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25 Adaptable St. Patrick's Day Homeschool Activities


By Peggy Ployhar

Whether St Patrick’s Day brings out the Irish in you, or you are just looking for an excuse to change up your homeschooling schedule for a day, we have some tips for you!

Here are some great ways to incorporate this holiday’s celebrations in the hearts of the faithful, history buffs, stagnant learners, children who need challenges or those needing a break.

These resources are my top free picks from the SPED Homeschool St Patrick’s Day Pinterest board. If you want more inexpensive and adaptable resources, make sure to check out all the links on that board. Or, better yet, check out all the SPED Homeschool Pinterest boards for resources to help you in every area of homeschooling a student with special educational needs.


Faith
St Patrick’s Day Bible Verse Scavenger Hunt – Enjoy this fun activity while following the great ideas included on this site about how to talk with your children about evangelism.
7 Verses for a Christ-Centered St Patrick’s Day – Great verses to start discussions with your children about how St Patrick spread the gospel to Ireland.
Share the Good News Like St Patrick – Use this lesson to help your children learn how the gospel is for everyone and how to share it with others.


History
History of St Patrick’s Day Video – Learn all about the history and traditions around St. Patrick’s day on this short 4-minute video.
The Real St Patrick – A list of books, video links, and other activities and lessons to educate about the historical St. Patrick.


Language Arts
Find and Rhyme Clover Treasure Hunt Game - A fun treasure hunt for clovers that will help your children work on their literacy skills.
I Spy St Patrick’s CVC Words – Find the 10 hidden words on this free printable that you may need a magnifying glass to find.
St Patrick’s Vocabulary Cards – 20 different words you can use for teaching vocabulary, plus fun activities you can do with them.
Leprechaun Themed Writing Prompt – Get your child’s creative words flowing as they use them to describe the leprechaun they are searching for.


Math
Counting Shamrocks – Work on counting and sequencing with this fun, hands-on activity.
Clover Addition & Subtraction Cards – Use these cards with manipulatives to practice adding and subtracting skills.
March Math Challenges & Brain Teasers – Free resources to help with adding, subtracting, and simple multiplication.
Shamrock Math Race – A fun and active way to reinforce counting and get a bit of exercise while doing it.


Therapy
Fine Motor Shamrock Craft - A fun way to have your child work on fine motor skills while making beautiful green shamrocks.
Gross Motor Clover Hop – Get your kids up and jumping with this fun activity.
15+ St Patrick’s Day Speech and Language Activities – Work on your child’s speech and language goals with these fun St. Patrick’s Day activities.


STEM
Leprechaun Lego Trap – Is your child up to the challenge? The article will give you all you need to set up the challenge and get your child’s creative juices flowing.
Crack the Code – 11 different St Patrick’s Day crack the code free printable sheets.
St Patrick’s Day STEM Challenges - Three St Patrick’s Day STEM challenges that use everyday items from your home.


Unit Study
Christ-Centered St. Patrick’s Day Ideas – A list of things you can do as a family to learn and grow in your faith together on St. Patrick’s Day.
Ireland Unit Study – Learn all about Ireland through this study’s recommended books, videos, crafts, recipes and more.
St. Patrick’s Day Unit Study – Use this free unit study to bring together an entire day of learning, all centered around St. Patrick’s Day.
History of St Patrick Unit Study – Cover math, science, social studies, language arts, geography and more while learning the history of St Patrick.


Sensory and Breaks
Sparkling Play Dough – Use this play dough recipe for stress-relieving sensory play.
St Patrick’s Day Brain Breaks – 8 ideas for St. Patrick’s Day brain breaks you can use between seated school times.


Have a great St. Patrick’s Day!



 

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Is Your Child Stuck? Here's What to Do


By Shannon Ramiro

Veteran homeschoolers have all been there: Our child is refusing to do work or is struggling to do something we believe they should be able to do. We don’t know what else to try. Children refuse to do tasks, or “get stuck” for a number of reasons. It can be challenging to figure out how to proceed; especially if you are beyond frustrated with the situation. When this happens there are a number of steps you can take to move forward. Here are the steps I have found helpful in such situations:


1. Step Back and Breathe
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Things take time. Even if the struggle has been going on for several days, or weeks, it doesn’t mean it will take that much longer to move past it. Sometimes one day away from the situation is enough time for you to recharge your emotional battery and get the break you need to figure out a new approach which leads to a breakthrough.


