By Peggy Ployhar

Understanding your child’s rate of progress, possible learning deficiencies, or level of mastery in a specific subject can go a long way when homeschooling a struggling learner. The free online assessment tools listed in this article are meant to help you in those areas as you teach your child and help your student find learning success.


In no way are these resources a substitution for seeking professional advice. Assessments administered by a parent should not be used to diagnosis a student, but rather as an indicator that your child may need professional assistance as part of his/her educational plan.


It is our goal at SPED Homeschool to help students succeed in parent-directed special education homeschool, and I hope you find these assessment tools helpful to that end.


General Assessments:

Easy CBM Assessment Tool
LD Info Parent Administered Cognitive Processing Inventory
National Institute for Direction Instruction Placement Tests shared by Shanel Tarrant-Simone, SPED Homeschool Team Member and owner of Spectrum Parent Consulting
K5 Learning Assessments
HSLDA Struggling Learner Checklists shared by Faith Berens, HSLDA Struggling Learner Consultant
ADDitudue Self-Tests(Self tests for the most popular learning disabilities and psychological issues)

Reading Assessments:


National Right to Read Foundation Competency Test
University of Oregon Dynamic Inventory of Basic Early Literacy Skills
Orton-Gillingham PDF Free Assessment Test
Sonlight Language Arts Assessment


Laureate Syntax Assessment
Quill Grammar Diagnostic Test shared by Kathryn Grogg, Grogg Educational Consulting


Davis Dyslexia Screening Assessment shared by Beverly Parrish, Learn Your Way
Dynaread Dyslexia Test
Learning Success Dyslexia Test
Lexercise Dyslexia Test
Nessy Dyslexia Test (5-7 years)
All About Learning Dyslexia Screening Checklist shared by D.M. Spence, SPED Homeschool Team Member and private homeschooling consultant


Diane Craft Word Recognition Placement Test
Dianne Craft Right Brained Reader Placement Test
Sonlight Reading Assessment
National Institute for Direction Instruction Corrective Reading Tests shared by Shanel Tarrant-Simone, owner of Spectrum Parent Consulting


Math Assessments:

Touch Math Placement Assessments shared by D.M. Spence, SPED Homeschool Team Member and private homeschooling consultant
Little Giant Steps Math Proficiency Assessment
Little Giant Steps Math Facts Assessment
Math-U-See Readiness Assessment
Singapore Math Placement Assessments
Horizons Math Readiness Evaluations
Math Mammoth Placement Assessments shared by Kathryn Grogg, Grogg Educational Consulting
Saxon Math Placement Assessment shared by Kathy Kuhl, Learn Differently
Learning Success Dyscalculia Assessment

Various Other Assessments

Auditory Processing:
Little Giant Steps Auditory Processing Test Kit


Functional/Educational Vision:
See Ability Functional Visual Assessment
Eye Can Learn Vision Based Learning Assessment


Speech Articulation:
Mommy Speech Therapy Articulation Screener

Psychological Screening Tools:

Healthy Place Psychological Tests
ADDitudue Self-Tests(Self tests for the most popular learning disabilities and psychological issues)


Learning Without Tears Screener of Handwriting Proficiency shared by D.M. Spence, SPED Homeschool Team Member and private homeschooling consultant
Learning Without Tears Pre-K Handwriting Assessment shared by D.M. Spence, SPED Homeschool Team Member and private homeschooling consultant


Do you have any other free tools you use to assess your homeschooled struggling learner? We would love to have you share them with us. The more resources we can share with one another, the more equipped our community will be to successfully homeschool each of our unique children. Thanks for being part of our community and for sharing!

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By Debbi L. White

I was lying on my bed next to my young daughter trying to get her to go to sleep without awaking her younger sister. My pastor husband was next door at our small church conducting the weekly prayer meeting. I tried to lie still and quiet, but my mind was racing.


Our daughter Mindy had recently turned six, and our county school board was asking us to register her for school. I had been teaching her for nearly three years, and we had decided as a family to continue homeschooling. We had joined Home School Legal Defense Association to get legal advice and protection. They had informed us that in Virginia we could provide the county with the information they required or, if we had convictions about enrolling our children in public school, we could file for a religious exemption.



