By Peggy Ployhar, SPED Homeschool Founder & CEO

 

As we are moving from a knowledge-hungry world to one that is saturated with information, I tell parents, now, more than ever before that it is less important to teach our children lots of memorized facts and more important to teach them how to discern information with wisdom. For this reason, our educational approaches at home need to change so our children are equipped with the ability to discern right from wrong and truth from lies.

 

“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ…”

Philippians 1:9-10

 

Yes, this truth from Philippians 1 has been my prayer for my own children and for you and your children as well. How do we make this shift and how do we teach discernment? 

 

Here are 5 simple tips for adjusting your homeschooling approach to teach discernment in an information saturated world:

 

Talk it Out

Talking with our children and teaching them that there is a foundational and God-established form of truth, in God’s word, lived out through examples of faithful Christian, and within historical documents based on a biblical foundation is something that we should talk about in our homes all the time and reminding our children of when we do our daily lesson. Just taking the time to talk about truth helps children to be aware of its existence and its importance as a basis for knowledge and discernment.

 

Live it Out

Our children learn more through how we live verses from what we say. It is extremely important that they see us seeking truth and basing our decisions on truth if we want them to do the same. Therefore, as parents we need to value discernment in our own lives if we want our children to value it enough to pursue it, use it, and live by it.

 

Point it Out

Everywhere we turn, there are examples we can pull from to point out discernment, or lack thereof, to our children. In family relationships, movies, books, social media posts, world events, and so many other things. We need to take advantage of these opportunities and point out how others are using, or not using, discernment, so our children can gain a greater understanding of this concept and how it is experienced in everyday life.

 

Call it Out

As your children make daily decisions based on the information they are processing, they will practice discernment. When they use good discernment, call it out and commend them for using it to make a wise decision. When they fail to use discernment, call it out and help them to see how their lack of discernment led to a less desirable outcome than if they had used discernment in that situation. Instructing your child based on their own life circumstances helps them to internalize the need to apply this discipline to work against their natural tendencies to believe and follow faulty thinking.

 

Pray it Out

Praying for our children to use discernment, to live by discernment, and seek the help of the Holy Spirit to see truth and “the way they should go” in every situation, is important at every stage of their education. Teaching our children and parenting them in truth have a limited range in our children’s lives, but God’s range to reach them, teach them, and guide them is boundless. Bring your request that your child live a discerning life before the Lord. This is a prayer He desires to answer.

 

I am praying with you and for you and your children in accordance with this truth from Isaiah 11 as you pursue to teach discernment and live by it in your homes empowered by God’s Spirit:

 

“The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him,

The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,

The Spirit of counsel and might,

The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.

His delight is in the fear of the Lord,

And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes,

Nor decide by the hearing of His ears;”

Isaiah 11:2-3

 

Peggy Ployhar is the Founder & CEO of SPED Homeschool as well as the host of the weekly live broadcast, Empowering homeschool Conversations that you can watch on the SPED Homeschool YouTube channel or download from your favorite podcasting platform.

 

 

 

 


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by Natalie Vecchione, from FASD Hope

 

Note–I’m writing this article as a parent advocate. I am not a medical professional nor a clinical  expert. I am not providing any medical or legal advice and I do not intend this to replace clinical or medical counsel. This post is for informational purposes only. This post does not take the place of professional counseling or medical help. 

 

Since 1949, May has been established as Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness about mental health, provide support, fight stigma and advocate for the millions of children, teens, and adults with mental illnesses (source NAMI.com). Mental Health is critical to overall health. Just as you would not let an individual with diabetes or asthma go untreated, it’s important to seek evaluation, treatment, and accommodations of those with mental health disorders.  

 

Children and youths with complex needs are those between the ages 5-21 who have both a developmental or intellectual disability and a mental health diagnosis. The prevalence of those with both a developmental disability (DD) or intellectual disability (ID) and a mental health diagnosis is much higher than you might expect. A conservative estimate of those with both a DD or ID and a mental health diagnosis is between 32-50% (socialworktoday.com). Also of note, the CDC estimates 1 in 6 children aged 2-8 years old has a mental, behavioral or developmental disorder and those statistics increase as children become adolescents. Other factors can exacerbate mental health disorders, such as trauma, having a long-term illness or a change in the home environment. Mental Health Disorders can also occur alone in children and teens who may not have other diagnoses. 

 

What does this mean for parents? Since children and teens with special needs can be more likely to have a mental health diagnosis, it’s important for parents to be aware, informed, and prepared about their children’s mental health and where to look for support and resources. As the parent of a young adult with both a developmental disability and a mental health diagnosis, I can tell you that systemic misunderstanding, lack of resources, lack of trained professionals and stigma are daily struggles for kids and teens with complex needs and their families. 

 

What are some things that I want you to know, as a mom of a young adult who has both a developmental disability and a mental health diagnosis who successfully completed homeschool almost 2 years ago? 

