Monday, May 12, 2014

What I wish teachers knew about ADHD

A friend of mine is taking an Additional Qualification course online through OISE (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education) on Special Education. She's doing a group project on ADHD and invited me to share with her some examples of particular activities we found helpful with ds1 to help him overcome his challenges when it came to learning. She also asked for ideas/thought provoking questions I wished teachers would take the time to think about to be better prepared to help students with ADHD. Here's what I sent to her and I thought it might be of interest to others too.

We chose not to medicate ds1, however we did provide him with melatonin to take at night to help him sleep. We found that being able to settle his mind and get a good night's sleep allowed for improvements during the day. There are many holistic treatment approaches that parents can choose, so it's good for teachers to be aware that some parents may not wish to medicate their child. 

When we were homeschooling, we gauged what type of day it seemed ds1 was going to have. There were days when it was clear that we were not going to be successful trying to get him to do desk work. Sometimes on those days we just allowed him to play (mostly Legos) or read, believing that those are also good ways to learn. We didn't realize the extent to which the dysgraphia made communicating what he knew a challenge. We thought he was refusing to write and that he needed to work on it more, do more copywork, in order to improve. Once we realized there was a problem due to the dysgraphia, we began scribing for him and allowing him to use the computer to do his work. This reduced frustration on both sides. In terms of "classroom" behaviour at home, we allowed him to move around a lot. He often hung off the chair, moved constantly, blurted out noise, and appeared not be focussed on the work. You can see an example of this here.

At school we have found it helpful for ds1 to have a space where he is not as easily distracted - this means that his desk is not in a group of 4 like the other students, it's right in front of the teacher. He has an "imagination station" at the back of the class with Plasticine so that he can go and use his hands if he needs a break from sitting. When he started school in September we did a gradual entry process, one class per week, gradually adding another class until he was able to stay the full day. He was allowed to leave the class (he had a note to leave on his desk and a timer to take with him) for breaks to walk around in a specific area. He was also allowed to visit the Special Education Resource Teacher (SERT) and play with Legos in her office. This helped him develop his ability to focus and stay in class longer. It also provided him with a safe place to go for physical activity and movement when he needed it. The interactions with the SERT reduced any anxiety that he was feeling, which had previously led to his hiding in the school - much to the anxiety of the principal and us!

I consider that we have been very fortunate to have had the support we have from ds1's school. My wish for every parent with a child with ADHD would be for teachers to understand that the child is not trying to misbehave, they are simply wired differently. Adults need to realize that kids with ADHD are not "bad," they are unable to control their impulses. It's also very important to know that medication is not always the solution. Holistic approaches and the passage of time can bring about positive changes. Teachers who can be look beyond the ADHD behaviour and see the strengths the child has are a great asset to maintaining healthy self-esteem in kids with ADHD.

What about you? What do you wish teachers knew about ADHD?

Monday, April 28, 2014

It's never too late for Easter bonnets

There's something you might not know about me. In fact, even if you know me in real life, unless you are a Facebook friend who tracks my photos carefully, you might have missed something.

I think my interest in headcovering came early, as I recall loving the look of Easter bonnets and wishing I could wear one. In early 2013, my sister shared with our sister-in-law and I how she had felt led to begin covering. My sister-in-law researched it and approached her pastor about it and began covering in summer 2013.

As I considered 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, I felt that this was something that I too wanted to do. I talked to my husband about it, but he was hesitant because he was concerned that people would think that he was in some way domineering. He is far from it, and is hugely supportive of me and the journey God has been taking me on. I waited and began pointing out the very few women I noticed at church who covered. At a church of 500+ I think I spotted maybe five women who wore anything from an African style head wrap, to a bandana.

I began wearing scarves so that I would have something handy should I feel led to cover during a service. In September 2013 we attended a conference at the church and during the worship I felt to kneel and pull the scarf over my head. I immediately felt such a deep sense of connection with God's presence, like I was enclosed in an intimate space with Him. After this my husband told me I could go ahead and cover if I wanted to.

