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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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Peggy Ployhar

 

Last year while I was speaking at a homeschool conference I off-handedly mentioned that I was the oldest of 14 and had 10 adopted siblings, something I occasionally mention, but after feeling a nudge from the Holy Spirit, I went with it.

After wrapping up my session I joined one of my session’s breakout discussion groups. Without knowing it, the group I joined had an adoptive mom. As we chatted in this group, this mom asked me, “What is the most difficult part of being an adoptive sibling?”  Now you must understand, I don’t have the experience of having lived at home with my adopted siblings because they entered into our family after I was living on my own, but this doesn’t mean I haven’t wrestled with various aspects of being an adoptive sibling and the impact it has made on my extended family.  In response, I told her about my greatest struggle, watching my mother’s health decline as she took care of all my adopted siblings yet did not prioritize self-care. In fact, it was not until my mother had a heart attack a few years ago that she even took this matter seriously.

After I responded, this woman looked at me with a rather concerned face and then told me this was the same issue she and her oldest biological daughter argued about most.

 

“…keep persisting and showing her how much you love her and her family by not giving up or letting her play down her need to be loved and cared for just as much as the children she pours her life into each and every day.

 

Later on that day I was able to talk with this woman’s daughter and encourage her to help her mother find ways to take care of herself. I also reassured her that it was not selfish or ungodly for her to want her mom to stay as healthy as possible while taking care of her siblings.

 

From this perspective (and having been a foster mom myself for three toddlers for 13 months), I would like to share with you a few friendly ways to help the adoptive moms around you care for themselves, so in turn, they can be as healthy as possible to take care of the orphans God has brought into their homes.

  1. Stop by to drop off a special treat or gift, but be ready and willing to stay to visit or help in any way needed.
  2. Write a note of encouragement and be specific. Tell your friend what you have observed that she is doing and how it is making an impact.
  3. Bring over a dinner that can either be easily heated and served or quickly and conveniently frozen for future use. Flexibility, as well as keeping the dietary needs of the whole family in consideration, means your meal won’t go to waste.
  4. Offer to help watch the kids. One caveat on this suggestion is that oftentimes foster children can only be watched by “approved” caregivers. If this is the case, and you still want to help, it is often okay for an individual to watch the children while the foster parents are on the property. So, let mom take a nap, do something she enjoys by herself in another room, or give mom and dad a date night in the dining room while you watch a movie and play games with the kids in another area of the house.
  5. Plan a weekend away for your friend by enlisting the help of her spouse or another caregiver who can take her place while she is gone. Don’t spill the beans until everything is planned, that way she can’t make an excuse for not getting away. Then enjoy treating your friend to some girl time.
  6. Be available to talk, but mostly be available to listen.  You may not even know how to respond to the many situations your friend is going through, but your willingness to listen and speak truth and hope into her life as the Spirit leads will be greatly appreciated
  7. Take on the role of an accountability partner by asking your friend what goals she has and how you can be instrumental in helping her achieve them.  For instance, maybe she has a fitness goal and going for a walk every evening together will help her get more exercise. If you don’t live close then consider how the two of you can connect on the phone or for a video chat regularly to catch up as well check-in.
  8. Be on call and go as far as making a reminder card your friend can put somewhere that will always remind her you are just a phone call away for anything she may need.
  9. Be transparent about your own failings.  Parenting foster and adopted children reveal huge gaps in our own lives and relationships.  The more you are willing to share your shortcomings with your friend, the more she will feel safe to do the same with you.
  10. Pray for your friend, her family, and her children. God does amazing things when we pray.

 

In the fall of 2017, I followed my own advice for #5 and planned a girl’s getaway trip to New York City. Before I even told my mom that I was going to kidnap her for 3 days to take her to NYC with me and my daughter, I made sure my dad was able to get the help he needed while she was gone, bought the airline tickets, booked our hotel, bought tickets to a Broadway show, and even planned a horse-drawn carriage ride through Central Park.  I knew if I had told my mom ahead of time she didn’t need to get away and she especially would have told me not to go out of my way to plan anything extravagant. But, I wanted to spoil my mom for a few days so I made my plans before she could change them. Our three days in New York City were magical and she, my daughter and me created memories we will never forget.

You too may experience some resistance from your friend as you find ways to help her remember to take time for herself, but I want to encourage you to keep persisting and showing her how much you love her and her family by not giving up or letting her play down her need to be loved and cared for just as much as the children she pours her life into each and every day.

 

 

 

 


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Peggy Ployhar

I had the privilege this month of interviewing my parents, Joe and Margie Prenosil, who have been special needs adoptive parents for 30 years! I hope you enjoy the insight and wisdom they have to share from their many years of experience as they have loved and cared for my siblings.

