Dr. Melissa Shipman, SPED Homeschool Partner Learnwell Home Education Collective

While homeschooling can often be a solitary endeavor for a parent, there are many reasons why all of us benefit from homeschooling in community.

 

Accountability works.

Just like when we train for an athletic event or try to lose a few pounds, having people around us to support our journey is crucial. If there is no accountability outside of our own motivation, it is easy to get behind, have a bad week and push school to the side, or altogether lose sight of our educational goals and feel discouraged. 

This is one of the primary reasons why homeschooling in community works. Knowing that your community is tracking with you is priceless! Knowing that there is another parent who is following the same curriculum and the same timeline or list of assignments provides instant accountability. You know that they are sticking to the same guidelines and subject matter. You know that if you have a particularly challenging day, you can reach out and ask for help from someone who is running the same race.

 

Questions come up.

Whether you are homeschooling for the first time or a homeschooling veteran, you will have questions. Maybe you need to find a new program or curriculum or need ideas for new teaching strategies. Unfortunately, when you are “going it alone,” it is easy to let your circumstances overwhelm you. 

However, a community of like-minded parents gives you something you may not get on your own: a different perspective. 

When a question pops up about how to keep a pre-K student busy while teaching your fourth-grade student math, another parent of similar-aged children can share tips. If you are both parents of third-grade students studying pictographs in social studies, then you can put your heads together for solutions when your children need more help.

In community, the sharing of ideas can ensure that speed bumps don’t become dead-ends.

 

Isolation is lessened.

Sometimes the choice to homeschool feels like a choice to step out of community. You may miss out on shared moments that revolve around a local school – unless you’re in a homeschool community. 

As you exchange ideas, help, and encouragement, the parents who have students in that same grade become your friends. 

The truth is that isolation becomes the perfect breeding ground for self-doubt. But over the past 15 years, opportunities for both online and in-person homeschooling community have grown exponentially.

Living in community can shed light on our fear and self-doubt. Homeschooling in community allows us to share our doubts and questions and fears, and receive help from those around us.

 

Laughter really is the best medicine.

Here’s the truth: sometimes what we teach today is not what we learned when we were in school. Whether it’s a new way to teach math or a variation for teaching prepositions, some teaching strategies change over time. This can be frustrating at your worst moment and hilarious at your best. Imagine texting a friend who is also finding a new math strategy a little tough to master. Laughter is almost guaranteed! 

Homeschooling in community lightens your mood, and probably your child’s mood too. Laughter really can diffuse tension and stress in both you and your child. You have a sounding board, someone in the same proverbial boat, with which to share. We choose if we’re going to homeschool in isolation – rarely very funny – or share the journey with others and laugh sometimes along the way!

 

It’s ninety percent mental, ten percent physical.

It is said that when a person trains for a marathon, only ten percent is about the physical aspects of training, and the other 90 percent is about building mental fortitude for when your physical limitations kick in. 

The same can be said for any endeavor that is spread across a long-distance or time. Even when you aren’t communicating directly with a fellow homeschool parent, understanding that your friends are in the trenches with you can be all it takes to keep going. Simply knowing someone else who is making her way through the same curriculum with her kids is often enough to help you power through a challenging week.

 

Celebrations are all the more sweeter.

Consider this: when you are cooking for one, and you master a particularly challenging recipe, who cheers for you? But when you are cooking for a family and you get it right (meaning everyone loves it!), you have your own little fan club. 

In the same respect, homeschooling within a community is equally fulfilling when you triumph through a tough subject, or your child breaks through in his understanding of a concept that was once difficult. Who else knows what it’s like to teach your kindergartner the long and short vowel sounds? Who else would understand why you broke into your happy dance? The answer: a fellow mom who is rejoicing because she has been there too!

 

Children feel more secure.

Not all of the benefits of homeschooling in community are for parents! 

While they may be too young to voice their feelings about it, even the littlest of your brood needs community. It could be that they are reading the same book of ABCs at the same time, or that they get to meet up for a playground date nearby, or that a child their age in a different country is learning about the same author. 

When a child knows that there is someone else like him learning the same thing, it can be reassuring and bring hope, especially when the learning gets tough. Community gives a student the foundation of knowing he isn’t alone in learning all about fractions, even if the community is a virtual one. 

Our kids need to know that other kids have actually mastered their multiplication tables. This can give them the extra boost they need to keep trying. Knowing this can also be the cushion on which they rest when a break is needed, knowing that when they return after a few days off, they aren’t starting over alone – there is a team of friends around them doing the exact same thing.

 

 

 


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Valerie Bolieu, Texas Home School Coalition SPED Homeschool Partner

We all need community!

We all have a responsibility to build community. It may be through our families, neighborhoods, schools, churches, work, or social groups, etc.. 

I love being a part of the homeschool community and a staff member at the Texas Home School Coalition (THSC) . Every day is a new adventure, like fishing in the ocean, you never know what kind of sea creature you will catch after casting your pole. Every day is different because of the array of questions we receive through phone calls and email from homeschooling families all over our state.

I enjoy being able to talk with fellow homeschoolers whether they are brand new homeschoolers who are petrified of what they are getting into or seasoned and already know how to homeschool. Why do they call? Because they have hit a bump in the road, or just have questions in their season in life as a homeschool parent.

Another substantial part of home education I love being involved in is the fact that we as parents can learn alongside our children. Teaching is actually an effective tool for learning, and it is a gift to learn with our children. This rapport with our child is the beginning of creating our homeschooling community.

I love to get together and be a small part in my local area with co-op days, field trips, park days, parties, graduations, and hear parents, teachers, grandparents, and even the students, sharing what they have been using for curriculum and may love it or not so much. I also enjoy learning about what they may be trying out for their students, area classes, homeschool organization tips, discipline techniques, you name it. We can learn so much from others and the communities we are building every day and every year.

More than ever, people are feeling isolated despite the ever-increasing sources of technology and social media advancements. There are too many of these types of sources available right at our fingertips, however, these sources can make us feel more isolated, thus we need to be intentional with all of our relationships right now.

Community creates growth. As a state homeschooling support and advocacy organization, the Texas Homeschool Coalition (THSC) has many support groups on our website. If you live in Texas, you can search our site for a group that is a good fit for you and your family . If you live outside of Texas make sure to check your state homeschooling website to their groups listings, you can find more state organizations who partner with SPED Homeschool using this link.

You can be part of a community in your area or online. I would suggest both so you can gather for times of fellowship in person as well as having advice or help at the touch of your fingers.  Groups can have so much to offer the whole family.  It is great to be in groups with like-minded people, and homeschooling is one of those connections we can make with others. There are also connections we make within those groups with families with kids of the same ages and other interests as well as special need students. If you are interested in getting connected with a virtual group, check out this link to the various groups SPED Homeschool hosts .

I think this year it has been especially important in being proactive about building a homeschooling community, as most of us have felt isolated from our normal routines due to COVID-19. We need to begin to repair the connections that have been broken because of this pandemic. Our nation, our state, our cities, our communities, our neighborhoods, and our support groups, need to build back the community support to heal and create networks of support in all areas. More than ever, people are feeling isolated despite the ever-increasing sources of technology and social media advancements. There are too many of these types of sources available right at our fingertips, however, these sources can make us feel more isolated, thus we need to be intentional with all of our relationships right now.

I challenge each of you to make an intentional phone call or write a letter or card to someone to broaden your family’s community and reach out to someone that may really need that interaction with a live person.

Keep building community relationships and growing our homeschool community. We need each other and building that community starts from your home and builds outward into your community.

 

 

 

 

 


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By Peggy PloyharOriginally posted December 2017. Updated in 2019.

What an amazing 2 years we have had since the launch of SPED Homeschool in the summer of 2017!

Sharing Hope As God Leads
All our success would not have been possible without the help of so many wonderful people who believed in our vision for a national special education homeschooling organization. So, thank you for being a part of this movement to grow a national support network for families who are working to help their children achieve educational success against so many odds.


We’re excited for 2020, with plans to continue expanding our outreach while developing more ways to bridge the gaps families currently experience homeschooling children with special educational needs. We can’t do this alone. In addition to needing your prayers, and God’s constant guidance on how to to move forward, we also need financial support to continue our necessary outreach.


Sharing Hope is Practical

This time of year, many families determine how they might increase their 2019 tax-deductible year-end donations. If your family is prayerfully deciding how to promote God’s kingdom through charitable giving, we would ask you to consider donating to SPED Homeschool. Your support will help us continue to share our primary mission and minister to families in the same manner He has ministered individually to each of us and our children throughout our homeschooling journeys.

 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4


We truly understand the difficult daily realities special needs families face. Many who find us are lost, hurting, and on the defensive having been forced to live this way to protect their children and survive in hostile educational/medical/social environments. But, where there were walls, there are now doorways opening to reach these families. By coming alongside these hurting families, we can provide hope, show God’s love in practical and relevant ways, and truly demonstrate that faith in Jesus is the only pathway to peace amidst their circumstances.


 

Sharing Hope Together 
Together we can change the outlook for families with children who have special educational needs. And, together we can share God’s hope and point more children towards the future God created them for, by helping their families teach and train them in the way they should go.

 

SPED Homeschool is a 501.c.3 nonprofit. All charitable contributions are tax-deductible.

 

 


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Peggy Ployhar – Written November 2017

Thanksgiving celebrations all over the United States gives families time to pause and thank God for all He has done for us over this past year.  At the top of my list was my family, especially the many answered prayers God has worked out in the lives of my children.  But, next on my list was this new ministry, SPED Homeschool.

 

If you are not familiar with SPED Homeschool, other than the articles we post on our website or the free resources we offer for special education homeschooling families, I am excited to have this chance to share with you why we have so much to thankful about.

 

Where it All Started

SPED Homeschool incorporated as a nonprofit in late August (2017) to fill a resource and support void in the national special education homeschooling community.  But, that is not where SPED Homeschool got its start.  A little over two years ago, I accepted a volunteer position with the Texas Home School Coalition (THSC) to work on their customer service team and help with their efforts in supporting the Texas special needs homeschooling community, just like I had done in starting up a special needs outreach in Minnesota for MACHE (Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators).

“But, there was a stirring inside me I couldn’t shake…one that kept me looking at the greater need for special education homeschooling families beyond our state borders.”

Over these past two years, my work for THSC grew from a volunteer position to a staff position, and my team also grew to include an assistant consultant and eight volunteer team members.   We were working well as a team, and it showed.  A speaker at the THSC convention this past May told me she felt “THSC had the premier state organization special needs department” and I had to step back and smile at all God had brought together. But, there was a stirring inside me I couldn’t shake…one that kept me looking at the greater need for special education homeschooling families beyond our state borders.

 

When Curriculum and Online Support Is Not Enough

For those on the outside of the special needs homeschooling community, it looks like these families have everything they need to successfully homeschool. With an ever increasing number of special needs homeschooling curriculums and Facebook support groups to cover most diagnoses, an outsider would say these families have a strong support base. 

 

With all that is available, navigating the many options requires more precious time than these families can afford.  Offering a trust-worthy, one-stop place with a national reach to provide recommendations to the best resources, support and advice became my goal.  In addition to curriculum suggestions, parents are looking for local support groups, local co-ops, local therapy providers, and state and county resource providers who are special needs AND homeschool friendly.  

 

These resources are extremely difficult to track down unless someone in their area, like a local or state special needs homeschooling consultant, has taken the time to scout them out. Instead, these parents struggle to do this leg work and advocate for their child in a completely new schooling realm, while juggling the already taxing load they have raising and homeschooling at least one child with special needs.

 

Who We Are

In early June of 2017 I approached THSC about stepping out of my position and taking my team, minus a dedicated assistant special needs consultant, to start a new national special education nonprofit ministry.  THSC not only blessed my request, but have worked to help promote our efforts from the start.

 

Five of the volunteers who had been working with me at THSC had also been feeling the need to grow our ministry, so they transitioned as part of our team and board:  Dyana Robbins,Dawn SpenceShanel Tarrant-SimoneCammie ArnMyeshi Briley, and Elaine Carmichael. And, soon after our launch, we added three more members our team Sherry Martin, Kimberly Vogel, and Jennifer Cullimore and two more board members Dianne Craft and Dr. Jan Bedell.

 

Each of these team and board members are parents who took the leap to homeschool their own student with special educational needs.  Some are still in-the-trenches teaching every day, and some have graduated their students and are now fully devoted to helping other parents on this journey.  But the great calling we all share is to minister to families who are homeschooling children with learning challenges.  As our team and ministry continues to grow, our main goal is to help SPED homeschooling families in every facet we have been helped by God and others along our own homeschooling paths.

 

What We Are Doing

It has been a busy fall for us at SPED Homeschool, but we don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.

 

Since starting SPED Homeschool in late July (2017), our first steps in setting up outreach to special education homeschooling parents has been:  
  • Recruiting influential and knowledgeable board members in the field of special education homeschooling
  • Branding SPED Homeschool to be an approachable, yet professional, organization for special education homeschooling parents
  • Developing a website with useful and pertinent static content pages
  • Scheduling content calendars for blogs,images, and videos
  • Building an Internet presence through social media streams (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube)
  • Incorporating as a Texas nonprofit on August 24, 2017
  • Receiving IRS approval on September 28, 2017 with a Federal 501.c.3. tax exempt status

 

Why Special Education Homeschooling is Growing

Current statistics are now showing a 25% special education student demographic already within the homeschooling population, which spans a wide range of learning difficulties.  Plus, one of the fastest-growing groups seeking parent-led homeschooling education are families already in the public school special education system or those whose children are enrolled in early childhood intervention programs which experts feel is much greater than the current national learning disability diagnosis rate of 13%.

 

Families who choose to homeschool, do not do so lightly. Many, just like myself 14 years ago, realize homeschooling is the only educational option able to provide the necessary customized instruction their children need.  These families sacrifice careers, time, and money because they believe their children have a better future than most educational institutions are willing to help them achieve.  These are parents are determined not to let their children become one of the increasing statistics of our failing public school special education programs.

 

These statistics show that only 65.5% of students in the US, who have a known learning disability, graduate high school as cited by the Grad Nation Report .  But, even the majority of these graduates are not ready to transition into a meaningful job or into higher education.

 

A recent survey on this subject stated 90% of current students labeled with learning disabilities had the ability to make a successful job or higher education transition if they were helped to establish a support system before graduation per The Hechinger Report . Unfortunately, most of the programs in our current high school education system are not focused on this effort and most students who graduate are not prepared for life beyond their high school career.

 

We can’t do this without you!  

Since SPED Homeschool is a nonprofit and our bylaws are set up in a way to not require membership because of the financial hardship many of our families face, we completely rely donors and partners to keep our outreach going.

  • Please pray for God to move mightily in providing for our needs  
  • Help us get the word out about our nonprofit and how we are working to fill the gaps that currently exist for families who homeschool children with special educational needs

 

Fall 2019 Update – 2 Years into this Journey

We now have partnered with over 110 organizations, host a weekly live broadcast that reaches on average 900 viewers/listeners a week, have a solid leadership team, and are already working on some very exciting new developments for 2020 which will include upgraded technology and reach of our broadcast and regional support groups on a site that follows HIPAA compliance standards so our families can start sharing local resources with one another and connecting with each other in person.

 

Our board, team and I are excited about the hopeful future ahead for special education homeschooling families and we thank you for your consideration in supporting us in our calling to fill the gaps for special education homeschooling families. 

 

 

 


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