by Peggy Ployhar, SPED Homeschool Founder & CEO

 

As we continue focusing on free resources for families homeschooling children with unique learning challenges, we wanted to share some or our top picks of free homeschool curriculum samples and trials. We hope that these resources from our amazing curriculum partners will empower you as you home educate your unique learner.

 

From our partners at ShillerLearning:

 

From our partners at Demme Learning:

 

From our partners at BookShark:

 

From our partners at Sonlight:

 

From our partners at 7SistersHomeschool.com:

 

From our partners at Homeschool Boost:

 

From our partners at Vooks:

 

From our partners at Clear Water Press:

 

From our partners at BiblioPlan:

 

From our partners at Homeschool History:

 

From our partners at Nancy Larson Science:

 

From our partners at Skill Trek:

 

From our partners at Signing Online:

 

From our partners at Accent Music School:

 

From our partners at Mr. C’s Homeschool Music Academy:

 

For more help finding homeschool curriculum and service providers, head over to our review page where you will find curriculum and service reviews by the SPED Homeschool Review Crew.

 

 

 


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by Peggy Ployhar, SPED Homeschool Founder & CEO

 

This month, as we are focusing on free resources for families homeschooling children with unique learning challenges, we wanted to share some or our top picks of helpful free homeschool resources. We hope that these resources from our amazing consulting partners will empower you as you home educate your unique learner.

 

From our partners at Inside Our Normal:

 

From our partners at Canary Academy Online:

 

From our partners at Goodschooling:

 

From our partners at Austin & Lily:

 

From our partners at Your Parent Help – Decoding Learning Differences:

 

From our partners at HomeLife Academy:

 

From our partners at Personalized Learning Solutions:

 

From our partners at Art of Special Needs Parenting:

 

For more helpful homeschool resources, check out our Free Downloads page. Here you will find a lot more, downloadable, content to help you homeschool your unique learner.

 

 

 


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By Peggy Ployhar

 

This month, as we are focusing on free resources for families homeschooling children with unique learning challenges, we wanted to share some or our top picks of free homeschool therapy resources. We hope that these resources from our amazing therapy partners will empower you as you home educate your unique learner.

 

From our partners at Brain Sprints:

 

From our partners at Equipping Minds:

 

From our partners at Bjorem Speech Publications:

 

From our partners at Child Diagnostics:

 

From our partners at Cherish Child Ministries:

 

From our partners at Homeschool OT:

 

For more therapy resources, check out our Therapy-at-Home page. Here you will find more downloads and links to free parent-led therapy tools.

 

 


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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.

 

 

 

 


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by Peggy Ployhar

 

Before the COVID-19 crisis and there was such a term as a “homeschool pod,” this small personalized homeschooling community was how our family developed some of the richest and most meaningful learning experiences with other homeschooling families.

 

The Basics for Creating Homeschool Pod Community

Creating community is work, and often that is why we avoid it. But the advantages of creating community far outweigh the disadvantages. As we unite with others different from us, we have a great deal to learn from them and about ourselves, and we are always better off from the exchange. This goes for adults and children.

As a parent of a child with a special educational need, pods can be the most ideal community for your student and the other students involved because they may never have had a friend with a learning or physical challenge. Thus, don’t just try to pair up with other families who are homeschooling children with special needs, instead join up with those who are nearby and who need community just as much as you and your student.

 

How to Find Homeschool Pod Families

  • Seek out other families in your neighborhood who are homeschooling this year
  • Ask these families about how they are handling COVID exposure and ensure they and your family share similar views 
  • Ask these families how much they would like to meet in a given week/month and what types of shared activities they would like to do with other homeschooling families
  • Determine if these families are willing to cooperatively share in running the pod and decide on general responsibilities for each family, parent, and child
  • Ensure everyone coming into your pod has a willingness to learn and grow together, respect each person’s individuality, each family’s values, and work out conflict when it arises

 

“…this small personalized homeschooling community was how our family developed some of the richest and most meaningful learning experiences with other homeschooling families.

 

Setting Up Your Homeschool Pod

  • Start with an initial plan, maybe even just a parent meeting before you get all the kids together, and be willing as a group to consider your plan as a “draft in progress” for the first few meetings so you can make necessary changes it if needed
  • Set up a way to communicate and change your initial and ongoing schedules to meet the needs of the group
  • Be consistent and be there for one another, even beyond your homeschooling  and student learning needs
  • Create a homeschool pod oath, including the following elements: Respect for individuality; Being accountable; Helping one another in and out of meeting times; Be teachable; Willing to grow and learn; Understanding there is always something new for everyone to learn; Forgive and give mercy.

 

As I look back on the years our homeschooling pod met on a regular basis, I am thankful for the deep and lasting relationships my children and I were able to develop with other homeschooling families. Even to this day, these are some of the people we call our dearest friends.

If you are interested in learning even more about homeschool pods, check out this relevant article on the National School Choice Week website.

 

 

 

 

 


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Peggy Ployhar

Do you have a student who struggles with a core subject?  Maybe math, reading, or spelling? Many parents do. But many parents also try to solve the lack of progression in a core subject by focusing more heavily on that subject to “catch up.” Unfortunately, this is actually a counterproductive move.

How? I will start by sharing a scenario I have shared with many parents over the past 15 years when they told me they were not seeing progress using the tactics I described above. But, I usually start by saying, “What I will tell you will probably seem rather illogical at first, but I want you to consider this parallel first.”

 

Here is the parallel argument I share:

What chore or activity do you dislike doing the most? (Parents responses vary, but most say cooking, laundry, cleaning, car maintenance, or any other necessary chore that needs their attention regularly.)

For me, it would be cleaning my house. I could cook all day, but I hate to clean.

Now consider if someone were to remove all the extra activities out of your day so you had more than enough time to do that one activity you disliked?

I don’t know about you, but if someone told me all I had to do (thus all I had to look forward to) when I woke up Saturday morning was clean my house, I would sleep in as long as possible. Would you feel the same way?

 

Next, let’s now consider how you have removed most of the other subjects and activities in your student’s schedule to focus most of your homeschooling time on his/her “struggle” subjects. Your child feels the same way as you do about the activity you mentioned to me just a few minutes ago. Do you now understand why your child has a hard time just doing the few subjects you have left for him/her to learn?

The solution takes us in the opposite direction. We add in MORE unconventional learning.

 

“…consider if someone were to remove all the extra activities out of your day so you had more than enough time to do that one activity you disliked?

 

We all know the concept of incentives. In training our children we often use rewards like toys, food or stickers. Those external incentives teach our children there are wonderful outcomes that come from perseverance. I am all for these tangible external incentives, but over time we want our children to move beyond external incentives to external incentives. This is where MORE unconventional learning can help your student understand the rewards of learning and using their unique giftedness.

Yes, learning can be an incentive for your student. What would that look like? Here is an example of what this looked like in our homeschool for my oldest son.

At 11 years old, my son still struggled to read. Every day we used various curriculums to keep moving forward in his progress toward learning to read independently, but I knew if we pressed in too much with just reading I would crush his spirit and he would lose his interest in learning all together. This same child loved to build. So, I incorporated his love for building into an actual school subject he would have listed in his planner each week. I didn’t know what I would use at first for this “class” until I came across a K’NEX Education set on how to reconstruct 7 real bridges. I called the class “Structural Engineering” and we spent time each week learning about these bridges and building them. Instantly, I saw a boost in my son’s self esteem. He was now seeing what I had seen for so long, that he had a knack for engineering and was a gifted learner. Now 12 years later, this same young man recently received a degree in Biomedical Engineering. Was it a surprise to me? Not at all.

 

As you look ahead to your homeschooling year, make sure the pressures of catching up do not crush your student’s potential. Add in MORE learning instead and show your student how despite their learning difficulties he/she is still a gifted learner. 

 

 

 

 


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Peggy Ployhar

When I talk about transition planning for high schoolers, one of the first things I tell parents is that a good assessment can help you hone in on those skills your student needs most to work on, thus saving you both a lot of time and frustration as you plan for a smooth post-high school transition.

 

Here are the top 3 assessments I recommend for determining a student’s independent life skills:

#1 – Casey Independent Living Skills (CLS) Assessment

The Casey Independent Living Skills Assessment is a free online test anyone can use to gauge independent living skills for students between the ages of 14 to 21. This test covers “the following areas: Maintaining healthy relationships, work and study habits, planning and goal-setting, using community resources, daily living activities, budgeting and paying bills, and computer literacy.”

The site also states that the test “typically will require 30 – 40 minutes to complete the CLSA” and “answers are available instantly for you to review with the youth in a strength-based conversation that actively engages them in the process of developing their goals.”

To learn more and access the CLS assessment, visit the Casey website at http://lifeskills.casey.org. To access the assessment practice guide as well as a 60-page resource guide that’s filled with specific goals based on testing results as well as helpful resource links to use when working with your student to achieve specific goals visit this page on their website  https://caseylifeskills.secure.force.com/clsa_learn_provider

 

#2 – Transition Coalition Independent Living Checklist

The Transition Coalition Independent Living Checklist is a 2-page list of items to review when assessing our student’s post-secondary goals for independent living. To access the checklist, visit this link on the Transition Coalition’s website https://transitioncoalition.org/blog/tc-materials/independent-living-checklist/

 

#3 – Transition Coalition Inventory Independent Living Assessment Tool

The Transition Coalition Inventory Independent Living Assessment Tool is a free downloadable inventory tool to access independent living skills is not only an assessment tool but was also designed to help to create ”a transition plan according to the student’s capability.”

The inventory covers the following areas: “Money management and consumer awareness, food management, personal appearance and hygiene, health, housekeeping, housing, transportation, educational planning, job skills, emergency and safety skills, knowledge of community services, interpersonal skills, legal issues, and parenting and childcare.” To access this inventory and assessment tool, visit this link on the Transition Coalition’s website https://transitioncoalition.org/blog/assessment-review/life-skills-inventory-independent-living-skills-assessment-tool/ 

 

In general, the Transition Coalition is an amazing resource for families who have special education learners in high school. Their website includes training, resources, and tools for families to help students with various transition needs to plan for their post-high school goals.

 

Interested in learning more about homeschooling your special education learner through high school? Check out our High School Checklist for more information on how to homeschool special education high school.

 

 

 

 

 


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SPED Homeschool Team

This month we asked our team to share the top three internet resources they used in their special education homeschools. Here is what they send in and little about each site. Hopefully this list will provide you with some new homeschooling resources as well as ideas for planning homeschooling lessons.

 

Dawn Spence

Teachers Pay Teachers

To find free and affordable lessons you can use to extend concept instruction and remediation on just about any subject and any grade level.

Learning Without Tears Keyboarding

A digital keyboarding program that teaches more than typing. This program also focuses on helping struggling learners with color coding, providing cross-curricular lessons, and responsible digital citizenship.

Overdrive

Access to free audiobooks and ebooks through your local public library.

 

Jace Clark

Khan Academy

Preschool through advanced placement high school free online curriculum that allows parents to pick and choose courses as well as track their student’s progress through a separate parent portal.

BrainPop

Animated online resources for teaching students general school subjects as well as SEL and ELL resources for students who need them.

Sign Language ASL

Sign language taught by ASL professionals in a fun self-paced online environment.

 

Amy Vickrey

XtraMath

A nonprofit that is dedicated to helping students with math achievement. They offer online activities to help students master their math facts and detailed parent tracking options for charting student progress.

The Crafty Classroom

Great maze activities to use in place, or in addition to, handwriting activities. This site also has great resources for strengthening your student’s visual tracking skills.

Cathy Duffy Reviews

Great place to begin researching ideas for curriculum for basic knowledge on curriculum options before asking about personal experience with the curriculum in my SPED Strong Tribe or the SPED Homeschool Facebook Support Group. 

 

Nakisha Blain

Homeschool Creations

Educational printables and encouraging blogs for parents (homeschooling or not) on how to teach their children.

Home Grown Learners

Homeschooling blog with resources on LEGO teaching ideas, Classical Conversations, traditional curriculum products, and more.

Homeschool Share

Unit studies and lapbooks ideas for teaching elementary-aged students.

 

 

 

 


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Peggy Ployhar

Are you looking for some ideas on how to create a unique and educational family night during this pandemic? Here are 4 that rose to the top in my search for some out-of-the-box ways to learn and have fun as a family while staying at home.

 

#1 – Learn to Cook Together

American’s Test Kitchen – Kitchen Classroom 

This website is offering cooking classes plus more that the entire family can use to learn recipes and more kitchen and cooking skills. You can pick and choose from their already published content or use the new content they publish each week which includes: new recipes, experiments, hands-on activities, quizzes, and even larger projects are published.

 

#2 – Take a Virtual Field Trip Together

Free Homeschool Deals – 3 Month Virtual Field Trip Calendar 

49 curated virtual field tips your family can take either following the days given on the calendar or as you pick and choose based on your family’s interests.

 

#3 – Explore New Worlds Together

Minecraft Minecraft Educational Content

Free new worlds including lessons, building challenges, puzzles and more based on history, science, and more subject areas. Your kids won’t even know they are learning and you can join them in creating and exploring this material. Downloads are free through June 30, 2020.

 

#4 – Create and Play a Board Game Together

Make Use Of9 Free Printable Board Games

Here is an interesting family activity that will get you away from the screen – make your own board game and then play it. Just print out the free downloads and add some simple “extras” from your junk drawer or other games you already have in your house.

 

Looking for more ideas? Our community is sharing them every day in our Facebook resource sharing group. Feel free to just check the posts from outside the group or join the group so you can post resources you would like to share with others. 

 

Have fun and make sure to share your adventures in one of our SPED Strong Tribes. We look forward to seeing pictures and hearing about your stay-in family night activities!

 

 

 

 

 


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Peggy Ployhar

 

Are you a homeschool mom looking for some encouragement? Here are 20 articles on our website that provide homeschool mom encouragement for just about any situation or struggle you may be currently facing.

 

Purpose

Living Out Your Calling While You Homeschool 

Do you ever wonder if you will ever accomplish your life’s purpose? Does it feel at times like homeschooling stands in the way between where you are now and the dreams that God has laid on your heart?” Read more here 

 

Marriage

Thriving in a Special Needs Marriage

Reading this, you are likely a special-needs parent and/or married to someone with special needs. You might need encouragement or strategies for marital happiness in the face of trials. Well, my prayer is that this article will provide both.” Read more here

 

Patience

Growing in the Shade

Sometimes we pushed our young children more than we should have, and invariably we then witnessed…behaviors … I knew that our children would not thrive in…overbearing pressures. “ Read more here

 

Forgiveness

5 Mistakes I Made as a New Homeschooler

“…factors set me up to embrace homeschooling like a drowning person grabs a flotation device. Some great things resulted from those bumpy beginnings, but eleven years later, I see my mistakes during that time too.” Read more here

 

Endurance

Pressing Through the Hard Places

When I think of hardship, I think of special-needs moms. Parenting is difficult, but parenting with special circumstances… that’s excruciating at times.  These words are for you. Soak them in and walk through this year – through the challenges – bravely.” Read more here 

 

Uniqueness

Uniquely Fitted for Your Calling as a Homeschool Mom

Coming together in our uniqueness is what sets us apart from the world. We choose not to fall into comparison traps or in judging others on their walk with God.” Read more here

 

Teaching Challenges

The Peaks and Valleys of Our Special Education Homeschooling Journeys

“…the lessons we learn in our valleys are what propel us to our peaks. The special education homeschooling journey is not without its challenges, but the rewards are well worth it!” Read more here 

 

Inadequacy

Am I the Best Teacher for My Child?

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

 

Hope

Finding Hope Despite Your Struggles

“…one of the most common heartbreaks I see lies in having no hope. It’s a tough thing to bear when your daily struggles of life have no foreseeable end.” Read more here

 

Support

Vulnerability and Staying Connected When You Homeschool

“…we were designed for community, and there’s simply a gap in our lives without it.” Read more here

 

Expectations

Homeschooling Lessons Cultivated by Looking Up and Beyond Circumstances

Over time their difficulties have not lessened but increased. We have learned to relax our expectations, but not the quality of our courses or methods.” Read more here

 

Doubting

How to Homeschool Amidst Your Imperfections

“…many days prompted several overarching concerns that sounded like this in my mind: “Am I hindering my child? Is there a better way to teach this? Are my children picking up my bad habits? my husband’s? “ Read more here

 

Anger

Why We Should be Talking About Parenting Anger

I would love to tell you my struggle with parenting anger was not destructive to my relationship with my children when it was at its worse, but I can’t. I vividly remember the days when my children feared me..” Read more here 

 

Setting Aside the Books

Field Trips ARE School

“When I went from public school teacher to homeschool mom, I decided that it was my chance to provide as much hands-on learning as possible.” Read more here

 

Anxiety

Just Breathe

“…as a homeschooling mom I find myself sometimes thinking of all the things that I think I should be doing as a mom and a teacher. These thoughts of inadequacy take over and I lose sight of all things that I am doing…”Read more here 

 

Tempted to Quit

Never Give Up as a Homeschool Teacher

“At some point, we all have visions of the clean, organized, quiet house we could have if we’d just enroll our kids in public or private school. Homeschooling can be challenging at times.” Read more here

 

Worn Out

You Can’t Pour From an Empty Cup

“…one constant that I’ve seen in most parents who homeschool their children with special needs is that most do not have a lot of time to themselves.  Because of this, our “cups can be empty” before we even realize it.” Read more here

 

Family Crisis

5 Homeschooling Tips When There is a Crisis

“During times of crisis, it’s okay to take a break from homeschooling….especially if you know you won’t be able to teach adequately.”Read more here

 

Depression

Looking into the Face of Childhood Depression

“It was tough enough realizing my son was struggling with depression at such a young age.  But, what made the road ahead seem even more bleak, was since I had been his age I’d silently battled the same enemy.” Read more here 

 

Relationship Issues with a Child

Your Greatest Homeschooling Superpower

“…I have found that when a parent has struggled most with teaching their student it has been because they needed to work less on the child’s education and more on the parent-child relationship.” Read more here

 

We hope these articles have provided you the encouragement you need to keep going. Our goal at SPED Homeschool is to empower you to homeschool your student successfully and we do that by making sure you have access to quality resources, top-notch training materials, and on-going support. Click on these links to see how we can continue to equip and encourage you on your homeschooling journey.

SPED Homeschool Resources

SPED Homeschool Support

SPED Homeschool Tribes

SPED Homeschool Partners

 

 

 

 

 


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