 

  • Homeschooling is a WONDERFUL accommodation for kids with developmental disabilities or brain-based diagnoses and mental health diagnoses. The complex needs of our kids can make traditional school a struggle, and homeschooling allows us to meet our kids where they are at and accommodate their needs.
  • Often, what you may perceive as willful behaviors in a child or teen with a brain-based diagnosis and or mental health diagnosis are instead behavioral symptoms show dysregulation or the need for treatment, care and accommodations. It is often said that “the children and teens who need the most love and help will often ask for it in the most unloving ways”.  
  • I learned this the hard way. Have GRACE with your child who is coping with a mental health diagnosis. You can’t discipline a diagnosis, illness or disability! You can find medical support, treatment, medications, therapies, and accommodations.  
  • This journey can be very isolating. Parent support groups, peer mentors and ministries in mental health can help lessen the isolation. 
  • This journey is also filled with stigma. Unfortunately, many still view mental health disorders as shameful and shocking. Having a mental health disorder is a medical condition and medical conditions are to be properly treated!
  • One resource that truly helped my family and myself to understand mental health, and when a situation becomes an emergency, was through taking an 8 hour “Mental Health First Aid” course. Mental Health First Aid is “a skills-based training course that teaches participants about mental health”. You can learn more at mentalhealthfirstaid.org 
  • Another wonderful resource has been our faith-based family therapist. Steve has walked alongside our family for the past 3 years and we are so blessed that he has helped our son, and our family, make such progress while growing in our faith and hope!  
  • A few of my mom friends who understand the complex needs of parenting those with developmental disabilities and mental health diagnoses and I came up with the phrase “Grace and Space”. Having grace with our children and ourselves is important!  Equally important is having space for renewal. For me, it’s steeping myself in God’s Word on my quiet, front porch, or picking blueberries in the summer under my favorite overgrown blueberry “tree”. For you, it may be a cup of coffee with a trusted friend. Grace and Space. 
  • Homeschooling allowed us to build in those “buffer days” for when we all needed those “mental health” days. I’ve learned that our schedule looks different from other homeschool families and different is OK! 
  • Finally, focus on the gifts, strengths, and abilities of your children! They are treasures and it’s up to us, as their parents, to help them dig through the dark, so they may shine!  

 

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

 

Natalie Vecchione is a FASD parent advocate, podcaster, author… and most importantly a wife and homeschool mom of two. Natalie and her husband, John, built their family through domestic adoption. Their son, who is almost 20, lives with a FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder). He graduated from homeschool as a carpentry apprentice. Their daughter is 7 and they have a much different adoption journey with her, as they are very close with their daughter’s birth family. Natalie turned her family’s unique challenges and journey with FASD from reinvention into a calling when she and her husband began FASD Hope in  2020. Natalie and her family live in Eastern North Carolina. 

Natalie’s book “Blazing New Homeschool Trails: Educating and Launching Teens with Developmental Disabilities” co-written with Cindy LaJoy

 

 

 


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By Steve Demme

 

Our journey to homeschool our children began before we were married. In seminary I had a class on Christian education and another on Christian schools. One of the papers I wrote was entitled, The Millennial View of Education. If there was a millennium in the future, what would education look like? I was seeking a vision for education instead of trying to go back to the good ol’ days. I set out to be like Josiah, who was reading the Bible for the first time. With my old hardback concordance, I looked up every word that had something to do with educating children such as teach, teacher, instruct, instruction, instructor, etc.

 

After searching through these passages, I concluded, somewhat radical in the 1970s, that parents were to be the primary instructors of their children and the curriculum was to be based on the word of God. While there were verses throughout the scripture, Proverbs and Deuteronomy contributed to the lion’s share of the pertinent passages.

 

After graduation, my wife and I were married and God gave us children. A few years later, we attended our first homeschool conference and began meeting families who were home educating their children. We loved the fruit that we saw in the relationships between parents and teens and decided to home educate our sons.

 

One of the key portions of scripture that directly addresses teaching our children is found in Deuteronomy 6:7. I often read this passage and wondered how I was to apply this command, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

 

Should I be leading regular family worship times? What did it look like to talk of God’s commands when I sit in my house, walk by the way, lie down, and rise? I wanted to follow God’s design for families and wondered how to apply this scripture.

 

After many years of trying and failing, family worship became a staple in our home. I taught workshops on how we made this a habit in our family and even wrote a book about it. I also taught about discipling our children and modeling our faith in front of them as we walk by the way and sit in our homes.

 

Then one day a parent approached me at a conference and asked me why I started with the 7th verse and skipped the 5th and 6th verses. I said I did not know and at my first opportunity read them. Deuteronomy 6:5-6, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.”

 

A light bulb went off in my mind and I saw the order in which the Holy Spirit had orchestrated His divine blueprint for family discipleship. What we were doing as a family was right and profitable, but I missed the order in which the Holy Spirit has orchestrated His Word. There is a reason verse 5 and 6 precede verse 7. Before I can teach my children to love God and His word, I the teacher, must love God and His word.

 

Before I can expect to teach my children to know and have a relationship with God, I must be in a heart relationship with God myself. I began asking God to help me to love Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I didn’t know how He would answer this prayer, but since it is clearly according to His will, I knew He would. I expected that I would wake up one morning and experience some sort of quickening in my heart and find my affections being drawn heavenward.

