The Challenges and Rewards of Homeschooling Adopted Children

Homeschooling is an arduous and rewarding option. When you adopt kiddos from hard places, there are many benefits to choosing homeschooling. In this episode of the podcast, Kathleen and her husband Jerry talk about the benefits and challenges of homeschooling adopted children. Some are intertwined, you must face the challenge to reap the reward.

Homeschooling Adopted Children

Podomatic link here.

iTunes link here.

Here are just some of the topics discussed:

  • There is often a language barrier. This can be cultural or literal. Probably both.
  • Homeschooling allows a child to acclimate to a home and feel secure.
  • School wasn’t the child’s original focus, survival was.
  • The child may have missed lots of school and need extra help.
  • The inability to keep up in class reinforces the lie the child may believe-I’m not smart.
  • Being at home with Mom/Dad helps them regulate.
  • The child may need one on one teaching.
  • You can teach to their bent.
  • In the home you have the freedom to get up and exercise frequently.
  • A child from a hard place has an emotional age that is half their physical age.
  • When the gap between the child and their peers widens, the child feels more frustration and may want to give up. When homeschooling, you are able to teach to the stage and not the age. This decreases the stress on the child to keep up with his peers.

 

Some Favorite Purchases of my Homeschooling Career

Curriculum. It’s a hot topic with homeschooling Moms. We love to talk books, books, books. If you are like me, you have spent an crazy amount of money on curricula. Sometimes I would hear that something was ‘the best’ and I ordered it…and it just didn’t work for my kids. I have books on my shelf right now that I feel guilty about giving away because we only read a few chapters or filled in a very few workbook pages. I hesitate to suggest any curriculum to anyone without knowing their kids’ learning style and Mom/Dad’s teaching style. However, on the other hand, my library shelves are heavy with books and cds that we here at The Guire Shire have used/read over and over. Those are worth sharing.

 

Favorite Purchases of my

  1. The Great Adventure by Jeff Cavins is a chronological walk through the Bible complete with a workbook and timeline. The Guires have walked through the Bible several times using the reading plan and listening to the teaching CDs that are full of history. Jeff shares the plan of salvation in an easy to comprehend way.

    The Bible is at the Heart of Our Faith…

    … and our relationship with God. Scripture informs our beliefs and inspires our devotions. It is the living Word of God, where our Father meets with us and lovingly speaks to us. Reading the Bible should bring us closer to Christ, but understanding it is not always easy. Many people tell me they have tried time and again to prayerfully read Scripture, but they get frustrated because they “just don’t get it.”

    The Great Adventure Catholic Bible study program is designed in such a way that anyone can make sense of the Bible and experience the life-changing power of God’s Word. Hundreds of thousands of people have found new meaning in their lives after going through The Great Adventure Bible studies. It is my prayer that you, too, will see how a newfound understanding of God’s Word can transform your life and bring you closer to Christ.- Jeff Cavins

  2. English from the Roots Up “Just as phonics helps children figure out what words are, Latin and Greek help them figure out what words mean.” -Joegil K. Lundquist, author. Each lesson begins with one Greek or Latin word, teaches its meaning, then gives children a list of from three to ten English words derived from the root word. For example, lesson ten introduces the Greek word kinesis meaning movement. The lesson then teaches five words derived from kinesis: kinetic, kinesiology, kinescope, cinema, and cinematographer. The words photos (light) and graph (write or draw) were introduced in the first two lessons, so children are connecting the last word to two Greek words they have already learned. This can create a picture in students’ minds of someone who can “draw” with “moving light,” making it easier for children to understand that a big word like cinematographer refers to the person who decides how to compose the scenes that he wants a movie camera to capture. Children each need a set of 100 cards, one for each lesson. Each card has the Greek or Latin word with a border of green for Greek words and red for Latin words. On the reverse are the derived words and their meanings. You can purchase sets of pre-made cards or make them along with your students….”- Cathy Duffy 
  3. Spelling PowerIntro video Spelling Power is the only spelling book I used for about fifteen years for seven students. The appeal of this program is any student who is ready to spell can use it at any level. One of my kids finished the whole program by the time he was a freshman in high school while others did not make it through the whole book. 
  4. Apologia Science If science seems overwhelming and over complicated, Apologia is the place to start. The texts are easy to understand, written to the student and full of experiments. When I started my homeschooling journey, I freaked out about doing science. I didn’t have a lab and I couldn’t imagine that I could perform experiments on my own. Turns out, I could. Apologia made it a little less scary. I dissected frogs, worms, fish, worms and crawdads (crayfish). We grew all sorts of beans in bags, kept pond water in jars for two weeks, mixed chemicals and found out which sort of veggies produced the most gas (canned, frozen or fresh). Once I strapped my science jeans (genes, get it?) on, Apologia helped me conquer my fears and go for it. 
  5. Teaching Textbook Math If you don’t feel as if you can teach high school math or you have students who would rather learn math on their own, Teaching Textbook is a great resource. Each grade level available comes with instructional videos, homework help and practice problems solved on the the DVD. 
    “Homeschooling through high school just got a whole lot easier! That’s because we’ve finally created a product that not only teaches high school math but does the grading as well. This new and improved version of Pre-Algebra is available for purchase now, at the same price as the old version, and its many NEW features include:
    1. Automated grading
    2. A digital gradebook that can manage multiple student accounts and be easily
      edited by a parent
    3. Over a dozen more lessons and hundreds of new problems and solutions
    4. Interactive lectures
    5. Hints and second chance options for many problems
    6. Animated buddies to cheer the student on
    7. Reference numbers for each problem so students and parents can see where a problem was first introduced
    8. An index
    9. Detailed appendices”

