Question: “I am a homeschooling mother of 4, (ages 7-12). I’m at a loss as to how to homeschool my son Nathan, who is 12 years old.  He’s behind in everything. It takes him all day to do his work. He freezes when he looks at his math papers. It takes him forever to write anything.  I know he’s smart, but he says he’s “dumb.”  I want him to be an independent learner, but don’t know how to get him there.”

Answer:  It sounds like Nathan has shut down on school work, and is giving up.  He is doing this because he doesn’t have any other strategies to move on past the “stuck” phase.  This is  the exact population I taught in my 6th, 7th and 8th grade Resource Room.  I called it my “Intensive Care Unit.”  All my students had given up on learning.  In spite of good parents, teachers, and effort on the student’s part, they met with more failure than success.  I knew that I needed to do something different than was going on in the regular classroom, using regular curriculum. They needed what I call, “Healing Teaching.”

What is Healing Teaching?  

Healing Teaching is a teaching method in which the teacher comes along -side a child and gives him learning strategies.  It teaches the child how to use his brain, by modeling this with him. It sets up each lesson to ensure immediate success.  It takes many baby steps towards that success.  There is no “getting behind”, because the work is done together in a finite amount of time, with the goal to learn the material…not necessarily to do all the problems, or all the worksheets.  

The content of the grade level is never compromised, but the method of teaching is turned “upside down.”  As they are gently led to the right answers (and wrong answers ignored, versus pointed out), they begin to relax, and enjoy learning, and become confident in their ability to learn.  This is why I referred to it as my Intensive Care Unit.  I saw these wonderful students as having a severe case of the “learning flu”.  This process can easily be done at home, even with other siblings to teach.

Examples of Healing Teaching Methods

Leading to Correct Answers
We are going to use gentle methods to lead them to the correct answers.  For example, in my Remedial Reading class, my students came into the room, and folded their arms; resistant to any reading aloud, or any phonics program.  What to do?  I took away the non-essential parts of decoding…such as writing, tiles or remembering rules.  I wrote long words on an overhead transparency with the “decoding unit” that we were working on in color in the long word. I also had a picture of the decoding unit, and the sound it gave, taped on the overhead transparency.  If a student sounded out the word incorrectly, but used the decoding unit (like “au”) correctly (remember we had the “au” over the picture of a saw), I would say, “I agree with the first part of the word, now let’s look at that tricky last part. Then I would re-write the last part on the transparency, and we would see if we could find a little word in a big word, or some other strategy.  When we did that, the student found he could always decipher the word correctly. We never went on until we had questioned (together) each part of the word to see how we could tackle it (not a fast method…but a healing method). Their confidence grew, and after a week or so, they were asking to have a chance at the longest word in the list for the day.  You can see how by the end of the year they all tested two years ahead in reading!

Jazzy Spelling
Spelling was always hard for them.  So I showed them how to use their wonderful photographic memory.  We took the longest word, like “psychology” and jazzed up the letters, giving funny meaning, color, and even blood on some of them.  In only one session they found that they could not only spell that word, and the other words we were working on forwards, but they could just as easily spell them backwards. Using Healing Teaching they learned to believe in themselves as learners as they had the secret strategy to easy spelling.

Paragraph Blobs
Writing paragraphs or papers was not easy for them.  We tackled this job together. No workbooks, worksheets or curriculum.  We did this together on the board. We came up with an easy topic, drew “blobs” to put our ideas in, added one word reminders of sentences, and then added the transitions to this Right Brain Webbing method.  The students found that the paper practically wrote itself.   

Careful Correcting
When we were done, we “corrected them together” using an overhead transparency.
At first, they were terrified of this process, and did not want their paper to be used.  But, then they saw what I meant by “correcting”.  I began by giving them points for every good thing they had on the paper.  For example, if they started with a capital letter, they got a point, had an adjective in the sentence, they got a point, ended with a period, they got a point.  I read it out loud, ignoring any spelling errors, and just pointing out the good thoughts, words, or grammar, and giving points for all of that. At the end we added up the points together for prizes (like gum)…they loved it.  

Harvesting Mistakes
They soon were adding many adjectives to their sentences, and more sentences, until we were doing multiple paragraphs.  What did I do with their misspellings (which were numerous)?  I “harvested” them.  That means I made mental notes of the spelling words that we were going to put in our spelling list the next week, and “jazz up” the troublesome letters. They were beginning to feel smart, as they wrote longer, more sophisticated papers each week.

