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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Ashly Barta

Have you ever felt the longing to add to your family? The thought of adding to your family either by birth, adoption, or fostering can be an important life decision, adding military life into that equation can make it a bit more difficult to navigate.   Military life has its advantages and disadvantages; deployments, frequent moves, financial strain, and little to no family support.

I recently visited with a friend that went through the adoption process while she and her husband were stationed overseas.  Not all adoption agencies are willing to work with couples that are not currently residing in the country so make sure to do your research.  My friends were able to use a social worker local to them in Germany who then worked closely with the adoption agency in the United States to bring about their adoption. 

The adoption process for them was long and hard at times. It consisted of a lot of paperwork and many hoops they had to go through to show they would be good parents.

When I asked my friend what she would want everyone to know about the adoption process, she said, “I would want people to understand that there is a lot of heartache and loss in adoption. The ache of couples just wanting to be a family, the heartbreak of the mother having to make this choice and eventually our little people will have that heartache and loss.” In the end, the gift is so worth it.  Your child is a gift, your love and respect for the birth mother is a gift, and the knowledge gained from the experience is God’s gift.

My friend also spoke to me about the titles they have chosen to use in their adopted family.  We call our guy’s mom, his tummy mommy but as he grows older that may change. She is his mom. She created him and chose to give him life.  We are his mom and dad, we are all he has ever known. So in their house, they have mom, dad, and tummy mom.

Your child is a gift, your love and respect for the birth mother is a gift, and the knowledge gained from the experience is God’s gift.

For those wanting to adopt I would suggest looking into all the possible ways you can adopt before deciding on a specific path. Foster to adopt, infant adopting, as well as international adoptions are each unique and not one is right for every family that feels called to adopt. Learn and understand the processes of each before jumping in. Start saving now if you plan to do an infant or international adoption. Look into grants, hold fundraisers, have yard sales, every little penny helps.

Also, make sure to find an agency that truly cares for the expectant mother’s well being. Understand that it can take tens of thousands of dollars to complete an adoption from beginning to end, and in infant adoption, the expectant mother may choose to parent after you’ve been matched and are attached to the idea of this baby being your child.

My friend ended our conversation by stating, “Do not let PCS dates, fear of moving, or fear of deployments stop you from pursuing adoption and/or foster care.  Just as everything else that comes with military life, don’t put things off until you have a better schedule, better job, better location, just let your heart speak for you.”  I have to agree. One call is from higher up the chain of command and He will always work things out for the best.

 

 

 

 

 


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Dawn Spence

I had the privilege of interviewing the Northcutt family and want to share their beautiful adoption story with you.

 

What opened your heart to adoption?

My husband worked in the social work field and we had friends that worked in the field too. Too many times my husband, his co-workers, or friends had to sleep in their offices with foster kids because there were no foster homes to take them in.

When my husband took another job, after 13 years in the field, I said we are going to foster because now I can do something about it. We said we would take one of each (we have 2 bio kids one of each) but were licensed for 6 total (state’s limit for our space). The first call we got was for part of a sibling group of 6, they needed 4 beds. I didn’t have the heart split them up, so we accepted them into our home and that was the start of our adventure. We were parents of little ones again.

This last year we completed our first adoption. Our son came as a very tiny and sick NICU baby that we brought home when he was 3 days old. I walked into his hospital room and the nurse looked at me and called me mom. That was weird and very unexpected. I asked to hold him and as I held him the nurse stood there and said: “Well mom he needs a name”. I looked at my husband and we knew this baby would be ours forever. How did I know this? I don’t know, it was just a God thing.

We have fostered for just over 2 years now and 29 beautiful babies have walked into our hearts. We have adopted 1 and this year will probably adopt 2 to 4 more. Why adopt them all? Because God commands us to take care of the orphans and this is our homeschool family’s adoption journey. We have been called to love these children. 

 

How did adoption change your homeschooling life?

We homeschooled our 2 biological kids. I graduated one at the age of 16 and she is now a senior at SHSU, at the age of 19. We have another in high school who still lives at home. Our homeschool day looks nothing like public school. We have 5 toddlers/babies right now who are all under age 3. My son gets an education that no curriculum could ever provide because of our home environment. I am a school teacher at heart and we did a lot of table learning when he was younger, but it is very different now.

I look forward to starting the homeschooling journey all over again with my littles because I learned so much when we homeschooled our older kids. Like the things I wish we could have done differently as well as things that were just perfect that I look forward to repeating.

My older kids will be better parents and more compassionate after being part of raising these littles. They have more life skills than any curriculum could teach. Both of our kids tell us they are thankful we opened up our home to love other children because it showed them so much about how to really love. We know we can’t save the world, but we can make the world look a little better for at least one child as we love them.

