and I are kids. With proper moderation, television can give you a peek into places where it would be impossible to physically go.
- Ask questions. My Gram used to have a favorite saying - "you'll never know until you ask." and it went hand in hand with her other favorite saying - "the worst they can do is say no". And Gram's words really are true. Ask questions of the people that know. Find someone with a connection to your child's interest and ask, ask, ask.
- Be limited only by travel expense to the library. With my son's passion - cooking - the study of ethnic food preparation is paramount. I once watched an television cooking show in which one of the participants broke down crying because he was at a disadvantage from the other chef's because he didn't have the travel opportunities that they had and couldn't study ethnic cooking. I remember looking at Bug at that point and telling him that I'd better never see him crying over his lack of ethnic cooking experience because we didn't have money to travel, when he only had to travel as far as the library. There is so much information just waiting on the shelves.
- Adapt. As if we haven't done enough adapting above? What I really mean here is adapt curriculum or resources or whatever you may need. Finding the perfect fit curriculum for a special needs child's interests or passions can be impossible (and on the other hand sometimes you hit it lucky with a perfect fit you didn't see coming). Don't be afraid to take a curriculum that shows some promise and adapt to make it your own.
- Relax and enjoy the learning. If your not relaxed and having fun, neither will your child. And learning should be fun, it should be enjoyable, and it should be relaxed. Learning is your time to enjoy the process, it shouldn't be a job or a chore at this point - that's for later when the learning is mastered.
Wow! This Momma was wordy today. As we work through our opportunity that's come knocking I hope that you'll be able to use some of the advice above with your own children. Until next time - keep the pieces together.