Sonlight Curriculum SPED Homeschool Partner

If you took a poll of special needs families, you would likely find one thread that is common among every single family: flexibility. Because flexibility is so critical when raising special needs children, choosing a literature-based homeschool—the most flexible of the curriculum-based approaches—makes so much sense.

 

1. Literature-based Learning Allows Flexibility in Environment

With a literature-based education, days are more organic. Rather than forcing our children to sit still at a desk for long periods of schoolwork, we can allow them to draw, build with blocks, or stretch out on the couch while they learn. 

When my oldest son was young, he struggled with dysgraphia, and we worked with an occupational therapist for quite some time. He hated writing, but he quickly learned that he loved to draw while I read aloud. This gave him the flexibility to work on his fine motor skills without really noticing that he was improving his fine motor muscles. Now, ten years later, you’d never know the struggles we had early on. I attribute our Sonlight Read-Alouds to his tremendous success in overcoming dysgraphia. 

Literature-based learning also lends itself to flexibility in our surroundings. It’s really easy to take our reading outside on nice days, and small changes like this can really help our sensory craving children to thrive. We’ve read on the grass, in the swing, on a tree, and in the car. Anywhere that you can take a book becomes a classroom when you use a literature-based curriculum.

 

2. Literature-based Learning Allows Flexibility in Format

Because much of the education in literature-based learning stems from discussion, we can teach subjects like science and history without paper and pencil, making those subjects more stress-free for those children who despise paperwork. While most people may be accustomed to worksheets and tests, a literature-based curriculum can set you free from the hum-drum of paper-based practice and assessment. 

For example, Sonlight contains very little testing. With a literature-based program, children show their understanding of a subject through narration—repeating back what they learned in the reading. My children and I have

  • learned geography by mapping the places we read about
  • learned science through reading living books and doing fun experiments
  • learned history through fictional accounts of true events

This type of education spells success for children who strongly dislike or struggle with paper and pencil work.

 

3. Literature-based Learning Allows Flexibility in Learning Styles

  • Does your child love to write? Then have them take notes or doodle while you read.
  • Does your child hate to write? Have them build with blocks or learn to sew while you read. 

With a literature-based curriculum, you aren’t trying to stuff your child into a box. Instead, you give them the flexibility to be themselves. This is of the utmost importance with special needs children. They need the flexibility to learn in the way that is best for them without any stigma, and this is exactly the freedom that  a literature-based curriculum offers.

 

4. Literature-based Learning Allows for Flexibility of Choice

Literature-based learning is so beautiful because of the choices available to you. Take Sonlight for example. In the elementary years, you have three to four choices of topics of study, so you are able to pursue your child’s interests in selecting each year’s program. What sounds more interesting? World history or US history? You can choose!

Choice can mean the difference between your child buying-in or checking-out on their education. Give your special needs child a reason to buy-in to their education by sitting down with the  Sonlight catalog and helping you choose the curriculum for the year.

 

5. Literature-based Learning Allows for Flexibility of Schedule

There’s nothing quite as overwhelming as feeling that you are behind. Special needs families are especially aware of this constant pressure to keep up in the midst of fluctuating moods, non-stop doctor and therapy appointments, and the basic hum of life’s requirements.

With a literature-based curriculum, being behind really isn’t a problem. First of all, you’ll likely find yourself slightly ahead of schedule because of what I call, “One More Chapter Affliction.” This affliction affects probably 90% of all literature-based students. Symptoms include continually asking to read “just one more chapter, please.” This seems to be pretty much incurable and is usually characterized by a collective groan once the adult reading has worn out their voice and ended the read-aloud for the day. I tease, but in all seriousness, we love reading aloud so much that being behind schedule never worried me.

Also, when you have a literature-based curriculum, it doesn’t feel so much like doing school. So you can save a book for the summer or for bedtime reading, and catch up without pressure. You could just school all year by stretching out the curriculum over 12 months instead of 9. Or you have the freedom to skip a book all together without ruining the flow of the overall curriculum. 

I believe that a literature-based education offers the most flexibility and the most organic learning experience of all the homeschool approaches. Both of these qualities make a literature-based education a great option for special needs children.

