by Mandi Frost from My Life Coach 360


How much energy, zest or joy do you have on a scale of 1-10? 

What is stealing your joy?


Home schooling can be a lot for parents, in addition to all the other family responsibilities. 

Therefore, it’s important to evaluate what is good, better, or best with regards to taking care of your soul, mind, and body so you “finish the race well” with joy.


Your Soul:

What is best is your spiritual care and pointing your children to Christ as they also take care of their spiritual health.

It is GOOD that you are home educating your child and not relying on the state to educate them according to man’s philosophies and cultural beliefs.

It is BETTER to provide them with a curriculum from a Biblical worldview that points to Christ and the gospel and gives them a solid foundation, so they know how to defend their faith and find their identity in Christ.  


“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” 1 Peter 3:15,16


It is BEST to teach them God’s absolute Truth so they are secure in what is True and not swayed by man’s ideas. Man’s “truth” does not exist because it is based on subjective truth, changing with the times AND because man is not inherently good, the nature of man.


There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end, it leads to death.” Proverbs 14:12

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me…” John 14:6

Jesus said, “No one is good—except God alone.” Mark 10:18b.


Only what God says is good and True is truly good because man is not inherently good. 

In the story of Mary and Martha, Jesus said: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41,42

What do you and your children mostly need?


Your Mind:

The battle starts in the mind. Our beliefs, choices, deeds, actions, decisions start with a thought. Our minds reveal what’s in our hearts.


It is GOOD to keep young minds away from the indoctrination and secular ideology that twists scripture and Biblical principles about how we were created by God and how we are to live.


Help your child spot the many lies of this culture. For example: “follow your heart.” The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” Jeremiah 17:9,10


When you “follow your heart,” you are following your own truth. 


It is BETTER to teach your child in the “Socratic method” of learning through coaching, curiosity, questions, and many conversations and discussions around relevant topics that builds trust, critical thinking and invites relationship.


It is BEST to train your child in how to renew their minds and change unhealthy behaviors so they will not conform to the ideas and “patterns” of this world and instead be transformed by Truth. Just because we think a thought, doesn’t make it true – we need to examine it and challenge it to align our thinking patterns with scripture. 

 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2: 


It is BEST to model the behavior you want to see in your children. By renewing your mind, God works through you as you show up calmer and respond in healthier ways, so your children trust you, feel safe to share with you, and build relationships and respect.  


What is God showing you? 


Your Body

Finding life balance in this busy and “disconnected tech world,” can be challenging for families.


It is GOOD to eat healthy meals and train children to do the same as they learn about natural foods with less sugar, chemicals, and processing. “God saw all that he had made, and it was good.” Genesis 1:29


It is BETTER to exercise and get enough sleep and care about your physical energy to be available and present just as you care about your children’s sleep, exercise, and energy levels.  


It is BEST to build balance in all areas of living – soul, mind, and body – for healthier and happier families.  


“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Mathew 11:28-30

His yoke. His timing. Lean on Him. Learn from Him.


As you rest in Him, only Christ can meet your deepest needs. Balance is knowing God`s BETTER – which is BEST – not what you may think is best.


“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” Ecclesiastes 3: 1


What do you need to “take off your plate?”


Practical ideas to renew soul, mind, and body:

Disconnect to connect

  • Model being present with your children and tech intentional with your own device use. 
  • Decide on no-tech-zones (dinner table, bedroom, car etc) 
  • Schedule no tech days and let your child get bored to be creative and self-reflect


How many times do you look at your phone in a day?

Do you stop what you’re doing on your phone if a child needs your attention?

Journal and prayer

  • Taking time out in your day to self-reflect and pray will help you show up calm and think about conversations you need to have with your children. Time with the Lord helps you prepare for the day as you hear God’s still small voice.


How could you set aside time for this? 


  • Start with short spurts of 10-minute exercises (walks, stretches, weights, pushups, Pilates.) 


How could you schedule 10-minute gaps in your day, so you don`t forget?

What could you do together as a family?


Laugh, humor and play

  • Play with your child/teen–look through childhood pictures, build memories
  • Prioritize regular family times (as you would a business meeting) and get your children to take turns planning an event of laughter, board games, puzzles, reading together and others.

When was the last time you had a good laugh with your children?


