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  1. #1

    Default Thinking of homeschooling my older child with learning challenges

    Hello All!

    My husband and I are very seriously considering homeschooling our 11 year old daughter. Actually, we've decided that this is right for her but we're now in the Dazed and Confused stage. I had briefly approached the idea a few years ago, but quickly talked myself out of it using the "I'm not an educator, therefore I am not qualified or smart enough" excuse. I've finally overcome that mindset. I mean, I'm an EMT, a massage therapist, bartender, yoga teacher and entrepreneur...I think I've proven that I can learn anything so why can't I teach one child, specifically the one child I know better than anyone?

    Quick history on my DD: M is 11 and has medical challenges that require a feeding pump and medications, so that has always been a huge stress for public school. The current school is fabulous at handling that and didn't fight us about a 504 plan, but she needs evaluations for learning problems that I've noticed since she was in kindergarten. These issues are constantly brushed off as "age appropriate" but now that she's 2 grades behind in math, I cannot understand where their line is between age appropriate and actual problem. We are financially *finally* getting to a point where we can pay for the evaluation since the school district is dragging their collective feet. I have a strong feeling that we're dealing either with some combination of stealth dyslexia, ADD and executive function disorder of some sort. We've had sensory issues since she was a baby but graduated from therapy, but I'm afraid it's re-emerging in ways that are affecting her schooling and her teachers are not prepared or willing to deal with it. She is very bright but has a horrible time "proving" it in traditional classrooms. Every parent teacher conference left me feeling like a crappy mom, in tears and too frustrated to put together a thoughtful dialogue with her teachers.

    I know that identifying exactly what we're dealing with will help guide the curriculum we choose, but I'm curious as to whether you have had experience educating your kiddos that have learning challenges? Are there curriculum to stay away from or even some that cater to these kiddos specifically? From what I'm seeing, an all in one will probably not work for her. She's all over the map when it comes to what grade she operates on for any given subject. I'm very lucky to have a cousin in town that is homeschooling her child (same age) with dyslexia and ADHD, and she pointed me towards Calvert, which has extra resources for learning challenges. I don't want to just default to it because it would be free though. I want to make sure that M and I BOTH understand and like the material. My cousin is a wealth of information, but she's also wildly busy between her work from home job and schooling her DD. I'm not worried about socialization, we're already involved in outside extracurriculars like archery and yoga, and she can do more PE with my CrossFit gym (yes yes, we're good at keeping safe form in our olympic lifts, haha!) My husband is 100% supportive, but he is her step-dad. Her dad will probably be on board once we develop an actual plan.

    I'm looking for curriculum: that will be flexible with her grade discrepancies, is adaptable for learning disabilities and is bviously secular since I'm on this site Very preferable is something that allows for creative and out of the box learning, like onsite learning visits to museums etc. Looking up curriculum is confusing and daunting. When M was younger she went to a cooperative preschool that sampled Montessori and Waldorf principles and she really thrived there. She's a very kinsesthetic learner (like her mamma) and does way better when she can see, her and DO the lesson rather than just read or hear it.

    I know it's a lot of jabber and questions but I feel like we need a little hand holding in the beginning! Thanks in advance!


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  3. #2


    There are plenty of curriculum choices out there, most of us stay away from all-in-ones, instead more eclectically go for individual math, language arts, science, social studies, and the like. Sort of like learning a foreign language, you can choose Rosetta Stone, Duolingo, or whatever is currently trendy. No need to buy everything from one place, and if you do, chances are they dont specialize in any of it.
    If your cousin has Calvert stuff free, you could try some of the components as they suit you. Nobody will force you to use all of it! (I dont think anyone here uses it.)
    You also might want to start one subject at a time, so you arent trying to figure out a routine and a whole new lifestyle. Sort of like you wouldnt (okay, well I wouldnt) start a new diet, exercize routine, and housekeeping plan all at once. In addition, time off from schooling altogether (known as deschooling) would probably be a good idea. A couple weeks or months off from struggling about school stuff would likely do more good than harm. It wont make her fall behind. (But, most new homeschoolers dont seem to do this, and deal with burnout and stress in a few months, when everything isnt working out as planned before the start.)