2. Reflect and Get Curious
Have your child watch a documentary or play with toys while you think about the situation. Here are some things to consider:

  • Can you think of a similar situation in the past? Was an approach taken then that worked, which you may not be doing now?
  • Are you attempting to force a specific way of doing something when another way might work just as well?
  • Have you tried showing multiple ways of how to do something?
  • Has the topic been demonstrated verbally, visually, and in a hands-on or multi-sensory way? 
  • Is there a way to tie the topic into real-world scenarios so the child can make connections that are more meaningful to them?
  • Would a change of scenery or environment help?
Basically, you want to take a minimum of 30 minutes to simply think about the problem and see what other ideas come to your mind.


3. Change Your Approach
I don’t know who originally said it but the saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing more than once and expecting a different result” applies here. This is something I think about when things just aren’t working the way I have been doing them. So, I get creative. I also consider ways to incorporate movement and play into learning. Learning should be fun! When things are fun, you naturally remember them more readily too. 


Spelling can be demonstrated by jumping onto letters written on the ground in chalk or moving magnetic tiles around on a cookie sheet. All sorts of objects can be used to demonstrate math concepts; especially when counting, grouping or patterns are involved. Role-play and virtual field-trips can be helpful with history. There are all sorts of demonstration videos for science when you don’t have the materials to conduct experiments. Songs to remember rules for math or language arts can help with remembering things too.


4. Recognize Timing and Pacing Issues
This is especially important with children who have special needs. I would say the majority of curricula out there requires modification for children with special needs in this regard. Everyone learns at a different pace. Just because a curriculum says lessons 1, 2, and 3 should be done over 3 days, with a test done on day 4 does not mean that works for your child. Your child may need 2 weeks, or more, to learn the same material. 


Don’t worry too much about how long something takes your child to learn. The important part is that they learn, and let’s face it, some topics are more important than others. You may find you need, to spend a lot more time on some topics and a lot less time on others. You may also want to skip some activities altogether. That is OK! (Teachers make such adjustments in schools all the time.)

You Got This!

One of the benefits of homeschooling is that we tend to have more latitude (with timing and order of topics taught), as well as creative freedom, than teachers in regular schools. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of that. Don’t forget it either. No matter what path led us to homeschool, we all make the decision on the basis that we believe it is best for our child(ren). So, when our children are struggling, it is best for our children and our own sanity, to reassess the situation. Then, change things up as needed to lighten the mood and make learning fun again. 

This is also a good opportunity to model problem-solving and creative thinking skills, which are both so important to our children’s success in the future. Now, take a break, tell yourself, “You’ve got this!” and take steps to determine a new approach going forward. Also, recognize you may need to repeat the steps more than once to find what does work. Above all, don’t be too hard on yourself or your children. We are always a work in progress.



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Parenting Anger Demystified


By Peggy Ployhar

Anger has a way of catching us off guard when we don’t understand what causes it, and what decreases our ability to handle it appropriately. Therefore, the second article in my series on Parenting Anger, I will be sharing typical causes and conditions for angry parent episodes, especially for special-needs parents. 


My hope is that this information will help you better understand yourself, where you can easily get tripped up, and what factors in your life can make it harder to deal with your anger appropriately.



Anger is Common and Not Sinful


Personally, I gauge sin based on God’s word. So, during the height of my parenting anger struggle, I found the following verse from Ephesians encouraging, while at the same time completely confusing and discouraging.


Be angry, and do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” Ephesians 4:26-27

I had the “be angry” part down pat but getting beyond my anger without sin seemed like an impossible task…especially if my anger had to be dealt with before the sun went down each day.

What time and study eventually revealed to me was I had little understanding of my human condition and what caused me to get angry. But, as I gained understanding, I found a greater ability to make peace with my tendency to get angry instead of always wishing it wasn’t there.



Typical Causes of Anger

All This for Nothing
Parenting can sometimes feel like lots of work that gets you nowhere. Laundry and dishes pile up and fill machines just as fast as you empty them. And, if you’re homeschooling a struggling learner, your efforts in that department can often feel stagnant too. Lack of progression can make your fuse very short, and this frustration can lead to anger.


Life is Not Fair
Unless you live in a bubble, avoid social media, and keep your acquaintances to only people whose lives and circumstances are nearly identical to yours, the comparison trap can be a cruel nemesis. This can be particularly true for a parent of a special needs child. When a child demands more time, attention, and energy, than a typical child their age, a parent can look around and find lots of things that just don’t seem fair. This lack of perceived fairness can cause resentment, which can lead to anger.


