Cammie Arn & Peggy Ployhar

Just what is homeschooling? I have asked myself this question a lot as of late.

When you boil it down, homeschooling is an active schooling choice.

As I think about what I just penned above, I can’t say Isolation schooling, the non-choice schooling option many are finding themselves doing right now can truly be called homeschooling.

Isolation schooling is a non-choice schooling option affecting all public, private, and homeschooling families right now.

The interesting thing is that no matter what our school choice was before this pandemic hit, all families still have many choices they can make while maintaining isolation. The key to seeing these choices is looking beyond what you may have to leave behind. And instead, focus on what you can do and how those choices will impact your family’s story during this pandemic and in the years to come when you look back at how you utilized this time together. Here are some ideas to get you started.

 

Choices for families who were already homeschooling:

 

Choices for families who had children attending public or private schools:

  • Online classes or therapy too overwhelming for your student? Ask the school/teacher/therapist to send you a packet of class materials he/she can finish at their pace and submit when completed.

 

“…no matter what our school choice was before this pandemic hit, all families still have many choices they can make while maintaining isolation.

 

This is a different season for our country that none of us have ever charted. I am hoping that my public and private schooling friends will enjoy this opportunity at home with their children as much as I enjoy my time at home with mine. I also pray they will take a closer look at homeschooling as a choice in the future.  

We can do this! We just need to be flexible with the choices we do have.

Need some help? Check out our  COVID-19 emergency at-home schooling page for more ideas and resources.

 

 

 

 


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Cammie Arn

Looking back I realize that finishing a homeschool day well has changed for me over the years. When my children were little, I felt accomplished if that day I had a plan for dinner, everyone got dressed, and we read at least one book. Now after 20 years of homeschooling, I find my day finishes well when dinner is planned before breakfast, the children have completed their day’s assignments without complaining, I’ve spent my quiet time with God, and my family did something fun together. Below are some of the things I have learned these past 20 years in striving towards my goal to finish each homeschool day well.

 

Simple Planning to Finish Each Homeschool Day Well

Planning is essential to finish each homeschool day well, but it doesn’t need to be elaborate or complicated. For instance, I have a small bulletin board in our school area where I post the syllabi’ for the school year. This way everyone knows what needs to be done each week. I also post my menu and chore assignments where everyone can see them. Once these items are posted, “it’s the law”. We also make it a point to focus on school first. After breakfast until lunch school work is the priority . I’ve also trained my children that school and house responsibilities are to be completed before any free time activities are permitted.

 

Bigger Picture Focus to Finish Each Homeschool Day Well

Staying on track and being mindful of bigger homeschooling goals can also be simplified. When my oldest began high school I created a 4-year high school scope and sequence. Since then, each summer and Christmas break I re-evaluate this plan to ensure my children are making adequate progress or if  extra time or help is needed to reach a goal. Another planning element added to our at-home study lesson plans are yearly classes our children take at a local co-op. Each summer I incorporate each co-op classes syllabi into my children’s yearly goals. 

 

One additional tip I have learned for tracking textbook lessons is to copy the table of contents from the book and assign specific due dates for each chapter. Then I laminate the table of contents page and use it as a bookmark for the textbook. This way my children know throughout the year what date a specific reading assignment is due.

 

In the end, material things don’t matter but people do. Making sure I spend time with the people I love is the best way to finish each homeschool day well.”

 

Crushing Difficult Tasks to Finish Each Homeschool Day Well

In order to not procrastinate on difficult tasks, I try to do the most unpleasant things in my day first thing in the morning. This way these items are done and I have the freedom of mind to move on to whatever else the day holds. But, on the days when I just can’t get to these more difficult tasks, I assign them to someone else.  Just kidding. They wait until the next day or time they can be dealt with, unless I can find someone who is able or willing to help.

