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Embracing Diverse Paths: How We Navigate Summer Learning in Our Homeschools
Summer, with its endless possibilities, beckons us to explore varied avenues of learning tailored to our children's unique needs. Here's a glimpse into how each of our homeschools embarks on this enriching journey: Amy Vickrey In our homeschool, we maintain a semblance of routine during the summer, interspersed with breaks for family events and relaxation. While my son thrives on structure, we prioritize core subjects like math and reading while relishing outdoor activities like swimming. Despite my work commitments this summer, I cherish the continuity of learning, ensuring we don't fall behind. Peggy Ployhar Our summer learning leans towards unschooling, blending planned activities with delightful excursions into nature. Camping expeditions fuel our exploration of God's creation while fostering social skills through unstructured play. For me, it's a much-needed respite from teaching, allowing us to forge unforgettable memories amidst learning adventures. Cammie Arn We embrace year-round schooling with evolving activities, from co-op engagements to homeschool handbell choirs. During summers, we shift focus to core subjects, supplemented by art and mini-courses like Government and Personal Finances. This flexible approach alleviates academic pressure while kindling curiosity in scorching Texas summers. Tracy Glockle Our summers adapt to our evolving needs, alternating between hands-on science explorations and motor skill development. "Bucket lists" empower my kids to pursue personal interests, honing executive function skills while combating boredom. This personalized approach ensures a fulfilling break, prioritizing our collective aspirations. Embracing Your Unique Path As homeschoolers, we revel in the freedom to tailor our educational journey to suit individual needs. Whether it's a structured routine or an adventurous exploration, embrace the path that resonates with your family dynamics. With each summer heralding new opportunities, seize the moment to embark on a fulfilling homeschooling adventure with your children.
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A Guide for Including Special Education in Homeschool Co-op's
A Guide for Including Special Education in the Homeschool Co-op By Dawn Jackson M.Ed, Homeschooling Coach  Homeschooling provides a unique opportunity for tailoring education to individual needs, and this flexibility extends beautifully to children with special educational needs. One effective way to enrich their homeschooling experience is by involving them in a homeschool co-op, where families come together to share resources, skills, and experiences. Here’s a guide on how to include special education children in a homeschool co-op, ensuring they benefit from both social interaction and specialized support. Understanding Special Education Needs The first step in integrating special education children into a homeschool co-op is understanding their specific needs. Special education encompasses a wide range of challenges, from learning disabilities to developmental delays and behavioral issues. Each child’s needs are unique, so it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of what accommodations, modifications, or support they require to thrive in a group setting. Building a Supportive Community A successful homeschool co-op for special education children begins with a supportive community. Start by reaching out to other homeschooling families who have experience with special needs education or who are open to learning about it. Establishing a network where parents can share insights, resources, and emotional support can greatly enhance the co-op experience. Tailoring Curriculum and Activities Flexibility in curriculum and activities is key when including special education children. Work with other parents and educators to adapt lessons and projects to meet diverse learning styles and abilities. Utilize multi-sensory approaches, visual aids, and hands-on activities to engage children with different learning needs effectively. As a specialized coach for Co-ops who want to integrate more understanding for children with learning challenges I have a on line assessment to help determine the child’s learning styles. This assessment is helpful for teachers and parents to gain insight into the way the child learns and also to create a learning plan with goals for the child.  Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and Goals For children with more significant special needs, creating and implementing individualized education plans  within the co-op framework can be highly beneficial. Collaborate with parents, therapists, and educators to set specific, achievable goals tailored to each child’s abilities and challenges. Regularly assess progress and adjust strategies as needed to ensure continuous improvement.       