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Homeschooling and Special Needs

Can I just tell you how incredibly difficult this is…in theory and in reality.  I find myself getting frustrated beyond comprehension because, where one of my kids now is not where all my other children were at this same age. 

Now, bear in mind…I do not compare my children academically or otherwise.  That would be a huge mistake and by doing that I would not be yielding to the “bents” of each child.  I embrace the differences of each child and I try to allow them to follow their passions (as long as it goes down the path of reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic).

My children are usually beginning to need less supervision and more independent learning when they hit third grade.  This doesn’t mean that I do not continue to help, because I do, but I’m teaching them to rely on the brain that God gave them and the mounds of material that I have to research.  I want them to look for answers and not to find the easy way out by asking and me telling them.  I believe this is a valuable tool that they will hold onto as they get older.  I want them to work for the things that they want and to not have that thread of laziness or having things handed to them.

By fourth grade, they are pretty well independent of me.  I give them a detailed schedule of what is expected, daily and they check it off as they master it.  Quizzes, tests, or reviews are given on Fridays.  Fridays are also grading days.  If they have missed a lot, during the week, then this is the opportunity that we have, together, to find the answers and work through them and correct them.

All of that being said….I have one child with severe dyslexia, fetal alcohol syndrome, and more.  When he went to PS, for a little less than a year, he was not identified as a child with real needs (except maybe in reading, which he was not diagnosed with dyslexia until this year).  He had a reading aid, but nothing else.  He was “borderline”, therefore he fell through the cracks and since he struggled so much, he was deemed a “trouble” child.  He had a “foster kid” stamp on his forehead and that was that.

He fell tremendously behind in that year of PS.  I’m not knocking PS, at all.  I have dear friends who are excellent teachers.  I believe that there are too many kids and not enough teachers in this world!  My mom and aunt were amazing teachers.  There are simply not enough resources.  We have chosen to homeschool because this is where God wants me, at this point in my life.  This may not always be where God wants me and I am open to change and new experiences.  My kids are open to it, as well!  Right now, we are following that lamp that is laid unto our feet.

This one particular child has been looking at a picture of a forest scene for 30 minutes because he can’t think of a title for the picture.  He spent another 30 minutes looking at another picture that had three choices for the title of that picture.  2 choices were not anywhere near anything that the picture resembled.  The third choice described the picture to a tee.

Due to this child’s dyslexia, language arts is learned on a first-second grade level.  He is no where near the 4th grade level that he should be in.  This makes it difficult because this child’s younger brother is FLYING past him, academically and he is in first grade.  I don’t want to teach them together because that would highlight the fact that the older child is “not as smart” as the younger child.  The younger child, in time, could use that as a bullying tactic with the older child (if you are a family with more than one child you know full well that bullying goes on between siblings).  This can also make the older child feel different or bad about themselves.  It is a no win situation.

I find, there are more days than not, that I want to pull my eyelashes out one at a time when I sit down to teach this child. I love this child, desperately and completely…but his is SO challenging!  I cannot find a good way to get any understanding.  Everyday is a hard day.  Every.  Stinking.  Day.

We have started (since the beginning of last year) intense reading therapy at our local college.  I’m so incredibly pleased with the the director and all of the grad students who have worked with over the course of a couple of years.  It has made a huge difference.  I also choose to focus heavily on math because he is an ACE at math.  He is above his grade level and this gives him confidence that he is smart. 

It makes me sad when I ask him a question and he tells me that he doesn’t know something because his brain doesn’t work right.  I have to yield to his bents….his imagination, his logic to figure things out (by that I mean building/creating things), math is excellent, a great swimmer, and an excellent shot with guns and bows/arrows.

Homeschooling special needs children is hard.  I had a monumentally bad first day back, yesterday.  Juggling one child who needs your constant attention because he is only in first grade; one who is supposed to be in 4th, but functions on a 2nd grade level; one who is in the 7th grade but takes ALL DAY LONG to finish work because of her special needs; and then there are my 8th and 11th graders who are starting new subjects and they have been diagnosed with summer brain…they have forgotten everything but their names and that they are hungry. 

I wanted to cry.

Heck, I did cry.

Then, I remembered Psalm 30:5 Weeping may endure for a night, but Joy comes in the morning. 

joy-comes-in-the-morning

Hope. 

Eternal hope.

Today has been better.  Bug has been home to work with one kid while I have worked with another.  Gigi, who I struggled with last year so badly got all her work done and excelled tremendously!  Let me just tell you…last year, I got so frustrated with her that I bumped her down to 3rd grade math because she simply couldn’t wouldn’t do it.  Last night, as I graded her math, expecting it to be bad because she is doing 6th grade math work out of 2 different books…she did wonderfully.  So great that it made me mad (I kid you not)!  I was ranting an raving and throwing the books in Big Daddy’s face…he just stood there and looked at me and said “this is a good thing, right?”  YES, it is good….but it took us wasting a whole year to get her to do this and now she is getting it…I’m telling you, I was having a bit of a meltdown.

I’ll pull it together before Bug goes back to school/work…I will…I know I will…

God is still on the throne.

Hope.

Eternal Hope.

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