My last blog focused on the foundational truths of fairy tales and how these truths help children with empathy, knowing right from wrong, and focusing on positive future realities for their lives.


Fairy tales are filled with educational treasures
With childlike simplicity, fairy tales punctuate independent action and personal responsibility.  The tales demonstrate not just what to think, but how to think positively about life’s difficulties and barriers, and what it means to positively influence others.  


I am excited to continue sharing how fairy tales can be even more useful in teaching and training your child.  In this article, we will explore how these old tales give children a patterns to apply in education, leadership, goal achievement, use of imagination, rational problem solving, opened-minded thinking, and disciplined character!  


“Once upon a time” is also about the here and now
There’s so much to say on the benefits of “ once upon a time” narratives.  Here is what some legendary notables have to say!



Einstein was once asked by the mother of very young aspiring scientist, how she could better prepare her daughter for academic excellence.  Einstein answered: “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales.  If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”   Surprising? Simplistic? Childlike? Yes, and he was one of the greatest, accomplished minds in all the world.


Now, before you write off this ridiculous comment, and chalk it up to one of Albert’s bad hair days (which we know he had many)  let’s look at a few of the characteristics found in fairy tales that inspire the young mind!
               
“I was acutely aware how far superior an education that stresses independent action and personal responsibility is to one that relies on drill, external authority and ambition.
Albert Einstein



Scholarly Traits Found in Fairy Tales


Fairy tales provide the launching pad for imagination to soar  
A very essential commodity for intelligence.  Well, let the man explain it himself…
          
“When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking.” 
Albert Einstein


Fairy tales develop critical thinking for better future possibilities
By exhibiting the consequences of choices, both good and bad, critical thinking skills are engaged. The definition of critical thinking, from the Foundation of Critical Thinking, is ” A mode of thinking about any subject, content or problem in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully analyzing, assessing and reconstructing it.  Critical thinking is self-directed, self-disciplined, self monitored, and self-corrective thinking.”  


Tales inspire a child to want to be the hero, not a scoundrel. Thus, a child begins to think like a hero and sees the possibilities of good endings and honor, developing from even the most frightening and difficult experiences.



Fairy tales provide life lessons in leadership and responsibility 
Characters who exhibit passionate, take-charge attitudes and  creative solutions to various adversities and situations can inspire children to take on life in the same manner  


“Leadership is a choice, not a position.”
Steven Covey


Stephen Covey wrote The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. He also has a program for children called,  The Leader In Me, which was inspired by two of the United States’ Founding Fathers, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin.


Gleaning from these giants, Covey developed seven habits he feels people should incorporate into their  lives to be more effective, goal oriented, and successful.


The first habit is to be proactive and take responsibility. Covey emphasizes that without adopting the first habit,  all of the other habits are pointless.  I think Albert Einstein would agree!  


If inspirational leadership, critical thinking  and imagination can be cultivated in our children, and help shape their pursuits of education, we need to provide our children with the seeds for this most important harvest…fairy tales!  


               
“In a utilitarian age, of all other times, it is a matter of grave importance that fairy tales should be respected.”
Charles Dickens

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Unit studies are a hands-on approach to learning.  Through multisensory activities and immersion learning, children relate to concepts, confront challenges, solve open-ended questions, and come face-to-face with the difference between knowledge and wisdom.


Our Family’s Decision to Use Unit Studies
When I made the choice to use unit studies for homeschooling, my decision was based solely on the fact my kids were willing to participate in the lessons, not because I loved doing teacher prep activities.  But, over our 14 years of using unit studies, I learned to embrace the intensive teacher prep side, because in the end, the prep made our lessons quicker and more effective. 

Teaching More in Less Time
The reasoning behind the effectiveness of unit studies is how they approach the process of delivering learning material to students.  The unit study approach allows parents to prepare specific educational encounters for their children based on how best their children will connect with the content.  These encounters contain a great amount of information, as well as practical knowledge, but moreover, they provide experiences which touch the hearts of children and help them synthesize difficult concepts into their own knowledge base.