    Let us know what sort of things your daughter likes, and how you think she would learn best. Its going to be trial and error for a while, dont panic when you get something that doesnt sit with either of you. And be especially grateful and appreciative of free!

    Also, at this age, you dont need a lot of curriculum. My son (just turned 11) is doing medieval history, which is consisting of Horrible Histories videos (british edutainment geared to kids), and making a medieval village in Minecraft. For the writing component of language arts, he is answering questions about the HH videos, and practicing short paragraphs. Hes also writing a medieval-set story. Learning doesnt need to be worksheets. (He's still reading the Percy Jackson books relating to Greek Gods... Im not pushing him to change gears.)

    Let us know, we can help!
    Homeschooling DS11, DS5.


    My spelling and typing are fine, its my keyboard that doesnt cooperate.

  4. #3


    I agree with AM about the deschooling. Especially if school itself has been a significant sort of stress in her life. Then, what I would do, is add a subject at a time. Start maybe with her favorite subject and then add one she struggles with, and just add them a little at a time. A) it will give her time to get a handle on each subject, B) let you truly see where she is, and C) not overwhelm both of you by starting it all up at once.

  5. #4


    This may not be helpful, but I know someone who swears by the orton-gillingham approach for their tween/teen with dyslexia. I see on the internet that some use it via homeschooling.
    Last edited by Bham Gal; 01-07-2017 at 11:26 PM.

  6. #5
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    First of all, take one of those really deep breaths and feel yourself relaxing because the truth is, it's about to get FUN! In my opinion homeschooling a child with any kind of challenges (physical or educational) is 1000% less stressful than always trying to push for what's best for your kiddo within the system. Both my sons had special needs and I wouldn't have traded homeschooling for the world (we're all done now, but I'm in the nostalgic looking back stage). When you're customizing an education for your own child, there are no specific rules to follow and no "failures" - - simply experiences and things you learn from experience. Plus, don't ever second guess yourself as a teacher. I never saw myself as a teacher for my boys; just a facilitator who tried to help them get to the right resources at the right time.

    As far as curriculum, Time4Learning was a big help for us because, like you, my youngest was on different levels for different subjects, and Time4Learning gives you access to the grade above and the grade below the one you sign up for. Plus, its got a big focus on kids who learn differently. As far as specifically kinesthetic programs, you can browse the curriculum directory here at SHS and filter to programs that are listed as "multisensory" and that will guide you toward some great stuff in different subjects. The best advice, though, is not to put too much money into curriculum at the beginning. Spend some time getting to know your daughter's learning style, her interests, and her curiosities, and the curriculum part will come naturally over time.

    Please do keep us posted with how things are going and don't hesitate to ask ANY questions here along the way!

  7. #6


    In my state, if you give a letter to the administration requesting testing, they must do it within so many days. I would start there, and see if they find anything. I pulled my DD, and 6 months later decided we needed the evaluation, so I had one done at a college. It was the best think I did for my DD, and I wish I had started with a basic evaluation before we ever started or insisted the school do one when we continued to have issues. You cannot work on issues if you don't know what those issues are- first you have to find what is going on. It could be ADD, ADHD, oral comprehension, auditory processing, dyslexia- there really is no way to say without looking at the testing.

    Once you know the results, you will know where to start. There are lots of curriculums out there, and you will be able to adjust to fit your daughter. Homeschooling is such a wonderful opportunity for kids who don't learn in the (boring) traditional way- so many ways to customize and fit your childs interests and personality!
    Mom to 5 great kids~

  8. #7


    We are definitely getting our own round of testing done. At the end of the last school year, I felt like I finally had all of the teachers in my corner, agreeing that DD appeared to have some kind of processing issue and they said there would be an evaluation. The day after we turned in our paperwork, the SPED teacher called me and said that they had been "watching" her so they could evaluate her for an IEP. They said she made it hard because she'd catch up, then fall behind, catch up, fall behind. What bothers me about this is that I was never told that they were beginning this process and at our most recent parent teacher conference the teacher acted like she had zero clue that an evaluation was ever supposed to happen. Serious communication breakdown, everywhere. Nice people, but they had no idea which end was up.

    I have a good referral for a specialist here in town, so now we need to come up with the money. I still think it is a better route than waiting on the school to gather whatever data they said they were getting. I now recall this same situation happening in 3rd grade. I voiced concerns about a learning problem and they said they had her in some kind of "watching" program and nothing ever happened.

    I think we're going the ecclectic approach, although now I'll check out Time4Learning since Topsy so kindly suggested it for grade level discrepancies (thank you!) DD actually told me she's excited and was asking all kinds of questions last night, so that got me more excited!
    Last edited by JenneyA; 01-18-2017 at 10:11 PM.

  9. #8


    If you live in a state that does not require that you jump in right away, you might consider wanting to take a break, do some informal learning. If she is a kinesthetic learner, you may want to play board and card games. We love to play games and they are a very tangible way to learn. This will give you time to work with her and you can search for a curriculum, if you feel like you need it. That and find some enjoyable reading. This will also allow you to work with her assessments and not have to keep changing things up as you figure things out.

    When you are trying out curriculums, make sure to get their samples. The good ones have very complete samples, sometimes multiple chapters so you can try before you buy. If they won't share something, I would be wary.

    Good luck!
    A mama, who teaches college writing, as well as help her 10-year-old in
    choosing his own life adventure. Using Global Village School to support our desire to develop a sense of social justice and global awareness.
    I also share free and low-cost educational resources at

  10. #9


    If you are planning to finish out the school year, then I would pay careful attention to what works and what does not. You can also use say the first month of the summer (plus the school breaks left) to do educational play and see what techniques work and what kinds of materials your child is drawn to. I would not do anything intensive, as I also believe that a detox period is helpful when your child is too stressed out. You'll also need to see what your state requires so you know what is non-negotiable and what you can flex and scaffold.

    My son is diagnosed as autistic but has ADHD tendencies so I make sure that we accommodate that. For us, the main thing is to give him a lot of time in which to get things done, so if he melts down over something (far less frequent these days) or he gets detracted, we can get what we need done. The main thing when you have a stressed child is to make it sure it seems successful.

    I am not sure specifically what kind of remediation your child needs, but if your child is visual, I would make sure my materials are visually appealing. If your child needs movement, provide movement. For us, sitting still and reading boring walls of text is a no go, even in the things my son excels in. So, I make sure what we have is visually interesting and appealing and/or interactive whenever I can.

  11. #10


    Hi! Mom of three with issues of various sorts.....

    Get the school to do the eval. Put it in writing. Even if you remove her from school, they should still do it, you just need to bring her in for the testing.

    Consider getting her vision tested by a developmental optometrist. They will check to see that the eye muscles are working together properly. My oldest son had these issues....he had all sorts of sensory issues because when he sat still, he saw two of things, when he moved, he saw one. Once he did the therapy, things improved a lot. He had reading issues, but could read if the font was large enough. After therapy, he improved by many levels. (He was 3rd grade, reading 2nd grade level when he started. Within a year of finishing therapy he was reading high school level. Your daughter sounds a lot like but you can't prove it with "tests".)

    Younger son is dyslexic. No amount of vision therapy was going to fix that. His issue is hearing the sounds and dividing them up. CAT might only be one, or two sounds to him. He also has memory issues, so lots of repeating necessary. Hands on things are best for him.

    For younger son, RightStart Math has been great. I would contact them and see how to do a placement test. It is very hands on, worked really well for my youngest. If I could do it over again, I would probably do Susan Barton's reading program for him, but I panicked and got an IEP and asked what they were using and ended up doing Funnix over the summer, which brought him up to 3rd grade. Then we did Logic of English Essentials. I allow him to dictate his writing into his iPad and then revise it. I have him doing Touch Type Read and Spell for typing/spelling as it talks to the kids, which no other typing program does. It is spelling as well as typing, two birds with one stone.

    As you learn more about your daughter, you can come back and ask what curriculum works best for that. Take this leap...don't let her be limited any more. It sounds like they may feel that they are already doing enough....but she deserves what you can give her.

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Thinking of homeschooling my older child with learning challenges