Tutor in a Box
Chris Mason has been a house husband for the last 20 years raising three kids with special needs. Due to the fact that his children went to an online charter school, he had to find ways to save money and found free resources through the internet. This is the way his Tutor in a Box series was born. We have conducted an interview with him.
Can you tell us the story of Tutor in a Box? What inspired you to write this book?
My name is Chris Mason and for the last 20 years I have been a house husband raising three kids with special needs. During this time, I received my Bachelors in Psychology and a Master’s in Education. Due to the fact that all my children went to an online charter school, I had to find ways to save money and found many free resources through the internet. In fact, I still think it is funny when I first asked my daughter’s teachers for resources that could help her when she first entered the world of online schooling, I only received 3 websites. I thought 3 websites from 6 teachers was a sad state of affairs, so Tutor in a Box was born. That was years ago now. My eldest daughter was in sixth grade then, now she is a sophomore in college.
My other books were born out of two things that happened at the same time. First, my family had to give up cable to save money but my kids still wanted to see the then popular That’s so Raven. Second, my mother came up with Mason Day to teach my kids that they did not need a lot of money to give someone a nice gift. Mason Day was when a person was assigned a family member and had to make them something, spending only 20 dollars. My thought was “Oh my God”. I had no artistic skills like my daughters’ and could not build things like my son, but I did have impressive research skills. So the “In the Box” series of books was born.
Your first book was followed by an entire series called "In the Box". What are they about?
All are reference guides to the best free stuff in a particular area. The series currently includes:
• Tutor in a Box - A guide to free educational resources.
• Book Store in a Box - A guide to free print and audio books.
• Arcade in a Box – A guide to free video games.
• Video store in a Box – A guide to free Television and Movies.
• Record Store in a Box – A guide to free music
• Production Studio in a Box: The Guide to make DVD, CD Websites and other Media at Low or No Cost
• App Store in a Box: A Guide to the Best Free Applications for Mobile Devices on the Internet
• Entrepreneur in a Box: A Guide to the best Free Websites to Make Money
What you find the most challenging as father of children with special needs?
To be honest the difficulties being someone’s “Safe Person” you have to really watch what you say and do and sometimes as you can image I made slip ups that then needed to be explained which was sometimes difficult.
Your children went to an online charter school. How you see the potential of online education?
I didn’t at first it was my mother’s idea but to be fair she was right about it. As a student to have the ability to work on what you want when you and still have the support system found in a regular brick and mortar school without the problems such as bullying made a big difference in what my children got out of the educational process.
What message you have for parents raising kids with special needs?
1. Have an end goal in sight. What do you see the child doing when they are 18 and slowly work toward it.
2. Make time for yourself weekly to prevent burnout and resentment.
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