In this video below, I explain how my children learned about communism through one of these planned encounters while we were doing a unit study on Russia.  This lesson is one we all still remember vividly, and which brings me to tears (I can’t tell you how many takes of this video I had to shoot before I captured one without bawling), because of how deeply the lesson impacted us all.



Knowledge vs Facts
Contrary to popular belief, real knowledge isn’t being able to memorize facts and regurgitate them on a test.  Instead, real learning of knowledge happens when a student is able to take the information presented to them and create ties with it to their heart and life. Facts are great to know, but if a child cannot synthesize those facts into useful tools for thinking and solving more complex issues in their everyday life, then they are of little use.  


Special Education Homeschooling Bonus
Kids who often struggle with how information is presented in traditional education models, usually thrive and learn concepts much quicker in this more interactive learning environment.  Part of the reason for this shift has to do with the fact that you, the parent, can choose specific learning activities/encounters you know your child will connect with.


In our homeschool I choose activities that focused on reenactments, building structures, making costumes, and taking field trips.  But, activities involving singing, dancing, and coloring were quickly crossed off the list of possible activities.  The beauty is you can pick and choose whatever you want from a unit study, and leave all the rest, which I give you permission to do if you happen to be one of those people who feels every activity must be done so your kids are getting the best education.

10 Unit Studies to Consider
If you are looking for some ways to incorporate unit studies into your homeschool, here are 10 free unit studies to get you started:

For more unit study options, check out the SPED Homeschool Pinterest board.


Unit Studies in High School
And, for those of you who think unit studies are just for the elementary grades, you will want to check out this video on how unit studies can be used through high school.


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Are you homeschooling children that have been gifted with extraordinary energy like mine?  If so, you will relate to their behaviors:
  • Little patience for anything not involving movement
  • Constant climbing, running, wrestling, fidgeting and talking.
  • Energy levels that push them to engage in risky behavior
  • They have two speeds:  whirling dervish and sleeping

While these characteristics are slight exaggerations to make a point, if you are raising children with high energy, you will already be picturing how this plays out in your home. This type of child demands more than typical parenting strategies.   Here are some strategies I have learned that help embrace my children for who they are and have helped ensure we all survive their journey to adulthood.


Tips for Raising and Homeschooling Very Energetic Children:


Tip 1 – When possible, start every day with physical activity  
Our two young men need to run every morning before school.  This began when they were three years old.  We used to live near a park and it became the venue for our morning running circuit.  Working out my boys’ energy before school, prevented many tears, lots of frustration, and saved time in getting them to focus.


Tip 2 – Find safe places for them to take risks and let them go  
This recommendation runs against the grain of current parenting trends.  As our culture over-shelters and protects children in many areas, they become stunted in their initiative, tolerance for risk, and problem-solving skills.  


Our sons have been risk-takers from toddlerhood.  For us, state and national parks provided a refuge where our children could be wild and not bother other people.  When younger, our sons ran miles of trails and climbed many of rocks.  Now, at 12 and 14, they climb 14,000 ft. mountains for fun.  My sons have tackled challenges usually reserved for older children.   At times, their daring feats have caused onlookers concern, but they have always operated within their abilities.


Tip 3 – Encourage exploration and experimentation
Overly active children’s abundant energy, often comes with inquisitiveness and ingenuity. These are wonderful traits that will serve our children well as they mature.  Encouraging these traits means you will have a messy house at times, often leave workbook learning behind, and won’t be in control of this aspect of their learning.  What you gain is worth every bit of the cost.


Tip 4 – Set strong boundaries around personal property and people
High-energy children can literally crash through life.  To help avoid the social problems caused by this propensity, we must teach our children firm boundaries.  This takes direct teaching, lots of repetition, and opportunities to practice.  Teaching our children to respect others’ property (not touching or grabbing things without permission), not rough-housing unexpectedly with other children, and to confine wild play to the outdoors can help prevent behaviors that overwhelm or repel others.