 

 

 


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Renee Sullins, SPED Homeschool Consulting Partner

In working with teenagers for many years, I have learned that if there is ONE thing that teenagers understand well, it’s PROCRASTINATION. Not to say that adults are not guilty of the same, but teenagers are quite adept at it.

There are three types of procrastinators I would unscientifically categorize as the blatant procrastinator, the passive procrastinator, and the convicted procrastinator.

 

The Blatant Procrastinator purposefully ignores an assignment or task and is aware of the consequences. They are not concerned that something is due the next day or that there is even a deadline involved. It may be important to someone else, but not to them. They simply let the deadline pass and move on, much to the displeasure of their parents who may not even know.

Blatant procrastinators would rather do something they want to do and don’t see it as procrastination. This may be the teen who has a messy room, refuses to use a calendar or planner, and has a list of excuses for everything. Why bother to clean your room when it will just get messy again? Planners are too restrictive! These teenagers are also the ones who spend countless hours gaming or on social media.

 

The Passive Procrastinator waits until the last minute to finish so it does not seem to be a big problem. They are aware of deadlines and may even track things in a planner, app, or notes on their cell phone. They have good intentions of following through, but they just cannot accomplish tasks on-time consistently. They know where they want to be, but struggle to manage their time.

Passives may believe they have finished, but in reality, it is only partially done and they don’t notice until it is too late. These teens are usually the ones with ADHD and who are aware of their learning differences, but they are not using the necessary tools to focus and manage their time. Passive procrastinators know the consequences of not getting something done on time. They are often the most amenable to trying new strategies to help prevent procrastination, though.

 

If we can determine what is getting in the way of their success and help them get unstuck, then they are more motivated to cultivate new habits for their success.

 

The Convicted Procrastinator has a heightened awareness that they are procrastinating but, instead of working toward their goal, they quickly become overwhelmed and spiral into thoughts of self-criticism, defeat, and guilt. They are so hard on themselves that they self-sabotage and end up not getting anything done. Or, they are so overwhelmed about their lack of activity, there is often a resultant headache, stomach ache, or even a migraine. When this happens, they feel even worse, and it becomes a vicious cycle.

 

I would also like to mention a fourth type of procrastinator that I know well as I witnessed this type in my teen. They are a kindred spirit to the Passive but to a more extreme level. It is the Avoidant Procrastinator. This is the teen who thinks that if they don’t think about it at all, it will go away. I had one of those in my house. It does not go away. It only gets worse and can cause great anxiety and stress.  Please be aware of the signs that your teen may suffer from more than just being a procrastinator.

 

So what should a parent do? Each procrastinator has his or her own set of rules, coping skills, excuses, and struggles. The first thing I do when I work with young people is to let them know that I come from a place of curiosity, not a place of judgment. We dive deep to determine what they want for themselves, how they want to be seen and heard, what is important to them, and their “why”. If we can determine what is getting in the way of their success and help them get unstuck, then they are more motivated to cultivate new habits for their success. This takes time, patience, and intentional listening.

The teen years are transitional years of becoming more independent yet still needing the approval and counsel of parents. When you have a procrastinator in your home, instead of asking nagging questions or given them endless reminders, seek out resources to get them the support they need that works uniquely for them. This may take some trial and error, but in the end, they will find their way, and will feel empowered and in control of their lives now, and hope for the future.

 

 

 

 

 


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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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Guest Blogger – Neches Phelps

 

What was supposed to be a mid-semester break from our year-round charter school turned into a homeschool trial.  We were faced with a choice: file a Level 1 complaint and fight for accommodations that my child wouldn’t see for 6 months to a year, or homeschool.  I don’t remember much from those first three weeks. My husband and I did some google searches, downloaded some curricula samples that we thought might be a good fit, and then I started working with what we had and accumulating what we didn’t.  

