By Peggy Ployhar, SPED Homeschool Founder & CEO

 

Are you starting your homeschooling journey this year? Then here are 20+ ready-made resources you can use to start homeschooling your struggling learner with confidence today.

 

9 Easy Steps to Start Homeschooling 

Ease into homeschooling by following these 9 easy steps.

 

How to Write a Homeschool IEP 

Free download and step-by-step instructions for writing a homeschool IEP.

 

Homeschool High School Checklist 

A checklist to ensure you know the essentials about homeschooling a struggling student through high school.

 

At-Home Therapy Resources 

Learn from professional therapists on how to provide at-home therapy for your student by using this curated list of free online resources.

 

Use Routines to Build Your Student’s Learning Independence

How to create routines so your homeschool student becomes a more independent learner.

 

Motivate Your Student by Making Learning Fun

4 examples for motivating students to learn by adding fun to their homeschooling lessons.

 

How to Use Rewards as Positive Learning Motivators

Apply positive learning motivators into your homeschool setting.

 

Building Resilience in Children with Autism 

Strategies for homeschooling a student who struggles with anxiety or sensory issues.

 

Using Workboxes to Support Independent Learning

Learn how to plan for independent learning times during your homeschool day by using workboxes for your students.

 

Online Assessment Tools to Evaluate Your Struggling Learner

30 free online assessment tools parents can use to evaluate various types of learning struggles.

 

Reinforcing Homeschool Learning Through Play

Gain an understanding of the skills, stages, and ways you can support your student’s learning growth through play.

 

Simple Homeschool Organization Ideas

3 simple examples of how to organize your homeschool assignments, schedule, and work spaces.

 

20 Fall Learning Activities for Your Homeschool

Use these activities to add some fun and seasonal flair to your homeschool.

 

How to Start Homeschooling Kindergarten with a Special Needs Child 

6 steps that break down the basics of homeschooling kindergarten when you don’t know where to start.

 

What Your Child Needs to Know by First Grade

Use these lists and resources to evaluate your student’s readiness for first grade homeschooling materials.

 

30+ Active Learning Ideas

Make learning active for your wiggly kids by using these suggested activities.

 

DIY Occupational Therapy Ideas

Learn how to DIY occupational therapy at home to help your students reach their therapy goals.

 

Tips for Homeschooling Active Kids 

7 strategies parents can use when homeschooling an active child.

 

10 Free Hands-On Unit Studies

Use one of these free unit studies to teach your hands-on learner.

 

Slow & Steady: The Key to Homeschool Success 

Homeschool success doesn’t happen overnight, but it happens when you follow these 5 simple steps.

 

Am I the Best Teacher for My Child?

We all ask ourselves this question, and here is the answer you need to be reminded of as you homeschool your struggling learner.

 

Popular Special Needs Homeschooling Acronyms

Understand the meanings and homeschool applications for the most commonly used special needs acronyms.

 

To find more free resources for homeschooling your struggling learner, check out our Homeschool Help page. Plus, subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter and receive updates on events and special offers.

 

Twinkl and their home education team featured this blog among their Best Home Education Bloggers list.

 

 

 

 

 


Did you enjoy this article?

Support the ongoing work of

SPED Homeschool

Donate Today

 

 

By Natalie Vecchione, SPED Homeschool Partner FASD Hope

 

(Excerpts from the new book “Blazing New Homeschool Trails: Educating and Launching Teens with Developmental Disabilities” by Natalie Vecchione and Cindy LaJoy and shared with permission from authors.)

 

As a mom of a now young adult with a developmental disability, I understand the journey of how difficult it can be to start planning the future for a teen who is not headed towards post-homeschooling academia. With a diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), our son would have struggled in college or technical school. Homeschooling taught our family that our son learned best in a 1:1 setting. Once we realized  our son’s gifts and skills in woodworking and carpentry, we first considered the more conventional ways for him to learn this as a trade. He tried trade school, working in commercial workshops, and even having placements through Vocational Rehabilitation. On paper, these looked like optimal opportunities for learning. However, none of those options was a good fit for our son. 

 

Vocational programs and trade school environments generally are a hard fit for our teens and young adults with brain-based diagnoses (such as FASD). Overstimulating environments, being easily influenced by smoking, vaping, or any other substances on the site, and being unable to keep up at the class pace were all contributing factors to being a poor fit. We tried several different options before realizing that the best way that our son would learn his trade was through an old-fashioned apprenticeship. I’d like to share why we chose an apprenticeship and how we did it since neither my husband nor I are carpenters or woodworkers.