Promoting Inclusive Social Interaction Socialization is a significant benefit of homeschool co-ops, but it requires thoughtful facilitation for special education children. Encourage inclusive behaviors among all co-op members, fostering empathy and understanding. Plan group activities that promote teamwork and communication while respecting each child’s pace and comfort level.  Training and Support for Co-op Facilitators Educating co-op facilitators about special education needs is crucial for maintaining a supportive and inclusive environment. Offer training sessions on understanding different disabilities, effective teaching strategies, and behavior management techniques. Encourage open communication among facilitators and provide resources for ongoing professional development. I am a specialized coach that works with Co-ops to help facilitate plans that foster to helping teachers and co-op leaders with the strategies they need to succeed in their groups.  Celebrating Progress and Achievements Recognize and celebrate the achievements of special education children within the co-op community. Whether it’s mastering a new skill, overcoming a challenge, or achieving a personal goal, positive reinforcement boosts confidence and motivation. Create opportunities for children to showcase their talents and contributions, fostering a sense of pride and belonging. Continuous Evaluation and Adaptation Finally, keep the lines of communication open with parents and co-op members to continuously evaluate and adapt the program. Solicit feedback on what’s working well and where improvements can be made. Flexibility and responsiveness to the evolving needs of special education children will ensure that the homeschool co-op remains a supportive and enriching environment for all participants. In conclusion, integrating special education children into a homeschool co-op requires dedication, understanding, and collaboration. By fostering a supportive community, tailoring educational strategies, and promoting inclusive social interaction, homeschool co-ops can provide invaluable learning experiences and opportunities for growth for children with special needs. Through thoughtful planning and ongoing support, every child can thrive in a homeschool co-op setting, benefiting from both specialized education and a sense of belonging in a supportive community. If you are interested in learning more and having a consultation, please call or email me at [email protected] or 661-433-7809. 
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Understanding and Supporting Children with Language Disorders in Homeschooling
By Peggy Ployhar The United States Department of Health reports that around 7 to 8 percent of kindergarten children struggle with some form of language disorder. Yet, it's surprising how often language impairments are overlooked in discussions about childhood disorders. This oversight may stem from the evolving nature of diagnoses and the varied ways these issues manifest at different ages. Language disorders can emerge in various ways: from delayed speech to struggles in social interaction or reading comprehension. Most children with these disorders don't have intellectual disabilities; rather, they face challenges in processing, expressing, or understanding language. The main classifications include Receptive, Expressive, Mixed Receptive-Expressive, and Language Processing Disorders. Recognizing Language Disorder Signs Receptive Language Disorders: Difficulty understanding speech Struggles with following instructions Challenges in grasping gestures or social cues Expressive Language Disorders: Limited vocabulary Incomplete sentences Difficulty expressing thoughts and feelings Language Processing Disorders: Trouble with word sounds and sequencing Reading comprehension issues Difficulty in understanding complex sentences Strategies for Homeschooling Children with Language Disorders Receptive Language Disorders: Use visual aids and break down reading material Simplify instructions and tasks Encourage questions and frequent checks for understanding Expressive Language Disorders: Offer communication tools or assistive technology Be a model communicator and provide gentle prompts Allow time for explanations and seek clarification Language Processing Disorders: Utilize visuals to reinforce lessons Provide extra processing time and use interactive learning methods Keep lessons short and incorporate breaks for processing Encouraging Progress and Patience It's crucial for parents to realize that these disorders can't be "taught away" or quickly resolved with a curriculum. Progress may be gradual, and each child learns at their own pace. Encouragement and patience are paramount, celebrating every step forward. Additional Resources for Supporting Children with Language Disorders Do2Learn Strategies for Speech and Language Impairments Language Disorders: Recommendations for Teachers Story Mapping Resources from Reading Rockets How to Simplify Difficult Concepts for Struggling Learners Supporting a child with a language disorder is a journey requiring understanding, creativity, and unwavering support. By implementing tailored strategies and accessing valuable resources, parents can empower their children to thrive academically and beyond.