 

I’d really like to say that as a former educator and administrator that everything went according to the schedule that I had planned, but that simply wasn’t the case. Some things seemed way too easy; others way too hard. And sometimes it was both within the same curriculum!  When I asked an experienced SPED homeschooling mom for advice, she simply responded by telling me to follow my child’s lead. I wasn’t quite sure what “following my child’s lead” would mean. Where would his love for numbers and rock music take me? I didn’t have to wait long.

 

While jumping on the couch one evening, he said, “Mom, what’s your favorite Queen song?”

“I don’t know.  ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’?” I shrugged. 

He said, “’Bohemian Rhapsody’ is from the album A Night at the Opera and was released in 1975.”

 

I wasn’t quite sure what “following my child’s lead” would mean. Where would his love for numbers and rock music take me? I didn’t have to wait long.

 

I realized that he had been studying the Greatest Hits Queen CD sleeve while we had been listening to it in the car.  Sure enough, he knew them all! On Thanksgiving day, he told us that this was the exact date that Freddy Mercury died.  His love for rock music had met his obsession with numbers. This was too easy, I remember thinking to myself. “When is Freddy Mercury’s birthday?” I asked. He had to find out. 

 

Conversational skills were born when he started to ask people when their birthdays were, how old they were when Freddy Mercury died, etc. He must have seen a picture of Freddy Mercury driving a car because he started to ask people how old they were when they first drove a car. That led to some very interesting conversations as he discovered that some people started driving a tractor first or that they were quite young when they first got behind the wheel.

 

We did what I call “Freddy Mercury Math,” read Queen lyrics, and studied our family trees. Did you know that Roger Taylor (Queen’s drummer) has a son named Tiger Taylor who plays drums in The Darkness? (Neither did I.) And we talked about death.

 

The traditional educator in me still isn’t entirely convinced by the idea of unschooling.  But the mom in me says that we are going to be celebrating the Queen band members birthdays and writing their biographies this next school year.  I have a calendar filled with important dates that I don’t want to miss, and I’ve researched some reading and math curricula to help fill in some gaps.  It turns out that following my child’s lead isn’t going to be so difficult after all!

 

 


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By the SPED Homeschool Team

Other than choosing to homeschool, the biggest decision we have to make is choosing homeschool curriculum. This decision is filled with a lot of stress as we decide what curriculum is “perfect” for our child. Here are some thoughts from the SPED Homeschool team to help make that decision a little bit easier for you!

Cammie Arn

Initially when I started homeschooling I loved the idea of using living books such as Sonlight, but after several years and more children I needed some things that were more independent.

After that I tried everything with my first child trying to figure out what worked best for both us. It took me several years of learning about learning styles, teaching styles, state requirements, and the freedom of choice that goes with those things. Walking into my first vendor hall was completely overwhelming. The options are endless.

However, after 20+ years of homeschooling, I now choose homeschool curriculum based on the biblical worldview that will work for all of my students at the same time, such as Mystery of History. Or I like options that cover multiple subjects at the same time like Notgrass. Efficiency is my goal now as we have life to live and ministry to do as well.

Dawn Spence

The journey of how I picked homeschool curriculum has changed over the years. In Pre-K for my girls, I did self-made units. Even through Kindergarten and when my son joined homeschool, I went to more group-type work for science, history and Bible studies. We have enjoyed My Father’s World for that. The thing that I love most about it is that it is easy to modify in order to accommodate my child’s needs. It is structured, but also classical. I have in recent years made it my own and added and subtracted as I felt. I add videos and audio books and hands on activities. For individual work, we use all kinds of curriculum. My kids are hands-on and visual for the most part. We use Math-U-See, Spelling-U-See, Touch Math, Handwriting without Tears,  Memoria Press, Little Giant Steps, Diana Craft, and Equipping Minds. My three kiddos are very individual and need their own way. No one child fits in a box, and neither does their curriculum.

A lot of choosing homeschool curriculum is a matter of trial and error, experimenting with what works and doesn’t work. There is no perfect curriculum, and there isn’t any curriculum that is a complete failure; you learn something from each choice you make.

