SPED Homeschool Team

 

Dawn Spence

My first year of homeschooling, I allowed myself a lot of grace and just had fun. We used unit studies to grow and learn together. Learning both about the subjects we were studying and how homeschooling worked best for each of us. We were all on a new learning curve and needed to have patience with each other. I based success in the daily victories; on how well we were adapting. Now seven years into our homeschool journey, that first year is still my favorite. We all have many fond memories as we launched out on this fresh adventure and laid the groundwork for our version of school in our home.

 

Cammie Arn

My first year of homeschooling was while the army had stationed us in Germany. I was so nervous. I had no clue what I was doing. The concept of reading to my children and having it count as school was more of a foreign concept to me than many of the customs I had adapted to while living in a foreign country. I had much to learn.

Here are some of the biggest lessons I learned that first year, now over 20 years ago. Homeschooling looks nothing like public school. I didn’t need to know everything to teach my children. Instead, I learned alongside them. I discovered that when you are up all night with a baby; it is okay to count a bedtime story to my five-year-old as that day’s reading. We didn’t follow a syllabus, we just learned when we could. It seemed to work well.

Over the years I have learned many more lessons that have also reduced my homeschooling anxiety. One is that it is okay to skip lessons if your children have already mastered the concept.

 

Peggy Ployhar

Homeschooling was something I said I would never do after I attended my first homeschooling conference when my oldest child was still a toddler. A friend from church invited me to this small gathering in 1999, hoping I would catch the vision. Instead, I decided I did not fit that mold and pursued private education for our children. Fast forward to 2003. My oldest child was halfway through his kindergarten year and the principal of his school suggested my husband and I independently pursue testing for this child who was struggling so much in school that a regular part of his day now involved at least one trip to her office. It was after this testing we added an unfamiliar word to our family vocabulary, Autism, which eventually convinced us of the best educational choice for our son, homeschooling. 

Looking back at that pinnacle moment in our lives, now 18 years in the past, I am grateful I could move beyond my idea of who I needed to be or look like to teach my son. My narrow vision of homeschooling in 1999 almost kept our family from the most amazing journey in which I have had the privilege to learn and grow alongside my children and develop deep and lasting relationships with them that probably would not have been possible if I had sent them off to school.

 

Is this possibly your first year homeschooling? We hope our stories have encouraged and inspired you.  Want to hear more stories from our community? Join one of our Support Tribes or hop onto our weekly Special Needs Moms’ Night Out, every Tuesday evening from 9pm to 10pm CST.

 

 

 

 

 


Did you enjoy this article?

Would you consider a small donation to support the ongoing work of SPED Homeschool?

Click Here to Donate Today

 

Please follow and like us:

 

SPED Homeschool Community Member Nick H.

 

Last year I became a homeschooling father to a 7-year-old boy with Cerebral Palsy.  My son’s mom had already started the home school process with him, but as circumstances dictated I took over from there.

At first, I assumed homeschooling would hold a kid back from the sped up progress that traditional school settings achieve.  I could not see how a few hours of school work at home compared to 8-hour traditional school days could equate to greater learning outcomes.  This year has taught me that equating time to learning was wrong.

Being a father who homeschools has given me an alternative view on homeschooling and the advantages it provides my son like one-on-one teaching, reduced distractions, and individualized accommodations. 

 

…I have learned how much easier I can accommodate for the needs of my son at home versus the process an equivalent accommodation would require in a traditional school.

 

Homeschooling has given me a new appreciation for education.  As a parent of a child that has Cerebral Palsy, I have learned how much easier I can accommodate for the needs of my son at home versus the process an equivalent accommodation would require in a traditional school.

Teaching as a homeschooling parent isn’t easy, but it is rewarding. The way my son interacts with his mom and I during his schooling is amazing. He seems so much more focused and confident in doing his schoolwork. Watching him grow and learn has been the biggest highlight on my new homeschooling dad journey.

 

 

 

 

 


Did you benefit from this article?

Would you consider a small donation to support the ongoing work of SPED Homeschool?

Click Here to Donate Today

 

Please follow and like us:

 

Peggy Ployhar

Most high school students have no idea what career or even possible career fields would interest them, so don’t get frustrated if you have asked your teen for some suggestions and all you have received in response is, “I don’t know.”

Below I have shared my top 3 career assessment tools that can help steer your student in the right direction for career exploration as useful guidance for you in helping them in this exploration process.