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Addressing Auditory Processing Problems in Students
By Dianne Craft, MA, CNHP “When my son reads, he struggles so much because he has to sound out the same word over and over again in the story.” “When I give my son three simple directions, he only does one…if that! I’m sure he has an Auditory Processing Problem.” Understanding Auditory Processing When bright, hardworking kids and teenagers have to expend excessive energy to process auditory information, it indicates a disconnect between the brain's hemispheres. Typically, the left auditory hemisphere learns new material and transfers it to the right visual hemisphere for long-term storage and easy retrieval. When this process is disrupted, it results in significant challenges for the student. Symptoms of Auditory Processing Problems Children with significant Auditory Processing Problems often exhibit difficulties in the following areas: 1. Reading Sight Words: Struggles with word retrieval, trying to sound out sight words repeatedly. Phonics: Phonics rules don't stick, leading to repeated sounding out of the same words and adding extra letters. 2. Spelling Words are often misspelled and unreadable, with missing consonants and syllables. Spelling varies each time, with no mental "picture" of the word. 3. Math Difficulty learning math facts even with aids like music and games. Struggles with skip counting and mental math. 4. Memory Appears to have memory issues due to reliance on auditory teaching methods and excessive energy spent on focus and attention. 5. Tongue Twisters Difficulty ordering sounds, leading to mispronunciations like “Sundenly” or “Shuspicious.” Avoids challenging words in conversation. 6. Understanding Verbal Directions Frequently asks for directions to be repeated and says “what” often, indicating possible focus/attention issues or an auditory problem. Not all these symptoms need to be present for a diagnosis, but the more severe the issue, the more symptoms will be evident. Strategies for Addressing Auditory Processing Problems Parents and teachers can make learning easier by employing two key strategies: “Bypassing” and “Correcting.” Bypassing Bypassing involves using more visual, right-brain teaching methods to compensate for auditory processing difficulties. Reading: Right Brain Sight Words: Embed pictures of words onto the letters to aid memory. This method helps struggling readers remember words for both reading and spelling. Right Brain Phonics: Use intensive phonics programs that incorporate visual methods, leading to significant reading improvement. Spelling: Right Brain Spelling: Utilize the child's photographic memory for memorizing spelling words, which reduces stress and improves performance. Math: Right Brain Math Strategies: Teach math facts and processes using visual memory techniques to reduce frustration and enhance learning. Correcting While bypassing the auditory processing difficulties, parents can take steps to correct the issue by increasing brain connections and addressing nutritional factors. Increasing Brain Connections: Brain Integration Therapy: Use specific body exercises to train the brain, enhancing connections between different brain regions. This method has shown rapid and significant improvement. Outsourced Therapies: Seek therapies like NACD or I Can Do, as well as Auditory Sound programs such as Gem Learning. Targeting Nutritional Issues: Nutritional Supplements: Essential Fatty Acids and Lecithin can improve auditory processing abilities.  By employing these strategies, parents and teachers can help students overcome auditory processing challenges and achieve greater success in their academic endeavors.
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Walking in Their Shoes: My Journey with Dyscalculia
By Dawn Spence Offering compassion and understanding to others is a priceless gift, especially when it comes from someone who has experienced similar struggles firsthand. My Journey Teaching has always been my passion, particularly guiding those facing academic challenges. This inclination stemmed from my own journey with learning difficulties. Growing up, I grappled with an undiagnosed learning disability, convinced that I was inherently unintelligent and lazy. While I effortlessly poured my thoughts onto paper in English classes, the mere thought of a math lesson induced crippling fear. This pattern persisted from elementary school through college, amplifying my feelings of inadequacy. However, during my senior year of college, I made a pivotal decision to seek clarity. The diagnosis I received on a sunny Friday afternoon transformed my perspective: I had Dyscalculia, a learning impairment affecting mathematical comprehension. This revelation didn't alter my identity, but it empowered me to confront and understand my challenges. Important Lessons Learned Knowledge Is Power: Understanding the intricacies of my learning disability enabled me to develop effective strategies for overcoming mathematical hurdles. These strategies continue to serve me well today, offering a pathway to navigate through academic challenges. Labels Do Not Define the Learner: Embracing a diagnosis doesn't confine individuals to predefined limitations. Instead, it opens doors to unlocking their full learning potential. While some may resist labeling, recognizing and addressing learning difficulties is instrumental in tailoring support and interventions to meet individual needs. Learning Disabilities Do Not Limit You: Despite grappling with an undiagnosed learning disability, I graduated from high school and college with honors. Though the journey was arduous, it fostered resilience and equipped me with invaluable insights to support my own children with learning disabilities. In retrospect, my struggles with Dyscalculia instilled in me a profound sense of resilience and determination. Just as it has for me, overcoming learning disabilities can empower your children to embrace challenges and thrive.
