I would come every year to our local homeschool kick off classes and wonder if anyone else wanted to homeschool, but had children that struggled so hard to learn as I did. I would sit and look around at everyone and imagined their children at perfectly still in desks with textbooks in front of them. I wanted to have a class that covers some of the practical tips for homeschooling when learning doesn’t come easy. I have since learned that this was not the case.
Learning struggles look different for everyone. For me, I have had children that struggled in a variety of ways. If you are persevering in homeschooling a child that struggles in academics is pat yourself on the back. Then, give yourself a hug from almost everyone in this room. You are not alone. I know it is hard. It is a lonely journey you are traveling if you let it be. But I am here to encourage you to have hope.
There are many ways to succeed when your child struggles.
One of the first steps is to figure out how your particular child learns.
The Way They Learn by Cynthia Tobias
You can’t make me… but I can be persuaded by Cynthia Tobias
Every Child Can succeed by Cynthia Tobias
Beyond Survival by Diana Waring
How to teach your child by Tamara Chilver
Next, support is one of the most important things you can have. I thought when I had a child that didn’t learn to read within the first 6 weeks of teaching I was alone. I thought that I had failed and took it personally. “I would work harder. I would push them harder.” I sat and read The Well trained mind.” This book told me I failed. I sat alone, sobbing on the couch, thinking of all things I should have done. I was so afraid to talk to anyone, and when I asked, I was told, “They are young, they will get it, just give them some time.”
The truth is, when you are dealing with a learning disability, you need to get help and support now. This means seeking out the first level on the ladder of help.
Start with the physical. This means eye exams and a doctor’s physical. This can be hard if you are the kind of family that doesn’t go to doctors normally. But it is an important rung on the ladder of seeking support.
Then next, be honest with the doctor and the other veteran homeschool moms. Let them know you are not talking about a normal disinterested child. Get referrals to the next exam on the ladder from experienced moms and the doctor. There can be many reasons a child can struggle. Get involved in your local support group. If there is not one, start one. Make it a priority. When you talk to other moms, you can realize you are not alone and keep going.
- What about when they are older and struggle? How do you protect them from mocking, yet don’t allow for excuses? Get them involved in something they are good at. Ask yourself, what are their strengths? What can they do really well and it makes them feel good. Since school is a struggle, give them one thing they enjoy and feel like they are conquering something. Many kids that do poorly in school are some of our best athletes. Sports can really help as they work out their energy and frustration on a different playing field.
- Stop trying to make things fun. When a child struggles, school is not fun for them. Some things will be more enjoyable, but help them to realize this is a job that they are required to do, rather than something that they will enjoy. In time, enjoyment may come, but for now, work to teach the importance of working hard.
- Stop rejecting technology – There are a ton of resources for children that have brains that work a different way. We have been programmed for many years as homeschoolers, that technology is not the best. It might not be the best for everyone, but if your child struggles, you are not giving him a crutch, you are giving him a tool. Use technology and make it work for you. It is not second best; it is the best for them. Examples of technology that you can use- iPad, Dragon Speak, audio textbooks, audio books, headphones, iPod, Teaching Textbooks, etc.
- Seek help when you can’t do it. There is no shame in this. In fact, this is what makes you a good mom and teacher. Get a tutor or even go to the school district. They are not required to help you, but they do offer a lot of help.
To close up, I would just encourage you. You will have good days and bad days. On the bad days, seek out learning. If that means no one can sit still to listen to you read, maybe today you watch a movie about the Great Chicago Fire. Jumping jacks while you quiz multiplication tables, or sometimes it means you go out and hike Lone Pine. Remember tomorrow is another day. Don’t give up! On the way to Lone Pine put an audio history book in or Foreign language CD’s, geography songs. When you are hiking, talk to them. Get them noticing and doing things in nature. When you get home, try again with math. Be flexible! Learning can happen anywhere and anytime.
http://simplehomeschool.net Articles for encouragement and guidance
http://www.diannecraft.org Child Diagnostics
https://www.learningally.org Audio textbooks and other books
http://www.homeschoolbuyersco-op.org/homeschool-special-needs-curriculum/ – Reading, math, etc. assistance for a fraction of the regular price through membership
https://www.hslda.org/strugglinglearner/sn_testing.asp -Resources for testing
http://www.hslda.org/strugglinglearner/sn_help.asp- Special needs help
https://www.youtube.com/user/crashcourse – Crash Course history- Fast paced history facts
http://schooltutoring.com – Online Tutoring services
Our children may have unique things about them, but if you can persevere, you will succeed until through the struggles.