0
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.
1 1
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.
0
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.
1
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
0
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.
0
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.
0
Understanding IEPs, ISPs, and SEP: Navigating Special Education in Homeschooling
By Faith Berens, M.ED., Reading and Dyslexia Specialist at FaithBerens.com Home education has emerged as a compelling alternative for students with unique learning needs. With its flexibility, homeschooling offers an exceptional platform for tailored education. Yet, diving into the realm of special education can be daunting, especially for parents unfamiliar with terms like IEP, ISP, and SEP. Let's unpack these concepts together over a cup of coffee or tea. Deciphering Special Education Terminology: IEPs and 504 Accommodation Plans: These are legal agreements between schools and parents, outlining how a student's needs will be addressed. Accommodations like enlarged text or extra time are specified to aid learning. Components of Written Plans: They detail specialized instruction, therapy, and services, including who provides them, where, and for how long. They are annually reviewed to cover behavioral, social, emotional, and academic needs. Exploring Homeschool Options: Individual Service Plans (ISPs): Some states allow homeschooled students to access special education services through ISPs. Check your state's policies on the HSLDA website to see if this is available. Student Education Plan (SEP): A homeschool version of an IEP, the SEP acts as a blueprint for your child's academic journey. It encompasses student information, performance levels, goals, interventions, accommodations, and progress monitoring. Benefits of Drafting a SEP: Peace of Mind: Documenting your child's educational journey ensures you're prepared should your homeschooling face scrutiny. It provides clarity on the steps taken to address your child's unique needs. Access to Accommodations: Having a SEP handy allows your child to access accommodations in various educational settings, from vocational schools to college entrance exams. Encouragement: Crafting a SEP offers reassurance on challenging days. Reflecting on your child's progress and educational goals reinforces the value of homeschooling and your dedication as an educator. Navigating special education in homeschooling may seem complex, but with the right tools and resources, you can create a tailored educational experience that empowers your child's growth and success. Remember, you've got this!
0
Understanding Your Child's Learning Path: Using PLAAFP and PLOP in Homeschooling
By Janet Giel-Romo from Austin & Lily Homeschooling offers parents the invaluable opportunity to tailor their child's education to suit their individual needs. A crucial aspect of this customization is developing a Student Education Plan (SEP), akin to an Individual Education Program (IEP) in traditional schooling. Central to crafting an effective plan is understanding where to begin—a task facilitated by assessing the student's present levels of academic achievement and functional performance (PLAAFP or PLOP). Unveiling PLAAFP and PLOP Parents can leverage strategies similar to those used in schools to gauge their child's current knowledge and future aspirations. The IEP process involves various assessments, observations, and crafting a narrative—the PLAAFP or PLOP—detailing the student's strengths, weaknesses, and optimal instructional approaches. While compiling accurate data for a comprehensive PLAAFP may require time, it serves as the cornerstone for devising a tailored educational plan. Navigating Present Levels: Lily's Story As a homeschooling parent to my 19-year-old daughter, Lily, who has Down syndrome, I encountered challenges in assessing her mathematical proficiency. While her reading and writing skills were familiar territory, her math abilities remained uncharted. To address this gap, I devised an interactive game, "Taco Bell Sauce Store," using coins and sauce packets to simulate a real-world shopping scenario. Through this impromptu activity, I discerned Lily's comprehension of money and identified areas requiring improvement, such as recognizing coin values and executing basic arithmetic operations. Crafting Goals and Strategies With Lily's present levels elucidated, I had a plethora of goals and strategies at my disposal: Starting Point for Addition: Encourage Lily to add by commencing with the higher of the two numbers. Introducing Skip Counting: Foster Lily's ability to skip count by 10s and 5s, a fundamental skill for handling currency. Practicing Skip Counting with Currency: Reinforce Lily's understanding of skip counting by applying it to counting coins, particularly nickels. Advancing to Dimes: Progress Lily's skip counting skills to encompass dimes, laying the groundwork for more complex monetary transactions. By tailoring our approach to Lily's unique needs and abilities, we're gradually bridging the gap in her mathematical proficiency. Our current focus lies on integrating nickels and dimes—a testament to the efficacy of personalized, incremental learning strategies. In essence, understanding a child's present levels of academic achievement and functional performance empowers parents to chart a tailored educational journey that fosters growth and success.
