The holiday are upon us. So, the question at hand is: “How do we deal with all the shopping and prepping that goes into this time of year when it can be so overwhelming?” 

Here are some things that worked in our family, when daily life caused sensory overload from the heightened seasonal activity. 

  • Shop online and with catalogs, it just keeps things simpler and away from crazy crowds.
  • Drive thru neighborhoods known for their decorations. Not only is it better on the pocketbook, but noises can be controlled and lights tend not be be as overbearing from the inside a vehicle. You can also make this adventure a special treat by picking up hot chocolate (or bring your own) and cookies.
  • Decorate the tree with simple white lights instead of flashing colored ones.
  • Try to keep your routine as much as possible, the normalcy of your days can help prevent many a meltdown.
  • Use festive fabric to wrap gifts. By replacing paper with fabric no one gets overstimulated with the constant tearing of paper. Plus, the fabric is reusable. Decorated pillowcases work great!
  • Use one gift box per person. Place all of that family member’s gifts in the one box and you save on the chaos of opening lots of little gifts.
  • Limit sugar.  Even if you already do this, ’tis the season to work on it all the more. Too much sugar can cause any kiddo to get grumpy and meltdown (adults included).
  • Ensure your family gets enough rest
  • Pick and choose your activities. You don’t have to do everything…every year. 
And, if things do go awry, take a deep breath. Tomorrow is a new day.


Happy Holidays. 

Did you know SPED Homeschool is 100% donor funded? 

Your contributions keep our ministry running! 

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Thanksgiving celebrations all over the United States gives families time to pause and thank God for all He has done for us over this past year.  At the top of my list was my family, especially the many answered prayers God has worked out in the lives of my children.  But, next on my list was this new ministry, SPED Homeschool.
If you are not familiar with SPED Homeschool, other than the blogs we post on our website, I am excited to have this chance to share with you why we have so much to thankful about.
Where it All Started
SPED Homeschool incorporated as a nonprofit in late August (2017) to fill a resource and support void in the national special education homeschooling community.  But, that is not where SPED Homeschool got its start.  A little over two years ago, I accepted a volunteer position with the Texas Home School Coalition (THSC) to work on their customer service team and help with their efforts in supporting the Texas special needs homeschooling community, just like I had done in starting up a special needs outreach in Minnesota for MACHE (Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators).
Over these past two years, my work for THSC grew from a volunteer position to a staff position, and my team also grew to include an assistant consultant and eight volunteer team members.   We were working well as a team, and it showed.  A speaker at the THSC convention this past May told me she felt “THSC had the premier state organization special needs department” and I had to step back and smile at all God had brought together. But, there was a stirring inside me I couldn’t shake…one that kept me looking at the greater need for special education homeschooling families beyond our state borders.


When Curriculum and Online Support Is Not Enough
For those on the outside of the special needs homeschooling community, it looks like these families have everything they need to successfully homeschool. With an ever increasing number of special needs homeschooling curriculums and Facebook support groups to cover most diagnoses, an outsider would say these families have a strong support base.  


With all that is available, navigating the many options requires more precious time than these families can afford.  Offering a trust-worthy, one-stop ministry with a national reach to provide these resources became my goal.  In addition to curriculum suggestions, parents are looking for local support groups, local co-ops, local therapy providers, and state and county resource providers who are special needs AND homeschool friendly.  


These resources are extremely difficult to track down unless someone in their area, like a local or state special needs homeschooling consultant, has taken the time to scout them out. Instead, these parents struggle to do this leg work and advocate for their child in a completely new schooling realm, while juggling the already taxing load they have raising and homeschooling at least one child with special needs.
Who We Are
In early June I approached THSC about stepping out of my position and taking my team, minus a dedicated assistant special needs consultant, to start a new national special education nonprofit ministry.  THSC not only blessed my request, but have worked to help promote our efforts from the start.
Five of the volunteers who had been working with me at THSC had also been feeling the need to grow our ministry, so they transitioned as part of our team and board:  Dyana Robbins, Dawn Spence, Shanel Tarrant-Simone, Cammie Arn, Myeshi Briley, and Elaine Carmichael.  Soon after our launch, we added three more members our team (Sherry Martin, Kimberly Vogel, and Jennifer Cullimore) and two board members (Dianne Craft and Jan Bedell).


Each of these team and board members are parents who took the leap to homeschool their own student with special educational needs.  Some are still in-the-trenches teaching every day, and some have graduated their students and are now fully devoted to helping other parents on this journey.  But the great calling we all share is to minister to families who are homeschooling children with learning challenges.  As our team and ministry continues to grow, our main goal is to help SPED homeschooling families in every facet we have been helped by God and others along our own homeschooling paths.


What We Are Doing
It has been a busy fall for us at SPED Homeschool, but we don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.
Since starting SPED Homeschool in late July (2017), our first steps in setting up outreach to special education homeschooling parents has been:  
  • Recruiting influential and knowledgeable board members in the field of special education homeschooling
  • Branding SPED Homeschool to be an approachable, yet professional, organization for special education homeschooling parents
  • Developing a website with useful and pertinent static content pages
  • Scheduling content calendars for blogs,images, and videos
  • Building an Internet presence through social media streams (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Flipboards, and YouTube)
  • Incorporating as a Texas nonprofit on August 24, 2017
  • Receiving IRS approval on September 28, 2017 with a Federal 501.c.3. tax exempt status
Looking ahead at the end of 2017, our team will be focused on continuing to keep our aggressive content calendar and social media push as well as working on these specific tasks:
  • Partnering with state and national homeschool and special needs organizations to provide resources and support to their special education homeschooling families
  • Recruiting additional team members to broaden the reach of our ministry as we try to develop local contact, diversify our original content, and reach a larger audience
  • Running a Giving Tuesday and 2017 Year-End Giving Campaign to meet our $50,000 fundraising goal to ensure start-up cost coverage and initial funds for our 2018 projects
  • Hiring 4 part-time supportive staffing positions: Office Coordinator, Social Media/Video Specialist, Graphic Designer and Donor Coordinator

In 2018, these are our top priorities:
  • Creating a homeschool co-op training program to instruct homeschool groups how to adequately prepare their leadership, facility, procedures, safeguards, and teacher training for the specific needs of special education students
  • Starting a SPED Homeschool Family In Need Fund and resource supply chain, to allow families in need to request help in obtaining computers, curriculum, in-home teaching help, and therapy services
  • Hiring 4 more part-time staff positions:  Web Designer, Editor, Partner Relations Coordinator, Family in Need Fund Manager
  • Booking team member speaking engagements, and vendor booths slots, at various 2018 national and state homeschool and special needs conferences
  • Developing an app that would connects parents easily to helpful resources, events, materials, therapists and groups, both locally and nationally
  • Partnering with special education authorities (bloggers, speakers, etc.) and setting a vision on how to reach the special education homeschool population from a united front
Why Special Education Homeschooling is Growing
Current statistics are now showing a 25% special education student demographic already within the homeschooling population, which spans a wide range of learning difficulties.  Plus, one of the fastest-growing groups seeking parent-led homeschooling education are families already in the public school special education system or those whose children are enrolled in early childhood intervention programs which experts feel is much greater than the current national learning disability diagnosis rate of 13%.
Families who choose to homeschool, do not do so lightly. Many, just like myself 14 years ago, realize homeschooling is the only educational option able to provide the necessary customized instruction their children need.  These families sacrifice careers, time, and money because they believe their children have a better future than most educational institutions are willing to help them achieve.  These are parents are determined not to let their children become one of the increasing statistics of our failing public school special education programs.
These statistics show that only 65.5% of students in the US, who have a known learning disability, graduate high school as cited by the Grad Nation Report.  But, even the majority of these graduates are not ready to transition into a meaningful job or into higher education. 
A recent survey on this subject stated 90% of current students labeled with learning disabilities had the ability to make a successful job or higher education transition if they were helped to establish a support system before graduation per The Hechinger Report. Unfortunately, most of the programs in our current high school education system are not focused on this effort and most students who graduate are not prepared for life beyond their high school career.
How You Can Help
Since SPED Homeschool is a nonprofit, our bylaws are set up in a way to not require membership for parents to come to us for help or support, we completely rely on donor partners to keep our ministry going.  

Right now we are ramping up for a big #GivingTuesday campaign, but you can give any time from now until the end of November to help us reach our $50,000 goal.  


We can’t do this without you!  

Our board, team, volunteers, and I are excited about the hopeful future ahead for special education homeschooling families.  Thank you for your prayers and support!

Did you know SPED Homeschool is 100% donor funded? 

Your contributions keep our ministry running! 

Donate today on PayPal

(all donations are tax-deductible)

 

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Being a mom of a special needs kiddo sure has its hard times, but gratitude can change our perspective and help ease the tough days. We wanted to share with you what we are THANKFUL for in our journey as SPED Homeschool moms.


Time
Time is fleeting and I’ve come to realize that the moments with my children are precious. I am so thankful that I can experience the mundane, the victorious, even the hard moments with them everyday. (Jennifer Cullimore)


Humbling Moments
Each day presents lessons to learn from when I don’t handle them as I should have. These moments are gifts, reminding me I am not perfect, what I need prayers and support to improve on, and how necessary God’s consistent grace is for my life. (Peggy Ployhar)


Advocate
We have to speak and advocate for our kids. Whether with doctors, family members, or other kids; standing up for our child and making things happen for them starts them down the road of advocating for themselves. I’m thankful for the advocating moments for my children, it tells them they are worth fighting for. (Kimberly Vogel)


Nighttime
Because once my loves are asleep I can have some down time and I might actually get to sleep somewhere between 12-4am. (Jennifer Poorman)


Kisses and Kleenex!
A typical day usually involves one or the other!