 

But God surprised me by how he answered my heartfelt request. My love for God has increased, but not how I anticipated it. Over a period of several months, God began making me aware of His affection for me. Through a series of experiences and scriptures, His Spirit has been teaching, revealing, and conveying to my heart how much He cares for me. Through these providences, He has been communicating to me how much He loves and even likes me.

One day I remonstrated God and said, I know you love me, but I want to love you with all of my heart. Then it dawned on me, this is how our heavenly Father operates. We read in 1 John 4:19 that “we love because he first loved us.” As I have been shown how much God loves me, I am finding that I love God more than ever. My newfound appreciation for God is in direct proportion to the revelation of His love for me. God has taken the initiative and made me know that I am His and He is mine.

 

I never doubted that God loved me because this truth is taught plainly in Scripture. However the verse that the Holy Spirit used to make me realize how much He loved, and liked me, was John 15:9: “As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved You. Abide in My love.” The Father and the Son have an incredibly close, intimate relationship. As I read the gospel of John, I see how much God the Father loves Jesus the Son. Then to think that Jesus loves me as much as His Father loves Him is incredible. I am believing as never before how much God loves me and find myself loving Him more than I ever have.

 

Deuteronomy 6:6 goes on to say, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.” I also need to ask God to enable me to love the Word of God and have it “on my heart.” The divine order of the whole passage in Deuteronomy 6:5-7 makes so much sense. When I love God with all my heart, and have His word on my heart, then I am equipped to teach my family to love God and His word.

 

When God and His Word are the desire of my heart, talking about God and His words will flow, when I rise up, walk by the way, lie down, and sit in my house. I see with new eyes that the best thing I can do for my family is to fall in love with God and His Word. A heart relationship with my heavenly Father is what prepares and equips me to teach my children.

 

In hindsight I see that my desire to teach my children is what led me to discover the pattern in Deuteronomy 6. Interestingly this is the same passage that Jesus quotes when asked what is the great commandment in Matthew 22:36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”  37 And he, Jesus, said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment.

 

I confess that I never gave much thought to whether I loved God with all my heart or not. But as I pondered on the wisdom and the beauty of this command and the order in which it is found, I discovered that I really wanted to love God with everything in me, and love His word, so that when I teach my children diligently they will know and sense that this message is from my heart and is the most important pursuit of my life.

 

Wanting to be a faithful diligent parent has led me to be a better Christian. Perhaps this is what happened with Enoch in Genesis 5:22 “Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah.” He is also mentioned in Hebrews 11:5 “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.”

 

May God help us to love Him with all our heart so that we may pass this love on to our children and grandchildren to the glory of God.

 

Originally published on Building Faith Families

 

About the author:

Steve and his wife Sandra have been married since 1979. They have been blessed with four sons, three lovely daughters-in-law, and five special grandchildren. Their fourth son has Downs Syndrome and lives with them in Lititz, PA.

Steve has served in full or part time pastoral ministry for many years after graduating from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He is the creator of Math-U-See and the founder of Building Faith Families.

 

 

 

 


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 by Michelle Noonan, SPED Homeschool Partner Blooming Sounds

 

The benefits of music based learning are many and clear. Music helps development, cooperation, self-regulation and expression, and activates both sides of the brain, resulting in significant benefits to learning retention, motivation, and more! Luckily for homeschoolers on the go, music is all around us and lessons are readily available anywhere your classroom might be.  

 

Music in Nature

Are you homeschooling on the trail? There are so many opportunities to study music in nature. 

Listen to nature’s songs: Nature is full of little critters that make music–birds, bugs, and frogs, to name a few. Have your child note the different pitches and patterns of “song” they hear while out on a hike or around the campfire. Have your child mimic the bird’s call and response. Add a writing component by having them recount what they imagine the animal is communicating based on the tone and tempo of its call. 

Make music with nature: Kinesthetic learners will appreciate the feel of the crunch of the leaves under their feet and the clicks of pebbles in their hands. Tap rhythm patterns for them to copy with pebbles or stomp them on leaf piles.  Once they get the hang of it, let them lead you into rhythm patterns. They will receive reinforcement of the beat through the tactile patterns and a boost of self-confidence by having you follow their lead! Find different natural music makers, twigs vs stone, for example, and compare the timbre of the different materials.

Describe what you hear in musical terms: Teach musical dynamics by putting the proper vocabulary to the sounds you hear in your nature walks. Is the bird singing legato: smooth and connected between notes or staccato: distinct and separated between notes? Is the babbling of the stream piano: quiet or forte: loud? As you approach a body of water, do you notice the crescendo of sound, the gradual increase of volume? What about the decrescendo as you leave? 

 

Local Learning

Be sure to check out the live local music options wherever you take your homeschooler. Early exposure to diverse music, genre, meter, tonality, etc. benefits your young one for a lifetime. It makes it easier for them to identify, enjoy, express, and play music in the future. Besides the children’s music scene, take your kids to the local symphony, opera, music festivals, and other live events. Bring a sketch pad and crayons and have them draw how the music makes them feel. This can help solidify social-emotional connections and keep them quietly occupied. Add music history to the lesson by having older students research the composer and write a report on their life and legacy. 