Tracy Glockle

Choosing homeschool curriculum can be daunting with so many choices available. What I have found really helps me is when I start with my child rather than the curriculum options. My first step is to look at my child’s skills and ask “what is the next step?” I then look at my specific goals and vision for my family and for that particular child. By asking these questions first, it narrows the choices. Each year, I start that process over again because I’ve learned that my kids change: their needs and skills change, their interests change, and their learning preferences have even changed over the years.

Some curriculum options have passed the test year after year, while other curriculum is constantly changing. For instance, we have loved Tapestry of Grace from the very beginning because it allows everyone to be learning the same material, it fits our worldview, and it provides a lot of flexibility since it is designed to provide you options for customizing your own study. It also allows for certain subjects to be integrated into the history studies and provides ideas for all learning styles. The flexibility of the curriculum has made it a great fit for us, though each year I may tweak how we use it or the choices I make within the curriculum. Language arts, however, has been an area where I’ve supplemented and changed quite a bit, even disregarding grade level as I look at what specifically needs to be tackled next and what curriculum choice tends to deal with a specific area best.

A lot of choosing homeschool curriculum is a matter of trial and error, experimenting with what works and doesn’t work. There is no perfect curriculum, and there isn’t any curriculum that is a complete failure; you learn something from each choice you make.

 

As you can see, there is no “right” answer when choosing homeschool curriculum, but don’t let that overwhelm you! You are never going to “fall behind” if a curriculum doesn’t work out. It is okay to pick a curriculum and find that it is not a great fit. That just means that you have learned something about your child, and that is part of homeschooling! Take your time, try different approaches, and don’t be afraid to jump right in!

 

 


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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 Jennifer Duncan

Raising and teaching gifted children is an amazingly fun challenge, but it is a challenge. Something that I have learned over the past few decades is that often, the best way to teach a gifted child is to allow them to teach you.

That may sound counterintuitive – aren’t we supposed to be the teachers? Yes, but allowing your child to teach you, and allowing yourself to learn from them, can actually have a lot of benefits.

There are several ways in which your child can teach you. Here are the two that I have found work well!

 

Teaching as a Learning Tool
One of the hardest things about teaching a gifted child is that they tend to learn extremely quickly, and they like to dig deep. This can get exhausting, but it can also stump the most dedicated teacher. How do you teach a ten-year-old who has already surpassed you in some subjects?

This question comes from personal experience.

My son surpassed me in math and science when he was ten, and in other subjects a few years after that. At that point, I had two choices. I could either give up on teaching him and turn him over to someone else, or I could get creative and create an environment in which he could learn.

I chose the latter.

Because I could no longer be the instructor for those subjects, I decided to be transparent with my son. I told him that if he would be open and honest with me about what and how he wanted to learn, I would keep him supplied with resources. Instead of being his instructor, I would be his fellow student – I would learn along with him.

Instead of evaluating him through tests, I studied along with him and allowed him to teach me what he learned. If he could explain it in ways that made perfect sense to me, I knew that he had a good understanding of the material.

Ten years later, we still work with this system, which brings me to the next benefit.

 

Teaching Your Gifted Child to Understand Others
Most gifted children are aware that they think, perceive, and learn in ways that are completely different from what is considered “standard” or “normal.” They may not be aware of what the “standard” or “normal” ways of learning actually are, but they know that they think differently.

As they get older though, this can present quite a challenge. If they think, process, and communicate in completely different ways from those around them, how will other people be able to understand them?

This is a real issue that many gifted children face. Often, the best way to help them overcome it is to be an open and honest (but compassionate) sounding board.

My son, who is profoundly gifted and twice exceptional, realized around age 8 or 9 that many people did not understand him. Kids his age did not understand why he wasn’t interested in the games or shows that they were. Instructors and leaders had a hard time with the fact that he often knew more about their subject matter than they did.

Many gifted children respond to this by simply hiding behind a “standard” mask, refusing to let people hear their ideas or see their creativity. Sadly, this is difficult to fully prevent, but it can be mitigated.

When your child knows that you really see them, even when they are awkward or speak like someone far older than they are, they will be more willing to open up. It may take quite a bit of practice before they are willing to do so to the world at large, but allowing them to be real, open, and excited with you can solve a number of problems.