Each homeschooling family has a different personality and each should approach education according to their philosophy. I wouldn’t recommend a literature based curriculum to a math and science  type parent. Yet, I do feel there are some basics we can all agree upon. I hope my sharing these five suggestions helps you, whether you use them or this just gives you a starting point to make your own list to share.

Loving Children Who Love to Hate Starting School

*written by Audrey Simmons

 

When I was younger, our new curriculum for the year would arrive in the mail sometime in the mid to late summer and “unboxing day” was an exciting event. We’d go over every book, flipping through pages and exclaiming about our excitement. I’d marvel at how complex some of the math or science at the ends of the books seemed and my mom would have to confiscate readers that we attempted to start plowing through right there on the kitchen or living room floor. We were enthusiastic, and we were not an anomaly among homeschoolers. I know families who have started school a week or two earlier than planned just because the kids were so excited to start.

 

Some of these same kids, including us, would burn out a few weeks in and start complaining about math or writing– we weren’t saints, just kids– but that excitement sometimes made it easier to launch into our schedule and getting used to school again.

 

However, if you’re homeschooling kids on the spectrum or adopted children with attachment issues or learning challenges, you might not get that shot in the arm of enthusiasm. Maybe you home school but you and your child both silently (or loudly) dread each upcoming year.
Kids who love to hate starting school

 

Summer has been nice and you’re reluctant to start again what feels like an uphill battle, both ways, in a snow storm…just to start working, much less getting through the material itself.

 

One thing that can help is getting materials that plug in to a special interest, like a science or physics book structured around the study of cars, but where a neurotypical or attached child might immediately be excited to start, it might feel like this has backfired when working with autistic or attachment-disordered kids. That “unboxing day” might not have the same meaning for these kids.

 

Please don’t lose heart. Chances are, your child doesn’t hate the learning environment, you as a teacher, or the material– all things parents tend to interpret resistance being signs of– your child probably just has difficulty with transitions. Be consistent. Be pleasant. One of our biggest enemies, mentally, is our own expectations. If you are expecting a child to be thrilled to start, to switch to each “new book,” you’re going to both have a miserable day. If you anticipate some feet-dragging, some crying, some upset, you’ll be better prepared to handle it and not feel derailed.

 

For many kids, the transition to a new schedule is difficult, but where neurotypical or attached children may be whining and complaining six weeks in to the school year when you also want to come up with excuses for a day off, autistic children may be better motivators! They might be the kids pulling out the books, insisting on the new schedule that they’ve adjusted to, and helping you stay on track!

 

But some kids take much longer to even reach that point, if they ever do. Some kids with learning delays or oppositional disorders might rarely be enthusiastic about school as a whole. But after you’ve settled into your new schedule, resist the temptation to “change things up” unless you know for certain something isn’t working. These kids aren’t motivated by change. Be consistent in your schedule. And then start finding ways to introduce some excitement.

 

It might be themed stickers or small toys. It might be short YouTube videos. There is controversy about the health of offering food or treats as a motivator or reward, but I’ve found some success in offering a single chocolate chip or other small item for each broad task. Another thing that my kids in particular respond to is games– we can transition to a reading lesson if they know that I’ll sit and play an alphabet or word game with them, like Bananagrams or Pairs in Pears, after we finish or to aid the transition. Be willing to try this even if you feel like your child should be “too old” for such motivators!

 

 Do not lose heart! Do not grow weary of doing good. And you are doing good, giving your child(ren) a safe, attachment-fostering learning environment and presenting them with educational material. Our goals might sound like “teaching him to read” or “getting through algebra,” but ultimately your goal is to be faithful in the job you’ve been given and loving your child well. Your reward will come from God, not from your child. Take a deep breath, remember your child is not the enemy, and know that you aren’t alone.

What’s your homeschool style?


In my first year I of homeschooling, I did not have the advantage of scouring the internet or joining a forum.  I had never been to a vendor hall or talked to a representative of any curricula, so I took the path of least resistance.  I ordered some self-paced workbooks from one of the few catalogs that I had ordered by phone.

After a few days of workbooks, my oldest, Audrey balked.  Their was no scope for the imagination in workbooks.  No books.  No creative writing.  She, like her momma, craved words.  Lots of words.  Words to read.  Words to write.  The workbooks only provided snippets of literature- a portion of a chapter.  This was torture for a literature hungry soul.  
I wasn’t sure what to do.  My mind had not been renewed in the area of education and I thought the powers that be (whoever THEY are) would want me to push through and suffer like any good educator.

I did make some allowances and we visited our tiny library frequently.  Audrey loaded up on biographies and befriended the librarians.  Her thirst for knowledge was insatiable.  It went beyond the bounds of the schoolroom set-up.  She read everywhere all the time.  She wrote for hours.  Unfortunately, I felt compelled to make her work through the workbooks.

A couple years into my homeschooling career, I met Kelley and Ettica, some fellow homeschoolers.  We decided to start a homeschool co-op.  We had four families!  What joy!  I had women to talk to, compare notes with and resources for books.  I read, read, read about education and my philosophy began to change.  I used to think education was about filling in rubrics, meeting objectives and jumping through rote memorization hoops.  Now, I think differently.  I read these titles:


I more than read, I devoured them, hungry for this old, new philosophy.  Here’s a few quotes that changed my thinking:”We, as persons, are not enlightened by means of multiple-choice tests or grades, but rather by the other people in our lives that we come to know, admire, and love.  We are educated by our friendships and by our intimacies….Children are inspired by relationships, and this helps form their personalities.” -Karen Andreaola

I had to set aside my secular teaching degree, my rubrics, workbook, rote memorization hoops (not that they don’t have a place) and I realized- Audrey was educating herself in her free time through books.  She was forming relationships with people from long ago and joining the great conversation that has been going on since the invention of the written word.

“What is the best curriculum for a well-brought up person?  Whatever the specifics of the curriculum used in your home, be sure that your children each day have:

  • Something or someone to love
  • Something to do
  • Something to think about”  – Karen Andreola

what's your homeschool style_

I began a new quest for a curriculum choice that matched my new way of thinking.  Shortly after presenting a workshop entitled “YOU can do it” at our growing homeschool co-op, I was visiting friend Kelley.  I was checking out her bookshelves (like all homeschoolers do) and asked her what curriculum she used.  Sonlight.  She pulled an instructors guide off the shelve and I looked at the multitude of books and said, “I can’t do this!”  To which she said, “Yes, YOU can!”

That was many, many years ago.  I have been using Sonlight plus some supplements over the years and the literature rich curriculum just fits my family.  It may not fit yours.  Don’t feel pressure to order something that doesn’t.  Sonlight provides 27 Reasons NOT to buy Sonlight. If you are thinking about purchasing it, read this first!

I love Sonlight because it not only has the reading my family needed, it can be used for multiple children at once.  Sonlight traveled to Poland with us for five weeks.  I read aloud in the common room in the orphanage.  I have so many great memories of reading together and the kids have so many great relationships with books.

Whatever you choose, make sure it fits your family.  Find out your style!  Read. Research.  Are you science driven?  History buff?  A math genius?  A writer?  Find your style and your kid’s style and go from there.

If your kids love learning (this doesn’t mean they always love school) and desire to continue to educate themselves- you have arrived.

“Their is no education but self-education.” -Charlotte Mason

 

Dear Adult Child

Dear Adult child ready to embark on this new chapter in life,

How excited are you?!?!  You may be heading to college, or maybe working, or maybe you are in a serious relationship with plans to marry soon, but the possibilities are endless.  All the choices in your life are completely and totally up to you now…you’re the adult!  Us more seasoned adults remember this time.  We remember the excitement for the future.  We remember the fear that we’d mess it all up.  We remember the pride in choices made all on our own.  We even remember that we thought our parents couldn’t possibly understand since they were raised in a different time.   Trust me, we remember, and we understand more than you think.  As you begin to pull away from your family and start to form your own life apart from us (as we all do eventually), I want to offer some insight from our side.

Dear Adult Child

Your father is so incredibly proud of you.  He might not say it or show it well, but he is.  He talks to your mother about you after everyone is gone or has gone to sleep.  He talks about you with so much love and pride.   Please don’t take his lack of external emotion as indifference.  He isn’t  usually the weepy emotional type (that’s the mom’s job).   He will talk about you to his friends and family and he will beam because of his pride.  You are his pride.

Your mother, on the other hand, is extremely emotional.  Especially if you happen to be the oldest.  The thing you need to realize about mothers is, we tend to be the nurturers of the family.  So she has spent the last 18 years of her life caring for you.  She’s fed you your favorite foods, watch the lamest shows because you like them, read you your favorite book so many times that she probably could have done it with her eyes closed…and she did it all willingly because of her love for you.  I’m quite certain she’d do it all over again too (I know I would).  She’s tended to your needs lovingly.  She cried when you scraped your knee, or when someone broke your heart.  She cried at night while she prayed for your safety.  She worried that she messed up.  You have been her mission for the last 18 years.  And she loves you more than you can fathom right now.

So, as you go off to start a new life apart from us, maybe try to understand.  It’s hard to let go of someone that needed you for so long.  I promise that we are trying.  Try to resist the urge to roll your eyes and brush off the hugs and tears.  Let us take pictures and show the world.  Let us be proud and sad and excited all at the same time.  Glean a little wisdom from us sometimes, we have been there…it wasn’t as long ago as you think.  We know that you are going to do amazing things in your life.  Never doubt that.  We are your biggest cheering section in life.  Also….shoot your mom a text to let her know you’re alive every once in awhile 😉

*This post is by Lori Shaffer