 

Online Options

For those looking for more formal classes on the go, the internet offers many options! Families with consistent internet access can sign up for private, group, or family lessons for all ages. When choosing your class, be mindful of your internet availability, choose an instrument that is easy to travel with (for class and practicing in between), and your schedule availability. Many online options will be flexible, but you and your young one will benefit from being as consistent with class time, practice time and frequency as possible. 

 

Make Your Traveling Homeschool Soundtrack

Make up your own songs together, documenting your travels and experiences. You can simply change the lyrics to your favorite songs to suit your story, or you can compose your own tunes to go with it. Collective music making is such a great bonding experience and putting your adventures in song will ensure you will remember them for a lifetime!

Michelle Noonan is the owner and lead instructor of Blooming Sounds LLC, an online music center licensed by Music Together LLC and Canta y Baila Conmigo LLC to provide these amazing early music programs to 0-8 year olds and their grown-ups, including homeschoolers on the go! 

 

 

 

 

 


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 By Kathy Kuhl, from Learn Differently

 

“Socialization”, the word all homeschoolers hate.

This is not because we hate socialization, but rather the fact that relatives and even complete strangers keep asking us about it.

 

As parents of kids with special needs, we do want to help our kids develop social skills, just as we would if they were in public or private school, and sometimes we have to seize the moment.

“My son is just opening up this year, wanting to be around other kids and I am looking for friendly opportunities.”, Mary wrote today, asking if I could help her find a Boy Scout troop open to boys on the spectrum.

 

Whether it’s a Boy Scout troop, Girl Scout, scouting program, team, or extracurricular activity, here are my five tips for finding a good fit for your exceptional child:

  1. Ask your local homeschool friends. At local homeschool support groups, ask around. Don’t forget to post queries to local homeschool lists, message boards, and groups on social media. When you get replies, ask a few questions. Chances are, the parents will love to tell you about what their kids are doing.

If you are talking to someone who doesn’t understand your child’s special need, plan ahead. Think of short ways to explain your child’s behavior: “He loves camping and is very diligent, but is a bit socially awkward.”, “She misses social cues, but is very kind-hearted and loves crafts.” This stranger,  and even the group leader, doesn’t need too much detail initially.

  1. Ask your local chapter of your favorite special needs support organization: CHADD, the Autism Society, Learning Disabilities Association.
  2. Check with your local chapter of the ARC, which deals with a variety of special needs.
  3. Realize that every troop and group is different. When we were looking for a Boy Scout troop many years ago, a friend advised us to visit at least three troops. If we weren’t happy with the first one we visited, she said then we had options. Every group has its own personality.

And if you visited a group a few years ago and didn’t like it, you might go back. That kid your child couldn’t stand may have grown up, or your child may have. That unsympathetic parent may have moved on. The culture of the group could change, especially in places where people frequently move in and out.

  1. When you find the right group, give the leaders a little, but not too much, information. When they do ask a question, resist the urge to launch into your excellent five minute lecture on your child’s disabilities, I’ve felt that urge. You don’t want the leaders to become afraid to ask you anything. Keep it simple.

 

Keep it practical:

“Tom loves scouts. He has attention deficit disorder. He’s not hyperactive, but he is easily distracted. When you need his attention, please call his name before you give him instructions. A tap on the arm can also get his attention. Thanks so much for working with the troop.”

“Sarah is so glad to be in this group. She has an auditory processing disorder that makes it hard for her to make out one voice from other sounds. Her hearing is excellent. Talking louder won’t help, but make eye contact first, tap her arm, and say her name. Then move to the side of the room where it is quieter. We are so grateful for your work with the girls. Can I bring refreshments next month?”

When you’ve found the right group or troop, what’s next? See ‎my next post in this series for tips on helping your child succeed in that group activity.

———————————————————————-

Kathy Kuhl equips and encourages parents to help children with learning challenges. After homeschooling a bright, dyslexic, creative, and highly distractible son for grades 4–12, she interviewed 64 families homeschooling students with learning difficulties to write Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner. This handbook helps anyone supporting teens and children with challenges—including learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, autism, and giftedness—and others who “learn differently,” whether diagnosed or not.

 

 

 


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by Zafer Elcik, from SPED Homeschool partner Otsimo

 

For a very long time, we’ve known that the best course of action when it comes to special education for children with special needs is early and intensive education that fits their needs. The past two years of the pandemic have shown us that in a world where there is already inequality in terms of access to quality education, a hiccup in the system can cause even more trouble.

 

Unfortunately, many people weren’t able to access education in general during this time period. This gap in access was even larger for those who were receiving special education and speech therapy support. This is the reason mobile solutions to special education, speech therapy, and homeschooling were suddenly on the rise.

 

Additional mobile solutions and educational support are nothing new for special education spheres. With the pandemic on the rise and everyone at home for their safety, they became of greater importance and attention was paid to effective homeschooling solutions for neurodivergent children.

 

Traditional education solutions sometimes fall short in providing the necessary, tailor-made interventions for kids with learning difficulties. With the pandemic, the systems in place such as IEP, which are there to help cover these gaps, were not being implemented at their most effective level. Naturally, parents and caregivers looked for materials they can leverage at home.  