Tip 5 – Limit or avoid times they are required to be still
In our family, we expect our children to sit quietly during worship, funerals, weddings and in time-out.  These times teach them self-control and self-regulation which are essential skills. However, their ability to do this successfully was much less-developed than their peers.  We have had to closely assess what they could tolerate and not push them past their limits. When they do not have to be still, I try to let them move, fidget and chatter as much as possible.  As they have grown, maturity has tempered much of this overactive behavior.

Dyana with her very energetic boys

Tip 6 – Participate in shared activities with them
My husband has helped immensely in this area.  He started taking our sons running from a very young age and cultivated a deep bond with them in doing so.  It has been more challenging for me as the boys have grown into young men.  I cannot keep up with them on trails anymore and time constraints also make it difficult.  So, a couple of years ago, I did something absurd and wonderful:  I signed the three of us up for martial arts classes.
  
I am over forty, struggle with weight and health issues, and was frankly terrified of getting out on the mat.  However, two years in, we have grown closer to one another, discovered another great outlet for their energy, and gained a supportive and loving community.  This experience has also helped us stay connected as they are becoming young men.


It is easier to schedule things for our active children and watch from the sidelines to get a much-needed break.  I am not discouraging that altogether.  However, I want to encourage you to find shared activities as well. Close bonds develop from shared hobbies and wonderful, lifelong memories are made.

 

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As I keep on with this series addressing childhood depression, I am thankful to those of you who have reached out to me to let me know what I am writing is offering you hope and encouragement as you walk this tough road with your child.  I have taken all your situations to heart and have been praying for you and your children. Thank you for sharing with me and being open to how important this subject is to be talking about.

Once again, I am using a letter in the word “LIGHTS” to highlight this third post in this series.  Today’s letter is “G” and the warning light subject we are going to address is Guilt, while the guiding light discussion will be focused on Grace


Warning “G” – Guilt, and Continuing Shame

Guilt, if left to fester, can enslave anyone.  The two most typical ways a child will be swallowed up with guilt is:
  1. Reliving past mistakes or missed opportunities
  2. Taking on responsibility for being abused or taken advantage of

David, in Psalm 38, perfectly describes what festering guilt can do to a person’s life:
“For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.”  Psalm 38:4

Guilt Over Past Mistakes or Missed Opportunities
Children who place stiff requirements on themselves for how they are to perform, how they should be able to act, or even how others should perceive them often heap guilty burdens upon themselves without even knowing.

Parents who realize they have a child who struggles in this area needs to work very hard on being transparent with their own child of how they mess up as well as people their child admires.  If a child can see how perfection is a facade and everyone, even the people whom they most admire, are fallible and miss saying or doing the right thing all the time, they are better able to set more realistic ideals for their own life.

Guilt Over Abuse/Bullying
On the other hand, children can also take on the guilt of someone else who has abused or mistreated them.  This type of guilt, a child should not have any reason to take ownership of, but it’s often how most children who have been victimized react. Usually it is not enough for a child to be told that their assailant was in the wrong and they are not to blame because the root for their guilt lies deeper than those reassurances can reach. 

Instead, a child needs to slowly heal through a repetitive forgiveness process…one that takes much work on the part of a parent, and sometimes a counselor.  As a child lets go of the hurt little by little, the healing begins to repair their heart and heal their soul.  Truly it is a work that God must be part of and it is not something to be rushed.  In the end the goal is to help the child see the sin, heal from the hurt, forgive the person who hurt them, and eventually understand the purpose God had in allowing them to go through the experience AND the healing.


Guiding “G” – Grace of God

Being completely forgiven by the grace of God is sometimes a fact taken so simply by Christians that we often don’t break it down as we should so we can fully embrace how it moves us from being sinful or guilt ridden, to being completely redeemed before God.
A method I developed to help myself and my boys when they were younger, is called the ABCD Grace Method.  In using this method, my children and I learned not only to accept God’s grace for our shortcomings, but also how we must move forward freely in the grace God provides.

