Kathy Kuhl

 

What if you didn’t know your child was dyslexic until they hit high school? This happened to a family I learned about yesterday.  They just discovered that their bilingual high schooler is dyslexic. For years, the experts kept saying, “She’s only struggling with reading because she’s bilingual.”

It’s an easy mistake to make, but it wasted valuable time. Now, while taking high school classes online, the girl’s frustration has soared. She is very discouraged. My heart aches for this student and her parents, who have been trying to get her help while living abroad.

This can happen with an online curriculum, in a school, or a homeschool. This frustration and discovery often happens when the pace of education picks up. The transitions to harder level work are times when we notice disabilities. Sometimes students can overcome their learning challenges for years on their own, often by being intelligent and working harder than everyone else. But at some stage–when they start middle school, high school, or college-level work–they can no longer overcome their disability without someone customizing their education.

 

#1 – Understand

  • Educate yourself and your teen about dyslexia. Visit the Dyslexic Advantage website (see the link below) and watch some of the videos. This will help you see how dyslexia is the flip side of intelligence in one of several distinct areas. This site offers practical help and an online forum. It will help you and your teen to take heart and begin to build on their strengths. 
  • Read the book, Dyslexic Advantage by Drs. Brock and Fernette Eide. These medical doctors (and former homeschoolers) work with the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, speak around the country, and run the Eide Neurolearning Clinic outside Seattle. The last third of the book is a very practical look at accommodations—ways to work around dyslexia in school. But the first two-thirds are just as important and interesting. They will transform how you see dyslexia. See below for a link to my review of the book.
  • Understand and be sympathetic to your teen’s struggles. It is hard for non-dyslexics to understand how painful reading can be. I know two adults with dyslexia (one with an M.Ed, the other an MD) who both say reading hurts.

 

#2 – Curriculum

  • Reading instruction for dyslexics comes in varying types and strengths. The main thing to keep always before you and your teen is that there is hope, so don’t give up. Here are a few options that can work long-distance (these are only a few suggestions—I’ve listed others at the end of this post):
    • Barton Reading trains parents to teach dyslexic students. Granted, no expert visits your home to see if the parents are teaching correctly. But Sue Barton is very knowledgeable and has helped many families. Her company, Bright Solutions, provides many videos on its website. (See below.)
    • Alphabetic Phonics by Aylette Royall Cox is another Orton-Gillingham-based program that can be offered at home by a parent. (Please note: this is not Alpha Phonics, nor is it Alphabet Phonics.) This publisher also offers webinars (see below).
    • All About Reading by Marie Rippel is another program to consider.
    • Lexercise is a more intensive and pricier option that comes with online tutoring. With Lexercise, a trained therapist tutors your dyslexic student online through a secure link.

 

#3 – Experts

  • Trained Academic Therapist. Working with someone trained in teaching dyslexics  your student may find that reading can get easier. My son made progress at age 20 with the help of an academic therapist, that is, a Certified Academic Language therapist. Other experts include Orton-Gillingham practitioners or Wilson tutors with Level II certification. This sort of tutoring is expensive. But I wish I’d understood this sooner. Then we could have used the money we were saving for college to work with an academic therapist all through high school.
  • Online Learning. Because of living abroad, the family I mentioned above has been using an online academy, but it has become very frustrating for this teen. One possibility is Time4Learning. I don’t know anyone who used it at the high school level, so it may not be a good fit for a struggling teen. Time4Learning does offer free trials, though, and may be worth investigating. 

 

#4 – Tools

  • Use audiobooks. I list several below. Additionally, did you know that any PDF can be read aloud by a computer using Adobe Acrobat reader? (The read-aloud option is under the “view” tab, oddly enough.)
  • Use assistive technology.  Find someone to walk you through all the tools you already have on your PC or Mac to help—all under the accessibility tabs, but not always easy to figure out. Your state agency for helping folks with disabilities probably offers free webinars or seminars on this. In Virginia, there are eight regional Training and Technology Assistance Centers (T/TAC). These centers lend equipment out. Check out what your state provides. Your local chapter of the ARC may also help you. Additionally, Joan Green knows a lot about assistive technology—her website, listed below, has webinars and resources.

 

#5 – Strategies

  • Strategize your teen’s time. I would devote the majority of each day to the  strengths of your struggling learner. In the case of a teen who is already frustrated, morale is a primary concern. Also, I would spend a chunk of each day working on reading, but with one of the therapies listed above–not with traditional methods.
  • Rethink your current learning approaches. For instance, if your situation requires you to use an online curriculum, can you use something more hands-on for at least some subjects? What is your student good at? What does he or she like to do? Try to find or adapt your curriculum to your student’s interests. For example, I have a friend whose teen shut down at age 15 during a family crisis. All this teen wanted to do was read and watch Japanese manga and anime (cartoons). My friend built a year’s homeschool around anime: Japanese history, an online class for the language, drawing, etc. Later, the teen caught up in her academics, and graduated from The Pratt Institute, a prestigious art school in New York City. Now this graduate is supporting herself as an artist. You may not have the time or resources to do that, but realize that an out-of-the-box curriculum won’t be a good fit for many students with learning challenges. At least a good part of your teen’s education may need to be more customized. I’m not only talking about remediating the area of weakness or accommodating it by working around it. Provide something that builds on the student’s strengths or interests.

 

#6 – Resources

 

This article was originally written on Learn Differently at http://www.learndifferently.com/2017/09/07/help-teen-dyslexic/ and as shared by the author to republish on this site.

 

Please note that some of the links in this article are affiliate links.

 

 

 

 

 


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Peggy Ployhar

Most high school students have no idea what career or even possible career fields would interest them, so don’t get frustrated if you have asked your teen for some suggestions and all you have received in response is, “I don’t know.”

Below I have shared my top 3 career assessment tools that can help steer your student in the right direction for career exploration as useful guidance for you in helping them in this exploration process.

 

#1 – My Next Move Interest Assessment

My Next Move is an online questionnaire that profiles a student’s interests and aligns them with possible future career choices. To access this free career interest assessment for your student, visit the My Next Move website at https://www.mynextmove.org/explore/ip

 

#2 – Holland Code Career Test

The Holland Code Career Test is a free online career assessment that “uses the scientific Holland Code model to show you which jobs will suit your interests, talents, and aptitude.” The test takes about 10 minutes. Basic test results from this assessment are free, or you can choose to receive a full report for just $19. To access the test, visit this link on the Truity website  https://www.truity.com/test/holland-code-career-test

 

#3 – Career One Stop Assessments

Career One Stop is a website sponsored by the U.S.Department of Labor that offers a few different tests parents could use to help with assessing their student’s interests, skills, and work values. Here are the assessments you can find on the Career One Stop site.  https://www.careeronestop.org/. Below are three resources Career One Stop provides.

Career Interest Assessment – This test is a 30 question assessment that takes about 5 minutes to complete and provides a broad overview of your student’s basic interests.  https://www.careeronestop.org/toolkit/careers/interest-assessment.aspx 

Skills Matcher Questionnaire – This test rates a student’s abilities across 40 workplace skills. https://www.careeronestop.org/toolkit/Skills/skills-matcher-questions.aspx

Work Values Survey – Use the cards provided in this section to identify what you student values in a working environment and then follow the links provided to find careers that match these values. https://www.careeronestop.org/ExploreCareers/Assessments/work-values.aspx

 

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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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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Penny Rogers

In the flurry of therapy, homeschool, and general life needs, life skills are one of those things that often get pushed to the back burner, even though we know we need to teach them. If we’re being completely honest, it’s simply easier to do it ourselves than it is to teach our kids how to do it. But helping our kids to achieve things will not only keep them safe, but it will also give them the confidence to try new things.

 

“Everyone wants a meaningful job or purpose. It’s basic human nature. Letting them be responsible for as much of their own care as they can, gives your child purpose and confidence.”

 

Teaching Life Skills for Long Term Rewards

Here in  Autismland,we believe that the more Logan knows how to care for himself, the safer he is when he’s not in our presence. While we are blessed that Logan will be able to live at home during his adult life, there will come a day when we are not here to care for him. He will need to live either with his sister or in a group home. In this instance, the more life skills he has mastered, the less he has to depend on someone to help him. Knowing life skills will protect him from being victimized by someone who may not have his best interests at heart. It will also make it far easier on his sister should she become his caregiver. Though teaching f life skills may be more work right now, learning life skills pays off in the long term.

 

Teaching Life Skills to Build Confidence

Even without the long term in mind, teaching life skills helps boost a child’s confidence. That one facet cannot be stressed enough. As our children grow into adulthood, they want to contribute to something. They want to take care of their own needs. They want to be a meaningful member of the family. These are things we all want. Having special needs doesn’t change that for anyone. Everyone wants a meaningful job or purpose. It’s basic human nature. Letting them be responsible for as much of their care as they can, gives your child purpose and confidence.

 

Tips and Resources for Teaching Life Skills

How does one teach life skills? The key is to pick one skill at a time. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself or your child. 

  • Teach your daughter how to brush her hair. 
  • Teach your son how to brush his teeth. 
  • Teenagers can learn how to shave or how to take care of their menstrual needs. 

Basic life skills are always a great place to start and life-changing for the entire family dynamic.

 

One resource we have used and often recommend is  Skill Treklife skills curriculum. It has over 500 skills to work on and allows you to place your child at their developmental level, not their chronological age. 

  • I love it because it gives me a plan that didn’t have to come from my often overworked brain. 
  • It has all the steps listed out to teach it along with videos. Seriously, sometimes mama needs it spelled out for her. 
  • It guarantees that I will work on it and not put it on the back burner while I try to plan some Pinterest worthy lesson. 

Skill Trek helps me teach my kids, special needs or not, basic life skills as well as skills I would not have thought to teach them (like how to change a windshield wiper.) 

 

It doesn’t matter how you teach life skills to your special needs kids; it only matters that you do teach them. The benefits far outweigh the tediousness, the inconvenience, or the aggravation.

 

 


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By Peggy Ployhar

Most teens outgrow the therapy model at some point in their junior high or high school years. Transferring ownership for continued growth in these therapeutic areas is a key element to ensuring that your student doesn’t stop working on new skills or practicing ones already mastered in a traditional therapy program. To accommodate your student’s desire for independence, this transitioning process requires your child to adopt regular activities which will assimilate therapy work into his or her normal routines.

 

Here are some ways your teen can continue working on occupational, physical, social, and speech therapy goals without going to regular therapy.

 

Speech Therapy Ideas:
Read out loud
Order food at a restaurant
Ask for directions
Sing
Memorize jokes and then tell them to others
Story telling
Make videos or voice recordings


Occupational Therapy Ideas:
Cooking
Yard Work
House Maintenance
Auto Repair
Assemble Purchases (“Some assembly required”)

Laundry
House Cleaning
Gardening

 

Physical Therapy Ideas:
Martial arts
Swimming
Golf
Tennis
Rollerblading
Ice skating
Biking
Running
Walking

 

Social Skill Therapy Ideas:
Join a club or special interest group
Participate in a local event as a volunteer
Be a mother’s helper
Volunteer at church
Start conversations with vendors at your county or state fair
Participate in 4H
Join a book cub

 

I am sure you can think of many more great ideas, and we would love for you to share them with our community by commenting below or on our social media shares of this article.

 

If you are looking for more resources for homeschooling your teen through high school, make sure to check out these other resources on our website:

 

 


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By Cheryl Swope, M.Ed.

This morning my son and I discussed literature. Specifically, we noted a good author’s ability to challenge and strengthen the mind and character of the reader in ways mere escapist entertainment never can.

 


Steadfast Goals

Michael wants to protect his mind, because he fears the long-term prognosis of some of his conditions. He does not want to lose the ability to think or to read, as sometimes happens with degenerative disabilities. I promised him he will be well served to continue reading good books. Reading good literature will help protect his mind.

 

I pray for stronger minds for both of my children. As parents of special-needs children understand too well, my children’s prognosis is on my mind too. This helps keep me steadfast in teaching them, caring for them, and loving them.

 


Maintaining Perspectives

I recently spent several days in the Memoria Press office working on the new special-needs curriculum packages. My children were back home in Missouri. I thought of them often; however, I did not want to call so soon and make them miss me. Even as young adults, my children’s special needs often leave them feeling vulnerable.

 

So I had some quiet time on my hands in the evenings. Unaccustomed to quiet time in the evenings, suddenly I needed a book to read. (I learned that when you find yourself in Kentucky with no book to read, Martin Cothran will reach into the trunk of his car and give you a book or two by Kentucky’s own novelist and essayist Wendell Berry.)

 


Continued Blessings
That first evening back in my suite, instead of calling home, I entered Wendell Berry’s stories. The forced slowing of thought, where reading yields to contemplation, led me to welcome those hours. The characters spoke with such a casual wisdom, they reminded me of gentle insights my 100-year-old grandma shared with me without ever intending to be wise.

 

In Pray Without Ceasing,” a conversation unfolds in a farm kitchen. The grandmother describes a horrible day long ago, when she had learned of a tragedy. “Oh,” she said, “I felt it go all over me, before I knew it in my mind. I just wanted to crawl away. But I had your mother to think about. You always have somebody to think about, and it’s a blessing.”

 

As long as our children live, especially our children with special needs, we’ll always have somebody to think about. And it’s a blessing.

Donate To

This article first appeared in The Classical Teacher, Memoria Press.

Reprinted with author’s permission.

 


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By Mary Winfield


You have heard about Temple Grandin, right? If not, study up! She is amazing. During a time where children with autism were institutionalized, her mother refused to give up on her even when doctors told her Temple would never speak or function independently.

Because of her mother’s persistence, Temple now has her Ph.D in Animal Sciences and works world-wide doing autism advocacy. If you want to learn more about her life, HBO did an excellent movie (it is also free to watch on Amazon Prime). She has written several books, but the one I read most recently is called The Loving Push with Debra Moore as her co-author.

This entire book is dedicated to helping parents help their children with high functioning autism learn to become independent and successful adults. There is so much good information in this book, I highly encourage parents of teens or pre-teens to read it. It discusses dealing with depression in teens with autism and dealing with video game addictions. It also talks about preparing teenagers to drive. It follows several different families with their experiences and lessons.

The part of the book that I want to focus on in this article is preparing teenagers for their post high school lives. In, The Loving Push, they interviewed a college professor who had worked with many different students on the spectrum, and he gave 4 areas where he sees the most struggle when students come to his college: household and personal care, using independent organizational aids, asking for help, and keeping a stable mood.

Household and Personal Care
The professor reference in the book The Loving Push said that most of these teens do fine with household chores and personal care when they are at home because their parent reminds them. Their parent will tell them it is time to shower, but then doesn’t teach them how often they need to shower or teach them to look for signs of dirty/sweaty skin, greasy hair, or body odor as indicators that they need to shower. Teaching them how often to shower (and giving them examples of when to shower more frequently ex: if you are involved in sports or physical exercise) will help them be able to duplicate it on their own. 

The same goes for household chores. They may not notice when something needs to be done, but explaining things to look for or even telling them how often chores are typically done will give them concrete guidelines to follow on their own.

Independent Organizational Aids
Sometimes we try to teach too many things at once. Stepping back and thinking about a lesson’s goal and focusing on the goal instead of trying to group multiple skills will help a child learn quicker. Sometimes we may just need to focus on making a list of things to do and how to decide what to do next.

Talk about deadlines and consequences for not meeting deadlines. The ability to prioritize oftentimes is more important than what is actually on the list. Learning to prioritize and complete tasks is something parents often do for children with autism in setting schedules and routines. Helping them to master this skill for themselves is a necessary skill if they are going to be successful on their own. We can do this by having them help us create their homeschool curriculum and plan out the day and week. Talk with them about making a goal and then setting up steps to reach that goal. These are life skills that will follow them forever.

Asking for Help
The college professor they interviewed also said he saw so many students who could have done the assignments if they had asked for a little help, but they didn’t think to reach out and ask. Instead, they would try to accomplish the task on their own, and when they hit a roadblock, their conclusion reached was they just couldn’t do it. They opted to leave the assignment undone because asking for help wasn’t something they were used to doing.

Parents of autistic children often offer our help their child when he/she is struggling instead of teaching the process of asking for help. Another way to work on this skill is to enlist the help of a mentor for your child. This person becomes someone they learn to reach out to for help and guidance that isn’t constantly around them. This will further help them to practice the skill of asking for help instead of giving up on something.

Stable Mood
Having a positive mindset and reacting proportionately to situations can sometimes be a struggle for our children. One tip discussed in the book is to help them know how to duplicate good behavior and a positive mindset by giving specific and positive feedback. Temple says saying things like, “You are so kind” won’t hold very much meaning for teens on the spectrum. Saying, “Helping me with the dishes was so kind. It made me feel happy and proud of you” instead will help them to know what constitutes being kind, how it makes someone else feel, and incentive to repeat the behavior.

Furthermore, helping a child with autism remember that one failure or setback isn’t permanent and doesn’t mean they can’t be successful in the future is important. Reminding them of past successes when they suffer a setback and talking about solutions to their current problem will help them learn to persist through a struggle. If they struggle in one area, showing them their whole life is not a failure by reminding them of the areas they accel is also important. Be sure to show them strengths and weaknesses in other people as well.

“The Loving Push”
The title of the book explains to us how we need to approach preparing teenagers to be adults. Our kids are more likely to just want to stay in their routines and scripts instead of venturing out and trying new things. That means that we have to be the ones who give them a push out of their comfort zone and make them try new things. Giving them these pushes in a loving way so they know they have a safe place with lots of support will help give them the confidence to try new things in the future and transition into adulthood successfully.

 


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By Peggy Ployhar

How NOT to Transition
I wish I could say I was calm, cool, and collected when I transitioned my oldest into high school, but I wasn’t. Instead, I was a massive bundle of nerves.

To make matters worse, in my pursuit to try to turn my frenzied state into a systematic approach for the upcoming transition, I signed up to attend a “How to Homeschool High School” workshop for typical students. I subsequently left that full-day seminar almost in tears because I felt the outline I had been given to follow was a near impossible task to require from my son.

Needless to say, I have made it through the high school years now with two struggling learners and am on the home stretch in homeschooling my youngest who challenges me on the other end of the spectrum as a gifted learner.

Over the years, I have learned a lot of lessons about what is really important to know when making a transition into high school for an atypical student and what you need to throw out the window OR put off until a later day so you don’t lose your mind.

Below are my biggest transitioning tips I want to pass along so you don’t have to make the same mistakes I made.

10 Tips for Making Your Homeschool Transition to High School Successful

1 – Start with the Right Perspective and Make a Preliminary Plan
To start out your 1st year of homeschooling high school, in a much less stressful state than I did, here are 5 perspective setting points to guide you.

  1. Focus on where your child is at NOW, not where you wish they would have been when starting their high school transition.
  2. Develop GENERAL graduation expectations you and your spouse feel your student MUST accomplish before you will allow him/her to receive a diploma
  3. Include your student’s aspirations, skills, and interests in your plan.
  4. Don’t even look at putting together a transcript until the end of your 1st year. This time delay will allow you to get a better handle on what pace your child can keep, and it will put a lot less stress on both of you as you during this transition year.
  5. Each year focus on 3 main goals and make those goals measurable and relative to the items you have determined above in your preliminary plan. Fill in with other classes and learning activities once you feel your student is making progress on these critical goals.

 

2 – Take One Year at a Time
It would be wonderful if we and our children had a clear-cut idea of where their lives are headed once they transition out of high school, but very few do. Instead of setting your plan up for failure by laying out a 4-year transition plan before you start your first year of homeschooling high school, it is best to write your plan one year at a time with a projected outcome you can tweak along the way.

I would also warn against not having a plan at all. Check out this short video for a bit more information on how to go about creating a 4-year transition plan one year at a time, while still maintaining a focus on your student’s education. This video will take you through how I took one year at a time in teaching my oldest child.

Homeschool High School Plans

3 – Develop Your Whole Child Through the Process
Too often the high school years get so overloaded with academics, we sometimes forget how important the non-academic parts of our student’s education are. Teaching a young adult how to cook, clean, do yard work, maintain a budget, develop their own faith life, drive, work with other people, and so many other adulting life skills will round out your student for everything life will require of them after they graduate.

4 – Follow the Checklist
We at SPED Homeschool have developed a  SPED Homeschool High School checklist to help parents easily remember all the important things to keep in mind or know when homeschooling a student with special educational needs through high school.

5 – School However Long It Takes
High school for many students with special needs or learning disabilities goes beyond their 18th birthday. In most states, you can homeschool your student as long as you deem necessary for their transition into post-high school life. You will want to check with your state homeschool laws  or HSLDA to ensure this is the case for your state, but also keep in mind that the IDEA allows for students to receive special education services up to age 21 (22 in some states), so many states allow the same at least for homeschooled students.

To further encourage you on this point, I suggest watching this video entitled “Is 18 the Magical Graduation Age?”

Is 18 the Magical Graduation Age?

 

6 – Don’t Be Afraid to be Creative
One thing too many parents do without even realizing it is move towards a more formal approach to education when their student enters their high school years. Just because high school is taught in traditional schools with a more compartmentalized approach, that doesn’t mean you have to force your homeschool to mimic a traditional school for your student to receive an adequate education.

 

I used unit studies all the way through high school with my oldest child, and doing so offered him the hands-on approach he needed to stay engaged with his learning. If you want to find out more about how to homeschool high school using unit studies, watch this video.

 

 

 

Unit Studies in High School

 

7 – Don’t Let the Transcript Hold You Captive
The high school years can be a great time for your student to discover what they love to do and what they don’t. Taking a less rigid approach to homeschooling in high school will allow your student to learn some new skills without feeling like a slave to them if they end up not being his cup or tea. At the end of the year, it is much easier to clump a series of related learning activities into a creatively labeled class instead of forcing your student through an entire year of learning a particular aspect of a subject he lost interest in back in October.

 

8 – Derailments Happen
In some cases, things happen during your student’s schooling career that keeps her from obtaining all the plans you had hoped she would achieve during her homeschool high school career. When this happens you must remember this derailment doesn’t mean you have failed your child or her future will be bleak because her education has been derailed.

 

I say this all calmly now, but when my second oldest told me he was done with school at age 16, I was anything but calm. To read more about that story and how God has been working out his plan through that derailment, read my article “When Your Student Derails Your Homeschool High School Plan.” 

 

 
9 – Keep the Bigger Picture Always in Front of You
When you start to stress, take a step back and make sure you are not stressing over the small stuff. Pray, ask God for a renewed perspective, and remember to give the most attention to helping your student achieve his main three yearly goals. The rest will fall into place when you keep your focus and trust in God to help you through each step of these homeschooling years.

 

10 – Stay Connected
You can’t do this alone because it is too easy to think you are the only one struggling to teach your student day in and day out. You need fellowship! The SPED Homeschool Tribes are a great way to connect with other parents who understand what it’s like in your homeschool because they live out the same scenarios in theirs.

 

If you follow these 10 tips you will be able to transition into these wonderful years with your student much more gracefully than I did. I have to say these were my favorite years of homeschooling my boys because I was front and center in their lives as they moved from being children to adults. I pray your years ahead will be equally blessed as you persevere forward into your own homeschooling high school years.

 

 

 

 

 


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By Tracy Criswell

Homeschooling a child with different needs can be overwhelming, especially during the junior high years. Then when you get to eighth grade, you and your child have to start thinking about high school. I have already been through this once with my oldest son and am ready to start this journey with my oldest daughter next year. Both children are different and unique learners. My oldest son is a very traditional learner with anxiety. You can give him a computer program or a textbook and guide him; however, my oldest daughter is a very non-traditional learner. She has ADHD, anxiety, an undiagnosed learning disability, and scoliosis. Even though each child is different, there are many things you can do to make the journey of crossing the bridge into the high school years easier.

Bridges are Unique
It is important to remember each child is different. Each child has his/her strengths, weaknesses, and different learning preferences. It is important to identify these and not compare your child to each other. This has been a struggle for me. I have to keep reminding myself that my daughter will follow her own path during her high school years. She might take a different path to follow her postsecondary goals than her big brother, and that’s okay.


Bridges Lead to Different Places

Ask your child what they are interested in. They don’t have to be 100% certain at the end of his/her eighth-grade year, but it is important for your child to have an idea of what he/she is interested in. This information will also provide as a guide of which jobs your child might be interested in. When you have discussed this with your child, it is important to provide opportunities during ninth grade to explore those careers and possibly do some prevocational job visits. At these job visits your child would have the opportunity to find out what is required for each job, what type of postsecondary education is needed, and whether or not the job is truly a great fit. If you have any family or friends that work in those interested career fields, your child could interview them too. The more information and knowledge that you provide your child will help him/her make a better-educated decision about what he/she wants to do after high school.


Bridges Designed Well, Last

It is important to sit down with your child to create a plan of which classes to take for ninth grade. These classes should include the basic subjects (English, math, science, social studies, etc.), especially if your child is planning to attend a two or four-year college. Electives (classes that allow children to explore different interests and life skills) are just as important as the basic subjects. For example, my oldest daughter that will be a ninth grader next year will be taking the following classes: English I, pre-algebra, Biology I, World History, Spanish I, Concert Band, Pep Band, Career Exploration, Introduction to Art, Computer Skills, and P.E. It is important to note that homeschooling secondary children with special needs will not take the exact classes that my daughter is taking. At this point, she is interested in becoming a makeup artist, which might require a two-year degree and/or apprenticeship. Many children will change their mind several times during high school in what they want to do for a career. My oldest son, who will be a senior next school year, has changed his mind many times and now has narrowed it down to two different careers that he is interested in. Remember that nothing is set in stone.


Bridges Take Time to Build

I would also suggest you purchase a four-year planner and a grade book (unless you choose to use a portfolio where you keep samples of your child’s paperwork, projects, etc.). During high school, as a homeschooling parent, you will need to make sure to record grade for a transcript, find a curriculum, compile books read, organize volunteer activities, find extracurricular activities (church, scouts, 4-H, band, choir, sports, etc.), record awards earned, and help your child apply for part-time jobs. For my oldest son, I shared the four-year planner with him since I used it to inform him what his assignments were. My oldest daughter I am planning on purchasing a 4-year planner for my records as well as a yearly student planner for her. This will help her learn time management and scheduling skills.


Bridges Transport from One Place to Another

Finally, it is important as a parent of a soon-to-be high schooler to remember to take a deep breath. Everything will work out. Remember you are there to help your child work towards his/her postsecondary goals (after high school education and career). At the end of your student’s high school journey, you will be amazed how your child has changed over the past four years. It goes by too quickly.

 

 


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By Cheryl Swope, M.Ed
 

When many of our friends are becoming somewhat reluctant “empty-nesters,” my husband and I realize that we need to continue homeschooling our children even beyond their graduation. At 19, neither of our special-needs twins can attend college, yet both want to continue learning. 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.

Cultivating Beyond Conditions
My son has embarked on Introduction to Logic, Introduction to Music Theory, Introduction to Composition, and other classes at home. He learns slowly, but with Socratic questioning and purpose. As his medical conditions progress, he hopes his continued education will strengthen his otherwise weakening mind.

We required years to master Latina Christiana I, but Michael told me, “Latin is so meticulous and systematic, I think it takes my boggled mind and sorts it out.” He added, “I want to study Latin forever.” His twin sister Michelle chimed in, “Me too.” Most of my daughter’s academic abilities never progressed to the level of her brother’s, but she enjoyed beginning elements of each area in the liberal arts, all bathed in truths from theology, the queen of the liberal sciences.

Cultivating Between the Lines
As classical teachers, we want to help our children love truth, goodness, and beauty. We encourage this through the liberal arts, sciences, and the great literature of Western civilization. Each of our children have been able to grasp unique aspects of this.

One day we read  The Merchant of Venice together. My concrete-thinking son understood very little, but Michelle loved Portia’s famous speech on mercy. She played Portia in each scene. When Bassanio (reluctantly played by Michael) noted that outward appearance does not always show inward beauty, Michael paused at the wisdom of this insight. In the play, Bassanio references Troy and Hercules, so we recalled our beginning classical studies.


Cultivating From the Heavens

Hours later the same day, my husband located some star guides and gathered the children. Equipped with binoculars, we all settled in on a big blanket for an early autumn evening of stargazing. On such occasions, we see how all learning comes together in gratifying ways. Lying still in an open field near the woods that night, we marveled at the many clusters of stars in our country sky. My daughter recalled Abraham and the promise about his descendants. My husband identified the constellation, Aquila. Michelle said she knew from Latin it would be an eagle. We smiled to ourselves. My husband pointed out various constellations and the planet Mars. The names of constellations prompted stories from Greek and Roman mythology, and our children know these far better than we do.

Cultivating Shared Experiences
As a family that evening, we all relaxed together, captivated by one of those rare moments that instantly beautify family life. When the darkness deepened in the sky, we spotted the Big Dipper low on the horizon. My husband noted the trapezoid shape of its ladle, and my children agreed. They knew the shape from former geometry studies. He pointed to another constellation, “forty-five degrees from the bright star overhead.” As the children followed his finger, I remembered all the protractors from our many years of basic geometry lessons together. We searched the rugged craters of the moon through our binoculars. My son surprised me by noting the half moon’s appearance as “a perfect semi-circle, with the diameter bisecting the whole.” Then, for a moment, we fell silent.

Cultivating Unceasing Joy
A fall chill descended under those stars. Snuggling our fragile daughter to keep her warm, I appreciated the richness a classical education offers even to children such as ours. If their abilities continue to fade with the progression of their illnesses, we can still enjoy the opportunity to homeschool our children into their adult years. “O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all.” (Psalm 104:24)

Copied, with author’s permission from Memoria Press

 

 


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