 

The Path to Apprenticeship

By definition, an apprenticeship is “an arrangement in which someone learns an art, trade or job under another”. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary) The history of apprenticeship dates back to ancient times when young people would work with a master craftsman in exchange for room and board and formal training in their craft. The more formal system of apprenticeships developed in Europe during the Middle Ages and soon was under the supervision of craft guilds, trade unions, or town governments. In early America, apprenticeships were common during the colonial era and developed into a necessary part of craft and trade industries.** (Britannica.com

 

As the United States developed into a modernized and industrialized nation, the nature of apprenticeships changed from less of a learning experience to more of a work experience. Today, teens as young as 16 may begin formal apprenticeships as part of their education, and homeschooling made that a great option for our son. However, since many trades require a high school diploma, most teens and young adults start their apprenticeships after graduation and/or through trade schools.

 

The Perfect Partnership

Our son was blessed to have two apprenticeship teachers while homeschooling. How did we find these wonderful apprenticeship teachers? I researched, cold-called, and emailed about 50 local woodworkers and carpenters in our area. I put together an introductory email explaining a little bit about our family, homeschooling, and our son’s journey. Out of those fifty contacted woodworkers and carpenters, four replied, and through God’s orchestration, we were blessed with our son’s current apprenticeship teacher.

 

Our son graduated from homeschool last year, but he continues to apprentice with his current apprenticeship teacher, whom he has been with for over two years. That’s the beauty of apprenticeship and homeschooling – learning doesn’t stop even when the homeschooling journey is complete.  Our son’s apprenticeship teachers understood about teaching with fewer steps, concrete examples, and learning at our son’s own pace. In fact, his apprenticeship teacher taught our son in a way that he thrived and which still surprises us! Through a 1:1 apprenticeship, our son developed a bond with his teacher, which built his confidence and nurtured his strengths. 

 

The Perks of Apprenticeship Training

There are SO many benefits in having your older teen / young adult, who learns differently, in experiencing an apprenticeship during their homeschool years including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Experiential learning in an environment that can accommodate your teen’s needs
  • Learning “old school” tips and strategies in a trade or skill
  • Having the opportunity to ask questions and learn at the student’s pace
  • Having the opportunity to build social skills and connection with the apprenticeship teacher
  • Creating a flexible schedule that works with your family’s homeschool routines
  • Providing the apprenticeship teacher with the opportunity to learn about your child’s needs or diagnosis
  • Working on long-term projects
  • Out-of-the-box opportunities for experiential learning

 

Finally, a good apprenticeship teacher can be a blessing for your teen because they can be not only a mentor but an example of someone who will embrace your student for the amazing person that God created him or her to be!

 

(Excerpts from the book “Blazing New Homeschool Trails” © 2021 by Natalie Vecchione and Cindy LaJoy)

 

 

 

 

 


Did you enjoy this article?

Support the ongoing work of

SPED Homeschool

Donate Today

 

 

By Peggy Ployhar, SPED Homeschool Founder & CEO

 

Have you ever looked at an acronym only to have to put it into your favorite search engine to come up with its correct meaning? When I first started homeschooling my son on the spectrum 19 years ago, I was completely oblivious to what most special needs/education acronyms meant.

 

I have learned a lot since that first year of homeschooling kindergarten and I I hope the list below will be helpful in your special needs homeschooling journey and when reading the articles on the SPED Homeschool website, listening or watching one of our many podcasts or videos, or viewing my weekly live broadcast, Empowering Homeschool Conversations.

 

To provide you with some additional help, the acronyms and definitions below have links that will take you to SPED Homeschool resources that further explain the acronym or a homeschooling situation where the topic applies.

 

AAC – Assistive Augmented Communication

ABA – Applied Behavior Analysis

ACT – American College Testing

ADA – Americans with Disabilities Act

ADD – Attention Deficit Disorder

ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

ADL – Activities for Daily Living

ADP – Auditory Processing Disorder

ASD – Autism Spectrum Disorder

ASL – American Sign Language

AT – Assistive Technology

AYP – Adequate Yearly Progress

BIP – Behavior Intervention Plan

CBA – Curriculum-Based Assessment

CD – Cognitive Delay

CP – Cerebral Palsy

DD – Developmental Disability

DS – Down Syndrome

ESY – Extended School Year

FAS – Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

IEE – Individual Education Evaluation

IEP – Individual Education Plan

IFSP – Individualized Family Service Plan

LD – Learning Disability

ODD – Oppositional Defiant Disorder

OT – Occupational Therapy

PBSP – Positive Behavior Support Plan

PDD – Pervasive Development Disorder

PLEP – Present Level of Educational Performance

PLOP – Present Level of Performance

PT – Physical Therapy

SAT – Scholastic Aptitude Test

SDI – Specially Designed Instruction

SEP – Student Education Plan 

SLP – Speech Language Pathology

SPD – Sensory Processing Disorder

 

I hope this list has not only helped you with understanding these terms, but has helped you in applying this knowledge in homeschooling your unique learner.