First, it allows them to honestly gauge how effectively they are communicating with others (i.e., with you). Often, when my son is working on a paper, a devotion, or something else he wants to teach, he will talk it through with me. He knows that if I’m lost, there is no chance that other people will understand. If I track with him all the way, however, he knows that it’s good to go.

Second, being an honest sounding board for your child allows them to try new things and present new ideas in a safe way. Because they don’t have to worry that you will reject them if you don’t understand their idea, they have the freedom to dig in and work through it. Once they do, they will often have the confidence to then offer that idea to others.

 

Allowing Your Child to Teach and Grow
When your child thinks and learns in nonstandard ways, it can be difficult to find opportunities for them to learn and grow. Allowing them to teach you and allowing yourself to learn from them can bring many of these opportunities to light!

As they grow, they will find many ways in which to share their gifts, their creativity, and their abilities with others. Simply giving them the tools, confidence, and support they need can make all the difference!

 

 


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By Peggy Ployhar

Recently I received a call from an exasperated mother who was desperately trying to find a way to teach her son. After homeschooling for 14 years and graduating her oldest, who was also a struggling learner due to a brain injury, she felt she had exhausted her teaching arsenal and was still coming up short in being able to teach her younger autistic son.

Questions to Revelation
Our conversation started with this mother asking if I knew of any different curriculum options she could try. But, instead of offering my best advice on curriculum, I led her through a series of questions to find out what teaching techniques had worked with her son and what his main interests and hobbies were. At first, her responses to my questions centered around all the curriculums she had bought in the past that were now filling her shelves, no longer being used for one reason or another. But, as I continued my questioning, she started deviating from talking about curriculum to talking about her son and the success he had experienced through their homeschooling endeavors. Eventually, our discussion moved into ways she could use the curriculum she already had, employ the services of her local librarian to find books focused around her son’s interests, and start building learning around those interests.

As our conversation came to an end, this mother confessed to me, “Maybe I just need to change how I teach my son instead of trying to find another curriculum.” Of course, this conclusion had been the main goal of my questioning.  But, if I had just told her to change her way of teaching at the beginning of our conversation, she wouldn’t have understood what I was talking about. It was only after leading and letting her discover the importance of individualizing her son’s education, that she truly understood how teaching her son was more about what she did instead of what she used.

The Homeschooling Advantage of Differentiated Education
Did you know in a survey done in 2002 of special education homeschooling parents “the majority of survey parents (58%) designed a curriculum for their children.” As a matter of fact, this same study reported that “All the parents in the case studies designed the curricula for their children based upon their ability and interest levels.” And, “most of the mothers criticized packaged curricula.” Now, you must understand that back in 2002 when this survey was conducted, there weren’t many homeschool curriculum options specifically targeted to teaching children with learning challenges.

It is interesting to note though, that in 2012 when special needs homeschooling curriculum was starting to abound across the country at homeschool conventions and book fairs, Dr. Brian Ray of NHERI  summarized in an exploratory study of homeschooling outcomes  the main advantage of homeschooling both learning disabled and gifted children was “The informal environment that homeschooling provides allows ‘differentiated instruction,’ not a one-size-fits-all version that is typical in public schools where teachers must meet the varied needs of twenty or more students in the classroom. The personal approach of schooling at home provides a natural environment to customize the curriculum for learning disabled and academically gifted children alike.”

In looking over many studies and surveys, including those cited above, as well as drawing from my decade and a half of experience in consulting with special needs homeschooling families, it is easy to conclude that differentiated instruction, utilizing student specific accommodations and modifications, is not only the best way to homeschool a struggling learner but a homeschooling freedom that’s particularly advantageous to utilize with children who do not adapt well to traditional teaching methods.

A Widening Gap
I apologize ahead of time to anyone I may offend with my following remarks, but the reason I feel many special education homeschooling parents have moved away from implementing specific differentiated instruction has to do with special needs homeschooling curriculum developers who market products towards a specific diagnosis or learning disability. Now, I love curriculum and do feel parents can benefit from using both regular and special needs homeschooling curriculum, but when a parent believes a specific curriculum will teach to their child’s specific need to the point the curriculum itself provides the necessary differentiated instruction, that is a problem.

