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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By Janet Giel-Romo, M.Ed. from Austin & Lily


Teaching a child about customs and traditions can be daunting, especially when that child struggles cognitively. If you are looking for a simple resource to share about Thanksgiving day with a very young child or a child with a cognitive delay, here are some resources you can use for a very simple Thanksgiving unit study.


Thanksgiving Unit Study Resources

Start with these free unit planning sheets

Thanksgiving Lesson Plan


 Use this free ebook to teach about Thanksgiving day


Add in these interactive worksheets to help solidify various facts about Thanksgiving

 Thanksgiving Worksheets


Finally, play this fun game with your child to test what they learned about Thanksgiving


To find more unit studies and resources like these, visit our website, Austin & Lily.


Janet Giel-Romo Ed.D. holds a doctorate in education leadership focused on intellectual disabilities and has a Master’s is in Language Acquisition (ELL). Her passion has been understanding and meeting the needs of at-risk learners. She has over 25 years of experience teaching middle, high school, and university levels. Janet has an 18-year-old daughter with Down syndrome and is passionate about her well-being. Janet writes curriculum, provides training, and is a consultant.




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By Dr. Rebecka Spencer from Cherish Children Ministries


I was reading an article recently about George Washington Carver and how he asked the Lord to help him know all about the peanut. Then, Carver used his God-given gift of science-based understanding to separate the parts of the peanut, thus producing hundreds of uses for the peanut.  



Separating Attributes from Activities

I have discovered this same concept can be applied when working with my dyslexic kids. When I will acknowledge in all I do with my children that they are His creation, then using the wisdom and knowledge I have been given helps me direct them to their purposes and calling in life.



Separating Potential from Labels

Dyslexic kids have many, many strengths. In fact, I think dyslexia of as an island of weakness surrounded by a sea of strengths. When we can bridge the gap, the results can be more than we ever thought possible. Some of the greatest success stories are those of people with dyslexia. 



Separating Family Members from Statistical Groups

Dyslexia tends to run in families. Most of us have at least one person in our family that is dyslexic. As for mine, my mother, my father-in- law, and two of my three children are dyslexic. 



Separating Personal Strengths from Weaknesses

Providing dyslexic kids with authentic life experiences is part of what I get to do, both in my home and with the children for whom I provide therapy. One thing I have learned through my home life and work is that the kitchen is a great place to help dyslexic children learn their strengths and weaknesses and find their own “peanut” extractions.



Separating Creativity from Criticism

Dyslexic kids can do very well in the kitchen. Changing and manipulating recipes is fun for them and when they decide to take a chance, they want it to be remarkable. 



One day, while making an apple pie with my son, he wanted to add a little extra cinnamon, and I let him. Praises of satisfaction came from his family and friends as he shared the pie at our annual Pledge Dinner for the hybrid homeschool he attends. This encouragement had him wanting to bake, but not all received the same songs of praise. 



I’ll never forget the time he wanted to make the chocolate mayonnaise cake, which called for a sprinkle of cinnamon and a cup of Hellman’s mayonnaise. Since he wanted to use his creativity and add a little more cinnamon and a little less mayonnaise, the result was less than mouth savoring. His brothers let him know how it was not nearly as good as the last recipe he prepared, which led to tears and frustration for him. 



Dyslexic kids are very sensitive. They capitalize on the praise received, but when they receive negative feedback, it often stifles them from moving on and taking chances and transpires into other areas of their lives. 



Separating Forward Momentum from Failure

We also need to help our dyslexic children understand failure or lack of praise can help them gain momentum in areas of strength. But this transition of separating failure from forward momentum comes with time. There is not a certain age for this to occur, but taking the time together makes room for meaningful conversations, and what better way to do that than while cooking together in the kitchen?



Separating Hyper-focus from Fragile Expressions 

Hyper-focusing is one of the many strengths dyslexic kids have. When they can hyper-focus on the positive aspects of something we set them out to accomplish, such as baking a cake or specialty dish in the kitchen, the results can be that much like George Washington Carver. But we must remember these children are fragile. Encouragement is of utmost importance. 



Separating Reality from Recipes 

Visualization is one of the great strengths of dyslexics. Visualizing themselves by presenting their whipped-up work of art often yields in the endeavor’s reality. With the right dose of love and encouragement, they will thrive. Who knows? With the right real life learning experiences which have given opportunity for discovering their innate creative gifts, they may even land on the next greatest cooking show. 



Dr. Rebecka Spencer is a certified teacher, administrator, speaker, academic language therapist, Jesus follower,& MOM of a struggling learner! It was through the struggle where Cherish Children Ministries was born, a mission that seeks to liberate children with dyslexia, ADD, ADHD, and other spectrum disorders from the curriculum industry by equipping and empowering them with holistic education for success in who God The Creator made them to be is what we are all about. JEREMIAH 29:11




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By Peggy Ployhar, SPED Homeschool Founder & CEO


Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, and one thing that may be high on your homeschool to-do list is teaching your children how to express gratitude. As is the experience of many parents of children who battle various life struggles, gratitude is typically something our children receive much more often than they give. For this reason, it is even more important to plan gratitude activities into our schedules. It is my prayer that some of the following activities will help you introduce gratitude, in interactive ways, this month.


1 – Make a Thankful Tree, courtesy of

2- Play Turkey Toss of Thankfulness, courtesy of I Can Teach My Child

3 – Dive into a Grateful Sensory Bin activity, courtesy of Little Bins Little Hands

4 – Go on a Gratitude in Nature Scavenger Hunt, courtesy of All Natural Adventures

5 – Play a game of Gratitude Pick-Up Sticks, courtesy of Teach Beside Me

6  – Jump through a few sets of Complementing HopScotch, courtesy of Carol Miller Counseling Essentials

7 – Encourage family harmony with Kindness Tokens, courtesy of What Do We Do All Day?

8 – Work on therapy goals while using this Gratitude Slide Deck, courtesy of the OT Toolbox

9 – Start a 30-Day Gratitude Challenge, courtesy of Hess Un-Academy

10 – Take part in a 30-Day Gratitude Photo Challenge, courtesy of Positively Present

11 – Use bibliotherapy for an Interactive Gratitude Discussion, courtesy of Meehan Mental Health

12 – Play a game of Gratitude Tic-Tac-Toe, courtesy of Paper Heart Family

13 – Create a Gratitude Pumpkin, courtesy of Out Upon the Waters

14 – Volunteer using one of these Give Back Activities, courtesy of Mama Smiles

15 – Download and use this Montessori Gratitude Curriculum, courtesy of Dream A World


Looking for more fall activities? Check out these additional 20 Adaptable Thanksgiving Homeschool Learning activities.


Peggy Ployhar, SPED Homeschool Founder & CEO, is a leader in the homeschooling community and popular speaker on home educating students with learning challenges. After working as a special needs consultant for both the Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators (MACHE) and the Texas Home School Coalition (THSC), Peggy founded SPED Homeschool in 2017. Peggy also hosts the popular live broadcast and podcast, Empowering Homeschool Conversations, a weekly talk show where her guests address relevant issues related to homeschooling for unique learners. Plus, on the side, she is a professional aerial silks performer and instructor at her other business, Eternal Aerial Arts LLC.





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by The SPED Homeschool Team


We surveyed the SPED Homeschool team and asked them to share how they used technology to teach in their homeschools over the years and here is what they shared regarding their favorite resource, tools, and how they worked best for their students.


Most Loved Tech Teaching Resources

Teaching with technology evolved over our 19 years of homeschooling, mostly because when we started our homeschooling journey the internet was new and much of the educational software back then was either very expensive or was a glorified game with some learning embedded into it. Needless to say, a lot has changed in 19 years. Here are some of the tech resources we loved the most during our homeschooling journey:

  • The 101 Series – A video-based high school curriculum program
  • Mark Kisler on YouTube – 3D drawing videos for kids
  • Zoom sessions with private tutors for French instruction
  • Khan Academy Math – As supplemental instruction videos for book curriculum
  • Audible – We have had the monthly subscription for years and used it most for listening to books that related to our unit studies or literature-based studies over the years
  • Homeschool History from Notgrass – Supplemental content to accompany just about any history you are studying in your homeschool
  • Homeschool with MindCraft – An inexpensive and fun learning option we tried a few times during our homeschooling journey

Peggy Ployhar 


Homeschool Tech Tools

In our homeschool, we use technology in a variety of ways. We have always used educational games and videos, but now include more curriculum online as well. Also, technology serves as a tool to support weaknesses and allow strengths to come through.

  • Scribeasy is a fun way to get my kids engaged in writing  
  • is free, and offers videos and games through early elementary school level
  • Voice to text and predictive text are available through Word, Google Docs, and Pages on iPad to allow my son to write short stories without frustration
  • Khan Academy Kids has fun educational games and videos for preschool and elementary age (also free) 
  • ABC Mouse for Preschool through First Grade
  • Adventure Academy is the next step from ABC Mouse (ages 8-12)  
  • IKnowIt is math practice or remediation 
  • Ascend Math has math fact flashcard practice (free) 
  • Journey Homeschool Academy has had great Science classes (Astronomy, Biology and new this year is Earth Science) 
  • Udemy has on demand classes on a variety of subjects for all ages 
  • Kindle Reader from Amazon to share books over zoom or just on the computer/tablet
  • Vooks is a great digital book resource for younger kids 
  • Audiobooks for the car for longer trips into town (CD, overdrive/Libby, or downloaded from other sources)
  • Digital versions of textbooks/workbooks to share over zoom with tutors, or share on the computer together
  • Touchscreen laptops to be able to “write” on the computer screen or tablet when working with online tutors, especially for math tutoring

Amy Vickery


Favorite Tech Learning Programs

We were pretty old school and didn’t use a lot of technology. We used a game on the computer to teach typing skills. But the one program that I used, and absolutely loved, to teach our younger two to read was Headsprout. It was an amazing program that took them from just knowing the letters of the alphabet to a second-grade reading level. The girls loved it and it took a lot of pressure off of me. 

Janice Peshek 


Making Tech Work for the Needs of Your Learner

Technology has been useful to “sneak” in learning with my daughter. I would add apps on my daughter’s pad that matched her learning goals. There were apps that matched her handwriting curriculum (Learning without Tears) , math (Touch Math), reading curriculum (All About Reading). Using the app made it more interactive for her and she requested the learning apps even on the weekends and when school was over. 

Another way we have used technology was using audiobooks to listen to chapter books. On the days where there needed to be more, I would add a YouTube video so that my visual learners could see the learning. Now there is more ability to meet with therapists over zoom since COVID. 

Still another great resource is Boom Cards-Boom Learning, which oftentimes can be free. I have found these cards most helpful when sickness hits because we can use them in place of therapy. 

My recent tech addition is having my daughter practice her spelling words and text them to family members. Picking what parts of technology work for your family is key.

Dawn Spence


Using Tech as Needed for Homeschooling

When I started homeschooling over 20 years ago, tech was not a big thing so we didn’t use it a lot except for classes I absolutely couldn’t teach, like art (thank you, Mark Kistler – see link above). We did, however, use it all the time to look up answers to questions that came up. It was more of a research tool than a teaching tool until late middle school and then high school. We did high school history online for two years using only

The iPad came out when my daughter was just starting school. We bought one immediately so she could use it for communication since she is nonverbal. I was amazed at how much knowledge she demonstrated using a device that she couldn’t otherwise communicate. In the early years, I added a lot of learning games and she loved those. Now it is primarily a communication device.

For a time, I taught Computer Science online for other students. This was a great format because each week, the students would run their programs so we could see and evaluate them. This was not as easy to do in a regular classroom.

Technology has been great for us on an as-needed basis.

Stephanie Buckwalter


To learn more about the SPED Homeschool team and what they do to ensure you have access to quality resources and training through our website, YouTube channel, newsletter and more, visit our team page.



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