 

How long have you been parents? How long have you been adoptive parents? Was it always your intention to adopt?

We have been parents for almost 50 years, and adoptive parents for 30 years. As far as our intention to adopt, after 4 years of providing foster care, it was something we started to consider. At that point in our foster care services, a baby came into our care who no one wanted to adopt because of the complications he had with severe cerebral palsy. We decided to adopt him and thus Nicholas became our first adopted child.

 

Because you have specifically adopted children with special needs, what challenges/obstacles did you face early on? And, what resources did you find the most helpful for navigating them?

Our challenges started with finding what resources were available to us from our county and state as well as various specialized clinics. The first thing we found helpful was to expand our foster care work to also include our county. This step greatly increased our learning curve regarding what resources and connections were available locally that were most beneficial for each obstacle that came our way. 

The first obstacle we had was learning all the medical information needed to treat and comfort the children we cared for. It was a medical education that took many years for us to feel like we knew what we were talking about regarding various medicines and adaptive equipment.

Our second obstacle was identifying where to acquire handicap equipment and transportation. The most useful resources we discovered while working with individuals who helped foster parents in our county.

One final obstacle, but one that benefited us the most in subsequent adoptions, was learning our state referral chain for requesting assistance. In our area, we were to go to our county Case Manager first before requesting services from the state Adoption Assistance Specialist.

 

What were some of the things you learned from parenting your biological children that helped parent your adopted children?

First was realizing there was a developmental difference between typical children and special needs children. Once the differences were identified, it was a matter of determining whether to seek advice or accept the condition and adapt from there. 

Daniel, our fourth biological child, had some special needs so parenting him provided a bit of a transition gateway for our adoptive special needs parenting skills. Daniel was dyslexic and hyperactive. Sometimes his difficulties were too much for others to handle. Because of his struggles, we often had friends and family ask whether we were going to bring him with us when we came to visit. Daniel took special needs classes in high school and Margie did most of his reading to accommodate his Dyslexia.

 

“…be ready to acquire ‘new’ skills for yourself. 

 

What were some new parenting strategies you had to learn after adopting children with special needs?

When requesting services or equipment, we learned we needed to share the worst incident instead of the best-case scenario for that child. Also, we learned not to assume that we would always be available to provide the service or help and to also build in requests for helpers. 

We also learned to hire PCAs (Private Care Assistants) as teens who came from large families. In general, these youth were already trained through regular family life to care for their siblings, so all we had to do was additional care training that met our child’s specific needs.

Another strategy we learned was to fully understand what your school district does and doesn’t provide. Two of our children were able to receive in-home services from the school district because of the severity of their conditions.

 

How have you managed family life, church, school, extra-curricular activities, and respite time over the years? Do you have any advice for other adoptive families of children with special needs on how to best juggle these demands?

Family Life: We didn’t adopt children older than our birth children, thus we limited the competition. Our adoptive parenting years started as our birth children were starting college and lives outside our home. Full-time help came over a period of years. First, we hired a full-time PCA using a waiver and then eventually were able to add our youngest son on as hired help. When our son left for college, we were able to hire a full-time PCA that stayed with us for thirteen years. She helped to coordinate other PCAs, cover homecare when we needed to assist a child away from home, as well as respite time for us. She left after the deaths of two of our totally disabled children.

Since then we have relied upon young adults from 16-20 years to fill the gap. Plus after the decrease in PCAs and Margie heart attack, the county helped our ability to work with an agency to hire and maintain staff by reclassifying our home as a group foster home. We are the only one in the county. 

Our church and extra-curricular activities center around family members which extended to include PCA youth (16+) and their families. Through the church, stay connected to a larger community as well as develop relationships with families we know well and feel good about hiring to do care in our home. 

Because we had a full-time PCA/agency, we could coordinate yearly getaways for ourselves but for about three years when we were between agencies, we were unable to get any time away.

Advice to parents: It is impossible to duplicate what we have done to the letter. Stay flexible. We learned that we needed to change as our children’s needs changed and as well as determine what appropriate assistance was necessary for us to help each child with specific needs.

When starting this type of journey, a couple needs to assess whether their current family can accept and contribute towards bringing in a new family member. Second, they need to take into consideration this child’s care may be a lifelong commitment and both parents need to be committed to this child, not just one.

Next, you should assess what financial and community support is available to you if you adopt. Any financial support provided to care for a child should only fill the gaps for that child’s care and should not be seen as another source of income. When you put income before the care of a child you are not letting God do his work. First, seek the Kingdom of God, and then everything else will be provided. We found this to be very true. 

