By Kimberly Vogel

Many struggling learners or students with special needs struggle with time, money, and egocentric behavior. Gift giving can easily be a time of educational and emotional opportunities for growth, and Christmas is the perfect time to put some of these tips into practice. It’s also a very busy time of the year, which makes intentionality important. But if we take the time to slow down and really focus on a few of these areas, there are a variety of lessons we can teach through gift giving

 

 

5 Lessons to Teach through Gift Giving

 

1. Plans and Budgets
There are so many ways to incorporate learning about money into gift giving. The first place to start is making a budget. For younger kids, you can talk about one gift, but for older children, they can set a budget for the whole holiday. You can extend this activity by setting up a savings plan for next year. If we spent $200 on our cousins this year, how much would we need to save all year to have enough money? How much would each gift cost? Will we be able to afford it and what can we change? If you go under budget, how can you use the money to bless someone else?

 

2. Math with Money
We are quickly becoming a cashless society. Our children need to know how to use cash. Plan ahead and take money to the store. Have your children buy gifts by counting out the correct change. You can further this activity by asking the children to calculate how much change they will receive. Play store at home and teach children how to count back money as a cashier. You can use fake money if needed. Many youths don’t know the valuable skill of counting back money, and it’s impressive to find a cashier that does know this skill!

 

3. Time Management
Time management is critical when shopping. How long will it take a gift to arrive at the destination? If I order a gift online, how long will it take to arrive? What if Amazon is even late? How far ahead do you need to plan? This doesn’t just apply to online shopping. Do you know how long it takes to walk the length of the mall? Can you estimate drive time, finding a parking spot, locating 7 gifts, waiting in line, and driving back home? Will you eat a meal while shopping or grab a cup of coffee? How do those factors affect your budget? There are a number of time management lessons that we can teach through gift giving.

 

4. Creative Skills
Giving gifts that don’t cost much – handmade gifts – provide many more lessons! New skills, budget for cooking or craft supplies, deciding what a person would like, are just a few things to be learned when creating gifts. Is it really cheaper if you are buying a lot of supplies? How much time will it take to make the items, and will you be able to finish?


5. Emotional Growth

I recently saw a meme go around Facebook about shopping for yourself while shopping for others. The struggle is real! How many times have you bought a gift for someone else and then one for yourself? Or changed your list? The struggle is real for our kids, too. Sometimes the struggle is that they want the gift for themselves and don’t understand why they can’t’ have it. Other kids struggle with wanting to buy for someone what they want instead of what the other person wants. I know Grandma wants a hat, but can it be pink because pink is my favorite color? Even if Grandma doesn’t ever wear pink? This is the perfect time to teach kids to think outwardly instead of egocentric thinking and behavior. Some kids naturally do think outwardly, but others need specific instructions and loving examples.

 

Let’s not get so busy this holiday season that we miss the opportunities teach through gift giving to others. The most important lessons are lessons of the heart, which means the most important lessons we teach all year could be those we teach during the holidays.

Looking for more holiday teaching ideas? Check out the SPED Homeschool Christmas and New Year Pinterest boards for great hands-on learning activities you can use all season long.

Did you know SPED Homeschool is 100% donor funded? 

Donate today

(all donations are tax-deductible)

 

Please follow and like us:


By Peggy Ployhar

Over the years of working through my parenting anger issues, the biggest lesson I have learned about myself is my natural tendency to want to always be in control. I have talked about letting go of control in many areas of parenting throughout this series; control of my children’s character development, as well as my parenting approach in respect to my use of authority, of conveying acceptance, in providing forgiveness, and with my desire to restore honor. The final, and most deceptively hidden, area I needed to surrender my need to over control as a parent was time management.

 

Finding Balance in Time Management
Controlling every single moment of every single day in my children’s lives was not healthy. Plus, if my goal was to help my children learn the skill of managing their time effectively they needed opportunities to practice. Opportunities I was denying them by always micro-managing their schedules.

 

My blindness to my overly controlling approach towards my children’s schedules was aided by the fact that all my children deal with varying degrees of executive functioning deficits. These deficits limit their natural abilities to quickly and efficiently schedule, plan, and organize themselves. So, as a mother who is naturally gifted in this area, it was easy to just step in and take over these responsibilities for my children instead of letting go and teaching them to take ownership for their own use of time.

 

For any parent of a struggling child, the tendency to overcompensate and take control is a constant battle. On one hand you desire for your child to learn and grow, but on the other hand the pain this struggle causes your child and often your own self (extra messes to clean up, extended length in completing tasks, etc.) is much more easily alleviated by stepping in. How then is a parent to win over this desire to control while still keeping a child on track? The answer is balance.

 

A balanced time-management approach involves evaluating three things: your child, your approach, your tools. Looking at these three areas and then determining a balanced plan on how to appropriately give your child the help needed to get through a regular schedule while developing time management skills of their own along the way.

