By Peggy Ployhar

In my previous article, in this series on parenting anger, I talked about the Parenting Anger Escape Door and hinted to the fact that it is “a gateway to developing godly character in both you in your children.” Once I discovered how God’s escape door for my ugly anger episodes could actually help both me and my children, I have never looked at my sinful nature the same. I hope what I have to share with you below will leave you feeling the same about your struggle and encourage you to keep pressing on.

But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” Genesis 50:20

Yes, God makes wonderful masterpieces out of life’s messes, and I am excited to share with you how He does just that with our misdirected parenting anger.

Blurred Vision
Once I started training myself to not pick up the rope and instead turn to braiding the whip (if you don’t know what I am talking about, you will have to go back to the previous article in this series), my parenting vision cleared up considerably.

Anger had blurred my perception of effective parenting strategies. Instead of working productively to train my children, my desire to control their actions slowly crushed their spirits. When I finally stepped back, it was glaringly clear how much I needed to change my approach.

A Natural Warning Light
But checking our own behavior is only half the battle. The other half comes when we confront training our children due to the lack of character we are alerted to in their lives.

A lack of godly character will always make our internal righteousness meter go haywire. This is God’s way of showing us we need to take notice of a situation which lacks godly character. And, if you remember from the last article in this series, indicates a lesson needs to be taught.

Taking God’s parenting anger escape door leads us to the perfect starting place where this character training lesson should start. We first pray and use our energy to seek God and His training lesson, and in doing so we discover the most impactful and eventually fruitful way to help our children develop strong godly character.

Building Solid Boundaries
When I am speaking to a group and get to this part in my talk, I take out three objects: a shoebox, a flat piece of cardboard, and a ping-pong ball. First, I show my audience how the ping-pong ball is extremely difficult to keep on top of the flat piece of cardboard. I point out how the lack of edges on the board leaves nothing to stop the ball from going off the edge. Then, I contrast that example with a ping-pong ball being securely held inside the shoebox, making sure to point out the high sturdy sides that allow this containment.

I use these examples because I want parents to understand that as we teach our children lessons in godly character, we are essentially giving them a building block to add to their natural boundaries. For a child instructed in righteousness, and given lots of building blocks, they instinctively know when to stop (just like the ping-pong ball) because those walls have been built over time and through many independent lessons that have stacked up sturdy boundaries for godly living. But, for a child who is only held back from the edge and controlled from doing wrong, they are not provided those blocks and instead when left without someone to hold them back from the edge will topple off just like the ping-pong ball on the flat piece of cardboard.

My demonstration may seem too extreme for those of you who have a younger child who is still close by and working on these skills, but when your child grows into his/her teen years and then moves into adulthood, you will realize how critical it is to have laid boundaries with strong and solid blocks of godly character. Those boundaries will spare you and your child much larger heartaches and pain than the training process could ever bring into your lives.

In my next article, I will be giving you some very practical how-to instructions on instilling godly character into your children using these blocks. But, in the meantime keep working on walking away from the rope, braiding the whip and seeking God for a clearer vision of how He is alerting you to character flaws through your natural anger meter. With a resolute desire to seek His escape door and readiness to grow in godly character along with your children, you will be well on your way to conquering your parenting anger.

Parenting Anger Series Articles:
Why We Should Be Talking About Parenting Anger 
Parenting Anger Demystified
The Parenting Anger Escape Door
Shifting Parenting Anger from Controlling Mode to Training Mode
How-To Effectively Instill Godly Character in Children Using Parenting Anger 
Integrity: Step 1 in Cultivating a Child’s Heart for Instruction
Humble Authority: Step 2 in Cultivating Your Child’s Heart for Instruction
Unconditional Acceptance:  Step 3 in Cultivating Your Child’s Heart for Instruction   
Forgiveness & Mercy: Step 4 in Cultivating Your Child’s Heart for Instruction
Honor: Step 5 in Cultivating Your Child’s Heart for Instruction  
Time Management: Step 6 In Cultivating Your Child’s Heart for Instruction

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By Dawn Spence

Expectations is one of those words that either conjures up positive or negative emotions.

Growing up, expectations to me meant I needed to change all the things I was doing that were wrong. It made me fear I was not good enough. 

Fast forward to becoming a teacher. My view of the word expectations completely changed. This word became my personal mission directed towards my students because I viewed my students as having unlimited expectations.

All children can learn, and all children have strengths. As a teacher, I finally grasped that expectations were needed to grow. They were the goals my students needed to see for themselves. And now as a homeschooling mom, I use this same approach to expectations while teaching my own children with learning challenges.