 

To keep learning on your homeschooling journey, subscribe to our newsletter and tune into our weekly broadcast.

 

 

 

 


Did you enjoy this article?

Support the ongoing work of

SPED Homeschool

Donate Today

 

 

By Renee Sullins, SPED Homeschool Partner Renee Sullins Consulting

 

Many years ago, apprenticeships were the norm to learn a trade from a dad, mom, neighbor, family friend, or local business person. For some reason, Little House on the Prairie comes to mind. Today, society leans more towards internships for young people – paid or non-paid – designed to help a young person see firsthand IF this is the path one might want to take professionally. Notice that I stressed the “IF”. Just ask a parent who has invested thousands of dollars in their child’s college education, only to have them change their major, tacking on more years of tuition to complete the new degree path. Or, ask a man or woman who graduated with a degree and then shortly afterward realizes they are miserable in their chosen career path. Internships and volunteering can be helpful tools to aid in thwarting off ‘the regrets.’ 

 

Let’s take Pedro, for example. He was a young man I started mentoring while he was in high school. He majored in Biomedical Sciences (BIMS) at a prestigious university. He knew this degree path would prepare him to fulfill his childhood dream to become a doctor. He worked diligently to make the necessary exemplary grades to later get into graduate school. During this last semester, he had multiple internships with doctors and in various medical practices. However, his last internship was with a Physician’s Assistant. I distinctly remember his phone call to me, “I know this is what I want to do now!” Of course, he was surprised he wasn’t going to medical school as planned – I had even paid for him to take an MCAT prep course and the MCAT exam. But, he was so confident about this decision that I didn’t question it. Had it not been for that internship, he may have spent many years and tens of thousands of dollars on something he was not ‘called’ to do. 

 

Honestly, I think it is never too early to start your child volunteering. Parents have the opportunity to model this for their children as well. I was fortunate to have such parents – a mom who drove carpool, baked cookies for bake sales, mom and dad who gave tours at an historic park, grandparents who were always up at the church helping out, etc. Volunteering is a great expression of selfless service. Teens tend to be self-absorbed – not a criticism. It is just that time of their lives they are concerned with what others think, personal appearance, competing against peers, and having the most friends/followers/likes on social media. Do I hear you sighing? 

 

Encouraging your teen to volunteer gets them outside of themselves, which could set a lifetime habit of doing so as an adult. If they are talking about future college/career paths, then you have a double bonus if you can find a volunteer opportunity in a field that your teen seems to be curious about. The best way to do this is to let others know – lots of people – think outside the box. Better yet, have your teen do an internet search of businesses/organizations and reach out to them personally to ask to volunteer. Too many teens want to hide behind an email or text message. Note…”personal” is a phone call or in-person; harder for people to say no in person, I’ve learned. 

 

If you have a mature, responsible teenager, I would focus on having them ask for an “internship”. In probability, it will be non-paid, but as I mentioned earlier, this could potentially save you and your child a great deal of money, grief, stress, and/or regret in the not-so-distant future. 

 

I have young people ask me what should they say when they reach out to someone for help. In this case, helping is researching career paths and helping to build a well-rounded resume. My answer is to tell them exactly what you want, why you want it, and ask for it, then thank them. Works like a charm – confident expectation that you will get a “yes” from someone. They need to do this, not you. That’s a topic for another blog!

 

But, what if your son/daughter has a learning difference(s)? It is even MORE important to have them volunteer and/or seek an internship. The earlier, the better. I know that my daughter, who has ADHD, would suffer and be miserable if stuck indoors, in a cubicle, able to hear others’ conversations (she has sensory issues as well), and on a computer screen all day. There are certain jobs we know to cross off the list of career options. Perhaps they have social anxiety? Do they take a bit longer to process information? Do they need to work with their hands to learn effectively? You need to know what the obstacles and struggles are and work to match the best options. 

 

By all means, I never discourage young people from pursuing their dreams – but, I do make sure they are keenly aware of their skill sets, areas of giftedness, likes/dislikes, needs, and limitations. Perspective is not judgment. Proper perspective yields clarity. And clarity yields confidence. And confidence yields, well, happier/resourceful people. Every parent I’ve ever spoken with, no matter the concern or source of frustration, tells me that they simply want their child to be happy – and this is what I want for them as well.