 

Your Child
Understanding the true capability if your child to manage time is critical when figuring out how much this child can manage realistically without your help. Have you ever done a critical analysis of how well your child can break down a larger task into a checklist of smaller parts to complete the whole project?

 

One easy way to figure out your child’s executive functioning capability is to test it by asking your child to do a task which requires multiple steps. I would suggest doing this test with different types of tasks because children often have a greater ability to focus and plan when they are interested in the task (like building a Lego set) than they do when they are disinterested in a task, like cleaning the bathroom.

 

If you have an older student, you can also use this free time management quiz. The quiz has 15 simple questions your student can answer, and then the website provides ideas for goal setting based on the deficiencies revealed by the quiz.

 

Your Approach
Now that you know what skills your child has for managing his own time, and which ones you need to help teach for greater mastery, you should develop a strategy for teaching time management skills. Here are some website with great resources on helping kids with mild time management issues, moderate executive functioning issues, or even more severely limited scheduling abilities.

 

Mild Time Management Strategies
11 Easy Tips for Teaching Your Kids Time Management
The Age-By-Age Guide to Teaching Kids Time Management
6 Ways to Teach Time Management Skills

Moderate Executive Functioning Strategies

Graphic Organizers from the Learning Disabilities Foundation of America
Helping Kids Who Struggle with Executive Functioning
10 Frightfully Useful Tips from Executive Functioning Coaches
5 Must-Have Apps for Improving Executive Functioning in Children

 

Strategies for Students with Severely Limited Scheduling Abilities
Tactile Schedules for Students with Visual Impairments and Multiple Disabilities
8 Types of Visual Student Schedules
Object Schedule Systems
Free Printable Visual Schedules


Your Tools

Based on how much help your child needs and what approach you feel would best help in teaching better time management, you can now start putting together your tools. The various articles above are filled with everything from digital tools to very hands-on physical tools.

 

For our family, we did a lot of visual schedules on a huge blackboard in our kitchen when our children were very young. We supplemented that schedule with daily conversations about upcoming activities and plans to ensure our children remembered what lay ahead and weren’t surprised when we had something planned that didn’t fit into our normal routine. But, as our children grew older those schedules moved to student planners, apps, and shared documents along with the daily conversations.

 

Knowledge has great power. In my experience with letting go of controlling my children, knowing more about the type of help they needed and when I was becoming overly controlling greatly helped with restoring a proper parent-child relationship in our home.

 

Did you know SPED Homeschool is 100% donor funded? 

Donate today

(all donations are tax-deductible)

 

Please follow and like us:


By Mary Winfield

In any ecosystem, it is important for all parts to be well balanced and have the things they require to thrive. When one part of the ecosystem is not getting what it needs, all parts suffer and have to compensate. Our families are no different. There is even an area of study that suggests the family can be studied like an ecosystem because it follows the same principles. The only way that a family can thrive is if all parts of it are receiving the things they need. Strong families grow like strong ecosystems, with each individual part contributing.

 

Thinking of it simply, take The Lion King for example (cue “The Circle of Life” music).
Mufasa explains to Simba how the antelope eat the grass, the lions eat the antelope, and when they die, the lions fertilize the soil (still seems like the antelopes drew the short stick, but it works). We see later when the hyenas are taking for granted all the bounty of their ecosystem that it leads to the land becoming barren. Their ecosystem suffered for a while, which means all parts of it suffered until everyone was getting what they needed.

 

In the same way, a family suffers if everyone isn’t getting what is needed. So how do we grow strong families and support each member?

 


Growing Strong Parents

Parents are the basis of our familial ecosystem. Since they are the foundation, a lot of the responsibility to make sure the ecosystem thrives falls on their shoulders. They are responsible to make sure that temporal needs are provided, children are loved and taught both academically and spiritually, and interactions between family members are either positive or resolved positively.

 

Because of these responsibilities and the great love parents have for their children, other family members are usually put before themselves. This is necessary sometimes, but when it becomes the default setting, the family ecosystem starts to suffer.

 

We as parents have needs that are important to our well-being. Taking care of our bodies, minds, and spirits are not luxuries that we may only indulge in when there is “extra” time (Ha!). Just as one part of an ecosystem can support another part until equilibrium is restored, we can only put off our own needs for so long before there is a collapse. We pour so much into our families that we need to take time to refill our own cups. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you can keep the family running smoothly without attending to your own needs. Strong families need strong parents.

 


Growing Strong Children

Children should each be considered as a separate and important part of the family ecosystem. While we sometimes group them together, they each have their own personalities and needs. Anyone with more than one child knows that the parenting style or guidance that works perfectly for one child, is not going to be as great of a fit for the others.

 

We especially know for our children that our gifted learners, struggling learners, and neurotypical children all have different needs when it comes to education. That is why we all wanted to homeschool! While we may be familiar with these differences educationally, we should incorporate them into all aspects of our family life.