I started out wearing small hats, as it seemed like a subtler way to go. People glanced briefly at them but didn't say anything. Then one week I wore a scarf wrapped around my head - acquaintances didn't know what to make of it! One came up and touched it and teasingly asked what I had under there. But another asked me if I had taken up headcovering and she longingly shared that she wished her husband would approve of her wearing one. She asked me what I thought of the scriptures around it and I explained I wasn't actually prepared to discuss them that day as I had began to cover more out of conviction that from a thorough study.

I mainly wear bandanas that I purchased at Ardene. I also have a few hats purchased from the Salvation Army Thrift Store, and some knit berets that I bought at Once Upon a Child. I have several scarves (Salvation Army and Value Village finds) and would love to try more of a tichel style. I currently only cover my head when I go to church, when we celebrate Shabbat at home, or during our recent Passover celebration. I have interpreted Paul's instructions in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 as applying primarily to the public gathering of believers. I have thought about the implications of this when I attend a small group/Bible study, as well as at family gatherings. I haven't crossed that bridge yet though smile emoticon

When I started covering we were attending a large charismatic church in a major city. Since then we have moved to a smaller Pentecostal church a few minutes from our home. Denominationally they are very similar, we moved due to wanting to put more roots down closer to home. Neither teaches headcovering, though I have not been opposed at all in this practice. 

I read a number of sites that had been suggested to me in order to better understand the arguments against headcovering. In the end, the most compelling reason to me is simply that it is commanded in the same breath that other directions we have been given and maintain are.

As a woman who works outside the home, it's easy to get caught up in being in charge of things. When I wear a headcovering, I remember the order God has set out. I'm thankful that God is my husband's head and that my husband is my covering. I am blessed.

I was very encouraged a couple of weeks ago when I noticed the gentleman sitting in front of me searching his Bible app for the section on women and headcovering in worship! I am hopeful that as people see me and wonder why I am wearing a headcovering, that they will be challenged to accept all of God's truth in scripture. 

Friday, January 31, 2014

Create Your Own S.O.P. Story!

OLA Ontario Library Association

Over the last two days I've attended the annual Ontario Library Association Super Conference, with this year's theme being "A Universe of Possibilities." A plenary with Creativity Expert David Usher (oh, and also a Juno Award-Winning Musician) challenged us to think more creatively, and other sessions filled my head with information and ideas of how to provide more innovative services at the branch I lead. Since I wasn't speaking this year, I convened a couple of sessions, including one that provided the opportunity to craft my own Statement of Purpose (or S.O.P). 

The session was presented by staff from the Brampton Public Library (Julie Andrews-Jotham, Margaret MacMillan, and Julie Mandal).

The process went a little something like this...

After a couple of revisions, this is what I have for my professional Statement of Purpose:
I'm an enthusiastic people leader. I'm committed to motivating colleagues by sharing knowledge gained through my 14 years of  public library experience. I do this through speaking at seminars and coaching and mentoring. I'm resourceful in assisting customers by connecting them to materials or programs that will meet their needs. I'm energized by helping people identify their passion and meet their potential!

Now you try it!

What's your Statement of Purpose?

Monday, January 6, 2014

My 2014 Reading List

As a librarian, I’m obligated to read certain books in order to keep on top of trends and be able to advise customers. According to my Goodreads account, in 2013 I read 33 books (10267 pages), which would be about 2.75 books per month. That seems low to me as I thought I had read more.

In 2014 I’ll plan to round that up to 3 books a month, for a total of 36 books. I've outlined my reading list below and you can also follow me at

Currently Reading 3
10 Building Blocks for a Solid Family: The Homeword Guide to Parenting, by Jim Burns

People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks - did not finish

Amish Peace: Simple Wisdom for a Complicated World, by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Plan to Read
1 on Marriage

1 on caring for older parents

Job Related Reading
Book Club 8
February Before I go to sleep, by S. J. Watson
March Flight behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver
April The red tent, by Anita Diamant
May Through black spruce, by Joseph Boyden
September - title to be determined in June
October - title to be determined in June
November - title to be determined in June
December - title to be determined in June

Award Winners 3
Scotiabank Giller prize nominee/winner = Through black spruce, by Joseph Boyden
Canada Reads nominee/winner
Keep Toronto Reading selection