 

“…be willing to accept a child saying, “I love you” as meaning “Do you love me?”

 

If a family was interested in adopting a child with special needs, what advice would you want to share with them based on your 30+ years of being adoptive special needs parents?

First, you need to consider your motivation for adoption. If you have a perceived idea of what you want a child to become without understanding all the baggage this child has acquired and will continue to work through in your home, stop. You will be disappointed. Understand that first, the child will educate you by their behavior, life experiences, and what they want (which is not always appropriate). They will lead by showing you what triggers their actions, and you must observe before acting. You will probably need professional help in understanding the underneath behavior and be ready to acquire ‘new’ skills for yourself. 

Children in the foster care system have learned to defend themselves when everyone else in their lives has failed them. You must be willing to struggle with them as well as be their spokesperson because they may not have the words to describe what they are feeling. If they are in trauma, they may take a long time to change, if ever. Also, be willing to accept a child saying, “I love you” as meaning “Do you love me?”

After considering the above questions we then suggest you again consider why you would want to adopt. Here are two reasons we have found provided a stable foundation for us as we have adopted. First, a real desire to be faithful to the child we are adopting no matter what. We may not change the child we adopt. Ultimately God is in charge of change and we must be willing to let God take the lead in this area or be okay if change is not in His plan. Second, we must be able to accept our failures, limitations, and frustrations. Every day we review our day with God and choose to be happy with what the day afforded us. We ask God for guidance, change what we can, and then we are joyful about the journey and the amazing people He has allowed us to share our lives with.

 

 

 

 

 


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Peggy Ployhar

I have always been pretty good about scheduling and to-do lists. The engineer in me loves to write out plans, figure out the best method for getting everything on my list done, and optimize every possible scenario so no time is wasted.  Not even motherhood or homeschooling have deterred my nature of being an ambitious planner. But, something that has been working at this adamant planner in me is the same thing that has been slowly changing me from the inside out for 22 years, my relationship with God.

 

Planning spiritual time is an oxymoron. Our spiritual life when we become a Christian is supposed to become all of our lives.  This is where the planner in me struggled for many years. Early on in my walk with God, I would try to cram my study and prayer time into specific slots in the day. I then swung to the opposite extreme, feeling my planning was not spiritual enough. Thus, my planners and lists were set aside so I could lean into God moment my moment without their distraction.  The problem with both of these approaches was I couldn’t find an adequate balance for prioritizing the things of life alongside my relationship with God.

 

My struggle has fortunately changed in the past few years and I have discovered how I can plan for a simplified spiritual life. The lessons God has been teaching me about bringing Him into my planning has allowed me to triumph over each day, follow His plans, and keep in check the things swirling around in my life.  I have been learning how to properly prioritize my schedule daily, what God has been teaching me as I spend time in His word and praying.

 

The change has truly been freeing, and not only in my own life but also in the lives of those I’ve been sharing my daily revelations with, specifically my 15-year-old daughter and a few of the viewers on my personal YouTube channel, Daily Revelations.

 

The lessons God has been teaching me about bringing Him into my planning has allowed me to triumph over each day, follow His plans, and keep in check the things swirling around in my life.

 

Therefore, in looking ahead to 2020, I decided to create a bible study and planner together that will help you to learn how to start planning for a simplified spiritual life.

 

Wondering what’s involved?  It’s super simple.

  • Download the free planner you can find on the Free Downloads page on the SPED Homeschool website
  • Print the planner however it would work best for you
  • Read one chapter of the Bible a week.
    • Every day there is a different activity that will help you study the text
    • Every weekday there will be a new video on the Daily Revelations YouTube channel that will expand upon the text you are reading
  • Plan your monthly, weekly, and daily schedules as well as grocery lists, menus and more right alongside your daily bible study
  • Merge what God is teaching you into your plans and prioritize your lists and to-do items based on where the Spirit is leading your heart and mind
  • Join the Daily Revelations community on The Jump  to be encouraged and to encourage others who are using this same planner and doing the same bible readings

 

Since this is the pilot year for this project, the planner is free to download. So far the first quarter is written, and April through December will be coming soon.  By using the planner and being part of our community, you will also have the opportunity to provide suggestions for the 2021 planner and get a sizable discount.

 

Joining us late? No problem.  There is no need to go back to the beginning of the study. Just start on whatever day, week, or month you can. You can always go back and watch earlier videos or fill in earlier lessons if you would like, but it is not necessary for understanding the daily lesson.

 

I am so excited to get started and begin planning with you towards a simplified spiritual life starting in 2020.

 

 

 

 

 


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Peggy Ployhar

 

Holidays are tricky for families dealing with atypical situations, but that doesn’t mean holidays need to magnify these areas of your family life. Follow these DIFFERENT steps to ensure you won’t miss out on a joyful holiday season with your family.

 

D – Develop a plan

No matter how many activities your family would like to do over the holiday season, take a critical look at your schedule, at what is essential and what isn’t. Purposefully blocking in margin around these essentials reduces stress and the pull towards over-booking holiday activities. Then, discuss as a family what traditions or activities matter most to each of you. Finally, match open dates and times in your calendar with these top traditions/activities.

 

Also realize every year will be different and just because you may only be able to schedule in three or four activities this year, this doesn’t mean next year you will have to do the same.

 

I – Individualize acceptance

Holiday activities are often accompanied by vivid memories and biases on how they should be done or enjoyed. But, when you have a family member who has a disability, sickness, or other struggles that require a holiday tradition to be modified it can be difficult to make the necessary adjustments if you can’t be flexible. Yes, your family tradition may take on a new flavor, but that doesn’t mean the new flavor is worse than the original. It is just different.

 

Over time your family member may be able to adjust to the original way you remember enjoying this holiday activity, or over time the modified activity may become more favored by you and your family than the original.

 

F – Focus on strengths

Holiday celebrations and traditions often stretch relationships, sensory thresholds, and much more. Unfortunately, this stretching can cause contention between family members who only see the weakness others possess in comparison to their strengths. On the other hand, these differences in strengths can be beneficial, gifts that complement other family members in need.

 

Especially during this season of giving, it can be helpful to set aside time to discuss individual strengths and weaknesses of each family member, create awareness, and purposefully work towards strengthening each other by better supporting one another.

 

F – Frame togetherness

Just because your family may want to spend more time together creating memories and doing your favorite holiday activities, it may not be realistic to expect everyone to spend all their spare time together doing these activities, especially when considering the needs of the more introverted and medically fragile members of your family.

 

Framing holiday time together with family members who must build rest into their daily schedules should be prioritized by setting aside not only specific days of the week but also the specific times of day for that rest. For instance, if the morning is the best time of day for your child, then booking a matinee for your family to attend the Nutcracker would be better than holding out for an evening performance like you remember enjoying from your childhood.

 

E – Embrace forgiveness

No one is perfect, and yet we often fantasize about having perfect holiday experiences with our imperfect family and less than perfect self. Realistically it is better to aim for ideal and build a larger buffer of forgiveness and understanding into our holiday planning.

 

Sicknesses, miscommunications, forgetfulness, and the general confusion and chaos which happens during the holiday season typically remind us we need to be okay with allowing wiggle room into our “perfect” holiday plans. This way, we don’t ruin our entire experience because we struggle to see beyond the imperfections and to simply enjoy the experiences we have been given to share with our family.

 

“If we desire to make our holiday season the most joyful season of the year, it is imperative to determine how to love others above traditions, events, or seasonal activities”

 

R – Remember to love

The greatest gift we can give any time of the year is to love others the way we would like to be loved ourselves. It’s not about the gifts we work so hard to hunt down and buy. Sometimes the pursuit of the perfect gift ends up sidetracking us from being anything but loving.

 

If we desire to make our holiday season the most joyful season of the year, it is imperative to determine how to love others above traditions, events, or seasonal activities. Many times, this means we have to sacrifice our wants to love, but this is the exact love that Christmas is all about.

 

E – Enjoy the journey

Joy is essentially the bi-product of where we determine our enjoyment or fulfillment will draw from. If our joy rests solely on the product of our day, or even the season, we do not find fulfillment because life’s twists and turns can keep us from reaching these goals on time or how we had imagined them to turn out. But, if we instead seek to rest our joy on the journey towards reaching our goals, we can more readily find joy in our progress as well as in our relationships we might have otherwise overlooked.

 

During the holiday season, focusing on the joy of the journey can require even more intentional concentration as our days, weeks, and even months have checklists for things we don’t normally prioritize in our lives. This is when getting done what the day allows without sacrificing the joyful journey alongside our family members needs to become an even more intentional practice as well as something we intentionally celebrate throughout the season.

 

N – Non-negotiable relationships

Loving others is difficult and the holiday season often brings our lives closer in proximity to relatives we don’t always associate with regularly. And, while it is important to set boundaries with others, proper boundaries always leave room for any relationship to continue to grow if these individuals make positive changes and establish more healthy habits and boundaries.

