Cheryl Swope, M.Ed., SPED Homeschool Partners – Cheryl Swope Consulting and Memoria Press
“God sets the solitary in families.” (Psalm 68:6)
When we homeschool our children with special needs, we spend tremendous amounts of time together. Sometimes we take this time for granted. Our family has found the need to do more than merely “coast” downhill with all of this togetherness. Our children have autism, mental illness (schizophrenia), and various medical conditions. We often need nurturing ways to strengthen family bonds at a moment’s notice.
1. Family walks
The act of putting on coats and boots, scarves and hats, gloves, and mittens seems to signal a change in tone. Leaving the house to go outdoors refreshes our minds and bodies any season of the year.
2. Family games
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3. Family discussions
We might wish problems would silently fade away, but until we talk things through, an undercurrent tugs at all of us and pulls us apart. Talking to resolution yields restoration.
4. Family quiet
Sometimes a brief, respectful separation with quiet occupation is the best remedy for spats and squabbles. For us, this seems especially important in the hour after lunch and the hour before dinner.
5. Family listening
Years ago I learned while recovering from surgery that when I sit on the sofa with a cup of tea and nothing to do, someone will join me to share thoughts or ask questions. My family wants to be heard.
6. Family prayer
When we come together as family members to pray for a neighbor in the hospital, an ailing aunt or uncle, or each other, our hearts and minds unite in strong, profound, and mysterious ways.
7. Family read-alouds
Each year as we approach the Christmas season, our family brings out a large bin filled with beautiful Christmas read-alouds. We share this list to enrich and fortify your family time.
Christmas Read-Alouds, all available from Memoria Press
Age or Ability 3-5
- The Little Fir Tree by Margaret Wise Brown
- The Animals’ Christmas Eve: A Little Golden Book, Little Golden Book
- The Twelve Days of Christmas illustrated by Jan Brett
- Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry
- Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening illustrated by Susan Jeffers *
- The Little Drummer Boy by Ezra Jack Keats
- The Friendly Beasts by Tomie dePaola
- Christmas in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls
- Winter on the Farm by Laura Ingalls
- Little House Christmas Treasury by Laura Ingalls
Age or Ability 6-9
- The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski
- Lucy’s Christmas by Donald Hall
- Why Christmas Trees Aren’t Perfect by Richard H. Schneider
- An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco
- The Nutcracker with CD by Stephanie Spinner
- Twas the Night Before Christmas ill. by Matt Tavares
- Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck
Age or Ability 7-10
- Good King Wenceslas by John M. Neale
- Papa Panov’s Special Christmas by Leo Tolstoy
- A Promise Kept: The Story of Christmas passages of Scripture from Isaiah to John
- The 12 Days of Christmas by Helen Haidle
- I Saw Three Ships by Elizabeth Goudge
- Christmas Around the World by Emily Kelley
- St. Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend by Julie Stiegemeyer
- The Nutcracker with CD by E.T.A. Hoffmann
Age or Ability 11 and up – because you’re never too old to share a book as a family
- A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
- The Story of the Other Wise Man by Henry Van Dyke
- Journey through Advent by Dr. Carol Reynolds
- The Christmas Story From the gospels of Mathew and Luke, The Christmas Story is told with the words of Scripture and depicted by wondrous sacred art.
May the Advent and Christmas season be a time of strengthened family bonds for the sake of your children and your entire family, for “the Lord will give strength to His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace” (Psalm 29:11).
Cheryl Swope, M.Ed., homeschooled her boy/girl twins from infancy through high school graduation. Both twins, now age 25, have autism, specific learning disabilities, and mental illness. With a master’s degree in special education, Cheryl is the author of Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child. She is the creator of the Simply Classical teaching resources voted #1 for Special Learners (Memoria Press). Subscribe for free to the encouraging Simply Classical Journal, a print magazine, and catalog dedicated to all children with special needs. Cheryl lives with her husband and adult children in a quiet lake community in Missouri.