 

Children need to recognize that while they are not the leader of the family, they can still contribute in meaningful ways by adding their strength and good example to the other members of the family.

 


Growing Strong Families as a Whole

Differences in weaknesses and strengths among all family members should be recognized and embraced. That is why God put us together as a family! Weaknesses can be seen as opportunities for others to serve the people they love. Different strengths can be celebrated and added to one another to accomplish a much larger goal. And when we all take time to make sure that individual needs are met, our families can grow in love and strength as individual members and as a whole.

 


Growing Strong in Community

SPED Homeschool recognizes that special education homeschooling families need to grow at their own pace, but that they grow better when they can be supported within a larger community. This is why the new SPED Strong Tribes program we’re raising funds to start in 2019 will focus on helping families grow and thrive.

 

To find out more about the SPED Strong Tribes program and how you can help us raise the funds we need to start creating local tribes that will strengthen families, check out our Fundrazr campaign.

 

For more information on the five basic foundations we will be building into our new SPED Strong Tribes, check out all the blogs in this series:
Homeschooling Families Strengthened by Togetherness
Homeschooling Families Strengthened by Respite and Opportunities
Homeschooling Families Strengthened by Networking
Homeschooling Families Strengthened by Growth

 

Did you know SPED Homeschool is 100% donor funded? 

Donate today

(all donations are tax-deductible)

 

 

Please follow and like us:


By Amy Vickrey, MSE

When I went into business for myself a few years ago, the key to success was networking. Finding other business owners who could refer to you and you would refer to in return. Networking takes a lot of time to establish relationships and build trust with others. However, over time, networking builds great business relationships.

 

Homeschooling a special needs child is very similar to starting a business. While it doesn’t necessarily take a “village” to raise a child, parenting and homeschooling a child with special needs is much easier when you have a quality network of people you can trust and rely on. From restaurants and playgroups to doctors and therapists, your entire network is vital to helping your child and you succeed. You just can’t homeschool a special needs child well all alone.

 

In our own daily lives, we work to be consistent and build relationships everywhere we go and in all that we do. From the restaurants we eat in (who know us by name), to the therapists and doctors we see, we have worked to build relationships and select people and places that are supportive of our homeschooling efforts and lifestyle. 

 

For some families establishing these networks are easier than others. Within the next few years, it is the goal of SPED Homeschool, through our new SPED Strong Tribes program, to do much of this legwork for special needs homeschooling families as our tribes grow in local communities. Eventually, we envision a new special needs homeschooling family will be able to join their local SPED Strong tribe and instantly be able to find all the resources they need through that group.

 

 

But, even while SPED Homeschool is still in the fundraising phase of developing SPED Strong Tribes, here are some tips for working to build your NETWORK:

 

N – New 
Look for new opportunities and recommendations to expand your network. This keeps people from being overburdened and preserves relationships.

E – Encourage 

Encourage a relationship of asking questions and open communication within your network. This will keep surprises from creeping up.

 

T – Teach
When you come across someone who has little experience but a heart to learn, take the time to teach them. These can be some of your biggest allies down the road.

 

W – Work 
Work with your Allies. Build relationships with doctors, therapists, community members, members of your church, and other people you interact with so that you have someone who knows you and can speak on your behalf in the event it is needed.

 

O – Open 
Be open with people. If something is not working, say so. This will keep communication and relationships intact.

R – Respite

Plan for time for you and for others to be able to have breaks.

 

K – Keep it Open
Be willing to accept others into your circle who are needing these same things. There will be mutual understanding when one of you is having a bad day.

 

 

As I stated above, SPED Homeschool is working towards bringing networking opportunities to families that homeschool special needs children. SPED Strong Tribes will be local groups that will allow families to gather together and recommend trusted local resources to streamline the process for families to find quality professionals and businesses to help with their homeschooling efforts.

 

Giving Tuesday is a day nonprofits like SPED Homeschool ask for public support through donations so they can continue to provide services AND to raise additional funds for new projects. This Giving Tuesday, we at SPED Homeschool are focusing our fundraising towards this new SPED Strong Tribes program. By contributing to this campaign, together we can build stronger families. 

Visit the SPED Homeschool’s SPED Strong Tribes campaign at www.fundrazr.com/spedstrong

 

For more information on the five basic foundations we will be building into our new SPED Strong Tribes, check out all the blogs in this series:
Homeschooling Families Strengthened by Togetherness
Homeschooling Families Strengthened by Respite and Opportunities
Homeschooling Families Strengthened by Networking
Homeschooling Families Strengthened by Growth

 

Did you know SPED Homeschool is 100% donor funded? 

Donate today

(all donations are tax-deductible)

 

Please follow and like us:


By Peggy Ployhar

When our family started our homeschooling journey it was because of the needs of my oldest child. In no way was I prepared or equipped to handle teaching my son who was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome only the month prior, nor did I fully understand how severe his depression was, but I knew in my heart keeping him home to learn would keep my son from slipping any further away from me than he already had in his 8 months while attending private school.