 

#1 – My Next Move Interest Assessment

My Next Move is an online questionnaire that profiles a student’s interests and aligns them with possible future career choices. To access this free career interest assessment for your student, visit the My Next Move website at https://www.mynextmove.org/explore/ip

 

#2 – Holland Code Career Test

The Holland Code Career Test is a free online career assessment that “uses the scientific Holland Code model to show you which jobs will suit your interests, talents, and aptitude.” The test takes about 10 minutes. Basic test results from this assessment are free, or you can choose to receive a full report for just $19. To access the test, visit this link on the Truity website  https://www.truity.com/test/holland-code-career-test

 

#3 – Career One Stop Assessments

Career One Stop is a website sponsored by the U.S.Department of Labor that offers a few different tests parents could use to help with assessing their student’s interests, skills, and work values. Here are the assessments you can find on the Career One Stop site.  https://www.careeronestop.org/. Below are three resources Career One Stop provides.

Career Interest Assessment – This test is a 30 question assessment that takes about 5 minutes to complete and provides a broad overview of your student’s basic interests.  https://www.careeronestop.org/toolkit/careers/interest-assessment.aspx 

Skills Matcher Questionnaire – This test rates a student’s abilities across 40 workplace skills. https://www.careeronestop.org/toolkit/Skills/skills-matcher-questions.aspx

Work Values Survey – Use the cards provided in this section to identify what you student values in a working environment and then follow the links provided to find careers that match these values. https://www.careeronestop.org/ExploreCareers/Assessments/work-values.aspx

 

Interested in learning more about homeschooling your special education learner through high school? Check out our High School Checklist for more information on how to homeschool special education high school.

 

 

 

 

 


Did you benefit from this article?

Would you consider a small donation to support the ongoing work of SPED Homeschool?

Click Here to Donate Today

 

Please follow and like us:

 

SPED Homeschool Team

 

Cammie Arn – Avoiding Burnout by Creating Space

Creating space in my life to avoid burnout happens in my life usually through one of these methods.

  • Taking a bubble bath. I’ve been known to use all the hot water in the house and reheat the bath multiple times during a particularly stressful season. I usually add to this space some dim lighting by having on hand some electric “flickering” candles. 
  • Listing & Reading. Music and books help me create a space to escape to when I can’t change my environment. In those times I listen to praise and worship music or read a good book. 
  • Swinging. Drinking a cup of coffee while sitting on my porch swing is an amazing escape from the chaos inside the house. I love watching the leaves wave at me in the breeze, hearing the birds chirping or taking in the starry sky in the evening.

 

Dawn Spence – Avoiding Burnout by Slowing Down

Slowing down is the opposite direction of where my life is usually taking me, so when I look for ways to avoid burnout I put myself in a mommy time out using one of these methods.

  • A relaxing bath with an iced coffee
  • A pedicure(when funds allow)
  • Grabbing a salad by myself
  • Scheduling some friend time

I love being a mom, and a homeschool mom at that, but my life is demanding and I need the therapy these timeouts provide for me so I can be my best when caring for my loved ones.

 

Jace Clark – Avoiding Burnout by Being Creative

Allowing my creative juices to flow fuels me when I am headed towards mommy burnout. All I need to do is schedule some crafting time or even time to go shopping to look for more crafting ideas. These outlets provide me with what I need to keep going.

 

These outlets provide me with what I need to keep going.

 

Peggy Ployhar – Avoiding Burnout by Getting Active

I have learned I need to be moving to “rest” and fight burnout. The hardest part of accepting activity as rest has been learning to not stress over the fact that my husband or extended family think I need to be sitting down to be rested instead of doing on the following activities:

  • Aerial silks: Exercise is my biggest form of rest. I exercise every day, and most days it is on the aerial silks I have tethered to the ceiling of my two-story foyer. I turn on some worship music, pull out my crash mat and workout until I lose myself in the activity.
  • Power napping: Napping may not sound active, but my family will attest to my ability to get all the rest I need in a 5 to 10-minute nap. I wake up refreshed and with all the energy I need to to finish my day strong.

 

Amy Vickrey – Avoiding Burnout by Reframing Moments

As a single mom, “me time” is hard to come by so instead of figuring out how I can do something else I have learned to reframe places in my life that lead to a more restful state. 

  • Coffee in an adjoining room: I have found a cup of coffee in the next room while my kids watch a movie or educational show that can help a lot to refresh the body, soul, and mind.
  • Reframing life. Reducing demands on myself and my children, usually set by my own priorities can greatly reduce my stress. 
  • Adding to our environment. A day at the park, a fun activity for the kids to engage in while I just put my feet up or turn on music while my boys ride bikes around the yard can make me feel more rested. 
  • Centering on faith. Bible study, prayers and singing bible songs at bedtime also helps us after a rough day to set our hearts and minds on a better day the next day.

 

No matter who you are or what type of rest works best for you or your family situation, we hope and pray that in sharing how we each uniquely work in our lives at avoiding burnout that you can glean some ideas and develop habits to help any possible burnout scenarios in your life.

 

 

 

 


Did you benefit from this article?

Would you consider a small donation to support the ongoing work of SPED Homeschool?

Click Here to Donate Today

 

Please follow and like us:

 

 

Here is the best homeschooling advice some seasoned special education homeschooling moms shared with us when we asked for their top tips.

 

Peggy Ployhar– SPED Homeschool Team Member

Here are the top 5 homeschool mom tips:

  1. Teach your child, not curriculum. 
  2. Take one day at a time. Celebrate a victory, let go of a hurt, and accept grace for a mistake.
  3. Trust wherever peace leads you to teach your child and don’t compare it to what anyone else is doing.
  4. Take care of yourself even if it means doing less than you think you should be doing.
  5. Don’t stop dreaming for your child or yourself.

Homeschooling success has very little to do with the curriculum, but everything to do with what we do every day in our homes.

 

Amy Vickrey– SPED Homeschool Team Member

Give yourself:

  1. Time to decide on curriculum, approaches, and learning styles. 
  2. Permission to make mistakes, start over new each day, take breaks, and change your mind if something isn’t working. 
  3. Permission to use a curriculum or a unit study in a way it was not originally intended by the author. Make the curriculum fit your child. If you can’t make it fit, then change the curriculum.

 

Dawn Spence– SPED Homeschool Team Member

Here are my top three:

  1. Use color coding
  2. Integrate  games
  3. Believe in your children

#3  seems so simple but kids love to hear from you how smart you are and that you believe they can do things which they may have trouble believing they can do themselves. Growing up with an undiagnosed learning disability, I would often hear from my teachers how stupid I was. This is the opposite of what our children’s hearts and minds need to succeed. Daily affirmations and love give our children the encouragement they need to face their mountains with confidence.

 

Daily affirmations and love give our children the encouragement they need to face their mountains with confidence.

 

Shannon Ramiro– SPED Homeschool Team Memeber

I find the most important things are:

  1. Plan what you are going to do ahead of time.
  2. Don’t expect the day to go according to plan.
  3. Have everything you need for however long you believe your child can pay attention (materials including all pens, manipulatives, teacher manual, workbook, everything) within arm’s reach because the minute you have to get up to go find or get something you will lose your child’s attention and getting focused again will take even more time away from your lesson.
  4. For reading, if they are beginning to read, and can read the level of text but are struggling, take turns. You read 1-2 lines, and then you ask them to read 1 line.
  5. Determine how long your child can actively be engaged, then plan your lessons accordingly. Take breaks as needed. Do not attempt to stretch any learning past what they can tolerate.
  6. Switch topics and incorporate their interests as much as possible.
  7. Add movement throughout their lessons.
  8. On days your child can’t focus on lessons, go outside and talk about what was observed.

 

Corinna Ramos– SPED Homeschool Community Member

I use Minecraft in almost every subject because that is what works for my son at the moment.

  1. In math I write out my son’s problems, then he goes onto Minecraft and uses squares to work out the problem. It is amazing how well he has learned multiplication through the use of blocks in Minecraft. He can take math word problems and use Minecraft to make the problems into how he can understand them and come up with the right answer. 
  2. I also use Minecraft for history by having him build historical sites. It’s like he is walking through history. 
  3. Minecraft also teaches my son about science. 
  4. When it comes to writing…of course he writes about Minecraft. I have him write in a daily journal about what he did in Minecraft that day and he actually participates.

 

Chrystalina Tosado– SPED Homeschool Community Member

I study my child and make sure school works for him. Here is what I found:

  1. My son learns better on the afternoons
  2. He can’t have distractions close like toys
  3. At certain times he needs breaks. We jump, do an exercise, or just relax
  4. In art, we always do crafts that are based on my son’s interest like dinosaurs, or the current season, and then we use these projects to decorate his working space.

 

 

 

 

 


Did you benefit from this article?

Would you consider a small donation to support the ongoing work of SPED Homeschool?

Click Here to Donate Today

 

Please follow and like us:

 

Jan Bedell, PhD, M ND

 

Math is a necessity for functioning independently in life so the sooner our children get it, the better. In our view, mathematics is divided into three main areas: Understanding of all the concepts, word problems, and math facts mastery.

