Liza Schwab

Liza Schwab grew up in the Twin Cities and believes there is no place like home, except for Colorado and Sanibel. Schwab blogs locally on The Outspoken Mom blog. She is a stay-at-home mom to four incredible children, three of which are at three different schools. Read more about Liza Schwab.

Posts about Education and literacy

A Loss of Creativity?

Posted by: Liza Schwab Updated: April 27, 2010 - 8:56 AM

I can't wait to hear the barrage of comments from this post!  As I was sitting here this morning knowing I haven't written in a long time for the Star Tribune and I have also slowed in my writing on my other blogs a thought came to me.  "Am I losing my creativity due to me being on Ritalin for my ADD?"

Oh yes, the woman who has always been outspoken against putting children on drugs for ADD/ADHD and Autism, yes I AM on Ritalin, or the generic version of it.  I started it about 6 weeks ago because I thought I was going to be homeschooling my son and knew I needed some organization and focus to be able to do a good job at it.  I ended up not homeschooling my son and keeping him at his current school but, continued on my drugs. 

As my house is staying cleaner longer, my laundry is getting done better/faster, and my moods are a lot more even with less freakouts I have noticed something too.  I often have nothing in my brain.  OK, for those of you who don't like my writing, I just gave you an open door with that one!  But really, my mind is almost TOO clear.  My daydreaming, my conversations with myself in my mind, my working through entire situations 10 times before actually doing something are all gone.  It was often those very conversations, thoughts, daydreams, and moods that sparked my interest in writing blogs in the first place and now they are gone.  My writing has become often forced and very challenging.  I often find myself struggling to find my humor, my wild ideas/thoughts, my 'spark' I felt I had when I was writing before.  Is this happening to our youth too?  If so, I think this outspoken mom just found another reason to NOT give our children drugs!

Are we crushing what little creativity our children are allowed to have left by 'clearing' their minds so they can focus in school?  This concerns me a lot!  I already feel we are trying to raise non-touching, non-feeling, non-thinking for themselves robots and now are we losing our future writers, artists, dreamers, movie makers, actors, etc due to our need for our children to sit silently for up to 6 hours a day 5 days a week? 

Hey, I am sure there are children that truly benefit from being on drugs, I do believe that.  The jury is still out on if I benefit from it as I often have shaky hands while typing(have those right now and another reason I don't write as often as it is annoying!), I often feel 'boring' and think sometimes I am TOO calm!  I do feel better on it sometimes as I feel I fit into society better and I don't feel as childish around other adults but, wasn't that sometimes my charm too and was some of that just my personality or was it the ADD keeping me from being the person I am supposed to be?  I don't know, I am almost 38 years old, and have survived through life pretty well so far!  I am married, have 4 children and a lot of friends, so I can't be THAT difficult to be around not on drugs.

I worry about our future generations, I really worry about our children.  I love children so much and I want them to all have the best in life, as a mom it breaks my heart when I see children of any age struggle.  But, I have to wonder, how much are they really struggling and how much is the parents/teachers perceived struggles those children are facing?  If you have a child on drugs for whatever reason, have you noticed a change in their creative spirit too?  Just wondering because I can't believe I am the only one that seems to have lost my 'edge'.

Summer Camps

Posted by: Liza Schwab Updated: March 31, 2010 - 12:30 PM

Summer Camps, many of us have been to them and probably even more of us send our children to them.  They are sort of a tradition of summer and over the years has even morphed into an alternative to day care for working parents.  The questions we struggle with every year are:  Which camps are we going to do?  How many can we really afford?  Do we make them continue the same camps each year for tradition or do we let them switch around each summer?  Day camps or over night camps?  There are many more questions too but, those are our main ones.

Our older 3 children have gone to some sort of summer camp since they were 3 and they have loved every single camp we have sent them to.  They all started with Vacation Bible School at our church which was perfect because it was only 3 days for 2-3 hours a day.  Then, when they were 4 (our 2nd actually started when she was 3) they started going to camp through our local YMCA at KiciYapi, mainly because that is where I went as a child and loved it and we as a family really like to support our local YMCA.  2 years ago our son even moved on to their horse camp.  
Then last summer our oldest, who was 8, wanted to experience his first overnight camp.  My husband and I were nervous and wondering if he was too young however, because it was a camp my husband had grown up going to and our son was going with a friend, we felt it was ok.  It was better than ok, our son had a blast and can't wait to go back this year and our 7 year old daughter is going to join him up there this year! 

