Struggling Learners/Special Needs: Better at Home
July 25, 2018
Hey Mama,

You're strongest when you're on your knees. Did you know that? Fighting, fiercely doing battle for the family God has given you shows  everyweakness—but in our weakness,  God is strong.

And you're on your knees every moment of every day when you're teaching a struggling learner or a special needs child. These precious gifts are given to us by God to teach us how to love like He loves, have simple faith, and walk strongest when we are weak. Yes, these littles are better kept at home where you can nurture and protect them from life's cruelty so they can someday show this world  true  love.

Unsure you can handle this responsibility? Read about these sweet, special mamas who have taken up the call to homeschool their very special children in  The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine:

And remember, Mama. . . 

You love your husband. You’re not perfect; neither is he. But before the Lord you made a commitment, and the Lord will bless you for your obedience. You have chosen to love. And there are SO many blessings along the way.
You love your children. They are far from perfect, but you realize that they are growing in grace and love every day. They look to you continuously as an example, and while that’s not always a “good thing,” it’s real. And that is a very good thing. No pretenses, no airs.
You are dedicated to your family. There are days you would like to run hollarin’ for the hills and disappear behind a mountain. A tall mountain. Even if only for a minute. But nothing is keeping you apart from the family God has given you; you are one faithful Mama. Your heart always turns back to the ones in your care.
You can cook (some things). You can clean (to a degree). Your home is safe. Your kids eat just fine. Your home is a fortress for your children, and your friends speak highly of you because you are AVAILABLE. That is your middle name. Most importantly, while the cooking and cleaning are on your radar, they’re not central. You “get” what’s important. The Lord is central in your home, and your husband and children are much higher priorities than any spotless abode. THEY are your abode.
You facilitate laughter and enjoyment. You can laugh harder than the rest of them. Life throws its stresses your way, and sometimes you melt down (hello, you are human), but other times you laugh in the face of trials and slice right through them with confidence. You are strong because Jesus is the Lord of your life; you are made strong in your weakness because you lean on Him. 

It’s a lesson you learned long ago; you know Who your  High Tower is. And your children are watching that, too, so resist the temptation to drop the standard. That would be tragic; you're never called to drop the bar. Keep it HIGH. Don't let it start slipping down as your children test you. That would be a downward slope, and soon the bar will be down by your ankles. I've seen that happen too many times with well-meaning parents who started out with Godly, Biblical standards and excellent intentions, and then when the kids reached teen or young adult years and went through a wild stage, those same parents, desiring to remain accepted and "loved" actually became like the world themselves when their kids answered that worldly call.

Never answer it, yourself. Don't fall for that trap of the enemy's.  Never believe it's more important to be your child's best friend than to maintain a godly standard. Nice and high, Mama; the bar (your example) stays high. One day, by God's grace, your kids will fall back on those standards. Your Heavenly Father will help you. Hold the bar up there like your life depends on it, and please, please, please,  support your friends who are trying to do the same. It's easy to sometimes think you know better. You don't.

Sweet Mama, you are sowing precious seeds, and you are leaning on the Lord of your life to water and harvest what He has called you to sow.  He IS the standard and He will bless you for holding Him in the highest regard before your children.

Messy, beautiful Mama = Messy, beautiful LIFE.

Chaotic, insane, wacky, loud, torn-up, built-up, hurricane FAMILY. Your family. And you'll defend that fiercely until the end of days. It's yours, because He has given them to you, and never will you take that gift for granted.
His hand is still on your head today.