Watch our story here.


This journey started 17 years ago for our family and through it, our entire family has dramatically changed. I would say for the better. Homeschooling is a hard road, but homeschooling a child with extra learning, emotional, social, and behavioral needs is also often an isolating and lonely journey. Some families are able to push through this isolation and build a small support community, but for others, the needs of their child(ren) create barriers too large to overcome on their own.

 

 

Opportunity Complications
As I described in the video above, our family created our own support and many families can create their own tribe if they dedicate a good amount of time and energy to the task. But for families who homeschool children with a more complicated diagnosis or family dynamics, the solution for finding time to rest and opportunities to do activities and develop relationships are not as simple as pulling a few families together to create community. Instead, these families must rely on someone else to do the support legwork for them. Otherwise, they just continue the journey alone as best they can.

 

I would like to introduce you two homeschooling families who have been part of SPED Homeschool since we launched our nonprofit in 2017. SPED Homeschool board member Elaine Carmichael and SPED Homeschool team member Shanel Tarrant-Simone. Both of these hard-working homeschooling parents are mothers of boys on the more complicated end of the autism spectrum.

 

Elaine shares her story here about how after homeschooling her typical children for many years in a loving and nurturing co-op, her support system crumbled as her youngest son’s needs grew greater.


Further on in this same interview, Elaine also shared that even though her son just turned 18 this past year, there really is no place for her family to turn for the respite and help; respite she and her husband need and buddy opportunities so her son can have experiences similar to other kids and young adults his age. 
 


When I emailed Elaine last week to ask her some questions about the hurdles they face with integrating into their community and what it would mean to her family and her son Aaron to have reliable respite and buddy opportunities, here is how she answered my questions:


Q: How difficult is going out in public with Aaron? What roadblocks are a constant hindrance?

A: “Roadblocks are sights & sounds that overwhelm Aaron which most of us take for granted because they don’t bother us or we can ignore them.”

Q: In what ways does bringing Aaron out in public without help hinder your family’s ability to integrate into society?

A: “Having an extra set of hands can be a tremendous help. Aaron will try to run if he is uncomfortable with a situation.”

Q: How could having a consistent, trained, and caring buddy/helper for Aaron improve your family’s ability to participate in your community?

A: “It would be helpful to have “buddies” to come alongside us to allow us to go to dr appts, date nights, to a Bible class together, or both be able to be involved with choir & music rehearsals and worship services at the same time. Those are just a few. Maybe even be able to attend activities of our older children and granddaughter, knowing Aaron was enjoying good company.”


Q: Why did you choose to homeschool despite knowing the school could have helped provide some respite or buddy opportunities for you and Aaron?

A: “We continued homeschooling Aaron after his siblings graduated from homeschool. We felt it was still a calling God has given us. We had also heard many stories of the struggles families had with public schooling their special needs kids.”

 

Q: What else would you share with families/individuals about the advantages of homeschooling Aaron?
A: “We have the advantage of setting our own schedule, especially with dr appts and therapies taking time in a day. We can work around our son’s poor sleep schedule. We don’t have to concern with bullying or teachers who don’t understand Aaron’s needs.”

 

In the same way, but with even greater demands upon her time and resources, SPED Homeschool team member Shanel has raised and homeschooled her nonverbal autistic twin sons as a single mother. Shanel deals with similar issues as Elaine in caring for her boys who also just recently turned 18, but an added stress to her life is the sad truth that as a single-parent she often walks this road almost completely alone.


Opportunity Possibilities
SPED Homeschool understands a special needs homeschooling family’s need for respite and opportunities intimately because we have experienced those same needs within most of our own family’s homeschooling journeys. It breaks our hearts every time we have a new member join our Facebook support group asking for help in connecting them to local resources and not having anywhere to send them.


But we are not satisfied with providing just an online support for these families we have a heart to serve. We instead want to meet their greater needs and develop local support groups in communities throughout the United States through a program we are calling SPED Strong Tribes. These tribes will focus on filling 5 basic needs: togetherness, respite, opportunities, networking, and growth. Each of these components are being covered in blogs this week before our campaign to increase awareness of the essential nature of each in supporting special needs homeschooling families.

 

To learn more about the SPED Strong Tribes campaign and how you can help build stronger special education homeschooling families by partnering with us in this campaign, click here.

 

We have also created this simple video to explain the whole program. 

Thank you for sharing this information and partnering with us to help our isolated families get the respite and opportunities they so greatly desire and need.

For more information on the five basic foundations we will be building into our new SPED Strong Tribes, check out all the blogs in this series:
Homeschooling Families Strengthened by Togetherness
Homeschooling Families Strengthened by Respite and Opportunities
Homeschooling Families Strengthened by Networking
Homeschooling Families Strengthened by Growth

 

Did you know SPED Homeschool is 100% donor funded? 