Family & Friends
Family:  My family might not be perfect, but it’s mine. We love and laugh and serve Jesus always striving to grow and love more. (Kimberly Vogel)


Friends: The journey of homeschooling a special needs child can be arduous and lonely. I’m thankful for friends who understand and stand by me through the ups and downs. ( Karen Larsen)


Understanding & Unconditional Love
Understanding from Others: When another child/mom understands our kids are different, and accepts them as they are. (Lynne Shearer) and I’m thankful for family members, friends and those perfect strangers that show a desire to try and understand my child better. They are almost always surprised to find that we are not as different as we may appear on the outside. (Jamie)  


Unconditional love: I am so thankful for those who love and accept us for who we are, where we are at. What a blessing and joy to be among those who don’t bat an eye at what others would seem strange or weird but is our normal. (Lori Walker)


Laughter
We could not make it through all the challenges we face without a sense of humor. (Lauren Mitchell)


The SPED Homeschool Team is also thankful for YOU, our readers, and the SPED Homeschool Support group on Facebook.


Brenda said it so thoughtfully: I was so scared to pull my son out of school until I found this group because I found all the information and support I needed to feel comfortable making all the decisions about my son’s education. Your resources made me feel empowered and the support has been a blessing to us. I appreciate you guys! All of you, the experienced homeschooling moms and the not so experienced moms, you make me feel like I am not alone (Brenda Olivares)


Happy Thanksgiving from the SPED Homeschool Team!


What are you thankful for? Leave a comment and tell us. 

Did you know SPED Homeschool is 100% donor funded? 

Your contributions keep our ministry running! 

Donate today on PayPal

(all donations are tax-deductible)

  

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Thanksgiving approaches:  As we focus on gratitude and the blessings we enjoy, I am challenged to examine how we express thankfulness in our family. One key expression of gratitude is compassion for others.


As much as special-needs parents understand caring for others, cultivating compassion in our children can be difficult. Sometimes, conditions like autism or mental illness make compassion challenging to develop. Other times, children can become self-centered and focused as they grapple with the pain of their struggles.


Here are some practical strategies to develop this vital characteristic in our families:


1. Intentionally point out and discuss the needs of others
Young people may require direct teaching in this area.  When my sons were toddlers, we had a poster with kids displaying various facial expressions.  Each expression had an emotion attached to it.  We rehearsed this almost daily to help them interpret non-verbal cues, but also to cultivate empathy.


When they were a bit older, we began coaching them in social interactions by telling them how their behavior was impacting their friends or likely perceived in the community.  This direct teaching was used for both positive and negative interactions.  In many ways, I acted as a narrator for their lives during this stage; explaining the world around them and how they were operating within it.


As they have grown, we discuss news events, life events in the people around us and their own experiences in ways that point to not only facts but likely emotional responses that co-occur.  This practice has challenged us to perceive likely needs and emotions that we can respond to as we engage with these situations.


2. Travel, Serving, and Giving
Despite the limitations our families experience, there are ways we can help our children see beyond our walls.  Even trips to the library or stores provide a myriad of ways to really see those around us.  If you are able to travel more broadly, cross-cultural experiences will greatly hone your family’s compassion as you experience being “the others” while being immersed in the struggles of other cultures.


Serving others is possible for almost every child.  Finding ways to do this as a family cultivates compassion in each member.  Food banks, Operation Christmas Child, visiting nursing homes and volunteering in our neighborhoods provide ample service opportunities.  Prayer for others’ needs is always possible even when we are homebound.


Our family’s favorite service place, besides church, has been a local ministry to the homeless called the Mercy Tree.  This wonderful ministry provides lunch in a local church, devotions, laundry service, showers and transportation to those without homes.  As we cook for our friends and eat together, we understand more of a world we have never experienced and our ability to love in those places broadens.


3. Share great stories!
Powerful stories that transcend their time always include adversity that their characters overcome.  We can link the characters’ struggles to relevant experiences in our lives or those of others.  This helps us not only understand pain, but what is required to face and overcome the type of struggle depicted.  These stories are blueprints to guide us in helping others.


4. Practice gratitude and compassion at home
  • Tell your spouse frequently what you love and appreciate about him/her in front of your children
  • Around the dinner table, have each family member share thankfulness about the person next to them
  • Keep a thankfulness list in a central location and encourage everyone to contribute
  • Each month, assign one family member to select a person or family to serve in some way
  • Invite others into your home
  • Love each other well
  • Find penpals from other countries and exchange letters


I hope that some of these strategies encouraged you to find new ways to encourage compassion in your family.  Besides the joy it will bring your children, fostering compassion expands their relationships and equips them to better relate to their communities.  


Happy Thanksgiving!


This article was reposted from www.amblinggrace.com with permission from the author.

Did you know SPED Homeschool is 100% donor funded? 

Your contributions keep our ministry running! 

Donate today on PayPal

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Are you working with a bright, hard working child or teenager who has to work too hard to learn?  This is the child who does not respond to other curriculum or materials and teaching strategies that have worked so well with your other children. In fact, you may be on your fourth reading/phonics program, your third math program, and your fourth spelling program.  


If it is your first child or student who is struggling, you may now have a younger sibling or other students who are yelling out the words from the corner of the room. That’s when you decide, “Something isn’t right” with this child.  You wonder if this child has a processing problem, a learning disability, or Dyslexia.   You are puzzled because orally, he/she is so good in many things, and loves to listen to stories.  What is going on?   


According to Dr. Mel Levine, MD, in his book, One Mind at a Time, all learning requires energy. He refers to it as “battery energy.”  I like this term.  It clearly describes what we see happening with the struggling learner. This child is using way too much battery energy to write or remember sight words or phonics for reading.  We see the battery drain happen before our eyes.  Our question is, why does this child have to work so hard at things that should not take so much energy to learn or remember?  


This energy drain is generally because this child has one or more of the Four Learning Gates blocked.  We think of these learning gates as information pathways.  Children who learn easily seem “smart” because they don’t have any major blocks in their information pathways.  Our struggling learner may have many blocks.  When we speak of a blocked learning gate, we mean that the processing skill has not transferred into the Automatic Brain Hemisphere. The child continues to need to concentrate on the processing task because of this lack of transfer.


Exploring the Four Learning Gates
As you look at the list of characteristics of a struggling learner, it is important to remember that many children have one characteristic, but aren’t struggling.  Conversely, a child does not need all of the characteristics to be struggling.  It is also common to find that a child has all four learning gates blocked.


1. Visual Processing Gate
The act of moving the eyes over a page from left to right is not a naturally developed trait.  For example, in Israel they read right to left, and in Japan they read in a column.  We teach this process when a child is first learning to read, by having him track with his finger across the page to train his eyes to move in this fashion.  After some practice, this should transfer to the child’s automatic hemisphere.  


How do we know if this process has not transferred and is taking too much energy?  


These are some of the characteristics this child will exhibit:
  • Reading reversals (on=no; was=saw…after age seven)
  • Skipping of little words, but can read longer word
  • Reading begins smooth, but soon becomes labored
  • Older children who can read, but tire easily…yawning shortly after beginning reading.


2. Writing Processing Gate
When the child’s visual/spatial skills, or the act of writing, haven’t transferred into the automatic hemisphere, he often looks like he’s “sloppy, lazy or unmotivated.”  His papers are poorly spaced, or he refuses to write much of anything for the parent or teacher. This is the most common learning gate that is blocked in gifted children.  It seems like they are “allergic to a pencil.”  Transferring his thoughts into writing, or just copying something, takes a huge amount of battery energy for this child.  


Characteristics of this gate being blocked include:
  • Frequent or occasional reversals in letters after age seven (even if only “once in awhile”)
  • Copying is laborious
  • Poor spacing in math papers
  • Great stories orally, but writes very little
  • Does mental math to avoid writing


3. Auditory Processing Gate
A common myth about Auditory Processing is,  “My child has an auditory processing problem because he can’t remember three directions at once.”  This is likely more of a focusing/attention issue.  For example, if we would ask him to ”Go into the kitchen and get a candy bar, a glass of chocolate milk, and a dish of ice cream for you,” the child would likely remember these directions.


A child, who is suffering with an Auditory Processing Problem, generally has trouble with reading.


Common characteristics of this gate being blocked are:
  • Phonics sounds don’t stick; no matter how many games you have played.
  • Sight words are hard to memorize…even learning alphabet letter names can be hard
  • Sounds out same word over and over in a story
  • Can’t easily sequence sounds…like months of the year or skip counting
  • Is a “Word Guesser”
  • No phonetic pattern to spelling…doesn’t hear consonants.  “Thursday is Tuesday”


4. Focus/Attention Gate
This can be the most puzzling blocked learning gate to identify. A child may look like he has no memory, or a true learning disability, when what is really going on is that this child has to use too much battery energy to remain focused during the instruction, or completing the lesson.  The child may look like he is “paying attention” to your lesson by giving you good eye contact.  However, in his head, he is “two doors down playing with his friend, or in the dinosaur village.”   


Here are some characteristics of a child who has to use too much battery energy to remain focused:
  • Inconsistency in performance from one day to another
  • Needs to have someone sit with him to finish work
  • Forgets previously learned work much of the time…seems to have a “memory” problem
  • Can have impulsive behavior…easily getting upset when things go wrong.
  • Sensory Processing problems (little things bother him a lot, like tags on shirts, loud noises, transitions, foods, etc.)
Be assured, you do not need to be an “expert, or professional” to make learning easier for your child or student.  In the many articles I have on my website, I discuss each learning gate individually, and show you the corrections that I developed when I taught these wonderful children in my special education classes.  


You will see that it is not hard to do.  It just requires some tools, strategies and techniques that you may not be familiar with right now.  


Bottom line:  Learning does not have to be so hard for your child.

 

Did you know SPED Homeschool is 100% donor funded? 

Your contributions keep our ministry running! 

Donate today on PayPal

(all donations are tax-deductible)

  

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When my kids were younger, I was not the type to be cooped up inside, especially during the holiday season when there was so much going on.  But, even though I loved getting out and enjoying the holiday sights, my oldest on the Autism Spectrum was a bit of a scrooge about it all. 
Instead of allowing my son’s bah-humbug holiday attitude to keep us all home, I decided to create sensory-friendly field trips that would limit crowds, lights, and noise.  So, if you are looking for ways to get everyone out the house this holiday season, here are my top 10 holiday homeschool field trip suggestions.
#1 – Historic Sites
Visiting a historic home, fort, or site is a great holiday outing, especially on a weekday. Many of these sites go all out with decorating for the holidays, and although they are very busy on weekends, they still maintain hours during the less busy weekdays.  To find the historical society in your area, and the local sites they maintain, you can search the Preservation Directory by state and region.
#2 – Hiking and Geocaching
Geocaching is an awesome family activity, and one that can not only become a new holiday tradition, but a fun family pastime.  Hiking alone makes for a wonderful field trip, but when you turn the hike into a treasure hunt, it becomes an over-the-top adventure. 
Caches on or near hiking trails are very common, so plan a holiday hike near a cache or plan to hide a new one on the trail.  The largest website devoted to this pastime is geocaching.com.  On this site you will find everything you need to know about finding and hiding caches.
#3 – Christmas Tree Farm
Cutting your own Christmas tree is a lot of fun, and a very festive activity. And although tree farms can be rather busy during the holiday season, they do maintain less busy hours amidst the holiday tree-buying frenzy.  The key is finding less busy times, and it usually just takes a quick phone call.  Most of these farms are family-owned and more than happy to help you make your visit enjoyable and accommodating to your family’s needs.
#4 – Ceramic Shop
During the holiday season, local ceramic shops are usually equipped for kids’ groups to come and paint ornaments, nativity sets, and even items kids can personalize to give as gifts.  A quick search on Google will give you a list of your local ceramic shops and their hours of operation. 
#5 – Library
Your local library is likely to have at least a few holiday events; some of them during  daytime hours or as ongoing holiday season activities.  Check with your librarian, or on your local library website, to find out if your library is offering any sensory-friendly or quieter daytime activities your family could participate in.
#6 – Parks and Painted Rocks
Painting rocks and leaving them for others to find is a trend cropping up all over the United States.  No matter how artistic you are, or how capable your kids are at painting in general, this activity can easily become a new family holiday tradition.  To find out more about how to paint and leave rocks for others to find, you can visit The Kindness Rocks Project website.
#7 – Winter Sports
If you have an active family and live up north, winter sporting options abound. For those who like going fast, skiing and snowboarding are great options. Most ski resorts offer homeschool days when you can rent equipment and get lift tickets at a reduced rate during the less busy weekdays. Plus, many ski resorts also have equipment to accommodate children and adults with disabilities.

If you like to go at a slower place, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing may be 
better options.  Local park and recreation departments often have trails and rentable equipment for both of these winter sports. Local parks are also a great place to go sledding, and their sledding hills are guaranteed to be empty almost days when public school is in session.

And, whether you live up north or not, there is still one winter sport almost anyone can enjoy during the holidays: ice skating.  Temporary ice skating rinks in the north can be found outside most of the winter, and during the holiday season many southern cities also set up temporary ice rinks indoors, fully stocked with rentable skates.
#8 – Holiday Daytime Performances
School groups as well as homeschool families can access daytime holiday performances.  Most children’s theaters, ballet companies, and orchestras offer discounted tickets for these performances which are geared to the younger audience.  If your child has specific needs for accessibility during the performance, make sure to call the theater directly to book your tickets so they can arrange for seats that meet those needs.  Bringing earmuffs to muffle noises can also help children who are easily distracted or who may be anxious about loud noises during the performance.
#9 – Nursing Home Visit
Local nursing homes love to have kids visit. Plus, what kid doesn’t like having a few extra grandparents?  If your family has never considered visiting your local nursing home, the holiday season is a perfect time to start because there are always so many activities planned throughout December.
Most nursing homes have a volunteer coordinator you can call to find out how your family can get involved. By letting the coordinator know the specific needs of your kids, they will be able to determine which activities would be the best suit your family’s involvement.
#10 – Tourist Attractions
Many tourist attractions decorate, or have special exhibits, for the holidays.  And, while these places may be busy on evenings and weekends, they also have lower peak times you can take advantage of with your homeschooling schedule.  Museums, zoos, gardens, aquariums, and tours (caves, factories, etc.) are great places to check out.
Call ahead of time to find out when the attraction expects visits to be lower in volume, when there will be less groups visiting, and if any of the special exhibits have hours that differ from the general admission times.
General Homeschool Field Trip Advice
You might be a pro at homeschool field trips, but if not, this video will help you think through the most important things you will need to consider when taking your special needs child on a field trip.

Have a great time making memories with your kids this holiday season!  I look forward to hearing how your adventures went in the comments below.

Did you know SPED Homeschool is 100% donor funded? 

Your contributions keep our ministry running! 

Donate today on PayPal

(all donations are tax-deductible)

  

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Homeschooling parents face the challenges of juggling teaching, cleaning, cooking, nurturing, finding needed personal time, and being a good spouse every day. How do we do it all? How can you do it all?


The truth is, we can do it all. We just need lessons on balance.  So, we do the important things first. We have to budget our time like we budget our money. This is very important. Here are some tips on time management and scheduling that have worked for me.




Manage Your Time
We need to make a plan so we’ll feel more in control and less overwhelmed, but they must be flexible enough to modify as needed. Also, make sure the goals you set are reasonable; otherwise, you’re setting ourselves up for failure. Be realistic with time, don’t guess, find out how long specific tasks take. And don’t beat yourself up if you did not complete something. Everyone’s life is different, and it takes practice to master time management. Thank God for each and everyday. The reality is everyday is a gift to do more.


Fill in the time it takes for each task. In the example below, there’s a lot left out that you’ll need to add.  But it’s a good place to start:


Making and eating meals: __________
Daily chores: ______________________
Daily hygiene: _____________________
Kids’ hygiene:______________________
Kids’ extracurricular activities:________
Work: ______ hrs/day (if you freelance or work part-time or full-time)
Homeschooling:  ______

Homeschooling
We need to use a planner or calendar of some type for daily, weekly, monthly and yearly activities. My calendar is booked 3 months at a time, so I can plan what I need to get done. I use both paper and electronic planners. Students need to use planners as well.  Picture schedules work well for little kids and a modern student planner can be used for middle school and high school age children. The bottom line is that everyone in the home should use a calendar, this cuts down on confusion.  


Steps to Developing a Good Scheduling:


1. Observation
Observe your children for a week to note the length of time they need to finish a math assignment,complete a worksheet, or read a chapter of a textbook. In addition, pad the time allotment for time-between each day’s list of school tasks. Plan for between-class breaks like meals, playtime or recess.


2.  Work Backwards:  Year to Week
Prevent over-scheduling by starting at the year mark and work down to the week.
List all classes, coursework, books, examinations, and activities needed to complete the year.
  • List monthly goals for each task.   
  • How many books,  worksheet pages, and Math, English, History lessons need to be included. You can schedule the lessons once you have drafted the large view of the month..  
  • Space each category by week, and review each week’s goals with your student.


3. Get Specific:  Weekly to Daily
From the weekly goal comes the daily schedule. It’s not just younger children that need routine; everyone needs to know the plan for the day.
  • Be flexible. Listen to our children’s feedback. Give your children a chance to resolve scheduling issues themselves. This will help them later in life.  You might be surprised at the solutions they come up with for time management snags and snafus. For example, your child might be too sleepy in the morning to do well at math, so you might move that class to the afternoon.
  • Outings take a big chunk of time out of your day. Consider staying home during the week as much as possible. If you have small children, going lots of places can upset their routine. It’s also hard to fit in schooling or housework when you’re only home for a few hours.


Extra Scheduling Considerations:
Homeschooling parents are often too busy to fit in all the projects they’d like to do, especially when they have younger children in the household. Detailed unit studies and interesting hands-on projects are special but you might have to limit them. I found doing homeschool 365 days a year works for me and my family, everyday is learning in our home. Everyone is different and you have to find what works for you.


For many families, finding the time to schedule field trips during homeschooling months can be difficult. You might try planning some of them in the summer when things are less hectic. Think of what has long-term importance and what doesn’t. Learn to establish priorities, find creative ways to do the necessary things, and put everything else on hold or let it go.




Chores
Chores are good for kids. Families should share responsibilities. It’s important for children to understand that the whole family must work together to make a homeschool and a household run smoothly. Cooking, cleaning, and laundry are group events.
Work on children’s attitudes and training. Summer is a good time to encourage and train your children on helping out with household chores and cooking. There are lots of learning opportunities for your children in these activities as well. Both cleaning and cooking contain some elements of math and science.
Get the older kids to help the younger ones pick up their toys or clean their room. Big kids teaching little kids, sisters and brothers working together. Don’t you love it?
Making a house rule that children who don’t follow instructions when asked or don’t do their chores are given added jobs or responsibilities works well.




Housework
Realize when it comes to a clean house you may need to settle for less than perfection.  If you have a hard time letting go of that ideal, here are some ways to lower your expectations to the realistic goal of having an imperfect house amidst raising and homeschooling your kids.
  • Simplify your life. Develop a system for keeping your house as neat as possible, at least in the important areas.
  • Declutter your home to avoid frustration.
  • Organize a specific place for all homeschooling materials, like pencils, papers, books, scissors, and so on.
  • In addition to getting the kids to pitch in, we sometimes hire a neighbor’s teenager to help when needed, to clean or babysit a few hours to give us time for other things we have to do.

Cooking
Simplify your meals. Some of the healthiest dishes are the simplest. Get the kids to help you prepare dinner. Have the older children make their own lunches. Use paper plates for quick clean ups. If there are kids eat free nights, family specials, two large pizzas for $10 nights, or anything like that at a restaurant you like, feel free to do that. I prepare fresh meals daily for my family, but I get all the pre-work done on Sunday evenings.  Do what works for you.

Personal Time
When you create your weekly schedule, don’t forget to put aside time for yourself. Make yourself a priority. If you aren’t meeting your most basic needs, you’re not going to be effective in anything else.  Always wake up before everyone and have 30 mins of coffee and devotion time. If you don’t rest, your brain will turn to mush and you won’t have enough energy to get through the day.


If you don’t set aside time for you and your spouse, you won’t get the love and care you need to love and care for those around you.


Time is very valuable for homeschooling parents so budget yours wisely. 

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My series on childhood depression continues as we explore the warning lights of helplessness and hopelessness and contrast them with the guiding light of eternal hope. If you would like to reference any of the past articles in this series, you will find links at the bottom.
Warning “H” – Helplessness and Hopelessness
Helplessness
Helplessness can lead to both physical and mental paralysis.  A child feels out of control when in a state of helplessness, and therefore stops moving forward.  In his book Overcoming Depression, Neil Anderson says “Because [individuals] have no control over certain events, they start to believe they are inadequate, incompetent, and powerless.”
Children can develop helplessness either through a major traumatic event or through a series of smaller events leading toward a downward spiral.  Whatever the cause, the process of helping a child move upwards is the same.
For a child who is ready to give up, it is best for a parent to first break up their child’s tasks into smaller and more manageable steps.  Once the steps are determined, then a parent should give lots of encouragement and support as the child works through the process of making those small upward strides.  Celebrating every victory and navigating the balance between pushing too hard and not pushing enough, will eventually help your child start a forward momentum.
Hopelessness
Hopelessness is basically taking helplessness one step further and proclaiming that life is not worth the effort because change is impossible.  When a child hits this point, an internal shutdown begins.  Children who have sunk this low into their depression often verbalize their hopelessness by saying things like:  Why try”; “It’s no use”; or “I wish I was dead.”
Hopelessness is a changeable state, though the child cannot see that.  A hopeless child does not struggle against what is real.  Instead, this child struggles against a false construct which seems real. In this state, a parent can’t argue a child out of being hopeless.  Instead, it is better to come alongside the child and walk towards incremental change, as described above in the helplessness section, reassuring your child that what life holds around the corner is magnificent and worth the walk.

Guiding “H” – Hope
In his book, Overcoming Depression, Neil Anderson states “Research has revealed a link between brain chemistry and hope.  When hope is restored, depression leaves.”  He also goes on to state “…hope in God is the anchor for our soul and the answer for our depression.”
Finding A Pathway of Hope
But, how can a parent help their child find hope in God, when a child is in a state of helplessness or hopelessness?  The answer dates back to the Old Testament, and a command God often gave the Israelites to keep from taking similar downward spirals.  It’s called placing spiritual markers, which in their times were often altars, pillars, or stones of remembrance.
Each time God did something significant in their history, they were to place a marker to remember God’s provision.  Later, when they saw these markers, they were to recall how God did something great in their midst.  And, when their children asked about them, they were to tell the story to their children about God’s great provision.  This way they would never forget, and they would understand that God did not change and would continue to fight those battles in the future.
Putting Down Spiritual Markers for Your Child
Helping children see God’s past provision creates a bridge to the His future (and hopeful) plan for their lives.  By using a timeline, or actual physical objects as spiritual markers, a parent can help a child mark these events.  As a child starts to see God’s hand of provision in their own life, an understanding begins to develop about the personal reality of God at work and a greater purpose in pushing ahead.
The Silver Living of Hope Restored
Hopeless but not Abandoned
To hide my social anxiety over not knowing how to naturally relate to people, I felt the need to constantly maintain a false persona.  But, the pressure of hiding behind my “every is fine” mask, while inside being torn apart by my inability to relate and connect with others, was an incredible burden to bear.  Even though I clearly remember how I had determined to end my life, and why it made so much sense to me, I also remember how much I still wanted to live.  It is hard to explain how death makes sense to someone who is depressed, but in the midst of hopelessness it often seems like the perfect route to escape the inertia they experience.
As I started the long process of setting up spiritual markers in my own life, there were places I couldn’t fill in for a long time because I had blocked them from my mind.  Over time, I uncovered the good with the bad.  But, through it all, I came to realize God had been with me every step of the way and He never gave up on me…even when I told Him out loud that I didn’t want Him in my life anymore.
Giver of Hope
At first, I was only able to walk through those markers with God.  But, as I started to share my journey with other women, when speaking at women’s events, retreats and conferences, God started to show me how my spiritual markers were not just intended for my own healing, but also to help others find God’s healing in their lives.
Too often we try to make sense of what God is doing by focusing on ourselves, and our loved ones, and not on Him and what He is doing to show us He is working in our midst.  When I was finally able to see God’s hand on every situation in my life, I was no longer paralyzed by helplessness or hopelessness.  I came to realize I didn’t have to be powerful, competent, or even adequate.  Instead, God had all that covered in my life, just as He has it covered in your child’s life.

Links to All the Blogs in this Series

The “H” Factors of Childhood Depression
The “T” Factors of Childhood Depression 
The “S” Factors of Childhood Depression

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The holidays are rapidly approaching and sometimes our schedules fill up before we know it.  However, for parents of children with special needs; specifically those with sensory differences, the holidays can be an especially stressful time.  What can you do to make them better?


Keep as much routine or rhythm to your day as possible
Often times due to holiday closings, parties or family commitments, many of our days are not “typical” during November and December.  However, if you can, keep some routine in your days.  Try to keep meals, naps and sleep schedules the same, if at all possible.  Even if the times are a bit off, having the same routines (reading a story, brushing teeth, praying before bed) can make a big difference in how your children react to the holidays.


Consider preparing your child for new events
This looks different for every child.  But if your child needs to know what is going on, consider making a visual schedule or a social story to introduce them to new people, events, or new sensory experiences.  Talk about the event, show them pictures, or even pick out a video (YouTube is fabulous for this) to show them what the event will entail.


Put yourself in your child’s shoes
As you schedule your holiday plans, try to step back and really look at how much you have scheduled. Think through what your child typically has trouble with or what triggers problems or meltdowns?  Are there modifications to be made?  If you have children who love something, and others who don’t, could part of your family participate?


Don’t be afraid to say NO!
This is probably my best tip: Don’t be afraid to say no.  Though the holidays are special, we tend to over schedule and cram every social event into a month’s time.  It can get overwhelming, even for adults who are extroverts.  Sometimes we just need to say no.  This involves prioritizing what is really important to us and our families.  We don’t have to do everything in order to make memories.  In fact, some of things that make the best memories, are those we do at home and without planning.


Let go of your expectations
In this fabulous of age of Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, we tend to want all our memories to look “picture perfect”.  Guess what?  That’s not real life.  Sometimes the greatest triumph you will have is keeping your children alive or getting everyone a bath.  Remember, when you see pictures of perfection that is literally one second of that person’s day.  I can guarantee you that the other 86,399 seconds in their day do not look that way.


Embrace simple family traditions
Reading Christmas stories, playing with a nativity set, singing Christmas carols, decorating a tree, baking Christmas cookies, coloring and decorating the house all are fun ways to celebrate.  You don’t have to be out at light shows or at a party with 100 people to make memories that your children will cherish.  Just as you can do school “outside of the box”, you can do Christmas “outside of the box.”  You can do it any way that works for you and your family.  Don’t be afraid of embracing new traditions or trying different things.


Whatever you choose to do this year, we at SPED Homeschool pray it is an amazing time for you and your family.

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Why do so many children in America have symptoms associated with labels like, ADD, ADHD or Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD)?  A mystery has arisen around the epidemic of children that struggle with:
  • following directions
  • the ability to attend and stay on task
  • distractibility
  • understanding the big picture when in a situation
  • social immaturity
  • reading comprehension
  • the ability to use a phonic approach to learn to read
  • and many other symptoms
Solving the Mystery from Within
These struggles are the cause of many challenges in school and often produce labels resulting in medication.  The NeuroDevelopmental Approach says, “let’s solve that mystery by finding the root cause of the symptoms.”  In other words, “Say NO to labels and YES to hope!”  Change the brain at the root cause and the symptoms can be eliminated. After all, the labels of ADD, ADHD and CAPD are symptomatic labels.  A symptomatic label comes from a list of symptoms. If there are enough checkmarks on the list, then the person is given a corresponding label.  The bottom line for us in the NeuroDevelopmental field is that each symptom is caused by something in the brain.  The good news is that the brain has plasticity, which means it can change and grow even where there are current struggles.
Many years ago when our educational system was developed, we were an auditory society.  We ate together as a family 2-3 times a day and TALKED. In contrast, we often eat on the run while the videos are flowing through the backseats of our cars.  In the past, we read as a family in the evenings or listened to radio broadcasts for hours.  We were an auditory society, and we developed our auditory sequential processing ability by the practice of intense, frequent listening.  In more recent times, we have transitioned to a more visual society.
Auditory Sequential Processing Explained
Auditory Sequential Processing is the ability to hold pieces of information together in the order that it is communicated. An example would be being able to accurately retell a story that you have just heard in the correct order of events.  A good auditory processing ability is vital to reading comprehension as well as the ability to hold all the phonograms together to read words with a phonics approach. It is also important to picking up social cues, following directions and staying on task.  All these skills are needed to reach our full potential in school and in life. Good processing is necessary to avoid many of the symptoms previously mentioned in this post that cause us to suspect or label individuals. For a more in-depth look at auditory processing, listen to the Brain Coach Tip – The Best Kept Secret in Education, Auditory Processing


Auditory Processing and Behavior
Behavior is also greatly influenced by auditory processing, especially if the processing is weak. For example, if a 12 year old processes more like a 4-5 year old, he will act like a much younger child, causing much conflict in the home and with peers.  It boils down to this: you are expecting a 12 year old maturity level, but the individual is “developmentally” 4-5 years old.  This doesn’t mean there is something wrong with the individual or a reflection of their IQ.  No, it simply means something has blocked the right stimulation from the environment to gain 12-year-old processing ability.
Since the brain is dynamic and ever changing, much can be done to increase the processing ability of any person, at any age.  The results can be dramatic!  One example is a young man named Aaron who had been labeled ADD and put on Ritalin from the 3rd-9th grades to cope with the demands of school.  After participating for one year in the home-based activity list from Little Giant Steps, based on The NeuroDevelopmental Approach, he was able to finish high school very successfully without the use of medications or modifications. Today Aaron is a dedicated Christian husband and father of four as well as a part owner in a successful small business.
Drug-Free Treatment Solutions
You have heard of preventative medicine right?  We promote ways to prevent children from being labeled with ADD, ADHD or CAPD as well as offering drug-free solutions to reduce or eliminate the symptoms if an individual has already been labeled.  Working on auditory processing twice a day for two minutes is one of the keys to both prevention and changing the symptoms.
If you exercise the brain with specific stimulation, it produces better function.  Learn more about neurodevelopment and get a free auditory processing test kit to start enhancing your families’ future here:  Auditory Processing Information.

Did you know SPED Homeschool is 100% donor funded? 

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