SPED Homeschool Team

Every month, we ask our SPED Homeschool team to provide insight into their own personal journey with homeschooling. This month we asked a few of our team members about what they do for homeschooling when a family member is ill. Here are ways our team homeschools when…

 

When a child has a chronic illness

“Homeschooling through an illness looks differently depending on who is sick. If my daughter with chronic medical issues is ill, everyone else will continue with their day’s work. My daughter will be given time to rest and medical interventions, if necessary. If I need to be more hands-on with her, we might have a movie day and watch documentaries that pertain to our learning. I always have backup plans just in case this happens. My other two children have learned to adapt to their sister’s needs. I allow my other kiddos sick days as they come up as well. We homeschool year-round to make up for periods of sickness. If I am ill, I teach from my recliner and we make things work as well as we can. What I have learned is to give myself lots of grace and remember that I am not chained to a timeline.” – Dawn Spence 

 

When a parent has a chronic illness

“Over our years of homeschooling, we have dealt with short-term illnesses like colds, the flu, and other small health hiccups that disrupted our schedule for maybe a day or two. In those days, my kids would often lament that homeschooling was not fair because, even though they were sick, they still had to do schoolwork. I have to admit, it wasn’t always easy to keep them learning when we weren’t feeling our best, but these times taught my children that we do our best with what we have been given.

“But then sometimes prolonged illnesses affected our learning, like the lengthy battles  both my boys had in overcoming childhood depression. Many days our school lessons were not focused on our core subjects because mental healing was more important than learning to read, write, or do math. And, those days I pushed the curriculum over working on mental health, I quickly realized my son wasn’t grasping the lessons or engaging with the content. He was just physically in the room with his mind in a different place. 

“Now, entering my last year of homeschooling my youngest, I am the one battling an illness – cancer. My life has been upended with weekly doctor appointments, surgeries, and more, all while I do my best to help her keep a regular schedule. Needless to say, in planning out this year, I have taken on teaching in areas where I feel my presence will have the greatest impact. And, for the rest of her curriculum, I have prayerfully outsourced her teaching to tutors or self—paced online programs. I just can’t do everything and have the time and energy I need to devote to my healing.

“Life has seasons of health and illness and those seasons affect how we homeschool. Health issues that families face should never be used as excuses to forgo the calling to homeschool. It may just look different in each of those seasons.” – Peggy Ployhar

 

When there are multiple appointments

“Concerning homeschooling through illness, we just don’t. We are rarely sick, so when we are, we skip those days of school and don’t make them up. That is what happens in public schools. We frequently do have “bad days” where attention just isn’t there because of autism, or my son is having a poor vision day. I build in a make-up week half-way through the school year and another at the end of the school year in the same way some schools have snow days. When we have doctor appointments, I may do half-days depending on if it is just any easy check-up or a long, tough one. The long ones count as a bad day and we do not have school. We have also counted therapy as part of the curriculum because that is what would have happened if he had been in school getting services at school. We just did academics half-day on those days. Speech therapy and occupational therapy counted as language arts as he worked on wh- questions, pronoun usage, and prepositions in speech and handwriting in OT. We just did the math and either history or science on those days.” –  Lara Lee

 

When there is a pandemic

“Just ten days after it felt like the world shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, my husband was unexpectedly hospitalized. By then, my kids were already feeling the changes in the world around them. We were having to distance from family and friends, and our many activities suddenly closed. School and learning were the only consistent things. During this time, we kept our schedule of morning nature walks and schoolwork at the table each morning. We cooked our meals together at home. We relied on neighbors and friends to bring us some toilet paper and a few groceries. I knew that my kids needed the routine even more because everything else in life at that time was chaotic.” – Melissa Schumacher

 

Check out these other SPED Homeschool Team blogs for more inspiration:

Homeschooling Organization Tips that Work

Best Homeschooling Advice for Special Education Homeschool Moms

Avoiding Burnout as a Homeschool Mom

Our Favorite Internet Resources for Homeschooling Special Ed

First Year Homeschooling Lessons

50+ Ideas for Homeschool Extracurriculars

Looking for alternative homeschooling activities when sickness has “rained out” your homeschool schedule for the day? Try one of these low-key learning activities.

 

 

 

 

 


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Dawn Spence

For many, this will be your first year of homeschooling and my best advice for you is to take self-care breaks this year. Homeschooling is a fabulous journey, but it requires work and dedication. Breaks can take many different shapes and forms, so I want to highlight a few that have been helpful for me in my seven, almost eight, years of homeschooling. Not only will taking breaks help you finish strong, rest is an essential part of staying healthy – physically and mentally.

 

Quiet Time at Home

I am still working on this part. Whether it is taking a hot bath, a Bible study, or sitting quietly with a cup of coffee, it is important to feel calm and quiet. Let’s face it, life is crazy and most days we go all day. We are teachers, cooks, nurses, referees, moms, dads, and much more but we need time to just be still. Find your peace and wrap yourself around the bigger picture of why you do this whole crazy life. We are called to serve and love but we need the quiet and break to refocus and ground ourselves so we do not become overwhelmed.

 

Connect with Friends

You are not just a homeschool parent, you are a person who needs their friends. Take time to talk to or meet up with other friends that will encourage you. Find your friends or group that give you words of wisdom and who you can be real with about your struggles and your triumphs. Meet over coffee or chat over zoom, but take the time you will be amazed how much it will rejuvenate you. I truly believe that friendships help us know that those bad days are normal. We all need a cheering section that will speak to our hearts, hold our hand, and pray for us.

 

“…friendships help us know that those bad days are normal..”

 

Retreat Away from Home

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of getting away with an organization called A Mother’s Rest. A special needs mom started this program because she knows what is on our plates. It was an amazing time to get away at a bed and breakfast with no expectations except to relax and sleep. It was nice to be with other moms who understand. They also have retreats for couples or just dads. Their motto is, “You cannot pour from an empty cup,” which is so true. It was nice to step away, be pampered, and truly rest. If you cannot get away for a retreat, find other ways. My husband has surprised me with a night away at a hotel to sleep. Find a way to fill your cup.

 

As you go through this year, take time for yourself so that you can give more to important people in your life. Self-care is never selfish and it allows you to replenish yourself so that you can accomplish your goals.

 

 

 

 

 


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SPED Homeschool Team

 

Dawn Spence

My first year of homeschooling, I allowed myself a lot of grace and just had fun. We used unit studies to grow and learn together. Learning both about the subjects we were studying and how homeschooling worked best for each of us. We were all on a new learning curve and needed to have patience with each other. I based success in the daily victories; on how well we were adapting. Now seven years into our homeschool journey, that first year is still my favorite. We all have many fond memories as we launched out on this fresh adventure and laid the groundwork for our version of school in our home.

 

Cammie Arn

My first year of homeschooling was while the army had stationed us in Germany. I was so nervous. I had no clue what I was doing. The concept of reading to my children and having it count as school was more of a foreign concept to me than many of the customs I had adapted to while living in a foreign country. I had much to learn.

Here are some of the biggest lessons I learned that first year, now over 20 years ago. Homeschooling looks nothing like public school. I didn’t need to know everything to teach my children. Instead, I learned alongside them. I discovered that when you are up all night with a baby; it is okay to count a bedtime story to my five-year-old as that day’s reading. We didn’t follow a syllabus, we just learned when we could. It seemed to work well.

Over the years I have learned many more lessons that have also reduced my homeschooling anxiety. One is that it is okay to skip lessons if your children have already mastered the concept.

 

Peggy Ployhar

Homeschooling was something I said I would never do after I attended my first homeschooling conference when my oldest child was still a toddler. A friend from church invited me to this small gathering in 1999, hoping I would catch the vision. Instead, I decided I did not fit that mold and pursued private education for our children. Fast forward to 2003. My oldest child was halfway through his kindergarten year and the principal of his school suggested my husband and I independently pursue testing for this child who was struggling so much in school that a regular part of his day now involved at least one trip to her office. It was after this testing we added an unfamiliar word to our family vocabulary, Autism, which eventually convinced us of the best educational choice for our son, homeschooling. 

Looking back at that pinnacle moment in our lives, now 18 years in the past, I am grateful I could move beyond my idea of who I needed to be or look like to teach my son. My narrow vision of homeschooling in 1999 almost kept our family from the most amazing journey in which I have had the privilege to learn and grow alongside my children and develop deep and lasting relationships with them that probably would not have been possible if I had sent them off to school.

 

Is this possibly your first year homeschooling? We hope our stories have encouraged and inspired you.  Want to hear more stories from our community? Join one of our Support Tribes or hop onto our weekly Special Needs Moms’ Night Out, every Tuesday evening from 9pm to 10pm CST.

 

 

 

 

 


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SPED Homeschool Team

 

Cammie Arn – Avoiding Burnout by Creating Space

Creating space in my life to avoid burnout happens in my life usually through one of these methods.

  • Taking a bubble bath. I’ve been known to use all the hot water in the house and reheat the bath multiple times during a particularly stressful season. I usually add to this space some dim lighting by having on hand some electric “flickering” candles. 
  • Listing & Reading. Music and books help me create a space to escape to when I can’t change my environment. In those times I listen to praise and worship music or read a good book. 
  • Swinging. Drinking a cup of coffee while sitting on my porch swing is an amazing escape from the chaos inside the house. I love watching the leaves wave at me in the breeze, hearing the birds chirping or taking in the starry sky in the evening.

 

Dawn Spence – Avoiding Burnout by Slowing Down

Slowing down is the opposite direction of where my life is usually taking me, so when I look for ways to avoid burnout I put myself in a mommy time out using one of these methods.

  • A relaxing bath with an iced coffee
  • A pedicure(when funds allow)
  • Grabbing a salad by myself
  • Scheduling some friend time

I love being a mom, and a homeschool mom at that, but my life is demanding and I need the therapy these timeouts provide for me so I can be my best when caring for my loved ones.

 

Jace Clark – Avoiding Burnout by Being Creative

Allowing my creative juices to flow fuels me when I am headed towards mommy burnout. All I need to do is schedule some crafting time or even time to go shopping to look for more crafting ideas. These outlets provide me with what I need to keep going.

 

These outlets provide me with what I need to keep going.

 

Peggy Ployhar – Avoiding Burnout by Getting Active

I have learned I need to be moving to “rest” and fight burnout. The hardest part of accepting activity as rest has been learning to not stress over the fact that my husband or extended family think I need to be sitting down to be rested instead of doing on the following activities:

  • Aerial silks: Exercise is my biggest form of rest. I exercise every day, and most days it is on the aerial silks I have tethered to the ceiling of my two-story foyer. I turn on some worship music, pull out my crash mat and workout until I lose myself in the activity.
  • Power napping: Napping may not sound active, but my family will attest to my ability to get all the rest I need in a 5 to 10-minute nap. I wake up refreshed and with all the energy I need to to finish my day strong.

 

Amy Vickrey – Avoiding Burnout by Reframing Moments

As a single mom, “me time” is hard to come by so instead of figuring out how I can do something else I have learned to reframe places in my life that lead to a more restful state. 

  • Coffee in an adjoining room: I have found a cup of coffee in the next room while my kids watch a movie or educational show that can help a lot to refresh the body, soul, and mind.
  • Reframing life. Reducing demands on myself and my children, usually set by my own priorities can greatly reduce my stress. 
  • Adding to our environment. A day at the park, a fun activity for the kids to engage in while I just put my feet up or turn on music while my boys ride bikes around the yard can make me feel more rested. 
  • Centering on faith. Bible study, prayers and singing bible songs at bedtime also helps us after a rough day to set our hearts and minds on a better day the next day.

 

No matter who you are or what type of rest works best for you or your family situation, we hope and pray that in sharing how we each uniquely work in our lives at avoiding burnout that you can glean some ideas and develop habits to help any possible burnout scenarios in your life.

 

 

 

 


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Amy Vickrey

Single mom, working mom, homeschool teacher, mentor, friend, chauffeur, online teacher/tutor, student, and the list goes on.  Being a mom with special needs children is hard. Being a single mom is hard. Being a working mom is hard. Add to these roles an autoimmune disorder and the stress of going back to school and …. and … and … it can get overwhelming quickly.

How do I manage all of this? It’s not because I’m SuperMom.  Far from it. It’s taken me many years to figure out how to balance everything with relative peace.  I still have days where my life is overwhelming. However, I would like to think I am learning each day on how to improve.  Here is what I’ve learned I have needed to do to keep the scales from tipping too far off-balance in my own life as well as in the lives of my children.

Scale Balancing Practices:

  1. Fast meals and sandwiches are okay.  My kids have certain things they can grab and eat first thing in the morning and for snacks during the day.  This helps me when I am not able to stop and get food for them right at that moment. One trick for us, due to food allergies, is I try to cook up extra (especially breakfast foods) and freeze them so they can be taken out later for another meal.
  2. Time versus money for setting priorities.  I earn less money because I work part-time, but this means I have more time with my boys, which is important to me.  Finding the right balance between the money you need to earn and the time you need with your family is essential. It may mean some decisions and choices have to be made, but deciding what you can and cannot live without goes a long way in prioritizing smaller decisions.  This goes for curriculum as well when deciding how much time I have to put together a curriculum versus buying something ready to go (new, used or a combination).  
  3. Kids come before work.  Sometimes it is tempting to just sit and continue working on school or work.  However, I find that putting my kids first, whether it’s taking them outside, reading a book, or just giving some snuggle time, helps them to be calmer during the time I am working.  This allows me to get more done.
  4. Take my days off.  I am still working on this one, but this year, I have worked hard to take a day or week off when I could.  This has allowed me to rest, focus on my kids, and be ready to go back to work and school when the time comes.
  5. Find a balance between work and play.  This year I have been mindful about scheduling playtime for my kids and me.  Going on nature hikes, trips to the park, lunch dates with my 2 favorite boys, and other opportunities to play and be away from work have become an important part of our lives.
  6. Rest and sleep.  I am the type of person that has to have rest.  So, whenever possible, I go to bed when my boys do.  Even if I don’t go to sleep, I go to bed, put my feet up, have some “me” time, and recharge my batteries.  This has helped me feel more rested and ready to go for the following day.
  7. Taking advantage of downtime.  With having classes I need to study for, I have to schedule time to work on my schoolwork.  I have found time during my son’s therapy, evenings while the boys are watching a movie and other times when I can focus on my work. By taking this approach, my study time doesn’t take away from time with my boys.  This has allowed me to not feel so stressed about trying to get everything done at the expense of not spending enough time with my boys.
  8. It’s ok to have help.  My sister-in-law helps watch my boys while I work, my parents help at times, and my boys attend therapy at an awesome clinic that works on specific skills.  Could I do all I do and parent and homeschool well without these things? Possibly. But, it’s also okay for me to have a team to help me carry the burden. This help keeps me from getting overwhelmed and worn out.  Each person helps in a specific way and in unique ways, which allows me to focus on what is most important to me and be okay with letting others help me and my boys in the areas they can bless us best.

Yes, every day, it is best to remind myself that being a mom is my first and foremost calling and when I do my best at that everything else falls into place so I can best balance being the mom I want to be for my kids.

 

 

 

 


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Nakisha Blain

Here are my top homeschool mom burnout avoidance tips. I have to say, some are harder to do than others, but I do my best to make them happen because I know in the end if I do what I need to take care of me then everything else has a time and place to be taken care of as well.

Homeschool Mom Burnout Avoidance Tips

  • Seek to actively incorporate peaceful practices into your routine. When I follow this tip, I feel much more centered and balanced throughout my day.  It’s way easier said than done, but I try my best every day and then give myself grace at the end of the day in the places I have fallen short.
  • Eat a healthy diet. A well-fueled body will work better and keep you more energized through your busy, busy day.
  • Go outside. Get some sun and breathe in some fresh clean air.  Whether it’s a hike in the woods, a trip to the beach, or a simple walk around the block—being outside can be incredibly therapeutic.
  • Ask for help. You are already superwoman for being a homeschooling mom, so go ahead and let others know how they can support you and your family. 
  • Treat yourself to something occasionally—even if it’s very small. Small personal treatments are much deserved and something you should not talk yourself out of. A delicious piece of chocolate, a new book, a manicure…whatever you consider a special treat. My favorite things are watching auto racing and having a bonfire so I make time for these occasionally in my schedule.
  • Do something fun. Not everything in your day has to be from your to-do list. It’s okay (and encouraged) to do something just because it’s fun. Spending time unwinding while doing a fun activity will allow you to feel more energized when you do get back to tackling your to-do list, which will, in turn, help you knock those tasks out faster—and for that reason, the “unproductive” things may be way more “productive” than you think!  
  • Focus on what you do accomplish. There is always time tomorrow or another day for the things that don’t get done on your list today. It is okay to legitimately put things off because something else came up or you didn’t have time to fit it in.
  • Share responsibilities. Try setting up a system to share responsibilities within your home. Not only will you remove tasks from your plate by sharing responsibilities, but you will also be training your children to do important life skills.
  • Make sleep a priority. Do your best to go to bed at a decent time. Avoid trying to get things done late at night if possible, and sleep the amount of time your body needs to feel refreshed and ready for a new day.
  • Trust in your intuition or gut feelings. When making decisions instead of mulling over them for hours, days, and/or weeks that could be used better on the other things in your life go with your gut and move on.

 

 

 

 


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Peggy Ployhar

 

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

 

Purpose

Living Out Your Calling While You Homeschool 

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

 

Marriage

Thriving in a Special Needs Marriage

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

 

Patience

Growing in the Shade

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

 

Forgiveness

5 Mistakes I Made as a New Homeschooler

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

 

Endurance

Pressing Through the Hard Places

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

 

Uniqueness

Uniquely Fitted for Your Calling as a Homeschool Mom

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

 

Teaching Challenges

The Peaks and Valleys of Our Special Education Homeschooling Journeys

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

 

Inadequacy

Am I the Best Teacher for My Child?

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

 

Hope

Finding Hope Despite Your Struggles

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

 

Support

Vulnerability and Staying Connected When You Homeschool

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

 

Expectations

Homeschooling Lessons Cultivated by Looking Up and Beyond Circumstances

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

 

Doubting

How to Homeschool Amidst Your Imperfections

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

 

Anger

Why We Should be Talking About Parenting Anger

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

 

Setting Aside the Books

Field Trips ARE School

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

 

Anxiety

Just Breathe

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

 

Tempted to Quit

Never Give Up as a Homeschool Teacher

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

 

Worn Out

You Can’t Pour From an Empty Cup

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

 

Family Crisis

5 Homeschooling Tips When There is a Crisis

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

 

Depression

Looking into the Face of Childhood Depression

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

 

Relationship Issues with a Child

Your Greatest Homeschooling Superpower

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

 

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

SPED Homeschool Resources

SPED Homeschool Support

SPED Homeschool Tribes

SPED Homeschool Partners

 

 

 

 

 


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Here is the best homeschooling advice some seasoned special education homeschooling moms shared with us when we asked for their top tips.

 

Peggy Ployhar– SPED Homeschool Team Member

Here are the top 5 homeschool mom tips:

  1. Teach your child, not curriculum. 
  2. Take one day at a time. Celebrate a victory, let go of a hurt, and accept grace for a mistake.
  3. Trust wherever peace leads you to teach your child and don’t compare it to what anyone else is doing.
  4. Take care of yourself even if it means doing less than you think you should be doing.
  5. Don’t stop dreaming for your child or yourself.

Homeschooling success has very little to do with the curriculum, but everything to do with what we do every day in our homes.

 

Amy Vickrey– SPED Homeschool Team Member

Give yourself:

  1. Time to decide on curriculum, approaches, and learning styles. 
  2. Permission to make mistakes, start over new each day, take breaks, and change your mind if something isn’t working. 
  3. Permission to use a curriculum or a unit study in a way it was not originally intended by the author. Make the curriculum fit your child. If you can’t make it fit, then change the curriculum.

 

Dawn Spence– SPED Homeschool Team Member

Here are my top three:

  1. Use color coding
  2. Integrate  games
  3. Believe in your children

#3  seems so simple but kids love to hear from you how smart you are and that you believe they can do things which they may have trouble believing they can do themselves. Growing up with an undiagnosed learning disability, I would often hear from my teachers how stupid I was. This is the opposite of what our children’s hearts and minds need to succeed. Daily affirmations and love give our children the encouragement they need to face their mountains with confidence.

 

Daily affirmations and love give our children the encouragement they need to face their mountains with confidence.

 

Shannon Ramiro– SPED Homeschool Team Memeber

I find the most important things are:

  1. Plan what you are going to do ahead of time.
  2. Don’t expect the day to go according to plan.
  3. Have everything you need for however long you believe your child can pay attention (materials including all pens, manipulatives, teacher manual, workbook, everything) within arm’s reach because the minute you have to get up to go find or get something you will lose your child’s attention and getting focused again will take even more time away from your lesson.
  4. For reading, if they are beginning to read, and can read the level of text but are struggling, take turns. You read 1-2 lines, and then you ask them to read 1 line.
  5. Determine how long your child can actively be engaged, then plan your lessons accordingly. Take breaks as needed. Do not attempt to stretch any learning past what they can tolerate.
  6. Switch topics and incorporate their interests as much as possible.
  7. Add movement throughout their lessons.
  8. On days your child can’t focus on lessons, go outside and talk about what was observed.

 

Corinna Ramos– SPED Homeschool Community Member

I use Minecraft in almost every subject because that is what works for my son at the moment.

  1. In math I write out my son’s problems, then he goes onto Minecraft and uses squares to work out the problem. It is amazing how well he has learned multiplication through the use of blocks in Minecraft. He can take math word problems and use Minecraft to make the problems into how he can understand them and come up with the right answer. 
  2. I also use Minecraft for history by having him build historical sites. It’s like he is walking through history. 
  3. Minecraft also teaches my son about science. 
  4. When it comes to writing…of course he writes about Minecraft. I have him write in a daily journal about what he did in Minecraft that day and he actually participates.

 

Chrystalina Tosado– SPED Homeschool Community Member

I study my child and make sure school works for him. Here is what I found:

  1. My son learns better on the afternoons
  2. He can’t have distractions close like toys
  3. At certain times he needs breaks. We jump, do an exercise, or just relax
  4. In art, we always do crafts that are based on my son’s interest like dinosaurs, or the current season, and then we use these projects to decorate his working space.

 

 

 

 

 


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SPED Homeschool Team

 

Organization goes far beyond making sure everything is in its place, especially for homeschooling families who live, eat, learn, and play under the same roof every day. And, who would know better than experienced homeschooling moms who live this way 24/7? This is why we asked our team of experienced homeschooling moms to share their best homeschool organization tips that work while juggling teaching, housekeeping, and everything else going on in their lives.

 

Amy Vickrey

Making time for my spiritual life with my children has been a priority.  I am working to teach them that they have a choice regarding love, joy and their relationship with God.  To prioritize this goal, we started reading a daily devotional each night. This simple addition to our schedule has helped me remember to spend time engaging my children in God’s word and sharing time praying.  We have also added hymn singing after our devotional time. It is so sweet to hear my 3-year-old join in singing “How Great Thou Art” and “It is Well.” These precious memories will carry them and me far into the future because of this simple change I made in their bedtime routine.

For schoolwork, my oldest does his best when he can see his workload from beginning to end.  We used checklists, a clipboard, and other techniques to help him see his schedule visually. Because he can see his schedule and can to do tasks at his own pace and take breaks when needed.  In the end, he knows there is no TV time until he finishes so this acts as his reward for finishing all the tasks on his list. We also make sure to target our school time for the time of day when my son’s learning peaks.  This targeted learning time has greatly reduced daily schoolwork battles. One additional thing that helps us with school work is that I have built a therapy team with people other than myself who provide therapy sessions and work on educational (or pre-educational) goals with my children.  I let them take care of those specific skills so I can concentrate on other skills at home.

For meals, I find writing out a basic menu for each day on a calendar works best for me.  This way I will not repeat the same 3 meals my kids prefer more than I can stand, and it also allows me to plan ahead of time for expanding their palettes. This simple calendar planning also expedites the time it takes to put together my shopping lists and actual grocery shopping.

In general, balancing homeschool, work and school has been a challenge.  As a single parent, I am blessed to have a supportive family, but the majority of the responsibility still falls on my shoulders. I have found I have to stick to my schedule, make use of downtime, and not overcommit, especially on weeks bigger projects or assignments are due. 

 

Ashly Barta

I have found homeschool organization success in keeping each child’s work separate.  I use a binder for all wipe-clean pages and checklists. We use daily checklists and reverse planning to ensure we accomplish everything on our list each day.  I found that with reverse planning I have less pressure to complete all the things in a rush, we can dive deeper into the subject matter or take time for extra practice if needed.  My son has epilepsy so it allows us to take breaks when needed and I have learned to love the rest time just as much as the work time. Along with the binders we also utilize workboxes (Latchmate totes found at  Micheals) and a morning basket.  The Latchmate boxes house the main curriculum along with flashcards, pencils and whatever else my children need to complete their work.  On the other hand, the morning basket holds coloring books, a Bible, read-aloud books, and other similar materials.

 

It is amazing how implementing a few simple organizational tips can help homeschooling and a busy home life stay on track!

 

Dawn Spence

Something simple that helps me in staying organized is meal planning. My kids even help when they know what is on the menu by reminding me what meat I need to take out of the freezer so it is thawed properly. Meal planning also helps keep me keep to a budget and be thoughtful about creating healthy meals for my family. Sometimes I plan for one week, but if I am on a roll I plan two weeks out. Having a meal plan also allows me to order my groceries ahead of time, which is another big time saver. It is amazing how implementing a few simple organizational tips can help homeschooling and a busy home life stay on track!

 

Peggy Ployhar

One way I have been successful in organizing my children’s homeschooling materials is by giving them a dedicated place for their things and a yearly planning calendar.  As you can imagine over the past 17 years of homeschooling in 4 different houses as well as 2 separate times of living in our travel trailer while homeschooling, this organizational method has been thoroughly tested. My children’s spaces have ranged from tubs, shelves, drawers, and cupboards but they have always been a unique space that is just theirs to store books, projects, and the other things they use regularly for school. As for planners, I have tried many over the years, but eventually realized what worked best for us were the cheap student planners you can find at just about any store at the beginning of the school year. Each year I buy one planner for each child, making sure the cover, as well as the layout, work well for recording everything in that student’s schedule.  Then I write in lessons, a week at a time in pencil, in each planner. When my children were young, I helped them with organizing their spaces and planners, but as they moved into their junior high and high school years they took over managing almost everything, sometimes even their own weekly lesson plans!

 

Whether it is organizing your schooling materials, your homeschool spaces, your student’s schedules, or even your meals we hope our team’s homeschooling organization tips have inspired you to make one or two small changes towards being more organized in your homeschool and homeschooling family life.

 

 

 

 

 


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Cammie Arn

Looking back I realize that finishing a homeschool day well has changed for me over the years. When my children were little, I felt accomplished if that day I had a plan for dinner, everyone got dressed, and we read at least one book. Now after 20 years of homeschooling, I find my day finishes well when dinner is planned before breakfast, the children have completed their day’s assignments without complaining, I’ve spent my quiet time with God, and my family did something fun together. Below are some of the things I have learned these past 20 years in striving towards my goal to finish each homeschool day well.

 

Simple Planning to Finish Each Homeschool Day Well

Planning is essential to finish each homeschool day well, but it doesn’t need to be elaborate or complicated. For instance, I have a small bulletin board in our school area where I post the syllabi’ for the school year. This way everyone knows what needs to be done each week. I also post my menu and chore assignments where everyone can see them. Once these items are posted, “it’s the law”. We also make it a point to focus on school first. After breakfast until lunch school work is the priority . I’ve also trained my children that school and house responsibilities are to be completed before any free time activities are permitted.

 

Bigger Picture Focus to Finish Each Homeschool Day Well

Staying on track and being mindful of bigger homeschooling goals can also be simplified. When my oldest began high school I created a 4-year high school scope and sequence. Since then, each summer and Christmas break I re-evaluate this plan to ensure my children are making adequate progress or if  extra time or help is needed to reach a goal. Another planning element added to our at-home study lesson plans are yearly classes our children take at a local co-op. Each summer I incorporate each co-op classes syllabi into my children’s yearly goals. 

 

One additional tip I have learned for tracking textbook lessons is to copy the table of contents from the book and assign specific due dates for each chapter. Then I laminate the table of contents page and use it as a bookmark for the textbook. This way my children know throughout the year what date a specific reading assignment is due.

 

In the end, material things don’t matter but people do. Making sure I spend time with the people I love is the best way to finish each homeschool day well.”

 

Crushing Difficult Tasks to Finish Each Homeschool Day Well

In order to not procrastinate on difficult tasks, I try to do the most unpleasant things in my day first thing in the morning. This way these items are done and I have the freedom of mind to move on to whatever else the day holds. But, on the days when I just can’t get to these more difficult tasks, I assign them to someone else.  Just kidding. They wait until the next day or time they can be dealt with, unless I can find someone who is able or willing to help.

 

Looking Back and Ahead to Finish Each Homeschool Day Well

When I look back I realize what matters most are the people in my life and the relationships we share. The question I ask myself at the end of each day is, “Have I met every need I could as best I could today?”  Looking back to what matters most today and into the future to what will matter most in the years to come provides the best framework for where it matters most to spend time each and every day. In the end, material things don’t matter but people do. Making sure I spend time with the people I love is the best way to finish each homeschool day well.

 

 

 

 

 


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