By Shari McMinn
He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out His hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:29-31 ESV)
Like Peter, we often have doubts when Jesus wants us to get out of the boat of our life. When He says to us, “Come,” we need Him to hold our hand and rescue us when we start to sink. Jesus is first and foremost the best lifesaver we could ever hope for. We should never be afraid (or ashamed) to cry for help in the storm of homeschooling — especially as we are nearly drowning. We need help first from Jesus and then from those around us that He will use to help rescue us!
I love to swim, particularly in the ocean. I’m an experienced swimmer, and all of my children are too, after years of lessons and practice. If the surf is strong, it’s easy to be overcome by high waves and those scary undercurrents, which pull you further out than you want to be. Last May during a family beach vacation, my teenage son, although a very good swimmer, called for help when a strong undertow suddenly grabbed him. Thankfully, my adult son was nearby and had a boogie board so he could quickly get to my teen. It was scary to watch! My older son literally saved his younger brother’s life that day. Whew! I reminded my kids later that we never swim alone or in the dark for such a reason.
Sometimes we need one or more lifesavers for the practical day-to-day challenges we often face when home-educating our special students. We should never hesitate to cry out for help from other people the Lord can bring into our lives. Help can be in the form of extended family or neighbors providing respite care so we get a break. It can be a professional evaluator who identifies, explains, and fits curriculum to our student’s learning challenge label(s). Alternatively, the best help might be an art or music teacher who brings out the best in our unique student with hands-on, therapeutic lessons, helping our child better cope with their struggles while integrating their brain hemispheres for optimal learning. A biblical counselor can assist the parent, student, and entire family to improve communication, set boundaries, and work through multiple issues stemming from life with our unique child. My essential lifesaver is a fellow homeschool mom who also has a unique child. We frequently vent and encourage each other at our co-op meetings, on the phone, or during a rare time alone together.
In the Homeschool Introductory Seminar I teach three times a year for CHEC, a couple of my PowerPoint slides specifically address homeschooling unique learners. These are the principles that work, which I encourage newbie parents to consider. They make sense for all of us no matter how long we have been homeschooling. These are pro-active lifesavers to use before we begin to drown:
- Be consistent; slow and steady wins the race.
- Be encouraging, at least seven compliments for one correction.
- Begin schoolwork at their ability level (higher or lower), not their grade level.
- Be realistic; start easy for quick success, building confidence.
- Don’t be afraid of cutting-edge technology to help them, including electronics with protection.
- Get a baseline (previous school grades and tests or a professional evaluation to compare with later improvement).
- Observe your child’s behavior and progress; make notes throughout the year.
- Teach for short time periods, interspersed with exercise, hands-on learning, or snack/water.
- Utilize alternative evaluation methods instead of standardized testing.
Speaking of lifesavers, we at CHEC have heard your cries for help! At the Rocky Mountain Homeschool Conference this coming June 16-18, 2022, we will have a workshop track specifically dedicated to parents who homeschool unique learners (sometimes called highly gifted, struggling learners, or special education). The RMHC website will be fully updated by February 1st, 2022, so you will be able to review the workshop schedule and decide which sessions you should plan to attend. In addition to my workshop, “Homeschooling Your Unique Child,” highly regarded speakers on the Unique Learners track include:
- Stephanie Buckwalter, Art of Special Needs Parenting
- Peggy Ployher, SPED Homeschool
- Joni Eareckson Tada, Joni & Friends
Be sure to register now to attend The Rocky Mountain Homeschool Conference, so you can sign-up early (before they sell-out) for screenings your unique learner may need. These will be held on Wednesday, June 15, 2022, our BONUS RMHC day:
- Blocked Learning Gate Screenings, Dianne Craft, DianneCraft
- Executive Functioning Screenings, Tara Roehl, SpeechyKeenSLP
- Reading Screenings, Bridget Mosely, WowzaBrain
In closing, I hope you’ll take time to review this encouraging and practical website full of articles and links for assistance with homeschooling your special children.
Got questions or concerns? You may email me anytime, Shari@CHEC.org. Or, reach out to the staff who answer the CHEC office phone for assistance, encouragement, and guidance:
- 720-842-4852, Monday-Friday, 10am-5pm
If you are a CHEC Independent School member family, check out the Mentor Mom program for scheduled phone calls with experienced homeschool parents trained to counsel other parents on a variety of topics. Watch for my next Unique Learners blog post on the 4th Wednesday of February.
PS: If you have a topic you want me to cover, please email me with your suggestion(s)..