 

BIO:

Renee Sullins, founder of Renee Sullins Coaching, is a Life and Health Coach, specializing in working with teens and college students. She can be reached for a complimentary consultation and for more information through her website: www.reneesullinscoaching.com 

 

 

 

 

 


Did you enjoy this article?

Support the ongoing work of

SPED Homeschool

Donate Today

 

 

by Melodie Sontag, SPED Homeschool community member

 

My first year of homeschooling was initiated by the public school’s response to COVID. My son was in 3rd grade and, following spring break, we started virtual learning through his elementary school. The assignments sent for the remainder of the year were simple homework suggestions. Grades 1 to 3 received the same assignments. We started supplementing with weekly science and math projects at home. Thinking this would be temporary, we finished 3rd grade this way. 

When we learned that the next fall would be virtual learning again, my husband and I knew something had to change if we wanted our son to get a decent 4th-grade education. Luckily, I have had contact with many homeschool families throughout my life. My youngest sister was homeschooled through middle and high school. My other sister has special needs children that she homeschools. In high school, I babysat for a family that homeschooled five children. My eldest son’s best friend homeschooled from 1st grade through graduation. I was able to ask these friends and family members many questions about the choices they made and get good advice on a variety of homeschool options. Some chose to buy textbooks and create their own syllabus and schedules. Some chose homeschool co-ops or pre-recorded classrooms with independent lessons that offered a classroom feel. Since my husband and I both work, we selected an online program that provided quick pre-recorded lessons and grading alongside independent projects. It turned out to be a great fit for our family. 

We started our days early with breakfast by 7:00 am and sat down for schoolwork by 7:30 or 8:00 am. This gave us almost two hours of school time before I went to work at 10. We tried to tackle the more challenging subjects first. If my son was with me at work, reading and free writing were encouraged. If he went to the grandparents’ or cousins’ houses, the focus was on physical or imaginative play. My husband completed his workday midafternoon and followed up on any uncompleted assignments.  Early on, we decided to limit TV time, gaming, video chats, and biking the neighborhood with friends until his daily work was done.  This was terrific motivation for my son.

We really enjoyed the variety of classes. In addition to core classes, our son had the option to take STEM classes such as engineering and coding, which were of great interest to him and not offered at his public school. He took his laptop with him to our work offices, on vacations and trips, and during time spent at the grandparents. The lessons were thorough and challenging without being frustrating. The projects were fun to do together. He will tell you the best part was that he did not have to sit through hours and hours of school. Overall, we completely enjoyed this opportunity to spend more time with him in a brand-new aspect of his life. Being a part of his educational journey at this level is priceless and we cannot imagine giving it up in the future.

 

 

 

 

 


Are you looking for homeschool curriculum?

Check out these

curriculum options 

 

 

Nancy van Loggerenberg, SPED Homeschool Partner Online Elementary Tutor

 

It seems like just YESTERDAY your child was born and TODAY he/she is getting ready to begin pre-K or Kindergarten.  If your child has special needs, or has struggled to reach milestones typical for their age, you know your child will struggle in a traditional-school setting. School is starting soon, and you have decided to homeschool your Pre-K or Kindergarten child. But how does a family homeschool a struggling child?

So, take a deep breath, say to yourself “I got this”, and read on to find the best way to start your homeschool.

 

Your Homeschool Law

If your state requires it, your first step should be to fill out your letter of intent to homeschool. Not sure of your state law? Check out this page on the SPED Homeschool website.

 

For Now Plan

Next is to decide on what kind of homeschool you envision. Create what I like to call your “For Now Plan”.  This is simply an outline of what YOU see working for YOUR family homeschool and it’s easy to do.  

First, on a piece of paper, write, in 1 sentence, what your homeschool looks like. For example: “My homeschool Kindergarten will formally (or informally) take place 5 days a week and will include reading and math with lots of opportunity to do art, games, and outdoor learning”

Next, write WHY you want your homeschool Kindergarten to look that way. For example: “My WHY is because I know ‘Tim’ will respond and sit with me to learn for short bursts, he loves being outside, and reading and math are the core subjects I feel comfortable teaching for now”.

 

Top 3 Resources

Then, do a little research on the SPED Homeschool website, Facebook groups, and Pinterest boards to find inspiration for the TOP 3 RESOURCES you would like to use to implement your mini-plan. For example:  Public Library, subscription boxes, and ABC Mouse.

 

Support Networks

After deciding on your resources, list three SUPPORT NETWORKS you can turn to when you run out of ideas or need some guidance. These could be a homeschool mentor, your local school, church community, a Facebook group,  a private tutor, or even a homeschooling consultant. Your support networks will grow and change as your child does, so just remember this is your FOR NOW PLAN and it is a simple and clear plan to begin homeschooling.  

 

Action Steps

Now it’s time to put your resources and your support networks to work by creating your “3 ACTION STEPS”. For example, it could look like this:  

  1. Get books from the library 
  2. Choose theme for the first 2 weeks
  3. Research what other parents are doing for their Homeschool Kindergarten curriculum in my Facebook group

 

Repeat as Necessary

Whenever something seems too technical or overwhelming to work through, it’s time to repeat your process to discover your new FOR NOW PLAN. Some parents find that, after creating and implementing their FOR NOW PLAN, new challenges present themselves. Hey, most of us did not go to college to become a teacher, so go easy on yourself. Many parents find that outsourcing their reading lesson to a private tutor helps ease some stress in covering ‘all the bases’.

What do you think? Are you going to implement your FOR NOW PLAN? 

You would be wise to come check out what KINDERGARTEN HOMESCHOOL could be like with a real teacher/tutor and learn about the 1 tool that will revolutionize your child’s digital portfolio. And if you have  

questions, you can get answers!   

Imagine your homeschool. Handled. Stress-free and messy, because yes, it will get messy, and that’s part of the process 

 

Feel like you need more help? Don’t hesitate to contact me on my website:  Ms. Nancy! Online Elementary Tutor: or sign up for my kindergarten webinar here.

No matter where you are in your process of starting homeschooling, enjoy the journey and the gift you have been given to teach your child!

 

 

 


Did you enjoy this article?

Support the on-going work of

SPED Homeschool

Donate Today

 

 

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

II Corinthians 12:9

by Daria Danielson, SPED Homeschool community member 

 

I went through a summer where every thought of the upcoming homeschool year was filled with dread. I put myself together as the weeks progressed and readied myself for my son’s 8th-grade year. The first week did not go well, and the second and the third weeks were stressful for both of us. The dread overcame me each Sunday night for the week to come and each evening for the day to come. I was in a bad place in my head and did not know what to do, so I laid my concerns, troubles, fears, complaints, and desperate pleas at the feet of Jesus with confession and wrestling. I confessed that this was impossible for me and that I was not designed for this. I confessed I could not do it, and if the Lord wanted me to do it, He would have to do it ALL.

 

How many failures do I have to have? How many fears? How stuck do I need to be? How many sins? How much hypocrisy and discontent do I need to have before I lay my concerns, fears, and frustrations down at the feet of Jesus Christ? The following discusses details of a few incidents where confession took place which eventually gave way to victory in Jesus. 

 

PRIDE

Surrounded by my family all day can result in words that are spoken, intentionally and unintentionally, that hurt feelings – including my own. One day I took the time to sit and think about why I was responding defensively on a subject and discovered that the reason for my defensive responses was that my pride was hurt. I was then able to bring my discovery of this to Jesus’s feet and repent of my pride and self-love. Much personal healing and victory have resulted from this discovery. Now, I talk with my children about pride and how it was so sneaky so they, too, can begin to look out for sneaky pride and self-love in their communication with others. Satan hates to be discovered and called out.

 

HYPOCRISY

Assuming I am not the only mom in the whole wide world that has this problem, I will venture to confess the burden of my failure to learn has been consistent. Yet while I write this, memories and thoughts of my annoyances with my children for not paying attention, forgetting, being lazy, and disobeying flood my mind. I have to say that I am so glad that God does not treat me with as much intolerance, irritability, and impatience as I have treated my children. He is a kind, patient, and gentle Savior.  I am no longer afraid to tell my children what areas I failed at as a kid. If I have to point out a sin of theirs and discuss it with them, it has been helpful to take a turn and confess my sins, too. It helps to be familiar with myself and my sins since I am no better than my child in God’s eyes. It has opened up more communication between the children and me. 

 

DISCONTENT

First, it started with an offense by a neighbor. Then, it grew in my mind to proportions that brought me to anger and bitterness. It was becoming burdensome to me as well as my friends. Even my teenage child noticed it was becoming a problem, so I confessed these before the Lord. I wrestled with the Lord because I knew I wanted to harbor my bitterness and anger but was not supposed to. There was difficulty in the work of exposing the sin and continuing to go to God, who is the only one who could free me from Satan’s stronghold and my desire to keep my pride and self-righteousness. It was worth the struggle because not only did God deal with my anger and bitterness, but He also revealed a more hidden sin which was that of discontent. I did not like how God allowed things to occur in my life (the offense by a neighbor) and that I was unhappy that things didn’t go my way. I discovered the more concealed sin that, bluntly put, was shaking my fist at God as if I knew better than God. 

 

THE WORLD CAN WAIT!  

Our children benefit a thousand times over if only we afford to step away and acknowledge the evil tendencies in our nature, spill out our concerns and fears, and run to a kind Savior that awaits our pathetic pleas. Unspeakable joy, light, fellowship, and open discussion with the children have been a wonderful result of this exercise of privately confessing and laying out all concerns, fears, hurts, and pain before great God. 

 

The dread-filled summer and school year of my son’s 8th-grade year were not fun at the time; however, it marked the beginning of an awesome and amazing journey of brokenness, submission, secret confession, faith, and fellowship with our humble Savior. 

 

Dear sisters, I cannot emphasize the wonderful salve a dear Savior applies to homeschool moms that cannot help but notice their secret sins mid-day and keep them captive until able to rush to the throne by laying them at the feet of Jesus with confession and wrestling! Too much joy is hidden, too much healing delayed, too much victory unseen, too much praise stifled when my sins are dismissed and not soon called out, caught, called by name, and confessed before God.

 

 

 

 

 


Did you enjoy this article?

Support the on-going work of

SPED Homeschool

Donate Today

 

 

 by Emily Wells, SPED Homeschool Community Member 

 

Like many of you, I am just a mom who did what I had to do so that my son could get the best education, so I am honored to write about our homeschooling journey. My son, Jackson, was diagnosed with Level 1 Autism just after his third birthday. It shocks some parents when they receive this diagnosis for their child. But I had nightmares that my son would not be diagnosed and I would not have the support he needed. His behaviors and the amount of catching up that I felt like he had to do in speech, independent living skills, and development completely overwhelmed me. 

 

Soon after we received Jackson’s diagnosis, we placed him into an Early Intervention Preschool. We could also take Jackson to speech therapy and occupational therapy. These were lifesaving to me. I needed breaks. I needed help to understand my son and how to manage his meltdowns. I learned so many things during this time. Had you asked me then, I would have told you that there was NO WAY I could homeschool my son.

 

Since Jackson had a late birthday, he attended preschool for two more years. In his final year, we placed him part-time in a Head-Start program to get used to a regular classroom full of children and part-time in his early intervention preschool again. It was a big growing year for us. We discovered Jackson was VERY social with his peers at school. We were told he enjoyed throwing sticks for his friends to play “fetch”! His early intervention teacher said that he was doing fantastic in her class and she would rely on him to answer questions for her! This was something we couldn’t have imagined possible just one year before. But we also learned from his Head-Start teachers that if there was an activity that he didn’t want to do, they would not force him to do it. So my son hardly came home with any artwork because the teachers did not want to trigger a meltdown.

 

As Pre-K was coming to a close, we started looking at our options for Kindergarten. Jackson’s intervention teacher was confident that he would transition to a mainstream classroom with no problems. But we also heard that most Kindergarten teachers expect multiple sentences and even paragraphs of handwriting by the second semester! We were shocked! One of Jackson’s biggest struggles is his fine motor skills. His occupational therapist had been consistently working with him to develop those muscles, but his handwriting still needed a lot of work. My husband and I became increasingly concerned that Jackson would easily fall behind without a person able to MAKE him do the tasks he was unwilling to do, like handwriting.

 

So I had a decision to make: I could spend time after school with Jackson to practice his handwriting, which would undoubtedly incur more stress and tantrums because he needed that time to wind down; OR, should I teach Jackson myself. By this time, Jackson had a breakthrough with his speech therapy and wasn’t really needing it anymore. He became pretty capable of communicating his needs to us. We also understood his behaviors a lot better and had tools ready to help prevent or manage meltdowns.

 

HOMESCHOOLING IT IS! In the beginning, it was a very daunting task. My mother homeschooled my three siblings and me, so I was partial to familiar curriculums. Nowadays, there are so many curriculum options. What would happen if I chose the wrong one? Would Jackson connect with and understand the material I chose? I prayed a lot. I chose curriculums with the most hands-on material possible. 

 

In the beginning, Jackson struggled with the fact that I was the teacher and not Mrs. Miller (his previous teacher). Many times he told me, “You are not the teacher! You are mommy!”. But we kept pressing through. Getting started in a subject was a challenge but once he got into it, he was fine. Our biggest struggle was – you guessed it – handwriting. The curriculum that I was using relied heavily on tracing and practicing. This was frustrating for Jackson. He hated it. Even with using a golf ball on his pencil to help his grasp as his therapist had suggested, he still demanded me to help him write the letters hand over hand almost the entire time. By the time we were about a quarter of the way through the year, I had another decision to make: should I stick with this curriculum or try something different? I had heard many good things about Handwriting Without Tears and noticed it was very popular on the Facebook Homeschool sale groups. So I stepped out of my comfort zone and gave this new curriculum a try. Aside from homeschooling Jackson, changing the handwriting curriculum was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Instead of fighting me to repeat a letter on a page, Jackson demands to WRITE the letter before I can give him the full demonstration! He loves the songs, using the blocks and the chalkboards. And it has made a vast difference with his confidence and the clarity of his handwriting!

 

For those of you that are trying to make that first step to homeschool your special needs child, my advice is to trust your gut. Everyone will tell you their opinions. Jackson’s EI teacher and his psychologist assured me he would do perfectly fine in public school. That may have been true. But as Jackson’s mother, it still didn’t sit right with me. There are so many resources and supports out there now that you do not have to start this journey alone. And it could very well be one of the best decisions of your life.

 

 

 

 

 


Did you enjoy this article?

Support the on-going work of

SPED Homeschool

Donate Today

 

 

by Michele Nuckolls, SPED Homeschool Community Member

 

During a hard season, I was reading a book and had a God-ordained moment of clarity. I went to my daughter’s room and asked her, “Do you think about your birth mother every day?” She gave me an astonished, “YES!” The look on her face said, “How could you possibly have guessed?” 

 

After praying for answers, I read a book by adoptee Sherrie Eldridge who is gentle with adoptive moms like me who didn’t know. Since that day, my daughter and I have embarked on a journey of adoption grief together and it has been healing for both of us.  

 

“Chasing the why behind the behavior” is a phrase coined by Dr. Daniel J. Siegel M.D. and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D. This dynamic duo has written quite a few books together, including No Drama Discipline where they specifically talk about this parenting tool. When I thought about how I have simplified my homeschool, this was the first thing that came to mind. When I “chase the why,” sometimes the answer changes everything.  

 

If you are a seasoned SPED homeschool mom, you have probably already been chasing the why behind the behavior when your child might just not be developmentally ready for what you are asking him to do. We have learned to “lower the bar,” so that our kids can meet expectations and feel success. 

 

Here are a few of those examples:

My child melts down every Sunday morning while getting ready for church.

  • Why? Perhaps, church is too loud and chaotic and my child is overwhelmed by it all.

My child protests and doesn’t like to read aloud.

  • Why? Perhaps the book is too difficult to follow. I have one child who struggles with following any type of fantasy book, but real-life books like Ramona and Beezus or Junie B. Jones are loved. As an aside, I have two kids who struggle with emotional regulation and they both LOVE Junie B. Jones. I think it’s nice to read about another cool kid who isn’t perfect either.

My child refuses to write.

  • Why? Low muscle tone? Poor hand, eye coordination? Perhaps a weighted pencil, a marker, or a pencil grip can help?   

My child refuses to go to speech therapy.

  • Why? Because last time he went, he had a meltdown and is now embarrassed to go back. He needs to talk through that embarrassment.  

My child doesn’t want to play at the park in the summer.

  • Why? Because feeling overheated puts him into sensory overload.  

 

Then, there are the deeper struggles. Perhaps a child is disrupting the family rhythm so much that things are harder than they should be, or could be. Here are a few deeper examples:

 

My child is struggling with a math problem and when I ask a simple question, what is 2+2, he intentionally gives an incorrect answer of 500.

  • Why? He is embarrassed that he doesn’t understand, and he decides to act like he doesn’t know anything. He needs a break (maybe until tomorrow), and he needs to watch some more examples worked out for him to watch. He needs to hear that I know he is smart and it’s okay to need extra time to learn. If my child is adopted, he may be afraid of being abandoned, even if I took him home on the day of his birth. If this is the case, maybe he needs to hear that he is my son forever, even after he is old like grandpa. He needs to know that this math thing is just not that important.     

My child is very angry and frustrated today. He is roughly setting the table with snappy remarks.

  • Why? Some children were making fun of him on the playground this afternoon, and he needs to be able to tell the story and talk it out with a parent. He needs me to hear and understand how he feels about it. As Dr. Siegel would say, “he needs to feel felt.”

My tween suddenly does not want to complete his work this school year and seems angry or sad. 

  • This year is the first year of mostly independent work. He feels neglected and misses me. I need to carve out some read-aloud time together, one-on-one time to work on school together, or just special time together, even if it’s just ten minutes a day.

My child is speaking harshly to his brother.

  • Oh no, that was a direct quote FROM ME!  

 

I think our kids with special needs or unique, difficult histories (like adoption, divorce, or illness) have heard and possibly internalized a lie that is troubling them. This is when we, as parents, need to pray and seek the Lord, asking him to reveal the truth. Don’t be afraid to sit in silent stillness with your child to give them a gentle space to share when they are ready. It’s okay to ask questions or make suggestions, but then try to stop talking. Sometimes I will sit down with a child and say something like, “I think something is bothering you, and I hope you will share it with me,” or, “I noticed you were loudly washing the dishes tonight. Could you tell me about what is on your mind?”  

SPED Homeschool has additional articles and resources that address the unique situation for adoptive and foster families.

 

 

 


Did you enjoy this article?

Support the on-going work of

SPED Homeschool

Donate Today

 

 

Melissa Schumacher, SPED Homeschool Team Member

 

How long did you consider homeschooling before you actually did it? What events or factors made you finally decide to homeschool? I considered homeschooling for years. But, it took a once-a-century global pandemic for me to finally start. Our journey to homeschool spans nearly ten years, two continents, and three moves.

 

As an active-duty military family, there is always change. I admit I looked to public school to be one of the more stable parts of our lifestyle. Certainly, with federal laws like IDEA, education and special education should serve my kids well. Over the years, I have met many military families who homeschool. When I was still pregnant with my son, I sat with a homeschooling mom who talked with me about how homeschool was a natural fit for her boys who loved to explore nature. Or families who lived overseas and traveled to see history, rather than just reading about it. There was so much appeal.

 

One of my parenting mottos is “Begin well, end well.” We don’t have a lot of control over where we will be stationed, how long we will be away from family. But we can begin well by planning as much as possible and having a good attitude when things are difficult or plans change. 

 

We moved from Ohio to Texas during the days between Christmas and New Year. A mid-year move is always difficult, but the added stress of my husband returning from a deployment, moving during the holidays, and re-establishing medical care and therapies for my son with special needs was another level of challenge. Before our move, I had multiple meetings with both schools to ensure a smooth transition. 

 

But, let’s just say it wasn’t smooth. The following two years were very bumpy. But I held on. If we were to homeschool, I didn’t want to abandon public school or leave over my frustration. I wanted to end well.

 

I also held on because my husband traveled frequently; I worried about how I would get a break during those long stretches of parenting by myself. I held on because I had a father fighting cancer, and I was his primary caregiver. I held on because I wanted both of my sons to have the same opportunities, even though they are very different children.

 

While my children were technically enrolled in our public school, I let go in March 2020. Just two weeks before the pandemic shut down our city and our schools, my father passed away. My husband’s upcoming travels were canceled. In one month, our lives and the entire world changed, and I found us at home homeschooling.

 

While there was no beautiful ending to our public school experience, we had a beautiful, yet unplanned start into homeschooling. We started our days with nature walks and had home-cooked lunches. We sat at the kitchen table together and worked on all our subjects together. We focused on cooking, drawing, and building. I used this time to observe my new ‘students,’ and my kids adjusted to a new ‘teacher.’ This was an enormous shift for each of us. I don’t regret that we waited to start homeschooling. 

 

“…we can begin well by planning as much as possible and having a good attitude when things are difficult or plans change. 

 

We know that homeschooling is a wonderful choice for our family during this season. We also know that seasons change. If you are considering homeschooling or are approaching a new homeschool year, what do you need to begin well? Some moms find a weekend retreat for resting and planning for the upcoming year to be most beneficial. Or maybe finding other homeschool moms in your community to connect with will set you up for success.

 

What will your children need to begin well this school year? Do you have a tradition for the first day of school? Whether your kids have always homeschooled or new to homeschool, how can they contribute ideas to your homeschool plan? In military terms, we do a “hot wash” where my sons can talk about their likes and dislikes and strengths and challenges with our homeschool journey. This helps us make adjustments together. 

 

As we start to think of the end of summer, the beginning of a fall, a new school year, I think of all the big and little transitions in my children’s lives, our home, our community. And I’m thinking of all the mothers like me who may be entering a new season of homeschooling. I’m wishing you a wonderful beginning.

 

 

 

 

 


Did you enjoy this article?

Support the on-going work of

SPED Homeschool

Donate Today