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Nurturing the Littles: Homeschooling Preschoolers with Special Needs
Nurturing the Littles: Homeschooling Preschoolers with Special Needs By Dawn Jackson, M.Ed., Homeschool Coach and Mentor Homeschooling our preschoolers with special needs is a journey that requires patience, creativity, and a deep understanding of each child's unique abilities, gift and talents. While it presents its own set of challenges, it also offers immense opportunities for tailored learning experiences that cater to the specific needs of these young learners. I will  explore the benefits, strategies, and considerations involved in homeschooling preschoolers with special needs. Understanding Special Needs: Special needs encompass a broad spectrum of conditions, including developmental delays, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), sensory processing disorders, speech and language impairments, and physical disabilities, among others. Each child's needs are unique, requiring individualized attention and approaches to learning. Benefits of Homeschooling: Homeschooling provides a nurturing environment where children can learn at their own pace, free from the distractions and pressures of a traditional classroom setting. For preschoolers with special needs, this personalized approach allows for tailored instruction that addresses their specific challenges and builds on their strengths. Flexibility is another key advantage of homeschooling. Parents can adapt curriculum materials, teaching methods, and schedules to accommodate their child's unique learning style and needs. This flexibility fosters a positive learning experience where children feel supported and empowered to explore and grow at their own pace. Strategies for Homeschooling Preschoolers with Special Needs: Individualized Education Plan (IEP): Develop a personalized education plan that outlines specific goals, objectives, and strategies to support your child's learning and development. Consult with educators, homeschool coaches, therapists, and other professionals to create a comprehensive plan that addresses all areas of your child's needs. Multisensory Learning: Incorporate a variety of sensory-rich activities into your child's daily routine to engage their senses and enhance learning. Use hands-on materials, visual aids, music, movement, and interactive games to make learning fun and accessible. Visual Schedules and Routines: Create visual schedules and routines to help your child understand and anticipate daily activities. Use pictures, symbols, or written words to represent each task or activity, allowing your child to navigate their day with greater independence and confidence. Allow for quiet time and play as an important time in learning.  Adapted Curriculum: Modify curriculum materials to meet your child's individual needs and abilities. Break tasks into smaller, manageable steps, provide additional support or scaffolding as needed, and offer alternative ways for your child to demonstrate their understanding. Incorporate Therapeutic Activities: Integrate therapeutic activities, such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, or physical therapy, into your homeschooling routine. Work closely with your child's therapists to incorporate targeted exercises and interventions that support their overall development. This is not a job to do alone. Reach out for support and other likeminded families. Considerations for Homeschooling Families: Homeschooling preschoolers with special needs requires a commitment of time, energy, and resources. Parents must be prepared to advocate for their child's educational rights, navigate legal requirements, and access appropriate support services and resources in their community. Additionally, parents may need to seek out specialized training or professional development opportunities to enhance their skills and knowledge in supporting their child's unique needs. Building a strong support network of fellow homeschooling families, educators, therapists, and professionals can also provide valuable guidance, encouragement, and solidarity along the journey. As a teacher for preschoolers with learning challenges,  homeschooling preschoolers with special needs is a deeply rewarding and transformative experience that honors each child's unique potential and abilities. By embracing a personalized approach to learning, leveraging the benefits of homeschooling, and implementing effective strategies and supports, parents can create a nurturing and enriching educational environment where their child can thrive and reach their fullest potential.