 

1. Concepts of operations matter 

The word “concept” means what exists in the mind as something comprehended or understood. We want our children to easily understand when they see certain math symbols like +, -, x, ÷. They should instantly know that when referring to addition it means putting things together to get a larger amount; having a certain number of items and then taking some away is subtraction; multiplication is groups of the same number and division is separating things into groups with the same number in each group. 

You can use manipulatives to help the process of mastering the concept but far too quickly our educational practices tend to put the children on their own to do the assignments. Our skewed perception is if we “help” that somehow we are cheating, that the child just needs to do it on their own.

Let’s look at it from another angle. What if you were teaching piano and right after introducing the names of the notes on the staff and teaching the timing of whole, half, quarter, eighth and sixteenth notes you put a piece of Mozart in front of the child and say, “Now play this”. You would never think of doing that! 

It is the same with anything you want to teach to mastery. You demonstrate, observe and help the process along a continuum of steps. The NeuroDevelopmental Approach to math involves lots of “input” (giving the answer, demonstrating the concept often, guiding as the child has their turn with new and review material) and the results are stellar.

If you really want to accelerate math skills, do what we call at Brain Sprints, 50% instruction. This is teaching and instructing goes fast while giving input for future success in math operations. Here is how it works. You do a problem and the child does a similar problem until that concept is mastered. For a beginning mathematician, the whole page would include additional problems where you alternate from mom to child even if you think it could be done independently.

If your child is older, say 3rd grade and beginning multiplication, your page might have a multi-digit addition problem that you do and a multi-digit subtraction problem that the child does and the rest of the time is spent on the new concept of multiplication. After the “review” of addition and subtraction, you do a multiplication problem and the child follows with a multiplication problem until you have done six to ten problems alternating between mom and child. It goes fast and you avoid any need for correction as you are guiding so no mistakes are made. Imagine your child’s continence when math is fun, easy and quick instead of a drudgery followed by frustration and the need for the dreaded corrections. 

There is a resource available here:  Visual Circle Math that gives specific directions on how to do this technique with sample pages. This is terrific for those children labeled with or suspected of dyscalculia or those that are exceptional in math and need to move on to more complex concepts without going through a full curriculum to reach those next levels.

 

The NeuroDevelopmental Approach to math involves lots of “input”… and the results are stellar.

 

2.  Word problems are fundamental

Word problems are the application of the understanding of math concepts. Along with the conceptual understanding, you have to be able to hold the information in your short-term memory to know what operation(s) to use to solve the problem. One factor that has been a huge deterrent to a child’s ability to complete a word problem is the auditory processing level. Parents are often confused when their child with a full understanding of a concept has such a struggle with answering a word problem. It makes more sense when you realize that your ability to hold pieces of information for a short time and manipulate that information in your mind takes that foundation ability called auditory processing. When this developmental skill is low, word problems are often a nightmare.

The solution seems contrary to traditional approaches. Many curriculums teach strategies for solving word problems that often fail when the problems become more complex. Instead of strategies we recommend working on the child’s auditory processing ability. This will not only help with accomplishing word problems but will increase the child’s ability to stay on task, follow directions, comprehend what is said and read and many more functional abilities that will help the child through school and life.

Scroll down to the bottom of this auditory processing information to get your Free Test Kit. If you start increasing this skill, the struggle with word problems will greatly diminish.

 

3. Math Facts are important

Some public schools are not putting any emphasis on math facts but still expecting correct and speedy answers on classroom assignments and standardized tests. This is counter-intuitive. It only makes sense that when children have rapid recall of math facts they enjoy math assignments more as it takes less time to finish a lesson and there are minimal to no corrections needed. The struggle often is, how to get a child to retain math facts. The educational system has come up with these “magic” cards with a problem and no answer that makes the children want to hide when they see them because they don’t know the answer. The other “tool” often used is a speed drill with 70+ problems and the instructions given are, “Get faster at this!”

Not equipping a child with instant recall of math facts is like strapping their legs together and asking them to run faster. If math facts mastery is your goal, try The Rapid Recall System (created by former home school mom and now Master NeuroDevelopmentalist, me). Here your children will see, hear, say and write five specific math facts 14 times a day and only two of those times is information coming from the child. Instead of asking the children to guess at the answer which reinforces the wrong answer when they say it wrong, with Rapid Recall, the children have twelve times of input where the information is going in so it is stored for easy access. The good news is that it only takes 6-9 minutes a day and after 5 days, they are on to the next set of facts with daily reinforcement of the previously learned facts.

Not sure if your child needs to work on math facts? Take this Math Facts Proficiency Test and see how the score compares to different grade levels in this skill. No matter what the age, Rapid Recall System can help your budding mathematicians to retain math facts for life. 

For the SPED Community, use the Discount Code RRS20SPED for 15% off.

 

 

 


Did you benefit from this article?

Would you consider a small donation to support the ongoing work of SPED Homeschool?

Click Here to Donate Today

 

Please follow and like us:

 

SPED Homeschool Team

 

Organization goes far beyond making sure everything is in its place, especially for homeschooling families who live, eat, learn, and play under the same roof every day. And, who would know better than experienced homeschooling moms who live this way 24/7? This is why we asked our team of experienced homeschooling moms to share their best homeschool organization tips that work while juggling teaching, housekeeping, and everything else going on in their lives.

 

Amy Vickrey

Making time for my spiritual life with my children has been a priority.  I am working to teach them that they have a choice regarding love, joy and their relationship with God.  To prioritize this goal, we started reading a daily devotional each night. This simple addition to our schedule has helped me remember to spend time engaging my children in God’s word and sharing time praying.  We have also added hymn singing after our devotional time. It is so sweet to hear my 3-year-old join in singing “How Great Thou Art” and “It is Well.” These precious memories will carry them and me far into the future because of this simple change I made in their bedtime routine.

For schoolwork, my oldest does his best when he can see his workload from beginning to end.  We used checklists, a clipboard, and other techniques to help him see his schedule visually. Because he can see his schedule and can to do tasks at his own pace and take breaks when needed.  In the end, he knows there is no TV time until he finishes so this acts as his reward for finishing all the tasks on his list. We also make sure to target our school time for the time of day when my son’s learning peaks.  This targeted learning time has greatly reduced daily schoolwork battles. One additional thing that helps us with school work is that I have built a therapy team with people other than myself who provide therapy sessions and work on educational (or pre-educational) goals with my children.  I let them take care of those specific skills so I can concentrate on other skills at home.

For meals, I find writing out a basic menu for each day on a calendar works best for me.  This way I will not repeat the same 3 meals my kids prefer more than I can stand, and it also allows me to plan ahead of time for expanding their palettes. This simple calendar planning also expedites the time it takes to put together my shopping lists and actual grocery shopping.

In general, balancing homeschool, work and school has been a challenge.  As a single parent, I am blessed to have a supportive family, but the majority of the responsibility still falls on my shoulders. I have found I have to stick to my schedule, make use of downtime, and not overcommit, especially on weeks bigger projects or assignments are due. 

 

Ashly Barta

I have found homeschool organization success in keeping each child’s work separate.  I use a binder for all wipe-clean pages and checklists. We use daily checklists and reverse planning to ensure we accomplish everything on our list each day.  I found that with reverse planning I have less pressure to complete all the things in a rush, we can dive deeper into the subject matter or take time for extra practice if needed.  My son has epilepsy so it allows us to take breaks when needed and I have learned to love the rest time just as much as the work time. Along with the binders we also utilize workboxes (Latchmate totes found at  Micheals) and a morning basket.  The Latchmate boxes house the main curriculum along with flashcards, pencils and whatever else my children need to complete their work.  On the other hand, the morning basket holds coloring books, a Bible, read-aloud books, and other similar materials.

 

It is amazing how implementing a few simple organizational tips can help homeschooling and a busy home life stay on track!

 

Dawn Spence

Something simple that helps me in staying organized is meal planning. My kids even help when they know what is on the menu by reminding me what meat I need to take out of the freezer so it is thawed properly. Meal planning also helps keep me keep to a budget and be thoughtful about creating healthy meals for my family. Sometimes I plan for one week, but if I am on a roll I plan two weeks out. Having a meal plan also allows me to order my groceries ahead of time, which is another big time saver. It is amazing how implementing a few simple organizational tips can help homeschooling and a busy home life stay on track!

 

Peggy Ployhar

One way I have been successful in organizing my children’s homeschooling materials is by giving them a dedicated place for their things and a yearly planning calendar.  As you can imagine over the past 17 years of homeschooling in 4 different houses as well as 2 separate times of living in our travel trailer while homeschooling, this organizational method has been thoroughly tested. My children’s spaces have ranged from tubs, shelves, drawers, and cupboards but they have always been a unique space that is just theirs to store books, projects, and the other things they use regularly for school. As for planners, I have tried many over the years, but eventually realized what worked best for us were the cheap student planners you can find at just about any store at the beginning of the school year. Each year I buy one planner for each child, making sure the cover, as well as the layout, work well for recording everything in that student’s schedule.  Then I write in lessons, a week at a time in pencil, in each planner. When my children were young, I helped them with organizing their spaces and planners, but as they moved into their junior high and high school years they took over managing almost everything, sometimes even their own weekly lesson plans!

 

Whether it is organizing your schooling materials, your homeschool spaces, your student’s schedules, or even your meals we hope our team’s homeschooling organization tips have inspired you to make one or two small changes towards being more organized in your homeschool and homeschooling family life.

 

 

 

 

 


Did you benefit from this article?

Would you consider a small donation to support the on-going work of SPED Homeschool?

Click Here to Donate Today

 

Please follow and like us:

 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cranberries (wash in cold water)
  • 3-4 cups sliced apples (Granny Smith)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup oatmeal (I use gluten-free)
  • 1/2 cup flour (I use almond flour)
  • 1/3 cup butter

Faith Berens – Gluten Free


CranApple Casserole Bake

Our family makes this recipe every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was a traditional side dish, lovingly prepared and served each year at family gatherings when my Aunt Betty was alive. Aunt Betty had the gift of hospitality and she absolutely loved hosting for the holidays. Sadly, she passed away due to kidney cancer several years ago, but one way we help keep her traditions going is to make some of her favorite recipes.

 

Directions:

Sprinkle lemon juice over apples. Combine cranberries, apples, granulated sugar, and salt and place in a Pyrex baking dish 9×9 or 9×13.

In a separate bowl, make a crumble out of the brown sugar, oatmeal, flour, and butter and spoon on top of the apple mixture.

Bake for 1 hour

Image provided by: https://www.needpix.com/photo/945891/cake-streusel-cake-baked-cake-mould-bake-sugar-coffee-party-streusel-sweet-dish

Ingredients

  • 2 cups baked sweet potatoes
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup corn flakes

 Jace Clark – Sweet Potato Skeptic


Sweet Potato Casserole

This is a traditional recipe that I received from a lady at church. I have been making it for over 20 years and it’s always a popular request. I didn’t even like sweet potato casserole until I found this one!


Directions:

  1. Mix together the sweet potatoes, eggs, regular sugar, nutmeg, milk, and cinnamon.
  2. Place in 9×9 buttered dish.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.
  4. Mix topping (butter, brown sugar, pecans, and corn flakes) in a separate bowl.
  5. Spread topping over  potato mixtre and bake an additional 15 minutes at 350 degrees

 

 

Ingredients

  • 4 apples
  • 4 oranges (seedless)
  • 2 bags of cranberries
  • 2 cups raw honey

 Peggy Ployhar– In-the-Raw


Raw Cranberry Relish

This cranberry relish recipe is one my grandmother and mother made every holiday season and one I have incorporated into my own family holiday cooking schedule. Not convinced yet? My husband used to hate cranberry relish, now he looks forward to it every holiday season.

 

Directions:

  1. Wash, seed and cut the apples into wedges (leaving on the skins)
  2. Wash the oranges and cut into wedges (leaving the rinds on – trust me)
  3. Wash cranberries
  4. Using a food grinder, grind all the fruit together
  5. Mix the honey into the ground fruit
  6. Let sit at least 8 hours before serving

Hint: This recipe freezes very, so I make a double batch before Thanksgiving and then freeze the other half for Christmas.

Image provided by: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jbrons/5216172956

 

Ingredients

  • 1 lb diced smoked sausage
  • I can corn or other veggies
  • 1 can sliced mushrooms
  • 1 can black olives
  • I can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced green pepper
  • 4 cups of rice
  • 4 1/2 water

Cammie Arn – Instant Pot Meal


Sausage Rice Casserole

Makes for a great meal when you are tired of Turkey.


Directions

  1. Mix all of the ingredients together and place in a large rice cooker or Instant Pot. 
  2. Use the white rice setting on my rice cooker or the rice setting on my Instant Pot.

 

Ingredients

  • Chopped pecans, walnuts or cashews
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Dawn Spence – Sweet Finish


Toffee Fudge

This is what we had when we got together for Christmas Eve. My mom always made finger foods and this wonderful toffee. It reminds me of my grandmother who was an avid cookie and candy maker. But, now that I eat low-carb and sugar-free I have added some substitutions as well below.

 

Directions:

  1. Sprinkle the bottom of a 9″ square pan with chopped pecans, walnuts or cashews.
  2. In a saucepan combine the brown sugar and butter.
  3. Bring to boil.
  4. Stir constantly for 7 minutes exactly.
  5. Remove from heat and spread over nuts.
  6. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and cover for 5 minutes.
  7. When chocolate is melted spread evenly and cut into squares.
  8. Refrigerate until cool and set.
  9. Remove and break into squares.
  10. Keep in an airtight container.
    Omit nuts if desired.
    Omit chocolate for tender nut brittle.

Low-Carb Option: Substitute 3/4 cup brown Swerve for the brown sugar, change the butter to Earth Balance and use Lily’s dark chocolate chips or Enjoy dairy-free chocolate chips.

 

 


Did you benefit from this article?

Would you consider a small donation to support the ongoing work of SPED Homeschool?

Click Here to Donate Today

 

Please follow and like us:
holiday treat share blog image

 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
  • 4 oz. coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • ½ cup carrot, cooked and mashed
  • ¾ cup plum, peeled and processed in a blender
  • 2 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 T. honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

sweet potato pie

Dr. Jan Bedell – Low-Carb Alternative


No-Crust Sweet Potato Pie

My support person, Michelle, created a cookbook for her son when he was on the Spectrum Balance Protocol diet. This came from that book.

  • This recipe is for children and adults who have multiple food sensitivities.
  • This recipe is gluten-free, corn-free and processed sugar-free.
    If you are also dairy-free, leave out the cream cheese.

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients with a hand mixer and mix well. Pour into pie pan and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce heat and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until firm. Serves 6. (Recipe submitted by Michelle Thompson, author of Dinner for David.)

 

gingerbread men with tea

Ingredients

  • ½ cup margarine
  • ½ cup molasses
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 ½ cups flour (or 1 ½ cups flour + 1 cup whole wheat flour)
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Kathy Kuhl – Traditional Holiday Favorite


Gingerbread Men 

This is our favorite for Christmas. I have a reindeer cookie cutter and add a red hot to create Rudolphs.


  1. Cream (or partially melt) margarine, sugar, and molasses. If melted, let the mixture cool.
  2. Add egg.
  3. Sift in remaining ingredients.
  4. Stir.
  5. Chill.
  6. Roll out ¼ inch thick and cut.
  7. Bake 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees.
  8. Cool on cooling racks.

Yield 2 trays.

Tip: roll all the dough to the same thickness, or thinner cookies will be overcooked before others are done.

 

Ingredients

  • Gluten-free pretzels
  • White almond bark
  • Yellow M&M’s

Cammie Arn – Gluten-Free Fun Treat


“Eggs & Bacon”

We are a little non-traditional at our house!

  1. Place 2 pretzel sticks next to one another on a piece of waxed paper or baking mat
  2. Top with melted almond bark
  3. Place 1 yellow M&M on top
  4. let it set up

Enjoy!

 

apples image

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 3 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup red hot cinnamon candies
  • Apples
  • 1/2 cup butter

Hint: Use a cooking apple that will not turn mushy when cooked, such as Macintosh, Granny Smith, Jonathon, etc.

 

Dawn Spence – Gluten-Free Fruit Treat


Baked Cinnamon Apples

One smell of this apple dessert and I knew that the holidays had arrived. I miss my grandmother but this recipe helps me remember fond memories.


In a heavy saucepan, bring the sugar, water, cornstarch, and red hots to a boil.

Fill a 3-quart baking dish with sliced apples

Pour the hot liquid over the apples

Dot the top of the apples with 1/2 cup butter.

Bake at 350 for 1 hour, let cool 15 minutes.

chocolate biscotti

 

Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, freshly ground
  • 1/2 cup lentil flour (green, red or brown – it doesn’t matter)
  • 1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
  • 2 Tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup Sucanat (or brown sugar)
  • 6 large eggs 
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (divided)
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil

Peggy Ployhar – Hidden Healthy


Triple Chocolate Biscotti

Before our family even started down the road to healthy eating, this recipe was one of my children’s favorites – actually not this exact recipe as I have modified it over the years to make a more healthy version. I have really been surprised that no one has even noticed the changes, but then again with this much cocoa powder in a recipe, you can mask a lot of ingredients.

I make this recipe at least three times every holiday season plus multiple times throughout the rest of the year.

 

Instructions:

  • In one bowl mix all the dry ingredients – flours and powders.
  • In another bowl cream together the butter and Sucanat.
  • Next, add in the eggs and the vanilla to the butter mixture.
  • Now slowly, 1/2 cup at a time, add in the dry ingredients. First off by adding in 1 cup of chocolate chips. (You will need a really heavy-duty mixer to handle this dough.)
  • Now dump out the dough and finish off the mixing by kneading the dough with wetted hands until the dough gets glossy. (This is also a good upper body workout!)
  • Next, separate the dough into two pieces and then roll each piece out on parchment into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick, 4 to 5 inches wide and as long as you need for length.

Then bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes.

When the 25 minutes are up, remove the cookies from the oven, cut them again, separate each slice and lay them on their sides on two baking sheets.

Then return the cookies to a 275 degree Fahrenheit oven for 1 hour to dry.

 While the cookies are on their final bake, heat the remaining 1 cup of chocolate with the coconut oil in a double-boiler until melted

Once baking is done, spread the melted chocolate onto the tops of the cookies.

Let cool, then eat…if you can wait that long.

 

 


Did you benefit from this article?

Would you consider a small donation to support the on-going work of SPED Homeschool?

Click Here to Donate Today

 

holiday treat share vert image

Please follow and like us:
celebrating holiday blog image

 

SPED Homeschool Team

 

The special demands that naturally occur during this time of year can make celebrating the holidays with special needs children difficult. From food to family, each event can be a minefield of potential reactions, meltdowns, and misadventures. Or, with the right perspective and a few adjustments, the holidays can be as meaningful as they are meant to be. Hear from our SPED Homeschool Team Members as they share their tips for celebrating the holidays with their special needs children.

 

 

Dawn Spence

Family and holidays can be a complicated adventure. From medical needs and allergy needs, I used to find myself apologizing for needing things a certain way. Fast forward 8 years and I realized that no apologies are needed, and I meet our family’s needs without skipping a beat. I had to allow myself to be okay with the way things were before I could expect anyone else too. I know when my daughter has had too much, and we leave guilt-free. We bring foods that meet our allergy needs and even make extra for everyone else to enjoy. Being with family can be stressful, but at the same time, it’s the perfect opportunity to relax and enjoy the life you have been given.

 

Although we are very busy this time of year with all the parties and so forth, we handle it by guarding Friday night as “Family Night.”

 

 

Cammie Arn

The holidays in our home aren’t typical. We don’t have large extended families to travel to or to visit due to either distance or death. Instead, we have created new family traditions such as making a birthday cake (both regular and gluten-free) for Jesus at Christmas or homemade Belgian waffles with homemade fruit syrup.

 

We participate in a “feast of nations” at church the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Some dress in modern-day clothing representing their home country and bring a dish to share. Having an international church does help with this for sure. There have been times when this was thanksgiving for us.

 

One really neat idea is to do Christmas around the world in December. You can learn about a different country every day, study how they celebrate Christmas, and possibly try a special Christmas treat from that country. End your study by praying for that country.

 

How do we handle the food for all this fun? We find out what food is being served and modify from there. At potlucks, I always bring food tailored to our family’s needs to eliminate reactions. So far so good.

 

Holiday chaos? Not us. Although we are very busy this time of year with all the parties and so forth, we handle it by guarding Friday night as “Family Night.” We watch a movie at home and have pizza. Pretty much no exception. We also have a “no work” rule on Sunday that helps our family decompress and prep for the next week.

 

 

Peggy Ployhar

Our family dynamics are a bit different than most, and because I am the oldest of 14 with 10 adopted siblings, we don’t often have to explain anything to our family about how to deal with atypical behaviors of our children. Recently, we spent a few days with extended family at an indoor waterpark resort in the Wisconsin Dells and at one point my youngest sister went missing. Immediately our family flew into action with various members each immediately stepping in to stake out the campus, contact security, and canvas the facility. It didn’t seem out of place at all to switch from “vacation mode” to “search and rescue” mode, and once the call came in that my sister had been found and was being returned to her room by a helpful Good Samaritan, my husband stated nonchalantly to me, “Just another vacation with the Prenosil family.”

 

I don’t share this story to make it seem like this episode wasn’t a critical undertaking for everyone involved, but over the past 30 years, our family has developed a culture of caring for one another where no one asks why we just respond in love and concern. We are all in this together, whether it is caring for our adopted siblings or for each other’s children who also struggle with extreme food allergies and difficult to handle diagnoses. If you are just getting started on this special needs journey I want to encourage you that over time you can develop the support team you need just like our family has, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Little by little your immediate and extended family will learn the most by following your lead, so gently show them the way. Pray for their hearts to be softened towards the circumstances that surround the needs of your child and what you feel convicted to do as their parent and teacher for the best possible outcomes for their future. In turn, they will follow, but do understand it may take many years for them to come around and be the supportive family you desire for them to be for you right now.

 

 

Celebrating the holidays with your special needs children does not have to take the magic out of the season. Careful planning, simple celebrations, and supportive family can make all the difference.

 

 

 

 

 


Did you benefit from this article?

Would you consider a small donation to support the on-going work of SPED Homeschool?

Click Here to Donate Today

 

celebrating holiday blog vert

Please follow and like us: