Friday, October 28, 2016

Homeschooling a Special Needs Teen ~ November Goals

We have had to change our homeschool approach several times in the last year for our son. He used to love unit studies and lots of hands-on projects. As the years have gone by and the workload has become more intense, he has struggled and become more and more disinterested in school. This year I took a very child-led approach in the beginning. This break helped him to reconnect with his former love of learning. But I am aware that much of the way he used to learn is not having the level of retention that he needs. Therefore, we are trying some new learning approaches. 

As my son has grown into his teen years, he has really started to come into his own. However, the older he gets, the more I see some learning challenges that could potentially affect his future. Here are some of his personality traits.
  • He is very bright. 
  • He doesn't feel confident about his learning abilities.
  • He is obedient (if he truly understands what you expect from him). 
  • He NEEDS very clear visual directions. 
  • He is an extreme visual learner with a need for carefully picked hands-on projects that pull the lesson together.
  • He becomes fixated on learning certain things, and it is hard to keep him focused on the regular assignments.
  • He loves music and art and is creative in those areas.
  • He is very particular about words ~ they must be clear, used properly and be used few and far between (so instead use visual communication).
  • He is a concrete, black-and-white thinker, who struggles with gray areas (especially in social skills and how he feels others should meet his high standards of behavior).
  • He says what he thinks, even when it isn't nice (which is a poor social skill). 
  • His body, which is affected by cerebral palsy, gets in the way of his creativity and takes a lot of energy away from his day.

To try to find the best educational fit for him, I am trying to plan month-by-month what we will do. Of course, as always, I will try to meet his desires and encourage his love of learning, while establishing the basics as a strong foundation for his future. November is one of the most challenging months of the year for our family. It is when The Nutcracker and the Mouse King takes over our lives. Listed below are our goals for November and how I hope to implement them.
  • Math three times a week (if we are able to do more...great... but three times is a must).
  • He will read four times a week for personal reading time.
  • He will also read one  historical chapter book or biography and give some kind of a presentation on what he knows.
  • Science with our friend weekly (two to three hours).
  • Art ~ with Miss Laura weekly, with Grandma once, ArtAchieve and independently.
  • Write two 500 word essays ~ due dates ~ November 10 and November 23.
  • Start Cover Story with our homeschool friend two times a week.
  • For family read-aloud time, we will read Hitty Her First Hundred Years.
  • CNN Student News daily.
  • Practice musical instruments daily.
  • Read to him the book, Manners Made Easy for Teens.
  • Dance classes, extra weekend rehearsals, Tech Week for The Nutcracker and the Mouse King will total up to an estimated 40+ hours for the month (not including the four shows in December).

It seems like I may be missing something, and I am sure there will be educational opportunities that present themselves along the way, but this is the main plan. Most importantly, my goal is to provide a rich environment filled with love and peace. 

Blessings, Dawn


  1. I know exactly what you mean about having to constantly tinker in order to get the best balance for your special needs student. I have that, with James especially. I don't know how you get all of that done during rehearsal month! He is so lucky to have you as his teacher and mother.

  2. I'm still searching so very, very hard for the correct balance for my oldest. She is so dear to me, and it is such a tremendous challenge to help her. I appreciate reading your challenges and solutions.

  3. I struggle with this with Jack. I'm actually thinking he might go to school next year, partly because I feel like I can't get him to do "enough." Maybe someone else can hold him to a higher standard.

    I admire the way you've really thought it out and are working to make it just right for your son.

  4. The more I home school the more I see that every child is learning challenged to some degree. They each have their strengths where learning happens freely and with ease and they each have their weaker areas where in order for learning to happen we need to be ultra creative in how we present and attack the learning.
    I really believe God created each child so individually for such a specific purpose, and it is that, as home school parents, we have the freedom to find and release.
    I think you are such a thoughtful and intentional parent that all your children will do well regardless of their difficulties in life because you have given them a background of consistent love.