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The Homeschool Counseling Network
  Hi there! I’m Kimberly, a Licensed Professional Counselor turned advocate and homeschool mama of one. Welcome to the Homeschool Counseling Network. We're so glad you stopped by! About HCN: The Homeschool Counseling Network (HCN) operates under It’s Only Homeschooling, LLC (dba The Homeschooling Counseling Network). HCN was founded in January 2024 by Kimberly Bennett, a Licensed Professional Counselor (TX), former middle school guidance counselor, and homeschool mom of one. Before launching HCN, Kimberly founded It’s Only Homeschooling – a website devoted to providing advocacy, community, and resources for families homeschooling children with learning differences. Our Mission: The Homeschool Counseling Network’s mission is to connect homeschooling families with free resources academic advising, counseling, testing, therapy, and tutoring to inspire, inform, and improve lives. We accomplish our mission through writing, creating digital content, hosting podcasts, public speaking engagements (podcast appearances, educational conferences, continuing education workshops), and planning and implementing our own online and in-person events. Bridging the Gap – HCN’s Vision and Purpose: Finding professionals with the knowledge and understanding necessary to support homeschooling families through their practices can present a challenge. Here at The Homeschool Counseling Network, we are working hard to help bridge this gap. By creating a resource list of homeschool family-friendly providers, we aim to help ease the burden of seeking support services. It is our sincerest wish to offer comfort, encouragement, and support by connecting homeschooling families with providers who are equipped to help meet their counseling, education, and therapy needs.   Song: A Year Ago by NEFFEX This channel is not a professional counseling channel and nothing here should be construed as professional counseling, therapy, treatment, or medical advice. Although Kimberly Bennett, LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor, she is not your counselor, and no counselor-client relationship is established unless she has signed an agreement with you. All information provided through this website is for informational and educational purposes only.
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Unveiling the Power of Therapy in Homeschooling for Special Needs Children
By Stephanie Buckwalter of Arts of Special Needs Parenting and ELARP Learning Homeschooling presents a unique opportunity to propel your special needs child forward in achieving therapy goals while fostering neurological organization. Understanding the essence of therapy and its correlation with the brain's need for organization is pivotal in this journey. Decoding Therapy Therapy essentially entails training the body to perform tasks that come naturally to individuals with neurologically organized brains. When there's a disconnect between the body and the brain, leading to dysfunction, therapy becomes imperative. It aims to address this discrepancy and move the child along the spectrum towards normalized function. Unveiling the Brain's Role in Therapy Neurological organization in therapy revolves around three fundamental components: Sensory Input: This encompasses both external (the five senses) and internal (proprioceptive and vestibular senses) stimuli. Brain Processing: It involves storing, recalling, and processing information, along with memory retention and sequencing. Motor Output: This includes various physical actions such as speech, movement, and coordination. Therapeutic interventions should target one or more of these components to enhance neurological organization and facilitate smoother functionality, aligning with everyday life. Crafting a Therapy Routine Crafting an effective therapy routine involves manipulating sensory input, processing, and motor output. For profound disabilities or when commencing therapy, initiating activities with high frequency, intensity, and short durations is advisable. Over time, as skills are honed, the frequency can remain high while intensity lessens, and duration increases. Identifying and Addressing Sensory Input Negative sensory input can often manifest as behavioral issues triggered by environmental factors. Identifying and mitigating these factors, such as temperature, sound, or lighting, is crucial. Keeping a diary of incidents and patterns can aid in pinpointing underlying triggers. Nurturing Motor Output Familiar therapies like Physical Therapy (PT), Speech Therapy (ST), and Occupational Therapy (OT) play pivotal roles in enhancing motor output. Consistent practice and varying intensity can yield desired outcomes, alongside incorporating daily homework assignments from therapists. Focusing on Brain Processing Brain processing, often overlooked, is vital for efficient neurological functioning. Therapies designed to integrate and balance brain functions, such as rhythmic movement therapy or Brain Gym®, are instrumental in addressing underlying processing issues. The Role of Homeschooling in Therapy Homeschooling provides the flexibility to tailor therapy sessions according to your child's needs. You can seamlessly integrate therapy exercises into daily routines, focusing on frequency, intensity, and duration. Additionally, incorporating developmental movements and motor output training fosters holistic development. Never Lose Hope Regardless of age, persisting in improving neurological organization can significantly enhance your child's quality of life. By prioritizing therapy and embracing the principles of frequency, intensity, and duration, you pave the way for remarkable progress and growth. In conclusion, homeschooling emerges as a beacon of hope, offering unparalleled opportunities to nurture your special needs child's development and empower them to navigate life's challenges with confidence and resilience. Free Crash Course Check out Stephanie's free 39-page ebook: How to Teach Your Special Needs Child at Home
