You’ve been staring at the paper for what seems like hours. It answers your questions, but now there are so many more.


The diagnosis
Now you know the specific issues, but do you know what to do or what specific program and organization to choose? When you feel overwhelmed with the big picture, it helps to break it down into smaller pieces with action steps.


1. What are the specific needs of my child?

  • Testing shows specific areas of strength and weakness in our kids. The diagnosis is a jumping off point, a road map of where you are with goals of where to go.
  • Do you understand the diagnosis? It’s up to the diagnostician to explain the results. Many people leave the meeting not understanding what to do or where to go. There are people who can help. The Thinking and Learning Center and other SPED Homeschool partners offer consultation to help you decipher the results. 
  • Make a list of the specific areas where your child is struggling and what type of help you want for those issues. Be sure to also list the areas of strengths!


2. What are my boundaries?

Before you start any therapy, take a realistic look at where you are and what you can do. Therapy needs to be taken seriously by the child and the parents.

  • Will be there be work to do between appointments?
  • What is the time commitment, for actual therapy and driving?
  • What costs are involved?

List what you are willing to do and what you can not afford to do,  financially, time-wise, with travel, or emotionally. 

If you find a program you want to pursue, but think it is outside your set limits, ask the provider if there is something they can do to help you stay within your desirable boundaries. Some places offer payment plans or financial breaks to offset their costs. It doesn’t hurt to ask!


3. What aspects of this program would work for my child and which would not?

  • Make a list of what you want to get out of a program. Does the specific program offer it?
  • Put the list of your child’s needs next to the attributes of the program and write down what part of the program would specifically help each issue.
  • Are there any issues that the testing showed, or any that you or your student want addressed that is not in the program? Ask the teacher/therapist if the issue is addressed and how.


Before starting any program, make sure it is the right one for your child. You want a program that will set goals and reevaluate those goals periodically. Once your find a program, trust it. Some programs or issues take time for results to show. Be patient and keep in contact with your child’s therapist.





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By Kimberly Vogel


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.



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By Kimberly Vogel

Planning a new homeschool year energizes some and sparks fear in other homeschool moms. Personally, I enjoy planning, but scheduling a year for a struggling learner reminds me of never-ending tasks such as laundry or putting away toys while a toddler dumps them out behind you… every time you get stuck on a concept, or have a medical set-back, you have to adjust your plan and schedule.

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” (Ben Franklin)

I’m not saying you’ll fail at homeschooling without a schedule, but tackling a homeschool year without an idea of what needs to be accomplished and when does create challenges.


8 Tips for Planning a Homeschool Year for a Struggling Learner:

  1. List the main goals in each subject for the year. Setting goals keeps your eyes on the purpose of your homeschool. Doing this in each subject allows customization based on your student’s needs.  Remember to keep your goals focused and doable. Some goals can be for mid-year with a higher expectation set for the end of the year. Goals can state how much of the curriculum you want to accomplish or an end date for completing it.  If you haven’t created an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) before, it can help with setting goals and specifying what accommodations your struggling learner needs. Check out our IEP Information page for details on how to write an IEP.
  2. Decide which lessons / topics are most important.   Some can be skipped, shortened, or combined. Ask yourself, “What is the purpose of this lesson and how can we do it in a way my child will learn, be challenged, and successful?” Not all of the curriculum needs to be done, nor all of the assignments.  
  3. Plan with pencil and the ability to move things around. Schedule a rough draft or overview of what lessons need to be done by Christmas and May. If you want to write out each day’s plans in advance, keeping it on the computer in a spreadsheet provides an easy way to move things around. I’ve even planned using sticky notes.
  4. Utilize a checklist of daily subjects. Give your student a checklist of what subjects or books  need to be done each day. It can be laminated to be used weekly or daily.  This is my favorite tip for planning math. Some concepts can be combined (shapes or estimation), while some lessons might take days to work on (long division). This also helps your child feel accomplishment as they complete the tasks..
  5. Schedule in shorter chunks. Don’t plan what lessons you will do each day for the whole year;  rather plan a few weeks at a time. Rely on your goals or the overview for year-long planning.
  6. Give yourself margin. I leave an extra week unplanned each semester to give margin. If we don’t need the extra days for the important lessons we are behind in, we use that time for fun units or projects. Some years we do schoolwork on four days with Fridays for fun. This can also be used for a catch-up day.
  7. Plan backwards. Instead of writing what you think you will do before you do it, keep a file of what you do accomplished each day.This is helpful for the times you feel like you aren’t meeting goals. When we start our day stressed about what we are “supposed” to do, we forget to celebrate what we have done.
  8. Pray. This should be done first, in the middle, and last!  God knows your child and what is needed. He also knows what your year looks like, even before events happen! Through the good days, and the tough ones this year, God is not surprised. He is there every step ready to lead you.


Arm yourself with chocolate, pencils, calendars, lessons, and sticky notes and start planning your new homeschool year!






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