We offer a variety of individualized programs for children ages 5-18 who learn differently. We focus on how to learn, not what to learn!
Katie Furlong
It’s no secret that most children will thrive being taught one on one by someone who knows and understands them the best. When it comes to special needs children this is especially true. 
In my pre-homeschooling days as an Early Childhood Educator and a Montessori Teacher I saw many special needs children who struggled to learn in large group settings. They were being left behind because they needed more time to work on a subject or the traditional classroom did not allow them to follow their unique style of learning. These children were falling through the educational cracks. They felt like they were not smart. They began to hate school. It was heartbreaking to watch this happen to so many children who had so much potential. The teachers, parents, and children were all very frustrated. There had to be a better way.
As the parent of 4 children, 2 being diagnosed with special needs, I know first-hand how well children learn when being taught one on one. My 4 children are living proof of the benefits of homeschooling.
As their mother, I know my children better then anyone else. I know their strengths and their weaknesses. I can encourage my children to build on their strengths and give them the time and support to overcome their weaknesses. I know my children’s interests and hobbies. Being taught at home allows my children to pursue the topics that interest them. It also allowed them the time and security to step out of their comfort zone and try new activities and explore new subjects. I can customize their curriculum to include topics that they find interesting. As their teacher, I can introduce new subjects to open their minds up to new ideas and concepts. 
When children are taught at home, it gives them more time to learn, explore, ask questions, and absorb what they are working on. When children are not hurried through subjects, they have time to digest what they are learning and ask questions. Children then grow up with a natural love of learning. They happily observe the world around them, ask questions, and explore. At home, I can make accommodations and adjustments to fit my children’s needs to foster their education. For all my children, but especially my special needs children, homeschooling is the best environment for them to learn, grow, and succeed. 

Katie Furlong is a busy homeschooling mother of 4 children. She is currently parenting at every stage: toddler, preschooler, tween, and teen. She has an Early Childhood Education diploma, is also a trained Montessori Teacher, and a certified Neurofeedback Practitioner. Katie and her 4 children live on a hobby farm where they keep bees, ducks, chickens, 2 lazy cats, and a big yellow dog. When she is not chasing children, she likes to fix up her 159-year-old farmhouse,  write , and cook to create new allergy friendly recipes. Katie may also have an  essential oil  addiction and need an intervention.
Diane Geerlinks
GeerLINKS Educational Therapy
The decision to homeschool isn’t an easy decision. The decision to homeschool your unique learner is even more difficult. The doubts, fears, uncertainties and especially your abilities (or lack thereof) are ever before you. Can I really homeschool this child? 

As a homeschool mom, I certainly had thoughts that my child would be better off in school. At least there the teacher would have more patience. At least there he would have access to assessment and experts . . . or not? 

I presented Homeschooling Your Unique Learner at homeschool conferences across the country this spring. I created a chart—homeschool vs. traditional school, weighing out the pros and cons. What saddened me most was the response from frustrated parents in these workshops—parents whose unique children had been in school. I heard their desperate cry and their desire to rescue their children by choosing the homeschool road. Is the grass greener on the other side? 

The choice to homeschool this unique learner comes with struggles and concerns but sprinkled with the extreme love that a parent provides. Of course, sometimes this “rescue” seems too daunting. Let me share some tips:

  1. Identification & Acceptance – Coming to grips with the fact that your child is unique and learns differently is a very important step. No parent wants things to be challenging for her child. Remember, there is HOPE! 
  2. Assessment – Identifying your child’s strengths and weaknesses is essential for a successful homeschool experience. Seek out informal and/or formal assessment. 
  3. Teaching Strategies – Explore a variety of teaching strategies to discover how your child learns best. 
  4. Choosing Curriculum – Stop comparing grade levels and teach at your child’s level. Period. Find their passions and inspire a love of learning! 
  5. Interventions – With your child’s assessment in hand, find professionals that can help direct their learning. This child can succeed! 

There certainly were days (or weeks) that I desperately wanted to send my child off to school-- to the “experts.” However, we plodded along on the journey. Some years later, he told me this:

“Homeschooling was hard, and every year I wondered if I should go to school. BUT now that I’m in college, I realize how homeschooling has shaped who I am. It has given me the skills I needed to succeed and accomplish my career goals.”

I’m thankful that we persevered in homeschooling this child! 

Please join us in our discussion in this Facebook group: Homeschooling Your Unique Learner in Canada. 

Diane is passionate about helping kids learn, developing their strengths, and improving their weaknesses. After homeschooling her own 5 children for 25 years, Diane trained to become a Professionally Certified Educational Therapist. She operates GeerLINKS Educational Therapy  and continues to serve the homeschool community. 
Contest Winners

David, age 16. Ontario

Many Canadians celebrate Victoria Day, and they celebrate in many different ways. Canadians celebrate by watching fireworks, doing some gardening, or doing just about anything else outdoor related. But some Canadians don't know why Victoria Day is celebrated. Most Canadians know it has something to do with Queen Victoria. Most likely we, as Canadians, would know it has something to do with her birthday. But the question of "why?" still stands. 

Victoria Day always falls on the last Monday before May 25 th. This year Victoria Day will fall on May 21 st. Last year the date was May 22 nd and next year it will be May 20 th. So Victoria Day's date changes each year. Queen Victoria's actual birthday was on May 24 th (1819). That is why Victoria Day was originally celebrated on May 24 th. "Victoria Day" has been celebrated on that date since at least 1845, even though it wasn't called Victoria Day then. In 1845 on May 24 th around 5,000 people from Canada West gathered to "give cheers for their queen". These gatherings happened annually all the way up to 1866. By 1866 the way it was celebrated was more similar to today's way of celebrating. There were athletic competitions, a torch procession, and a gun salute. By 1890 Victoria Day was considered a Patriotic holiday. When Queen Victoria died in 1901, May 24 th was officially made Victoria Day in honour of the "Mother of Confederation" as Queen Victoria was sometimes called. Victoria Day was later moved to the last Monday before May 25 th as it is now. 

Canada is the only country where Victoria Day is an official holiday, and it is celebrated in many different ways. Fireworks, having a barbeque, gardening, picnics, and yard sales are all very popular because of Victoria Day is a day where the weather always seems to be nice. Many gardeners also view Victoria Day as the unofficial beginning of spring. 

For Victoria Day my community doesn't have much other than fireworks later in the evening. So during the day we go out and we clean up around the yard (often for the first time that year) and we get the gardens all organized and cleaned up as well. Then in the evening we all pile into the van and head over to the park, where they have the fireworks all set up. The fireworks are spectacular, sudden bursts of light and sound, contrasting starkly against the black of the sky and the quiet of the night. But the best part is that we are all enjoying them together. 

Victoria Day is an official holiday, unique Canada, and was created to celebrate the birthday of Queen Victoria. Queen Victoria was the one who gave sovereignty to Canada, so Victoria Day is our way of honouring and remembering her, and the life she gave Canada. 

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No limits.
We know you want your child to excel and be his or her very best. That’s why we’ve assembled dozens of resources in our  Special Needs Focused Learning Center  to help you find the best teaching methods for your child. Here’s a look at just some of the resources included:

  • Special Needs, a 21-part program to help those with children who have special needs, be it language delays or deficits, dyslexia, or difficulty with math
  • Strengthening Behavioral and Social Skills resources
  • You Can Homeschool Your Special Needs Child article series
  • Your Child’s Learning Style article series
  • Special Needs Trenches article series
  • Homeschooling Through the Rough Spots article series
  • Kinetic Connections ideas for hands-on learning
  • The Homeschooling Your Extra-Special Blessing webinar by Heather Laurie from
  • Reading Remedies reading help for struggling readers by Dr. Matthew Glavach
  • Special Families with Special Needs article series

Plus eBooks for parents, video-based lessons in select courses, and so much more. All our nearly 400 courses on , along with all our parent resources, are available to your family with your membership. If you haven’t yet joined , come give us a try! If you or someone you know would be interested in teaching or writing for us or helping us adapt existing courses for children with special needs, let us know. You can email me at . We look forward to serving you and your family!

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