Healthy meals and chores

  • Planning healthy family meals and sitting down at the dinner table to converse in conversations improves relationships
  • Cook extra food for a backup plan for busier days. Get the family involved in planning and cooking as you train them to contribute to family needs. 
  • Chores are family contributions and ways to serve one another.


Have you set up chore routines and do your children know exactly what they need to do?


Nurture Relationships

  • Speak your child’s love language and let them know yours for more connection.
  • See Gary Chapman’s book: The 5 Love languages.


What is your child’s expression of love?

When you lean into Jesus, you will find joy!  


Bio: Mandi Frost is a veteran home educator for over 25 years, Jesus follower, and an academic life coach to adolescents and coach to parents. She shows parents the exact coach training tools learnt in her professional training with the ICF (International Coach Federation). Mandi loves supporting parents in home schooling using coach strategies that transform family dynamics. Mandi and her husband are empty nesters and originally from South Africa and Zimbabwe. Having had to leave their home because of political unrest, they witnessed many miracles of His goodness and protection in Africa. Now living in Colorado Springs, Mandi loves reading, hiking, studying God’s word, and the outdoors.





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by Mara McLoughlin from IRL Social Skills


Picture this: After the fantastic holiday dinner, which went pretty smoothly, Grandma has asked your seventh-grader to help load the dishwasher. Your son starts acting a bit moody. He’d rather be alone, playing video games or scrolling TikTok.


Grandma can be very exacting and critical. You grew up with her and your body remembers what it felt like to fail at this Tetris game. You start to tense up.


You notice your child’s shoulders creep up towards their ears, and their face takes a stony, flat effect. He’s steeling himself. You dread what’s coming;a phrase you heard so often as a child and one you swore you’d never repeat, “You’re doing it wrong.”


Your stomach somersaults, and you feel your heart rate increase. You want your son to load the dishwasher well enough that Grandma will praise and thank him, not criticize him or make him feel like a failure.


You want your child to do this activity independently while also being there to support them before a meltdown or shutdown occurs. You can sense it coming. What’s the parent of an autistic, ADHD child to do?


Holidays can be stressful for your kids especially, autistic, ADHD, and other neurodivergent youth. Changes in routine, erratic bedtimes or mealtimes, even the bright flashing lights that bring joy to so many people can be overstimulating for some neurodivergent folks. The overwhelmed son and the mother in the scene above are on the verge of becoming dysregulated.


Emotional dysregulation is a term used to describe an emotional response that falls outside social norms. Moodiness, irritability, acting out, or heightened temper are signs of dysregulation.

Mindfulness is a tool to cultivate awareness and understanding of emotional states. However, once dysregulation kicks in, awareness alone is not enough. That’s when the skills of self-regulation and co-regulation come into play.


Self-regulation is the ability to understand and manage your behavior and emotional reactions. Self-regulation develops rapidly during toddler and preschooler years and continues into adulthood. We talk about self-regulation often in our workshops and courses.


Co-regulation is the way that the nervous system of one person influences the nervous system of another. This connection between nervous systems can help an emotionally dysregulated person feel calmer and safe. In other words, when the dysregulated person receives safety cues from another, it allows them to move into a more regulated state.


Emotional regulation is a critical skill that requires careful nurturing, modeling, and practice. Even the most enlightened parent can lose their cool and become dysregulated around others behavior or emotional displays. Not to mention the extra social, financial, and work stresses of the holiday season.


Here’s a simple approach to effective self- and co-regulation.

Recognize that you or they are triggered.
Once you acknowledge the trigger, you start to become more present. The “Five Things” exercise is perfect for this.

Look for five similar things in your environment: five blue things, five metal things, or five round things. This will quickly shift you to problem awareness and grounding in the present moment.


Don’t “just breathe”, exhale.
We’ve all been given the advice to “just breathe” when stressed. How you breathe is sometimes more important than breath awareness.

The inhalation part of the breath cycle stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, which can amplify stress and fight-or-flight reflexes. Focusing on the exhalation activates the parasympathetic nervous system which helps to dissipate tension in the body and signals cues of safety.

Practice breathing in for a count of four, then exhale to a count of eight. As long as the exhalation is longer than the inhalation, the exact count doesn’t matter. Make sure you empty your lungs completely.


Name your feelings and sensations.
“My heart is beating hard and fast. I feel tired. I’m clenching my fists. My stomach feels tied up in knots. Why is my foot tingling?”

By grounding your awareness in interoception, feeling the sensations within your body, you connect more with yourself and further diminish fight-or-flight reactivity. When you are less reactive and more self-aware, your nervous system will radiate more ease.


Choose calming speech and tone of voice.
Both self-talk, in the case of self-regulation, and spoken words, when co-regulating with another, should be comforting.

Put on your “empathy hat” and regard yourself and your child with care, concern, warmth, and positive intent. Choose soothing, loving, supportive speech. Your nonverbal cues must match your words to be authentic and shift to a state of curiosity.


Solve the problem.
Now, you’re ready to directly tackle the problem that set the whole dysregulation snowball down the mountain.

Decide whether to engage in problem-solving at the moment or bookmark it for a more optimal time. Agree with yourself or your child to check back in at a specific time and date. This will reinforce the feelings of safety and security that will help with problem-solving down the road.
The added social demands of the holiday season can cause emotional dysregulation in anyone, parents and kids alike.


Co-regulation can help you and your autistic child sail smoothly through the holidays, into the New Year, and beyond.


This guest post was originally published on the IRL Social Skills blog, here. We are republishing here, with permission of the author and founder of IRL Social Skills, Mara McLoughlin.


Mara is the founder of IRL Social Skills. Using the renowned PEERS curriculum, Mara and her team provide social skills coaching to autistic and other neurodivergent teens and adults. The IRL approach is trauma-informed, holistic, and blends mindfulness and self-awareness exercises along with brain education. Mara and several of her coaches are themselves autistic or neurodivergent and bring an empathy lens to their work supporting autistic teens, young adults, and their families.


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by Peggy Ployhar, Founder & CEO SPED Homeschool


Are you in a pinch to find a gift for your child? You don’t want to just buy them something they will play with for a while for it to only end up in a drawer or toy bin.


Here is a list of some of the most innovative and fun educational products that I have come across this past year as I have interviewed 200+ companies interested in partnering with us at SPED Homeschool.


Fidget Computer Mouse by HedgeHog Health

A multi-sensory computer mouse that helps with staying focused and calm while doing online learning tasks.

Click here to see this product on Amazon


Kids Banking App and Debit Card by Greenlight

Using the card and the app, students can earn 1% cash back earnings, 5% investment earning, plus you can reward chores and teach investing all through this handy service

To learn more, visit


Pinwheel Parent-Monitored Cell Phone

Use your own smartphone and carrier with the Pinwheel caregiver portal to create a safe contact list with specific phone functionality per contact, monitor text and call history, and choose from vetted apps to teach responsible cell phone use practices. Get a 10% discount on your purchase by using the code SPED10

To learn more, visit


Write and Chill – Writable Weighted Lap Pad by LakiKid

A weighted lap pad with built in writing surface that allows children to use a water pen to write or draw directly on the pad. Clean the pad for a new writing surface with water or disinfectant.

To learn more, visit the LakiKid website


Gabb Wireless Gabb Go Smart Watch

A kid-safe, smart watch, in second, release that allows your kids to stay connected, on task, active, and motivated.

To learn more, visit the Gabb Go website


Auzy Bear for Non-Speaking Kids

An interactive bear your child can use to communicate basic needs as well as calming routines when anxieties rise.

To learn more, visit the Cubby Love Bears website


I pray you all have a very Merry Christmas with your families. We at SPED Homeschool are thankful that you are part of our community and we look forward to continuing to serve you in the new year. If you are interested in making a year-end donation to help us further our mission t to empower more families like yours, visit our donation page. Thank you ahead of time for your prayerful consideration in partnering with us financially.


Peggy Ployhar, SPED Homeschool Founder & CEO




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by Cheryl Swope of Simply Classical and Cheryl Swope Consulting


Taking the snacks he wanted to enjoy, able to play the music he wanted to hear, and free to think the thoughts he wanted to think, my husband climbed alone into his Ford Fiesta as if it were a magic carpet ready to whisk him off to glorious lands unseen. I told him to go freely. He had not seen his sister and her husband in a while. They live only an hour away. I wanted him to be able to spend the afternoon enjoying his own conversations. This required some urging.

“Michael will be disappointed”, he protested. Michael always enjoys seeing his aunt and uncle. I reminded my husband of the almost absurdly enjoyable recent times Michael had already experienced: Besides the usual diversions, neighbors had us over for a delightful dinner followed by everyone playing a game Michael had brought along. On another mild day, Michael and my husband had ridden bikes through our small town. Michael and his best childhood friend had recently played hours of board games. “Go! Guilt-free”, I told my husband. “Go. We will be fine.” 


Why is this so hard for some of us? When our children have physical or emotional needs beyond that of a typical child’s; why do we wear ourselves out catering to forlorn requests, insatiable pleas, or perceived needs, when the actual needs already require daily sacrifice? As parents of children with complex conditions, we must monitor good nutrition, companionship, medications, and doctor visits. Somehow we attach the same significance to the “wants” that become demands tempting us to forego our own needs. Like the Siren Song, our child’s desires can catapult some of us into indulging our child at the expense of our own exercise, nourishment, undisturbed time in prayer, reading, conversations, or time with friends and family. 


I’m thankful to the Lord Jesus Christ that, over the years, my husband’s heart has been drawn so strongly to his children that he wants to satisfy the requests he hears from them! However, sometimes as parents, we must protect each other. He will often tell our children, “Mom’s busy right now. If you need something for the next few hours, ask me.” Today it was my turn. 


This morning, I refreshed myself by a long swim as my protected time to exercise. I was gratified to know my husband would enjoy a few hours unencumbered. Perhaps because of this, I promised Michael what he most loves to hear, “Later this afternoon, we can play Ticket to Ride.” For a young person with autism, no board game may ever surpass one with both trains and maps. Similarly, I told his twin sister Michelle that later when Dad came home, she and I would go on a walk together, just the two of us. I was careful not to promise things I did not intend to do, nor did I promise things I do not enjoy. I truly enjoy a good board game and a good walk. By choosing to do the things we enjoy, the time together is more companionable.


I do not always promise such things. I cannot. Over the years, I have learned to be more honest as a means of “parent care.” Sometimes I bring home fresh flowers simply because I love to see them on the kitchen table. Sometimes, after a doctor’s appointment with one or both children, I take the children to a park because I want to breathe the fresh air. 


After over two decades of caring for our now-adult twins with autism, schizophrenia, and medical conditions, my husband and I have coined a motto: Respite, before you’re desperate. At one time grandparents served in this role for us, but now that those years have gone, respite most often takes the form of exchanging solo time. We cover for each other. Yet we have learned that this is not all we need.

Nearly every Friday night when I announce, “Early bed, movie night for Mom & Dad downstairs,” they already know to expect this. Currently, husband and I rarely go out together, as only a select few adult sitters suffice for our situation, so we set aside Friday night for ourselves as a couple. It seems comforting for them to know that my husband and I still enjoy being together enough to carve out this time each week. Most of all, knowing we have this time helps us combat resentment and reduce fatigue while giving us something to anticipate sharing each week, just the two of us.


In our home, some seasons of our lives have not allowed for either solo time or couple time. Perhaps you know this scenario all too well. Some seasons require sacrifice that is more divine than human. For this reason, the greatest parent care is found in the sacrificial love of Christ for us. 

In such seasons, we can remain steadfast. We can love our husbands, love our children, and carry on. Our hearts can be comforted, as in this prayer, “Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and establish you in every good word and work” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17). 


You are not alone. As parents who care for children who need you, you can at all times cast “all your care upon him; for he careth for you, … knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world” (1 Peter 5:7-9). Caring for ourselves is really not our task; rather we are already loved, protected, and cared for by Him.


Be patient and await His leisure / In cheerful hope, with heart content

To take whate’er thy Father’s pleasure / And His discerning love hath sent,

Nor doubt our inmost wants are known / To Him who chose us for His own.


God knows full well when times of gladness / Shall be the needful thing for thee.

When He has tried thy soul with sadness / And from all guile has found thee free,

He comes to thee all unaware / And makes thee own His loving care.


hymn stanzas from “If Thou But Trust in God to Guide Thee” 

Georg Neumark (1621-1681), public domain


Cheryl Swope is the author of Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child and creator of the curriculum voted #1 for Special Learners, the Simply Classical Curriculum for Special Needs (Memoria Press). With a master’s degree in special education, Cheryl homeschooled her adopted boy/girl twins from their earliest years through high school graduation. The family lives together in a quiet lake community in Missouri. For more articles like this, subscribe for free to the Simply Classical Journal, a print magazine arriving twice annually.




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