 

Looking Back and Ahead to Finish Each Homeschool Day Well

When I look back I realize what matters most are the people in my life and the relationships we share. The question I ask myself at the end of each day is, “Have I met every need I could as best I could today?”  Looking back to what matters most today and into the future to what will matter most in the years to come provides the best framework for where it matters most to spend time each and every day. In the end, material things don’t matter but people do. Making sure I spend time with the people I love is the best way to finish each homeschool day well.

 

 

 

 

 


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Cammie Arn

I’m often asked how exactly I do it all. I mean I do have 8 kids, 4 of which are still in my homeschool and 4 who are adults. Parenting doesn’t stop at the diploma, trust me! In addition to homeschooling, I serve on the SPED Homeschool Team, teach a girls small group at church, teach two classes at our weekly co-op, volunteer in the nursery for the local homeschool choir and I work 3 part-time jobs. My husband’s schedule is much the same. I say all this to say that even with all this, I still don’t do it all. No one can. We can only do our best. But there are a few tips for making a large family homeschool run more smoothly.

Tips for Your Large Family Homeschool

 

Large Family Buddy System

This is my biggest secret!
I currently assign two sets of buddies. My children’s ages are 4, 9, 15, and 16, so I usually match my 15-yr-old with my 4-year-old and my 16-year-old boy with the 9-year-old. Currently, my two big kids serve their buddy a meal before serving their own and help with getting clothes out of dressers if the younger child can’t reach.

 

Large Family Laundry

My seasons here have ebbed and flowed as I added babies or sent an older one to work. We have always had 3-4 bedrooms in our home, so I assigned laundry days by the bedroom, leaving sheets and towels for Saturday. The buddy system also comes into play for laundry. The big kids in the bedroom wash and dry or hang out the laundry for the littles. This has greatly cut down on laundry room congestion.

 

Large Family Meal Planning

Planning for meals is crucial. Whenever possible, I cook overnight while I sleep. I generally have several crockpots going at the same time. My last cooking session included pinto beans, potatoes, and spaghetti sauce all cooking at the same time. Then, these meals were packed for lunch or frozen for later. I prep individual ingredients for later use as often as I can, such as, precooked frozen meat, diced pepper, and onions.

My other trick is theme nights. It’s helps the grocery budget too. This is my current routine:

  • Monday Italian
  • Tuesday Sandwich night/Soup and Salad
  • Wednesday Mexican
  • Thursday Breakfast for Dinner/Casserole night
  • Friday Pizza
  • Saturday Chicken/Pork Chops/Roast
  • Sunday leftovers

 

Large Family Homeschool

I schedule the same subjects to be studied across all ages so that I only have to keep up with one lesson plan. The different grade levels come from the depth of the particular assignments, but the content is the same. 

  • My big kids read out-loud to my littles
  • We go to co-op weekly to provide accountability 
  • We take every day as it comes but use scheduled weekly goal sheets for each student
  • I do my very best to not compare my children to each other or other children 

 

Large Family Relationships

Number one rule in our house is to never go to bed angry. I spend a great deal of my time while children are young training them about right from wrong. We do our best to draw any squabble back to the Bible. This includes lots of teaching on forgiveness and the benefit of not holding grudges. We talk about servanthood beginning at home and doing our best to put others needs before our own. Showing kindness, sharing and teamwork is how we roll.

 

The large family homeschool life has its challenges, but with a few simple routines it can run more smoothly. Plus, the rewards of a large family sharing life together make the normal chaos worth every challenge.

 

 

 

 


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By Cammie Arn

When I was first told that my 9 year old son qualified for “hippo therapy,” I was so confused. I live in the heart of Texas, and the only “hippos” I knew of were in a zoo. Then, the Occupational Therapist politely smiled at me and explained that “hippo” meant horse. My son qualified for horse therapy or equine therapy. Now, I understood. But what would be the benefits of hippotherapy for my son with Sensory Integration Disorder?

 

That first day a whole new world opened up for my son. Having to assimilate the pungent smell, the dust everywhere, an animal he wasn’t in control of, the breeze blowing and the therapist talking was enough to either shut him down or send him into a rage. I expected the worst. Instead, he got onto the horse, backwards. Backwards? Um, what?

