By Shari McMinn
When your child struggles with one or more homeschool subjects for years, how and when do you decide to accept things as is or continue to push through toward progress? Perhaps your struggling learner “hates math” or “can’t read.” Even highly gifted students can be stuck in their struggles with time management or verbal communication. So what’s a homeschool parent to do? Because, when we are stuck and not progressing, we suffer — both parent and child!
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Romans 5:3-5).
The Scripture passage above describes how the Holy Spirit uses our suffering to produce endurance, character, and hope. (Even if we are not rejoicing about it, right?) Did you consider that this also applies to our students who are miserable while they endure their schoolwork? God intends it to also be a means to build their character and develop hope for their future. It is not just a trial for us as homeschool teachers, but also for our students.
Two major factors that can play into the success — or struggle — of homeschooling your unique learner are your teaching method and your child’s learning style. If these are not compatible, there can be learning delays and loads of frustration. I encourage you to make time for “continuing education” to further develop your homeschool teacher skills. Gaining awareness of yourself and your student can begin to help resolve some mysteries of the struggle toward a more positive outcome. Studying the articles found at the following links, will enable you to learn more about both of those topics.
- This is a good summary explanation of homeschool teaching methods.
- Here is an informative article for homeschoolers detailing seven learning styles.
With the knowledge you gained from reading those two web pages, try implementing these strategies:
- Recognize the struggle. If we deny it, we can’t develop and follow a plan to overcome it.
- Label the issue. Is it pencil resistance, low IQ, twice exceptional? Reference the CHEC Homeschool GUIDEBOOK for Colorado, Chapter 8, “Different Learners,” then assess your student’s potential labels. Consider using the accompanying teaching strategies to help your student overcome their probable labels.
- Document your student’s current abilities. Using a journal for notes or portfolio with examples, start today to create a “baseline” — a recorded starting point per subject — from which you can help your student move forward.
- Set individualized achievement goals. What growth or improvement is realistic for your student’s ability in each subject from now until the end of the school year?
- Establish a daily routine. Expect the same thing to happen with bedtime, chores, meals, and school work each and every day, for yourself and your student.
- Be consistent day in and day out. Stress is less if what comes next is known and repetitive.
- Do school WITH your student. Take frequent breaks but sit together for set times (10-30 minute sessions) working one subject at a time. Start with music or art to get their brain hemispheres integrating, then tackle the toughest two subjects (probably math and English) in the morning when you and your child are the most alert (and cheerful!).
- End the school year with a review. Working with your student, document how they have progressed from the baseline, then set goals for next year.
- Above all, pray! Regularly go to God in your suffering, for both you and your student.
Do you receive the CHEC Homeschool Update magazine in your postal mail? In each issue, we have a “Unique Learners” column. It covers related, yet different, topics than these blog posts. Stephanie Buckwalter, from Art of Special Needs Parenting, will contribute an article to the 2022 V2 May issue, before she presents workshops at the Rocky Mountain Homeschool Conference in June. I think you’ll appreciate reading what she has to share. So, if you don’t currently receive the Update, subscribe here for FREE. You can also read the magazine back issues online, which are electronically archived here.
If you haven’t done so already, take time this month to register for and plan to attend the Rocky Mountain Homeschool Conference, June 16-18, 2022. You should register ASAP for access to screenings that your unique learner may need (before the spots sell out). It is just an add-on to your RMHC registration. If you are already registered for the conference, go to this page. These will be conducted on the RMHC BONUS DAY, Wednesday, June 15, 2022:
- Blocked Learning Gate Screenings, with Dianne Craft, “Right Brain” Learning System (After that, Thursday through Saturday, you can visit Dianne’s booth to ask questions specific to your situation.)
- Executive Functioning Screenings, with Tara Roehl, SpeechyKeenSLP
- Reading Screenings, with Bridget Mosely, WowzaBrain (After that, Thursday through Saturday, you can visit the Masters Books booth to ask Bridget questions specific to your situation.)
In closing, I suggest you check the SPEDHomeschool.com’s website and also their YouTube channel. They have a multitude of videos to watch, so word search your most pressing need for homeschooling your unique learner and start watching one on that topic. You can also ask to join their Facebook support group.
For assistance, encouragement, and guidance, remember you can email me anytime, Shari@CHEC.org, or reach out to one of our CHEC staff who answer the office phone lines, 720-842-4852, 10am-5pm, Monday-Friday. If your family is enrolled with the CHEC Independent School, check out your FREE unlimited access to the Mentor Mom program. Schedule one or more phone calls with experienced homeschool moms trained to counsel fellow homeschooling parents on a variety of issues. Login to your account, then head over to the All-Access Benefits Zone to schedule your appointment(s) today.
Thank you for reading my Unique Learners blog articles, posted on the 4th Wednesday, monthly.
PS: If you have a topic you want me to cover, please email me with your suggestion(s).