Nathan’s Success
Nathan’s mom reports that just by doing the math on a white board (no video or workbook), modeling how to do them and then making a “template” to put on the wall, that she saw Nathan smile all day.  He was getting things right without having to cross out a checklist in a workbook. Mom said she wanted to cry and even put it in capital letters in her email, “SMILING.”

Grace’s Success
Grace’s mom wrote me about her 15 year- old daughter who was having such anxiety about schoolwork that they had to technically stop schooling her because of the tears and frustration. Upon switching to Healing Teaching with each subject, Grace’s mom says that she is now doing all subjects, and enjoying school!

Emma’s Success
Emma’s mother contacted us because her twelve-year-old was spending a lot of time crying during the school day.   She was frustrated having to re-do her workbooks or because she was experiencing trouble remembering how to do a math problem she had just learned the day before.  We sent Emma’s mom a plan to switch Emma’s school day to include the subjects she needed, but with an entirely “healing” way to teach her, leading her to the right answer each time.  

Her mother called, and Emma told me that she now likes to do school.  She likes to write paragraphs, and loves spelling with her photographic memory.  She is remembering how to do her math problems because her mom has made a zany “template” of each process and kept it on the wall.  Her mom found the secret to helping Emma feel smart.  

Mom made the statement that she had to do an entire “paradigm shift”.  It is difficult to adjust to teaching to success by ignoring mistakes. But, pointing them out tends to wound our already wounded kids. Of course, we eventually want to correct the mistakes, but we wait until the next day, and incorporate that in the lesson, without pointing out the error.  This keeps the healing going.


Long-Term Success


We don’t have to do this forever; in fact, not usually for more than a year. Then they can go back to regular learning.  No more “getting stuck” for these guys!  Experience a “Success-Driven” school year.  It’s easy!


To see more of Dianne’s resources, visit www.diannecraft.org


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It’ that time of year again, when everything is pumpkin flavored, field trips consist of visits to apple orchards, corn mazes, and pumpkin patches…and school starts to develop a routine.

 

I am all for routine, and so are most of our special education homeschooled kids, but sometimes it’s nice to add a touch of the season to our school lessons.  So, if you’re feeling the need to add some seasonal flair to your special education homeschooling, here are 20 ways to add some fall spice to your schedule.

 

20 Fall Special Education Homeschooling Activity Links

  1. Fall Candy Science – Ideas on how to use candy corn for a variety of STEM activities
  2. 10 Fall Movement & Sensory Activities – Both inside and outside fall activities
  3. Pumpkin Craft for Speech Activities – Craft and activity that can be used to work on any speech goals
  4. Fall Themed OT Activities – 30 fall activities to choose from to add a seasonal theme to your home-based OT
  5. Fall & Thanksgiving Themed Unit Study – Ideas for fall and Thanksgiving books, crafts, activities, studies, writing projects, and games
  6. Why Do Leaves Change Color Science Project – Using just simple things you already have in your yard and house, you can teach this easy seasonal science lesson
  7. Autumn Sensory Story – Lots of links and ideas on how to create a sensory storytelling experience for a child with multiple learning delays and/or who is blind/visually impaired
  8. Halloween Social Stories – 16 different stories to help teach children learn how to deal with Halloween social situations, as well as 2 videos parents will find helpful
  9. Fall Lego Building Challenges – 20 Lego building challenges all based around the fall seasonal theme
  10. Fall Tree Luminaries Craft – Easy craft project that turns basic jars into glowing works of art
  11. Leaf Preservation Ideas – Learn 3 different ways to preserve beautiful fall leaves
  12. Fall Sight Word Scavenger Hunt – Make reading more active, while working on sight-words with this great outdoor scavenger hunt
  13. Scarecrow Alphabet Activity – Help your child work on letter recognition with this fun scarecrow activity you can create with felt, a die and some stickers
  14. 20 Fall Speech and Language Activities – Lots of great fall resources on this post to help you work with your child on speech and language goals
  15. Fall Leaf I Spy Game – Free printable game of Leaf I Spy
  16. 30+ Pumpkin Learning Activities – Great list of many ways to use pumpkins to teaching learning concepts
  17. 40 Fall Fine Motor Activities – Extensive list of ideas on how to incorporate the fall theme into fine motor skills practice
  18. Fall Books for Speech Therapy – Learn how to use 4 popular fall books to work on speech goals
  19. Pumpkin Writing  – This cute craft and writing project will get your child writing with simple prompts what require short answers on how to step by step carve a pumpkin
  20. Fall Unit Study – This study contains ideas on ways to incorporate the fall theme when teaching literature, language, art, math, science, and even history to your child


For more fall SPED homeschooling ideas, make sure to check out our SPED Homeschool Fall Pinterest Board.  There are new pins being added to the SPED Homeschool Pinterest boards every day, so subscribe to all of them so you don’t miss a thing.