I’m Under Attack
Have you ever felt the whole world is against you? It can seem the entirety of the world’s problems have fallen on your doorstep and you don’t have enough within you to even start shoveling your way out of the mess. The daunting pile of therapy visits, medical paperwork, eating protocols, insurance requests, sensory-overloading places your child can’t handle, and all the other things a parent of a special needs child juggles on a typical day can make life seem like a war zone. A parent who lives amidst these attacks can start to live defensively, which can turn everything else in life into something that leads to anger.

 

If Only
We are not talking about dream vacations or winning the lottery, but being able to use the bathroom alone, or going out in public without your child having a meltdown and everyone looking at you like you are the worst parent on the planet. These deviations from our desired lifestyle can be downright defeating. As you constantly see the life you wish you had slipping from your hands, it’s hard to get back into the game and stay positive. Parents who feel constantly kicked down by life struggle to see anything positive about their child or life in general and this rejection can lead to anger.


Ouch, That Hurts
It’s not enjoyable to be in pain. The fact is, that stepping on a Lego can be just as painful as breaking a bone. Pain is something we try avoiding at all costs, but it is unavoidable in life. Whether you or your child deal with a chronic illness that causes pain, or your child acts out physically and you get caught in the crossfire, physical pain can be elevated in a family with a special needs child, which can lead to anger. 




Circumstances Elevate Anger

Health
Not getting enough rest, exercise, sunlight, or eating a poor diet is enough to easily make life more difficult to handle. Add in larger health issues, sensory sensitivities, and food intolerances and the body’s ability to regulate anger can be greatly diminished.


Living Conditions
Some people don’t mind excessive clutter, noise, or bright lights, but if your living conditions create the constant sensation of “nails on the chalkboard,” then your ability to mentally focus to diminish greatly your ability to regulate anger.


Finances
Financial worries can easily undermine anyone’s ability to handle life in a rational manner. Worry can consume your thoughts, drain your energy, and keep you from sleeping at night which clouds your judgment and your ability to regulate your anger.


Spiritual Unrest
Anxiety, fear, mistrust, judgement, unhappiness, hate, and unforgiveness leave us in a state of unrest because we take things upon ourselves that were only meant for God to handle. When we load ourselves up with these burdens, we are unable to carry smaller burdens and they get blown out of proportion. When this happens, anger flares.


Relationship Issues
Relationships can bring great joy, but they can also bring tremendous sorrow. If we have a compromised relationship, we can start to second guess our other relationships, blame ourselves for past relational blunders, and attempt to close ourselves off from life. But when we withdraw from people we also lose our support network and sounding boards. We can be angered about things our friends would have told us not to stress about.

I hope these scenarios I have shared with you have opened your eyes to what may cause anger to rear up in your life. In my next article I will be sharing about the parenting anger escape door God showed me and how it opened my eyes to how God can use anger as a tool for our good, and the good of our children.


Until then, God bless.



Parenting Anger Series Articles:
Why We Should Be Talking About Parenting Anger 
Parenting Anger Demystified
The Parenting Anger Escape Door
Shifting Parenting Anger from Controlling Mode to Training Mode
How-To Effectively Instill Godly Character in Children Using Parenting Anger 
Integrity: Step 1 in Cultivating a Child's Heart for Instruction
Humble Authority: Step 2 in Cultivating Your Child’s Heart for Instruction
Unconditional Acceptance:  Step 3 in Cultivating Your Child's Heart for Instruction  
Forgiveness & Mercy: Step 4 in Cultivating Your Child's Heart for Instruction
Honor: Step 5 in Cultivating Your Child's Heart for Instruction  
Time Management: Step 6 In Cultivating Your Child’s Heart for Instruction
 


 

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Your contributions keep our ministry running! 

Donate today on PayPal

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Our Family's Experience with a Service Dog


By Dyana Robbins, M.Ed

Fred entered our lives when my oldest son, Jonathan, was seven years old. For several years, Jonathan had wanted a dog. We had another family dog, but Jonathan desired one of his own. Our dog was older and not able to run with Jonathan or tolerate the noise and rambunctiousness of my children. Another factor in this decision was my son’s diagnosis of ASD-related challenges and developmental delays. My husband, Chris, and I worried that Jonathan’s intensity and energetic play would overwhelm a dog, so we began researching which breeds would best suit our wonderful son.

