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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.

 

 

 

 

 


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Peggy Ployhar

 

Holidays are tricky for families dealing with atypical situations, but that doesn’t mean holidays need to magnify these areas of your family life. Follow these DIFFERENT steps to ensure you won’t miss out on a joyful holiday season with your family.

 

D – Develop a plan

No matter how many activities your family would like to do over the holiday season, take a critical look at your schedule, at what is essential and what isn’t. Purposefully blocking in margin around these essentials reduces stress and the pull towards over-booking holiday activities. Then, discuss as a family what traditions or activities matter most to each of you. Finally, match open dates and times in your calendar with these top traditions/activities.

 

Also realize every year will be different and just because you may only be able to schedule in three or four activities this year, this doesn’t mean next year you will have to do the same.

 

I – Individualize acceptance

Holiday activities are often accompanied by vivid memories and biases on how they should be done or enjoyed. But, when you have a family member who has a disability, sickness, or other struggles that require a holiday tradition to be modified it can be difficult to make the necessary adjustments if you can’t be flexible. Yes, your family tradition may take on a new flavor, but that doesn’t mean the new flavor is worse than the original. It is just different.

 

Over time your family member may be able to adjust to the original way you remember enjoying this holiday activity, or over time the modified activity may become more favored by you and your family than the original.

 

F – Focus on strengths

Holiday celebrations and traditions often stretch relationships, sensory thresholds, and much more. Unfortunately, this stretching can cause contention between family members who only see the weakness others possess in comparison to their strengths. On the other hand, these differences in strengths can be beneficial, gifts that complement other family members in need.

 

Especially during this season of giving, it can be helpful to set aside time to discuss individual strengths and weaknesses of each family member, create awareness, and purposefully work towards strengthening each other by better supporting one another.

 

F – Frame togetherness

Just because your family may want to spend more time together creating memories and doing your favorite holiday activities, it may not be realistic to expect everyone to spend all their spare time together doing these activities, especially when considering the needs of the more introverted and medically fragile members of your family.

 

Framing holiday time together with family members who must build rest into their daily schedules should be prioritized by setting aside not only specific days of the week but also the specific times of day for that rest. For instance, if the morning is the best time of day for your child, then booking a matinee for your family to attend the Nutcracker would be better than holding out for an evening performance like you remember enjoying from your childhood.

 

E – Embrace forgiveness

No one is perfect, and yet we often fantasize about having perfect holiday experiences with our imperfect family and less than perfect self. Realistically it is better to aim for ideal and build a larger buffer of forgiveness and understanding into our holiday planning.

 

Sicknesses, miscommunications, forgetfulness, and the general confusion and chaos which happens during the holiday season typically remind us we need to be okay with allowing wiggle room into our “perfect” holiday plans. This way, we don’t ruin our entire experience because we struggle to see beyond the imperfections and to simply enjoy the experiences we have been given to share with our family.

 

“If we desire to make our holiday season the most joyful season of the year, it is imperative to determine how to love others above traditions, events, or seasonal activities”

 

R – Remember to love

The greatest gift we can give any time of the year is to love others the way we would like to be loved ourselves. It’s not about the gifts we work so hard to hunt down and buy. Sometimes the pursuit of the perfect gift ends up sidetracking us from being anything but loving.

 

If we desire to make our holiday season the most joyful season of the year, it is imperative to determine how to love others above traditions, events, or seasonal activities. Many times, this means we have to sacrifice our wants to love, but this is the exact love that Christmas is all about.

 

E – Enjoy the journey

Joy is essentially the bi-product of where we determine our enjoyment or fulfillment will draw from. If our joy rests solely on the product of our day, or even the season, we do not find fulfillment because life’s twists and turns can keep us from reaching these goals on time or how we had imagined them to turn out. But, if we instead seek to rest our joy on the journey towards reaching our goals, we can more readily find joy in our progress as well as in our relationships we might have otherwise overlooked.

 

During the holiday season, focusing on the joy of the journey can require even more intentional concentration as our days, weeks, and even months have checklists for things we don’t normally prioritize in our lives. This is when getting done what the day allows without sacrificing the joyful journey alongside our family members needs to become an even more intentional practice as well as something we intentionally celebrate throughout the season.

 

N – Non-negotiable relationships

Loving others is difficult and the holiday season often brings our lives closer in proximity to relatives we don’t always associate with regularly. And, while it is important to set boundaries with others, proper boundaries always leave room for any relationship to continue to grow if these individuals make positive changes and establish more healthy habits and boundaries.

 

Everything we can do on our end to leave a relationship open, even if we have to mostly close out a family member because of their personal choices or extenuating circumstances, leaves room for that door to widen once again in the future. We can’t always take on the full weight of what another family member is going through or allow the harmful or unsafe choices immediate or extended family members have made into our homes, but we can show there is always room in our hearts to love beyond these extenuating circumstances.

 

T – Take action

 

Finally, it is important to remember to act and put these practices to work. A plan and good intentions will never lead you to where you want to go. Only by stepping out in faith to approach this holiday season differently and move beyond various obstacles that in the past may have held you or your family back from experiencing joy will the season be the most joyful one you could experience.

 

 

 

 


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By Kimberly Vogel

Many struggling learners or students with special needs struggle with time, money, and egocentric behavior. Gift giving can easily be a time of educational and emotional opportunities for growth, and Christmas is the perfect time to put some of these tips into practice. It’s also a very busy time of the year, which makes intentionality important. But if we take the time to slow down and really focus on a few of these areas, there are a variety of lessons we can teach through gift giving

 

 

5 Lessons to Teach through Gift Giving

 

1. Plans and Budgets
There are so many ways to incorporate learning about money into gift giving. The first place to start is making a budget. For younger kids, you can talk about one gift, but for older children, they can set a budget for the whole holiday. You can extend this activity by setting up a savings plan for next year. If we spent $200 on our cousins this year, how much would we need to save all year to have enough money? How much would each gift cost? Will we be able to afford it and what can we change? If you go under budget, how can you use the money to bless someone else?

 

2. Math with Money
We are quickly becoming a cashless society. Our children need to know how to use cash. Plan ahead and take money to the store. Have your children buy gifts by counting out the correct change. You can further this activity by asking the children to calculate how much change they will receive. Play store at home and teach children how to count back money as a cashier. You can use fake money if needed. Many youths don’t know the valuable skill of counting back money, and it’s impressive to find a cashier that does know this skill!

 

3. Time Management
Time management is critical when shopping. How long will it take a gift to arrive at the destination? If I order a gift online, how long will it take to arrive? What if Amazon is even late? How far ahead do you need to plan? This doesn’t just apply to online shopping. Do you know how long it takes to walk the length of the mall? Can you estimate drive time, finding a parking spot, locating 7 gifts, waiting in line, and driving back home? Will you eat a meal while shopping or grab a cup of coffee? How do those factors affect your budget? There are a number of time management lessons that we can teach through gift giving.

 

4. Creative Skills
Giving gifts that don’t cost much – handmade gifts – provide many more lessons! New skills, budget for cooking or craft supplies, deciding what a person would like, are just a few things to be learned when creating gifts. Is it really cheaper if you are buying a lot of supplies? How much time will it take to make the items, and will you be able to finish?


5. Emotional Growth

I recently saw a meme go around Facebook about shopping for yourself while shopping for others. The struggle is real! How many times have you bought a gift for someone else and then one for yourself? Or changed your list? The struggle is real for our kids, too. Sometimes the struggle is that they want the gift for themselves and don’t understand why they can’t’ have it. Other kids struggle with wanting to buy for someone what they want instead of what the other person wants. I know Grandma wants a hat, but can it be pink because pink is my favorite color? Even if Grandma doesn’t ever wear pink? This is the perfect time to teach kids to think outwardly instead of egocentric thinking and behavior. Some kids naturally do think outwardly, but others need specific instructions and loving examples.

 

Let’s not get so busy this holiday season that we miss the opportunities teach through gift giving to others. The most important lessons are lessons of the heart, which means the most important lessons we teach all year could be those we teach during the holidays.

Looking for more holiday teaching ideas? Check out the SPED Homeschool Christmas and New Year Pinterest boards for great hands-on learning activities you can use all season long.

 

 


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By Peggy PloyharOriginally posted December 2017. Updated in 2019.

What an amazing 2 years we have had since the launch of SPED Homeschool in the summer of 2017!

Sharing Hope As God Leads
All our success would not have been possible without the help of so many wonderful people who believed in our vision for a national special education homeschooling organization. So, thank you for being a part of this movement to grow a national support network for families who are working to help their children achieve educational success against so many odds.


We’re excited for 2020, with plans to continue expanding our outreach while developing more ways to bridge the gaps families currently experience homeschooling children with special educational needs. We can’t do this alone. In addition to needing your prayers, and God’s constant guidance on how to to move forward, we also need financial support to continue our necessary outreach.


Sharing Hope is Practical

This time of year, many families determine how they might increase their 2019 tax-deductible year-end donations. If your family is prayerfully deciding how to promote God’s kingdom through charitable giving, we would ask you to consider donating to SPED Homeschool. Your support will help us continue to share our primary mission and minister to families in the same manner He has ministered individually to each of us and our children throughout our homeschooling journeys.

 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4


We truly understand the difficult daily realities special needs families face. Many who find us are lost, hurting, and on the defensive having been forced to live this way to protect their children and survive in hostile educational/medical/social environments. But, where there were walls, there are now doorways opening to reach these families. By coming alongside these hurting families, we can provide hope, show God’s love in practical and relevant ways, and truly demonstrate that faith in Jesus is the only pathway to peace amidst their circumstances.


 

Sharing Hope Together 
Together we can change the outlook for families with children who have special educational needs. And, together we can share God’s hope and point more children towards the future God created them for, by helping their families teach and train them in the way they should go.

 

SPED Homeschool is a 501.c.3 nonprofit. All charitable contributions are tax-deductible.

 

 


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SPED Homeschool Team


As our kids are counting down the days to Christmas, we special needs homeschooling moms have our sights elsewhere. We’re not only looking forward to the end of the holiday season, and a return our family’s version of normal, but we’re also looking towards the goals we have for our kids.

With that in mind, the team members of SPED Homeschool have put together our own special needs homeschool mom Christmas wish list. This list is meant to be fun, but at the same time highlight the biggest goal we have for our children…godly character.

As you read through this list, and the accompanying character traits, we pray you are inspired this Christmas season to see beyond the educational goals you have for your children and also see their attitudes and actions moving them towards much more lofty goals.


 

12 Days of Christmas – Special Needs Homeschooling Mom Version


On the first day of Christmas, my child gave to me..a homemade angel on top our Christmas tree! (Creativity)

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2


On the second day of Christmas, my child gave to me..2 completed assignments. (Determination)

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8


On the third day of Christmas, my child gave to me…3 chocolate candies. (Generosity)

“But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” 2 Corinthians 9:6


On the fourth day of Christmas, my child gave to me…4 “lost” items. (Truthfulness)

“Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’for we are members of one another.” Ephesians 4:25


On the fifth day of Christmas, my child gave to me…5 sloppy kisses! (Love)

“And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:3


On the sixth day of Christmas, my child gave to me…6 prayers for my patience. (Sensitivity)

“ Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15


On the seventh day of Christmas, my child gave to me…7 respectful responses. (Respectfulness)

“…casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…” 2 Corinthians 10:5


On the eighth day of Christmas, my child gave to me…8 sharpened pencils. (Resourcefulness)

“He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.” Luke 16:10


On the ninth day of Christmas, my child gave to me…9 correctly answered questions. (Wisdom)

“The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” Proverbs 18:15


On the tenth day of Christmas, my child gave to me…10 painted toes. (Caring)

“ For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:20-21


On the eleventh day of Christmas, my child gave to me…11 minutes of silence. (Self-Control)

“And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5:24-25


On the twelfth day of Christmas, my child gave to me…12 hours without complaining! (Contentment)

“And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” 1 Timothy 6:8


 

May your Christmas season be fruitful and filled with the joy of seeing your children learning and growing in their ability to walk in God’s truth and His light. – SPED Homeschool Team

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” – 3 John 1:4

 


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Peggy Ployhar

 

Although sugar plums are mentioned in “The Night Before Christmas,” and there is a Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker Ballet, not many people are familiar with what a sugar plum really is.

Years ago, when our family did a Christmas unit study, we discovered this versatile Christmas treat.  Since then, it has been my go-to recipe for holiday gatherings and a personal healthy indulgence during the holiday season.

Here is a video my daughter Maggie and I made to take you step-by-step through the recipe.  In the video, we not only show you how simple this recipe is to make, but also how you can easily change the ingredients to work around any of your family member’s food allergies.

 

 

 

 

Allergy Friendly Sugar Plum Recipe

 

Equipment, Ingredients and Instructions

 

Equipment:
Food processor
2 plates

 

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups base ingredient:  any variety of nut, oatmeal (gluten-free if needed), or coconut
  • 2 cups dried fruit: raisins, dates, cranberries, figs, apricots, or prunes
  • 2 teaspoons spices: cinnamon, cloves, allspice, ginger, ground anise, etc.
  • Approximately ¼ cup of a wet ingredient: honey, maple syrup, maple cream, nut butter, molasses, brown rice syrup, etc.
  • Extra chopped base ingredient, or cocoa/peanut butter powder, for coating

Directions:

  • Measure 2 cups of your base ingredient (or mix of base ingredients) into the food processor and chop to a fine meal.
  • Measure 2 cups of your dried fruit choice (or mix of dried fruit choices) into the food processor, with the base, and chop again until the fruit is minced.
  • Measure in 2 teaspoons of spices into the mixture in the food processor, and chop to distribute.
  • Slowly add the wet ingredient into the mixture in the food processor until it forms a ball.
  • Dump the mixture out on one plate and place your desired coating on another plate
  • Roll the mixture into gumball-sized balls
  • Finish by rolling the ball in the coating

 

Extra Recipe Tips

  • Keep a wet towel nearby to clean off sticky hands
  • Store finished sugar plums in the refrigerator

 

 

 


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Dyana Robbins

 

The holiday season offers many wonderful things to us: time away from work, more time with friends and family, traditions, and expressions of love. For many, this truly remains the happiest and most-anticipated time of the year. However, there are years when the holidays seem much less joyous. Deaths, losses, difficult circumstances, broken relationships and other factors can threaten the joy we want to experience.

 

Here are some thoughts that I hope will encourage you if you find yourself facing a difficult holiday season.  Some of them are humorous, others more serious, but all have helped our family celebrate the holidays in difficult years.

 

1.  Treat Hallmark movies and Christmas sentimentalism like a plague
Please don’t call me Scrooge; I know how committed people are to their Hallmark Christmas movies.  I have even liked a couple of them myself. However, when we are battling discouragement or even despair, the idealized versions of Christmas, love, and family that are peddled to us can intensify our pain.
Movies and many Christmas songs’ sentimental version of life can highlight places in our lives that don’t reflect the same perfection.  Instead of providing help, they actually create larger wounds.  If you must indulge in these entertainments,  make sure you balance them with movies like “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “A Christmas Carol.”  They have some good old adversity and life lessons that balance out the schmaltz.  And for music, immerse yourself in songs that offers real joy and hope.  My favorite is “O Holy Night.”

 

2.  Simplify
We hear this advice everywhere, but what does it actually look like to practice simplicity?  It differs in families, but simplicity rests on the following principles:  contentment, pruning of useless or harmful things, and a grateful perspective.
Even in the most difficult times, we can practice simplicity.  As we rid ourselves of fruitless thoughts, useless energy expenditures, taxing social engagements, and burdensome traditions or expectations, joy can fill the space they vacate.  We can appreciate the beauty of what remains, the graces of each day, and enjoy rest.

 

“As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.” ― Henry David Thoreau

 

3.  Do something new
One of life’s greatest joys, is to experience or learn new things.  Whether you create new traditions, learn a new game, skill, or song, take a different route for Christmas light viewing, or bake something different, your venture into the unknown affirms life and fresh beginnings.  The scope and cost of these changes need not be great; just doing them brings happy feelings and memories.

 

4.  Avoid or limit negative influences
This may be the most difficult of my recommendations. Often, negative influences come from our closest  family members, or others we’re pressured to spend time with over the holidays.  If you feel guilty avoiding them entirely,  do all you can to limit your exposure to them.  
You can do a shorter visit, make sure others will be around to dilute their impact, gather in a place you feel most comfortable, or have the nearest exit mapped out for an emergency evacuation.  We need to show love to difficult people, but during dark seasons in our own lives, we might need a break or limited engagement to care for ourselves.
Likewise, give yourself permission to rest from considering or deciding about stressful or negative things.  Even a short break from decision-making can help you recharge and focus on the joy of the season.  Truly, our problems can almost always be put on temporary hold, instead of demanding all of our time and attention.

 

5.  Celebrate Christ
If you find yourself in the darkest of times, my other recommendations will ring with inadequacy. There are some problems we cannot change, fix or remove; they simply must be borne. Even bearing those burdens, hope shines and lights a path for joy.
Isaiah 9, in the Bible, talks of Christ the Savior.  Consider this beautiful passage with me:

For to us a child is born,

to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

 

One dark day, the God of Heaven sent his son to us.  His arrival fulfilled many prophecies, God’s promises to man, to provide a Savior from ourselves, our condition, and this broken world.  He walked our paths, suffered our griefs, experienced our fragile joys, and purchased for us a joy that can never die.
Because of this gift, every trial, grief, injustice, betrayal, loss and inadequacy will one day be completely overwhelmed and overcome.  No matter what we face, even the most horrible and trying things, they only have temporary power and effect.  As we wait for that day, we enjoy Christ’s presence and help.  He is all to us that the verses above promise: our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.
Every lesser joy can be extinguished. Life’s burdens can smother them all.  But, the joy of Christ, God’s guarantee to man, has never failed me or anyone who has trusted in Him.
Whatever your circumstances this year, I pray you will find and know joy.  If this season is painful for you, know that you are not alone in your struggle or in waiting for better days.  May the joy of this season overwhelm your struggles and bring you hope.  

 

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 


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This article

was reprinted with permission from Dyana Robbin’s personal blog,

Ambling Grace.
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Peggy Ployhar

Christmas, and the holiday season in general, truly is the most wonderful time of the year…for most things.  But, when it comes to homeschooling kids who have special needs, there is a fine balance to maintaining your child’s basic daily routine while adding in additional holiday tasks.

One way to cut down on the stress of trying to fit it all in, is to ease back from regular curriculum work and add in themed activities instead.  Many times, these types of learning activities are more easily embraced by a child than their typical school work.  School seems less like school and more like fun, helping lessons get done more quickly. 

Over the years many of the holiday learning activities our family did as part of our homeschooling lessons have become wonderful yearly traditions.  We make international treats discovered through various unit studies and have favorite books my adult children have fond memories of us reading over and over again.

Here are 20 holiday-related free learning activities you can use to add some cheer into your SPED homeschooling days this season:

  1. Christmas Gross Motor and Brain Break Ideas – 14 activities for adding some holiday movement into your homeschool day
  2. Christmas Fine Motor Crafts and Sensory Play Activities – Fun Christmas sensory play activities and fine motor skill building craft ideas
  3. Elf on the Shelf Sensory Taste, Smell and Sight Activities – Use Elf on the Shelf for helping your sensory child improve their aversions to texture, taste, smell, noise and light
  4. 30 Montessori Christmas Activities – Activities covering language arts, math, sensory, and life skills
  5. LEGO Nativity Set Instructions – Build Joseph, Mary, baby Jesus in the manger, and a shepherd with two sheep out of simple LEGO blocks
  6. Christmas Counting Puzzles on a Light Table – Simple Christmas themed counting puzzles you can make yourself to use on a light table
  7. Simple Sewing Christmas Tree Decorations – Turn felt, buttons, yarn, and stuffing into an easy to sew Christmas tree decoration
  8. 8 Upper-Level Math Christmas Activities – Add some seasonal twists to geometry, algebra, and thinking skills lessons this Christmas.
  9. Christmas Skip Counting Games – 3 holiday games to reinforce simple skip counting
  10. Christmas Candy Chemistry Science Experiments – Have some science fun with all that yummy Christmas candy…it’s STEM learning made fun and festive
  11. “Santa Claus, Santa Claus, What Do You See?” Emergent Reader – This print and assemble book reinforces 14 sight words within a Santa themed story
  12. 25 Days of Fine Motor Christmas Activities – Simple themed activities focused around building fine motor skills
  13. STEM Holiday Light Circuits – Use old Christmas lights and a few common household supplies to teach a lesson in electrical circuits
  14. 30 Awesome Christmas Games – Games perfect for family time or lesson boredom busters
  15. Holiday Speech Therapy Activities – Holiday speech therapy activities that are hands on and interactive
  16. Nativity Activities and Educational Resources – A mix of 35 activities, crafts and printables all focused around the nativity
  17. A Very Merry Occupational Therapy Christmas – 25 activities that address a variety of occupational skill areas
  18. Christmas Journal – Free printable to help you discuss and capture all the special moments and memories with your child this Christmas
  19. Candy Cane Activities for Upper Elementary – Activities for writing, science, history, and math all related to the simple candy cane
  20. Christmas Scripture Copywork – Work on handwriting skills while keeping the true meaning of Christmas as your lesson focus.

If that list does not meet your needs, or you still want more activities, make sure to check out the SPED Homeschool Christmas Pinterest Board

You will find lots more free or inexpensive holiday-themed learning activities to fill your entire month of December.

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 


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By Kimberly A Vogel

 

I opened the door and stepped into a winter wonderland. White, blue, and silver Christmas decorations adorned the house. After days of rushing around and overwhelming holiday stress, I finally felt like I could breathe. 

 

Something was comforting in the white. It brought a sense of calm and peace. The term white space repeated in my thoughts and synced to the white lights blinking.

 

I need white space in my life, especially around the holidays.

 

White space, a term writers use, refers to the white space on a page so the reader isn’t bombarded by words. I need a place where I’m not bombarded. I need extra room to move and breathe. Instead of cramming more activities into an already filled schedule, I should plan less and leave room for more spur of the moment activities.

 

My thoughts started to create priorities on how I just might be able incorporate white space into my life to lower my holiday stress. 

 

My holiday did not have peace and my short temper overshadowed my love.

 

These were the reminders I needed to tell myself. 

 

Keep your calendar handy so you don’t overbook

Do you have a planner? Do you use your phone or paper? What you use isn’t important, using it is what’s important. Overbooking isn’t just having two activities at the same time, it’s having too many activities in a day or week.

 

Say yes sparingly

In Volunteering: Pray about every opportunity. Only commit to what you have time to do well. It’s better to focus on one or two opportunities, than saying yes to five things and only following through with a few.

With Activities: There’s an abundance of fun family events only available during the holidays and you should never feel obligated to go to them all. It seems like every group has a party this time of year. Make sure whatever you do commit to fits into your plan and isn’t too taxing. Also, consider your family’s special circumstances: If you have small kids, parties during nap time make the day difficult. If you have special needs kids, there are so many things to think through… sensory issues, behavior issues due to excess sugar, dietary restrictions, over-stimulation.

 

Don’t operate out of guilt, expectations, or ideals

Expectations run high during the holidays. As moms, we often set the pace for our family. As women, guilt plays a role into our decision making. I’ll never forget the year I ran myself ragged to make sure an event happened, all to find out I was the only one who wanted it. In this instance, the event’s importance had been heightened by a childhood memory, an ideal I eventually had to let go for the sake of my family’s sanity.

 

Back in the lovely decorated home, I walked into another room where a huge Fontini display decorated the corner. A village scene centered around the nativity. Then it hit me, THAT is the who of my white space. Jesus came to bring…peace, love and salvation. If He’s not at the center of my white space then I am just creating voids that attract fillers.

 

My holiday did not have peace and my short temper overshadowed my love. White space is only beneficial if it is filled with Jesus because He perfectly fills the void. Jesus space, as the center of our white space, brings me back to what this holiday season is all about.

 

What can you do to create white space and Jesus space into your life?

 

 

 

 


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Cammie Arn

 

The holiday are upon us. So, the question at hand is: “How do we deal with all the shopping and prepping that goes into this time of year when it can be so overwhelming?” 

 

Here are some things that worked in our family, when daily life caused sensory overload from the heightened seasonal activity. 

 

  • Shop online and with catalogs, it just keeps things simpler and away from crazy crowds.
  • Drive thru neighborhoods known for their decorations. Not only is it better on the pocketbook, but noises can be controlled and lights tend not be be as overbearing from the inside a vehicle. You can also make this adventure a special treat by picking up hot chocolate (or bring your own) and cookies.
  • Decorate the tree with simple white lights instead of flashing colored ones.
  • Try to keep your routine as much as possible, the normalcy of your days can help prevent many a meltdown.
  • Use festive fabric to wrap gifts. By replacing paper with fabric no one gets overstimulated with the constant tearing of paper. Plus, the fabric is reusable. Decorated pillowcases work great!
  • Use one gift box per person. Place all of that family member’s gifts in the one box and you save on the chaos of opening lots of little gifts.
  • Limit sugar.  Even if you already do this, ’tis the season to work on it all the more. Too much sugar can cause any kiddo to get grumpy and meltdown (adults included).
  • Ensure your family gets enough rest
  • Pick and choose your activities. You don’t have to do everything…every year. 

And, if things do go awry, take a deep breath. Tomorrow is a new day.

Happy Holidays. 

 

 

 

 

 


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