ABCD Grace Method
A – Accept
Accept that I am a sinner and that my sinful act was a result of my natural inclination to seek the things of the flesh instead of the things of God

B – Believe
Believe the work Jesus did on the cross, His perfect sacrifice and shedding of blood for my sins, was all that is necessary to wipe away my sin

C – Confess
Confess to God that I can’t do life on my own.  I need Him and I need His forgiveness and I need His help as I keep on going

D – Decide
Decide to learn from my failure, move forward leaving the sin and guilt behind but taking forward the lesson God allowed me to learn about myself and the fallen world I live in


Silver Lining of Guilt and Grace

Learning to Give Grace
As a child, I was a perfectionist and I didn’t give myself any room for error.  I constantly beat myself up with my thoughts and expectations for how I didn’t handle life as well as I felt I should have.  It wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I first encountered the word grace and how God’s grace applied to me.  I was overwhelmed at the idea that I had been perceiving life from the wrong perspective for so long.
Over the years I have learned not only give myself grace, but also give grace to others realizing they too suffer from the same sinful condition I do…and they too are just trying their best.

Burdened for a Purpose
As I look back at the contrast how living in guilt versus living in grace has affected my life, I realize how much lighter my life feels now. But, in carrying those guilt burdens for so many years, I know I can more greatly empathize with the great heaviness those without Jesus carry.

Be encouraged parents.  Your child who is struggling with depression may not yet understand how much they need grace, but God will not allow them to carry their unnecessary guilt any longer than they need.  His grace is freeing and it will come into their lives at just the perfect timing.

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I taught in public school for ten years and the one thing I looked forward to every year was the field trip. I loved to see the excitement in my students eyes to get outside of the classroom to do some hands on learning. When I went from public school teacher to homeschool mom, I decided that it was my chance to provide as much hands-on learning as possible.


Field trips can be simple days at the zoo or planned-out trips with activities and assignments attached. Studying about Egypt can be exciting but going to a museum and seeing a mummy in a sarcophagus makes a lifelong impression on young learners. In our homeschool, with two learners who struggle, field trips are a must.


Three advantages that I have realized by providing field trips with my children.

1 – Field Trips Connect Learning with Reality
Reading about art in books can give a learner background, but going to a museum and actually seeing a Monet painting sets up a real memory. My daughter  still talks about the colors, Monet, and the waterlilies. Now when we see water lilies  in other ponds, she can tell me about Monet. I know the learning has been made meaningful and long-term.


2 – Field Trips Make Learning Relevant
Learning about physics in a science book can be exciting, but being able to go to museum and build a car and watch it race other cars allows the learning to become physics in action. When you refer back to the laws that were learned during the field trip lesson, it helps your student apply the concepts.


3 – Field Trips Inspire Learners
Field trips can help your child figure out what school subjects most interested them, or even a lifelong career. You never know when a field trip to the zoo could inspire your child to be a zoologist or a veterinarian. If you talk to museum or  zoo staff about your child’s interests,  they may even have a way to extend that learning.


We plan field trips every 5 weeks to change up our learning environment. Check into local venues there are ways to get group rates, homeschool days, and maybe even free admission.

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Dr. Lendon Smith, the famous baby doctor and author of Feed Your Kids Right, calls these wonderful children who are struggling with Sensory Processing Disorder, “goosey, touchy kids”.  I’ve often referred to these kids whose nervous system is in disequilibrium as “kids uncomfortable in their own skin”.  Their nervous system reacts to outside stimuli in an abnormal manner.  In other words, they are very “over-reactive” to physical and emotional input.  This can cause them to seem to be at odds with their environment much of the day.



Common Symptoms:


Touch sensitivity
  • Clothing tags bother them
  • Socks must have soft seams (or better yet, none)
  • Wears only soft, non-binding clothes…no jeans
  • Resists hair being combed, washed and cut
  • Dr. visits difficult (stethoscope phobia)


Auditory Sensitivity
  • Sensitive to loud noises (hands over ears for vacuum cleaner)
  • Dislikes being in a large group
  • Language delayed somewhat or much
  • Transitions are hard (have to be told of all changes beforehand)


Taste Sensitivity
  • Food textures bother him
  • Won’t eat meat…or very little
  • Chews on clothing
  • Very selective eater (usually seeks to eat carbs)
  • Foods can’t touch on plate  (no casseroles for him!)


Thankfully, nobody has all of these symptoms.  But in general, these kids are so distracted by their own overactive nervous system reactions to the world, they can seem to have “ADD”.


Quiz – Does Your Child Have SPD?
On a lighter note, here are four ways to confirm you are a parent of a child with Sensory Issues:
  1. The barber tools required for your child’s haircut include sedatives and a scissor silencer.
  2. Seven different family meals need to be prepared for your family of four.
  3. The thought of your child’s upcoming dental visit gives you anxiety attacks that require medication and therapy.
  4. You also start wearing your socks and underwear inside out because it really does feel more comfortable that way.


Treatment Options


Traditional Treatments
There are many good traditional treatments for these children. Occupational and Physical Therapists are good sources of interventions.  They will often show parents how to use a specific Brushing Technique with their child to help re-train the child’s over-reactive nervous system.  If a child is more “sensory seeking”, the therapists might have a child wear a specially weighted vest for a few months to re-educate the nervous system.  


My favorite intervention, other than the nutritional interventions, is to use crossing the midline therapy. I use Brain Integration Therapy.  I have found this to consistently be effective in helping a child significantly modulate his or her nervous system without effort.  Other midline therapies such as Brain Balance, Brain Highways and Hope for a Future Center are available also, if you want to out-source this therapy, and are effective in improving sensory modulation.



Alternative Treatments
Sometimes surprising, easy, natural treatments work very well in reducing the symptoms that these children are suffering with.  


A 4 Year-old’s Story
A mother of the young boy, who sent me a picture of her son in the sandbox, reported that she used a substance called Mineral Rich.  She calls this “Liquid Gold.”  Her son had such touch sensitivity that he couldn’t bear to have the sand touch his feet.  This is not an uncommon reaction from kids with SPD.  His nervous system was in “red alert”, signaling that the feeling of sand was dangerous and painful.  His mother found a way to settle down his nervous system by using a natural mineral supplement that has four times as much magnesium as calcium. In fact, she said that after she supplemented him with this mineral blend, he didn’t cover his ears anymore when the vacuum was on, or the doorbell rang.  His “hyperacousia”(noise sensitivity) was greatly diminished.
 
Why do we use the ratio of minerals contained in Mineral Rich to help children whose nervous system is over-reactive?  It’s because we know that magnesium is “nature’s tranquilizer.”  We also know magnesium can be a laxative (remember Milk of Magnesia?).  It is very relaxing to all the muscles, even the colon. In fact, if you look up the symptoms of magnesium deficiency and sensory processing disorder, you will see a significant correlation.  It is fascinating to see this close match of symptoms.


Please note that It is always best to check with your physician before adding any nutritional supplement.  However, if you decide that you want to consider adding some supplemental magnesium, there are many types to choose from. 

The mom in this story, used Mineral Rich by Maximum Living which is a cherry tasting liquid that has the most helpful magnesium/calcium ratio. This is available at any health food store.  If you choose to use capsules, the magnesium citrate is the form that Dr. George Juetersonke, a practicing integrative physician in Colorado Springs recommends. The potential downside to magnesium supplementation?….too much can cause loose stools.  This is easily stopped with reduction in amount.  I always take any supplement I give my child, myself.  Then I can more easily monitor effects.


A good source of more information on the role of magnesium for the sensory issues is the book, The Miracle of Magnesium by Dr. Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D.  You will enjoy reading about the different ways to soothe your child’s nervous system.


Izaya – An 11 Year-Old’s Story
Izaya was an eleven year-old who struggled so much with sensory issues that he cried when his mom was in the shower.  She couldn’t leave the room without letting him know so he could come along.  Overnight birthday parties that his peers participated in were not something he could attend. After a few months of targeted nutritional interventions, including the all-important magnesium supplement, she reported that he now stays overnight with his friends, goes to public bathrooms by himself, and in general doesn’t ‘freak out’ about everything.” 

