Don’t Think You Can Homeschool? Think Again!

I_Can't_HomeschooHomeschooling can seem like a daunting journey, especially for those who are new to the concept. We are unsure of where to start, overwhelmed by the notion of taking on our children’s education, and feel as if we are not enough.

Join us as we review this fun series, sharing reasons families believe they can’t homeschool and offering encouragement for those unsure of the adventure called homeschooling.

I Can’t Homeschool!…

I Lack Self Control
They Won’t Listen
I’m Uneducated

I’m Unorganized
I Need ME Time
I Have Too Many Kids
My Kids Are Too Big

My Family Will Disapprove
I’m A Dad!
My Kids Have Special Needs

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I Can’t Homeschool: My Children Have Special Needs

i_cant_homeschoolHomeschooling can seem like a daunting journey, especially for those who are new to the concept. We are unsure of where to start, overwhelmed by the notion of taking on our children’s education, and feel as if we are not enough. May we offer encouragement for families unsure of the adventure called homeschooling.

Joining us today is Cindi Hartley, a fellow homeschooler and blogger. As a mother of two little boys and the leader of Dog for David, she is here with us today offering encouragement for parents of children with special needs considering the homeschool journey. May this inspire and encourage families wishing to take a more active role in their children’s education.

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Homeschooling.  Special needs.  Two terms that can feel like an oxymoron when first put together.  I am here to share with you though how they can actually be a quite harmonious pair.  First let me encourage you by saying that homeschooling is never as hard as it seems at first.  It has it’s challenges yes, just like most things in life, but the rewards that you and your child reap far outweigh the rest.

I have been homeschooling my two sons for about three years now and I have found that it was the best choice I could have made for them.  No longer bound by desks, rigid routines, crowded classrooms, and specific curriculum my children have found the freedom to start growing and learning at their own pace and in their own ways.  From curriculum choices to class schedules, and everything in between, the homeschooling environment provides you and your child the freedom to adjust not only your resources, but the way you use them as well until the perfect fit for your child is found.

Can’t sit still?  No problem!  Races, games, dancing, and other activity that involves movement is easy to incorporate into the day as much as needed.   They can even become valuable teaching tools for that child that learns best while on the move.

Behind in some areas, but advanced in others?  The homeschooling environment isn’t bound by grade based curriculum and crowd based interests.  Plus, who better to know when to push a child to reach their potential and when to back off and let them go at a slower pace than their own parent?  Someone who has been by their side from day one; a teacher who doesn’t need an IEP or 504 plan to know where their child struggles or excels, or what motivates them, or how to calm them when they are overwhelmed?  You have always been your child’s biggest fan.  Now you get to be their biggest help and encourager too, ensuring they don’t get left behind when they struggle and that they don’t get held back when they are ready for more.

Sensory problems, anxiety, meltdowns?  When schooling is done from home, the outside influences that can cause overloads are much more easily controlled.  Whether your child needs a more predictable routine, a less crowded classroom, the flexibility to keep working on a task until they are done, fewer distractions, or even some quiet “white noise” to help them filter out the extras and focus on what they’re learning, you now have the power to give it to them!  And for those moments when that still isn’t enough (it does happen), the child will find comfort in having someone they already know and trust to turn to in their moment of need.

What about life skills and socialization?  For one, life skills are learned best when taught by actually practicing them.  Learning how to count money?  Take them to the store and let them help you pay at the register.  Need to work on laundry skills or cooking?  Get them their own laundry basket and apron and let them become your special helper.  Bonus!  Those activities easily allow for lessons on sorting, measurements, sequencing and more.  They also come with naturally built-in fine motor practice!

As for the socialization, consider the fact that sitting in a room with a bunch of children around the same age, does not alone make for a social environment.  Especially when one is to be quiet and still most of the day, and struggles with standing out on a regular basis due to their special needs.  When your child is learning with you however, social opportunities are much more easily added into the day in much more natural ways.  Plus, the child has the freedom to approach the situations in ways that are most comfortable instead of being forced to adhere to the norm.  No eye contact?  You can work on just having them look at the person in general, even if it’s below face level.  Communication struggles or general social awkwardness?  Chances are high you will be right there to guide them through it, and that the person on the other end will be more patient with the situation.

You also are no longer limited to just children of a similar age and in a particular environment.  Your child will meet people of all ages, both young and old, and in all kinds of different situations.  Talk about social practice and opportunity. 😉

In conclusion, even though it can seem a daunting task at first, there are a number of ways that homeschooling and special needs actually fit very well together.   If you are feeling led to start this journey with your child, I encourage you to not be afraid to do so.

“… Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 NIV)

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stripes-and-autism-profile-pic-dogfordavidYou can follow Cindi at her blog, Stripes and Puzzle Pieces, where she shares more about parenting and homeschooling, or at An Autism Diary, where she records daily interactions to help track autism. If you’d like to stay connected, don’t forget to follow on YouTube and Facebook!

I Can’t Homeschool: I Lack Self Control

i_cant_homeschoolEncouragement for families unsure of the adventure called homeschooling.

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Homeschooling can seem like a daunting journey, especially for those who are new to the concept. We are unsure of where to start, overwhelmed by the notion of taking on our children’s education, and feel as if we are not enough. One of the many hurdles parents must conquer is fear of lack of self-control. Why would we consider homeschooling a bunch of unruly children when we can’t even control ourselves half the time?

It might seem like homeschoolers have it all together; often, that is the image being portrayed to those around us. We not only school our children, all four of them, but maintain a clean house, always find awesome field trips to go on, have time for ministry, and are pros in the kitchen. The images we post on Instagram would lead you to believe this. Our Facebook posts often share our incredible journeys and advancements in learning. Tweets tell others how much fun we’re having at the moment.

While I certainly hope this is generally true of most homeschooling families – I’d like to think we have fun and enjoy our kids – the truth is not so perfect. The truth is… we’re all lacking somewhere.

I have yet to meet a parent who “has it all together”. Oh, I’ve met some wonderful, loving, Christian families (don’t get me wrong), but, they are not perfect. Those who have been homeschooling a little longer are not doing so because they have reached perfection or have mastered the art of self-control. Rather, they homeschool through the moments of testing and emerge the wiser.

Rest assured, we all have our moments. Let’s be honest. Some of us lack patience (probably a great deal of us); some are lazy. Others stress our children out with high expectations, too much work, or lack of involvement. None of us is perfect.

Here’s the beautiful thing. God didn’t call us to homeschool because we had it all together or because we were such incredible people. He called us to homeschooling because He wanted this for our children and He asked us to be faithful. He isn’t asking you to be perfect, He’s asking you to be obedient to His call.

Each of us is still a work in progress, being molded by our Creator into something better. Allow God to use your imperfect self to bring Him glory. Step out in faith, knowing He will see you through. You can do all things in Christ!

“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus”
Philippians 3:12

🔔Time To Chime In: How is God using your imperfections for His glory?

Want to stay connected & up to date with A Homeschool Mom? Don’t forget to follow on FacebookInstagram, & Pinterest!

What’s the Point?

What's_The_Point?I have been blogging for a little over two years now. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not a long time. When I look around, there are bloggers who have been doing this longer than I. There are bloggers who write better, and are more popular. It can be tempting to be distracted by ‘the numbers’; to focus on how many people see my posts, and how often I am ‘liked’. Then, the Lord reminds me of what is truly important; the reason I started blogging in the first place: ministry.

Every summer we would host several families and encourage them in their homeschooling adventure, sharing wisdom the Lord had imparted to us. Starting a blog seemed a great way to share resources, tips, and encouragement with even more families. What began as an idea quickly became a joyous adventure.

Through blogging, we’ve come to know many amazing people and enjoy their incredible blogs. Each has been called to minister in their own way:

Sharing the Homeschooling Adventure

Some families blog to share their homeschooling endeavors with family, friends, and other homeschoolers. Their hopes are to keep family connected (especially those who live further away) and connect with other families.
May I encourage you to keep going. It is such a pleasure partaking in your adventures and joining in the fun. We love hearing about what the Lord is doing in your family.

 Journaling About The Year

Other families blog as a means of keeping track of their homeschooling year; a sort of online portfolio. A smart way to keep track of your adventures.
This has been fun for us as well; hearing all about your day. It helps us get a better idea of projects, field trips, and ideas we might not have come across before.

 Sharing Encouragement

Some parents blog as a means of edifying other homeschooling families. The Lord has gifted them with words of wisdom, encouragement, and grace; enabling them to help those in need.
It has been such a blessing reading these blogs and being uplifted. We thank the Lord for the insights we have gained through such blogs.

Tips & Ideas

These blogs are always fun. Tips, hints, ideas, recipes, and the like. There is nothing they don’t do, and they are willing to share it all with us.
We love gaining insight on art projects and homeschooling resources we’ve never thought of before. Definitely keep posting; we’re reading!

No matter your reason for blogging, may we encourage you to keep going. No two blogs are alike and each one has something to offer. Do not allow yourself to be distracted by the numbers. Do not become discouraged when it seems as if no one is reading. If the Lord called you to this, He is using you in ways you might never imagine.

May the Lord remind us of our calling. While our family might be the backdrop of our blog, may Christ be our focus. Through our adventures, struggles, routines, and curriculum exchanges, may He be edified and given all the glory.

Because, the moment this blog becomes about me, that is the moment I am finished.

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30

🔔Time to Chime In: What has God been teaching you through your blogging experience?

Want to stay connected & up to date with A Homeschool Mom? Don’t forget to follow on FacebookInstagram, & Pinterest!

No Regrets

The following article was written for our monthly PSP newsletter. With permission from our principal, we are sharing this with you; praying you are blessed by the heart of his message. Enjoy!

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School LogoI recently had a conversation with a couple that was new to home schooling.  To say that they were discouraged would be an understatement. They started out excited about what they believed to be God’s call on their lives regarding the raising and educating of their children, but were now ready to throw in the towel. What had changed in the short time since the school year began?

The answer is a couple of things had changed. First of all, as we all have come to understand, “free time” is a luxury that the home school mom is often lacking. For those used to dropping kids off at school, doing as they need, wish, and please until it is time to pick the kids up can be a difficult thing to let go of. “Where do I find the time to…?” is a frequent question amongst newer home school moms. Balancing family, taking care of the home, looking after kids, a husband, three dogs, a cat, the turtle, and 5 goldfish can be quite demanding. Coming to terms with the fact that home schooling is not just “something we do,” but in fact really is a totally different life style can take some adjusting to. Some people never accept the change and, sadly, stop home schooling before they start to see the real blessings begin to come in.

Another thing that had changed was the perspective of their kids. The delusion that home schooling meant no more work, lots of extra play time, and running around in pajamas (sometimes that does happen, but shouldn’t be counted on) all day was quickly dispelled by devotions, about 5 extra subjects (the creative home school mom can easily give credit for many things taken for granted), and added responsibilities to look after younger siblings while Mom helps another with their lesson.

I was reminded of the account in Exodus 11 of the children of Israel and their situation… “…so the children of Israel also wept again and said: ‘Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic: but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!” Numbers 11:4-6.

Kids Pic

The Lord disciplined the children of Israel for their grumbling and complaining, not because meat is evil itself, but because the dissatisfaction with what He had provided was an offense. They were looking back with longing to the way things used to be; which, if we remember correctly, included slavery, cruel treatment, and misery (so easily overlooked in their moment of hunger).

Discontentment will always poison our joy in that which we do have, what God is doing, and the fruits of our current labor later on. In Philippians 3 Paul describes in verses 7-11 the idea that the things he had had to “give up” for Christ were actually rubbish by comparison to what he had gained in knowing Christ. In context, he was specifically dealing with his Hebrew heritage, zeal for the law, and assumed righteousness; but the concept applies to us as well: the things which God calls us away from are not to be desired over the blessings He wants to bring into our lives when we are obedient to His will, His calling, and His Spirit as He leads us.

The other question I had to ask this couple was, “What has not changed since the Lord called them to home school?” The answer was basically that God had not told them to stop. Many times, we look at our circumstances, which can certainly be trying at times, and assume that because there is opposition, this must not be God’s will for us.

While this can, in fact, be true, it isn’t necessarily the rule that should be applied to every choice we make. In Acts 9:15-16 we read the following: “But the Lord said to him (Ananias), ‘Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.’“  In this passage, it is clear that Paul’s sufferings were not a result of him not hearing God correctly, but rather the result of his actual obedience to the calling God had placed on his life.

When we walk in obedience to God’s call upon our lives, we not only can expect difficulty, but should. The enemy is not going to go down without a fight, and throughout history, whenever God has sent His own to deliver, preach, and disciple, there was always opposition. Should we expect any less when we have taken our children out of a public school system wherein he has free reign?

So where does that leave us? With the family I had the opportunity to speak to, it left them needing to be obedient to God’s call for their family, even though it was difficult, thankless, and filled with opposition. Oftentimes that is, in fact, the situation we find ourselves in. What we know we should do is the hardest choice. It would be so much easier to give up, say, “It’s too hard,” turn around, and head back to Egypt; but to do so would go against what we know God has said to us.

Thankfully, we are reminded that our help comes from the Lord. In Philippians 4:10-12  Paul writes regarding contentment, regardless of circumstances, and concludes his statements with the following: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Php 4:13). In Hebrews 4 we are reminded that Jesus Himself intercedes with the Father on our behalf, and that as our great High Priest, He is able to understand our situations, thus making His intercession perfect in every way.

“But how,” one may ask, “can He understand this…?” Remember the Garden of Gethsemane? God is no stranger to a difficult task for people that don’t appreciate what is being done for them, and who attempt to make the difficult even more unendurable.  Since our trials are eclipsed by the enormity of redemption at the cross, we seek grace and mercy from the One who understands better than we think. The resources of Heaven were enough to see Jesus through Calvary. How much more can He help us as we strive each day to walk with Him? If we really stop to analyze things, even when the going gets rough, He still includes little joys along the way to keep our hearts encouraged.

May He strengthen you when you are weary, comfort you when you are hurting, fill you when you are empty, and settle you when you are anything but at peace. He really is sufficient.

Dad’s Night Out

About an hour ago, my hubby walked out the door to go spend some time with his buddies. Once every quarter our homeschool dads have a guys’ night out, spending time in fellowship and prayer.

It is such a blessing to know that these guys are dedicated to the needs of their family and their friends. They take the time to do a devotion, share a meal, and encourage one another.

My husband is constantly telling me how much these guys are a blessing. He appreciates knowing that he is not the only one struggling to make time for everything and balance all that life hands him. He likes knowing that these guys are praying for him and vice-versa.

It is such a pleasure for me to know that my guy has a group of buddies that are willing to spend time together, lifting each other’s needs before the Lord.

Who does your husband go to for encouragement and fellowship?

Moving On…

Standing TallSome of you may have children that always seem to succeed; there is no hoop they can’t shoot and no test they can’t ace. Eventually, though, both our children and ourselves have to deal with the reality of failure.

Through homeschooling my children, I have often seen them experience moments of failure. At times it is an arithmetic test, losing their self-control, or not winning a competition. It often amazes me that they put more pressure on themselves, than I ever would place there. They have a goal and become distraught when their own expectations are not met.

How do we show our children that it is okay to fail; that failure is merely a life lesson, helping them to grow and learn? How do we help them move on?

Congratulate them on giving it their best. One aim for my children is that they do their best, no matter the circumstance. Even when they don’t quite reach their goal, they should still be congratulated on giving it their best shot.

Let them talk it out and offer empathy. My kids often need the opportunity to vent their frustration and “talk it out”. They want to figure out where they went wrong and how they can fix the problem. There is no need for me to get upset; I simply need to listen and then offer a comforting hug.

Don’t lecture, ask questions: Instead of telling my child what they could have done and should have done, I try asking them what they would have done differently. By allowing them work the problem out for themselves, we are helping them to grow and mature.

Offer personal insight. It sometimes helps when our children know we can personally relate to their circumstance. If we can explain how we have dealt with the same struggle, it will encourage them to keep trying and eventually succeed.

Help them to keep trying. My kids need to be encouraged not to let the situation get the best of them, but to use this as a springboard. If they can’t succeed in a particular field, I help them to explore other options. No matter what, we “try, try again”. Happy Boy

Part of growing up and maturing, is failing. The key is to dust ourselves off, learn from the lesson, and move on. With compassion, understanding, and a lot of love, our children can learn this important life lesson.

How do you help your children move on from failure?