Now as our 3 older children are all in school, our summer camp options seem to have exploded!  They all still go to some sort of day camp through our church, they all will continue that through 5th grade.  But, now we have over night camps, horse camps, day camps, and various camps at their schools to sort through.  If money was no object we would send them to any and all camps they wanted to go to but, obviously since money is always an object we need to sort through our finances and our options.  We have 2 children that want to do a 'real' horse camp instead of just the one through the YMCA, we have another that wants to do a couple weeks of camp at her school with her friends, another child wants to do a camp at her school and they all want to do our local park program (which is FREE, thank goodness) and still find time to head up to the cabin, head to the local pool, get some true downtime for the children, and hopefully go on a family road trip somewhere this summer.  All while my husband works full time and we still have the 'baby' who takes afternoon naps to work around.

I thought it might be easier to get a summer camp guide and read about all the camps but, WOW, there are a lot of different camps out there!  I laugh because I know there are so many other pressing issues out there in the world but, for those of you with children too, you probably go through this to a degree each summer too.  I am amazed and overjoyed we have so many options for our children for summer camps, everything from church camps to horse camps, foreign language camps to circus camps, 4 day camps to camps that run all summer, in our general area we have so many wonderful options to choose from and that is a good problem to have.

I suggest you go to your local YMCA and get details on their day and overnight camps for ages 4 all the way up to high school.  I would also suggest you hit the Star Tribune's section they do each year on Summer Camps.  I also have a summer camp guide from family times newspaper.  Many cities and communities do some sort of camp too.  As far as Minnesota goes, the world is our summer camp oyster.

By the way, just for those of you wondering, we haven't fully decided yet but, we are pretty sure our son and our oldest daughter will go to over night camp, our 2 older daughters will both do some sort of Spanish day camp, and as I said before, the older 3 are doing some sort of day camp at our church.  Plus, all 3 will do our local Park Program too.  As for our mainstay of day camp at the YMCA, jury is still out, I want them to continue but, they all want to try new things too.   And the baby, well she will just have to wait a couple more years for her chance to do anything fun! 

Here are some good summer camp links:

http://familytimesmn.com/ft_static_homepage.htm

http://www.ymcatwincities.org/summer-programs?gclid=CPyF8NW-46ACFREMDQodK2gqcA

http://www.waycoolcookingschool.com/

Have fun this summer!

 

Are we cheating our children by not teaching them life skills in school?

Posted by: Liza Schwab Updated: March 16, 2010 - 7:31 AM

I was writing some posts for my other blogs when a great subject hit me straight in the face in the form of a question, "Is a lack of Home Ec in our schools making our children and us fat?"

I know, you think I have completely gone off the deep end here but, let me explain.  I was thinking of my son's struggles in school and thinking of my own struggles in school growing up and was thinking of how many issues our families and children have in schools today and I firmly believe it is because we are so focused on 'educating our students' to fit a certain style, we are educating every student to prepare them for college but, we have forgotten about those students that will become car mechanics, shop owners, bakers, tailors, jewelers, and stay at home parents.

That all got me thinking and I wondered if we are losing a key to our country's success in the past, we aren't all the same, we are a country built on immigrants with talents all over the spectrum.  We are so afraid our schools, our children will fail at the No Child Left Behind Act but, in doing that, I think we are creating a country that will soon be left behind!  We aren't producing creative outlets for our students, we aren't creating our future artists or chefs.  We aren't giving our children the tools they need to be able to be self-sufficient in a society of ever increasing waistlines and shrinking wallets.

We are a nation of parents who often don't know how to sew a hem let alone a button on a shirt, we often don't pass down traditions of quilt making or knitting.  Recipes are often lost when a Grandmother dies because there is no one left in the family who bakes.  We are an ever increasing society of pre-cooked, pre-packaged meals and because of that, we have the ever expanding waistlines. 

We aren't teaching our children trades or skills anymore, we aren't teaching them to be self-reliant in hard times, we aren't teaching them the basic housekeeping skills of laundry or ironing.  Many of our children don't know how to change a belt on a vacuum or how to change the furnace filter.  If a button falls off their pants, it often stays off as many of us don't even have a sewing kit at home anymore.  Our children are losing such basics as knowing how to build a bird house, paint something, bake a cake, boil water! 

Yes, our schools are teaching our children how to succeed in life as long as they go to college and study hard and find a great job and make good money.  But, we aren't preparing them for life without a job, or without an education, we aren't teaching them how to make their own homecooked meals, how to change the oil in their car or how to properly iron a shirt.  Everything comes from a box, is done at Jiffy Lube, or done at the dry cleaners.   Our children and many of us parents don't know how to read labels, we don't grow our own food in our backyard gardens anymore, and sadly, many children don't even know what a tomato or green pepper looks like!  Our children don't know raspberries come from bushes, carrots grow in the ground and tomatoes grow on a vine.

How can we teach our children about the food pyramid when many of them and us don't even know what is on the pyramid or where it comes from?  How can we teach our children to cut back in tough financial times when we teach them to 'outsource' everything to others?  How can we make our wallets fatter and our belly's smaller?  Bring back life skills into our schools, into our homes, and our daily lives.  Start writing, talking about, and asking your children's schools to bring back Home Education classes such as baking, cooking, and sewing.  Life skills classes such as Shop, wood-working, jewelry making and car care.

Even if these can be electives or after school programs or even summer school programs, lets make these options to our children again!  My favorite summers were the ones when I took summer school at Valley View in Bloomington and took classes such as weather and clouds and food with a foreign flair cooking class.  I loved learning life skills such as how to build a bird house or a wind chime...yes, I know those aren't needed in life but, it was fun and I learned how to cut through metal! 

Our children need to know what 2x2 is but, they also need to know how to tread a needle and how to make pasta too.

Blessings to you all!

 

How do you educate different children?

Posted by: Liza Schwab Updated: February 10, 2010 - 11:47 PM

It almost seems feast or famine with blog topics.  This just seems to be a 'feast week' for this outspoken mom.  I am struggling with my children and their schools and frankly, really struggling with my son and his schooling and it is affecting our whole family.

My husband and I never set out to have 3 of our children at 3 different schools.  We had visions of our 3 older children playing together and growing up together having the same teachers, being friends with the same families for 9+ years while our children all attended school together.  We started out KNOWING our children would go to private school as we live in Richfield and the school district is set up(currently, but all will be changing next year) for children to switch schools every 3 years.  See, Richfield has their Elementary schools K-2, then an Intermediate school 3-5, then Middle school 6-8, then high school for 9-12.  We knew our son had issues with transitions so, we chose a school we thought he would be able to be at from K-8 and his sisters would join him there once they started school too.

Life didn't work out the way we planned.  Our son ended up not doing very well at the private school.  Not because he isn't smart, actually my son is quite smart, I think it is safe to say he will out smart me in a few short years.  But, my son is on the Spectrum and even though he is so high functioning many people don't even notice for some reason in school, ALL of his Asperger's traits and some other traits we can't even classify come out in him. 

So, long story short, our son left the private school at the end of 1st grade and we sent him to Richfield public schools.  Meanwhile, our 2nd child heard about a new Spanish school opening up and was bound and determined to go there for Kindergarten because she was sad she couldn't play with the Spanish speaking children in our neighborhood and desperately wanted to learn Spanish to be their friend.  So, the same year my son started at our local Elementary school for 2nd Grade, our oldest daughter started at the Richfield Spanish school.  Which by the way, our son wouldn't be able to attend even if he wanted to because it was a brand new school and started a year after he started school.  Then, when it came time for our 3rd child to start Kindergarten this past fall, we were torn.  We would have loved for her to go to the Spanish school but, her sister is pretty outspoken and friends are much more important to her than family.  Plus, our 3rd child tends to be a bit more timid and tends to be tender-hearted.  So, we thought and prayed hard and were led back to the private school our son first started at 3 years ago. 

So, here we are, 3 children, 3 different schools.  We didn't plan it, we didn't expect this is how the educating of our children would go but, this is how it is going so we are making the best of it.  However, after my son having a great year of school last year, he had to switch schools again and head off to the Intermediate school in Richfield.  It wasn't a smooth transition by any stretch of the imagination in fact, it has been a huge struggle and we have been torn as to what to do.  We don't want our son to transfer schools again because of how hard transitions are for him but, we fear he isn't getting educated the way he needs.

Now, listen I do put my children first, absolutely it is MY job. I don't work outside of the home so, yes my children are my job so they do come first.  But, I am not raising entitled children, I am trying to raise children that feel strong and secure in their family life and in themselves.  But, here as I type I am struggling with how to best educate my oldest, my first baby, my son.  The traditional school setting just doesn't seem to be the best for him.  So, not only as a mom but, as a person who went to college to be a teacher because of the hard struggles I had in school and I wanted to change that....it upsets me to no end to watch my son having the exact same struggles I had in school.  It pains me to see him doing in-school suspension, it pains me to see how few friends he has, it pains me to see someone so incredibly smart, being seemingly pushed aside and lost in the shuffle of school because he 'isn't doing it right'. 

This is the pain of having a child on the Spectrum.  There are so many different points on the spectrum that no two children on it are alike. Because, every child is different, every year will be a different situation because you have a different classroom, different teachers and different friends in the room.  Add to that my son and his situation of being in 3 different schools in 4 years and yet again as Richfield changes its schools around for next school year making their elementary schools K-5 again, we struggle, I struggle with knowing the right course to put my son on. 

Am I supposed to home school him?  Is that the reason I went to college to be a teacher, to educate my own son?  Are we supposed to transfer him yet again back to the school he did so well at last year but, in all intensive purposes will be a completely different school from what it was since it was K-2 when he went there and now will be K-5.  Do we keep him at the school he is at now hoping it will be a better fit for him next year because it is becoming a STEM school.  Which for those of you that don't know is SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, and MATHEMATICS.  Meaning that next year he won't have to try and sit still in a desk for 4, 5, 6 hours a day.  He will have the opportunity to be more hands on in his learning and do labs, experiments and such.  Or do we home school him until 6th grade?  UGH.  I really don't want to do that but, this isn't about me, I can't be selfish.  If I choose not to home school my son only because of my own fears of no free time for me, my own insecurities as a teacher, or whatever else, that isn't fair to my son.

So, here I sit, praying, begging, pleading for answers and yet I feel like I am only getting more questions.  It is so hard to see my 'perfectly normal' to me and my husband son being able to live in the 'world' but, yet seemingly be so incapable of functioning in school.  It is hard to hear my son is in adaptive phys Ed class because he can't function in regular phys Ed class yet, he is on the local freestyle ski team and he is 8 and doing 180's, jumps, skies backwards and is trying to master the rails.  It is hard to hear that my son needs special education because he isn't able to sit still and is antsy 'almost like he has ADD' yet, at our cabin in the summer I watch him sit on the dock for hours fishing or driving his own little row boat around the lake.  It is hard to hear my son only wants to read at school and not much else but, at home, he wants to be outside, sledding, playing with friends, hanging with mom and dad or creating some new toy or something. 

Yes, outside of school my husband and I have an almost perfectly 'normal' son it is mostly in school our son seems to be 'odd', 'unable to fit in', and most scary to us, sometimes violent towards others.  My husband and I believe it is often due to all the 'extra attention' he gets from special educators, adaptive programs and such he feels like a caged animal and is plain panicking because he just wants to be treated like everyone else...even though he isn't like everyone else. 

Yes, I have 4 perfect children they are four perfect gifts from God.  I truly believe how they are is how God intended them to be.  It is my job to raise them according to their individual needs.  So, if that makes me seem like a mom that expects the world to revolve around my children then so be it.  I am doing the best I know how, that is all I can do and frankly right now and many other times, I truly don't have ONE clue if what I am doing is right or not.  Unfortunately I feel sometimes my children are guinea pigs and I am experimenting on them all.   Life is really hard having 4 children and it is really hard that they are all seemingly SO different!  But, I truly love my job and I love that I have these 4 incredible children.  I welcome all they bring to my life, I have gained much more of an education I ever received in any college.

Being a parent is a constant learning process and I feel like many times I am only at the Kindergarten level of parenting.  I have no idea what the future may hold for my children's education from year to year.  I have given up trying to force that issue as it seems to change yearly not only for my son but, my daughter's too.  Who knows, my 4th child may end up at Boarding School for all I know!  (Insert a BIG laugh there).

