Tag Archives: homeschool

Dear Special Needs Parent

Original Blog Post on July 12, 2016
Dear Special Needs Parent, I see you in the grocery store, at the doctor’s office, and at the park. I see the smiles that hide the tears. I see the tired look you try to hide. I hear the little sigh you let out when another mom talks about ‘date night’ or a milestone their child has reached. How do I see and hear all of this? I am a special needs mom, a single parent, a homeschooling mom, and so much more.
I know how hard it is to get up at the crack of dawn because your kid is already up and calling for you, even though they didn’t fall asleep until late. I know how hard it is to divide your attention between the kids, the chores, and all that has to be done. Much less finding time to do things for yourself like shower.
Honestly, I can’t remember the last ‘date night’ I’ve had or even the last time I was away from my kids for a night. (Maybe when the 3 year old was born?) I know that when you try to plan an outing it drains you because of all the things you have to be prepared for. You are exhausted by the time you get everything and everyone packed and ready.
Things that were once fun can still be fun but they are oh so exhausting now days. We have our good days when nobody has a melt down (or maybe just a couple of melt downs for the day), nobody wets the bed, and everyone eats what you made for dinner.
Then we have the bad days. The days when everything causes a meltdown, from the French Toast you make every Tuesday to keep things on a simple routine, to the thunder they thought they heard, or the little brother who is stuck on singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star (which was big brother’s favorite song yesterday but is irritating him today). Sigh, I know.
Then we have the really bad days were we just want to go back to bed. The days when you have done 3 loads of laundry before 6 am. When you have showered your 13 year old 4 times before 7am and stripped his room (and the bathroom) and completely disinfected and sanitized it for the 3rd day in a row. The days when he has forgotten/refuses to do anything for himself and calls you every bad name he can think of and then some that you can’t and don’t want to understand. I’ve been there. Sometimes these phases last a day or two or sometimes a week or two.
I can remember a few years ago when I had to clean my son’s room. It was a horrible mess. I grabbed rubber gloves and trash bags. I went to his room and opened the window. I filled those bags and started tossing them out the window because it was so nasty and I just couldn’t bear the thought of cleaning the stuff again just to have him repeat this scene again in a day or two. I was about 3 weeks from my due date with our 8th child. While cleaning I started throwing up because it was so bad. I ended up in the hospital for 3 days, at one point they thought I would be delivering the baby early. This was a week before Christmas and we had already planned a party for friends and family. The timing couldn’t have been worse. The party was cancelled and all last minute Christmas shopping went undone. But we made it through that and you will make it through whatever it is that you are going through right now too. (A very healthy baby boy was born 2 weeks later.)
I have my kids 24/7 with only a slight reprieve two times a week (when he feels like coming or something else doesn’t come up in his schedule) for maybe 2 hours a time (which was scheduled to be 5 hours each time but he never makes it that long). I can’t leave because something always happens. Sometimes I go to my bedroom or sit outside but the kids usually wander away and end up with me so I really have almost no ‘Me time’.
I know the brave front you put on when you are out and about. I know the fear when the kid next to you wipes their snotty nose on their hand and then goes to play with your kid. I know that if my kid catches whatever that is that life will be miserable for the next week or two. Not too mention the fact that it will eventually spread through the house and I’ll end up sick trying to tend to 6 kids by myself too. Yep, I know.
I also know that we need to be there for each other. We need to be a support system for each other. Whether by joining blogs or Facebook groups. If someone offers to help then let them. They can do dishes, wash laundry or just sit with the kids while you nap. Maybe when you the kids get comfortable you can even sneak away to do the grocery shopping by yourself.
Don’t keep trying to do it by yourself as you will just crash and burn. Trust me, I know.
If you are a friend or neighbor, maybe a parent or sibling of someone who has a special needs child please know that they do need you and they need your support. I can’t tell you how much it means just to chat for a minute on Messenger or a couple of texts when I am having a hard day. Let me tell you that I will never turn down food, especially ready to eat food. When someone shows up unexpectedly at the door with an armload of pizzas it is a wonderful feeling to know they were thinking about you.
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Our Homeschooling Beginning

Original Blog Post April 14, 2016
When we first decided to start this homeschooling adventure in January of 2015 it was overwhelming! I was nervous, excited, scared, and eager to be the best I could be. I just knew that this was the best thing I could do and that I would be the perfect teacher. Well that last thought was short lived.
I thought I would plan for a couple of weeks and then pull my special needs son out of public school. He had a couple of fun outings planned and I didn’t want him to miss out as he was looking forward to them. Well one thing led to another and he had a couple of medical issues that led to him being pulled out earlier than I had anticipated. The medical issues had also prevented me from ‘planning’ out anything. So there I was with him at home and 2 toddlers too. Crazy? Yes!
So I quickly joined a couple of special needs groups on FB. Only to be criticized and put down by my apparent ignorance of his condition and lack of knowledge about his educational programs at school. (I didn’t want to go into details with them about the fact that he was recently adopted and that I really didn’t know a lot about his history. I had broke down crying at the first IEP because I didn’t understand what I was supposed to do and they had revealed a lot of things about his history that I had not been aware of. It was a completely heartbreaking experience. I also didn’t know that there were resources out there to help me through the whole process.) I was a wreck.
Then I had emails and calls from the school system and they just confused me more. I had submitted the necessary paperwork but I was constantly worried. This constant worry made me exhausted. To top it all off I couldn’t get him to ‘keep up’ with his program that we had signed up for. I was afraid that I had made a huge mistake and that I was failing him.
The FB groups had given me a little direction about online programs. I enrolled him at Kindergarten level and we got started. He was excited at first and always wanted to do ‘school work’. The problem was that he would only do the activities that he liked and he would absolutely refuse to do anything else. If I left him unattended he would be playing games or such and not doing actual work. Well in less than 2 weeks I was frustrated, he was frustrated and so was everyone else in the house.
We were spending 8+ hours/day on kindergarten work! The house was really showing it. Dinners were made but not anything to brag about in any way, shape or form. I was trying to keep a smile on my face when others asked how our homeschooling was going. Inside I felt like they were just laughing at me and saying, ‘I told you so.’.
I prayed and prayed and asked God for help. Guess what? I should’ve been more sincere in my prayers in the beginning. I was using google (my best friend) and researching more resources when I found Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool. This has been such a blessing to our family and it has lifted so much stress off of me that I want to shout it out to the world. This site is also absolutely free. (There are optional materials that you can buy and you can also make donations.)
I started out using this with just my one son but then the 2 little guys joined in. Wow! Can it really be this easy? Are they really learning? Yes and yes! Once I was able to feel a little bit more comfortable with the homeschooling process I was able to let go of some of my ‘school’ mentality. This is our home, not a school, and this is where we learn but it is also where we live. In short I had felt ‘pressured’ to make our learning are look like school. Once I let go of most of that then our journey really began.
Then as the end of the school year approached I started feeling the stress creeping back up. A lot of talk about evaluations and I was so scared that I wouldn’t be able to ‘prove’ what he had learned. He was 12 and working at Kindergarten level. I could see the progress he was making but would this evaluator? Who would I use that would take his special needs into consideration? A million questions and no answers. Again I turned to God and prayed that he would show me an answer. He did. In one of the new FB groups I had joined I read about Florida Unschoolers . It is a completely free private umbrella school in Florida.
Hmm… This was new. I had another million questions. What was an umbrella school? Would I qualify? Can it really be free? Will I need evaluations? What the heck is unschooling? The site will answer all of those questions and more.
There is also a FB group which has been a very valuable resource for me. I researched a bit and then enrolled my son. Shortly afterwards I pulled 2 of my other kids out of public school and enrolled them. I had planned in my head to let them finish the school year out but plans changed. One of my girls, who was in 2nd grade, was having a horrible time keeping up with her schoolwork and she was stressed out by the upcoming end of the year tests. One was in Kindergarten and she was stressing over evaluations and coming home saying she wasn’t ‘smart enough’.
There were also some bullying issues. We had also had a couple of close calls at the bus stop when people ignored the flashing lights and stop signs. They were in elementary school! The stress was causing my 2nd grader to act out and I found myself going to school several times to pick her up because of mysterious illnesses. Then I got an email from her teacher stressing how important it was for her to do her best. She needed to be reading at a higher level (3.2?) and she wasn’t there yet. That was enough for me. I withdrew them from school that week and they were private schoolers the next week.
Last summer as school preparations were being made my high schooler made the decision to become a private schooler too. Yes, we still ‘homeschool’ but technically they are enrolled with a private school. We haven’t looked back. Life is so much calmer. Yes, we have tough days, and sometimes tough weeks. We rarely have a ‘perfect homeschool’ day… actually today has been pretty close… but perfect doesn’t matter because we are learning. I say ‘we’ because I am learning too.
I am learning about my children, each individual soul, and how they learn best. We are all learning better ways to communicate and relate to others. This whole experience has brought us closer together and made our lives so much better. I am able to spend more individual time with each of them, time that teachers in a 30+ student classroom simply don’t have. I also worked with our family doctor and both of my special needs kiddos are completely off their medications. This was an unplanned benefit. With the kids at home I was able to help them learn their triggers and by setting up routines we all know what is expected and when it is expected. When there are changes we deal with them and we learn how to handle them in appropriate ways.
There are also cons to this. I NEVER get a break from my kids. Ok, I do go grocery shopping once a week, but other than that someone is usually always with me. There is a lot of planning involved, which this is mostly my own stubbornness to let completely go of ‘school’ mentality. I like to have everything planned and scheduled so I can keep track of progress. I am also a little paranoid sometimes that someone will show up at my door and ‘demand’ proof that my kids are in school and learning. I was also stressing a bit about high school transcripts. I had never done them and I had researched several sites but I was still a bit confused. I just didn’t have the time to invest in figuring it out.
That brings me to another really important resource that I have recently found. Yes, I had been praying that God would help me get this homeschool stuff more organized. I had a few different things here and there. I was working on my own spreadsheet/calendar system but I really didn’t have the time I needed to get it the way I wanted. We did use a notebook system at the beginning of this school year. It worked wonderfully except that when I had to write down everything for each child it was a lot of work. Again on FB I found an app called Homeschool Manager . This is not a free app but they did, and probably still do, offer a free trial. It took me a bit to set it up because I have so many kids. But within the first week I had signed up and paid for the membership. This site is amazing and they are constantly adding new features. They also have a FB group for support and advice.
With this app I can almost instantly print off reports for attendance and grades. I can print off schedules and the kids can check off the tasks as they do them. I enter grades into the system and it will keep track of everything. It will even print off transcripts when I need them. Well, its about lunch time for us here. I really hope this might be a helpful start for anyone considering homeschooling. I know I don’t have a lot of resources in this post but I will work on future posts that will include some resources.
I want everyone to know that I am not ‘bashing’ public school and I know that it works for some kids. (I have 3 who graduated from public school and are wonderfully, normal young people.) I am also not saying that homeschooling is the answer to every problem but this is what is best for our family at this time. I also want everyone to know that I have not been, nor do I expect to be paid, for naming any of the sites in this post. I just want to be a help for anyone out there with the same struggles that I have been through.

Take a peek into my morning

 Original Blog Post April 21, 2016
Its 9:00 am and I’m sitting on my bed feeling overwhelmed already. I was determined I would make it through the day without crying or feeling sad but that’s not the case.
Something my husband said the other day still haunts me and it saddens my heart for him, our children, and for what the future holds if he doesn’t change the path he is on. I know he says he is happy but I can’t help but feel sad when I think of how he will feel when the day comes and he realizes what he gave up on and what he missed out on.
A friend texted me this morning just to let me know they were thinking of me and that made me smile. Something that I haven’t done a lot of lately. I’ve been worried about my friend too and have been thinking of them and their problems.
I feel a bit guilty because I have not been as faithful in my praying for others the past few weeks so I will set my prayer notebook out to remind me every time I walk into my room. It doesn’t take long to take a peek at someone or something I have written down. I can focus on praying for that person or situation instead of focusing on my own problems. It will also keep me from trying to take things into my own hands and leaving them with God which is where I need to leave them.
I haven’t accomplished as much as I wanted to yet and I’ve lost my focus. I’ve settled many disputes over Legos and train tracks, fixed broken toys, cleaned up spilled milk, and fed the animals (and the kids). Time to take a little break and look through my list.
Hmmm…
Wake up ✔
Quiet time/devotion X
Shower✔
Get dressed ✔
Take vitamins ✔
Make coffee✔
Empty dishwasher✔
Fix breakfast✔
Kids dressed ✔
Feed animals✔
Lots of ✔s but one big X. Maybe that’s the problem? I didn’t start out right. Yes, I had my cup of coffee and a little ‘me’ time but I didn’t really need alone time I needed some ‘we’ time. God and me time.
So I’ve snuck to my room for a couple of minutes to read my daily devotional from a book by Joyce Meyers and another from ‘Our Daily Bread’. Just what I needed. It was almost my story told by another person. It reinforces choices I made in the past that I have been questioning. The last sentence says ‘But if our loving Father has handpicked us for our task, who are we to whisper, “I can’t do this”?’. Wow. He knows what we need before we do!
Now I’m feeling refreshed and ready to tackle my next projects and get our school day started. Time to formulate my plan of action. I need to put some oil in the diffuser and turn it on… essential oils have made a big difference since taking the kids off of their medications.
There is a load of laundry that needs folded and put away. I can do that while the kids eat their snack and tidy the playroom.
The kitchen trash can needs emptied so I can give that to one of the girls to take out and hand the mail to another to carry to the mailbox.
I also need to set out some pork for dinner, maybe I should try to convert that recipe to work in the crockpot?, maybe.
After snack and chores we can do our Morning Time get started on our independent work.
The bathrooms need a quick clean which can be done while they are working and maybe I can sneak in a quick vacuuming while the boys watch a ‘Signing Times’ video? .
Ok, focus has been found. Not a whole lot of things to work on but enough to help me feel I’ve accomplished a few things. Then I will take another little break, read another passage from my notebook, and pick another person and/or situation to focus on and formulate my next ‘plan of attack’ for the day’s chores.
It’s almost snack time so I will head back to the kitchen. I can hear the kids arguing about turtles. They are trying to decide if turtles are reptiles or dinosaurs. Now I hear my special needs son calling someone a ‘Butthead’ so he will be going to his room for a little quiet time of his own.
I’m sure this will result in a tantrum with lots of yelling and screaming but it will be followed by a few minutes of quiet and then he will come out and apologize. Then he’ll give me a hug and say he wants to have a ‘Good Day’ and we will start over. (This reminds me that he still needs a haircut.) But before that I need to rescue the alligator from a ‘net’… Have I mentioned how much the kids like Animal Planet and Steve Irwin?
I’ll check back in a bit.
Snack was bananas and some chocolate graham crackers. There was denial of the name calling, followed by a tantrum. After a few minutes in his room he did ask if he could come out. (This was much sooner than anticipated because I think he really wanted his snack.) He apologized and all was well for a few minutes.
Sigh, then the girls were arguing over a word search book. Little sister said she had it first and Big sister said it was her book. Little sister brought the argument to me as she was sure she was in the right. I looked at the book and it was Big sister’s book so I explained to Little sister that she can’t take someone else’s things and claim them. Then that put Little sister is in a grumpy mood… no fun!
That being said the clothes didn’t get folded during snack time. Then when I made it back to the laundry room there were no empty baskets.
The oil diffuser did get started and the trash was carried out. Bonus: The bathrooms got cleaned and I did get the bathroom trash into the trash bag before it was carried out.
I set the pork out for dinner but haven’t had time to decide if I should try to put it in the crockpot.
Morning Time resulted in Little sister going to her bed for a little quiet time. The little boys were fighting over the alligator and the ‘net’. My other son was just LOUD about everything and he would start giggling and shouting ‘I farted!’. which would send everyone else holding their noses and shouting ‘EWWW!’. This repeated itself over and over again.
After giving up on accomplishing any more Morning Time activities I set up the laptops and got out the morning work for the kids. Everyone is now working quietly.
The girls are sitting at the island and the 4 year old is sitting with the 9 year old ‘helping’ her with her math. (Crazy thing is that he can usually get it right.) She is more motivated to get her work done when she ‘teaching’ someone else so they both benefit.
Grumpy sister is quietly doing her work after a little bit of trouble getting started. Teenage sister helped her get through a little problem she had with irregular plural nouns. She is feeling pretty motivated because I gave them a couple of coloring sheets for Earth Day and she really likes to color.
Loud brother is actually coloring quite intently. It takes a lot of concentration to keep the crayon in the lines and he is drawing the family standing on top of the earth picture. I need to go over his lessons but I think I’ll wait a bit. Then we also need to do his reading lesson… that will be so much fun! Actually he is getting much better at reading and as long as he has a fun activity to do after it he will be motivated to get it done quickly. If he isn’t motivated it will take us FOREVER!
The 2 year old has pulled out a puzzle I recently bought at the thrift store and he is working diligently on it while watching Dinosaur Train. I notice that one of the maps has been pulled partially off the wall so that’ll need fixed. Maybe I can do that before I vacuum?
It’s 11:30. Time for me to make some lunch, tuna sandwiches with some tomatoes from the garden?, and maybe fold some clothes while they eat. I will sneak in a little quiet time when I go to put away my clothes and look through my prayer notebook. I will look over my To-Do list and look at what I had planned on getting done today.
Maybe at nap time I can search online for the outfits for the boys. Oldest sister’s wedding is quickly approaching and there is still so much to do. I will at least work on my desk mess a little bit. I know there is a pile of papers that need to be filed so maybe I’ll start there. Then hopefully I can try on the outfit before I go to bed and I noticed yesterday that I need to use the lint roller on it too.
Reading over this makes me realize that sometimes I just put too much on myself. Maybe you do too? There will always be something that needs to be done. Just take it one thing at a time, do the most important things first, break big jobs into little jobs, take rest breaks, and ask for help when you need it!
I hope you enjoyed taking a little peek into my day. I know sometimes I feel like I’ve failed but then I read about the struggles of others and I know that we all have our ‘days’. Sometimes those days are actually weeks or months. Each and every person has their struggles and their own way of dealing with it. Sometimes seeing how others deal with things can help us in our journey.
OK, I gotta go now as Loud brother is now Hungry brother and keeps repeating, ‘Mom, I’m hungry.’
I hope everyone has a blessed day!
NOTE:
While making lunch I realized I didn’t have any tuna so I checked the refrigerator and I had enough lunchboxes from dinner last night to warm up for lunch.
Grumpy sister was still confused about irregular nouns so I went over the work sheet with her and it was such a blessing to watch her face when it ‘clicked’ and she finally understood. She went on to finish the worksheet on her own and got them all correct.
I heard the UPS truck at the front gate but it was gone before I got to the door. Little boys were running around being crazy so I sent them to the gate (which was closed and locked) to retrieve the package for me. I stood at the door watching my little guys and saw how much they are growing and changing on a daily basis. They retrieved the package and picked some flowers. The were so proud when they handed me the flowers and the package.
Big sister helped to clean up after she finished her work and she actually did her reading lesson with no prompting or constant reminding!
Hungry brother probably told me 20 or 30 times he was hungry before I got lunch on the table but he did eventually eat.
Take each day and cherish it. Make memories that will last. Just focus on what is really important in your life. For me right now it is my family. Sticky floors and dirty windows can wait until tomorrow.