By Dawn Spence

Am I the Best Teacher for My Child? This is a question that I still ask myself all the time. I know it is driven by two things guilt and fear. Guilt that I am not doing things perfectly and the fear that I never will.

 

Well I am right I am not doing it perfectly and I never will, but that is okay. I am learning that my kids don’t need a perfect mom or teacher. Instead, what they need is for me to keep going and never give up on them or myself.

 

Homeschooling is a journey of trial and error and finding out what works. Sometimes it is trying 5 different math curriculums before you find the one that is the right fit. Just because you make the effort to try each of those options and don’t give up is is what makes you the right person to homeschool your child. You kept looking and searching. No one loves your child like you and wants him or her to succeed like you do. You make it your mission to wake up every morning and help your child to do better to learn something new.

 

Teaching special needs children can be tiring when your child is not catching onto a concept you have been teaching for weeks. But you have the gift of not moving on because you are homeschooling and can set the pace based on the needs of your child. I would think I was failing my child because she was not learning to read or learning a new math concept, but I realized in the midst of that struggle that I am the best teacher for my child because I push her on and we work through it together.

 

My daughter has a learning disability and remembering things for her can be a struggle. We keep trying and working through lessons until she gets them. My heart takes it personally when she is not learning and the fear comes when I start to think I am not teaching her what she needs.

 

Momma guilt is real. Anyone can teach your child, but it’s your heart’s pursuit to teach beyond the struggles which will make your child soar. Just the other day, my daughter reminded me of this exact thing. While she was playing, and she looked up at me and said, “Momma thank you for believing that I am smart.” I melted. Then, I prayed. “God let me see teaching my children is not about me being perfect, but having a willing and open heart to teach them the best I can each day.”

 

So yes, I am the right teacher for my child and so are you.

 

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By Peggy Ployhar

Most teens outgrow the therapy model at some point in their junior high or high school years. Transferring ownership for continued growth in these therapeutic areas is a key element to ensuring that your student doesn’t stop working on new skills or practicing ones already mastered in a traditional therapy program. To accommodate your student’s desire for independence, this transitioning process requires your child to adopt regular activities which will assimilate therapy work into his or her normal routines.

 

Here are some ways your teen can continue working on occupational, physical, social, and speech therapy goals without going to regular therapy.

 

Speech Therapy Ideas:
Read out loud
Order food at a restaurant
Ask for directions
Sing
Memorize jokes and then tell them to others
Story telling
Make videos or voice recordings


Occupational Therapy Ideas:
Cooking
Yard Work
House Maintenance
Auto Repair
Assemble Purchases (“Some assembly required”)

Laundry
House Cleaning
Gardening

 

Physical Therapy Ideas:
Martial arts
Swimming
Golf
Tennis
Rollerblading
Ice skating
Biking
Running
Walking

 

Social Skill Therapy Ideas:
Join a club or special interest group
Participate in a local event as a volunteer
Be a mother’s helper
Volunteer at church
Start conversations with vendors at your county or state fair
Participate in 4H
Join a book cub

 

I am sure you can think of many more great ideas, and we would love for you to share them with our community by commenting below or on our social media shares of this article.

 

If you are looking for more resources for homeschooling your teen through high school, make sure to check out these other resources on our website:

 

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By Debbi White


I found myself bawling the other morning. I hadn’t wept like that in months. The previous weeks had been filled with excitement: visitors from Washington and New Jersey, kayaking, zip lining, white water rafting. . . And that night I was eagerly expecting company again.

 

I usually love being hostess. I had started a monthly game night several years ago. Some neighbor ladies would meet (frequently at my house) for dinner or snacks and board games. I looked forward to it! Usually. But that morning, I was in tears.


Reveling In My Inadequacies
There were regularly the same three of us, but often we invited other neighbors. Others came and went, and that night two newbies were joining us. One had a beautiful house overlooking the river. I mean BEAUTIFUL. She was married to a man in politics, and they seemed quite well off. And, in the past year, she had lost weight and was now quite thin.