I don’t sit and teach my son anymore, but mostly that is because he is in high school and his lessons are self-paced. I give the bones of what he needs to do to him and then he finds the time to get his schoolwork done. Sometimes getting his schoolwork done is very hard because of everything that goes on in our home with fostering and raising babies. We are on the go a lot so he does school in the car, sometimes while holding or feeding a baby, or while watching the babies play. I help him when he needs it but my son is very self-driven so that doesn’t happen often.

 

Both of our kids tell us they are thankful we opened up our home to love other children because it showed them so much about how to really love.

 

What is the best part of adoption for you?

I can’t pick just one thing, so here are two:

1) Getting to enjoy my newly adopted son while he grows, laughs, learns, and is healthy. He is 17-months old, he is not sick anymore, he is absolutely spoiled, and I am beyond blessed that he calls me Mom.

2) Getting to watch my big ones love on these babies with Christ’s love.

 

What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is thinking about adoption?

If you are thinking about adoption then just do it. Don’t wait. The timing is never perfect in our eyes. You will never be financially stable enough, have enough room in your home, or any other excuse you can come up with. If we don’t step in and do our part, who will?

We adopted our son as an infant but we did that because God sent him to us as an infant. This year we hope to finalize an adoption for a sibling group of two girls ages 2 and 7. We will possibly adopt another sibling group of two special needs boys if they cannot return home.

All of our kiddos have some major trauma in their pasts which in itself causes a lot of special needs. My biological kids are Neurotypical so I am by no means qualified to parent a special needs child, but who is ever qualified to parent right out the door? You learn as you go, and you just figure it out.

Don’t be afraid of adopting because you are not sure you can handle a child’s needs. We are moms and dads and God has equipped us for whatever He calls us to do.

As my husband says, “Don’t think about the what if’s. Think about who, and how that ‘who’ needs you right now.”

 

 

 

 

 


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Peggy Ployhar

I had the privilege this month of interviewing my parents, Joe and Margie Prenosil, who have been special needs adoptive parents for 30 years! I hope you enjoy the insight and wisdom they have to share from their many years of experience as they have loved and cared for my siblings.

 

How long have you been parents? How long have you been adoptive parents? Was it always your intention to adopt?

We have been parents for almost 50 years, and adoptive parents for 30 years. As far as our intention to adopt, after 4 years of providing foster care, it was something we started to consider. At that point in our foster care services, a baby came into our care who no one wanted to adopt because of the complications he had with severe cerebral palsy. We decided to adopt him and thus Nicholas became our first adopted child.

 

Because you have specifically adopted children with special needs, what challenges/obstacles did you face early on? And, what resources did you find the most helpful for navigating them?

Our challenges started with finding what resources were available to us from our county and state as well as various specialized clinics. The first thing we found helpful was to expand our foster care work to also include our county. This step greatly increased our learning curve regarding what resources and connections were available locally that were most beneficial for each obstacle that came our way. 

The first obstacle we had was learning all the medical information needed to treat and comfort the children we cared for. It was a medical education that took many years for us to feel like we knew what we were talking about regarding various medicines and adaptive equipment.

Our second obstacle was identifying where to acquire handicap equipment and transportation. The most useful resources we discovered while working with individuals who helped foster parents in our county.

One final obstacle, but one that benefited us the most in subsequent adoptions, was learning our state referral chain for requesting assistance. In our area, we were to go to our county Case Manager first before requesting services from the state Adoption Assistance Specialist.

 

What were some of the things you learned from parenting your biological children that helped parent your adopted children?

First was realizing there was a developmental difference between typical children and special needs children. Once the differences were identified, it was a matter of determining whether to seek advice or accept the condition and adapt from there. 

Daniel, our fourth biological child, had some special needs so parenting him provided a bit of a transition gateway for our adoptive special needs parenting skills. Daniel was dyslexic and hyperactive. Sometimes his difficulties were too much for others to handle. Because of his struggles, we often had friends and family ask whether we were going to bring him with us when we came to visit. Daniel took special needs classes in high school and Margie did most of his reading to accommodate his Dyslexia.

 

“…be ready to acquire ‘new’ skills for yourself. 

 

What were some new parenting strategies you had to learn after adopting children with special needs?

When requesting services or equipment, we learned we needed to share the worst incident instead of the best-case scenario for that child. Also, we learned not to assume that we would always be available to provide the service or help and to also build in requests for helpers. 

We also learned to hire PCAs (Private Care Assistants) as teens who came from large families. In general, these youth were already trained through regular family life to care for their siblings, so all we had to do was additional care training that met our child’s specific needs.

Another strategy we learned was to fully understand what your school district does and doesn’t provide. Two of our children were able to receive in-home services from the school district because of the severity of their conditions.

 

How have you managed family life, church, school, extra-curricular activities, and respite time over the years? Do you have any advice for other adoptive families of children with special needs on how to best juggle these demands?