Positive ways to insert expectations into your homeschool:

1- Provide IEP Goals to Quantify Expectations
Having an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is a great way to provide goals for your student as well as measure growth. Sometimes growth takes a while, and it is hard to see how far your child has come. Whether you measure weekly or monthly, it is important to measure and celebrate all successes.

2 – Have Your Children Set Expectations for Themselves
Allowing your children to be involved in setting their own goals and where they see themselves will help empower them. Personal goals are a part of life and who better to teach your child this lesson than you. Whether your child’s goals are to learning to tie shoes or getting a job, reaching these goals will provide confidence as well as ownership of learning.

3 – Pursue Expectations with Hope
If you have an expectation and an accompanying goal, these simple steps provide hope for potential growth. It does not matter how fast a child reaches or attains a goal but the important part is that learning is happening. As homeschool parents, we get to be there when they learn to write their name, read their first word, or overcome a certain behavior. Marking this victories, noting the process, and celebrating the successes provide the hope to keep focusing on the expectations yet ahead.


Need Some Help?
If you are looking for help in developing expectations or goals for your student, and documenting them as part of your homeschooling lesson plans, feel free to contact me or check out my team member page to find out more about the consulting services I offer special education homeschooling parents.  

You may also want to check out SPED Homeschool’s IEP Pinterest board and other SPED Homeschool team members who offer various special education homeschooling consulting services.

I am praying you and your child embrace how expectations can be a help and a hope in all your homeschooling endeavors.

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By Peggy Ployhar

 
As I cited in my previous article, The Then and Now of Special Education Homeschooling, more parents who have children with special educational needs are choosing to homeschool as a reaction to the lesser quality educational options offered by public or private schools. But, with this transition, many parents unknowingly bring the same teaching mindset they were looking to leave at school into their new homeschooling experience.

Below are the 4 most important distinctions of how specialized home education differs from an institutionalized special education program and opens the freedom potential parents have in homeschooling a child outside the box of special education.

1 – Schooling is focused on the positive aspects of your child, not the negative
Special education within a school setting was created to detect and correct a child’s learning issues. By focusing on what doesn’t work well for a child, the negative aspects of a child’s learning disability becomes pronounced in their lesson plans and overall educational goals.

The beauty of homeschooling is that although a child may still struggle with an ability to learn, a parent has the freedom to design lessons around the positive ways a child can learn. Over time homeschooled children learn what methods and tools work best to help them learn, which they then can adapt and eventually carry into their adulthood.


2 – A child is taught according to their gifts, not their deficits
All children have specific gifts, as well as deficits. Unfortunately, non-academic gifts are outside the reach of a traditional special education classroom. Homeschooling allows a parent to supplement a child’s studies with opportunities to work on specific skill sets and gifting alongside the subjects the child struggles in. This ability to blend academic and non-academic pursuits allows a child to find success in their studies where before they may have only met defeat.

Turning interests like cooking, woodworking, computer programming, acting, or even martial arts into school subjects is not out of the question when you homeschool. The options are endless on what you can turn into an area of study and the benefit of adding these classes for children who struggle in core curriculum subjects, is they start to realize learning can be fun instead of an always defeating experience.

3- Progression happens at the rate your child learns, not against a “norm”
Classroom learning and grading, in general, are based on norms. If a child is not keeping up with a specific norm, then they are considered “behind.” Schools focus on working with a child to get them “caught up”. Unfortunately, each child is unique and those who are more pronounced in their uniqueness will never quite match a level of “normal.”

Homeschooling, on the other hand, not only allows children to be unique it can celebrate their unique qualities. Schooling at home allows a child time to discover how they learn best, not how to learn like everyone else. Each lesson learned by a child in a homeschool setting sets the bar for what lesson comes next, no matter how long it takes the child to move from one step to the next.

4 – A lifestyle of learning replaces a compartmentalized learning process
Many children with learning challenges also struggle with translating a learned concept to another part of their life. This inability for a child to learn one lesson at school and then translate that same lesson to a scenario at home or in a “real world” setting prolongs the learning process for these children.

When a family starts homeschooling, they also start a shift in how learning is perceived. Learning is no longer just found in books, in classrooms, or on a computer, but everywhere in life. Every experience, every encounter, and every relationship brings lessons to be taught as well as lessons to be learned that flow over the boundaries of subjects and grade levels. This decompartmentalization of learning removes many learning translation issues which in turn speeds up the child’s overall learning process.

For a child who experiences learning challenges, educational delays, or struggles with a disability or medical condition, a specialized home education approach provides opportunities to succeed in learning instead of hurdles they must get beyond. If you embrace those freedoms as a homeschooling parent, you will be rewarded in watching your child soar above their struggles and embrace the learning process…for life!

If you would like more information about getting started in homeschooling your student with special educational needs, make sure to visit our Getting Started Page.

We would also love to have you as part of our community! Come connect with over 1.2k families on our SPED Homeschool Facebook Support group as we daily discuss the ups and downs and ins and outs of homeschooling a child with learning differences.

This article was originally written for School House Rocked but was re-edited and reprinted with the author’s permission.

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Amy Vickrey, MSE

When it comes to grading, there really is no wrong way to do it. However, you may not be familiar with different strategies that are available and used in schools to grade students of different abilities. The key to selecting a grading strategy is BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND!

What is your goal for the assignment? Is it mastery? Is it to learn how to complete an assignment independently, regardless of errors? Or is it about the process and the details more than the overall finished product? While there are probably as many ways to grade as there are teachers on our planet, here are some common ways to consider.

Checks and X’s: The “Traditional Method”
There is a time and place for traditional grading. Teachers from Elementary to College professors use this method to see what students know and what they don’t. Grades are usually displayed as a percentage (calculated by a number of questions correct divided by a total number of questions, then multiplied by 100); examples would be a 96 or 85. It can also be displayed as a fraction of number correct over a total number of problems (16/20).

This is useful in a subject that is straightforward or during high school years on curriculums that lend themselves to such grading. It also tends to be a quick and efficient method for teachers in calculating and maintaining grades. You can always change it up and use stickers or smiley faces instead of checks if you are using this method for younger students!

Grading to Mastery
One method I have used in the past for a class of Fourth Graders was grading to Mastery. Any questions they were incorrect on, I would circle or otherwise indicate in ink and have them correct them. My goal was for them to come up with the right answer on their own.

If after correcting it, they were still wrong, I would do a quick re-teach and have them try again. If they were still wrong, we would go through it together. I would indicate on the paper each time we had to go back over it so that I could track their progress and level of support needed. Meanwhile, they were pleased that they (eventually) came up with the right answer and got it “right.” This method is especially good for children who get frustrated or upset when something is marked wrong.

Checklist
A checklist is really great for younger kids or children who need things listed very specifically. For example, maybe your goal is for your child to complete 3 math problems independently, put their name on their paper, and turn it in to a certain spot or folder. Your checklist would look something like this:

Did you remember to….
Yes
No
   Write your name on your paper?
   
   Answer all three questions?
   
   Write neatly?
   
   Put your paper in the red folder?
   

The idea of the checklist is the student can independently complete work when they know what the expectations are ahead of time. It also serves as a visual reminder during the work process to keep students on track for assignments and projects.

Rubrics
Rubrics are a lot like checklists but can leave more room for originality. They are great for projects that cover multiple subjects, grading projects that don’t lend themselves to traditional or mastery grading, or even a checklist. There are a lot of resources for rubrics, including:

  •  teachnology: Offers a large collection of pre-made rubrics, especially for grade school subjects and activities
  • Teacher Planet: Rubrics 4 Teachers: Lots of pre-made project rubrics, plus a very simple rubric building tool for making simple custom rubrics
  • Project Based Learning: Checklist Developer: A checklist approach to a grading rubric
  •  edtechteacher: Great rubrics for high school-level work including bloging, video, coding, and media projects, as well as many links to other rubric development material
  • RubiStar: is a tool to help teachers (and parents) who want to use rubrics, but do not have the time to develop them from scratch.

Whichever method you choose, or if you create your own way of grading, making your expectations clear to your student and keeping your end goal in mind are key to making your grading meaningful. When working on my Masters, I once read an article that stuck with me. The point made was that students who had answers marked wrong improved less quickly than students who also were given the correct answer or shown how to correct it. The biggest benefit of homeschooling is we get to “make the rules,” and that includes being able to reteach a topic until it is truly mastered if that is what is needed!!!

Special thanks to Shannon Ramiro and Peggy Ployhar  for sharing examples and resources to make this article possible.

 

 


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By Dyana Robbins


Previous articles I have written have focused on the great blessings that can grow from a special-needs marriage and how to create an environment for your marriage to thrive. This final article in the series offers some help for marriages poised to fall.

Our marriages endure more pressures and strains as we parent special-needs children or have disabling conditions of our own. We need to look for marital danger signs and interventions to turn our marriages around. The information is drawn from my personal experience and time working as a counselor with families seeking help.



Recognizing the Danger Signs

To launch a rescue of any kind, one must recognize and define the danger. Here are some signs that your marriage is suffering:

  • Effective communication has ceased or is limited to only a few “safe” topics.
  • The marriage has a “business-like” feel to it. You are getting the work done but fun, easy companionship, shared goals, and activities are lacking.
  • You no longer seek one another first for sharing griefs, joys, or events of your day. Your first thought is to contact someone who will better understand you.
  • You are sharing a deeper emotional connection with another person of the opposite sex.
  • Sexual intimacy has waned or stopped. You might be having fantasies of an extra-marital affair or lack sexual desire at all.
  • You cannot imagine a future together.
  • One or both of you has escaped into something else. This might be video games, hobbies, social media, work, or substance abuse. This escape temporarily shields you from the pain of the failing relationship and demands lots of time and attention.
  • You have become polarized into different realms of existence due to disability, emotional avoidance, exhaustion, or revenge.
  • You focus on the children disproportionately because it holds you together. Life revolves around them. This tendency can be particularly strong when a child with a disability is in the home.




That is Us…What Can We Do?

First, I hope that you will believe that your marriage does not have to fail even if you have traveled far down that road. I’ve witnessed marriages turn around from affairs, addiction, alienation, and even abusive patterns.

While this article doesn’t provide counsel for your specific situation, it does provide principles and steps that you can apply to your marriage. Most often, you will need support in making the changes, but you can always start today with what you alone can do. The scope of this article does not specifically address the safety requirements for those in abusive situations, so if you are in that position, please seek help to secure your safety first. Without safety precautions, accountability and a willing partner, applying these principles to an abusive relationship would not be advisable. Now, let’s look at how we can turn things around:


1. Be Honest
One of the first things to go when our marriages struggle is honesty. Honesty with ourselves, our spouse, and those around us who can help decreases. The pain is deep and often humiliating. We hide, rationalize, and minimize the problems so that they seem manageable. Healing requires that we expose the wound and let it be treated.

2. Find the Right People to Help You
This might be friends, ministers, counselors, or other professionals. The right people will have the following characteristics in common: 1) ability to listen and identify problems accurately, 2) ability to speak truth lovingly to both of you, 3) wisdom and experience helping others with marital problems, 4) compassion, and 5) appropriate confidentiality.

3. Seek Help and Support Even if Your Spouse Will Not
I hope I am clear in saying this is not gossiping or complaining about your spouse to people who cannot help heal your marriage (especially your children!). This means seeking help and support from those who will safely listen, counsel, pray, intervene, and support your marriage as appropriate. Many marriages have turned around from one spouse changing their role and contribution to the problems.

4. Seek Healing over Validation
It may well be that one of you has done more damage to your marriage than the other. The desire to be validated as the one who is “right” can be very strong. This desire wars against the things that actually do heal your marriage. Turning your marriage around relies not on assigning appropriate blame, but on identifying problems, their solutions, and offering mutual forgiveness.

5. Humble Yourself
It hurts to hear how you have disappointed your partner. It hurts to speak of how they have hurt you. It hurts to talk of gasping dreams and desires. Pain is inescapable: We have a choice between the fruitful pain that healing requires or the agonizing pain of doing nothing. If we have to feel pain, let it come from laboring towards healing, not in passively letting our marriages fail.

6. Commit to Loving Acts Towards Your Spouse
This does not mean being a doormat. This means showing love in practical ways that matter to your spouse. While this doesn’t fix everything, it does create an environment for hearts to soften and for hope to rekindle.

7. Create and Commit to Regular Time for your Relationship
Special-needs marriages have little free time, but we must create a margin to work on our marriages and prepare to do so for the long haul. We often expect our marriages to heal more quickly than they withered. This is rarely possible. However, with time to implement the above steps, have fun together, and explore new possibilities, your marriage can experience renewal.

8. Put Faith Front and Center
When both spouses are Christians and have a troubled marriage, it is common to hear that they have floundered somewhere in their walk with Christ. This is not always true and we should be careful not to judge without knowledge. That said, it bears earnest consideration when we find our marriages desolate.



The Gifts of Forgiveness, Restoration, and Hope

When we wander from Christ, our marriages are vulnerable. Sin has room to grow. Repentance and forgiveness become strangers to us. Love and charity wane. Before long the burdens and inconveniences of our relationships weigh heavily as we shoulder them alone. Our souls become greenhouses for discontent and strife. We finally look up when our misery has become unbearable and ask “Why?”.

The wonderful promises we have in the gospel apply even here. If we accept grace, repent, and forgive, He is faithful and just to forgive and cleanse us. Where we have failed; He will be unfailing. Where we can’t love; He will pour His love out over us. Where our hope has died; He can resurrect it.

Our faith in Christ will sustain and comfort us as we labor in a marriage that struggles and isn’t meeting needs. It even gives us the strength to offer what we have received from our spouses as we work towards healing. There is great hope in faith that cannot be seen in our circumstances. Focusing on Christ allows us to see the possibilities for healing and renewal in our marriages.


Reprinted with author’s approval. The original article was published on Dyana’s blog Ambling Grace

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By Peggy Ployhar

Easter is a wonderful time of renewal and a great time to change up your homeschooling schedule to dig into the true meaning of Easter, add a fun Easter twist to your learning activities, or try something new.

The resources given below are my top free picks from the SPED Homeschool Easter Pinterest board. If you want more inexpensive and adaptable resources, make sure to check out all the links on that board. Or, better yet, check out all the SPED Homeschool Pinterest boards for resources to help you in every area of homeschooling a student with special educational needs.

Discovery Learning:
Easter Story Scavenger Hunt – Make teaching the Easter story to your children an adventure with this scavenger hunt
 Scripture Verse Easter Egg Craft – Use this free printable to create beautiful eggs to convey the true meaning of Easter
Easter Nature Lesson – Tie in parallels from nature to teach your children the Easter story
Easter in Germany Unit Study – Spend a few days, or a whole week, using these resources to study how Easter is celebrated in Germany

Therapy:
 Scissor Skills Easter Activity – See how cutting Easter grass is a great way to have your child work on their scissor skills
 Easter Egg Speech Therapy Ideas – 10 ways to use plastic Easter eggs to teach speech lessons to your child
Oral Motor Easter-Themed Game – A fun way to develop oral motor skills during the Easter season
 Occupational Therapy Easter Egg Pre-Writing – Create this fun writing activity on your own dry erase board
Visual Recognition Easter Egg Matching – Work on your child’s visual recognition skills as they match eggs with mismatched parts to their corresponding card

Language Arts:
Language Arts Egg Activities – Use these simple activities to practice spelling, grammar, and writing with plastic eggs as the delivery vehicle for the lesson
Spelling Contraction Activity – Use this free printout with labeled plastic Easter eggs to make learning and practicing contractions a lot of fun
Egg Alphabet – Practice spelling, writing, matching, and the other ideas shared on this site with this colorful, free printable

Active Learning:
Brain Breaks Easter Egg Hunt – Get your kids moving as they search for eggs during your daily homeschooling breaks
Gross Motor Basket of Eggs Activity – Use balloons for eggs and challenge your kids with these fun activities that will get them moving and working together
Easter Egg Toss Game – Get up and active while teaching math skills using this inventive idea for converting plastic cups and eggs into learning tools

STEM:
 STEM Easter Egg Rocket Experiment – Create rockets with some ordinary household supplies and plastic Easter eggs
Hide & Seek Number Recognition Game – Use plastic Easter eggs for this fun game that will help your child work on their number recognition skills
Easter Egg Math Activities – Use this simple idea doing hands-on practicing of math facts
Weighed Easter Egg Activity – Use filled Easter eggs and weighted objects to figure out the weight of each egg
Lego Easter Designs – Use these simple instructions to create mosaics and simple figures
 Racing Eggs to Teach Gravity – Sneak in a science lesson while your children race their plastic eggs to the finish line

Happy Easter! Jesus rose from the grave, so let us celebrate our risen Savior and the promise that truth holds for all who believe!

 

 


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By Jen Duncan

A lot of families like to add learning activities to their vacations, which is something I recommend. We have not taken many vacations, so I found that difficult to do. However, my son has had many opportunities to travel, and this has been a huge part of his learning.

Learning Through Travel When Possible
When he was in elementary school, I was a curriculum representative and speaker at homeschool conventions across the country. Each year, from April to August, we traveled almost every weekend. One weekend we might be in Kansas City, while the next we were in North Carolina.

While this was a crazy schedule to keep and we put a lot of miles on our SUV, we loved it. One of the huge benefits of all of that travel was the learning that went along with it.

Around the time he entered junior high, we had to step back from our convention schedule for medical reasons. He suddenly started manifesting symptoms from an autoimmune disorder that we were unaware he suffered from. Because these disorders are notoriously difficult to diagnose and treat, it wasn’t a quick process. Needless to say, his medical needs took precedence.

Within a few years, however, his health started to improve and he learned to take the necessary steps to manage his health. When he was well again, one of the things that brought him the most joy and fulfillment was being able to travel in order to serve.

For the past six years, he has been given the opportunity to travel both around the country and around the world to serve in many capacities. As I write this post, he is in Mexico serving with a missionary family – and loving every minute of it!

Learning and Serving Through Travel
The travel itself has been both an adventure and a blessing, but what has really surprised me is how much he learns with each and every trip.

Through his participation with Generation Joshua, my son travels several times per year to volunteer for political campaigns in various states. This is something he loves to do and finds a lot of value in. This experience gives him an interesting view of how people in different parts of the country think and express themselves. Talking to people in Kentucky about a political candidate is much different than doing so in Wisconsin.This helps him to understand people on many different levels. For gifted and asynchronous learners, this is a huge benefit!

Traveling to serve also helps him effectively learn life and leadership skills. He is responsible not only to motivate himself and keep himself on schedule but to keep his team motivated and on track.

It’s one thing to read about skills in a book; it’s another to actually practice them in real life. Doing so through his work with Generation Joshua allows him room to learn these skills with a bit of a safety net. He has room to succeed and fail, room to learn, but someone to catch and guide him if he gets too far off track.

These are things that I, as his mom, simply can’t teach him in the way that they can. Somehow, being in a radically different environment helps cement those skills.

Opening Worlds Through International Learning and Travel
Something that becomes evident very early on with our gifted learners is that they want to take on the world. They each do it in their own way, but the desire is often there.

I have found that my son often learns best when I allow him to literally “take on the world!”

He started doing this at a fairly young age by raising money to send his friends on mission trips. For medical reasons, he couldn’t travel internationally until he was 16 or 17, but he could send his friends. By doing so, he learned a lot about what it really means to serve.

Once he had the medical release, he discovered that the world really is his classroom. His first international trip was to western Turkey, on a study tour with his university. He had the amazing opportunity to take his Book of Acts class in Asia Minor!

Since then, my son has traveled each year to both Mexico and the Philippines for missions work. Each time, he has learned so much that I never would have thought to teach him! Of course, he learns about foods that he probably wouldn’t otherwise try (like durian and balut), but he also learns about the amazing nuances of other cultures. He gets to witness, firsthand, why other cultures think the way they do, where their traditions and religious beliefs stem from. In many ways, he also comes to understand their political and philosophical beliefs as well as their sense of patriotism.

Living in a society as polarized as ours, this is essential to understand.

On a more practical note, he learns life skills in ways that I don’t have the ability to teach. He can navigate airports in Asia, shop at a corner market in Mexico, and find his way around the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.

But he is also learning what it takes to live on his own and schedule the little details of his day in a way that gives him freedom, but also safety. He is currently learning the ropes of having his own apartment while living just upstairs from the oldest son of the family he’s serving with. He is figuring out independence while having a safety net that isn’t Mom and Dad.

Is Learning Through Travel Right for Your Child?
Learning through travel isn’t the right choice for every teen or college student, but for many gifted learners, it is an incredible tool. These kids think and process in such different ways that being outside their “normal” can be the most effective way of learning.

It might just be worth looking into for your student! If you have any questions, I’d be glad to help – just comment below!

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By Cheryl Swope, M.Ed
 

At a time when many of our friends are becoming somewhat reluctant “empty-nesters,” my husband and I are in the process of realizing that we need to continue homeschooling our children even beyond their graduation. At 19, neither of our special-needs twins are able to attend college, yet both want to continue learning. Over time their difficulties have not lessened but increased. We have learned to relax our expectations, but not the quality of our courses or methods.

Cultivating Beyond Conditions
My son has embarked on Introduction to Logic, Introduction to Music Theory, Introduction to Composition, and other classes at home. He learns slowly, but with Socratic questioning and purpose. As his medical conditions progress, he hopes his continued education will strengthen his otherwise weakening mind.

We required years to master Latina Christiana I, but Michael told me, “Latin is so meticulous and systematic, I think it takes my boggled mind and sorts it out.” He added, “I want to study Latin forever.” His twin sister Michelle chimed in, “Me too.” Most of my daughter’s academic abilities never progressed to the level of her brother’s, but she enjoyed beginning elements of each area in the liberal arts, all bathed in truths from theology, the queen of the liberal sciences.

Cultivating Between the Lines
As classical teachers, we want to help our children love truth, goodness, and beauty. We encourage this through the liberal arts, sciences, and the great literature of Western civilization. Each of our children have been able to grasp different aspects of this.

One day we read The Merchant of Venice together. My concrete-thinking son understood very little, but Michelle loved Portia’s famous speech on mercy. She played Portia in each scene. When Bassanio (reluctantly played by Michael) noted that outward appearance does not always indicate inward beauty, Michael paused at the wisdom of this insight. In the play, Bassanio references Troy and Hercules, so we recalled our beginning classical studies.


Cultivating From the Heavens

Hours later the same day, my husband located some star guides and gathered the children. Equipped with binoculars, we all settled in on a big blanket for an early autumn evening of stargazing. On such occasions, we see how all learning comes together in gratifying ways. Lying still in an open field near the woods that night, we marveled at the numerous clusters of stars in our country sky. My daughter recalled Abraham and the promise about his descendants. My husband identified the constellation, Aquila. Michelle said she knew from Latin it would be an eagle. We smiled to ourselves. My husband pointed out various constellations and the planet Mars. The names of constellations prompted stories from Greek and Roman mythology, and our children know these far better than we do.

Cultivating Shared Experiences
As a family that evening, we all relaxed together, captivated by one of those rare moments that instantly beautify family life. When the darkness deepened in the sky, we spotted the Big Dipper low on the horizon. My husband noted the trapezoid shape of its ladle, and my children agreed. They knew the shape from early geometry studies. He pointed to another constellation, “forty-five degrees from the bright star overhead.” As the children followed his finger, I remembered all of the protractors from our many years of basic geometry lessons together. We searched the rugged craters of the moon through our binoculars. My son surprised me by noting the half moon’s appearance as “a perfect semi-circle, with the diameter bisecting the whole.” Then for a moment, we fell silent.

Cultivating Unceasing Joy
A fall chill descended under those stars. Snuggling our fragile daughter to keep her warm, I appreciated the richness a classical education offers even children such as ours. If their abilities continue to fade with the progression of their illnesses, we can still enjoy the opportunity to homeschool our children into their adult years. “O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all.” (Psalm 104:24)

Copied, with author’s permission, from Memoria Press

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By Kimberly Vogel

When one member of the family receives a dietary diagnosis, the whole family shares in the diagnosis. Eating affects almost everything, and typically normal things become a trial. Special events and traveling require special considerations.

A few years ago I received a diagnosis of some serious and complicated food sensitivities and allergies. We traveled on long car trips to see family yearly, as well as other vacations and didn’t want to stop just because of my diagnosis. But things had to change. Here are the 5 things we did differently that not only helped with food and dietary issues but also helped our budget!

1. Bring ready prepared homemade meals
We have a cooler and laundry basket that holds our groceries in the car. I even cook meals ahead of time and freeze them so all I do is thaw and reheat when we arrive at our destination.

I have a list of items we need to buy once we arrive and have already scouted out grocery stores near our lodging. For example: I cook and freeze chili, then I buy the chips and cheese when we arrive.

2. Pack to-go meals for the road
Not stopping for meals while driving is the biggest budget saver! I bring a loaf of bread, knife, paper towels, peanut butter, and jelly. Sometimes I throw in a jar of cookie butter too! I make sandwiches and pass them out with fruit and chips; we don’t even have to stop!

Our goal is to eat two meals in the car and only stop for one. Not only is it the cheapest way to travel, it’s also much healthier than fast food. Other food that is easy to eat in the car:

  • individual hummus cups and veggies
  • cereal bowls with milk that doesn’t need refrigeration (yes, it exists!)
  • cheese, crackers, and pepperoni
  • anything you would put in a school lunch (granola bars, chips, fruit snacks, etc.)

3. Plan driving routes around food breaks
When someone has food allergies, restaurants are tricky to navigate. At one point there were only a few restaurants I trusted, and even then it was only one or two of their options.

I found driving routes based on restaurants I could safely eat at, and we planned our stops accordingly so at least one meal a day could be in a restaurant. Many places also have call ahead ordering, so we could grab it and get back on the road.

4. Book condos or houses
Many extended stay hotels, condos, timeshares, and houses (VRBO – vacation rent-by-owner) have kitchens. If you cook instead of eating out, the higher lodging cost is negated by lower dining expenses.

On the flipside, this alternative makes it feel like less of a vacation for me, so one or two nights the kids or my husband take over the cooking so I get a break! We eat out one nice meal, and sometimes it’s just my husband and me on a date while the kids hang back and watch movies!

5. Cook in the hotel
For conferences and occasions when we don’t find lodging with a kitchen, I bring a crockpot or my beloved Instant Pot and cook in the room! I do try to cook less aromatic foods to be sensitive to the other guests! Most hotels now have refrigerators in the rooms. If not, you can call ahead of time. Many have one they can add to your room or can give you access to one on the property, especially if you inform them of a medical necessity.

 

Even though my dietary diagnosis has once again changed, and I no longer have the restrictions I did, we still use these tips when we travel. It’s a way of life for us now, and it is much healthier than eating so many meals out. The amount we save allows us to travel more! It IS possible to have an incredible vacation even with special dietary needs!

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By Peggy Ployhar

I am excited to have finally reached the third article in my series on parenting anger because the information I share below is what finally opened my eyes to the escape door talked about in 1 Corinthians 10:13.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

I was familiar with the story of Jesus cleansing the temple in John 2, but one morning I realized this story held the key to escaping my ongoing battle with parenting anger. Since that day, these passages have become some of my favorite in the Bible, because they provided me the escape plan I had desperately prayed for every time I lashed out at my children.

If you are not familiar with this passage, here it is:

Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!John 2: 13-16


Problems Trigger Anger
First, I want you to notice something. Jesus saw a problem. If you are unfamiliar with the Jewish law and customs of the temple, it may seem like Jesus’ reaction to the marketplace-type atmosphere was a bit extreme. But, when you learn that the money changers and animal sellers were taking advantage of the people with weighted scales and “temple-approved” animals for sacrifices towards their own advantage, the picture becomes a bit clearer.

Those who had come to fulfill God’s command to worship Him were being swindled by crooked merchants. These merchants were mocking God’s laws and profiting off the people who had journeyed to Jerusalem to dedicate their Passover sacrifice. And it was this injustice that fueled Jesus’ righteous anger.

Now, as parents, we don’t have temples and merchants that make us angry, but we do have a lot of other things that trigger our anger and aggravate how we respond to anger-provoking situations. It may help to look back at those triggers and aggravators from my last article if you did not read it or if you are needing a refresher.

Don’t Take the Bait
The secret to not giving into these triggers is to train yourself to see them, identify them, and then disconnect from them.

When I am speaking to an audience, I use a rope to signify a trigger. When you see the rope and focus on the problem that is causing your anger to rise, you are tempted to go pick up the rope and neatly deal with the situation as you see fit, just like a fish snaps at bait on a fishing line.

At first you may not realize acting upon your anger will tangle you in a sinful response. But, even if you have the initial willpower to step back from the situation for a moment, the more you focus on the problem before you, the greater the pull becomes to act upon it and handle it as you see fit.
 

This is the sinful trap that anger elicits. A temptation to act with a sinful response. To quickly deal with the problem on our own terms, bring justice to the problem we are faced with, and move on from the issue as quickly as we can is the natural human response. But, this is not God’s way of handling problems or how He would desire for us to use the energy we have been given when we see a problem.

An Alternate Option
The key then to turning away from the temptation is NOT to pick up the rope, but instead turn the other direction and do what Jesus did…braid a whip! Yes, you heard me right, but let me explain.
 

The next thing we need to notice from the John 2 passage is the word “when” and the actions that caused a time-lapse in the story. Verse 15 specifically says, “When He had made a whip of cords…” How long do you think it took to gather up long leather strips and braid them, considering the whip was enough of a threat to drive oxen and merchants out of the temple? It had to have been quite a while.

What do you think Jesus was doing while He was braiding? When I contemplated this situation, I was taken back to His habit of always talking to the Father, consulting in His plan and seeking what He was doing in the situation. So it would be most reasonable to consider that He was praying and seeking God’s guidance on how to best handle the problem before Him.

Revealing the Escape Door
Anger comes with a load of energy, but that energy was never intended to be used to enact justice.

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” Romans 12:19

So, what do we do with it? We use it for praying, pressing into God for His plan, and when we need to ensure that we don’t reach out with our own method to take care of the issue, we busy our hands.

Now, you probably aren’t going to braid a whip, but I am sure there are lots of things you can do while you are praying, watching, and listening for God’s direction. Laundry, dishes, yard work, sweeping, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms…you get where I am going. These things are great outlets for our anger energy.

And, in redirecting your energy, you have moved towards the escape door, grabbed its handle and have moved away from anger’s sinful trap.

A Door to Godly Character
Your next thought may be the same as mine, “What about the child who was misbehaving that invoked my anger? What do I do with him while I am praying?” You will need to wait for my next article to learn how to handle your child’s side of this scenario, but I promise you it will be well worth the wait.

For now though, I want you to focus on finding those ropes that lead you to sinful parenting anger episodes. Identify them, label them, and practice turning away from them and busying your hands while you pray and seek God. Don’t worry, your child will not turn to the dark side before we get back to addressing his/her issues, but you need to focus on yourself first before you are ready for the next step.

There is much fruit to be gained in taking your time and really working on these steps one at a time. The reason I say this is because the escape door is not a door to nowhere, but a gateway to developing godly character in both you in your children.

So, be encouraged and keep pressing forward.

Plug-In and Stay Encouraged
Please feel free to comment on this article in the forum below, or email us at SPED Homeschool if there is anything you would like to let us know about or help walk you through.

Also, if you are not part of our Facebook support group, I would really encourage you to plug into our community and surround yourself with other families who are homeschooling their children with special educational needs. Having support and knowing you are not alone is important. We know because we have all been there and are willing to encourage you through the places we have been.

 

 

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