 

I had my day all mapped out: dusting, decorating (for fall), vacuuming, grocery shopping, and cooking. I should’ve been in my element! But as I looked around I noticed the stains in the carpet, the 40 year old cabinets and countertops, the nicks in the kitchen chairs. I had joined Weight Watchers a month before, but my weight-loss wasn’t yet noticeable. I was feeling very much intimidated and inferior. Would this woman notice all of my flaws and those of my house? Would I be able to hold my head up and enjoy the evening?

 

I was reminded of the lyrics to Lauren Daigle’s song, You Say:

I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?
Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know.



Convicting Thoughts
Paul tells us in II Corinthians 10 that we are to throw “down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” (verse 5)

 

God’s Word convicted me.

 

Do you look at things according to the outward appearance? If anyone is convinced in himself that he is Christ’s, let him again consider this in himself, that just as he is Christ’s, even so we are Christ’s. (verse 7)

 

For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. (verse 12)

 

God does not want me to compare myself to others! He does not want me to focus on the externals to the exclusion of what is important to Him.

 

He encouraged me with the verses:

He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.” (Philippians 1:6)


HE’S WORKING ON ME, AND HE’S NOT DONE YET!

“He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” (I Thessalonians 5:24)
AND
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)



What I Could Do
What was important to God in my entertaining? What was His heart? I believe it was to make my guests feel loved and welcomed, for them to feel relaxed and comfortable and to be able to enjoy themselves.

 

I could not make my home modern, but I could make it clean. I could create an enticing, cheerful atmosphere. And it would help if I was content and relaxed myself. I had to grasp God’s Word for myself!

 

Lauren Daigle’s song continues:

The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me
In You I find my worth, in You I find my identity,
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe, oh I believe
What You say of me
I believe



A Change in Perspective
I do believe! I know He loves me! He’s been my husband the past 25 years. He’s also been my Father. My favorite of all His names is I AM. Whatever I need, He is! The One Who created the universe loves Me! The One Who holds the sun in place died for me. He has provided for me and protected me. He has a plan for me. I have this house only because of several miracles He did for me. As old and stained and chipped and worn as it is, it is my home. It is full of love (and animals!). I welcome guests, and I want them to feel loved and valued.

 

Are you struggling with feelings of inadequacy and inferiority? Do you think that you are not enough as a mother, teacher, wife, woman? Is it because you are looking on outward appearances and comparing yourself to others instead of looking at yourself through God’s eyes?

 

As I started readjusting my thoughts and what I was concentrating on, my perspective changed. I no longer focused on my inadequacies and my house’s shortcomings. 


All That Was Needed

The day didn’t go exactly as planned, and I was still in the midst of food preparation in a messy kitchen when my guests began arriving. But I wasn’t frazzled. The house was tidy (except for the kitchen!), candles were giving off a sweet scent, and the evening was bathed in prayer. I welcomed my friends into a home with the aroma of the love of Christ.

 

I, in myself, am NOT enough. But Christ says He is enough. He is I AM, everything I need.

 

And a good time was had by all.

 

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By Mary Winfield

We are into all things nerdy in my house. This extends to superhero movies. And my boys are very into superheroes. They wear costumes more than regular clothes, and I have to address them by their character instead of their name or they don’t respond. Because of this, I have seen all the superhero movies. I am always taken by surprise though by how I can see parallels in my own life in these movies, and specifically what these movies show me about autism meltdowns.

 

One of these instances was the latest Thor installment: Ragnarok. Thor gets stranded on a planet where he finds the Hulk. The problem is that once the Hulk changes back into Bruce Banner, he has a hard time staying that way. Since they are in hiding, they need him to not change back into the Hulk, or they won’t be able to escape. 

 


As I was watching, I was laughing thinking of how Thor’s method for helping Bruce Banner reminded me of living with a child with Autism. But once I thought about it some more, I realized that just as Thor’s behavior wasn’t really helping, sometimes mine doesn’t either. Here are some things we can all do a little bit better when it comes to dealing with autism meltdowns.


Develop The Relationship

In earlier Avengers movies, Black Widow and Bruce Banner form a relationship. Because of their relationship, she is able to help him change back into himself when he is the Hulk. She does this by speaking calmly, moving slowly, and letting him initiate touch first. She even has a phrase that she uses to signal to him that it is time to “transition.” Does that sound familiar? The important part of this interaction though is the trust that is built up between the two of them. She spent a lot of time making sure that he felt valued and safe with her, and it took time for them to find the routine that worked for them. She put in the time and effort to make it work. 

 


Thor on the other hand just jumps in and starts trying to imitate this routine without building up the relationship first. This means that he isn’t doing everything that Bruce Banner needs, but it also means that the trust isn’t there. They don’t have that solid foundational relationship to build from, so it doesn’t work, and Banner eventually just pushes him away and tells him to stop. Does that sound familiar too?

 

How many times to do we just want to jump to the end results of being able to calm down our child without first building that foundation of trust and discovering what they as an individual need? I still do it after years and years of practice; it is an easy trap to fall into!


Our Stress = Their Stress

Like I said, Black Widow uses calm and slow movements and speech in order to help Hulk calm down enough to turn back into Banner. Thor on the other hand keeps touching him, speaking quickly, and talking A LOT. It is obvious from his speech and his mannerisms that he is dealing with a lot of stress. The stress is the only thing that is being communicated, and that does not help calm anyone down.

 

I think about how often my stress levels are high enough to leak into everything that I do. Then when trying to help a child with Autism either avoid a meltdown or come down from one, I only end up making it worse. I recently read “Fifteen Things They Forgot To Tell You About Autism” and in it the author talks about how when she is really worried about her children acting “normal” out in public, they usually have a meltdown; but when she just accepts that whatever happens will happen and she can help them if they do have struggles, then they usually do much better. I have also found this to be true with my son. Children with Autism are so sensitive to outside stimulus, that when we are anxious, that only makes a meltdown more likely.

 

Why We Are Helping Them
Another big thing that I noticed was the difference in motivations between Black Widow and Thor. Black Widow wants to help Banner become himself again because she loves him and cares about him. Thor wants Banner to stay himself because Thor needs Banner to help him.

 

A lot of times I don’t want my son to melt because I am tired, or we are in public and I don’t want to be embarrassed or judged, or because I have something else I want to do. He can tell when I want to help him because I just want him to be safe and happy, and when I am trying to help him for selfish reasons. And that makes all the difference.

 

Meltdowns are not fun for anyone (parent or child), but if we just employ these 3 subtle changes to the way we approach meltdowns, we will see a deeper relationship with our child and less meltdowns. 

 

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By Amy Vickrey, MSE

In the last few months I have gained responsibilities and had my time shortened to a few hours in which to homeschool. All of this time is in the morning. My son is not a morning person. He is an early riser, but prefers to use his morning engaged in his own interests and definitely NOT in school work. When I can give him the morning to pursue his own interests (which usually includes building with blocks, playing with toys and his brother, and reading), schoolwork is typically easier to accomplish in the afternoon. Knowing this makes me feel SO GUILTY when I simply do not have the time to accommodate the schedule that I know makes him a better student.

 

Creative Scheduling
So, when I can’t accommodate his preferred schedule, I find creative ways to help him with continuing to make progress despite our limited time.

 

Here is what I have found works for us to remove my homeschooling guilt:

  • We homeschool year-round so we can take breaks as needed and move at a slower pace.
  • I use therapy time as part of our school day.
  • I communicate with therapists about the schoolwork he is doing, what is successful, and what is not so that they can help support the deficits too.
  • I utilize caregivers to help get schoolwork accomplished and even creatively integrate science and social studies topics into his day. (My sister in law is working with him on Minecraft and researching unit studies to use with the game.)
  • I encourage science experiments with the OT, even getting cousins involved when they are over.
  • I have found ways for him to be involved with swim classes, tutoring (counts as his school for that day), and even a robotics class!
  • On days when we have more time, I utilize his checklist to ensure we touch on subjects that get put on the back burner on busier days.
  • I remind myself that 5 minutes of direct instruction on a subject is better than an hour spent struggling on his own. I rotate the subjects I focus on for the day and keep to the most vital ones to maintain and increase skills.
  • I put things intentionally in his path for him to explore other topics in science and social studies. I work to create a love of learning and a desire to gain new skills. (Check out 7 Tips for Cultivating Lifelong Learners).
  • I utilize time on weekends to catch up when the week has been extra busy and full of appointments.
  • I incorporate fun activities with the basic subjects whenever time allows to keep learning interesting and fun.
  • I encourage independence and use rewards whenever possible, even if it is just stickers to say “Great Job!”
  • I look for activities that cover more than one skill at a time in order to combine skills and save time. (Unit studies are great for combining skills. Check out D.M. Spence’s article on creating a Unit Study.)
  • I GIVE MYSELF GRACE! I recognize that I cannot do it all, and I cannot do everything all the time.
  • I remind myself of the reasons I homeschool. By keeping focused, I can get through the tough days, and I know that someday I will look back and see God’s hand guiding me through these tough days into easier ones.

 

Whatever life brings, we all struggle with scheduling guilt at times. By being flexible, creative, and patient, we find that we can get to the other side and still see the progress that has been made, even if it is slower than my impatient self would like it to be. 

 

Even with a busy schedule and limited time, the benefits of homeschooling are present, and I am thankful everyday for the ability to work my schedule in such a way that I can continue to give my sons what they need most – a safe, loving, caring environment to grow and someday become the men they are meant to be.

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By Peggy Ployhar

Understanding your child’s rate of progress, possible learning deficiencies, or level of mastery in a specific subject can go a long way when homeschooling a struggling learner. The free online assessment tools listed in this article are meant to help you in those areas as you teach your child and help your student find learning success.

 

In no way are these resources a substitution for seeking professional advice. Assessments administered by a parent should not be used to diagnosis a student, but rather as an indicator that your child may need professional assistance as part of his/her educational plan.

 

It is our goal at SPED Homeschool to help students succeed in parent-directed special education homeschool, and I hope you find these assessment tools helpful to that end.

 

General Assessments:

Easy CBM Assessment Tool
LD Info Parent Administered Cognitive Processing Inventory
National Institute for Direction Instruction Placement Tests shared by Shanel Tarrant-Simone, SPED Homeschool Team Member and owner of Spectrum Parent Consulting
K5 Learning Assessments
HSLDA Struggling Learner Checklists shared by Faith Berens, HSLDA Struggling Learner Consultant
ADDitudue Self-Tests(Self tests for the most popular learning disabilities and psychological issues)


Reading Assessments:


General:

National Right to Read Foundation Competency Test
University of Oregon Dynamic Inventory of Basic Early Literacy Skills
Orton-Gillingham PDF Free Assessment Test
Sonlight Language Arts Assessment

 

Grammar:
Laureate Syntax Assessment
Quill Grammar Diagnostic Test shared by Kathryn Grogg, Grogg Educational Consulting

 

Dyslexia:
Davis Dyslexia Screening Assessment shared by Beverly Parrish, Learn Your Way
Dynaread Dyslexia Test
Learning Success Dyslexia Test
Lexercise Dyslexia Test
Nessy Dyslexia Test (5-7 years)
All About Learning Dyslexia Screening Checklist shared by D.M. Spence, SPED Homeschool Team Member and private homeschooling consultant

 

Reading:
Diane Craft Word Recognition Placement Test
Dianne Craft Right Brained Reader Placement Test
Sonlight Reading Assessment
National Institute for Direction Instruction Corrective Reading Tests shared by Shanel Tarrant-Simone, SPED Homeschool Team Member and owner of Spectrum Parent Consulting

 

Math Assessments:

General:
Touch Math Placement Assessments shared by D.M. Spence, SPED Homeschool Team Member and private homeschooling consultant
Little Giant Steps Math Proficiency Assessment
Little Giant Steps Math Facts Assessment
Math-U-See Readiness Assessment
Singapore Math Placement Assessments
Horizons Math Readiness Evaluations
Math Mammoth Placement Assessments shared by Kathryn Grogg, Grogg Educational Consulting
Saxon Math Placement Assessment shared by Kathy Kuhl, Learn Differently
 
Dyscalculia:
Learning Success Dyscalculia Assessment


Various Other Assessments
:

Auditory Processing:
Little Giant Steps Auditory Processing Test Kit

 

Functional/Educational Vision:
See Ability Functional Visual Assessment
Eye Can Learn Vision Based Learning Assessment

 

Speech Articulation:
Mommy Speech Therapy Articulation Screener

Psychological Screening Tools:

Healthy Place Psychological Tests
ADDitudue Self-Tests(Self tests for the most popular learning disabilities and psychological issues)

 

Handwriting:
Learning Without Tears Screener of Handwriting Proficiency shared by D.M. Spence, SPED Homeschool Team Member and private homeschooling consultant
Learning Without Tears Pre-K Handwriting Assessment shared by D.M. Spence, SPED Homeschool Team Member and private homeschooling consultant

 

Do you have any other free tools you use to assess your homeschooled struggling learner? We would love to have you share your links and reviews in the comment section below. The more resources we can share with one another, the more equipped our community will be to successfully homeschool each of our unique children. Thanks for being part of our community and for sharing!

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By Debbi L. White

I was lying on my bed next to my young daughter trying to get her to go to sleep without awaking her younger sister. My pastor husband was next door at our small church conducting the weekly prayer meeting. I tried to lie still and quiet, but my mind was racing.

 

Our daughter Mindy had recently turned six, and our county school board was asking us to register her for school. I had been teaching her for nearly three years, and we had decided as a family to continue homeschooling. We had joined Home School Legal Defense Association to get legal advice and protection. They had informed us that in Virginia we could provide the county with the information they required or, if we had convictions about enrolling our children in public school, we could file for a religious exemption.

 

 

A Different Path
We were the first family in our county on Virginia’s Eastern Shore to be homeschooling in 1990. If we were to file for a religious exemption, we were not sure how the school board would receive it. Other families across the country were embroiled in legal battles trying to gain their right to teach their children at home. Some had even been prosecuted and jailed due to “truancy.”

 

I had my Bachelor’s degree. We could easily accommodate the county’s requirements. Compliance would almost guarantee their acceptance of our choice. But was that the way we were to go? What if we filed for religious exemption and became involved in a court battle? Would that hurt our ministry? I wrestled with these thoughts and more as I pleaded with God for direction.

 

 

A Lot of Unknowns
Then it became clear. Surely they would approve of ME teaching because I had a degree. But what if the Joneses or the Smiths down the road decided to homeschool, and they didn’t have degrees? Was it right for me to be able to teach my children and not them? No! The Bible instructs parents to train their children. Children are the responsibility of the parents. If the parents choose to delegate some of the training, they are still responsible for oversight. It is not the government’s responsibility to train anyone’s children! Parents can allow their children to be trained in government schools, but it is not for the government to demand that, nor should the government disallow parents the right to train their children or make the choice where they are to be educated. If I were to supply our county with my credentials and curriculum and comply with their oversight, I felt I would be endorsing their authority to mandate the educational provisions for all students in the county. I could not give them that authority.

 

But what would this decision mean for our family? For our church? I had to have faith that God was in this, that He was in control, but I was fearful.

 

 

A Step Out in Faith
When my husband came home, I shared with him my thoughts and convictions. He agreed to support me, and we contacted HSLDA the next day. They wrote to our school board on our behalf and provided the law in Virginia as well as documented court cases where a religious exemption was upheld. We prayed, and God answered! The county responded by giving us their blessing on our endeavors.

 

We had not been guaranteed positive results. We stepped out in obedience with faith, trusting God with our future. God often asks us to do that as we travel life’s path. He asks it of everyone who follows Him. I love to read “Faith’s Hall of Fame” in Hebrews 11. (You should reread it!) What a testimony all of these had!

 

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. (verse 13)

 

 

A Perfect Promise
We can look back and see the results of their obedience. When they stepped out in faith, however, they did not know what would happen.

 

We cannot see around the next corner, only God can. That is why it is essential to walk closely with Him and to walk in the light that He gives. He has a purpose for all that He calls us to do. He promises to make a way (He doesn’t promise a way without struggles and challenges, though!); He promises to provide, and He promises to use us as we keep yielded to Him.

 

 

A Future Unknown
If we could see the future and know the consequences of all that God asks us to do, we would not need faith.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

And

Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)



A Devastating Blow

Skip ahead two years. My husband made the decision to leave the church and his family. Overnight I found myself single, homeless and unemployed. My Heavenly Father, the God of miracles, provided a home and full-time employment within the following four days. I began working in a warehouse owned and operated by another home-schooling family. My children were able to be with me, but at the end of the summer, I once again was faced with decisions regarding their education.

 

They had had much turmoil and upheaval. They needed some consistency and security, but most importantly, my role and calling had not changed. To many, it did not seem like a wise decision for me to quit my full-time job to return to home-schooling, but I felt that was God’s will, and I needed to obey. Yes, it was scary. Not only was I facing a court challenge from my husband, but I was now also responsible for supporting my children.

 


A Sure Foundation to Lean On
I have heard that there are 365 “fear not’s” in the Bible. I have not counted them, but I know that God continuously urged me to trust Him. Some of my favorite verses that He gave me at that time were

For your Maker is your husband—
the Lord Almighty is his name—
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
he is called the God of all the earth. (Isaiah 54:5) 

And

All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
And great shall be the peace of your children. (Isaiah 54:13)

 

It wasn’t always easy. I took jobs that I could do at home or that I could take the girls with me, but their schooling remained a priority. I did sewing and cleaning and worked for another family part-time. I bartered cooking for car repairs. God provided. The girls made it through successfully and are now college graduates! Praise Father!


A New Chapter
A lot has happened since they graduated, but now, 13 years later, I find myself once again unemployed. I have applied for about 70 jobs over the past four months. No doors have opened, and my savings has dwindled. I have sought God daily for His guidance and wisdom. I have longed to have the security of a paycheck and health insurance once again! Door after door has remained shut as I have knocked, and knocked, and knocked some more.

 

About three weeks ago, a door finally opened. And then another. A little light came through, and then more. Possibly, just possibly, I could do something that I really love and on my own schedule. Hmmm. But there were naysayers. “You don’t want to do that! Your income is not guaranteed, and it’s a lot of work!” “It is unlikely that you will be able to find enough business to support yourself by doing this full-time.”


A Prayer & An Answer
I continued to pray for guidance and clarity, and God has answered. Every step I have made towards establishing a ministry/business for homeschoolers has led to another step, another open door. I have kept walking as He has guided.

The morning I applied for a business license, a mother saw my resume posted on a search engine and cried. She called that evening and told me that she needed a tutor for her son, that she had been praying for the right person, and she felt I was God’s answer. To me, that was another affirmation that God is in this!


A New Ministry Born
HUGS-Homeschooling Unique and Gifted Students was born. I home-schooled my daughters over 18 years. I have 18 years experience in the classroom, and I have my MA in Teaching Special Education. I believe God has been preparing me for this all my life. I am stepping out in faith.

 

No, it’s not a guaranteed income. No, I do not have health insurance. I am single and I have a mortgage, car payment and student loan (from my graduate studies). I cannot see what the future holds, but God does, and He promises to provide as I obey.


A Continually Deepening Faith
God my Father has been showing me that if everything were under our control, we would not need faith. Trusting Him in faith deepens our dependence on Him and strengthens our relationship. So, although stepping out into the unknown can be quite scary, it is a good thing! Nothing in this world can surpass deepening our intimacy with our Creator and Savior!

 

When you are asked to step out in faith and you are scared, thank God for the privilege that will draw you closer to Him.

 

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By Cheryl Swope, M.Ed.

This morning my son and I discussed literature. Specifically, we noted a good author’s ability to challenge and strengthen the mind and character of the reader in ways mere escapist entertainment never can.

 


Steadfast Goals

Michael wants to protect his mind, because he fears the long-term prognosis of some of his conditions. He does not want to lose the ability to think or to read, as sometimes happens with degenerative disabilities. I promised him he will be well served to continue reading good books. Reading good literature will help protect his mind.

 

I pray for stronger minds for both of my children. As parents of special-needs children understand too well, my children’s prognosis is on my mind too. This helps keep me steadfast in teaching them, caring for them, and loving them.

 


Maintaining Perspectives

I recently spent several days in the Memoria Press office working on the new special-needs curriculum packages. My children were back home in Missouri. I thought of them often; however, I did not want to call so soon and make them miss me. Even as young adults, my children’s special needs often leave them feeling vulnerable.

 

So I had some quiet time on my hands in the evenings. Unaccustomed to quiet time in the evenings, suddenly I needed a book to read. (I learned that when you find yourself in Kentucky with no book to read, Martin Cothran will reach into the trunk of his car and give you a book or two by Kentucky’s own novelist and essayist Wendell Berry.)

 


Continued Blessings
That first evening back in my suite, instead of calling home, I entered Wendell Berry’s stories. The forced slowing of thought, where reading yields to contemplation, led me to welcome those hours. The characters spoke with such a casual wisdom, they reminded me of gentle insights my 100-year-old grandma shared with me without ever intending to be wise.

 

In “Pray Without Ceasing,” a conversation unfolds in a farm kitchen. The grandmother describes a horrible day long ago, when she had learned of a tragedy. “Oh,” she said, “I felt it go all over me, before I knew it in my mind. I just wanted to crawl away. But I had your mother to think about. You always have somebody to think about, and it’s a blessing.”

 

As long as our children live, especially our children with special needs, we’ll always have somebody to think about. And it’s a blessing.

 

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This article first appeared in The Classical Teacher, Memoria Press.

Reprinted with author’s permission.

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By Dawn Spence


When I taught public school, the one thing that inspired me to teach was creating units. A fellow teacher and I created a space unit for our 40 fourth graders, and the learning and excitement that our students expressed made teaching come alive.

 

When I started teaching my twin girls preschool, I knew that units are what I wanted to do. I created units on the ocean, fall, winter, and the zoo. It was the most memorable year of teaching. I still enjoy doing units with my kids with lots of interactive learning and activities.

 

Creating a unit is not hard but it does take some planning. When you write your unit you can use it as your only curriculum.

 

 

Planning Your Unit
 
Topic
First, plan out what excites you and your learner. If the learning is engaging and holds the interest of your learner, the learning will come. I found “fall” to be a unit that can be adapted to older and younger students. “Fall” also works will all types of learners. 

 

Map Subjects
Next, map out what subjects that you want to be included in your unit. You can easily involve your core subjects, but you can usually include much more. When I created my “fall” unit, I was able to include math, science, history, language arts, reading, and art. You can make the lessons simple or complex. I would draw a map out and under each subject, I would list out what I wanted to cover. 

Math using pumpkins was hands-on and everyone was ready for school in the morning. If your state includes Good Citizenship you can add that as well. Do not forget to add in field trips to allow your unit to become real life for your learner. Make sure also figure out how long you want your unit to last.

 

Develop Lessons
Third, it is time to develop your lessons. This step can be fun and overwhelming at the same time. There are so many activities that you can add to your unit and many places to get ideas. I started with Teachers Pay Teachers, File Folder Heaven, and homeschooling blogs. I would gather ideas and sometimes the activities that I saw inspired me to create my own. I have created a sample graphic organizer to help with your planning. (Click here to download the below image as a free document.)



Determine Assessments
Last, decide how you want to grade or assess their learning. You can create a lapbook, and at the end of the unit your student could present what they learned with a hands-on project or report. For more ideas on how to grade or assess you can read Amy Vickery’s article: Making The Grade: Strategies for Grading your Homeschool Student.

 

Units can be a great way to have fun while learning and can engage your student. I also found that I was able to see what my child’s interests were and what made them excited to learn. Have you created a Unit Study that you would like to share? If you have, comment below or share it on our resource page.

 

Did you know SPED Homeschool is 100% donor funded? 

Donate Today

(all donations are tax-deductible)

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