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Navigating Real-World Goals with Tracking Tools
By Ruth Meed In homeschooling, tracking progress towards real-world goals is paramount for fostering growth and development. Here's how to set, monitor, and adjust goals effectively: Identifying Appropriate Goals Grade-Level Standards: Begin by assessing age-appropriate goals based on grade-level standards. Customize the sequence to fit your child's unique learning style and pace. Realistic Expectations: Evaluate if the set goals are attainable for your child. Determine achievable steps and modify goals accordingly to avoid frustration. Making Goals Applicable Real-World Relevance: Ensure goals have practical applications in real life. Connect learning objectives to future scenarios, emphasizing life skills or valuable lessons like perseverance. Tailored Approaches: Adapt goals to suit your child's interests and abilities. Consider how skills will be utilized in their desired fields or daily activities. Tracking Progress Observable & Measurable: Craft goals that are observable and measurable, allowing for clear assessment. Develop benchmarks and assessment methods to gauge proficiency. Goal Tracking Chart: Utilize a structured chart to track progress systematically. Set mastery dates and objectives, modifying goals as needed to align with your child's capabilities. Modifying Goals as Needed Flexible Standards: Adjust mastery criteria based on your child's learning pace and abilities. Tailor goals to suit their strengths, whether it's reciting facts, writing them out, or using alternative methods. Celebrate Achievements: Use goal-tracking charts as visual aids to celebrate your child's accomplishments. Encourage their progress and provide positive reinforcement along the journey. Empower your homeschooling journey by setting realistic, applicable goals and employing effective tracking methods. Celebrate each milestone achieved, fostering a sense of pride and motivation in your child's learning process.
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Navigating College Admission Without the ACT and SAT
Did you know that a student does not need to take the ACT or SAT to receive a degree from a 4-year university? For students like my oldest, who has anxiety issues, this fact significantly reduced his stress when he realized his calling required a 4-year degree. The ACT and SAT are placement tests often used by universities to award freshman placement or by scholarship organizations to award funding. If your student is not looking to attend a university right out of high school or compete for academic scholarships, these tests may not be worth the time, energy, or stress they might cause. Navigating College Admission Without the ACT/SAT While skipping the ACT or SAT can reduce stress, it doesn't eliminate testing altogether for college admission. If your student enrolls in a community college before transferring to a 4-year university, that school will usually require a placement evaluation. Each community college has different regulations around these enrollment tests. Most tests can be taken without time limits, over multiple days, or without penalty for multiple re-tests. The most commonly used community college placement test is the Accuplacer Test. Some community colleges use a state-standardized placement test or one developed for their own college system. To understand the specific testing requirements of your community college and the necessary courses for college admission, it is best to set up an appointment with the college as your student prepares for post-secondary education. Even if your student doesn’t pass the community college placement test, that does not limit their enrollment in the college. For subject areas where your student shows college-level competence, they can enroll in credit classes. For areas needing improvement, they can take non-credit courses, and passing these courses will eventually allow them to enroll in credit hour courses. Most community colleges offer tutoring help for students in remedial courses and provide accommodations for those with learning disabilities. These special services departments also assist with testing and help students gain more services for their college career if needed. Transferring from a community college to a 4-year university requires meeting certain qualifiers set by the university. Each university has different requirements regarding transferable courses, GPA, and specific degree program admissions, but none require an ACT or SAT score. A Pathway to Success For my son, now in his third year of studies and on track to graduate from the University of Houston’s Biomedical Engineering program, taking a step-by-step approach has been a much more successful route to achieving his goal. My hope is that if you have a child who struggles but feels called to a career requiring a degree, neither of you will let go of that dream just because of an admissions test.