Donate today

(all donations are tax-deductible)

 

Please follow and like us:


By Debbi L. White

As I write, I am sitting in my mother’s condominium, while she is in the hospital recovering from pneumonia. I left my home when she was admitted nine days ago to come care for her and her dog. After being on a ventilator for four days, she’s began breathing on her own again, but it looks as though she may never return to her beloved home.

 

Going back and forth from home to hospital, caring for Mom and the pup, and making life-altering decisions has left me drained — emotionally and physically. With my only sibling a thousand miles away, I have carried this weight alone. Almost. Some dear friends and an extended family member have come alongside me with encouraging words, meals, and an occasional hug. 

 


Needing Togetherness
The Word states that “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor; If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10a)

 

Most of us who chose to homeschool our children are independent by nature, strong people, and very family-oriented. Parents of children with special needs have additional factors which may further alienate us from family and friends — even other homeschooling families.

 

But, God did not create us to make this journey alone. In His Word, we are encouraged to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). But how do we get the help we need when there doesn’t seem to be any to accept? Plus, how do we, who are independent by nature, share our struggles! 



Finding Togetherness

When our family began homeschooling in the late 1980’s, we were the first family in our county to do so. My husband pastored a small church which consisted mainly of senior citizens. I already felt isolated, but when we made the decision to homeschool, I felt further ostracized. My love for my children and my conviction that they could be best educated at home propelled my dedication. I began writing letters to the editors of local papers declaring the viability of homeschooling. Families started contacting me for information. I also heard from homeschooling families in other counties. We came together to form a small support group and began meeting to share field trips and play dates. It boosted my confidence and emotional well-being tremendously, as well as provided my daughters with community. We were blessed by reaching and finding others who needed community as much as we did.

 

I don’t relish this challenge of “walking through the valley of the shadow of death” with my mother. I would much prefer taking meals and sending cards to others who walk this path. However, those who have walked this road before me are best equipped to minister to me at this time. They have the empathy that only previous experience can give. Oh, how I value their help in carrying this burden and their encouragement and prayers!

 

 

Creating Togetherness
SPED Homeschool recognizes how unique the need is for fellowship within the special needs homeschooling community. We have walked this path ahead of you. This is why we are endeavoring to create local support groups designed specifically to minister to the needs of your entire family.

 

This new program is called SPEDStrong Tribes. Next week, we’ll be raising funds so we can start the process of creating the framework for these local groups. Through SPEDStrong Tribe groups, families who live in close proximity and who homeschool children with any type of special need will be able to come together and share life’s ups and downs as a loving and supportive community.

 

We need your help to make SPEDStrong Tribes a reality. The funds we are raising on Giving Tuesday for this new program will be used to consolidate and build the structure and infrastructure needed to make duplicating these groups across the United States (and hopefully beyond) a seamless task.

 

To find out more on how you can help us develop local support groups for special needs homeschooling families visit our SPEDStrong Tribes Giving Tuesday campaign and keep SPED Homeschool in your prayers. 

 

 

Maintaining Togetherness
God’s means and methods are infinite for both the needs of our organization as well as for your family. Together let us seek His wisdom and guidance for meeting all our needs, as we ask Him to show us all how we can lighten the load for one another.

 

We are stronger together!

 

 

For more information on the five basic foundations we will be building into our new SPED Strong Tribes, check out all the blogs in this series:
Homeschooling Families Strengthened by Togetherness
Homeschooling Families Strengthened by Respite and Opportunities
Homeschooling Families Strengthened by Networking
Homeschooling Families Strengthened by Growth
 

 

Did you know SPED Homeschool is 100% donor funded? 

Donate today

(all donations are tax-deductible)

 

Please follow and like us:

By Debbi L. White

Establishing annual family traditions builds security in children. It makes memories but does more than that. It creates a family culture that helps formulate its identity, which is important to our children as they grow into independent individuals. Family traditions help our children know who they are and where they come from.

 


Importance of Family Traditions in my Childhood

When my brother Jimmy and I awoke early on Christmas morning, there were matching pajamas and stockings stuffed with gifts at the foot of our beds. The night before we had been given firm instructions to change into our new pj’s and to quietly go through our stockings until the sun came up. (Those were very slow, grueling hours!) Although the contents of our stockings changed each year, we could always count on finding an orange and a silver dollar in the toe.

 

At the hint of daybreak, we were allowed to awaken our parents. However, we were not to enter the living room or even peek down the hall! While Dad set up the movie camera and lights, Mom combed our hair and made sure we were presentable. When the signal was given, we ran down the hall and began tearing into the piles of gifts!

 

Every summer we vacationed in Ocean City, Maryland for a week. We always stayed at the Hastings Miramar hotel on the boardwalk. Dad would spend the days on the pier fishing, and Mom went to the beach. My brother and I could decide which place we would rather go. After late afternoon baths, we would all go to the hotel dining room and sit at our assigned table for the evening meal. That was always followed by a stroll down the boardwalk for rides, games, and treats.