A Different Path
We were the first family in our county on Virginia’s Eastern Shore to be homeschooling in 1990. If we were to file for a religious exemption, we were not sure how the school board would receive it. Other families across the country were embroiled in legal battles trying to gain their right to teach their children at home. Some had even been prosecuted and jailed due to “truancy.”


I had my Bachelor’s degree. We could easily accommodate the county’s requirements. Compliance would almost guarantee their acceptance of our choice. But was that the way we were to go? What if we filed for religious exemption and became involved in a court battle? Would that hurt our ministry? I wrestled with these thoughts and more as I pleaded with God for direction.



A Lot of Unknowns
Then it became clear. Surely they would approve of ME teaching because I had a degree. But what if the Joneses or the Smiths down the road decided to homeschool, and they didn’t have degrees? Was it right for me to be able to teach my children and not them? No! The Bible instructs parents to train their children. Children are the responsibility of the parents. If the parents choose to delegate some of the training, they are still responsible for oversight. It is not the government’s responsibility to train anyone’s children! Parents can allow their children to be trained in government schools, but it is not for the government to demand that, nor should the government disallow parents the right to train their children or make the choice where they are to be educated. If I were to supply our county with my credentials and curriculum and comply with their oversight, I felt I would be endorsing their authority to mandate the educational provisions for all students in the county. I could not give them that authority.


But what would this decision mean for our family? For our church? I had to have faith that God was in this, that He was in control, but I was fearful.



A Step Out in Faith
When my husband came home, I shared with him my thoughts and convictions. He agreed to support me, and we contacted HSLDA the next day. They wrote to our school board on our behalf and provided the law in Virginia as well as documented court cases where a religious exemption was upheld. We prayed, and God answered! The county responded by giving us their blessing on our endeavors.


We had not been guaranteed positive results. We stepped out in obedience with faith, trusting God with our future. God often asks us to do that as we travel life’s path. He asks it of everyone who follows Him. I love to read “Faith’s Hall of Fame” in Hebrews 11. (You should reread it!) What a testimony all of these had!


These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. (verse 13)



A Perfect Promise
We can look back and see the results of their obedience. When they stepped out in faith, however, they did not know what would happen.


We cannot see around the next corner, only God can. That is why it is essential to walk closely with Him and to walk in the light that He gives. He has a purpose for all that He calls us to do. He promises to make a way (He doesn’t promise a way without struggles and challenges, though!); He promises to provide, and He promises to use us as we keep yielded to Him.



A Future Unknown
If we could see the future and know the consequences of all that God asks us to do, we would not need faith.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)


Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)

A Devastating Blow

Skip ahead two years. My husband made the decision to leave the church and his family. Overnight I found myself single, homeless and unemployed. My Heavenly Father, the God of miracles, provided a home and full-time employment within the following four days. I began working in a warehouse owned and operated by another home-schooling family. My children were able to be with me, but at the end of the summer, I once again was faced with decisions regarding their education.


They had had much turmoil and upheaval. They needed some consistency and security, but most importantly, my role and calling had not changed. To many, it did not seem like a wise decision for me to quit my full-time job to return to home-schooling, but I felt that was God’s will, and I needed to obey. Yes, it was scary. Not only was I facing a court challenge from my husband, but I was now also responsible for supporting my children.


A Sure Foundation to Lean On
I have heard that there are 365 “fear not’s” in the Bible. I have not counted them, but I know that God continuously urged me to trust Him. Some of my favorite verses that He gave me at that time were

For your Maker is your husband—
the Lord Almighty is his name—
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
he is called the God of all the earth. (Isaiah 54:5) 


All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
And great shall be the peace of your children. (Isaiah 54:13)


It wasn’t always easy. I took jobs that I could do at home or that I could take the girls with me, but their schooling remained a priority. I did sewing and cleaning and worked for another family part-time. I bartered cooking for car repairs. God provided. The girls made it through successfully and are now college graduates! Praise Father!

A New Chapter
A lot has happened since they graduated, but now, 13 years later, I find myself once again unemployed. I have applied for about 70 jobs over the past four months. No doors have opened, and my savings has dwindled. I have sought God daily for His guidance and wisdom. I have longed to have the security of a paycheck and health insurance once again! Door after door has remained shut as I have knocked, and knocked, and knocked some more.


About three weeks ago, a door finally opened. And then another. A little light came through, and then more. Possibly, just possibly, I could do something that I really love and on my own schedule. Hmmm. But there were naysayers. “You don’t want to do that! Your income is not guaranteed, and it’s a lot of work!” “It is unlikely that you will be able to find enough business to support yourself by doing this full-time.”

A Prayer & An Answer
I continued to pray for guidance and clarity, and God has answered. Every step I have made towards establishing a ministry/business for homeschoolers has led to another step, another open door. I have kept walking as He has guided.

The morning I applied for a business license, a mother saw my resume posted on a search engine and cried. She called that evening and told me that she needed a tutor for her son, that she had been praying for the right person, and she felt I was God’s answer. To me, that was another affirmation that God is in this!

A New Ministry Born
HUGS-Homeschooling Unique and Gifted Students was born. I home-schooled my daughters over 18 years. I have 18 years experience in the classroom, and I have my MA in Teaching Special Education. I believe God has been preparing me for this all my life. I am stepping out in faith.


No, it’s not a guaranteed income. No, I do not have health insurance. I am single and I have a mortgage, car payment and student loan (from my graduate studies). I cannot see what the future holds, but God does, and He promises to provide as I obey.

A Continually Deepening Faith
God my Father has been showing me that if everything were under our control, we would not need faith. Trusting Him in faith deepens our dependence on Him and strengthens our relationship. So, although stepping out into the unknown can be quite scary, it is a good thing! Nothing in this world can surpass deepening our intimacy with our Creator and Savior!


When you are asked to step out in faith and you are scared, thank God for the privilege that will draw you closer to Him.


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By Cheryl Swope, M.Ed.

This morning my son and I discussed literature. Specifically, we noted a good author’s ability to challenge and strengthen the mind and character of the reader in ways mere escapist entertainment never can.


Steadfast Goals

Michael wants to protect his mind, because he fears the long-term prognosis of some of his conditions. He does not want to lose the ability to think or to read, as sometimes happens with degenerative disabilities. I promised him he will be well served to continue reading good books. Reading good literature will help protect his mind.


I pray for stronger minds for both of my children. As parents of special-needs children understand too well, my children’s prognosis is on my mind too. This helps keep me steadfast in teaching them, caring for them, and loving them.


Maintaining Perspectives

I recently spent several days in the Memoria Press office working on the new special-needs curriculum packages. My children were back home in Missouri. I thought of them often; however, I did not want to call so soon and make them miss me. Even as young adults, my children’s special needs often leave them feeling vulnerable.


So I had some quiet time on my hands in the evenings. Unaccustomed to quiet time in the evenings, suddenly I needed a book to read. (I learned that when you find yourself in Kentucky with no book to read, Martin Cothran will reach into the trunk of his car and give you a book or two by Kentucky’s own novelist and essayist Wendell Berry.)


Continued Blessings
That first evening back in my suite, instead of calling home, I entered Wendell Berry’s stories. The forced slowing of thought, where reading yields to contemplation, led me to welcome those hours. The characters spoke with such a casual wisdom, they reminded me of gentle insights my 100-year-old grandma shared with me without ever intending to be wise.


In Pray Without Ceasing,” a conversation unfolds in a farm kitchen. The grandmother describes a horrible day long ago, when she had learned of a tragedy. “Oh,” she said, “I felt it go all over me, before I knew it in my mind. I just wanted to crawl away. But I had your mother to think about. You always have somebody to think about, and it’s a blessing.”


As long as our children live, especially our children with special needs, we’ll always have somebody to think about. And it’s a blessing.

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This article first appeared in The Classical Teacher, Memoria Press.

Reprinted with author’s permission.


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By Dawn Spence

When I taught public school, the one thing that inspired me to teach was creating units. A fellow teacher and I created a space unit for our 40 fourth graders, and the learning and excitement that our students expressed made teaching come alive.


When I started teaching my twin girls preschool, I knew that units are what I wanted to do. I created units on the ocean, fall, winter, and the zoo. It was the most memorable year of teaching. I still enjoy doing units with my kids with lots of interactive learning and activities.


Creating a unit is not hard but it does take some planning. When you write your unit you can use it as your only curriculum.



Planning Your Unit
First, plan out what excites you and your learner. If the learning is engaging and holds the interest of your learner, the learning will come. I found “fall” to be a unit that can be adapted to older and younger students. “Fall” also works will all types of learners. 


Map Subjects
Next, map out what subjects that you want to be included in your unit. You can easily involve your core subjects, but you can usually include much more. When I created my “fall” unit, I was able to include math, science, history, language arts, reading, and art. You can make the lessons simple or complex. I would draw a map out and under each subject, I would list out what I wanted to cover. 

Math using pumpkins was hands-on and everyone was ready for school in the morning. If your state includes Good Citizenship you can add that as well. Do not forget to add in field trips to allow your unit to become real life for your learner. Make sure also figure out how long you want your unit to last.


Develop Lessons
Third, it is time to develop your lessons. This step can be fun and overwhelming at the same time. There are so many activities that you can add to your unit and many places to get ideas. I started with Teachers Pay Teachers, File Folder Heaven, and homeschooling blogs. I would gather ideas and sometimes the activities that I saw inspired me to create my own. I have created a sample graphic organizer to help with your planning. (Click here to download the below image as a free document.)

Determine Assessments
Last, decide how you want to grade or assess their learning. You can create a lapbook, and at the end of the unit your student could present what they learned with a hands-on project or report. For more ideas on how to grade or assess you can read Amy Vickery’s article: Making The Grade: Strategies for Grading your Homeschool Student .


Units can be a great way to have fun while learning and can engage your student. I also found that I was able to see what my child’s interests were and what made them excited to learn. Have you created a Unit Study that you would like to share? If you have, comment below or share it on our resource page.



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By Jill Camacho

When your struggles seem to never end…

Talking with hundreds of moms online each month, one of the most common heartbreaks I see lies in having no hope. It’s a tough thing to bear when your daily struggles of life have no foreseeable end. It reminds me of Proverbs 13:12 ESV; “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

As a newer mom, I wrestled with tunnel vision and hopelessness. My circumstances were truly difficult, but they weren’t forever. The thing is, it was so easy to live life (and treat others) as though it was. Looking back, I believe the way I was handling my problems made my heart sick, as well as poisoned those around me.

Time changes all things

Looking back at all the difficult phases in our life, they’ve all ended. Even when it seemed like, in the moment, we’d never see a reprieve. If you’re feeling this way in your life, or in your homeschool, please take heart! All things change, ebb, and flow.

If you’re feeling like your child will never, for example, learn to sit still, stay calm, or read simple words (anything really), you’re not alone. Feeling that way is normal. Feeling sad is natural when hope is floating farther and farther away.

We have hope
But we have hope in Jesus. He knows how we feel, and he will redeem every bad situation. We may not know if each redemption is on this side of Heaven or not, but we do have hope.

What helps me in these situations is switching my perspective. I do this by actively remembering our past struggles. I remember how certain situations felt as though they may never end, compared to how long ago they now feel. “What was it God taught me in those seasons?” I ask myself.

I try and think of what I can learn now and pray, asking God for peace and to help me lay things down. I pray for eyes to see all the blessings He’s given me and for faith that helps me weather the storms through weary days. In addition to these things, I seek support!

These are all things you may want to try too! Don’t minimize your issues by telling yourself they are “not as bad as other people’s problems.” Leaving sadness and hopelessness unaddressed isn’t healthy. Find a supportive ear or two (whether in person or an online support group) and consider counseling with a therapist or trusted church staff member if you suspect it’s needed. Therapy has been some of the greatest help I’ve had!



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By Dianne Craft, MA, CNHP

God is so good—and so amazing! In Jeremiah 30:17, He says, “I will restore your health and heal you of all your wounds.” He is vitally interested in our health and, more importantly, in our children’s health and abilities. He has made many provisions for us.
When I was a Special Education teacher, working in the pull-out Resource Room in the public schools, I learned about God’s goodness. I experienced how much my students were struggling with their disabilities: reading reversals, severe auditory processing problems that caused phonics rules not to stick, little writing ability, and difficulty with comprehension. I asked God to show me what to do for these wonderful students. These hard-working students had been in special education pull-out classes for years, and had terrific parents and good teachers, but had made very little progress in their skills over the years.

God answered my prayers in a very interesting and dynamic way: I soon received a postcard from another Special Education teacher, Paul Dennison, Ph.D. He was offering workshops to show his fellow special education teachers a method he was using that was helping relieve his student’s learning disabilities. He used specific midline therapy that could easily be incorporated in the classroom setting, right along with their daily lessons. I was thrilled and began saving my money to attend some of these workshops (a thousand dollars at that time).

God’s Brain Efficiency
In those workshops, I learned so much about how the brain works when learning new material.

The Brain is designed to learn new things and to store the old without effort. (Remember that little song about friends? “Make new friends but keep the old…one is silver and the other gold”. That is how the brain works.)

Have you ever stopped and thought, “I wonder if I brushed my teeth this morning?” You don’t even remember doing it. Why? Because it was what we call an “unconscious” movement. You didn’t have to “think” about it, because it was automatic. That is how “God’s Efficient Brain System” works. When we learn something new, we use our “thinking brain” to concentrate on the task. After a little while, it crosses the midline of the brain and is transferred to the brain’s storage unit, the “automatic” brain hemisphere, for easy access. The same action occurs when we learn to ride a bike or drive a car. At first, we concentrate on it (the left brain’s responsibility), and then it becomes automatic (the right brain’s responsibility). 

How did this affect my students’ learning difficulties? I realized that all the processes of learning, like tracking the eyes from left to right while reading, had not transferred to their “automatic” brain hemisphere. They were still having to use energy to “think” about their eye movements. They often looked at a “b” and had to decide (think about) if the letter they were looking at was a “d” instead. I discovered that learning in general, was not transferring to their automatic hemisphere, and thus often seemed to be “new information” every day. How could we make more connections, so that the learning could be stored in the long-term memory storage unit?

In the workshops, I attended those many years ago (20 years), I learned that God had set up the brain so that we could use specific movements that crossed the midline of the body to repair the disconnections and restore the connections in my students. This was a huge break-through in thinking, for me, as a teacher.
I began using these specific midline movements, I called Brain Integration Therapy, with my students daily before we started our lessons. It was a good “warm-up” session and was a nice start to the day. As I did these exercises daily, I noticed fewer reading and writing reversals in my students. The quick, easy daily midline writing exercise was quickly improving their spacing, and writing fluency immensely. I did not see as much change in the auditory processing and memory with the students, however.

I decided to go back for more training in midline therapy to see if I could make learning easier for my students with moderate and severe auditory processing problems (remembering names of letters, or sight words, or phonemes, or understand verbal information, etc.) It was in those more advanced workshops that I discovered the “key” to quickly creating the pathway from the “thinking” hemisphere to the “automatic” brain hemisphere. 

The Eyes Have It
I learned the powerful role of the eyes in accessing different parts of the brain. I learned that brain scans revealed that when the eyes look upper left, the right brain is activated. Since the right brain hemisphere is the “automatic” brain hemisphere, I found that I could much more rapidly create a strong pathway to the automatic brain hemisphere by adding another technique to the midline exercises. Once a week, I found I could activate the right brain to “take over” the process of eye tracking, or whatever area we were working on, by having the child do the activity that was not automatic, and then having them look upper left while doing the crossing the body movement we call the cross crawl. I did this with them. We did this movement for about a minute or so. I also used music to further activate the automatic brain hemisphere for this process. The results were amazing.

Using this once a week “Specific Brain Training”, I saw changes rapidly. As one of my students, Casey said, “I can remember the names of all my teachers now.” Delores, another eighth-grade student said, “I can understand what I hear. I don’t always have to say, ‘what’, anymore.” I saw rapid changes in how they were processing auditory information. All skills took a huge leap forward. They were so noticeable that parents came in to ask what we were doing. Even my special education teaching partner across the hall, Anna Alvarado, asked me if I would show her what I was doing because she was noticing such a difference in these same students when they came to her class for math. We became partners in our shared learning curve. In fact, at the end of the year, we had quite a few students who could “staff out” of special education (and only be monitored) because of the leaps in learning they had made. Soon I was asked to give “teacher in-service” workshops to our school, and then the surrounding schools, and then state-wide, etc. Now, there are many more “midline therapy” resources available in addition to the one I used. (See the list below for these resources).

A Teaching Revelation
I soon realized that I could affect the processing abilities of my students by helping them with daily exercises and the all-important once a week Specific Brain Trainings. These results often showed in their WISC-IV cognitive testing by the psychologist. However, I learned that the midline therapy did not teach them the skills they needed to make leaps in learning. I saw my students each day for classes in reading, writing, and math. I realized that I needed to teach them in a totally different way if I was going to see the progress I was looking for.

That is when I developed and used the “Healing Teaching” method. My students came to me each day, for about 50 minutes each class. I learned that when I incorporated the midline exercises and a new method of teaching in that time frame, I generally saw a two- year growth in reading and writing, and a three -year growth in spelling and math. I was responsible for their grade, and all the content of reading, writing, and math. For my teaching sessions with these struggling students, I put the “Brain Integration Therapy” and the “Right Brain Teaching Strategies” together to make this growth.
An example of a reading teaching/therapy session would be:
1) Midline Exercises.

Teacher and students did all 6 midline exercises together. (10 minutes).

2) Decoding.

20 minutes decoding (sounding out) long words, with the decoding unit (au/aw) in color in the long word. The picture that gave that sound was on the wall in front of them always (teaching to their camera).

3) Sight Word practice. 

I made Right Brain Sight Word Cards for them to easily remember their sight words and be able to spell them using their strong eye camera. You can easily make Right Brain Sight Word Cards just by drawing the name of the word (meaning) directly on the letters, so the brain sees it in a “unit” (word and name) and quickly retrieves it that way also. Color, humor, and emotion put the “Visual Velcro” on the words that the right brain quickly picks up and stores for easy retrieval.

4) Oral reading from a decodable reader with the decoding units in color. 

I just made my own, since there were none available. But you can just use color for the “phonemes” (decoding units) you are using. We never did any “cold reading”. That is, my students never looked at a page in a book “cold”. I always did my own Pre-Reading, where I looked over the page and pulled out all the “tricky” words and put them on a large piece of paper first. We then proceeded to sound them out, or just talk about them before they read them in the story. I learned not to “correct them” when they were doing oral reading. This was not effective for retaining the word, and they did not like to read orally for me if I did this. 

5) We only had our teaching sessions four days a week. 

On the fifth day, I took the students individually and did the all-important once a week Specific Brain Training. That took about 15 minutes per student. The others were listening to stories on tape. That was one of their favorite activities we did once a week.

A Winning Combination

The adventure of creating more brain connections through physical exercises, and through the training of the child’s right brain, where the strong photographic memory is housed, is a wonderful process to be involved with. It is life-changing. You will see more smiles than you ever have before. 

Let me know about your successes so we can celebrate together. God is so good.
Dianne Craft

 Brain Balance
 Brain Highways

 Brain Integration Therapy

Family Hope Center
 Little Giant Steps



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By Debbi L White

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of visiting the seashore. As I sat on the beach on two consecutive days, I observed a man attempting to negotiate the waves.

On the first day, he stood just after the waves broke, and inevitably they would knock him down. I watched as he was plunged beneath the surface, pummeled with the current, and then struggled to get to his feet. He always returned to the same spot, only to be met with the same recurring fate.

On the morning of the second day, I noticed that he ventured out a little further. At his new vantage point, he was able to dive into the waves as they crested. He remained in control of his body through the onslaught of the water and quickly regained his footing before the next wave arrived.

By the afternoon, the man had moved out even further. Now he stood in the water prior to the waves cresting. As a mounting surge of water approached him, he was easily lifted over the wave and then returned to his former place, remaining upright the entire time.

He was unaware of his spectator, but I have thought much about him since those days. It reminded me of the “waves” of life: how they come upon us and how we respond.

Navigating the Waves Upright
There are a lot of “waves” in life: the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, medical problems, divorce…nameless tragedies. They affect us each differently, and various waves in our lives can have differing ramifications. I think a lot depends on WHERE we’re standing and WHAT we’re focusing on.

When I was 12, a friend’s father introduced me to Jesus. He instructed me to start reading my Bible and praying every day. Being the compliant child I was (at that time!), I started the lifelong habit of reading God’s Word daily. Many years later, I was honored to receive the Bible that belonged to a Godly mentor who had gone to Heaven. In the back, she had recorded each year that she had completed reading through the Bible. There were about 50 dates, and that was just in that Bible (which was held together by strong tape). I attribute her Godliness to that habit she had in her life, and I believe that it has been my utter dependence on God and His Word that has kept me “upright” through the onslaught of “waves” in my own life.

“So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.” (II Thessalonians 2:15)

Watching the Waves and Beyond
Where that man at the beach stood significantly affected the impact that the waves had on him. Where are you standing? Are you struggling with every “wave” that hits you? Do even the smallest trials and temptations knock you off your feet, send you plundering and struggling to get up?

Even if this man was out far enough that he could dive into a wave, he had to WATCH for them! If he turned his back and was caught unaware, he surely would’ve been knocked off of his feet again! Certainly, we cannot see most of life’s challenges before they’re upon us, but we CAN have our eyes FIXED on Jesus! By being in His Word daily and praying “without ceasing,” we know where our strength lies for every “wave” and our hope for every outcome.

“Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who in view of the joy lying before Him endured the cross, having despised its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)

Floating Over the Waves

What waves have crashed over you lately? Are you overwhelmed and exhausted? Are you concerned about making ends meet or meeting all of your family’s needs? Are you struggling with a relationship or a major decision? Perhaps someone in your family is facing a health crisis. Regardless of the “wave,” you can be assured that I AM is with you! Whatever you need, He is! Nothing you are going through catches our Father by surprise! Talk to Him, if you haven’t lately. Get into His Word, and listen to what He has to say to you. He’s going to help you float right over this wave and get your feet back down on solid ground. It’s a promise!

Are you looking for a community who will stand next to you and remind you that floating over the waves of life are not only possible for others, but in every situation, you and your family are currently facing? Then ask to join the SPED Homeschool Support group. We are much stronger when we face the waves of life together.

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By Tracy Glockle

Lexile scores for books can seem like a foreign language, a secret code of numbers and letters that seem to make no sense. But when you crack the code for Lexile scores, it can be an invaluable tool in helping your struggling reader to find books that are a custom fit.

Understanding Lexile Scores
Lexile scores evaluate books based on several factors to determine how hard a book will be to read and comprehend and what students will get the most from the book. The codes do not naturally indicate grade level, though there are charts to help you determine which ranges fall within a particular grade. However, the advantage to this ambiguity is that your child will not necessarily associate a grade level with a particular score.

Another advantage to the lexile scoring are the abbreviations that allow you to customize your search even further. A few favorite examples include:
AD (adult-directed): books that are better as read-alouds
HL (high-low): books that engage older students with lower reading levels
NC (non-conforming): books for kids who read at higher levels but need less mature content

Finding a Lexile Score
While there are charts to indicate what score correlates with a particular grade level, this method might not be the best since many of our struggling readers do not read at grade level. Perhaps a better method for finding a Lexile Score is to search books that your child enjoys reading and determine a range from those titles.

First, visit the Lexile Book Finder page and type in the title of a book that you know your child has read easily. 


Write down the assigned lexile score. You can do this a few different times with a few different titles to get a better idea of your child’s range. You can also determine a range by taking a particular score and widening that score to a range of 50 below to 50 above. For instance, if your child enjoys a book that is scored at 650, look for books that score between 600-700.

Next, enter that Lexile score on the book finder page and narrow your search to the particular genre or interests that your child prefers. 

Select a book you are considering for more information about the book, for targeted vocabulary based on your child’s reading ability, and for expected comprehension of that particular book.

Using a Lexile score, you can find a number of other book titles that match the skills your child is demonstrating in reading, plan vocabulary and reading activities with confidence and help your struggling reader to find books that inspire a love for reading.

If you are looking for a way to receive an official lexile score for your student, you can also take advantage of the SPED Homeschool discount that True North Academy offers on their Scantrol Performance Test, which includes a lexile score. To take advantage of this offer, visit the True North Academy Performance Series Test  site page and use the discount code SPED at checkout to purchase the test for just $19. 


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By Mary Winfield

In this series on teaching your child to write we have covered pre-writing pointers, forming letters, putting letters together, and getting thoughts down on paper. In this final installment in the series, we will look at research paper writing in older students.

Writing a research paper can seem overwhelming to both the student and the teacher! Luckily, once you know the process, it is made much easier. Here is the easy way to write a research paper.


In order to write a paper, you have to know about the subject matter. Help your child find reputable sources in books and magazines to help them learn about the subject matter. If you go to or do an internet search to find peer-reviewed articles instead of general websites.

As your child researches, have him or her keep track of what they are reading, where they found it, and what they learned. Your child can even copy and paste into a research document rather than writing everything out. Generally, your child should pull from at least 5 different sources when writing a paper (more if it is a longer paper), which means your child should plan on reading from more than five sources.


As your child reads, discuss his or her thoughts about different aspects of the material. What does your child agree with or disagree with? Why? These are important parts of forming the thesis or basic premise of the paper.

Once your student has a good idea of what his or her topic is, have your child write down a one-sentence summary of the premise and why he or she thinks that way. This will be the thesis. The next step is to break down the paper into points that back up the thesis. Let me give you a basic example.

Let’s say I am writing a paper on how to classify cows in the animal kingdom. My thesis would be something like, “Based on the presence of hair growth, birth of live offspring, and the production of milk to feed infants, cows should be classified as mammals.”

I would take the points that support my thesis (in this case, hair growth, birth of live offspring, and production of milk) and make them each paragraphs in my paper. Your student should start organizing their notes into sections (or put them on index cards or post-it notes if you want a very visual way of organizing it all).


Once you are organized, then writing should be easy. Introduction paragraph has a short overview of the paper and the thesis. Body paragraphs each have a point that supports the thesis along with resources to back up the claim. Then the conclusion states the thesis in a different way and makes any other conclusions.

You will also have to worry about citing sources and the list of sources at the end of the paper. The way that you do this will depend on which format you use (MLA and APA being the two most often used formats). You can, of course, buy manuals and resource guides, but my favorite resource is the Purdue Online Writing Lab which is free and will give you more in-depth help with all of these areas of writing a paper.

Writing a paper doesn’t have to be overwhelming. With the right process and the right resources, you can break it down into manageable tasks that don’t seem as hard.




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By Amy Vickrey, MSE

In my time as a teacher, I worked with many therapists. They are wonderful people with a wealth of information and resources! I also had the opportunity through one program I worked in to take part in home visits. If you are considering or have therapists who come to your home, here are some things to consider helping everyone be more comfortable.

  • If you offer a drink, offer something that comes prepackaged like bottled water. Your therapist may not be comfortable drinking out of other people’s cups like I was because of my food sensitivities.
  • Most will not accept offers of food or drink…they are encouraged to take care of these needs between visits.
  • Most will not use the bathrooms as they do not want to make you feel uncomfortable about them being in your house. If you are okay with them using the bathroom, it is ok for you to let them know in case there is ever a need. They might still say no.
  • If there are changes occurring in the home, it might be important to share so that the therapist can take this into consideration if your child slows down or regresses in therapy.
  • Before or after, save a few minutes of time to ask questions and let them know about progress or issues that arise related to the therapy. You see your child every day; they see them once or twice a week. You may see something before they do, and it helps to set a bigger picture.
  • Talk to them about questions and concerns that you may have, even if they seem unrelated. Many therapists have worked in teams with other specialists and can at least steer you in the right direction for concerns you have.
  • Share good things you are doing to help therapy along, like practicing skills, adding cross-midline exercises or even supplements that might be beneficial!
  • It’s ok to listen in, take notes, or watch what the therapist is doing so you can learn about how to help your child too!
  • Say “Thank You!” Even just a verbal thank you, a card made by your child, or praise for the work they are doing is appreciated! Many companies don’t allow the acceptance of gifts (especially if they are valued over a certain amount) but a simple thank you is always appreciated!

Are you looking for more ideas on how to incorporate therapy into your homeschooling?  Then make sure to check out our at At Home Therapy Resources as well as the SPED Homeschool Therapy Partners page.



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