 

 


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If you are married and parenting a special-needs child or children, you are likely well-acquainted with the marital prognosis bandied about in our circles. It’s not a kind one. Widely shared statistics tell us that the divorce rate for our families lies around eighty percent. Others decry that statistic, but no matter the number, special-needs parenting places great demands on a marriage.

However, there are wonderful things that special-needs parenting creates or deepens in an enduring marriage. I’m writing a series of articles on those things; highlighting strengths developed in the fires of parenting special-needs children and strategies for developing them. I’ll start by sharing a little of our experience and how our marriage has benefited through it.

Our Story
My husband and I married in 1995 and did not have children until 2002. These seven years provided ample time to know one another and plan for children. We both met career, financial and personal goals before conceiving and felt secure that we had laid the best foundation we could to bring children into the family.

Our marriage was well-prepared to support children, but the arrival of our first child threatened everything we had built. Our son was born without the ability to nurse or take a bottle. We spent many long weeks pumping breast milk around the clock, trying to rouse our son to eat, and then spooning the liquid gold into his mouth. Exhaustion and fear over his condition accelerated a fall into postpartum depression.

We beat back the darkness, our son improved. Then we welcomed our second son into the family two years later. Before long, I was battling fears that whatever was affecting my oldest son had also affected his younger brother. By the time our oldest was three-and-a-half, we had identified both our sons were impacted by autism spectrum disorders, among other challenges. Our family was struggling to get through each day and our marriage took some tough blows for the next five years as we came to terms with handling a reality that differed from our expectations and preparations.

As our sons are entering high school, we enjoy an enduring marriage and a host of benefits from weathering the early years of parenting. Here are some marital benefits of special-needs parenting we have discovered along the way.


Still smiling after all these years and lots of tears…. 


What We’ve Gained


Enhanced Sensitivity

Some of us are naturally attuned to the needs of others, while some people struggle to appreciate them. I won’t disclose who is who in our marriage, but we have both grown exponentially in this area. Parenting our children has required us to closely attend to the children’s needs and one another. Thriving together requires recognizing everyone’s needs and balancing them in ways not demanded by typical parenting.

Deep, Honest Communication
When our marriage was suffering, we learned to communicate more deeply, honestly, and quickly when problems arose. Beating around the bush is a luxury confined to times of normalcy and peace. Fighting for our family required honest, forthcoming communication. I developed courage to address unmet needs in myself and children and to express them well to my husband. This was a process, but we hashed out better communication skills and committed to using them.

Deeper Commitment
Our vows were expressed with a commitment to part only in death, yet I questioned them in our darkest times. As my husband struggled with our new realities, my understanding, compassion and forgiveness were lacking. I entertained ideas that it might be easier on my own and had to quickly combat them with truth. I chose to love him better and renewed my commitment to our marriage. He stuck with me through disillusionment, anger and depression. We look back on those times and marvel at how we’ve grown spiritually, emotionally and relationally.


Laughing More

There are many challenging and painful things we encounter, but almost all of them can be viewed with a sense of humor if we are willing to laugh at ourselves and our circumstances. Shared laughter helps us cope with stress and builds unity. Some of our biggest laughs have come from mining humor out of acutely stressful or painful situations. Given the number of those situations inherent to parenting special-needs children, we laugh a lot more.

Coordination and Delegation Skills
Nothing can mold a couple into a tip-top team like managing the schedules, needs and appointments of our families. Balancing work, therapy, school and life demands requires skillful coordination, a team mentality and the ability to delegate. I’m thankful for how we’ve honed these skills over our years of parenting; we can flat get things done.

New Ministry
In the early years of parenting, we had to divide and conquer to meet the challenges that kept coming. One of the few things we could do together in those years was encourage other struggling parents. It helped us stay connected to one another.

We have met many wonderful people through our family’s challenges: doctors, therapists, other parents and those with special needs themselves. These relationships give us a richer life and opportunities to share hope, comfort and encouragement even as we receive them.

These are a handful of the benefits we have enjoyed. I hope they encourage you to recognize your own. I’d love for you to share yours with me! My next article will address strategies for cultivating these benefits.

 

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This article has been copied with permission from Ambling Grace.

 

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We start every school morning with our Bible Lesson. We have chosen to use My Father’s World because I found it easy for me to modify for my daughter. My children are learning to memorize Bible scriptures and place them in their hearts. I found that my daughter loves to hear scriptures as well as my other two children but needs something tactile to remember them.


Making Scripture Visual
All three of my children are visual and I found the perfect website that helps me teach scripture in both ways. I want to give credit to Hubbard’s Cupboard for making my life and planning much easier.


If your verse is not on this list,  you can type up your verse and create your own lesson.


4 Easy Methods for Using Hands-On Teaching

Here are ways I use this website to help my daughter learn, with demonstrations on how you can modify these ideas to meet your child’s needs.

Method 1 – Visuals for Words
Introduce the Bible verse with a coloring sheet that depicts a visual that matches what the verse’s content. I chose Matthew 4:19 and added dots under the words to provide one-to-one correspondence of the words she reads.


Method 2 –  Act It Out
Act it out as you read by using hand motions, such as pretending to catch fish.

Method 3 –  Matching
Take the verse, type it up and cut it so they can match words to words or phrases. You can have your child match and glue the words on top of the given word. You can also have them match it right underneath. This can also address occupational therapy skills if your child is working on cutting and gluing. 
 



Method 4 –  Abbreviated Writing
Have your child write the verse.  If they cannot write, you can have them type it or match up the words like my daughter does. You can shorten as needed or pick the most important phrase you have been working on. My other two children copy this verse down on the lines or in their Bible notebook. I write on one copy and make a copy to reduce work for me.



Something simple and fun can make memorizing Bible verses both engaging  and functional at the same time.  It is amazing how much these steps have helped my daughter memorize scripture.

 

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Have you ever wondered why some people dive into new learning adventures, while others seem continuously learning-challenged, or stuck on a learning plateau?


A Different Learning Philosophy
Years ago, when a new friend observed my life, and my extreme variety of skills, she inquired about my adventurous learning tendency.  I had never put much thought into the reason behind my willingness to dive into new learning adventures.  But when faced with thinking about why I tended to take on learning new things more readily than most, I stumbled upon an interesting discovery, a under-riding philosophical current that carried me through my many skill-producing adventures.


What is this philosophy?  Basically, it’s that life presents us with experiments to learn from, not feats to accomplish.  Experimenting allows for failure; it actually welcomes it.  Failure becomes an opportunity to learn more about yourself and the world around you through discovery and observation.  It is not a means to an end, but a means to many new beginnings.


Failure is What You Allow it to Be
Starting a task focused on success at the onset, without allowing for the possibility of failure, hinders most people from learning.  They determine ahead of time they can’t succeed, so they don’t begin.  Or, if they fail the first or second time, they deem the feat too difficult to pursue because they become defeated.  



Examples of Success Through Failure
I have a feeling Thomas Edison had a similar view of life to mine.  It is said that Mr. Edison had 1,000 failed attempts when trying to create the light bulb after he had already been fired from two jobs because he was considered “non-productive” in his work.  Talk about a life filled with experiential learning!


Similarly, I mastered the art of cheese making through failure.  After moving to the country and getting a milking cow, I decided I needed to learn how to make cheese.  For a long time, my chickens were the only ones willing to eat my cheese, and sometimes not even they would touch it.  It was bad, but I didn’t give up.  I learned and kept on trying to learn from my mistakes.  


Attempt after attempt improved my results.  I started putting my recipes onto a cheese making section of my personal blog.  Soon I had hundreds of people visiting my site.  The pinnacle accomplishment, which I would have never set my sights on when only my chickens were my only customers, was becoming a featured cheese blogger for the New England Cheese Making Company for my Brie recipe.


Allowing Failure to Under-Ride Our Homeschooling
When we look at homeschooling our special education children, both parent and child alike, we need to take the experimental perspective towards these tasks too if we dare to attempt to learn throughout the process.


As parents, we need to understand both teaching and parenting are truly experimental.  We formulate a hypothesis with the information we have from God, our child, and all the research we have gathered. Then we set up the experiment and conduct it accordingly. We test the accuracy of what we thought would bring a result equivalent to our hypothesis.  Over time we learn, tweak methods, and grow in our skills and ability to determine what will work.


For our children, they too must realize everything they attempt to learn is an experiment.  Each lesson allows them to discover how they best learn; what helps them understand, and what concepts/skills they already have to use in learning new things.  Sometimes their experiments will produce successful learning, but other times they won’t.  Over time they learn, they tweak and they grow in their skills and start to figure out how to better approach new learning endeavors.


The Experimental Beauty of Failure
The beauty of this approach is it takes away the pressure of success.  Instead, learning takes its rightful place as a vehicle of discovery and growth.  And, isn’t the ability to learn, grow and discover what we desire most to teach our children?

 

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Planning​ ​for​ ​the​ ​future​ ​often​ ​looks​ ​different​ ​and​ ​should​ ​start​ ​early​ ​for​ ​our​ ​children​ ​with learning​ ​differences​ ​and​ ​special​ ​needs.​ ​In​ ​this​ ​series​ ​called​ ​​”Planning​ ​for​ ​the​ ​Future​ ​& Your​ ​Special​ ​Needs​ ​Child”​,​ ​I’ll​ ​be​ ​covering​ ​a​ ​variety​ ​of​ ​topics​ ​that​ ​I​ ​hope​ ​you​ ​will​ ​find helpful​ ​when​ ​planning​ ​​your​ ​child’s​ ​future.  We will address​ ​foundational​ ​skills​ ​and how​ ​to​ ​access​ ​resources​ ​at​ ​an​ ​early​ ​age.​ ​


​​Through​ ​​almost​ ​ten​ ​years​ ​of​ ​working​ ​in​ ​public school​ ​special​ ​education,​ ​and ​being​ ​a​ ​mom​ ​of​ seventeen-year-old ​twin​ ​boys​ ​with​ ​Level​ ​3 Autism,​ ​I’ve​ ​learned​ ​that​ Activities ​of​ ​Daily Living (ADL)​ ​are​ ​vital ​in​ ​accessing​ ​the​ ​community​ ​when​ ​our​ ​children​ ​are​ ​no longer​ ​school​ ​age.​ ​ADLs​ ​are​ ​the​ ​skills​ ​our​ ​children​ ​will​ ​need​ ​to​ ​function​ ​as independently​ ​as​ ​possible,​ ​no​ ​matter​ ​what​ ​the​ ​future​ ​holds​ ​for​ ​them.
                       
When​ ​should​ ​I​ ​start​ ​planning​ ​for​ ​my​ ​child’s​ ​future?​
It’s​ ​never​ ​too​ ​early​ ​to​ ​plan​ ​for​ ​the​ ​future.​ ​​ ​Our​ ​homeschool​ ​curriculum​ ​and​ ​”lifestyle​ ​of learning”​ ​should​ ​support​ ​our​ ​child’s​ ​post​ ​school​ ​goals​ ​soon​ ​after​ ​diagnosis​ ​or​ ​as​ ​early as​ ​elementary​ ​age.​ ​And,​ ​because​ ​some​ ​of​ ​our​ ​children​ ​need​ ​longer​ ​to​ ​acquire​ ​even some​ ​of​ ​the​ ​most​ ​basic​ ​skills,​ ​teaching​ ​towards​ ​independence​ ​as​ ​much​ ​as​ ​possible​ ​starts​ ​at the​ ​preschool​ ​level.​ ​​ ​This​ ​ ​includes​ ​the​ ​most​ ​important​ ​and​ ​often​ ​overlooked​ ​skill​ ​of Functional​ ​Communication​.​


​The​ ​best​ ​advice​ ​I’ve​ ​ever​ ​heard​ ​from​ ​someone​ ​working​ ​with adults​ ​on​ ​the​ ​Spectrum​ ​is​ ​that​ ​“functional​ ​language​ ​and​ ​safely​ ​being​ ​able​ ​to​ ​use​ ​a​ ​public restroom​ ​are​ ​the​ ​two​ ​most​ ​important​ ​skills​ ​we​ ​can​ ​give​ ​a​ ​special​ ​needs​ ​child/adult. Academics​ ​are​ ​important​ ​but​ are less so ​if​ ​they​ ​don’t​ ​have​ ​these​ ​two​ ​basics mastered.”  
                       
Series​ ​topics​ ​in​ ​the​ ​coming​ ​months:
  • Education​: Will​ ​my​ ​child’s​ ​future​ ​include​ ​attending​ ​college,​ ​Trade/Vocational​ ​School​ ​or spending​ ​several​ ​days​ ​each​ ​week​ ​in​ ​the​ ​community​ ​at​ ​a​ ​DayHab​ ​facility?
  • Legal​​: Do​ ​I​ ​have​ ​all​ ​the​ ​necessary​ ​documents​ ​in​ ​place​ ​such​ ​as​ ​a​ ​will​ ​and​ ​Special Needs​ ​Trust?​ ​Will​ ​my​ ​child​ ​need​ ​full​ ​Guardianship​ ​or​ ​will​ ​Supported​ ​Decision​ ​Making​ ​be enough?
  • Living​ ​Arrangement​​:  Will​ ​they​ ​live​ ​independently?​ ​If​ ​so,​ ​where?​ ​Is​ ​Supported (semi-independent)​ ​Living,​ ​Group​ ​Home​ ​or​ ​Host​ ​Home​ ​Companion​ ​(Foster​ ​Care)​ ​the best​ ​option?​ ​Or​ ​will​ ​they​ ​remain​ ​at​ ​home​ ​with​ ​family?​ ​What​ ​supports​ ​will​ ​they​ ​need​ ​to access​ ​the​ ​community?
  • Job/Financial​​: ​Will​ ​my​ ​child​ ​have​ ​a​ ​job?​ ​Volunteer?​ ​Need​ ​Employment​ ​Assistance​ ​or Supported​ ​Employment?
  • Local​ ​&​ ​State​ ​Services​​:  Who​ ​is​ ​my​ ​Local​ ​Authority?​ ​What​ ​services​ ​are​ ​available​ ​to​ ​my child​ ​as​ ​a​ ​minor​ ​and​ ​what​ ​services​ ​will​ ​be​ ​available​ ​to​ ​support​ ​them​ ​as​ ​an​ ​adult?​ ​Is there​ ​a​ ​waiver​ ​list​ ​that​ ​would​ ​help​ ​support​ ​their​ ​community-based,​ ​behavioral,​ ​medical and​ ​financial​ ​needs?​ ​Should​ ​I​ ​apply​ ​for​ ​SSI​ ​and​ ​Medicaid?                       

These​ ​are​ ​just​ ​a​ ​few​ ​of​ ​the​ ​many​ ​decisions​ ​that​ ​need​ ​to​ ​be​ ​made​ ​for​ ​our​ ​children.​ ​Some at​ ​an​ ​early​ ​age, ​others​ ​once​ ​they​ ​reach​ ​high​ ​school​ ​age.​ ​I​ ​am​ ​currently​ ​in​ ​the​ ​process​ ​of making​ ​some​ ​of​ ​the​ ​more​ ​time​-​sensitive​ ​and​ ​critical​ ​adult​ ​transition​ ​decisions​ ​for​ ​my boys.​ ​I​ ​hope​ ​my​ ​experiences​ ​over​ ​the​ ​last​ ​twelve ​years​ ​will ​be​ ​helpful​ ​to​ ​you​ ​and​ ​your family​ ​when​ ​making​ ​some​ ​of​ ​these​ ​​difficult​ ​but​ ​necessary​ ​decisions.

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Our home is filled with boundless energy, lots of love and enough challenges to fill two lifetimes. God has wisely chosen to pack it all into my life and teach me how to walk with Him through it.

Here are ten things I wish I had known that before homeschooling children with special needs.


1.  There are many days that are as hard as I feared they would be, but they are outweighed by the wonderful life we share.
It will always be a difficult choice to homeschool. On days when I wonder if going to school would be better for them or me, I remember all we would lose by not learning and growing together. So far, that has been more than enough to keep us on this path.


2. I don’t have to defend my decision to homeschool.
Doing it well, wholeheartedly and openly, eventually silences the critics. Responding with information and kindness to those with questions, fosters a positive response in most people. When that doesn’t work, nothing else will, so I can stop trying.


3. Most parents, doctors, and therapists in these trenches are amazing, inspirational people.
They will help you, listen to you, and inspire you with all that they do each day. The admission price to this club is steep, but the rewards are inestimable.


4. Nurturing my marriage first is critical to successful homeschooling.
The more unified, mutually supportive and loving that our marriage is, the more our children learn, feel secure and thrive. Time devoted to our marriage is not a detriment to homeschooling, but an investment in it.


5. Rest and recreation deserve subject credit.
Are my children battling me over schoolwork? Would I rather scrub the bathroom with a toothbrush than face one more day of school?  This is a sign that we need rest and recreation. Many discipline problems and poor attitudes have been vanquished by a nap, field trip day or a day off from school. It is amazing how much is accomplished by taking a quick break, rather than pushing through our misery.



You can find this great pic here:  http://tablelifeblog.com/charlotte-mason-quotes/.  
Check out her blog while you’re there!


6. I won’t have it all together for very long.
This is a bitter pill for a recovering perfectionist like me. Loving my family, putting relationship with Christ and others first, will always mean interruptions and distractions to my schedule. Maintaining a reasonable order to our life is better than appeasing my inner tyrant’s demands.


7. It’s vital to show love and accept my children even if they are never able to do _______.
This blank can be filled with whatever we are struggling with at the time. My children need me to be content and grateful for what they are able to do (or unable to do!) so they can learn to do the same. Their struggles and limitations will always tempt them to despair or give up. I add to their burden when I am discontent or frustrated. Seeking God’s design and purpose for my children, Allows me to help them grow and discover those things with joy.


8. Ask for help and humbly accept it.
Homeschooling moms can believe they should handle everything alone. This is a fast road to burnout. Utilize all available help to maintain a peaceful home, heart, and family. While others might praise us for being able to “do it all,” that praise is a fleeting satisfaction. A richer life is interconnected; giving and receiving, and helps us make it for the long haul.


9. I will always wonder if I am doing “enough.”
This might be the nemesis of every homeschooling parent. Having children with additional challenges and needs often compounds this worry. Rather than trying to answer this unknowable question, I have learned to accept that I am not ever doing “enough.” Moreover, it is not my job to be enough for my children. That job belongs to God alone. I am just one of His provisions in their lives. Others can and will shape my children. Opportunities will arise for them that I did not orchestrate. Relationships will be formed without my intervention. I can do my best for them and trust all else to their loving Father.


10. God is enough.
This is true when nothing is going right, I fail, my children aren’t progressing like they “should” and I am scared about the future. No matter our circumstances, He carries us and enables us to do what He calls us to do.  He has taught me this in many ways, but I experience it more deeply as we homeschool. This realization has enriched my life and relationships more than any other; it’s been this mom’s greatest lesson.




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This article was previously published in abbreviated form for the Texas Homeschool Coalition‘s Special Needs blog in January 2016.

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Have you ever wondered just why spaghetti sauce tastes best when simmered for hours over low heat verses just mixing all the ingredients up as fast as you can? Or why a roast is more tender and juicy when it’s slow cooked on a lower temperature than cooked on high for a shorter time? It has to do with being patient for everything to break down and come together in its own time.


Complex Parts Come Together with Time
It’s the same with homeschooling. We all have different ingredients in the form of employment, family size, level of special needs, appointments, therapies and curriculum. So why do we compare our family with that of another and try to recreate their recipe for success in our own homeschool?




Slow Cooker, Not Instapot
We are in a slow-cooker mama. Homeschooling and parenting go hand in hand and neither are recipes to be put into an Instapot to rush to the end. It’s a long slow journey with amazing rewards, but we need to recognize we are on our own journey and it isn’t going to “taste” like anyone else’s recipe or have the same ingredients.




Differences in Ingredients, Measurements, and Cooking Time
So as you daily add your “ingredients”, carefully measuring and selecting each one, be sure to add a measure of grace and a double portion of love.  These two additional ingredients always make the recipe work out better.  


Don’t rush, instead savor the smell of the beautiful unique recipe coming together in your homeschool today.  You will be glad you did.

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In this the first article, in my series about Childhood Depression, I will be addressing the first of six warning and guiding lights.  In coming weeks, I will address warning and guiding lights for each of the letters in the word “LIGHTS”, so make sure to keep checking back so you won’t miss any of the articles in this important series. 

Warning “L” – Lies
External Lies
The saying, “Garbage In, Garbage Out” or “GIGO” is very much related to this first warning light.  Environment can greatly affect the mood of anyone.  But, when a child is prone to depressive thinking, what affects their thought process, can result in even more toxic thinking than an average child.

For this reason, monitoring what a child is listening to, reading, watching, and even who they are associating with is important.  These outside influences can either add to the issue or be factors which can be used to combat the issue.  (We will talk more about this second condition in a future article.)

Internal Lies
Even beyond outside influences, children with depression also create toxic thinking internally by believing lies about themselves.  Lies like: “I am a nobody”; “Who would listen to what I have to say”; “There is no purpose to my life because each day is miserable.”; “There is nothing special about me.”; “Why would anyone think I was special or want to be my friend?”; or “I am not as gifted as that person, so I might as well not even try.

Origin of Lies
Neil Anderson, in his book Overcoming Depression, writes: “The most devious of Satan’s schemes is deception…because we don’t know we are being deceived.

Also, Proverbs 14:12 states, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.

Parenting Amidst the Lies
When children examine themselves, they naturally are poor judges of truth and tactics of the enemy who wants to keep them down.  As a parent, we can either be defeated by the lies our children believe about themselves, or we can combat them with tools.  (These tools are what I will be calling guiding lights in each of my articles in this series.)

Children who struggle with believing lies over truth will often verbalize them and unknowingly allow you to hear the lies they are believing.  As a parent, you may not like what you are hearing, but can be thankful your child is allowing you into his world by speaking out in this manner.

Guiding “L” – Life in Christ
Your Child + Jesus
In combating lies, the first and foundational truth a child needs to learn is that they are not complete without Jesus Christ.  And, they also need to internalize the fact that all of mankind, since Adam and Eve and the fall, have been suffering from the same condition.

Sin makes all of us incomplete, but Jesus makes up for all the things sin has stolen from us. The biggest lie humans have bought is the belief that a person can be complete and find success, joy, and contentment apart from God.

Complete Only In Christ
In Colossians 2:10, Paul states, “…and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

It is Jesus who formed your child.  He knows your child better than even you.  He sees your child when she is sitting, standing, lying down, and waking.  Plus, He sacrificed Himself to pay the penalty of your child’s sin.  A restitution which can only be enacted if your child accepts Jesus and realizes a need for Him.



The “L” Silver Lining
In looking back at my own struggles through childhood depression, I can’t believe how much I gave into lies. Continually I sought out relationships, music, books, and movies to temporarily justify my thoughts were on the right track.  Fortunately, God had built within me an unsettled spirit that could never stay long in those places.

The internal struggle to find peace, ultimately to find Jesus, was a relentless quest depression led me through.  Had I been content with life, I am not sure my passion to serve the Lord would be as relentless as it is now.  Thus, there is a  silver lining for many who have found God in the dark places of depression:   their lives are vibrant, shining examples of Him reversing a darkened life into one filled with light and hope.


This perspective of light out of darkness is the hope you need to hold onto and pray continually for your child.  Depression is a narrow and difficult road which God uses for His purposes.  Remember, a life without struggle only masks our true human condition. Contentment truly is the broad road which leads to destruction.  But the narrow road is one which reveals our inadequacy to do life alone, and is the road that leads to life.

Did you know SPED Homeschool is 100% donor funded? 

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During times of crisis, it’s okay to take a break from homeschooling. In fact, when situations become stressful or time consuming, a break from core curriculum is best, especially if you know you won’t be able to teach adequately.


School just started, but I’ve already talked to moms in crisis mode. Right now, many families in Houston are displaced after Hurricane Harvey. Due to this area-wide crisis, a homeschooling crisis conversation today started with these questions: “How can I homeschool my daughter when I’m trying to find us a place to live and clothes and food? What can I do this week while I work on the details? We are in crisis mode!”


5 Things Kids Always Need
Whether your crisis involves your children, is short-term, or long-term, due to sickness, death or catastrophe, some things don’t change. Therefore, before you take a break, here are some key tips to keep in mind.


  1. Kids need structure. The sooner you can get back to a routine, the better. It creates normalcy and a sense of well being. On hard days, as an overwhelmed parent, the last thing on our minds is keeping a routine. But for our kids, adding structure can make the difference between an upset or calm household.
  2. Kids can regress in skills. This happens in the summer. It is called “Summer Learning Loss”. But, with some creative use of apps, regression can easily be curved. Here are several apps to keep minds focused on learning while giving mom a break.
  3. Kids benefit from partial breaks. A partial break can be more effective than a full break. During a full break, there is too much down time or unstructured, worrisome thinking time. Kids do need time to process stress, but too much time can lead to misbehavior, worries, or even depression. A partial break can be homeschooling half days, a day on followed by a day off, or only doing some subjects. The beauty of homeschooling, is it is flexible. Lessons don’t need to look like textbooks. Additionally, serving during times of crisis teaches more than any book can.
  4. Kids bounce back or shrink back. In times of stress, kids either bounce back and shine or shrink back and struggle. If your child is struggling, a partial break or full break (recovery time) is necessary. But, if your child shows no sign of struggle, an unnecessary break could set them back.
  5. Kids need you. Take care of yourself mom! In times of crisis, moms are the ones taking care of details. We hold things together while often not taking care of ourselves. Don’t forget to make sure your basic needs are met and you get a bit of downtime. Your kids need you at your best! The best way to take care of yourself is through your relationship with Christ. In the middle of our crisis, He can be your stability. In your storm, He can be your peace.




Ultimately, we don’t want tough situations to arise, but life is hard. Death happens, hurricanes flood our land, and sickness sneaks up on us.  I know this from experience.  Last year my family took a homeschool break at my father-in-law’s home going.   What I learned through that experience was, opening room in your plans for breaks, helps with the stress of homeschooling during life’s unexpected crises.

Did you know SPED Homeschool is 100% donor funded? 

Your contributions keep our ministry running! 

Donate today on PayPal

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