Family Life: We didn’t adopt children older than our birth children, thus we limited the competition. Our adoptive parenting years started as our birth children were starting college and lives outside our home. Full-time help came over a period of years. First, we hired a full-time PCA using a waiver and then eventually were able to add our youngest son on as hired help. When our son left for college, we were able to hire a full-time PCA that stayed with us for thirteen years. She helped to coordinate other PCAs, cover homecare when we needed to assist a child away from home, as well as respite time for us. She left after the deaths of two of our totally disabled children.

Since then we have relied upon young adults from 16-20 years to fill the gap. Plus after the decrease in PCAs and Margie heart attack, the county helped our ability to work with an agency to hire and maintain staff by reclassifying our home as a group foster home. We are the only one in the county. 

Our church and extra-curricular activities center around family members which extended to include PCA youth (16+) and their families. Through the church, stay connected to a larger community as well as develop relationships with families we know well and feel good about hiring to do care in our home. 

Because we had a full-time PCA/agency, we could coordinate yearly getaways for ourselves but for about three years when we were between agencies, we were unable to get any time away.

Advice to parents: It is impossible to duplicate what we have done to the letter. Stay flexible. We learned that we needed to change as our children’s needs changed and as well as determine what appropriate assistance was necessary for us to help each child with specific needs.

When starting this type of journey, a couple needs to assess whether their current family can accept and contribute towards bringing in a new family member. Second, they need to take into consideration this child’s care may be a lifelong commitment and both parents need to be committed to this child, not just one.

Next, you should assess what financial and community support is available to you if you adopt. Any financial support provided to care for a child should only fill the gaps for that child’s care and should not be seen as another source of income. When you put income before the care of a child you are not letting God do his work. First, seek the Kingdom of God, and then everything else will be provided. We found this to be very true. 

 

“…be willing to accept a child saying, “I love you” as meaning “Do you love me?”

 

If a family was interested in adopting a child with special needs, what advice would you want to share with them based on your 30+ years of being adoptive special needs parents?

First, you need to consider your motivation for adoption. If you have a perceived idea of what you want a child to become without understanding all the baggage this child has acquired and will continue to work through in your home, stop. You will be disappointed. Understand that first, the child will educate you by their behavior, life experiences, and what they want (which is not always appropriate). They will lead by showing you what triggers their actions, and you must observe before acting. You will probably need professional help in understanding the underneath behavior and be ready to acquire ‘new’ skills for yourself. 

Children in the foster care system have learned to defend themselves when everyone else in their lives has failed them. You must be willing to struggle with them as well as be their spokesperson because they may not have the words to describe what they are feeling. If they are in trauma, they may take a long time to change, if ever. Also, be willing to accept a child saying, “I love you” as meaning “Do you love me?”

After considering the above questions we then suggest you again consider why you would want to adopt. Here are two reasons we have found provided a stable foundation for us as we have adopted. First, a real desire to be faithful to the child we are adopting no matter what. We may not change the child we adopt. Ultimately God is in charge of change and we must be willing to let God take the lead in this area or be okay if change is not in His plan. Second, we must be able to accept our failures, limitations, and frustrations. Every day we review our day with God and choose to be happy with what the day afforded us. We ask God for guidance, change what we can, and then we are joyful about the journey and the amazing people He has allowed us to share our lives with.

 

 

 

 

 


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Peggy Ployhar

Teaching a child how to hike parallels the larger tasks of homeschooling and parenting.  Hiking, as well as homeschooling and parenting, may have many technical pieces of instruction, but never should we dismiss the greater benefit of the journey itself. There is a greater benefit of the homeschooling journey too, and it has more to do with walking the path with our children each day than how well any of us masters the hiking itself.

 

A Family that Hikes Together

Our family has been hiking since before we had kids. My husband and I both came from hiking families. Plus, within a few days after each of our children were born, as an initiation into the family, we introduced them to hiking.

As an infant, our child would ride in a front-pack when we would take off for a nearby trail.  As each child grew bigger, the transition from facing towards one of us in the front-pack to facing out happened around the second or third month.  Next, the child graduated from our front-pack to a more sturdy hiking backpack.

But we did not leave each child in the backpack stage. Instead, we observed that child’s walking acuity.  We paid particular attention to how well the child mastered uneven terrain and how resilient the child was to the occasional fall.  Our oldest was a natural pack mule on the trail and thankfully so because he was as solid as one too. He became rather difficult to carry early as a toddler, and we were all too happy to let him take that stocky frame and carry it on his own two feet.  But his younger brother was completely different. Our second child had difficulty mastering uneven surfaces. He hated walking on grass and especially when he needed to transition from the grass to another type of surface. Thankfully he was extremely light, and we managed well in the need to carry him much longer than his older brother when we went out on our hiking adventures.