What does the future hold for my son?  Right now that is what my husband and I are focusing on the most.  We don't know, we may never know until the future gets here but, for now, we sit back, pray and try to help him and the educators as best as we know how.   So, for this post...instead of ripping me apart with all of my mistakes and so thought imperfections as not only a mother but, a blogger, it would be nice if you could post some helpful advice or similar stories to help us make it through this extremely rough time.  I feel I have learned the most through other parents of other children on the Spectrum, I think we all can learn a lot from each other if we just listen.  Not ALL parts of the story may apply to ALL people but, bits and pieces may just save one of us/you some turmoil.   Isn't that what a true 'Community' is all about?

I will never apologize for writing a so called 'mom blog' because frankly, that is what I am, a mom and that is my job.  Hence why I am called the Outspoken Mom. 

How do you educate different children?

Posted by: Liza Schwab Updated: February 10, 2010 - 11:47 PM

It almost seems feast or famine with blog topics.  This just seems to be a 'feast week' for this outspoken mom.  I am struggling with my children and their schools and frankly, really struggling with my son and his schooling and it is affecting our whole family.

My husband and I never set out to have 3 of our children at 3 different schools.  We had visions of our 3 older children playing together and growing up together having the same teachers, being friends with the same families for 9+ years while our children all attended school together.  We started out KNOWING our children would go to private school as we live in Richfield and the school district is set up(currently, but all will be changing next year) for children to switch schools every 3 years.  See, Richfield has their Elementary schools K-2, then an Intermediate school 3-5, then Middle school 6-8, then high school for 9-12.  We knew our son had issues with transitions so, we chose a school we thought he would be able to be at from K-8 and his sisters would join him there once they started school too.

Life didn't work out the way we planned.  Our son ended up not doing very well at the private school.  Not because he isn't smart, actually my son is quite smart, I think it is safe to say he will out smart me in a few short years.  But, my son is on the Spectrum and even though he is so high functioning many people don't even notice for some reason in school, ALL of his Asperger's traits and some other traits we can't even classify come out in him. 

So, long story short, our son left the private school at the end of 1st grade and we sent him to Richfield public schools.  Meanwhile, our 2nd child heard about a new Spanish school opening up and was bound and determined to go there for Kindergarten because she was sad she couldn't play with the Spanish speaking children in our neighborhood and desperately wanted to learn Spanish to be their friend.  So, the same year my son started at our local Elementary school for 2nd Grade, our oldest daughter started at the Richfield Spanish school.  Which by the way, our son wouldn't be able to attend even if he wanted to because it was a brand new school and started a year after he started school.  Then, when it came time for our 3rd child to start Kindergarten this past fall, we were torn.  We would have loved for her to go to the Spanish school but, her sister is pretty outspoken and friends are much more important to her than family.  Plus, our 3rd child tends to be a bit more timid and tends to be tender-hearted.  So, we thought and prayed hard and were led back to the private school our son first started at 3 years ago. 

So, here we are, 3 children, 3 different schools.  We didn't plan it, we didn't expect this is how the educating of our children would go but, this is how it is going so we are making the best of it.  However, after my son having a great year of school last year, he had to switch schools again and head off to the Intermediate school in Richfield.  It wasn't a smooth transition by any stretch of the imagination in fact, it has been a huge struggle and we have been torn as to what to do.  We don't want our son to transfer schools again because of how hard transitions are for him but, we fear he isn't getting educated the way he needs.

Now, listen I do put my children first, absolutely it is MY job. I don't work outside of the home so, yes my children are my job so they do come first.  But, I am not raising entitled children, I am trying to raise children that feel strong and secure in their family life and in themselves.  But, here as I type I am struggling with how to best educate my oldest, my first baby, my son.  The traditional school setting just doesn't seem to be the best for him.  So, not only as a mom but, as a person who went to college to be a teacher because of the hard struggles I had in school and I wanted to change that....it upsets me to no end to watch my son having the exact same struggles I had in school.  It pains me to see him doing in-school suspension, it pains me to see how few friends he has, it pains me to see someone so incredibly smart, being seemingly pushed aside and lost in the shuffle of school because he 'isn't doing it right'. 

This is the pain of having a child on the Spectrum.  There are so many different points on the spectrum that no two children on it are alike. Because, every child is different, every year will be a different situation because you have a different classroom, different teachers and different friends in the room.  Add to that my son and his situation of being in 3 different schools in 4 years and yet again as Richfield changes its schools around for next school year making their elementary schools K-5 again, we struggle, I struggle with knowing the right course to put my son on. 

Am I supposed to home school him?  Is that the reason I went to college to be a teacher, to educate my own son?  Are we supposed to transfer him yet again back to the school he did so well at last year but, in all intensive purposes will be a completely different school from what it was since it was K-2 when he went there and now will be K-5.  Do we keep him at the school he is at now hoping it will be a better fit for him next year because it is becoming a STEM school.  Which for those of you that don't know is SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, and MATHEMATICS.  Meaning that next year he won't have to try and sit still in a desk for 4, 5, 6 hours a day.  He will have the opportunity to be more hands on in his learning and do labs, experiments and such.  Or do we home school him until 6th grade?  UGH.  I really don't want to do that but, this isn't about me, I can't be selfish.  If I choose not to home school my son only because of my own fears of no free time for me, my own insecurities as a teacher, or whatever else, that isn't fair to my son.

So, here I sit, praying, begging, pleading for answers and yet I feel like I am only getting more questions.  It is so hard to see my 'perfectly normal' to me and my husband son being able to live in the 'world' but, yet seemingly be so incapable of functioning in school.  It is hard to hear my son is in adaptive phys Ed class because he can't function in regular phys Ed class yet, he is on the local freestyle ski team and he is 8 and doing 180's, jumps, skies backwards and is trying to master the rails.  It is hard to hear that my son needs special education because he isn't able to sit still and is antsy 'almost like he has ADD' yet, at our cabin in the summer I watch him sit on the dock for hours fishing or driving his own little row boat around the lake.  It is hard to hear my son only wants to read at school and not much else but, at home, he wants to be outside, sledding, playing with friends, hanging with mom and dad or creating some new toy or something. 

Yes, outside of school my husband and I have an almost perfectly 'normal' son it is mostly in school our son seems to be 'odd', 'unable to fit in', and most scary to us, sometimes violent towards others.  My husband and I believe it is often due to all the 'extra attention' he gets from special educators, adaptive programs and such he feels like a caged animal and is plain panicking because he just wants to be treated like everyone else...even though he isn't like everyone else. 

Yes, I have 4 perfect children they are four perfect gifts from God.  I truly believe how they are is how God intended them to be.  It is my job to raise them according to their individual needs.  So, if that makes me seem like a mom that expects the world to revolve around my children then so be it.  I am doing the best I know how, that is all I can do and frankly right now and many other times, I truly don't have ONE clue if what I am doing is right or not.  Unfortunately I feel sometimes my children are guinea pigs and I am experimenting on them all.   Life is really hard having 4 children and it is really hard that they are all seemingly SO different!  But, I truly love my job and I love that I have these 4 incredible children.  I welcome all they bring to my life, I have gained much more of an education I ever received in any college.

Being a parent is a constant learning process and I feel like many times I am only at the Kindergarten level of parenting.  I have no idea what the future may hold for my children's education from year to year.  I have given up trying to force that issue as it seems to change yearly not only for my son but, my daughter's too.  Who knows, my 4th child may end up at Boarding School for all I know!  (Insert a BIG laugh there).

What does the future hold for my son?  Right now that is what my husband and I are focusing on the most.  We don't know, we may never know until the future gets here but, for now, we sit back, pray and try to help him and the educators as best as we know how.   So, for this post...instead of ripping me apart with all of my mistakes and so thought imperfections as not only a mother but, a blogger, it would be nice if you could post some helpful advice or similar stories to help us make it through this extremely rough time.  I feel I have learned the most through other parents of other children on the Spectrum, I think we all can learn a lot from each other if we just listen.  Not ALL parts of the story may apply to ALL people but, bits and pieces may just save one of us/you some turmoil.   Isn't that what a true 'Community' is all about?

I will never apologize for writing a so called 'mom blog' because frankly, that is what I am, a mom and that is my job.  Hence why I am called the Outspoken Mom. 

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