By Jan Bedell, PhD, Master Neurodevelopmentalist


A common question from homeschool families is, “What curriculum do you have for ______?” Fill in the blank with one of the myriad of labels that are prevalent today – dyslexia, ASD, ADD, ADHD, dysgraphia, all types of syndromes. The answer is that there really isn’t one. WAIT! Before you panic or throw up your hands, let me reassure you that there are solutions to your dilemma, but it is not found in a specific curriculum. To find the answer, you definitely have to think outside the box. 

As a neurodevelopmentalist for 30 years, I can tell you that each situation is unique. Every child brings their own set of challenges to the situation and no two are exactly the same. 

Let me give you a few examples of possible root causes of specific symptoms that need to be considered for the best way forward for the child.  


If a child has trouble reading or is labeled dyslexic, a few of the root issues may be:

  • Eyes not able to track well horizontally and/or vertically
  • Eyes don’t place the image from one eye on top of the other to get a clear image to the brain- poor eye convergence.
  • Auditory processing, auditory short-term memory, is low so holding all the phonics pieces together to get a word out is a challenge.
  • Central vision is not developed well, causing skipping of words or lines
  • The brain is not storing learned information correctly which causes inconsistent recall, one day they know the word and the next they don’t.


If a child has ADD/ADHD symptoms or labels, a few of the root issues may be:

  • Hypersensitivity to sensory stimulation from visual, auditory, and or touch resulting in many of the symptoms on the checklists you find online or in a clinical setting, like distractibility to name one.
  • Metabolic issues, chemistry of the body is causing poor behavior.
  • Low auditory processing is a huge factor in these labels. Poor development in this area results in:
    • Inability to stay on task
    • Trouble following directions
    • Difficulty seeing cause and effect
    • Remembering to do chores
    • Immature behavior
    • Struggles with math word problems
    • Slow, low or no use of phonics
    • Challenges with following conversations
    • Low reading comprehension
    • More comfortable playing with younger children
    • and many more

If a child has dysgraphia symptoms or labels, a few of the root issues may be:

  • Poor proprioception, knowledge of where you are in space.
  • Immature pathways from the brain to the fingers. 
  • Underdeveloped muscle tone causing inefficient hand strength.
  • Weak central vision development causing: 
    • Inability to write on a line
    • Large letters combined with small letters
    • Inconsistent spacing of words
    • Hands tire easily with writing
    • Struggles to stay in the lines when coloring 

These situations are frustrating for parents, teachers, and children.  The good news is that the brain possesses an amazing, God given, ability to grow and change if there is the right kind of stimulation. 

Each label or symptom within a label has a reason in the wiring of the brain that allows it to exist. More and more often, I see children with multiple labels. This just means that the brain inefficiencies are overlapping causing many symptoms in multiple categories. As stated previously, each child has a unique set of symptoms. There are, however, many combinations of symptoms that we see with different labels. When the root cause is addressed it brings relief in academic pursuits without the change of a curriculum. 

Our job as educators, at any level from the home educator to the professional that is advising the family, is to look past the current functional ability- HELP MY CHILD CAN’T READ OR DO MATH!- to what may be causing academics to be less than desirable. Your first advice in this search is, “The full answer will not be found in any one curriculum.”

My challenge to you is to start the WHY search! 

Why is the child distracted? 

  • Is it too much sensory stimulation? To find out and discover some solutions go to our YouTube Channel – Brain Coach Tips. Look for: It’s Not That Loud!; Hyper Vision; It’s Just a Sock!.  
  • Is it low auditory processing? To start your search watch- The New Label on the Block CAPD

There is much more to explore here on our channel, when looking for root causes. We are also here to help you if you want personal direction. Just set up a free consultation at Brain 

May God richly bless you in your search for how to best help your child!


About Jan:

In 1992, a journey started that transitioned Jan from desperate home school mom of a struggling learner into a master neurodevelopmentalist.

With her new knowledge of brain optimization, coupled with experience as a public, private and home school teacher, she developed curriculum and training programs for parent and professionals.

