Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Homeschool Advice for Parents of Children with Learning Disabilities and other Special Needs

One of the books that I recommend to friends who are thinking of homeschooling is Help for the Harried Homeschooler by Christine Field.  It covers the bases of the big picture well of what it looks like to homeschool and what many of the challenges are.  It doesn't go in depth into curriculum recommendations because many other books do.  She does include a short chapter on choosing curriculum that is full of very good advice.

Christine has written several other books for homeschooling. I do have one of her other books, Life Skills for Kids, which is also great.  It covers manners, chores, and all the other skills (besides academics) that we want to teach our kids when we homeschool.  

This week I read one of her books that I've been curious about for a while, even though it doesn't apply to my family right now.  Sometimes I wonder if God is preparing me for what may be ahead by prompting me to read a book like the one I read this week.  

Christine wrote a book titled Homeschooling the Challenging Child.  This book covers a lot of the challenges parents face when they choose to homeschool their child if the child has a learning disability or other challenge like ADHD.  This book is similar to many ways to Help for the Harried Homeschooler except that it specifically addresses how homeschooling is different for parents in this situation.  She begins the book by defining disabilites, differences, discipline, personality, and learning styles.  In the next chapters, she tackles teaching the distractible child, personality clashes, learning styles, and discipline.  She also wisely addresses how to keep yourself sane as the homeschool parent--what are strategies you can use to cope with the daily struggles you face.  She even explains how to develop a homeschool "IEP", or individual education plan, so that you can best document your child's progress.  (That is the goal of records--to help you and your child see how he or she grown and developed!)  From there she talks about planning your child's learning program and getting help.  At the end of the book, there is a list of resources for phonics and math curriculums.  As a book reviewer, I thought her reviews in this section were well written, thorough, and helpful.  

A few weeks ago, I posted a review of Heads Up Helping by Melinda Boring.  You can read that review HERE if you're interested.  That book tackled all the daily strategies that she developed over the years of homeschooling her son, who has ADHD, and her daughter, who is ADD.  What I loved most about that book was how honest and down to earth her writing is.  She shares many practical ways of how she helped her children learn.  I noted on that review that there were topics she didn't cover.  Christine Field's book covers many of those topics.  The two books complement each other.  Ms. Boring's book will encourage and give you an arsenal of tools to use every day.  Ms. Field's book gives the big picture framework that your homeschool will operate within.  

I do want to make one side note about Ms. Field's book.  In Help for the Harried Homeschooler, she references two authors that I don't recommend, Michael and Debi Pearl.  Their approach to parenting is very different than mine.  I'd actually recommend Growing Grateful Kids by Susie Larson instead.  I have found her approach to be more filled with grace.  

In Homeschooling the Challenging Child, Ms. Field includes another author that I'm a bit skittish about.  The author is Cynthia Tobias.  She is well known in the homeschooling community for her advocacy of teaching to learning styles.  I disagree with her on matters of parenting, which obviously influence how one homeschools.  Specifically, she and I disagree about submission to God and His authority, which I believe one must do.  I believe there are some good ideas in what she says, but I'd recommend that you filter her ideas through how you feel called by the Lord to parent your children.  

On the issue of submission to authority, Ms.Field and I do agree.  She explains the importance of this in one of the chapters of her book that children do need to learn to submit to the authorities in their lives.  I was very glad that Ms. Field addresses this in her book because I think it's a really difficult part of parenting and I have heard from my friends who face challenges with their children that it is particularly difficult for them.  

If you are starting out homeschooling your child and facing challenges like a learning disability or ADHD, I'd definitely recommend this book to you.  It's one you'll keep on your bookshelf and refer back to time and time again.  If you're not homeschooling yet, but thinking of taking your child out of school and beginning to homeschool, I'd recommend both this book and Melinda Boring's book.

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of Homeschooling the Challenging Child for review from the author, Christine Field.

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