Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What I have Learned While Homeschooling!

While working on a mom’s night presentation for our homeschool group, some
things came to mind, that I wanted to share with you. These are those lessons I have learned from being a mom, a homeschooling mom of children with special needs.  Even if you do nto have a child with special needs, I think you might pull something from this as well!

You know, I can remember back to when I was a brand new mother. And we had our first child, a perfect little boy. A few months later we were told that he was having seizures. From that moment our world was changed.. and it has never been the same.

Our homeschooling journey has been defined by the learning disabilities and health struggles in our family. There has been no room in our home for comparing to others. Looking at other children to see how our child
is doing, if they are at the same skill level etc..

In some ways this is so very freeing. Because, you realize in short order that each and every one of us are created uniquely by our Creator. We all know this, for sure, but it is a totally different thing when you work with your child who is struggling to read or to write his name, or maybe even, to simply to sit in a chair.

In homeschooling, we often times get so caught up in what the world is doing, what the world is expecting, that we forget that we are raising these children up to glorify the Lord.

Recently, I was having a conversation with a mom about labels. There are some families that have the thought that labels are a bad thing and should be
avoided at all costs. While I understand their thinking, I do not agree with them. I agree, you do not want your child to become their label, you also do not want them to use the label as a crutch.

However, by having a label you will be able to have resources on how to help them overcome their struggle. For example, my son has dyslexia. By reading about dyslexia, first I was able to ascertain, whether or not he really did have dyslexia, or if he was simply delayed. Second, I was able to locate the
resources that helped him to overcome his reading struggles. Sounds like a win-win situation to me!

Here is one way to think of labels. When you are sick do you just guess at what is wrong with you, and then give yourself the cure that you think you need?

Or do you go to the doctor, or health practitioner of your choice? Perhaps do blood work, or take an X- ray? Then you know how to handle what is truly
going on within your body. The same rings true with your child! Learning what ‘label’ may be attached to a learning struggle can help you help your child
achieve all that the Lord has planned for him!

Also, figuring out what is going on with your child does not necessarily mean taking them into the local school district. You can do much of the research
yourself, at the library, the book store or on the internet and the other families in your local homeschool group. If you do feel you need outside
help, you can then determine if you need to try to get help from the district, or if you can acquire private help, perhaps through your insurance.

Now, how can this help you with your child, who does not have any learning disabilities? I think that it is helpful when home educating our children to think outside the box. Okay, that is such a cliché, I just really do not know how else to describe it without using another cliché, like, sometimes you will need to take the ‘unbeaten path’!

So, what do I mean by this? What I mean is that as homeschoolers we have the ability to change gears if something does not work. We do not have to wait for the school board to approve new curriculum. We can look at a situation,  if our child is not flourishing with this curriculum, analyze what is going on.

Does he need something more interactive, hands on? Do I need something that does the teaching for me? In order for him to understand it better. Does he simply need to take breaks between math problems, or does he need to do his heavy work (whatever is difficult for him) early in the day, or late in the afternoon? Does he need to run a lap before he sits down to read?

Sometimes when homeschoolers, especially new homeschoolers, hit a
brick wall with their kids, they feel they have failed, that homeschooling is not working. Often times, if we step back and look at what is going on, simply
changing curriculum, or method, or schedule is all that is needed for that
child to thrive! Don’t throw in the towel! Remember what it says in
Galatians 6:9 "And Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season
we shall reap if we faint not." Keep the faith, God enables those He calls!

It has also helped me to realize that the scope and sequences of the world, are arbitrary! Yes, you can use them as a guide, especially if you have no idea
what to teach. However, if you take a a look at several, from different states,
and different curriculum publishers, you will soon find that they each do it a little different. There are some things that you must teach in order, as they build on each other. 

However, many things can be taught when your child is either ready, or if they have the interest. When a child learns about something while they have an interest in that subject, the child is more likely to retain it long term! This is also a great reminder for us as teacher to keep our subject matter interesting! Interest led learning is a great way to go! If your child has a love for something, like animals, or aviation, or railroads, incorporate as much learning as you can about that subject. You will never regret
it! And neither will they!

While homeschooling we want to help our child have academic excellence, however, we want to remember what the bible says, ‘For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?’ Mark 8:36. We want our children to do well  academically in order to live out the purpose God has for their lives, and to glorify Him, not simply to be man-pleasers.

Friends, don’t throw in the towel! Look outside the box, find that unbeaten path, and you just mind find the answers that will help your family accomplish all that God has for you!

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