 

Everything we can do on our end to leave a relationship open, even if we have to mostly close out a family member because of their personal choices or extenuating circumstances, leaves room for that door to widen once again in the future. We can’t always take on the full weight of what another family member is going through or allow the harmful or unsafe choices immediate or extended family members have made into our homes, but we can show there is always room in our hearts to love beyond these extenuating circumstances.

 

T – Take action

 

Finally, it is important to remember to act and put these practices to work. A plan and good intentions will never lead you to where you want to go. Only by stepping out in faith to approach this holiday season differently and move beyond various obstacles that in the past may have held you or your family back from experiencing joy will the season be the most joyful one you could experience.

 

 

 

 


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Peggy Ployhar

 

One of the greatest misconceptions about teaching is that the power of education lies in the training of the individual or in the quality of the material used to teach a child. Even though both of these things would rank as highly important factors, the single most important has nothing to do with what our educational system has trained us to value most. Instead, it has to do with a very humble and natural homeschooling superpower any parent can draw from, the ability to care and to show those you are teaching you are committed to their learning process.

 

Over the years of consulting with homeschooling parents, 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. Take it from someone who knows. Because I started our homeschooling journey with parenting anger struggles , my homeschooling superpower was deeply buried. I was not set up for my optimal teaching effectiveness, so the ideas I have to share below are from my attempts to connect with my children.

 

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.

 

Below are 5 ways you can strengthen your parent-child relationship, or homeschooling superpower, to increase your teaching effectiveness:

 

Listening Time

As a parent we often do most of the talking, but how much do we seek to actively listen to what our children want to say? Do we dig deep enough to learn what they are thinking about and why? Setting aside regular time to just listen to your children’s ideas and thoughts with probing questions that not only show you are listening but that you want to invest time into learning about the things that matter most to them.

If your child seems hesitant to answer your questions, one idea I found very helpful was to use puppets. My son responded well to puppets, and of all the puppets we had on hand, his favorite was Lamb Chop who was made famous by Sheri Lewis. For some reason, he opened up and shared his heart with this little lamb and this back and forth conversation became a regular part of our evening schedule.

 

Play Time

Playing with your children may come easily, or it may be an excruciating experience for you to even think about, but if you put your best foot forward to delve into one of your child’s favorite playtime activities the reward will be great.

Putting on those superhero costumes, playing hide-n-seek, taking time to build a fort and then spend the afternoon in it, or assembling Legos into engineering marvels speaks volumes to your child about the worthiness of their favorite activities as well as your approval of him/her and what he/she values.

 

Reading Time

While you may already read out loud with your children, you may not go any further than the text, or if you do then you may only ask your child about the story itself. I would suggest you go a step further and ask your child which character in the book they relate with the most and why. Ask them if they feel the character was treated as he/she thinks the character should have been treated and what led them to that conclusion.

As our family was preparing to move to a farm and was living for the summer in our travel trailer, we read the book Farmer Boy as a family in the evening. While the book itself was very intriguing for all of us to read together, it was the questions and discussions we shared after each chapter that drew us all closer together, as we shared our thoughts and dreams about the new life we were all about to embark on.

 

Shared-Activity Time

Sharing a common activity with your child creates an unbelievably tight bond. I have seen parents join martial arts classes, art classes, and computer classes with their children. The beauty of sharing an activity with your child is that these types of experiences have open ends for both of you and allows not only the opportunity to achieve new goals together but also commiserate about shared failures.

 

I started doing aerial silks with my daughter last year and will attest that a shared activity has greatly increased the bond between us. Our shared activity provides the two of us not only an activity we can do together but also a new topic to add to our day that allows us to connect at a different level than the typical parent-child conversation.

 

Travel Time

Time in the car, camper, plane, hotel, and rental house puts your child in a place that is out of their comfort zone, in a more confined space, and usually further away from their typical digital input than their normal. These times lend themselves to deep conversations, curated experiences, and building long-lasting memories.

 

A few years ago, I took a three and a half week trip cross-country with my daughter. We drove from Texas to Colorado, then to North Dakota, next to Minnesota, and from there we took a plane trip with my mother (all three Margaret’s – Margie, Maggie, and Peggy – to NYC to see the slights and a Broadway show) and finally drove back to Texas. That trip was a turning point in mine and my daughter’s relationship.

 

Any of these suggestions is a great place to start building your relationship with your child. I would suggest starting with one that would work best with your schedule right now, and then over time slowly adding others as opportunity allows. Most of all, enjoy the extra time you have been given to spend with your child. It is an incredible gift that will stretch you as well as bless you both!

 

 

 

 

 


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