These types of parent reports aren’t unusual when parents begin using nutritional interventions to help their child’s nervous system settle down.  Changes can occur quickly.  


Where to find some ideas for your child?  You can visit an Integrative/Functional Physician, or a Certified  Nutritionist for ideas.  Or you can listen to Dianne’s Biology of Behavior CD set for some alternative ideas.  There are many resources available for parents to help their wonderful children with Sensory Processing Disorder at home!



God said that there is nothing hidden that won’t be revealed!  We’ll just take Him at His Word!

SPED Homeschool Disclaimer:  The SPED Homeschool website is not intended to provide diagnosis, treatment or medical advice. Products, services, information and other content provided at spedhomeschool.com, including information that may be provided directly, or by linking to third-party websites, are provided for informational purposes only. Please consult with a physician or other healthcare professional regarding any medical or health related diagnosis or treatment options.

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He said, “You become.  It takes a long time.  That’s why it doesn’t happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.  Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.  But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”


No, this is not a quote about a homeschool mom on a warm May afternoon.  But it could be because this is a foundational truth about love and being loved and being Real.  Most homeschool moms have experienced that sensation of being rubbed off from love.  There were many an afternoon that I called myself “The Velveteen Rabbit”.  This is one of the many foundational truths found in Margery Williams’ book, The Velveteen Rabbit.


These authors of old had a way of capturing the essence of a truth with tales of heroic and  endearing characters, beautiful imagery, use of symbolism.   Those stories end by teaching our children that although, life at times may be hard, there is always hope!



Here are some foundational truths found in a sampling of children’s stories. Remember to always discuss with your children the truths that are exhibited in the timeless tales.


Here are three foundational truths that children can glean from these parables.


1 – Empathy          
“The Ugly Duckling” is a literary fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson. This story addresses our need to belong and the universal pain we feel when we are not accepted.  Also the story reveals that we should not let others define us.  Although it is not easy, when we are on the other side of the painful experience, we have learned a valuable lesson on how to treat others that are different.  There are many tales that could be used as a beginning point for discussions with your children.


2 – Right from Wrong
The simple Celtic tale of “The Three Little Pigs” written by Joseph Jacobs, demonstrates that there is a right and wrong way to invest your money and time.  The first two pigs were foolish and greedy and only thought of  the present.  The third pig’s good judgement and diligence built his house out of costly, strong bricks and saved his two brothers. His brothers saw the necessity of planning ahead and meeting needs instead of wants and together, the three brothers  vanquished the Big Bad Wolf for good!  These old tales are full of examples of right and wrong choices and the rewards for good decisions and consequences for bad ones. What rich material to use with your children about outcomes of their decisions!


3 – Hope
I believe hope is the most important ingredient in our fables and tales. Vision is the act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be. “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”  Proverbs 29:18. The vision of these tales is hope of better times or of a dream come true. 

A Favorite Tale
My personal favorite fairy tale is, “Beauty and the Beast.” I even like the Disney version.  This adaptation is from an eighteenth century fairy tale by Jeanne-Marie Leprince.  Belle is full of hope, she is hoping for an abundant life full of love, literature and adventure. She is prepared to wait for what she wants.


The Beast has grown tired of waiting and hope is all but gone for him. However, hope is renewed with redemption, trust, acceptance and the willingness to help another without demanding anything in return.  All is restored and evil once again meets its befitting end.



A Brighter Future
Many of our children today have their hopes and dreams dashed because they feed on the disturbing realities of our modern world and see things too mature for their young minds.  

Some of today’s films, books and television shows for children tell a harsh, hopeless story that even blur the lines between heroes and villains.  Children’s stories should not only be enjoyable but offer character lessons, clear lines between right and wrong and most of all hope!


Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage.  Otherwise, you are making their destiny not brighter but darker.   – C.S. Lewis

 

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It’s ready, set, go it’s another wild day
When the stress is on the rise in my heart I feel you say
Just breathe, just breathe
Come and rest at my feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need

Is to just breathe

– Jonny Diaz


These lyrics from Jonny Diaz speak to my heart and I find myself needing to breathe some days more than others.


Breathe Reminder – You Are Accomplishing Things
I know as a homeschooling mom I find myself sometimes thinking of all the things that I think I should be doing as a mom and a teacher. These thoughts of inadequacy take over and I lose sight of all things that I am doing as a mom and a teacher.


Breathe Reminder – You Are Enough
I then remind myself to “just breathe.” There are so many things that I can teach my children but one of the biggest lessons is to remain at peace.I am not in control of everything. I am not going to be perfect and that is okay. I am enough! It is through this I am teaching my children that they are enough and they will make mistakes. It is through making mistakes I feel the biggest life lessons are taught.




Breathe Reminder – Perspective Provides Pathways
When my kids get upset, or are in meltdown mode I say,  “blow out your candles.” Sometimes my kids even remind me to blow out my candles. When we stop to breathe and even pray, it changes our heart and changes our perspective. Breathing lets us see that the situations may not be as impossible as we originally thought.


Breath Reminder – God Equips
Just breathe today and now that you are enough and God is equipping you on this journey.

 

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At some point, we all have visions of the clean, organized, quiet house we could have if we’d just enroll our kids in public or private school. Homeschooling can be challenging at times.


We may want to quit because we are:
  • Exhausted and overwhelmed
  • Short on time to talk to friends or have adult conversations with anyone
  • Feeling like we aren’t smart, patient, educated, or organized enough to be a good homeschool teacher
  • Feeling like we’re too behind to ever get caught up


And the kids:
  • Hate school
  • Don’t listen
  • Bicker constantly
  • Have ridiculously short attention spans


On occasion quitting appears necessary due to family issues such as:
  • Job loss or financial pressures
  • A new baby
  • A serious illness in the family
  • Affected by a natural disaster


These are always reasons to quit, then again, they’re also reasons to not give up. After all, we chose home education because we felt it was best for our kids and our family.


The Challenges of Other Schooling Options

Raising well-adjusted, well-educated, caring, loving, responsible adults is hard no matter how you do it. There is no such thing as a perfect parent or an ideal schooling option. At least homeschooling gives us some control over the challenges. Let’s compare some challenges of homeschooling to those of private and public schools.


Homework
  • School Option: Struggling with 4 hours of homework at night after the kids have been gone most of the day.  
  • Homeschooling: Spending about 4 to 5 hours of homeschooling to make sure they finish their work during school time.


Attitudes
  • School Option: Dealing with obscene words and bad behavior and values picked up from other kids at school.
  • Homeschooling: Dealing with children wanting to play or discover  outdoors and having lessons/ doing schoolwork


Children with Learning Disabilities
  • School Option: Struggling with decisions about special education classes and your child feeling different than other kids. And the often non-ending fight of advocating for your child with a school or school district that might not even try to meet the minimum federal requirements to ensure that LD children receive an equal education
  • Homeschooling:  Educating your child with a learning disability in a manner that does not make them feel inferior or different and enables them to learn as well as other children, just differently.


Strain
  • School Option: The emotional strain of running a household, juggling childcare, and working outside of the home full-time.
  • Homeschooling: The financial strain of living on one income or having a business that’s flexible.


Gaps in Your Child’s Education
  • School Options: Teachers and school officials with different standards and goals from yours establishes the priorities for your child’s education and development.
  • Homeschooling: You are responsible for prioritizing your child’s education. By adjusting your time and effort to the areas you consider vital to your children’s future, you ensure they aren’t missed.
  • Additional Advice:  There will always be things your kids forget, missed, don’t understand or weren’t taught.


Guiding your Child’s Future
  • School Options: The teachers are all about academics and may have different goals, values, viewpoints and methods than you do.
  • Homeschooling: No matter what scholastic benefits other schooling options may offer your child, you won’t have the same influence and impact on your child’s outlook that you do with homeschooling.