 

Education doesn’t have to be in a single form. Currently, we have solutions that help integrate neurodivergent kids and children with other learning difficulties into a system developed with neurotypical children in mind. However, there are many things to say about how each and every single child learns differently and at different rates. Being able to school children at home proved this point.

 

It is possible to teach young children even with mundane items at home. When you are cooking dinner they can learn about the ingredients, or you can sit down and color by numbers. Each and every process teaches kids some essential skills. When we switched to distance learning, some kids with learning disabilities and difficulties struggled even harder as it may have been difficult for them to focus outside a school setting.

 

With a pen and paper a parent or guardian can study with their kids, but they don’t have to. There are low-tech and high-tech solutions that are specifically designed to teach children with special needs skills and curriculum based on their developmental level and struggle areas that sometimes come without much financial burden. In addition, these solutions also provided relief for families already burdened with the anxiety of being asked to access special education solutions by professionals.

 

For children with autism, applied behavior analysis (ABA) activities, a scientific technique where the goal is to understand behavior and how the environment affects this behavior, could boost a child’s education at home. ABA could also target a child’s learning disabilities to motivate them to achieve a specific learning goal.

 

A simple example of such an activity could be devising a color sorting game to target many developmental aspects. Get your hands on some colorful pom-poms and containers, and instruct your child to sort them into groups of the same colors. This will help them improve their understanding of colors, while also working on their fine motor skills when they pinch and drop the pom-poms. This is just a simple example of activities at home that could prove immensely useful.

 

Besides solutions that have been in use for many years, there are also mobile solutions that are high-tech. The mobile, high-tech, solutions out there address various topics, from learning letters and maths to social skills such as taking turns. Companies focusing on developing such solutions like Otsimo also offer information and suggestions so as to keep parents and caregivers informed.

 

Mobile solutions are now viewed as essential aides at home when it comes to homeschooling. It is possible to find an abundance of solutions that target different needs and can fit different budgets. The competition is especially high with high-tech solutions as smartphones and tablets are comparatively easier to access in the last couple of decades.

 

Now that we know mobile solutions, low- and high-tech alike, can be powerful tools in homeschooling, it is time for a perspective change in the big picture. There needs to be more investment, research and development efforts channeled to creating mobile solutions, more collaborations that help increase access to solutions by making them free of charge or at low prices where parents and caregivers can apply and implement these at home with ease. 

 

In school, at home, in the car while traveling: every opportunity is a learning opportunity and we can make this happen, because we have the tools and the know-how already at hand.

 

Zafer Elcik, is the Co-founder of Otsimo, a mobile education platform for children with disabilities that he originally designed with a friend to meet the learning needs of his younger brother on the Autism spectrum.

 

 

 


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By Stephanie Buckwalter from Art of Special Needs Parenting

 

I love homeschooling because I get to learn right alongside my kids. I’m also a researcher at heart, so as I’ve wandered the interwebs for the last 17 years of homeschooling, I’ve had the chance to sniff out a lot of really cool, free stuff. Here I have a sampling, for a variety of subjects. 

 

Math

  •  Free Math Games–  Plenty of variety in types of games to play to capture interest. My boys loved Fruit Shoot. There are more than math games available here.
  • Places to get free math worksheets: 
    •  Math-drills.com – My favorite for simple pages. You can limit the number of problems per page.
    •  MathisFun.com – My favorite for picture-based worksheets. These can be done online or printed. Includes a link at the bottom to their sister site Mathopolis.com where you can create your own worksheets.
    • Kidzone.ws – Worksheets for the early grades have black and white illustrations. You can use as a coloring page, too. They have multiplication table worksheets in a farm theme or jungle theme, in color or black and white, blank or filled in.
    • EducationWorld.com worksheets list – In case you need more, here is a list of websites that offer worksheets in multiple areas. Have fun!
    • You can find many more options by searching free math worksheets. However, a warning that many sites that provide worksheets are filled with ads. They are not really education sites. They are money-making machines for the owner of the site. The links above are subtle in their ad presence and you don’t have to jump through a bunch of hoops to get to the worksheets.
  • LD Online Article on Math – Helpful website overall. This article talks in depth about math struggles.

 

Reading and Comprehension

  • Reading Plus offers downloadable worksheets for reading and reading comprehension. 
  •  Read Naturally is a highly-recommended resource for fluency. You can try it out with a free trial for 60 days. 
  • I really like ReadWorks  for special needs. It is a completely free resource. The books are illustrated and offer the option of having the books read to the student by a real human voice, not a computer-generated one. You can do one page at a time or the whole book. You can create a library of books for your child to read. It includes some supplemental material such as worksheets and comprehension questions on some lessons.
  • If you want to get lost in the world of reading remediation, I recommend hopping on to  My Three Readers, a blog from a mom of three girls with reading problems. They share a lot of links and printables.

