About Shawna Wingert

Shawna is a wife to a wacky, voice actor husband, and a momma to two uniquely challenged little boys. She finds herself increasingly required to live beyond the limits of her crazy self, and serve a wonderfully complex family -- where High Functioning Autism and Learning Disabilities are schooling her every single day. She blogs about the messy and the painful, the sweet and the laughable, and how Jesus is in the midst of it all at Not the Former Things.

Homeschool lessons learned at public school

schoolpicmo

Written by Shawna Wingert of Not the Former Things.

In what can only be described as a surreal moment, I found myself signing documents to enroll my son in public school last month.

I love homeschooling.

My sons love homeschooling.

I write all about how much homeschooling has made a tremendous impact on my sons’ education, despite their learning differences. The longer we homeschool, the more I can imagine us continuing to do it all the way through high school.

So it took a lot to sign those documents. But it was worth it.

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In celebration of the slow learner

in-celebration
Written by Shawna Wingert of Not the Former Things

I remember exactly when I first heard the term “slow learner.”

I was in the third grade, and my desk was next to a sweet boy with freckles and blue eyes.

In class, I diligently filled out all the worksheets, and raised my hand to answer all the questions (my husband and I went to school together and he distinctly remembers me being “very Hermione”).

I was careful to listen to the teacher, to write my name in the upper right-hand corner, and painstakingly bubble in A, B, C or D, with my Number 2 pencil.

The little boy next to me could not have been more my opposite. He struggled in the classroom. I often read things to him under my breath when he was unable to decode them. He seemed to have a motor inside him that kept parts of his body moving at all times. One time, he drew me a perfect, frame-able picture of a cat, instead of writing a summary of the story we had just read aloud (which incidentally, was about a cat.)

A teacher’s aide often came to assist him. When another student asked why she was always at our table, she answered, very plainly, “Because he is a slow learner.”

When she said this, the boy blushed so red I could barely make out his freckles. I looked away, not wanting to make it more embarrassing for him.

My stomach ached every time that aide came in for the rest of the year.

I was eight years old and it was clear – being a ‘slow learner’ was a shameful thing.

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Homeschool is not the boss of me

Homeschool is not the boss of me

Written by Shawna Wingert of Not the Former Things.

I love this season.

Getting ready for the start of a new school year means I get to do all the things I naturally love.

Planning our homeschool calendar.

Typing up our daily schedule.

Researching and (even better) ordering and unpacking new books and curriculum options.

Buying new pens and pencils that we don’t need, but look how pretty they are. (Really, this applies to any office supply – I texted my friends from the store the other day asking if they would help me justify buying a golden stapler. I have issues.)

It all feels so refreshing to me – a new year, a fresh start, a lovely golden stapler.

Then the actual learning begins.

It takes a few weeks, but eventually, I know the newness will fade. The crisp, new books will have coffee spilled on them. A few of the darling pencils will be broken by my ten-year-old in frustration during his phonics lessons. The schedule will mock me. And the curriculum will move too fast for either of my boys, and their learning differences.

It is just part of homeschooling these children.

So this year, I am committed to one goal, and only one:

Homeschooling will not be the boss of me

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When summer break isn’t a break

When summer break isn't a break
Written by Shawna Wingert of Not the Former Things

I remember summer vacations so well.

When I was a child, summer break meant eating way too many popsicles, not having to get up in the morning, swimming for as long as I wanted, impromptu trips to the lake, and absolutely no real plans.

The summer break of my youth was glorious.

The summer break of my children? Not so much.

When we first began homeschooling, I had big plans for the last day of school. We had a party. We took pictures. We discussed all that we had learned that year. It was a great day.

Then the next day came.

The first day of our summer break.

I was looking forward to doing nothing. I was looking forward to sleeping in. I was looking forward to less structure, less requirements, and less planning.

My children, however?

They were grumpy, out of sorts, and fighting constantly.

They were like different children, and not in a good way.

And then the next day came, and the next, and the next.

Our first summer break as a homeschooling family was our worst.

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Homeschooling to my child’s strengths

Homeschooling to my child's strengths
Written by Shawna Wingert of Not the Former Things.

Too often, I spend a ton of time, energy and effort focused on what my children can’t do.

I am ashamed to admit it, but it’s true.

Will he ever really learn to read fluently?

Why is it so hard to memorize the times tables when he can complete complex math problems in his head?

When do I need to employ yet another tutor or educational therapist to help “fix” all the things my children cannot yet do?

Before I had my boys, I worked in corporate training and development. As part of my work, I was invited to attend a session at Gallup, as they introduced the concept of “Strengths Based Training.” It was based on the book, StrengthFinders, and the basic premise was this:

Managing and teaching to an individual’s strengths, exponentially increases productivity and learner satisfaction.

Moreover, the research showed that a learner, when allowed to progress in a ‘strengths based’ fashion, increased their overall capabilities, even in the areas that are weaknesses.

The weak areas actually improve significantly, when a strengths-based approach is taken, than when remediation and focus is centered on poor performing topics.

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