The NeuroDevelopmental Approach gave her hope for her daughter and now Dr. Jan aka Brain Coach™ dedicates her time to helping children, teens and adults reach their fullest God-given potential whether they are gifted, typical or challenged.



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You’ve probably seen the scene from “The Office” where Michael, Dwight, and Andy run around the office jumping on things. That’s exactly what a lot of people think of when they see or hear the word parkour. But the truth is parkour is actually the discipline of learning to overcome challenges and become better every day and it is an incredible form of alternative therapy. I have seen a student come in with little to no control of impulses and within weeks of learning to balance and jump with control show improvement with impulse control as much as 70%. I love seeing children come in with special challenges, including dyspraxia and other circumstances which make their balance worse than other children. Because parkour is about overcoming challenges, their special needs become a part of the training instead of a hindrance. This is why parkour is such a valuable addition as an alternative therapy to a child’s development. Furthermore, as a child learns to move over, under, and through obstacles like a ninja they also begin to develop awareness, self-control, creativity and more character qualities.



Parkour, when taught in a systematic way that promotes safety, helps children learn to think before they move and to move on purpose, not haphazardly. For students with lack of awareness beyond their immediate bubble this is an incredible way to develop the ability to think about others and how their actions will affect others. It helps children develop critical thinking skills as they pick challenges they want to overcome and then break it down into bite sized steps and skills that can be progressively worked towards and achieved until one day the bigger challenge can be successfully completed. This is especially helpful for children who get frustrated easily and default to giving up instead of choosing to demonstrate grit and push through hard things. Another benefit of parkour is the opportunity it gives for autonomy. In parkour, students are encouraged to create their own path. There are no rules of performance like in gymnastics, instead what is good movement is based on each individual participant. Questions such as “How much impact did you feel when you landed?”, “How quiet was your landing?”, “How could you make that movement smoother?”, “What path would be faster?” help a child individually assess how they are doing with their movement and how they would like to make it a little better next time. Approaching a movement like this promotes critical thinking while allowing a child to have autonomy in their movement and what they believe would make their movement smoother, faster, and or more creative. Because parkour is a discipline and not a sport, it allows individuals to advance at their own pace and enjoy the learning process. This is especially beneficial for children who view the world differently and want an opportunity to explore and express how they see things.


Impulse Control

Another benefit of parkour for students who struggle with impulse control is the opportunity it provides for immediate feedback about movement. For example, when a child is balancing on a curb, if they stop focusing, they will have an immediate feedback of the results from their lack of focusing by falling off the curb. If while on the curb a child begins to swing their hands wildly, they will have an immediate feedback of how that movement affects their balance because the momentum from the hands will throw off their balance and cause them to fall off the curb. For a child to become better at balance, they will have to learn first with guidance from a mentor and eventually, through self-assessment, what they can adjust to keep from falling off the curb. In this situation, choosing to focus or hold their hands still will help. Once a child learns how to control themself on a curb, they can then take those principles, self-assessment tips, and awareness into other parkour challenges and even life.


While parkour presents a wonderful opportunity for children to develop creativity, impulse control, and critical thinking skills, it is very important that you, as the parent, help guide your child’s parkour journey in a path that promotes safety. Unfortunately, many YouTube videos have made quite popular the idea of kids jumping around on things randomly with little regard for the consequences of their behavior, to themself and or the property they are jumping on. As a parent, you can guide your child to in person or online classes that help your child build a foundation in parkour that promotes safety and character development. A program that emphasizes the parkour mindset over random movements here and there is a great way to guide your kid’s parkour journey. Once your child builds a strong foundation with parkour, then the sky’s the limit as they continue practicing, becoming stronger, and honing their skills every time they practice.


Hannah Waddle is the Founder of the Online Parkour School and began parkour in 2015. She immediately fell in love with the opportunity for creativity and overcoming challenges. She has spent numerous hours training locally, nationally, and internationally. She is one of the four females in the United States of America to pass the grueling assessments (physical, written, and coaching elements) and complete her ADAPT Level 2 parkour coaching certificate!

After teaching in the public school system for 6 years, she left and now focuses on helping kids learn parkour with an emphasis on safety and character development.


Online Parkour School – Facebook

@onlineparkourschool – Instagram

YouTube Channel




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By Faith Berens, M.ED., Reading Specialist, SPED Homeschool Board Members and Homeschool mom of two


Do you have children who have sensory processing issues, sound sensitivity, or are dealing with attention or anxiety problems? When our son was very little, he had many sensory issues. He particularly struggled with sound sensitivity, had meltdowns, and complained about buzzing in his ears, tinnitus.  He had difficulty understanding what we were saying. He also had trouble following directions, and was dysregulated. Then, at age 7, he was diagnosed with auditory processing disorder.  Our older daughter was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, anxiety, and a scholastic learning disability, dyslexia.  We were blessed to find the Equipping Minds Cognitive Development Program by Dr. Carol Brown. As part of that therapy, she shared with me about Sound Therapy Synergy, which she incorporates as part of the Equipping Minds therapy program.  

I am excited to share with you about Sound Therapy Synergy! The Sound Therapy Synergy method and program, developed by Patricia and Rafaele Joudry, is a unique listening system. It uses new knowledge about brain plasticity, and is based on the discoveries of the French ear specialist, Dr Alfred Tomatis. Dr. Tomatis said, “Listening is the road to learning”, and he discovered how to light up new brain pathways by stimulating the ear. He taught the primary importance of the hearing sense for healthy neurological functioning.  


Wondering what it is and how it works? 

The program uses highly filtered classical music that is specially recorded and is used to rehabilitate the ear and stimulate the brain. Sound Therapy stimulates the ear by playing constantly, alternating sounds of high and low tone while within the complex structure of classical musicStimulation via the sensory pathways remaps the brain, improving the way one understands and processes sound. 

The brain, in turn, sends signals back to the ear to improve its function. Research done on the sound suggests that this feedback loop results in better performance of the middle ear muscles and of the tiny, hair-like receptor cells in the inner ear.

As the ear “opens up” and becomes receptive to high-frequency sounds these are then passed on to the brain. Research has shown that brain function is improved through high frequency sound. There is an increase in blood flow to certain centers, along with increased electrical activity. 

According to Rafaele Joudry’s website, she reports that, “Sound Therapy listeners include increased energy, reduced fatigue with improved focus and creativity, a reduction in the need for sleep, and an almost permanent state of peace and relaxation.”  This was certainly the case for our family.  Our daughter reported that she found the program relaxing and calming. It helped her to sleep better and she wore the sound therapy listening unit, MP3 player, while studying or working on homework which helped her to focus. Initially my son could only wear it and listen for a few minutes at a time, but gradually, day by day, he could wear it for longer periods and then began listening at bedtime for about 30 minutes. We saw decreased meltdowns, less complaining of the buzzing, and less sensitivity to the loud noise sounds he would frequently cry about.  


Why we chose to utilize this program over a clinic-based listening therapy: 

I discovered the developer, Rafaele Joudry, was educated at home, so I figured she gets us homeschoolers!

The program is portable, affordable and easy to use. Our busy, homeschooling family needed something that we could afford and that we could do while on the go. Sound Therapy is played at very low volume on portable equipment, a little MP3 player, so it does not interfere with other activities throughout the day. The kids could wear and listen while in the car, when reading, working on homework, doing chores, exercising, talking, researching on the computer and even resting or sleeping. Typically, kids should listen for 30 to 60 minutes daily.  

The Sound Therapy Synergy program is designed to work with or complement other treatments such as speech and language or occupational therapy, meaning that both methods or treatment programs enhance each other. As the ear houses the organs of hearing and balance, it is the most fundamental and intrinsic to sensory integration.  Therefore, the Sound Therapy Synergy program, in my opinion, is foundational and complements any other sensory integration therapy program.  

I have always appreciated music and understand the power of music. As a reading specialist I have studied how music assists in language development.  Sound Therapy is a powerful tool and goes beyond what typical or traditional music therapy can accomplish because Sound Therapy actually restores brain and listening pathway function. The auditory and language processing “loop” is housed in the left side of the brain. As a dyslexia and reading specialist this is why I recommend pairing the Sound Therapy with an Orton-Gillingham based explicit and systematic reading instruction program because the Sound Therapy Synergy will stimulate and restore that pathway.  

I was impressed with the efficacy of the program. Sound Therapy Synergy program has been found to be effective for treating:

  • Tinnitus, sound sensitivity, ear related dizziness and some types of hearing loss
  • Stress, anxiety, insomnia, depression, mental focus and wellbeing
  • Auditory processing, auditory memory, sensory integration and learning difficulties


You can access a white paper on the science of Sound Therapy for Auditory Processing here.

Because the auditory system influences so many other areas of functioning, it is an ideal focal point for intervention. The Sound Therapy Synergy program has truly been music to our ears, as it soothes anxiety, helps with focus, and has been an instrumental piece of healing my son’s auditory processing difficulties. Pairing the Sound Therapy Synergy with the other therapies we have utilized over the years in our homeschool has been so helpful in remediating our children’s learning challenges.  I actually enjoy wearing it and listening as well, as I find it soothing and calming particularly on days when homeschooling hasn’t gone quite the way I wanted it to go! 

Be sure to check out the book Why Aren’t I Learning? (Listening is the key to overcome learning difficulties) by Rafaele Joudry. 

I would also encourage you to watch this short video on YouTube to learn more.




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by Karyn Scott from Care2Rock


The healing power of music is truly transformational. When I started providing music lessons to youth in foster care over a decade ago with the non-profit that I started, Kids in a New Groove, I had no idea what would happen. I questioned if music lessons were important enough to devote significant time and resources to get my non-profit off the ground. It only took a few weeks to see that these lessons were nothing short of life-changing. Music provides an incredible opportunity for kids to learn to set and reach goals, connect with others, and connect with their inner, emotional, selves. As one child after another performed in recitals and opened for well-known Austin bands, their pride was inescapable. Many kids felt valued and seen for the first time. Others became serious musicians, still working in Austin today after learning their skills at Kids in a New Groove. 


After the success of Kids in a New Groove, I came up with an idea to host private online music lessons by connecting the best teachers in the world with students from all over. became the online incarnation of my prior work, but lessons were for everyone,however, our teachers still volunteer for youth in foster care. After witnessing kids in music lessons for well over a decade, the evidence became clear to me: Music can change the direction of a child’s life.  


Building a working knowledge of music is an incredible core skill, but the therapeutic aspect of music is often overlooked. Kids these days face stressors that are unique to the modern age: social media, a pandemic, climate issues, and mental health crises, to name a few. Music is a healing balm for many of these issues and can help heal a child’s brain by rewiring damaged neural connections. In fact, even kids who have faced serious abuse can benefit from this effect, as music can help regulate behavior and calm the nervous system.


Music can also create a safe space for kids to process emotions that are often raw and hard to communicate with parents and peers. Parents often struggle to get their kids into music lessons with so many competing activities; including sports and academics. Some parents wonder, “Is it really worth it to pile music on top of everything else?” The answer is a resounding, “Yes.” Kids flourish while learning music; whether it is online, in person, or a combination of both. Kids still build relationships with their online teachers, learn the basic building blocks of music theory and skill, and learn to set and reach goals. If you are too busy to add another activity, online lessons are a great choice and parents don’t have to get in the car and drive to yet another activity. If your child is feeling overwhelmed or having trouble communicating his or her fears, give music lessons a try. Before you know it there might be the joyful sounds of music, and a happy kid, floating through your house. 



Karyn Scott received her undergraduate degree at the University of Texas in Austin, and received her law degree from Pepperdine School of Law in California. After college Karyn became an Assistant District Attorney in Austin. After rotating to a juvenile court assignment, Karyn noticed how many children in foster care were falling through the cracks and ending up in jail due to a lack of community resources. In 2004 Karyn founded Kids in a New Groove; a non-profit organization that provided Texas youth in foster care with a committed one-on-one mentoring relationship through weekly private music instruction. Karyn founded Care2Rock in 2017 as a social enterprise, solving the problem of growth by recruiting teachers to teach music to paying customers online from all over the country. Since teachers also agree to volunteer for children in need, the company’s growth is self-funded and sustainable. Through Care2Rock, Karyn hopes to help foster children and children in hospitals, not just in Texas or the USA, but all over the world.


Find Care2Rock on social media FacebookTwitterYouTubeInstagram




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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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by Vicki Tillman from 7 Sisters Homeschool


Here are three ideas for turning classic Christmas movies into homeschool lessons. After all, ALL of life is education, so why not incorporate some good movies and couch snuggling into your learning this holiday season?


It’s a Wonderful Life Unit Study

This classic movie teaches so much about hope, sacrifice, hard work and life’s true rewards! In this unit study, your homeschoolers can learn history, geography and language arts with meaningful activities. The post also gives some trivia and background information for discussion time with your teens.

It’s a Wonderful Life Unit Study


Muppet’s Christmas Carol Unit Study

Even the Muppet version of Christmas Carol provides lots of meat for a unit study. Teens, especially, can cover literature, writing, history, social sciences, geography and the Bible in this unit study. (This unit study could also be used with the more serious film adaptations of Christmas Carol.)

Muppet’s Christmas Carol Unit Study


White Christmas Unit Study

White Christmas is many people’s favorite Christmas movie of all time, so why not turn it into an educational opportunity? Here is a unit study with history, science, geography, home economics, arts and health! SO many ways to turn a fun movie into a fun unit study!

White Christmas Unit Study


Vicki is one of the sisters at They share information and curriculum that is adaptable for homeschoolers of varying interests and abilities. She also shares encouragement for homeschooling parents on the Homeschool Highschool Podcast.

Find and connect with 7 Sisters Homeschool on their Facebook group, Instagram, and Pinterest




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by Kathleen Cotter Clayton from RightStart Math


Ahhhh. The holidays are almost here. This means you get to see your family, enjoy making meals and treats with your children, and you get time off from teaching. Then, you get to worry that they will not remember the math facts that you just taught them!

There is a wonderful solution right at your fingertips. Play math card games! These are games that the cousins or grandparents can play with your children. They take little prep time and can be taken wherever your family celebrates time together. I can guarantee that they will have loads of fun and never mind that they are keeping their facts fresh.

What kind of games am I talking about? Let me share three games with you; an easy one for the littles, a medium to hard one for those working on multiplication, and a fun game with fractions that everyone will enjoy.


Go to the Dump

The first game is called Go to the Dump. It is a Go Fish sort of game. Do you remember that game? It uses a deck of cards with numbers 1 through 9. We have a deck of cards for you here, but you certainly could just use a deck of regular playing cards without the 10s and face cards. Remind little ones that the aces are 1. Deal five cards to everyone and put the rest of the cards in the middle of the playing area face down. Then rather than looking for two matching numbers to make a pair, like the regular Go Fish game, look for two numbers that add up to 10 and are a match. 1 and 9,  2 and 8, 3 and 7, 4 and 6, and 5 and 5 are all pairs. 

Have the players check their hands for pairs. If matches are found, lay them down on the table side by side. This makes it easy to check players’ work and makes shuffling super easy after the game. Then one player will ask the person on their left for a card to match one in their hand. If they have the card, they give it to the first player and the first player gets to ask for another card. If, or when,  the requested card is not available, the second player says,“Go to the dump” and the first player takes a card from the stock. Their turn is now over, even if they received a match. 

The second player now asks the person on their left for a card. Play continues all around the circle. If someone matches all their cards and has no more in hand, they take five more cards from the stock. Play continues until all the cards have been matched.

This is a game that younger children like a lot. It’s a game that we parents can play with just a few brain cells involved. And the kids are working on the important facts of 10, while having fun!


Multiples Solitaire

This next game is for those working on their multiplication facts: Multiples Solitaire. A certain amount of strategy is needed to win this solitaire game. It will provide practice for four sets, say 1s, 2s, 4s, and 8s. Use the first ten multiples of each set; so that’d be 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, and 4, 8, 12, 16…. You get what I’m talking about. We have a deck of multiplication cards here. Or you could grab a stack of index cards and make your own sets.

By the way, if you use sets that are multiples of each other, like 2, 4, & 8, or 3, 6, & 9, there will be more “duplicate” cards and more opportunities for winning.

Start by shuffling the cards together and lay them face up in fans of three. The last fan will have only one card. The point of the game is to collect the four sets in order, taking the cards from the fans. But only the top card of a fan may be collected.

Columns are started with the lowest number of a set (1, 2, 4, and 8 in my example) as they become available. The top card of a fan, the 32-card, for example, may be moved to another fan if it immediately precedes (in a multiples set) the card it is being moved to, the 36-card. Because 32 and 36 are consecutive multiples of 4, the 32-card can be moved to free up the card underneath. A group of cards may be moved, provided they are all consecutive multiples of a set used. In the game shown above, the 28 and 24 may be moved to the 32, freeing up the 6.

Also, the last card of a multiple’s column may also be moved to another column. This gives flexibility to help win the game. If no cards can be played, pick up the fanned cards, shuffle, and lay the cards again in fans of three. 

This is a great game to help your child work on their multiples. Because this is a solitaire game, you don’t have to be involved. Or, if you want to play the game together, become a team and work to beat the cards with as few reshuffles as possible. Or maybe work to be the fastest team in the family!


Fraction War

Finally, let’s take a peek at a fraction game: Fraction War. Did you play the game of war for as a child? It feels like I played this game for days on end! 

This is a two-player game. For beginners, I recommend the following cards in a deck of 34 cards: three each of 3⁄4, 3⁄8, 5⁄8, 7⁄8; four of 1⁄8; five each of 1 and 1⁄4; and eight of 1⁄2. Again, we have a fraction deck of cards for you, or you can pull out the index cards again and make your own.

Keep the cards face down and divide them evenly between the two players. The goal is to capture all the cards from your friend. Each player takes the top card from their stack and lays it face up in the middle of the table. The player whose card is greater takes both cards. Here is a chart that can be used to help the players determine the larger fraction.

If the players turn over the same cards, it’s a war! When this happens, which will be relatively frequently, both players place a card from their stack face down on top of their first card, then another card face up. The player who has the highest card now takes all six cards. Again, the goal is to get all the cards from your friend. Now, go!


We also have the Fraction War game as an app, if you might be experiencing some travel time. We also have the Go to the Dump game as an app, which we renamed as Go to Ten.


These game ideas are brought to you by RightStart Math, where we have so many more games for you and yours. We hope you have a wonderful holiday season filled with happiness, joy, and math games!


Kathleen Cotter Clayton is the daughter of Dr. Joan A. Cotter, author and creator of the RightStart™ Mathematics program. She was one of the first children to grow up under the Activities for Learning principles. Kathleen has a degree in Home Economics from the University of Minnesota and has two Masters Degrees from the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota. Kathleen and her husband Steve have six adult children and six wonderful grandchildren.

Kathleen is currently responsible for program development support, marketing, sales, and general management. She travels all across the US and Canada, sharing the RightStart mission of helping children understand, apply, and enjoy mathematics. She is currently supporting/teaching an online class with a group of middle-school students and is developing the new RightStart Tutoring series. In her spare time, Kathleen designs and sews quilts and is re-learning how to unicycle.

You may contact Kathleen Cotter Clayton via email at,  by calling 888-272-3291 or writing to her at 321 Hill Street, Hazelton ND 58544.





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