 

Social Studies & History

  •  Ducksters.com – Easy to read history, biography, geography, and science articles including activities, videos, quizzes, and worksheets. A great resource for helping you organize a lesson. You could take the information in each lesson and turn it into a lapbook or foldables project.
  •  Shmoop.com – The site material is written by high school teachers and college professors. There are multiple topics, not just history. Go to Free Stuff, then Study Guides to find a variety of topics. For special needs, the most helpful thing is the way it is organized. For history, you can trace themes through a time period. For historical literature, you can look up the themes or historical characters.
  • Geoguessr free Mapillary version– Teach deductive reasoning with a fun geography game. I like the classic version. You are plopped down somewhere in the world and have to guess where you are relying on things like the style of buildings, the landscape, which side of the road cars are driving on, language on signs and so on. Great for a group activity, too. To play unlimited free on a world map, you have to scroll to the bottom of the home page and choose MAPILLARY VERSION. 

 

Science

 

Life Skills and Communication

  • Smart Steps app – For building independence in older kids. It allows you to set up a decision tree for when things go differently than expected. For example, if your child is out and they need a ride, you can program choices, including contacts, to call for help. If your child is waiting for a ride, you can add comments like: “Stay where you agreed to be picked up. If you move around, you may miss your ride.” It could also be set up for if you have a car accident or a medical emergency. Any situation can be added like what to do when: having a meltdown, you don’t know what to do, the store is closed, you are lost, and so on. The possibilities are endless, but the key is your child can gain independence through decision-making support.
  • ASL Nook  – Context-sensitive ASL signs. Videos use young children, so you get a realistic view of what a sign may look like from a child as opposed to an adult.
  •  AAC Language Lab – (PRC – LAMP Words for Life creator) Resources for teaching your child to use an AAC device to communicate. 
  •  Quick Communication Boards – (AssistiveWare – ProLoQuo2Go creator) is using an AAC device too overwhelming for you? A download with these 4 pages of words that you can print and laminate. Put in convenient spots around the house and teach your child to point to words as needed. Look around the AssistiveWare site for more help with AAC. Communication boards are a great prelude to using an AAC device, Soma Rapid Prompting Method or touch to spell.

 

You can get an expanded version of these lists that include paid resources and teaching tips by signing up to receive How to Teach Your Special Needs Child at Home on my website.

 

BIO

Stephanie Buckwalter is a homeschooling mom, writer, researcher, and curriculum developer. She helps homeschooling parents and specializes in children who are nonverbal and those with intellectual disabilities. You can follow her work at ArtofSpecialNeedsParenting.com 

 

 

 


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By Julie Grosz, M.Ed., with Heart of Dakota Curriculum

 

Do you have a medical challenge or two in your life right now? If you do, please know you are definitely not alone! Now more than ever, it seems like medical challenges are mounting. In the past 20 years of homeschooling my own three sons, we have had multiple medical challenges. Some have lingered, and praise God – some have not. Faith, family, and homeschooling have held us together; they have given us much needed normality among the abnormality of medical challenges.

We’ve had medical challenges of high-risk pregnancies, months of complete bed rest, fibroids, cysts, dozens of hospital stays, premature babies, NICU hospitalizations, physical therapies, occupational therapies , speech therapies, helmet therapies, cardiologist appointments, epi-pens, severe reflux, thyroid disease, and hernia surgery, the list goes on. I’ve helped care for my dad through pancreatic cancer, my mom through high blood pressure, my sister through vertigo, my husband through COVID, and of course, the list could go on.

 

Your Own Medical Challenges

Many of you, just like me, have your own lengthy list of medical challenges. Some have lingered, but praise God, some have not. You have more than likely found yourself to be the patient needing care. You have likely found yourself to be the caregiver. Both the role of patient and caregiver pose medical related challenges. However, no matter what your circumstances may be, faith, family, and homeschooling can truly hold you together! They can be your calm in the storm. On the worst of days, they can be your anchor, holding you steady until the winds and the waves have passed.

 

Leaning on Faith in the Midst of Medical Challenges

You can lean on your faith  in the midst of medical challenges. I know because I’ve witnessed it firsthand from my dad. My dad was strong, happy, healthy, and a hard- working family man with a heart for the Lord. The other day I needed to list my dad’s medical challenges for my doctor, as we had to do some genetic testing for my son’s heart condition. I was shocked at the list! My dad had his gallbladder removed, had an abdominal aneurysm, needed 19 pins in a rotator cuff surgery, had seven blood clots pass through his heart, had a heart attack, a brain bleed, and pancreatic cancer. I had just told the doctor my dad was an incredibly healthy strong man. Where in the world did I get that idea?!? Well, I can tell you where, it was from my dad.

My dad’s faith made him strong. So strong, even through all his medical challenges, my mom, my sisters, and I still would all say he was a healthy man. Making that list showed me he doesn’t really look all that healthy on paper. Still, we remember him as a strong, healthy man who loved to laugh and who loved the Lord. People came to visit my dad during his pancreatic cancer, and they often left encouraged by my dad! He had his bad days, but overall, he was still quite happy. Faith, he leaned on his faith during medical challenges. They seemed to disappear right before our very eyes. We forgot them because he didn’t dwell on them. Lean on your faith in the midst of medical challenges. Talk to God  about it. He cares, and He will carry you through the storm.

 

Leaning on Family in the Midst of Medical Challenges

You can lean on your family in the midst of medical challenges. I know, because I have been leaned on, and done some leaning of my own. My husband got up before work to put a lunch he made for me in the fridge every day during my many months of bedrest. When doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me, my sister hauled me from doctor to doctor until they figured it out. My mom came to care for my baby while I recovered from medical challenges that had brought sheer exhaustion. My dad came to help me care for my premature baby. Even my sons brought me food and blankets and hugs as I lay in bed recovering from surgery. I returned the favor by caring for my husband, my sons, my sister, my dad, and my Mom through some of their medical challenges.

Lean on your family  in the midst of medical challenges. Tell them what they can do to help. Be there for them in their medical challenges. Send a card, give them a call, make a meal, give a hug, get groceries, or simply ask what you can do to help and do it.. When my dad was at home in hospice care, he wanted me to take all the encyclopedia sets home in my car and disperse them among family. There were four complete sets. They were heavy, and they were in the basement. I carried them all to my car by myself, and they barely fit. It didn’t matter. He wanted it done, and he couldn’t do it. There is nothing wrong with helping with odd requests nor making odd requests. Family doesn’t judge; they help.

 

Leaning on Homeschooling in the Midst of Medical Challenges

You can lean on your homeschooling in the midst of medical challenges. Let homeschooling be your normal in the midst of the storm. Do what you can and do it as regularly as you can. If you are bedridden, have the children bring their books to you. If your children are bedridden, go to them. Homeschooling can work in a bed or on a couch. I’ve done both and actually still quite enjoyed it! Make your homeschool things mobile. Backpacks, canvas cubes, totes, wheeled suitcases, get creative! Mobile homeschooling means it can be done wherever you are.

If medical challenges require lengthy therapies for one child and your other children need to come, use that time to homeschool your other children. When my youngest son had helmet, physical, and occupational therapies in another city, my other two sons came to the appointments. My husband traveled for work and could not care for them. I brought my other two sons’ homeschooling things in backpacks. I also asked the nurse if they had an empty room or place I could quietly homeschool the boys. They did! In fact, they gave me my own room. They even let me use the physical therapy room for indoor recess. It was full of balls, ramps, mats, and hoops. The boys loved it!

Maybe you’re in the middle of a major medical challenge, and maybe you don’t see it going away any time soon or maybe ever. Do what you can. If you have two good hours a day to homeschool, then homeschool those two hours. Move slowly, steadily forward. Maintain routine and balance by moving through subjects in the same order. Write down the order you’d like: Bible, history, geography, science, math, reading, read-alouds, spelling, music, grammar, art, etc. Maybe on Monday you have two good hours and you start with the Bible and make it through science. On Tuesday, maybe you have three good hours, so you start with math and make it through art. Maintain a routine, and homeschooling can still be your normal.

 

In Closing

If you find yourself in the midst of medical challenges, take heart! You are not alone. Lean on your faith, your family, and your homeschooling. Give yourself, your spouse, your children, and your extended family a LOT of grace. Looking back, I see God’s hand in all we have been through. I rest in the promise that His plan is good; it is better than mine. Medical challenges come and go; even medical challenges that hang around have periods of respite and times of hardship. Hold strong in the storm; celebrate in the calm. Look back and marvel at all God has brought you through. Know in the depths of your soul, God is good. He loves you. He is with you in the storm, and the storm will not last forever.

In Christ,

Julie

 

Julie Grosz, M.Ed., is a placement specialist and professional blogger for  Heart of Dakota. Julie is a former public school teacher who lives in South Dakota, where she and her husband have homeschooled their three sons. Julie has enjoyed helping Heart of Dakota families on the phone and at conventions with placement, questions, and orders for the past 20 years. Her passion is writing, however, homeschooling her own sons from preschool to twelfth grade has been her most fulfilling adventure of all!

 

 

 


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by the SPED Homeschool Team

 

Learn how three long-time special needs homeschooling moms learned to balance education and medical needs in their homes by properly orienting priorities, energy, and choices.

 

Balancing Priorities

Home educating through illnesses is something our team wrote about a few years ago, just as I was going through the third of three surgeries in 2020. What I learned through that experience is that priorities are a must because there isn’t time to do everything you would like to do when illness upends your life. However, there is always time for the things you put at the top of your list as long as you focus on prioritizing them. For school work, that means numbering subjects in order of importance and then doing them in that order. For daily chores, it means doing your best to have everyone focus on the day’s top chore and being thankful if it gets done between doctor appointments planned or not, necessary breaks for cuddles, telling your kids how much you love them, and taking a much needed nap.The best advice I can give, though, is to focus on what you have to be thankful for each day. Even if it was the gift of another day of life that you get to spend with your kids because you are blessed with the opportunity to homeschool.

-Peggy Ployhar

 

Balancing Energy

The amount of school we do is in inverse proportion to the severity of what’s going on, be it illness or sensory meltdowns. We take sick days when we are really sick. When things are milder and ongoing, I try to get at least some school done. We may not do core subjects those days because I’d rather have my child at full capacity for those. We might do low-energy activities that teach the same material, like watch videos, or explore the topic in ways other than using our regular curriculum. That way, learning continues, but not at the same intensity or duration as a normal school day. Once the crisis has passed, we get back on track.

-Stephanie Buckwalter

 

Balancing Choices

Many types of illnesses have affected our family and our homeschool life over the years. The first question I try to ask myself is what am I willing to give up and what is my goal at the time. Small quick illnesses I give whoever is sick a day or two of rest and then we pick back up. The chronic illnesses are the ones that I have to ask myself what is the most important need right now. When I studied education we learned about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and basically the bottom of the pyramid is that if our basic physiological needs are not being met like sleep, food, breathing and I will add in here being well our motivation will be low resulting in low output. This is what I try to remember during illnesses: do I just want stuff done for the sake of getting it done or do I want it done well? The times when we are going through more chronic issues, I use more games, documentaries, movies that touch on what we are learning, and most important rest. Rest during an illness is one of the most important lessons we can teach our children. Our bodies need rest to heal, and it is important that we learn to listen to our bodies. Finding a place where you are comfortable letting up on school during an illness is a personal choice, but sometimes we have no choice but to stop and heal and that is okay.

-Dawn Spence

 

 

 

 

 


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by Cheryl Swope, M.Ed.with Simply Classical Curriculum

 

Have you ever listed all of the medical, educational, and other diagnoses your child has been given or the diagnoses you suspect? Lined up in a row, the terms appear as heavy as artillery ready to overtake your child and you. As their parent, sometimes you may feel as if you stand alone in your child’s defense.

 

Your child’s diagnoses, given or suspected, may sometimes ring in your ears or haunt you day and night. Surrounding you with a clinical grimness, words such as disorder, impairment, syndrome, and disability may threaten to rob you of the God-given love, respect, and persevering care for your child. When you homeschool a child whose medical conditions, daily care, or puzzling diagnoses seem overwhelming, formidable pressure can seem to push from all sides. What are you to do?

 

Cast care aside, lean on your guide;

His boundless mercy will provide.

Trust, and enduring faith shall prove

Christ is your life and Christ your love.

 

In my homeschool, our boy/girl twins’ list of medical conditions and diagnostic terms fill more than a single spaced page. The pages of terms continue to grow, as if more troops march forth to assail my children and myself. My role as my defender, advocate, and counter-assailant can only grow to meet them if the Lord equips me with His love, His mercy, His wisdom, and His armor for each day. 

 

Fight the good fight with all your might;

Christ is your strength, and Christ your right.

Lay hold on life, and it shall be

Your joy and crown eternally.

 

With the help of God, in our homeschool when conditions and diagnoses began mounting in my children’s early years, we found ourselves becoming resourceful. When doctor appointments, hospital stays, and therapy visits filled our days, “portable education,” became clever tools for academic progress. This also modeled making the most of the time. I describe in greater detail within the pages of Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child and sometimes marvel that we listened to poetry, cradle songs, and silly songs set to music when traveling to and from appointments. As caregivers, you do such things too. We played memory games or I Spy to pass the time in waiting rooms and kept the children’s minds relaxed and light-hearted. We found parks or made a trip to the zoo for taking long, relaxing walks after evaluations. When home for extended periods due to illness or recovery, we created artistic history notebooks that became keepsakes still on our shelves. 

 

To this day, my son finds discussions with the doctors “fascinating” as we often tied medical terminology to etymology (oto-scope = Greek ear/look). Recently my daughter occupied herself in an exam room by calculating the total number of floor tile squares, as we once did while learning multiplication and area years ago. She finds art or photography on the walls and asks me the questions I asked long ago, “Which is your favorite? Why?” and then shares hers. Not long ago in a gastroenterologist’s office she shuddered with dismay at the many posters of intestines. “They really need some beautiful artwork in here!”

 

When mood disorders and mental illness were added to the daunting legion, I did not know what we would do. I recall crying out to a Christian friend. “I feel as if I’m barely holding on by a thread.” She reassured me with words I still remember, “Do not worry about your ability to hold on. The Lord is holding on to YOU!” 

 

Faint not nor fear, His arms are near;

He changes not who holds you dear;

Only believe, and you will see

That Christ is all eternally.

 

Today as medical conditions continue to assail my children, “faint not” remains sufficient because He remains sufficient. The Lord strengthens us, upholds us, and fights for us. Sometimes medical conditions become too powerful or urgent to allow the teaching of etymology, math, or art; but we can teach our children this: Jesus is with us. 

 

If you are in the throes of this battle, hold on. Hold on to your children. Hold on to your family. Hold on to your friends. Most of all, hold on to the One who holds on to you. “For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’” (Isaiah 41:13). Yes, He will.

 

*Hymn stanzas from “Fight the Good Fight,” written by John S. B. Monsell, 1811-1875.

Cheryl Swope, M.Ed., is the author of Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child (Memoria Press, 2nd edition, 2019). With Memoria Press, Cheryl has created award-winning homeschooling resources for all ages of children with autism, adhd, dyslexia, Down syndrome, medical conditions, and other learning challenges, SimplyClassical.com.

Cheryl has a master’s degree in special education. She and her husband of 31 years homeschooled adopted boy/girl twins with autism, mental illness, and learning disabilities. They homeschooled through high school graduation. The family lives in a quiet lake community in southeast Missouri.

 

 

 

 

 


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