0
Effective Transition Planning for High Schoolers: Top Assessments for Independent Life Skills
By Peggy Ployhar When it comes to transition planning for high schoolers, I always emphasize the importance of a good assessment. A thorough assessment can help identify the specific skills your student needs to work on, saving both time and frustration as you prepare for a smooth post-high school transition. Here are the top three assessments I recommend for evaluating a student’s independent life skills: 1. Casey Independent Living Skills (CLS) Assessment The Casey Independent Living Skills Assessment is a free online tool designed to evaluate independent living skills for students aged 14 to 21. This comprehensive test covers several areas, including: Maintaining healthy relationships Work and study habits Planning and goal-setting Using community resources Daily living activities Budgeting and paying bills Computer literacy The assessment takes about 30 to 40 minutes to complete, and the results are available instantly. This allows for a strength-based conversation with the student, actively engaging them in setting and achieving their goals. For more information and to access the assessment, visit the Casey Life Skills Toolkit on the Casey Family Programs website. 2. PEATC Life Skills Checklist The PEATC Life Skills Checklist is a 7-page checklist designed to help transition students (ages 14-22), their families, and any homeschool IEP team track independent living skills. This comprehensive checklist is a valuable tool for assessing and monitoring progress. To access the checklist, visit the PEATC Life Skills Checklist. 3. Transition Coalition Inventory Independent Living Assessment Tool The Transition Coalition Inventory Independent Living Assessment Tool is a free downloadable resource that assesses various independent living skills. This tool is not only an assessment but also aids in creating a transition plan tailored to the student’s capabilities. It covers areas such as: Money management and consumer awareness Food management Personal appearance and hygiene Health Housekeeping Housing Transportation Educational planning Job skills Emergency and safety skills Knowledge of community services Interpersonal skills Legal issues Parenting and childcare To access this inventory and assessment tool, visit the Transition Coalition’s website. In general, the Transition Coalition offers an excellent array of resources for families with special education learners in high school. Their website includes training, resources, and tools to assist families in planning for post-high school goals.
1
Transitioning Therapy Goals into Everyday Teen Life
By Peggy Ployhar As teens progress through junior high and high school, they often outgrow the traditional therapy model. However, it's crucial to ensure that they continue developing and practicing skills learned in therapy. Transitioning ownership of this growth process to the teen themselves is key to fostering independence and continued progress. Here are some practical ways your teen can integrate therapy goals into their daily routines without regular therapy sessions. Speech Therapy Ideas: Read Out Loud: Encourage your teen to read books, articles, or scripts aloud to practice articulation and fluency. Real-Life Scenarios: Engage in activities like ordering food at restaurants or asking for directions, providing opportunities to practice communication skills in authentic settings. Creative Expression: Singing, memorizing jokes, storytelling, and creating videos or voice recordings can all enhance speech and language skills. Occupational Therapy Ideas: Life Skills: Involve your teen in everyday tasks like cooking, yard work, house maintenance, auto repair, assembly of purchases, laundry, house cleaning, and gardening to develop fine motor skills and coordination. Physical Therapy Ideas: Sports and Recreation: Encourage participation in activities like martial arts, swimming, golf, tennis, rollerblading, ice skating, biking, running, and walking to promote physical fitness and motor coordination. Social Skill Therapy Ideas: Community Engagement: Joining clubs or special interest groups, volunteering at local events or churches, assisting as a mother's helper, and participating in organizations like 4H or book clubs can foster social interaction and communication skills. These suggestions provide a starting point for integrating therapy goals into your teen's everyday life. Encourage creativity and adaptability, and invite your teen to share their own ideas and experiences. By empowering your teen to take ownership of their therapy journey, you're equipping them with valuable skills for lifelong success. Feel free to share your own ideas in the comments below—we'd love to hear from you!
0
Popular Special Needs Homeschooling Acronyms
By Peggy Ployhar, SPED Homeschool Founder & CEO Have you ever encountered an acronym and had to search for its meaning? When I first started homeschooling my son on the spectrum 19 years ago, I was completely unfamiliar with most special needs and education acronyms. Since that first year of homeschooling kindergarten, I’ve learned a lot. I hope the list below will be helpful in your special needs homeschooling journey and assist you when reading articles on the SPED Homeschool website, listening to our podcasts, watching our videos, or tuning into our weekly live broadcast, Empowering Homeschool Conversations. To further assist you, the acronyms and definitions below include links to SPED Homeschool resources that provide more detailed explanations or examples of the terms in a homeschooling context. AAC – Assistive Augmented Communication ABA – Applied Behavior Analysis ACT – American College Testing ADA – Americans with Disabilities Act ADD – Attention Deficit Disorder ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ADL – Activities for Daily Living ADP – Auditory Processing Disorder ASD – Autism Spectrum Disorder ASL – American Sign Language AT – Assistive Technology AYP – Adequate Yearly Progress BIP – Behavior Intervention Plan CBA – Curriculum-Based Assessment CD – Cognitive Delay CP – Cerebral Palsy DD – Developmental Disability DS – Down Syndrome ESY – Extended School Year FAS – Fetal Alcohol Syndrome IEE – Individual Education Evaluation IEP – Individual Education Plan IFSP – Individualized Family Service Plan LD – Learning Disability ODD – Oppositional Defiant Disorder OT – Occupational Therapy PBSP – Positive Behavior Support Plan PDD – Pervasive Development Disorder PLEP – Present Level of Educational Performance PLOP – Present Level of Performance PT – Physical Therapy SAT – Scholastic Aptitude Test SDI – Specially Designed Instruction SEP – Student Education Plan SLP – Speech Language Pathology SPD – Sensory Processing Disorder I hope this list not only helps you understand these terms but also aids you in applying this knowledge in homeschooling your unique learner.