Too many homeschooling parents have reasoned themselves out of providing specific and individualized instruction for their child because they believe their special needs curriculum is providing enough learning variation on its own. Unfortunately, with the vast spectrum of learning disabilities and challenges confronting special needs homeschooling families, it’s impossible for curriculum providers to create materials able to meet the specific needs of all these unique children.

The Missing Link From a New Approach
Ultimately, parents who homeschool children with special educational needs will find the most effective way to teach their child doesn’t come in a package. Rather, it comes from being a student of their child, learning how to implement specific teaching strategies and methods and figuring out which ones work best in teaching to their child’s needs, locating resources that work with their child, and coaching their child one-on-one through the learning process.

We at SPED Homeschool have started the process of creating resources that connect parents to the training and support needed to properly modify, accommodate, and adapt curriculum and teaching methods to better fit the unique needs of their students. Our articles, live training broadcasts,  podcasts, and support tribes are already helping hundreds of families every day in their special education homeschooling endeavors.
 

This article was originally written for Schoolhouse Rocked. The author approved editing and reprinting of the original content.

 

 


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By Peggy Ployhar

 
As I cited in my previous article, The Then and Now of Special Education Homeschooling, more parents who have children with special educational needs are choosing to homeschool as a reaction to the lesser quality educational options offered by public or private schools. But, with this transition, many parents unknowingly bring the same teaching mindset they were looking to leave at school into their new homeschooling experience.

Below are the 4 most important distinctions of how specialized home education differs from an institutionalized special education program and opens the freedom potential parents have in homeschooling a child outside the box of special education.

1 – Schooling is focused on the positive aspects of your child, not the negative
Special education within a school setting was created to detect and correct a child’s learning issues. By focusing on what doesn’t work well for a child, the negative aspects of a child’s learning disability becomes pronounced in their lesson plans and overall educational goals.

The beauty of homeschooling is that although a child may still struggle with an ability to learn, a parent has the freedom to design lessons around the positive ways a child can learn. Over time homeschooled children learn what methods and tools work best to help them learn, which they then can adapt and eventually carry into their adulthood.


2 – A child is taught according to their gifts, not their deficits
All children have specific gifts, as well as deficits. Unfortunately, non-academic gifts are outside the reach of a traditional special education classroom. Homeschooling allows a parent to supplement a child’s studies with opportunities to work on specific skill sets and gifting alongside the subjects the child struggles in. This ability to blend academic and non-academic pursuits allows a child to find success in their studies where before they may have only met defeat.

Turning interests like cooking, woodworking, computer programming, acting, or even martial arts into school subjects is not out of the question when you homeschool. The options are endless on what you can turn into an area of study and the benefit of adding these classes for children who struggle in core curriculum subjects, is they start to realize learning can be fun instead of an always defeating experience.

3- Progression happens at the rate your child learns, not against a “norm”
Classroom learning and grading, in general, are based on norms. If a child is not keeping up with a specific norm, then they are considered “behind.” Schools focus on working with a child to get them “caught up”. Unfortunately, each child is unique and those who are more pronounced in their uniqueness will never quite match a level of “normal.”

Homeschooling, on the other hand, not only allows children to be unique it can celebrate their unique qualities. Schooling at home allows a child time to discover how they learn best, not how to learn like everyone else. Each lesson learned by a child in a homeschool setting sets the bar for what lesson comes next, no matter how long it takes the child to move from one step to the next.

4 – A lifestyle of learning replaces a compartmentalized learning process
Many children with learning challenges also struggle with translating a learned concept to another part of their life. This inability for a child to learn one lesson at school and then translate that same lesson to a scenario at home or in a “real world” setting prolongs the learning process for these children.

When a family starts homeschooling, they also start a shift in how learning is perceived. Learning is no longer just found in books, in classrooms, or on a computer, but everywhere in life. Every experience, every encounter, and every relationship brings lessons to be taught as well as lessons to be learned that flow over the boundaries of subjects and grade levels. This decompartmentalization of learning removes many learning translation issues which in turn speeds up the child’s overall learning process.

For a child who experiences learning challenges, educational delays, or struggles with a disability or medical condition, a specialized home education approach provides opportunities to succeed in learning instead of hurdles they must get beyond. If you embrace those freedoms as a homeschooling parent, you will be rewarded in watching your child soar above their struggles and embrace the learning process…for life!

If you would like more information about getting started in homeschooling your student with special educational needs, make sure to visit our Getting Started Page .

We would also love to have you as part of our community! Come connect with almost 2k families on our  SPED Homeschool Facebook Support group as we daily discuss the ups and downs and ins and outs of homeschooling a child with learning differences. If you are not on Facebook, make sure you sign up for our newsletter because we have some new regional groups launching soon that will allow you to connect with other local special education homeschooling families in your area.

This article was originally written for School House Rocked but was re-edited and reprinted with the author’s permission.

 

 

 


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We all learn very quickly, that even though we may have established a routine, and are plugging along at our homeschool days, things can quickly derail us. Illness is a huge problem for many people. Illness of a child, illness of the parent, or even illness of a family member that we are responsible for can affect our schedules. We have dealt with many of these in our family, and since I’m dealing with the flu this week, I thought I would share my approach to them.


7 Tip for Homeschooling During an Illness

#1 – Keep a Balance
Do not try to be superhuman and ignore the illness! Usually our bodies are trying to tell us something when we feel bad. We need rest, we need nutrition, we need a little TLC. As caregivers, we are not always the best at taking care of ourselves, so if your body lets you know you are sick, heed the warning. The same is true for our children. Sometimes they simply need rest. 

#2 –  Allow for Rest
Prime learning does not take place when children are run down and sick. It’s easy to stay in the mindset that school has to take place every day for a certain number of hours, but it’s simply not true. Learning takes place all the time, in all good environments, but it doesn’t usually take place when the participants are sick and run down. Don’t try to muddle through and “check your boxes” for the day. You are free; allow you or your child to rest if it is needed.

#3 – Learning Happens Everywhere
Learning can happen snuggled up under a blanket on the couch. Do you know how many fabulous things my children and I have learned by turning on a kids educational program, documentary, mini-series or YouTube video? Countless! We use them all the time. If you or your child are up to it, turn on a video. Our favorites are: Sid the Science Kid, Magic School Bus, Signing Time, Rachel and the Treeschoolers, Liberty Kids, and many PBS history shows. My kids learn so much from a visual/audio learning experience.

#4 – Insert Books
If you or your child feel like it, break open the books. Read-alouds are wonderful for sick days (well, if the person reading isn’t the one who is sick). Audio books can also be used. My girls like to color or build with blocks while listening to their audiobooks.

#5 – Housework Can Take Backseat
Sometimes, you must ignore the housework completely. I’ve met a lot of homeschooling mamas that really can’t ever give themselves permission to let the housework slide. I am here to tell you…when you are ill, there is only so much energy you can exert. Sometimes, feeding the children and keeping everyone alive is all you can do!! Don’t fret! Let the kids “help” all they can and just face the housework when you are well.

#6 – Reach Out For Help
If an illness for you, your child or a loved one is extended, don’t be afraid to ask others for help. We all need to lean on others at certain times. Don’t be afraid to reach out for any help, when needed. I’ve been through some rough times with sarcoma and unexpected surgeries. One of my sweet friends set up a meal train to come every couple of days for several weeks. It was such a huge blessing. Food literally just showed up at my doorstep and I didn’t have to cook it. Sometimes asking for help with cooking, cleaning, laundry or anything can free up the time you need to keep you sane.  

#7 – Give Yourself Grace
This really has to go for every aspect of our lives. But if someone is sick, remember to give everyone grace for schooling. You are not confined to anyone else’s schedule. Sometimes the greatest lessons our children can learn are not their ABC’s or 123’s, but they are learning to care for and love each other during the best and worst of times. What you are doing while caring for them and others will not go unnoticed. They will learn to love by your example. Press on! 

 

 


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