Each child’s readiness considered, we still did not transition right away to multi-mile hikes as soon as each started putting their feet to the trail.  Instead, we had each walk part of the way and ride the other. At first we continued to carry an empty backpack and allowed the child to ride when walking became too difficult or was slowing down the rest of the party, but eventually, we transitioned making our shoulders available for the occasional rest.  

 

Hiking Milestones

Not until each child had built up enough personal stamina did we remove the option to ride.  But, getting our children walking on the path by themselves was only the first milestone in teaching them to hike. In the years to follow, as our family hiking continued, we continued to teach our children lessons on the trail.  

Our children learned how to:

  • Plan wisely and pack enough supplies.  Acknowledging your unique needs and properly preparing to address those needs dependent on the conditions of the trail and the length of the hike is extremely important if you are to get the most out of the trip. Ill-preparation can lead to uncomfortable situations and the potential need to make otherwise unnecessary changes.
  • Be considerate of others. No matter who is on the trail with you or who will follow your path consideration is appreciated.  These lessons involved making room for others who are slower or faster than you are and making sure to “leave no trace” so the hike will be equally appreciated by those who follow.
  • Look out for dangerous conditions. Being observant or taking appropriate action when necessary is essential to hiking safety.  From determining an animal and it’s probable proximity from droppings and prints to knowing when to make noises to warn animals of your approach, when to stand still to avoid getting attacked or trampled, and how to protect yourself if caught in a storm are all invaluable lessons to keeping safe on the trail.
  • Enjoy the journey.  Taking time to look up from the trail to watch the wildlife, smell the flowers, take in a scene, or stand in awe of the magnificent beauty that God alone can create so flawlessly has to be cultivated and encouraged. Looking beyond the trail to be immersed in the experiences is the greatest reward a hiking experience has to offer.
  • Cultivate relationships.  Talking on the trail or even sharing long periods of quiet pondering when walking side-by-side with others strengthens relationships.  Hiking parties naturally bond on the trail and these bonds have strengthened relationships in our immediate family and with extended family and/or friends we have hiked with.
  • Never give up. Hiking can be very tiring especially in high-altitude, dry, and steep conditions.  The determination to finish the trail before you start, unless conditions cause a necessary detour, helps for keeping the course when the trail gets the hardest.

 

Greatest Benefit of the Journey

Why do I share these things with you?  Because over the years as our family has taken countless hiking trips from short half-mile hikes in quaint campgrounds to grueling hikes down into the Grand Canyon and up again, there is a wonderful parallel for how teaching our children to hike has mimicked our 17 years of homeschooling and 22 years of parenting. Little by little we have trained our children not only to hike but also how to hike well, and still at the ages of 22, 20, and 14 they continue to do a lot of “hiking” alongside us as we teach them how to best follow the trail God has set before our children in the way they should go. Thankfully they still desire that we keep hiking with them through the ups and downs of their daily lives which has been the greatest benefit of the homeschooling journey.

“Our children still desire that we keep hiking with them through the ups and downs of their daily lives which has been the greatest benefit of the homeschooling journey.

Our children at the beginning needed us to help them with everything.  But, teaching them the mechanics of life was only the beginning of teaching them all the knowledge that my husband and I had acquired over the years. In fact, we are still teaching our children as they actively navigate much of their trails now on their own. The same is true for homeschooling and parenting.  We teach our children reading, writing, math, and other life skills, but if we stop walking alongside them once we have taught them these things then we miss out on the greatest benefit of the homeschooling journey – the deepening relationship.

 

Path Yet Ahead

My encouragement to you as you look back at your homeschooling and parenting journey so far, and then look forward towards what yet you have to teach, there will always be enough path and time for the lessons that need to be taught as long as you plan wisely and determine to never give up. The key is in teaching the technical lessons that build on mastery and allow time for integration: enjoy the journey, cultivate the relationships, build awareness of potential dangers, and teach your children the importance of the impact God desires to make through them on the world around them.

Thankfully, God provides the trail as well as a continuous stream of supplies. So, as long as we follow His directions every day, we will not get off track or lose our way and our relationships with our children will only grow more strong and beautiful as we walk alongside them on this journey we have the privilege to share.

 

We at SPED Homeschool are so glad you have allowed us to take this journey with you, and we would love for you to share snapshots of what your homeschooling journey looks like.  Feel free to share a picture or story that makes your homeschool unique and beautiful, and let us know if you would allow us to share your story with the SPED Homeschool community.  When we share our stories, we not only gain a greater understanding of one another’s path, but those outside our community will also gain a greater understanding of what homeschooling looks like when a family works to help their child succeed beyond their struggles.

 

 


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By Peggy Ployhar

In our years of homeschooling the most profound way we have taught our children how to live a life of faith has been by allowing the Holy Spirit do the heavy lifting.  I have always believed it has been my job to live my life of faith before my children with excitement and to share with them the walk God has me on, especially as it affects their lives. As I pray and commit to Spirit-led parenting, the Holy Spirit does the heavy lifting of convincing, convicting, and moving my children’s hearts.

 

 

Spirit-led Parenting: What it Looks Like

 

One example of God working in the hearts of our children has been through reading biographies together. When we’ve read together, my children often remarked on how amazing God is to use those who seem ordinary, unfit, and sometimes all-together unworthy of His attention to perform some amazing things for Him just because they trusted Him and believed what He said He could do with someone who turned to Him with an obedient heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another story I share often is when God had impressed upon both mine and my husband’s hearts that He wanted us to sell our house and move to the county.  For our oldest on the Autism spectrum, it seemed like a death sentence to leave behind his comfortable world for the unknown. But I trusted God had clearly spoken to me. One day when he was protesting about us preparing the house to sell, I decided to let the Holy Spirit do the heavy lifting of convincing my son this was God’s will not mine.

 

 

I basically told my son, “You ask God to tell you if moving is something he wants our family to do, and then come back to me when you have clearly heard from him.”

 

 

 

A few days later, unbenounced to me, he prayed to God to show him that day if we were supposed to move. All day long he was looking, but he never told anyone of his prayer for fear we would add in our own interpretations.

 

 

Then when evening rolled around, he went to his sister’s  room with his other brother to listen to an audio tape of “Mr. Henry’s Wild and Wacky Bible Stories” as they did most evenings. It was their practice to not turn the light on because our daughter usually fell asleep during the story, so in the darkness my son picked up a tape, put it into the tape player, and sat down with his siblings to listen.

 

 

 

Do you know what story he happened to put into the player that night?  The story of Abraham being called out of his homeland. As soon as the words, “Abraham, get out of this land” hit my son’s ears, he knew those words were the answer he had been looking for that day.  He ran out of the room screaming at the top of his lungs,”Nooooo!” And that is when I was brought up to speed with the prayer and God’s answer. Never again did he complain about moving.

 

We forget too often, no matter how old or young we are, we have access to the same God and the same Holy Spirit.  Spirit-led parenting trusts God through the Holy Spirit to do the convincing, convicting, and moving of our children’s hearts, and God’s ways will always turn out more positively then when we try to force our will or our faith upon our children.

 

 


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By the SPED Homeschool Team

 

One of the most important things we can do as homeschooling parents is to instill a love of the Lord and a desire to serve others in our children. Since that can look different for each family, our team members share how they incorporate Gospel-centered parenting  into their homeschool.

 

 

Gospel-Centered Parenting through Relationship

 

Cammie Arn:

“For our family it hasn’t been a particular program or study that we have done, rather it’s been living our relationship out in front of our children. Allowing the kids to snuggle up while I finish my morning quiet time has been key for them to see how we prioritize God in our home.

Taking them to Sunday school and church weekly and allowing for questions and conversation. Having them share prayer requests and watching God answer prayers has given our kids a foundation to stand on into adulthood. We read real stories of courageous Christians as examples of people who lived Godly lives. They have seen God provide clothing when we needed something in particular, food when there was none, money when it was needed, vehicles to both our family and individual adult children.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shannon Ramiro:
“I have a general prayer I say, and I make general comments to God throughout the day, often when I am feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, etc. My son always comments that he doesn’t see the point of it. He also wonders when I will stop considering any kind of “pseudoscience” (e.g. Feng Shui). I recently bought a vinyl sticker I have in my office area at home that states, “Don’t Stress God’s Got this.” It has been rather recently that I have begun being more open about my beliefs, but I have always lived a life in which I serve others as much as possible. I have always hoped I lead by example and my children know certain behaviors that are expected in my household, as well as in the treatment of others and responsibility to our greater community.”

 

 

 

Gospel-Centered Parenting through Prayer

 

Dawn Spence:

 

“We write out our prayers on a board and talk about how God has answered their prayers. Some of their prayers have been on the board for many years and still they see we are consistent to pray.

What came to my mind is the power of prayer and what my kids have witnessed as they have prayed for others and have seen them be answered. It was hard to see when prayers of healing are not answered the way they wanted. They also saw how when they have a need or have a hurt it is the best way to get their needs meet. I have seen my daughter find people and pray with them. I wish I would have had that opportunity when I was younger.”

 

 

 

Gospel-Centered Parenting through Service

 

Debbi White:

 

“Our homeschooling journey spanned many years, so different methods and techniques were utilized, but the overarching emphasis in our home was ALWAYS the Lord.  (Hind-site has shown me several areas that I was flawed in, but I did the best I knew at the time, as most of us do.)

 

Memorization of scripture and hymns, reading/learning Bible stories, family prayer time, and service in our community were main pillars in our spiritual pursuits.  We invested in quality Bible story books when the girls were young, and read them over and over again in our evening devotions. Christian radio was the main medium in our house, and the girls listened to tapes of Adventures in Odyssey daily.  When they got older, we read Christian biographies and memorized hymns.

 

 

The girls and I enjoyed baking, and often we would take muffins, cookies or cake to the sick or elderly.

 

 

One Christmas we bought several gifts from the dollar store, wrapped each one (I think we somehow segregated male/female and child/adult gifts.)  We piled them in a wagon and took them to the hospital. It was so touching for me to see my young daughters pass out gifts to the patients. We also often visited the local nursing home, and we entertained in our home weekly.  We enjoyed having a couple over for board games, families over for meals, and large groups (church, neighbors, home-school friends) over for Open Houses. We also entertained missionaries frequently.”

 

 

 

 

 

Gospel-Centered Parenting through Bible Study

 

Mary Winfield:

 

“For our spiritual learning we do a lot. We go to church and Sunday School each week and our church has a  curriculum that encourages families to learn at home when not at church. The manual has the topics that will be taught on Sunday (and ideas on how to study at home), so you can instill the gospel in their hearts with continuity. We also have a nightly scripture study and prayer as a family. Overall I think that my kids are not going to remember all the specifics of the lessons and prayers we had, but they will remember that we were always striving to be closer to God and to have a Christ-centered home.”


Amy Vickrey:

 

“In the past, we have done daily Bible Studies, and I hope to make this a priority again as we settle into a new schedule this new year.  We enjoyed learning about the Names of God, and the different ways we see him based on those names. My son has learned to pray from going through that study, and can say the most heart-warming, sincere prayers that I feel are years beyond where most people would see his understanding.  I feel it is God who gives him the ability to pray with such sincerity and earnest!

 

I know my kids see my faith and hear me talk about it because of the things that I hear them say and do.  I know as parents we all feel inadequate at times, and unsure if we are doing enough. I know this season of my life will pass, and with time pain will turn to memory.  Life will continue and will become peaceful once more. In the meantime, I try to remind myself that it is not how we deal with the peaceful times but how we deal with the tumultuous times that make the most lasting impressions on our kids’ lives.  I know my parents did not have much to offer us financially during many seasons of our lives. Yet, they gave their time to us, to our friends, and to others. And this meant a lot to those whose lives they touched. I hope that my kids will someday say the same about me.”

 


Tracy Glockle:

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I think in many ways, homeschooling reflects the person or people involved. If Christ is central in my life, Christ will naturally be central in our homeschool and in anything I do. So first and foremost, my own heart and my own spiritual journey need to be a priority. It’s easy to let my own needs slip as I’m focusing on my children, to read my Bible less, to pray less, to seek fellowship with other Christians less because I’m focusing on the urgent immediate needs I see everyday. But one of the best ways I can serve my children and my family is to seek the Lord in my own life regularly. To carve out time, even a little time, and make that a priority.

 

Next, we incorporate Christ-centered conversations throughout the day, particularly at meal times. Right now, we are reading together through the book of Hebrews at breakfast, and my husband leads us in the evenings as we study Proverbs. I love the Simply Charlotte Mason resources for Bible in our homeschool. Each child also has an individual time of study, using various resources we have gathered over the years. Seeds Family Worship is another favorite resource of ours for Bible memory. Each subject also triggers lots of conversations about God and His plan for our good and His glory. The books we read out loud together, the history events we study, the marvels of creation—all speak of God’s hand in our world.”

 

As you can see, there are so many ways to add faith and service to your homeschool, and no wrong way to do it!

 

 

What does Gospel-centered parenting look like in your home?

 

 

How do you incorporate the Lord into your homeschool?

 

 

We would love to hear from you!


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By Cheryl Swope, M.Ed

Teach Us to Pray
Good parents teach many good things every day: Share toys, tie your shoes, eat good food, and speak kindly. Good parents help children learn to read, write, and master arithmetic. Good parents teach children to love what is true, good, and beautiful. Yet we, too, must be taught. If we forget this humbling truth we may become discouraged, overwhelmed, or resentful, even as we plow ahead. We rightly look for help in every need, learning to pray and not to faint.

 

Christ Jesus our great high priest and our only fully atoning sacrificial lamb has won for us full access to the Father. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

 

 

At Home in Prayer
The other night my son, a young adult with mental illness and autism, asked how I was feeling. I had been resting with a sore throat and cough. I appreciated his thoughtfulness in asking.

 

Then from his 6’2″ frame, I heard these quiet words, “I have been praying for you every night.” My throat tightened with gratitude. I swallowed hard and looked into his face. “Thank you, Michael.”

 

He had been worried about me. I knew this. Michael had offered to wear a mask on his work van to avoid bringing home new germs, as I am susceptible to viruses and infections. I never told him to pray. I never asked him to pray. He knew, by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, where help could be found.

 

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2)

 

This was my grandmother’s favorite passage. She taught my mother to pray. My mother taught me to pray. So too my father’s father prayed. In time of need, as with I am worried or ill, I know that even today my father at age 84 will pray for me. My father taught me to pray. We teach our children to pray.

 

Prayer is a welcome gift for all Christians in time of need and at all times. We are encouraged to pray “in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” (Ephesians 6:18), “for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.” (Galatians 3:26)

 

Have you ever noticed that the older prayer books acknowledge the depth of trials of mankind in this life? When we are looking for just the right words for our own prayers or for prayers to share with others, we can turn to such collections for such topics as these:
– prayer when a child is born with a disability
– prayer when a child is stillborn
– prayer when a newborn dies before being baptized
– prayer for wayward children
– prayer for the blessing of children in a marriage
– prayer when the hour of birth draws near
– thanksgiving for a successful birth
– prayer when a woman has an unfaithful husband
– prayer when one spouse has abandoned the other
– prayer of a juror who is to decide a criminal case
– prayer of a soldier for his family at home

 

 

Through Christ Alone
How, then, shall we pray? We pray through Jesus Christ, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (I Timothy 2:5)

 

If we do not know how to pray, we can take comfort. This, too, has been anticipated: “For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26)*

 

Lest we focus back with discouragement on ourselves in our prayers, as we are so quick to do, let us remember the one to whom we pray, the one who prays for us. In Jesus Christ, we have One who “is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25)

 

 

For Us He Prayed
The Lord Jesus Christ prayed through temptation, trial, and the ultimate efficacious agony on our behalf. If we can think of nothing more to pray with our children, we can pray with thanksgiving for this. In so doing, we teach ourselves and our children to pray.

 

O Love, How Deep

Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471)

For us His daily works He wrought,
By words and signs and actions thus
͑Still seeking not Himself but us.

For us He rose from death again;
For us He went on high to reign;
For us He sent His Spirit here
To guide, to strengthen, and to cheer.

All glory to our Lord and God
For love so deep, so high, so broad;
The Trinity whom we adore
Forever and forevermore.

 

“…love what is true, good, and beautiful.” – Cheryl Swope

SUPER SWEET HEADING

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A SUBHEADING

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By Peggy Ployhar

As humans we instinctively know we need to pray.  When tragedy strikes we ask for prayer, we gather to grieve and cry out, and our hearts seek healing from beyond what we can see, feel, and touch.  But, the biggest tragedy is that we don’t practice praying much when things are going well in our lives. We forget we have needs and large voids we can’t fill on our own.  The biggest void I could not fill through my own self-determination was the one created by the damage my parenting anger had created in my own life and in my relationships with my children.

 

 

 

A Spiritual Battle

Parenting anger at its core is a spiritual battle, and therefore prayer is fundamental to changing parenting anger and bringing about healing, in both the parent and the child. Prayer alone brought forth this healing in my life.  How? By ushering forgiveness and restoration to places grace alone could reach.

 

 

 

 

 

Prayer is about asking, but it is more than that.  It is also about seeking something greater and desiring for it to come into our lives and change our nature; the nature which often brings us to the place where we realize our need for forgiveness and healing.  And, prayer is about submitting to that change by pursuing it with tenacity rather than pursuing our natural inclinations or good intentions.

 

 

 

 

A Plea for Change

When I decided in my heart that I no longer wanted to live with the rages I often experienced, I started to pray for God to change my heart and to heal my relationships with my children with more vigor than I ever had before.  My prayers went from “stop this” to “change me.”

 

Change was slow, but every time God revealed a new lesson I then prayed for His help to heal me, change me, and restore me.  When I backslid in carrying out this new lesson, I sought out His forgiveness as well as the forgiveness of my children, and we prayed together for God to help us accept His grace and do better the next time. I also started to make it a point to pray with my children when they met with failure in their own battles.

 

 

 

Fundamental to Change

Prayer was fundamental in keeping us moving forward, in giving us the strength to keep going on, to accepting our imperfect natures, and in realizing all the more our need for a Savior and a constant help as we navigated life with a desire to become less angry and hurt and more loving and compassionate—more like our heavenly Father.

 

When I started this series on parenting anger, I never could have imagined this process would take so long to complete and I would have so much to share.  If this is the first article in this series you have read, I would highly recommend you go back to the beginning and digest each article one at a time. Savor the wisdom God shared with me as I healed through my own struggle and allow the lessons to go not just to your head, but also your heart.

 

 

 

My prayer for you is that you don’t give up, on yourself or your children.  The struggle to change and grow in this ability is worth the battle, and the best part is that God will be fighting right alongside you all the way.

