Teaching the Challenging Child: Special Needs or Something Else?
July 4, 2018
Mercy Every Minute  
Most of you know that I have raised a challenging child. So many struggles. Sensory issues, rebellion, reacting inappropriately to situations instead of responding properly, dysgraphia, but also very smart! But here’s the thing: from my rebel’s birth forward, I was her expert. I knew her best: what made her melt down, what motivated her, how she learned and how she didn’t—I knew her better than any expert could. I also had my own private Counselor (Christ Himself) to give me wisdom on a daily basis (and I needed it daily) and I often shared that wisdom with my child because I knew that would be the most important factor in her upbringing. We had to walk by faith and not by sight for ten long years. You can listen to our journey on the TOS YouTube channel here.

For those ten years, she fought the wrong fight. She fought us, her siblings, and the Lord. Today, we now see a girl who is fighting the right fight. She was created to fight the enemy of her soul while making an impact on this ungodly culture in her pro-life, evangelistic efforts. She was created perfectly for this ministry.

God never gave up on her even when I wanted to. Not one day. He never gave up on me either. Where there is another day and another breath, there is always hope. 

I know that raising a challenging child can cause you to want to say, “I Quit!” And believe me, I know those feelings are real! When these feelings threaten to take over, and life is challenging with your difficult children, run to your Helper. When you feel like you are failing and need extra strength, you will find it in Him alone. 

Just as no one understands your rebel as you do, no one understands you like God does. His presence and His Word are a lifeline to a drowning homeschool parent (and child)! Hold on for dear life, and walk by faith that God’s Word will not return void.

“Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:25, 26

Praying for all your rebels today,

~Deborah

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Lisa Marie Fletcher
There are days when giving up seems like the best option. The idea of sending children to school for 8 hours instead of constantly being at war with you and disrupting the peace of your home often has a definite appeal. But in your heart you know that it would never be the best solution—not for you and definitely not for them. So . . . homeschooling it is. 

After many years in the trenches with a very challenging child, I have a few tips I can offer that might help you get through the rough days.

  1. Clear Expectations.

Giving my child a visual chart or checklist of things that need to be done in a day means that he explicitly knows what I expect of him, makes it easier for him to be successful, and doesn't give him any extra surprises which can lead to fights.

  1. Changed Expectations.

Even though he is amazingly smart, I have to expect something different from him than I do of my other children if I don't want to butt heads. This might mean that I have to scribe his work. It might mean that we work at a lower grade level. It might mean that he gets to skip a worksheet or do oral feedback instead. It might mean cutting out the “extras” such as spelling or French.

  1. Go Outside the Box.

Change things up if they constantly cause conflict. For example, I noticed that transitions from one thing to the next were a huge issue. So, I had to remove transitions. Instead of expecting him to complete multiple subjects everyday, I moved to a single subject a day and things have been much more peaceful. 

  1. Lots and Lots of Positive Praise.

It's usually EASY to find all the frustrating things they do and respond to their behaviour with irritation and anger, but sincere praise is much more important to their hearts. It's up to us as parents to find the positive and fuel them up with that. 

Remember, you can do everything in the world to make homeschooling a challenging child better and still have bad days. Just keep trying to find solutions—and buy chocolate for you. You deserve it. 

Lisa Marie Fletcher is a busy homeschooling mom of 5 who somehow manages to find some time to blog at   The Canadian Homeschooler where her mission is to help connect homeschoolers across Canada with each other and with resources to help them on their journey. 
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Diane Geerlinks
GeerLINKS Educational Therapy
The journey of homeschooling is full of twists and turns, questions and uncertainties, challenges and trials. What do you do when your child learns differently or struggles to learn the concepts that seem so easy for their siblings or their peers? All across the country homeschool moms quietly ponder these thoughts in their hearts. 

“Am I even a good teacher? Or am I dealing with a child who is just plain, old disobedient? This child is so witty and so brilliant when it comes to learning about the world around him. But, when I sit down with her at the diningroom table with schoolwork in hand, the tears flow, the tone of voice changes, and anxiety arises in both myself and this child. And, if I even walk to the kitchen to pour my coffee, I hear the words that turn my hair on end, ‘Mom, I need you.’ Why is homeschooling this child so hard?”

One of the reasons many of us choose to homeschool our children is to offer them the unique experience of learning at their own pace, in their own way. But it certainly isn’t as easy to implement this philosophy when our children seem to be falling behind. We can’t help but wonder, “Why is this so hard for him? At what point will she really catch up?” 

The comparison game is a risky game to play. All of our children are unique and have individual strengths and weaknesses. Let’s celebrate and recognize these attributes. But, if your children’s weaknesses are the barrier to their learning potential, it is important to address them. There seems to be an underlying theme among homeschoolers that if you wait, they’ll eventually “get” it. Waiting doesn’t make the learning struggle go away.  

There definitely is a time and place for homeschool families to find outside help to work through the challenges. I have personally experienced this with my own homeschooled child as well as with the many homeschool students that we work with in our therapy centres. Finding someone to come alongside you, someone to validate your concerns, and someone to direct you and your child on the right path can be lifegiving! You may need some new help and some new hope injected into your homeschool. I have seen students’ lives changed! 

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. 
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Anna, age 12, Ontario

Cottage, Queen and New Traditions

The roads are curvy, bumpy and hilly. I’m starting to feel car sick. We turn the next corner and I get my first glimpse of the lake. We back into the driveway and all hop out of the car. We have made it to the cottage. It is Victoria Day weekend.

While walking to the cottage, I walk through the tall grass and swat at the blackflies. I walk into the cottage and look around. There are dead flies everywhere. I take a deep breath and it smells like summer - the wood beams, the sunscreen, the dusty furniture. 

As soon as I have finished my chores of sweeping up the dead flies and dusting the floors, I race through the narrow path in the woods to find my cousins. It has been a long winter of not seeing my cousins and this weekend marks the start of a good summer together. 

In their cottage, a toasty fire is blazing. It takes the chill out of the air. We all catch up and decide to start exploring. Up the road, we find a few fallen trees, and the ones we can we throw into the woods. We climb up our tree fort to see how it survived the winter. 

We run down to the lake and poke our toes in. It is cold! We dare each other to go in a little further and a little further, to the point where our bodies are numb. We all splash around and dunk under. Now it is time to warm up around a hot campfire. 

This is our family tradition for Victoria Day. We are celebrating together because of Queen Victoria’s birthday. Victoria was the queen when Canada became a nation in 1867. In fact, some call her the “Mother of Confederation”. Every year on Victoria Day, the Canadian flag goes down, to be replaced with the Royal Union Flag from sunrise to sunset on all federal buildings.

This year there will be no cottage, no cousins, and no campfire. Our family has moved to the birthplace of Queen Victoria. We are going to have to start new traditions. Maybe this year we will watch the royal wedding. Maybe we will have tea, clotted cream, scones and jam. Maybe we walk along the seaside and dip our toes in. 

It is funny to think that my cousins back home are seeing the same flag flown on Victoria Day that I get to look at every day in England. 

Kaira, age 12, Ontario
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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 SpecialNeedsHomeschooling.com
  • 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 SchoolhouseTeachers.com, along with all our parent resources, are available to your family with your membership. If you haven’t yet joined SchoolhouseTeachers.com, 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 bhudson@TheOldSchoolhouse.com. We look forward to serving you and your family!

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