 

My parents separated when I was 10 and Jimmy was 8. These family traditions are among the cherished memories of my childhood.

 

 

Importance of Family Traditions for My Children
After my husband and I had children, I thought it important to establish our own traditions. I wanted to build structure not only in my daughters’ days but also in their years. I desired that they feel a strong sense of unity as a family, and be able to look forward to various events that we created annually.

 

When our firstborn outgrew the hand-me-down baby clothes that had been given to us, I began making her toddler clothes. This was done as much out of love as it was out of necessity. However, after our second daughter arrived, there was little time to sew, so I became more of a bargain shopper. I didn’t want to totally give up sewing, though, so I continued to make their dresses for Christmas and Easter. Fortunately for me, the girls loved lots of ruffles and ribbons and lace! When they got a little older, they would help pick out the patterns and fabric. It was such fun! That became a tradition that continued into their teens.

 

Being in the ministry, we did not live near any family. Sometimes relatives joined us for the holidays, but if not, we would invite folks from the community – especially for Thanksgiving. My husband had insisted early in our marriage that I make pie crusts from scratch. That was a bitter pill for me to swallow, but it didn’t take long to master the skill. The day before Thanksgiving was spent pie making. Everyone got to suggest their favorite pie, so it was not unusual to make 9-11 pies! The girls helped, of course!

 

There was plenty of pie so we could have some for Thursday breakfast as we tore bread for stuffing, and watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. As the table was set, three pieces of candy corn were put on each plate. Every person had to tell at least three things they were thankful for before we began eating. Several years I gave pieces of paper to each family member prior to the meal so that they would have time to reflect on what they were especially thankful for that year. I’ve held on to those papers, and they’ve become precious keepsakes as well as reminders of what transpired in years past and what my daughters prioritized.

 

Certain decorations, music, and movies can be incorporated into annual celebrations. My daughters enjoyed watching Rudolph while decorating the Christmas tree. We always got a real tree, usually on Black Friday. There was a certain order it had to be decorated in, too!

 

Christmas Eve we rode around and looked at the lights, came home and had hot chocolate and opened one gift. The next morning I always had prepared a special Christmas Tree Danish which we ate while reading the Christmas story. (Some years the girls acted it out.) Then we took turns going around opening one gift at a time, first from the stockings, and then from under the tree. A traditional gift was a special ornament for each daughter commemorating something from that year. (I wanted to start a collection of ornaments for them to take with them when they started their own homes.)

 

My parents took my brother and me to Ocean City every year for our annual vacation, and I carried on that tradition with my daughters. Instead of staying at the old hotel on the boardwalk, we established the tradition of staying at the Plaza, a condo that has indoor and outdoor pools. Because we homeschooled, we were able to get discounted rates after Labor Day each year, and the crowds were thinner, too! My daughters are now grown and married and live in different states, but they make it a priority to return to the Plaza every September.

 

Unfortunately, our family was broken when the girls were young, as was mine. But the family traditions continued and gave them security in things that we could keep the same.

 

 

Importance of Family Traditions in Your Family
The possibilities for creating your own family traditions are endless and can range from simplistic to extravagant. If you’ve not yet established holiday traditions, check out Pinterest, or books on the subject. Two books that have been an asset to me in establishing traditions are Gloria Gaither and Shirley Dobson’s Let’s Make a Memory and Thanksgiving A Time to Remember by Barbara Rainey. Ask friends what they do, or just powwow and brainstorm with your family. It’s never too late to start creating memories that will last a lifetime.

 

Did you know SPED Homeschool is 100% donor funded? 

Donate today

(all donations are tax-deductible)

 

Please follow and like us:


By Cheryl Swope, M.Ed.

In some circles the word “curriculum” is anathema. It is far better, this thinking asserts, to take a relaxed approach to education, to teach a la carte, or to let the child decide what and when to study. We must not be “dogmatic.”

 

Different children must study different things—or so we begin to believe. We should not determine what is good for them to read or even to know.

 

It runs like this: all men are different; therefore, all men require a different education; therefore, anybody who suggests that their education should be in any respect the same has ignored the fact that all men are different; therefore, nobody should suggest that everybody should read some of the same books; some people should read some books, some should read others.

 

This dogma has gained such a hold on the minds of American educators that you will now often hear a college president boast that his college has no curriculum. Each student has a course of study framed, or ‘tailored’ is the usual word, to meet his own individual needs and interests.

 

We should not linger long in discussing the question of whether a student at the age of eighteen [or six or eleven] should be permitted to determine the actual content of his education for himself …. Educators ought to know better than their pupils what an education is.¹

 


Nourishing Children
Some of us remember our mothers or grandmothers who prepared, like clockwork, well-rounded meals with good sources of proteins, vegetables, and bone-building foods on our plates. We did not always like our food, but we ate. No debating, begging, or whining. No placing individual meal orders. We dined with both portions and nutrients predetermined, and we were nourished. Not only were we nourished by the food, but also by the conversations that accompanied the food.

 

Postmodern-parenting experts advise, by contrast, that if a child does not like the nutritious food he has been given, he should not be compelled to eat it. Let him choose. He knows best. How well is this working?

 

Many of us see young parents chasing their children around the house with “hidden” nutrients in squeezable green cartoon-character packets. Children and their parents seem exhausted and frustrated. Young children often eat large amounts of sugar, fast food, and empty calories, while learning little more than that they can control their parents at least three times daily.

 

Often it is the same with our school days, even among homeschooling families: Children are not compelled to complete their studies if they do not like them. Like full plates of uneaten food in the trash, stacks of uncompleted homeschool resources fill the homes of homeschoolers. Sometimes these were purchased by the same parents who once said, “I cannot afford a full curriculum.”

 

Perhaps rather than cost, the real driving force behind curriculum decisions is this: As parents, we don’t truly believe we should impose extrinsic standards. We scorn a prepared curriculum, even if it is one brimming with purposeful enculturation, the highest quality teaching resources, and classic literature. We trade this for largely hands-on projects, splashy entertainment, or following the child’s lead. When we do this, what is being lost is our communal, cultural birthright—the accumulated wealth of knowledge, beauty, and reason that a curriculum is intended to pass down to a student.

 


Different, Yet the Same
Learning differences of mind and body may necessitate more intentional teaching strategies, or a different pacing, but we can modify without compromising content. We need not let the child’s differences diminish the richness of his studies. We can reaffirm our devotion to an education founded upon our common humanity.

 

All men are different; but they are also the same. If any common program is impossible, if there is no such thing as an education that everybody ought to have, then we must admit that any community is impossible ….²

 

Let every child hear Charlotte’s Web to learn the beautiful art of self-sacrifice. Let him “live inside” the Little House books to understand duty to family, hard work, and appreciation for simple joys. Let him grow into greater works that will fill his days and his mind.

 

More than this, let him hear and learn Holy Scripture, for “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?” (Romans 10:14, KJV)

 


A Curriculum for Community
A shared curriculum creates community. Community among those with special needs is not only possible; it is essential. Everything starts with the understanding that all children are similar. Hyper-individualization based on perceived differences or immature preferences will serve no one well, least of all the child himself. Let us read the same books, sing the same songs, and hear the same stories to the greatest extent possible.

 

In view of the urgent need for unity and community, it does not seem an exaggeration to say that the present crisis calls first of all for an education that shall emphasize those respects in which men are the same, rather than those in which they are different. [We need] an education that draws out our common humanity rather than our individuality. Individual differences can be taken into account in the methods that are employed.³

 

With a return to the intent of education, the Simply Classical Curriculum seeks to bring educational nourishment to children who may need modifications, yet whose humanity begs for the common truth, goodness, and beauty needed by all.

 

 

Did you know SPED Homeschool is 100% donor funded? 

Donate today

(all donations are tax-deductible)

1 Hutchins, Robert M. with Adler, Mortimer. The Great Conversation, Britannica Great Books (University of Chicago, 1952), 49.
2 Ibid, 50.
3 Ibid, 50-51.

This article first appeared in the free publication, Simply Classical Journal. Reprinted with author’s permission.

Looking a Curriculum Rich in stories, multi-sensory strategies, and gentle pacing? See the new Simply Classical Special-Needs Curriculum, twice voted #1 for Special Learners (OldSchoolhouse Magazine).

Please follow and like us:


By Tracy Glockle

We all want our kids to enjoy reading, to know what it feels like to get lost in a book, but for many of our kids with disabilities and reading challenges this dream seems a pretty lofty one. While there is no one-size-fits-all for struggling readers, here are a few resources for helping your struggling reader to find books that he or she can enjoy.

 

Lexile Scores
Using the Lexile Score book finder tool, you can search for books that fit both your child’s interests and abilities. The book finder provides information about the book, targeted vocabulary based on your child’s reading ability, and the expected comprehension for that particular book. For more information on how to use Lexile, read Using Lexile Scores to Help your Struggling Reader.

 

Ebooks
For some kids, the challenge of reading lies in being able to track the words across the page and from line to line. As reading levels get progressively challenging, the words shrink on the page, and pages are filled with more and more text. Visually, this can be a real challenge for our struggling readers. Ebooks offer a simple solution.

 

Ebooks, in all of their different formats and devices, allow the reader to adjust the font size, the background, and various other settings. In this way, the child can adjust the words on the page to fit his comfort level while attempting a more challenging reading level. Additionally, some ebook resources, like Bookshare, also provide a gradient text that changes colors from line to line, allowing your child to more easily track from one line to the next.

 

 

Audiobooks
As parents and educators, we tend to think of eye-reading as the only form of reading. While it’s a great goal to get our children reading books for themselves, there is also tremendous value in ear-reading or audiobooks. The elements of a story, the skills of comprehension, and the nuances of language can all be taught with an audiobook. There is also an advantage to separating these skills from the skill of eye-reading, allowing your child to work one skill area at a time.

 

Your local library can be a great resource for finding audiobooks. Additionally, check out these other websites and resources:

 

 

Genres
Don’t underestimate the importance of introducing different genres. Just as we wouldn’t assume that a child that hates one vegetable will hate them all, we can’t assume that a child that hates one type of book will hate them all. Some children prefer fantasy, getting lost in a different world or time; but for other children, particularly those with reading challenges, the foreignness of a fantasy world can add to the challenge of reading and understanding. Try realistic fiction, nonfiction, or historical fiction from a time that your child especially enjoys.

 

When introducing a new genre, choose a book slightly below your child’s reading level. Make it as accessible as possible until the child’s interest is piqued. Once your child finds a genre he or she really likes, your child will be more willing to attempt a higher reading level. But be sure to baby step and take one challenge at a time.

 

Just because a child has dyslexia or another reading challenge, doesn’t mean that child can’t enjoy the world of literature and great books. Our kids can still get lost in a book, but we may have to adjust our expectations of what that looks like.

 

Did you know SPED Homeschool is 100% donor funded? 

Donate today

(all donations are tax-deductible)

 

Please follow and like us:


By Tracy Criswell

It’s a question that has plagued me since starting back with homeschooling our four children: “Am I doing enough?” This summer our family has dealt with three surgeries (benign tumor removal for my husband, having all four wisdom teeth removed for my oldest son and a spinal fusion for my oldest daughter), jury duty, lack of income (I couldn’t do my summer job because I needed to be home to take care of my family), and trying to get ready for a new homeschool year. This has been the toughest start to our homeschool year in eight years.

 

 

A Rough Start
We decided to start homeschooling the Tuesday after Labor Day this year. I thought this would be better for our family so we could see how my oldest daughter was going to handle her recovery from surgery as well as help her siblings get started with their dual enrolled classes at our local schools. This was a good idea, but as soon as we started homeschooling I felt overwhelmed. I felt like I was being pulled in many different directions, and then the question started to pop up, “Am I doing enough?”

 

You see once we started homeschooling, we had to make time for three different band practices (youngest daughter goes weekly, youngest son goes every other morning, and oldest daughter goes every day), three different band lessons every other week, appointments for my middle two to see a therapist weekly for their anxiety, orthodontist appointments, appointment with the psychiatrist that did a new evaluation for my oldest daughter, vision therapy appointments, doctor appointment to recheck on medication for anxiety, in addition to homeschooling. 


One Day at a Time

I don’t write my lesson plans in advance (except for my oldest son because he is very independent) because I never know what’s going to happen from day-to-day. All four of my children have different abilities and needs. Trying to meet all of these needs can be a struggle. But his past weekend, I discovered a pattern in our lesson plans. Every other week is chaotic because it seems that band lessons, homeschool visits (we have a supervising teacher come to our house every other week), and certain doctors appointments happen during this time. So I have come to the conclusion that on crazy weeks, I will do the best that I can for my children and teach them as much as I can at home and in the van. On the weeks that are not so chaotic, I will use that time to help them get caught up on school work that we are behind on. It has also helped that my husband has provided support with helping make supper, being a good listener to me (sometimes it’s important to just tell someone how you feel and what is happening during homeschooling), and taking the kids to an activity so I can have some quiet time for myself and time to get caught up on my paperwork. This has helped a lot.

 

Other Strategies
In addition to having my husband’s support and assistance, I have found other things that have helped me in keeping the, “Am I doing enough?” thought at bay. These are additional strategies and tools that I have used to help me:

  • Decide which 3 subjects to do every day no matter what.
  • Write down what has been accomplished each day. This provides a visual of what we’ve completed as well as what we need to work on more.
  • Use videos as supplements for different subject areas (science, social studies, literature, etc.)
  • Use read alouds or audio books as a family to learn a subject topic further
  • Supplement field trips, library activities, volunteer opportunities, etc. as part of learning
  • Give and receive grace
  • Ask for help from friends, family, etc.

 


More Than Enough

It is important to remember that at one time or another, I am sure we have asked ourselves, “Am I doing enough?” The answer is, “Yes, I am doing enough.” I am providing a homeschool education that meets my children’s unique needs and abilities. I am teaching them life skills and how I want them to treat others. We all go through different seasons in our lives. I have definitely encountered a new season in our family’s life as well. It’s just filled with doctor’s appointments, therapy appointments, dual enrollment classes, tumbling, scouting, 4-H, and many more.

 

Did you know SPED Homeschool is 100% donor funded? 

Donate today

(all donations are tax-deductible)

 

Please follow and like us: