Homeschooling A Special Child
We’ve never been a “label” kind of family so our son has never been officially diagnosed with any disorder, but unfortunately, he definitely shows signs of one of the “A” disorders. We decided early, however, that that would not define him. He’s 7 now, and we have come through so many challenges already. He’s definitely a special child! Here’s a little background…
What defines my special son?
Our son was born with an unexpected right clubfoot. This required months of casting and then brace wearing. When he was a newborn, he had an excellent disposition, but after his treatment started, his attitude changed. He became extremely fussy, and this only increased as he got older. As a toddler, he would have crying spells that would last up to 2 hours. He also did not talk. By age 3, he was only saying about 10 words. I read everything I could on the subject, but unfortunately the information is so wide-ranging that it went from “he has a severe speech delay to he’s a normal but slower developing child.” I finally decided to try some specific supplements, and within a few weeks of starting them, his speech had increased by at least 10 times. His emotional state also started to improve.
Where’s he at now?
Fast forward to him now and you would see a very active little boy who climbs, runs, jumps, and wrestles his way through each day. He’s still a very emotional person and struggles to regulate his temperament but improves all the time. He does have some issues with repeating long sentences and retaining details. Here’s what we do to tailor his learning experience and meet the very real challenges that come through him.
Steps we take to ensure success with our special son:
We homeschool! I frankly can’t imagine how I could possibly send him to a public school system. His emotional state can be very fragile, and he requires a significant amount of individual attention. Being home protects him from bullies that might pick at his speech problems or emotional response. His brother and sisters have never made fun of him for these so he is allowed to progress without shame.
Secondly, we realized early on his increased need for outdoor time and VERY active play. He is the roughest of our bunch and is constantly climbing, jumping, or running. He thrives when we put him in a remote outdoor setting such as a canoe or fishing trip. His emotional outbursts and frustration rarely exhibit themselves in these situations which often leads me to wonder if our indoor environment hasn’t contributed highly to many forms of attention deficit disorder.
We are not required to start formal schoolwork until age 7 at the beginning of the school year so our son will not officially start until Fall 2021. I am taking complete advantage of this because he needs as much maturing as he can possibly get. However, that doesn’t mean that we don’t teach him or encourage him to learn things like phonics, math, ect…We do! But first and foremost, we encourage his exploration of the world and learning character traits. We especially work with him on emotional regulation.
We’ve also found that keeping lessons short is necessary to his retention. One or two new concepts is enough! Too much is completely overwhelming to him and causes him to shut down. So, for example in letters, learning 1 or 2 letters a week is the right amount for him.
It’s extremely important to review a LOT with him. He IS a smart little boy, but repetition is key to his successful progress. It’s definitely not a one time and you’re done with him.
The biggest struggle I face with him is quite honestly his extremely short temper. It drives me batty, and my first instinct is to lash out. If I do though, it’s a fast track to him shutting down. So, God is working on me with our son and teaching me patience and self-control as well. The best thing I can do is step back, breathe, and pray. It also helps to acknowledge to myself that he has some very real challenges that aren’t his fault. It gives me greater compassion for him.
God has blessed us!
We are blessed with this child in spite of the struggles he and we go through. I know God has special things for him in the future and that God can use his diverse talents and skills in ways we can’t imagine. I feel privileged to get to participate in this by helping to train him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord!
Jenny is a wife to her amazing husband of 17 years and stay-at-home momma to 4 kids. She blogs at https://www.inconvenientfamily.com where she is learning that blessings aren’t always convenient.