 

It was then explained that riding backwards caused his body to learn to balance and sift through all the other sensory stimuli at the same time. Amazing! My son loved it! Not only that but the extra benefit of hippotherapy was my son’s  pride that he was going horseback riding versus going to therapy. He was excited and motivated to go again.

 

My son continued in this type of therapy twice a week for one year. This was his turning point. Each week I watched him master the skills asked of him along with learning to  control an animal. His confidence grew in other areas as well. Soon he graduated from his OT program. I was elated to see such improvement in my son. Not only did he gain a confidence boost he was able to focus better on his schoolwork, listen to my instructions over the noises of his younger siblings, retain knowledge learned and tolerate food without vomiting. The only bittersweet thing was that he lost his routine for those afternoons until we discovered Tae Kwon Do met at the same time. Hippotherapy gave him the skills and confidence he needed to pursue other things in life.

 

 


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By Cammie Arn

What do you think of when you see a puzzle piece?

I am always fascinated how those unique pieces with different shapes only provide glimpses of the full picture they are forming. And how many times it is usually not the picture I first imagined.

This is how I see the family of God. Each person is handcrafted by God to fit together with the rest of the body.

Society today screams at us that we can do it all and be all the pieces of the puzzle ourselves.

I disagree.

We were intended to use our uniqueness to benefit others and be part of the bigger picture of God’s kingdom.

In observing the unique nature of puzzle pieces, I realize they are all different, some more so than others. They have different boundaries, different colors, different ways of connecting with other pieces, and different places they fit to make the puzzle come together.

Likewise, we all have different perspectives and roles. One is not better than the other, but all are needed to connect and finish the bigger picture. Only when the bigger picture comes together is the image on the puzzle finally revealed.

Unity happens when the picture is complete.

Unity in the body of Christ happens when we allow others to use their God-given gifts to minister to one another. We have to be careful not to think others are to be just like us. No person is like another, just like no homeschool mom is like another homeschool mom. We all need to be just like Christ in the unique way He is making us as part of His kingdom.

Only by allowing God to shape and mold us can we fit into the exact place He has for us. This may mean we are ”rubbing shoulders” with some unexpected people and being called to come together with others who are not at all like us. That is okay. 

Coming together in our uniqueness is what sets us apart from the world. We choose not to fall into comparison traps or in judging others on their walk with God.

Instead, we strive only to be like Christ. That is when we each fit perfectly in the kingdom and perfectly into God’s bigger picture.

Would like to be part of a community of special education homeschooling families who will love you as you rub shoulders through the ups and downs of special education homeschooling life? Then ask to join your regional SPED Strong Tribe or the SPED Homeschool Facebook Support Group.  I will see you there!

 

 


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Cammie Arn

In my own family, I often find it difficult to see progress in the goals we have set. So, instead of just celebrating large goals, we make it a point to celebrate every triumph our children have on a daily basis.

In your own homeschool, how often do you recognize the little things your children do that are smaller parts of a larger goal? Learning letters means a child is one smaller goal closer to learning a word. Moving a limb means a child is one step closer to using a communication board.  Making a pot of macaroni and cheese means your young adult is that much closer towards establishing independence.

Whatever your goal is for your child, be sure to recognize the small things they do every day. My husband works within the public school system and his school has developed a way of recognizing students “caught being good.”  These “good” behaviors are the little things the school has determined to reward so students eventually learn the value of multiplying good behaviors.

“Collecting pennies means eventually those pennies will add up to a dollar.”

In a way, each good behavior rewarded by my husband’s school, and each smaller goal we reward in our homeschools, is like saving a single penny towards a larger investment. Collecting pennies means eventually those pennies will add up to a dollar. Slowly, but surely, little things add up to BIG things.

Affirmation for good behavior, wise choices and good school performance can leave your child with a healthy sense of accomplishment, and you with the realization both of you are getting there…

 

One
Penny
At
A

Time.

 

 

 

 

 


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