12 Tips To Keep You Going, When You’re Thinking Of Quitting

Here are some tips to help you carry on when you don’t think you can continue homeschooling.
  1. Learn skills to enhance your success as a teacher. Go to home school workshops and conventions. Take a continuing education class (maybe algebra or child development). If your child is gifted or LD, educate yourself on the needs of those children and the best teaching methods for them. Read books, some suggestions are A Charlotte Mason Education, Homeschooling the Early Years, The Relaxed Home School, The Unschooling Handbook, or The Well-Trained Mind.
  2. Turn to family and friends, especially homeschooling friends, and the online homeschool community, like the SPED Homeschool Facebook Support Group, for support or help with any subject or problem you may be dealing with.
  3. Outsource classes on subjects that you aren’t that strong in.
  4. Don’t listen to the naysayers. No one who accomplishes anything listens to them. As you would explain to a small child—those people are silly.
  5. Before you decide to quit or not, relax and get some rest, so your mind is refreshed to properly assess the pros and cons as objectively as possible.
  6. Pinpoint the exact reason you want to quit and do what you can to fix that issue so you’ll feel successful again. If your kids are different ages and you feel you can’t teach all of them everything they need to know, consider signing up the oldest kids for distance learning classes or possibly use the same curriculum for history or science but just at different age levels. Figure out what you can streamline. If isolation is an issue, consider joining a co-op. If you’re finding it too hard to keep the house clean, use a chore system or have the family spend the weekend getting rid of the clutter
  7. You began homeschooling because you thought it was best for you children. Take time to recall your original goals and what excited you about it when you first started
  8. Recommit to home education and jot down the reasons you homeschool. Post the list where you’ll see it daily, like on the refrigerator
  9. Attend a homeschool conference or spend time with a fellow homeschool mom to help you get through this difficult time.
  10. Don’t over-commit to other projects or anything that gets in the way of homeschooling. It’s okay to say no.
  11. Take a break. If you and the kids are fed up then no one is learning anything anyway. Claim a teacher-in-service day and take the kids to the library or museum. Pull out art supplies or science kits. Let them work on their favorite subject all day or pursue their interest.
  12. Look at your options. Research the alternatives so you can make a well-informed decision that’s truly best for your family.




Just as there is no such thing as a parent who is totally together all the time, there is no such thing as a homeschooling parent who has all their stuff together all the time. No one is perfect. Homeschooling can’t always be as great as we want it to be. But nothing worth doing is easy. We all have bad days and we all make mistakes. But most children and parents who undertake home education, find it more than worthwhile in the end.

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In my own family, I often find it difficult to see progress in the goals we have set. So, instead of just celebrating large goals, we make it a point to celebrate every triumph our children have on a daily basis.


In your own homeschool, how often do you recognize the little things your children do that are smaller parts of a larger goal? Learning letters means a child is one smaller goal closer to learning a word. Moving a limb means a child is one step closer to using a communication board.  Making a pot of macaroni and cheese means your young adult is that much closer towards establishing independence.




Whatever your goal is for your child, be sure to recognize the small things they do every day. My husband works within the public school system and his school has developed a way of recognizing students “caught being good.”  These “good” behaviors are the little things the school has determined to reward so students eventually learn the value of multiplying good behaviors.


In a way, each good behavior rewarded by my husband’s school, and each smaller goal we reward in our homeschools, is like saving a single penny towards a larger investment. Collecting pennies means eventually those pennies will add up to a dollar. Slowly, but surely, little things add up to BIG things.




Affirmation for good behavior, wise choices and good school performance can leave your child with a healthy sense of accomplishment, and you with the realization both of you are getting there…


One
Penny
At
A
Time.

Did you know SPED Homeschool is 100% donor funded? 

Your contributions keep our ministry running! 

Donate today on PayPal

(all donations are tax-deductible)

 

Did you enjoy this article?

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