Forest of Reading
More info here

Blue Spruce (K-2) 4
I Dare You Not To Yawn, by Helene Boudreau, Serge Bloch

If You Hold A Seed, by Elly MacKay

Oddrey, by Dave Whamond

This Is Not My Hat, by Jon Klassen

Silver Birch (Gr 3-6) 3
Express (Gr 3-4)
Cryptic Canada: Unsolved Mysteries From Coast To Coast, by Natalie Hyde, Matt Hammill

Jason’s Why, by Beth Goobie

When I Get Older: The Story Behind “Wavin’ Flag”, by K’Naan with Sol Guy, Rudy Gutierrez

FICTION (Gr 5-6) 2
Record Breaker, by Robin Stevenson

Ultra, by David Carroll

NON-FICTION (Gr 5-6) 4
Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools Around the World by Susan Hughes

Our Rights: How Kids Are Changing the World, by Janet Wilson

The World In Your Lunch Box: The Wacky History and Weird Science of Everyday Foods by Claire Eamer, Sa Boothroyd

Warriors and Wailers: One Hundred Ancient Chinese Jobs You Might Have Relished or Reviled, by Sarah Tsiang, Martha Newbigging

Red Maple (Gr 7-8) 1
Between Heaven and Earth, by Eric Walters

White Pine (YA) 2
Live To Tell, by Lisa Harrington

My Book of Life By Angel, by Martine Leavitt

The Secret of the Blue Trunk, by Lise Dion, Liedewij Hawke

Evergreen (Adult) 4
Indian Horse, by Richard Wagamese

Tell It to the Trees, by Anita Rau Badami

The Winter Palace: a Novel of Catherine the Great, by Eva Stachniak

Triggers, by Robert J. Sawyer

Golden Oak (new Adult readers) 2
Emily Included, by Kathleen McDonnell

My Name is Parvana, by Deborah Ellis

Sunday, December 22, 2013

2013 Christmas Newsletter

Greetings to your home from ours this Christmas season!
2013 was a great year in our home!

We were happy to have dh’s mom, “Grammy” visit us for many birthdays this year and appreciated her and the aunties taking care of the children overnight so we could get away for a night in Niagara Falls – our first night away without children in 9 years!

In April, my family celebrated her grandmother Nanny’s 92nd birthday, and in October had a big scare as Nanny spent almost a month in the hospital. Nanny is doing much better now and we are so thankful for God’s kindness towards us in letting us keep her with us longer!

In July we celebrated a big birthday milestone for my mother. Since there are so many grandchildren, the party welcoming her to her senior years was held at Lil' Monkeys Indoor Playground!

In August we traveled to Hershey, PA for dh’s cousin’s wedding. Our road trip included a stopover in Corning, NY, where we visited the Corning Museum of Glass. dd was delighted to dance with her “princess” cousin, bride "L." Of course we also took in the Hershey chocolate factory tour a couple of times and brought some goodies home!

We were also able to enjoy some time at my mom’s cottage in Cobourg, where the kids enjoyed riding their bikes, building sandcastles, and swimming in the lake.

I completed my first year as the Senior Librarian at the L... Library, and was a speaker at the Ontario Library Association’s SuperConference, the Ontario Christian Home Educator’s Conference, and the Halinet Mini-Conference – all on the topic of homeschoolers and the library.

Dh continued to work part-time at the Home Depot and be the primary caregiver at home. This year he learned how to replace several dryer components and commented that he is now “way too familiar with dryer guts and dryer psychoses.”

We made the decision to change our educational model from homeschool to the public school system, and ds1 (Grade 4) and ds2 (Grade 2) began classes at the local elementary school this Fall. Due to his ADHD and dysgraphia, adjustment took a bit longer for ds1, but ds2 excitedly embraced his new environment and learning opportunities. Ds1 has a great support system, with a Special Education Resource teacher, an Educational Assistant, and a laptop with assistive technology. We are so thankful for the support we have received from the school system as we made this transition.

This has also allowed dh to spend more time with dd (JK) and ds3 (pre-school), and our current plan is to keep them home until dd is in Grade 1 and ds3n in JK (September 2015).

Dd, ds2, and ds1 also participate in AWANA and swimming lessons. Ds3 is eagerly looking forward to when he’ll be old enough to join them.

We are thankful for God's blessings and provision for us this year. We look forward to catching up with you so please drop us a line!

From our family to yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a very blessed 2014!