Far and away, Golden Retrievers met all the requirements for Jonathan’s pet. They are loyal, patient, energetic, and exceedingly tolerant of children’s inadvertent roughness. Unfortunately, they are also costly to obtain through breeders. I began praying for the right dog to come into our lives. Within a short period of time, an acquaintance shared a post looking to rehome a Golden Retriever. I responded and Fred came to our home for a three-day visit so we could determine his suitability for our family. We were completely unaware of the great change this visit heralded.





Awkward Beginnings and Mutual Need
Fred was a young dog who had been hit by a car, ended up in a shelter, and was then adopted by a young woman who had no time for him. All of his tough beginnings were on display when he came for his visit. Fred leapt on everyone daring proximity. He was so hyper that he couldn’t listen to a command or even respond to his name. His front left leg had significant muscle and nerve damage from his accident which caused a noticeable limp. Yet, he and Jonathan immediately bonded and I knew we were committed to making the relationship work.

After convincing Chris that we could somehow tame this wild beast and survive the experience, we welcomed Fred home. Within weeks, we observed remarkable changes in Jonathan as he interacted with Fred. His empathy and gentleness were growing as he learned to care for his dog. Jonathan began noticing Fred’s needs and wanting to meet them. He asked questions about Fred’s thoughts and feelings; exhibiting a growing “theory of mind.” We were greatly encouraged and hopeful about the future.

Fred’s leg grew stronger as Jonathan walked and played with him. He became calmer and able to receive training. He even mastered basic obedience skills. Jonathan and Fred found in one another what they both needed: unconditional acceptance, love, and a joy in companionship that fueled their growth.





More Than a Pet
Fred became an integral, beloved member of our family. Intrigued by the transformation in Jonathan, I began looking for others who had experienced something similar with their children. There was not a lot of research on the relationship between children with autism and dogs at that time, but there was some. Most information was anecdotal. I ran across a wonderful book called, The Golden Bridge: A Guide to Assistance Dogs by Patty Dobbs Gross. This book details a mother’s experience obtaining a service dog for her son with autism and the benefits of service dogs for children with developmental challenges. Reading this book compelled me to explore whether Fred could be more than a pet for Jonathan.

Jonathan was attending twice-weekly therapy sessions with an occupational therapist, Sue. I presented my ideas about Fred to her and was shocked to learn that she was writing a doctoral dissertation on the assessment of dogs for suitability for service work. We became excited about the idea of using her assessment tools on Fred and obtaining training for him if he passed. Sue was also instrumental in helping me develop helpful tasks that Fred could perform. These tasks had to meet federal criteria and Jonathan’s needs. I brought Fred in for assessment: He passed with flying colors. Next, we focused on finding the right trainer.

Corrina became a friend and ally as soon as I called her. Searching for a certified trainer that could help Fred become a service dog was difficult. All the places that advertised to train service dogs required a long separation from Fred, lots of money, and travel. Given the bond that had already developed between Fred and Jonathan, our need for continuity, and a budget-friendly option, we needed a local trainer. Corrina fit the bill, but had not trained dogs specifically for service work before. She willingly looked at federal and state laws and requirements for service dog certification with me. She read Sue’s tasks for Fred and decided to jump on the wagon with us.

Fred would be trained in scenting for Jonathan, providing deep pressure to aid in calming meltdowns, and helping Jonathan navigate traffic and public places. The tasks seemed large, but Corrina’s confidence and enthusiasm encouraged me that Fred’s transformation to service dog was not only possible but doable. We began training in earnest and Fred eagerly assumed his new work duties.


In my next article, I’ll share more about Fred’s transformation, Jonathan’s steps towards community, and how Fred continues to help our family nine years later. I hope you’ll come back to read it!


 

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Look Before You Leap Into A New Curriculum By Following These 5 Simple Steps


By Peggy Ployhar

Whatever reason prompts you to change your homeschooling curriculum, here are 5 steps to help you take a critical look at your choices before you invest your money and homeschooling time.


#1 – No situation is too urgent to invest time for a proper evaluation
Because no situation is too urgent, determine first that school may be a bit different while you are working on making this transition. You may either need to use your current curriculum and add in supplemental material, take a break from formal curriculum while you try out different options (step 5), or remove that subject from the schedule for a little while.

It is best to remember that when a child has hit a wall with a subject, sometimes the best thing to do is to eliminate that subject for a while, especially with a curriculum that has led to confusion and frustration.


#2 – Experienced homeschooling parents often know more than the experts
This fact is especially true when it comes to curriculum and the newest products on the market. It seems like every day I am hearing about a new resource for teaching children with special educational needs. I am not hearing about most of these resources from curriculum companies or blogger reviews, but from parents who have combed the Internet until they found the resources, they could use to meet the specific learning needs of their child.

If you are not part of SPED Homeschool’s Facebook Support group, I would first advise you to join and then write up a post asking this group for ideas. The more comprehensive list you can get the better, because when you get to the questions in step 3, you may end up eliminating some of your original top choices.


#3 – No curriculum is perfect for all homeschoolers/homeschools
I find myself telling parents this all the time, but I wanted to give you some specific questions you can use to determine if a specific curriculum is right your homeschooling situation.

  • What is the cognitive ability of your student? Does it differ greatly from your child’s age group? If it does, is your child sensitive to this content being taught towards a higher/lower grade level audience? Does the curriculum accommodate this sensitivity?
  • How much activity does your student need incorporated into daily instruction? Can you use this curriculum outside of seated work time? How much time is required to be done while your student is sitting still? Can the seat work be broken up into smaller chunks to allow for brain breaks?
  • How much help (structure, schedules and lesson planning) do you need the curriculum to provide? Are the lesson plans and teacher instructions adequate in meeting those needs?
  • Are you going to be your student’s primary teacher, or will other individuals also be providing instruction? How flexible is the curriculum for sharing or being used at multiple sites if your student will be using it with multiple instructors?
  • Is a computer, app, or online curriculum program a viable instruction method for your student? Is it workable with your current technology or will you need to upgrade? Does it require consistent Internet access?
  • How much independent work can your student do in one sitting? Each day? Each week? How much work will you need to assist your student with each day when using this curriculum option? Is that feasible in your schedule?
  • Are the lessons presented in a way that is understandable to your child? Are the activities too busy or distracting? Will the format bore rather than engage your student?

I am sure many of you can think of a lot more questions to ask, and I would invite you to add them in the comments section below for future readers to glean from.


#4 – Mine help from those who know you and your child best
Ask those around you, who are observers of your homeschooling, to help you take a critical look at your narrowed list of curricula. A spouse, homeschooling friend, child’s therapist, and family members are great at adding an additional touch of discernment if they desire to see your homeschooling effort succeed. Listen to what they have to say and the constructive feedback they give you.


#5 – Samples will seal or break your conviction

By this point, you will have your list narrowed down to two or three choices. So, the next step is to give them each a try using free, or introductory offers that these curriculum companies offer on their websites.

Sometimes you will see a link to these sample products on their front page, but for others, it may require a bit of digging. In the end, though it will be worth your effort to find a way to try the curriculum with your child, and in your homeschooling environment, to ensure all your research has led you to a choice that is worth teaching to your child AND worth the money you will be spending.


Once you have completed these 5 steps, you will have taken the best look at your curriculum choices and you will be more confident to take that leap.



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Beating the Rainy Day and Winter Blues


By Melissa Smith

The Hurricane brought some strange weather to Texas this year. We've had ice storms (yes, plural) and unending gray and rainy days. While I am very thankful for the cooler air, the dullness of the days is beginning to wear on my heart. Where is the sun?

Along with the weather, the midyear school blues have also crept in at our house. I am rethinking all our curriculum and therapy choices, the kids are getting restless and dragging, and we have months left to go. Help!

In light of the Rainy Day Blues setting in, we've had to get creative and remember to savor the moments at home. Here are some fun ways to redeem these gray days and have fun as a family to break up the winter doldrums.


1. Read Alouds
We love books in our house! From picture books and classics, to a great fantasy novel or mystery, we enjoy getting lost in faraway places and learning about interesting and inspiring people. Somewhere along the way, we lost this wonderful practice in our home, but we have reinstated it this winter. Our children will set their tablets and schoolwork aside to ask for a chapter or two of the book we're reading. Nothing breaks the monotony like a great book!

We put on our comfy clothes, grab blankets, and curl up on the couch together. For my wiggly young one who has a short attention span, we bring Thinking Putty for him to play with or a pile of paper with markers for him to draw on while he listens.

If you need a place to start, I recommend a wonderful book called Honey for a Child's Heart and Honey for a Teen's Heart by Gladys Hunt. The author has compiled lists of books by genre and age group with short summaries. We have found many excellent gems in this book for both read alouds and independent reading.

Still need an idea of where to start? Look at historical figures or missionaries that you would like your family to learn about. If you are anything like me and your voice gets tired of reading out loud after a short time, we've also had a lot of success with audio books through Hoopla. It is a service that links your library card to the account. You can then checkout audiobooks to listen to on your phone or tablet for free.


2. Game Day
As a box-checking mama, I have a hard time setting aside my schedule for the day. However, I've found that my children often learn better and have more success in school when we take a day off to play together. Their love tanks get filled, and all of our minds and hearts are refreshed! Since we have a variety of abilities and preferences in our house, we play games Round Robin style. Everyone picks three games they love. Then the youngest child picks first from someone else's pile of games. We have a blast, and everyone gets at least one of their favorites picked.


3. Puzzles & Playdough
This one is an old friend in our house. My mother gave me her homemade playdough recipe when I had children, and we have used it ever since. The warmth of the playdough, the fabulous smell (we add mint), and the glorious colors (we also add food coloring), give us hours of fun. Pull out your cookie cutters and rolling pin and see what you can create! My older children will even enjoy this for a while before wandering off to pursue other things - like puzzles.

Puzzles are not just for little kids! When we are able, we will set up a card table in a corner and pull out a puzzle to work on. It will take us weeks, but it's a nice brain break from Algebra or the laundry. We have found some wonderful puzzles at garage sales (they even had ALL the pieces!), or we pick them up at Hobby Lobby when they are on sale.


Homemade Playdough
Double as needed, but prepare to stir!
  • In a saucepan, stir together the following:  1 cup flour 2 tsp cream of tartar 1/3 cup salt
Next, add the following:
  • 1 cup of water 1 tbs of vegetable oil
  • Heat on medium-low and stir, stir, stir!
  • Add a drop or two of your favorite scent - vanilla, mint, or essential oil
  • When it has reached a playdough texture, turn it out onto wax paper and press it out.
Divide it up between your children and help them make a ball. Press it down in the middle and add a drop or two of food color. Enjoy pressing and squeezing it until the color mixes!


4. Craft & Hobby Time
When my children were younger, nothing made them happier than lots of glue, paper, scissors, craft sticks, and the freedom to create anything their hearts desired. A quick trip to the library will help those that need more structure. You can pick up a rainy day craft book full of ideas and inspiration.

My older children now have hobbies and ideas of their own and desire time to pursue them. When I give them permission to set school aside to read up on their hobbies or take time to enjoy them, their minds and hearts fill with dreams and creativity. I love watching them grow! In fact, my teenage son always works harder at school the next day when I've given him time to dive into his passions for an afternoon.


5. Cook Together
Yep, it's going to get messy! All of my children love to get in the kitchen with me and create. I am no great cook, but the time spent mixing, pouring, and laughing together always creates great memories. They learn to work together and follow a recipe, and we get to enjoy the fruits of our labors. Our favorite tradition is Friday night Pizza Night with Dad. My husband helps the children make homemade dough. While it rises, we all play games together. Later, each person "decorates" their personalized pizza with their favorite toppings, and we cook them up! Voila!

If you decide to turn on some music and dance around the kitchen while you create, I encourage you to grab a spatula as a microphone and sing to your heart's content! My little one always joins in and my teenagers feign embarrassment, but I know they all love seeing their mom have fun.

 

6. Clean Out a Closet
Okay, this one is not really for the kids. But hey, while your kids are happily crafting and playing, pick a cabinet or closet and go to town! Organize that plastic storage drawer, sort out the bins of school supplies, or dig around in the kids' closet for stained and outgrown clothes. I often co-opt my children to help me with this and we make piles: throw away, give away, sell. It's a great way to institute some order in one corner of the house and help teach your children good stewardship.


A Final Thought
Savor the moments, friends. Spring is on its way along with beautiful days outdoors. Until then, grab your children and tell them how much you love them. Then don't be afraid to set aside the schoolwork and the schedule to relax and laugh with them. It might get messy, but it is worth it. What are your favorite ways to find joy with your family?




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Your contributions keep our ministry running! 

Donate today on PayPal

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Living and Struggling with a Learning Disability


By Dawn Spence

Sometimes the best gift that we can give someone is being able to relate and give them compassion. What better person to give this type of understanding than one that has walked in their shoes?

My Journey
I have always had a love to teach and especially to teach those who struggle. I believe this love came out of my own challenges. You see I grew up with an undiagnosed learning disability believing that I was dumb and lazy. I could walk into any English classroom and the words would flow from my heart to my pen to the paper without a second thought but put me in a math class and I was almost paralyzed with fear. I was afraid to fail or struggle another time, but I always did. It started in elementary school and followed me to college. The worst part was that I felt stupid and I believed it.

So my senior year in college, I decided to get myself tested. For once and for all I needed to know what was wrong with me. Then on that sunny Friday afternoon, I finally had an answer. I was not stupid or lazy as those voices in my head had always told me. I found out that I had Dyscalculia. It is a learning impairment that affects mathematics.The label did not change who I was, but it helped me understand what my struggle was.


Important Lessons Learned
 

Knowledge Is Power
Understanding the glitches helped me develop strategies to work through my learning disability. I learned how to work through my mathematical challenges and continue to use these strategies to this day.

Labels Do Not Define the Learner

Having a label does not define you or your child but gives you a door into unlocking their full learning potential.Some parents struggle with getting their child labeled but labels can help you understand your child's struggles and how to meet their needs.

Learning Disabilities Do Not Limit You

Even with an undiagnosed learning disability, I was able to graduate high school and college with honors. It was difficult, but I believe it made me stronger and able to help my own children with learning disabilities.


In my life, I learned that struggling with a learning disability can lead to resilience and determination.  It can for your children too.




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Intentional Teaching: Taking Time to Teach to a Child's Heart


By Kimberly Vogel

The lesson plans are methodically laid out with alternate ideas and I know what needs to get done. I have plans for my kids, students, and therapy. I take my plans seriously because parents are investing time and money in my services. Even with my plans, there are opportunities I miss when plans become more important than reaching the heart of the people I serve.

One day, due to a scheduling issue, time was short with a student. I needed to nail our plans and in record time. First on the list: reading a section from the student’s current “for fun” reading book. The main character of the book had to fill out a form with what word best describes her. She listed people in her life and said what word they would give her. After reading the passage, we did that for the student. Most of her comments were “I don’t know,” or “no clue”, but one stood out; the word beautiful.

The big moment came when I asked her what word(s) she would give herself. Her words were all negative.


I seized the opportunity. I told her I didn’t see her that way and that the things we tell ourselves come across in what words we give ourselves. I told her what word I would give her now and what word I would’ve given her last year. After we discussed those, I asked her what word God would give her. I reminded her that he didn’t see her as stupid, weird, or silly. He loves her so much he sent his son to die for her. That’s pretty special.

This opportunity took less than 15 minutes. I pray the positive words are cemented on her heart and the negative ones will lose their power. Here are some ways I ensure that I don’t miss intentional teaching opportunities.


Prepare each day aware opportunities are waiting for you to notice
As a part of my quiet time, I now pray for today’s intentional opportunities and journal about yesterdays. Knowing I will journal about them makes me want to find them – daily.

"Don’t those who plan evil go astray? But those who plan good find loyalty and faithfulness." Proverbs 14:22

Choose people over plans
I recently spoke to a man from another country. He told me that we are so busy. He is from a place where a lunch with a friend can last until the evening meal. People talk for long hours. The community is strong. People take priority over plans. So many things on our to-do list can wait, if we decide it’s ok to be flexible. Spending time with a friend isn’t wasted. It’s an investment.

Pray for the right opportunities

Not every conversation is the opportunity of the day. Not every day has an outward opportunity. Yet, every day does have an inward opportunity to pray for people. Pray through each encounter and listen for the voice of God to whisper or prod your heart about giving encouragement, offering prayer, or going deeper. If this is a new concept, it takes some adjustment, but with practice and prayer, you will notice the prodding of the Spirit.

Teaching good, moral lessons is important, but lessons for the heart taught in the moment are effective. We need to slow down and allow the Spirit to guide us in these lessons.



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Your contributions keep our ministry running! 

Donate today on PayPal

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How to Homeschool Amidst Your Imperfections


By Cheryl Swope, M.Ed

Homeschooling is hard sometimes. Parenting is already a challenge because in our fallen states, both we and our children war within ourselves to do what is good and right every day. When we decide to homeschool, we may feel as if we have added another heaping load onto our shoulders. Our own failings, the relentless temptations of the world, and the devil and his evil minions attack our purpose and thwart our efforts. 


Yet as redeemed children in Christ, we bring our children to the waters of baptism and teach them at home, that they may be thoughtful, service-minded, academically strong, and eternally secure in Christ Jesus. 

Looking back now that my children are young adults, one simple truth could have made all of this less daunting for me: All is His.


Doubts
In our family’s homeschool from infancy through high school, some days were smooth, even idyllic, but many days prompted several overarching concerns that sounded like this in my mind: “Am I hindering my child? Is there a better way to teach this? Are my children picking up my bad habits? my husband’s? How will I ever get my son from where he is today to where (I think) he needs to be as an adult? How will I care for all of my daughter’s needs and still teach her effectively? How do I fulfill my other vocations as daughter and friend, neighbor, worker, and congregation member? Am I ever doing enough? How do I know?”

What I wish I would have known can be expressed in that simple reminder: All is His.

Luther writes, “‘All things’ that have being—obviously also all of our wisdom and abilities—derive not from themselves, but they both have their beginning from Him, are preserved through Him, and must continue in Him” (LW 78:15). As Paul says in Acts 17:28: “In Him we live and move and have our being.”

What does this mean? Nothing happens “by chance and accidentally, but everything comes from and through His divine counsel and good-pleasure. He cares for us as for His people and sheep; He rules us, gives us good things, helps us in danger, preserves us” (LW 78:15). I taught this to my children, yet I did not always know this for myself.


Mysteries
The mysteries of God will yield comfort to the believer, and His Word in Genesis through Revelation reveals His power that is far beyond our own. More than omnipotence, which would be of little comfort on its own, the very mercy of God comes to us in the person and work of Christ Jesus for us. And by the working of the Holy Spirit, we believe. He holds all things together. This comforts me; thus the recent emphasis in my thinking: “And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17).

We may worry excessively or think we do much on our own, “yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (1 Corinthians 8:6).

Lest we find this knowledge too abstract for our everyday moments, Martin Luther explains the great mysteries in small details.


 “Who can ever learn or explain how it happens that a leaf grows out of a tree, or a grain becomes a root, or through wood and kernel a cherry grows from a blossom?” (LW 78:16).

Similarly, he teaches in the Small Catechism’s explanation of the First Article that God “has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them. He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all I have” (emphasis added). 


A master of grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric, Luther was both a recipient and proponent of what we now call Christian classical education. Note especially the expert use of details and of the word all to bring us great certainly in God’s great promises.

Luther continues his First Article explanation by saying, “He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life. He defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil” (emphasis added). This is a helpful reminder for us in our instruction of our children.


All Is His
He does all of this. He has given; He also gives. He richly and daily provides; He defends. (I do not do this. We do not do this. He does this.) And He does this because He loves us in Christ, and He is good. “All this He does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me” (Small Catechism, First Article).

In those many doubt-filled and prideful moments in which we look to ourselves or begin to trust in our own abilities, we only make things worse for ourselves. We feed our doubts and coddle our pride. However, when in prayer we commend our children, their education, lives, and all things to His care, we can know that He gives us all we need. He already has given us all we need in Christ, and He will continue to do so.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6).

As we confess our lack of trust, our fear, and our pride, we have One who forgives us. Jesus died for even this. On earth, Jesus alone trusted God in all His ways, and Jesus alone always prayed, “Thy will be done.” Just as our dear Savior, Jesus, comes to our children, so He comes to us. He prays for us even now. All is His, given to us.

We can see this clearly when we confess the Apostles’ Creed. While our theologians today may wrangle about the Third Article of sanctification, our pastors must faithfully bring to us through Word, water, bread, and cup the Gospel of Christ as confessed in the Second Article of redemption. Perhaps now as loved, forgiven, redeemed, and daily cared-for parents, we can reclaim the proclamation of the First Article promises of creation.

“He causes all created things to serve for the uses and necessities of life. These include the sun, moon, and stars in the heavens, day and night, air, fire, water, earth, and whatever it bears and produces. . . . So we learn from this article that none of us owns for himself, nor can preserve, his life nor anything that is here listed or can be listed. This is true no matter how small and unimportant a thing it might be” (LC II 14, 16).

He gives all. So even today as we teach and raise and love our children, we remember, know, and trust this truth: All is His.



 

Did you know SPED Homeschool is 100% donor funded? 

Your contributions keep our ministry running! 

Donate today on PayPal

(all donations are tax-deductible)




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