 

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By Debbi L. White

Establishing annual family traditions builds security in children. It makes memories but does more than that. It creates a family culture that helps formulate its identity, which is important to our children as they grow into independent individuals. Family traditions help our children know who they are and where they come from.

 


Importance of Family Traditions in my Childhood

When my brother Jimmy and I awoke early on Christmas morning, there were matching pajamas and stockings stuffed with gifts at the foot of our beds. The night before we had been given firm instructions to change into our new pj’s and to quietly go through our stockings until the sun came up. (Those were very slow, grueling hours!) Although the contents of our stockings changed each year, we could always count on finding an orange and a silver dollar in the toe.

 

At the hint of daybreak, we were allowed to awaken our parents. However, we were not to enter the living room or even peek down the hall! While Dad set up the movie camera and lights, Mom combed our hair and made sure we were presentable. When the signal was given, we ran down the hall and began tearing into the piles of gifts!

 

Every summer we vacationed in Ocean City, Maryland for a week. We always stayed at the Hastings Miramar hotel on the boardwalk. Dad would spend the days on the pier fishing, and Mom went to the beach. My brother and I could decide which place we would rather go. After late afternoon baths, we would all go to the hotel dining room and sit at our assigned table for the evening meal. That was always followed by a stroll down the boardwalk for rides, games, and treats.

 

My parents separated when I was 10 and Jimmy was 8. These family traditions are among the cherished memories of my childhood.

 

 

Importance of Family Traditions for My Children
After my husband and I had children, I thought it important to establish our own traditions. I wanted to build structure not only in my daughters’ days but also in their years. I desired that they feel a strong sense of unity as a family, and be able to look forward to various events that we created annually.

 

When our firstborn outgrew the hand-me-down baby clothes that had been given to us, I began making her toddler clothes. This was done as much out of love as it was out of necessity. However, after our second daughter arrived, there was little time to sew, so I became more of a bargain shopper. I didn’t want to totally give up sewing, though, so I continued to make their dresses for Christmas and Easter. Fortunately for me, the girls loved lots of ruffles and ribbons and lace! When they got a little older, they would help pick out the patterns and fabric. It was such fun! That became a tradition that continued into their teens.

 

Being in the ministry, we did not live near any family. Sometimes relatives joined us for the holidays, but if not, we would invite folks from the community – especially for Thanksgiving. My husband had insisted early in our marriage that I make pie crusts from scratch. That was a bitter pill for me to swallow, but it didn’t take long to master the skill. The day before Thanksgiving was spent pie making. Everyone got to suggest their favorite pie, so it was not unusual to make 9-11 pies! The girls helped, of course!

 

There was plenty of pie so we could have some for Thursday breakfast as we tore bread for stuffing, and watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. As the table was set, three pieces of candy corn were put on each plate. Every person had to tell at least three things they were thankful for before we began eating. Several years I gave pieces of paper to each family member prior to the meal so that they would have time to reflect on what they were especially thankful for that year. I’ve held on to those papers, and they’ve become precious keepsakes as well as reminders of what transpired in years past and what my daughters prioritized.

 

Certain decorations, music, and movies can be incorporated into annual celebrations. My daughters enjoyed watching Rudolph while decorating the Christmas tree. We always got a real tree, usually on Black Friday. There was a certain order it had to be decorated in, too!

 

Christmas Eve we rode around and looked at the lights, came home and had hot chocolate and opened one gift. The next morning I always had prepared a special Christmas Tree Danish which we ate while reading the Christmas story. (Some years the girls acted it out.) Then we took turns going around opening one gift at a time, first from the stockings, and then from under the tree. A traditional gift was a special ornament for each daughter commemorating something from that year. (I wanted to start a collection of ornaments for them to take with them when they started their own homes.)

 

My parents took my brother and me to Ocean City every year for our annual vacation, and I carried on that tradition with my daughters. Instead of staying at the old hotel on the boardwalk, we established the tradition of staying at the Plaza, a condo that has indoor and outdoor pools. Because we homeschooled, we were able to get discounted rates after Labor Day each year, and the crowds were thinner, too! My daughters are now grown and married and live in different states, but they make it a priority to return to the Plaza every September.

 

Unfortunately, our family was broken when the girls were young, as was mine. But the family traditions continued and gave them security in things that we could keep the same.

 

 

Importance of Family Traditions in Your Family
The possibilities for creating your own family traditions are endless and can range from simplistic to extravagant. If you’ve not yet established holiday traditions, check out Pinterest, or books on the subject. Two books that have been an asset to me in establishing traditions are Gloria Gaither and Shirley Dobson’s Let’s Make a Memory and Thanksgiving A Time to Remember by Barbara Rainey. Ask friends what they do, or just powwow and brainstorm with your family. It’s never too late to start creating memories that will last a lifetime.

 

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