A Capital Letter Syndrome Doesn’t Make a Child Less Than

Marching to the beat of his own drum.

I knew.  I knew from early on that my son marched to the beat of his own drum.  I tried to to make him march with the other kids.  I didn’t want him to think something was wrong with him.  I tried all the parenting advice and discipline techniques.  Nothing seemed to matter.  I was trying to force a square peg into a round hole.

A Capital Letter Syndrome Doesn't Make a Child Less Than

The school nightmare

School was a nightmare.  He’d burn up all his energy on trying to “be good” only to fail and fall short of the teacher’s expectations.  He never brought home that coveted green smiley on his behavioral chart that said it was a good day.  I could see it in his eyes, he felt less than.  Less than the other kids his age, less than good, less than what people want.  It broke my heart.  I hated that stinking behavioral chart.  I hated that people refused to try and understand my sweet boy.

Soon we realized that traditional public school made things worse.  When he was in third grade, my husband and I made the choice to homeschool all our children.  I will never forget the day early in our journey that he leaned against my shoulder and said “Thank you for homeschooling me, Mommy.  I felt so stupid in school”  I cried that day and still remember it so vividly.  I replay that memory when we’re having a rough day.

Being your Child’s Advocate

I knew that I was going to have to be my son’s biggest advocate.  From the time we got his SPD diagnosis in first grade until just recently, I’ve had to explain everything it means and what it doesn’t.  I’ve had to undo society’s idea of what perfect children should look like.  My son was perfect.  Exactly the way God made him.  Just because he doesn’t do everything like the masses doesn’t make him somehow less than.  I am actually proud that he doesn’t.  And now, even at 14 years old, I will still fight anyone that tries to force that square peg into that round hole….or lovingly point out how mistaken they are.  It’s a toss-up, really.  😉

Want to hear more of what Lori has to say on the subject? Listen to this week’s podcast episode:

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Lori Shaffer

Special Needs (Capital Letter Syndromes) and Homeschooling Director

Lori Shaffer is married to her childhood best friend, Jacob.  She is a stay at home missionary and homeschool mom to their three children.  She is passionate about advocating for teen moms and women and children that have been abused and giving them hope and encouragement.  Most days she can be found drinking coffee, working out with Kathleen, or hanging out with her family.

Follow Lori on Social Media:

Facebook- Lori Shaffer

Instagram –@browneyedmomof3

Instagram joint fitness account (Kathleen and Lori)-

@2girlsnotrunning

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Episode 35- Transitioning from Public School to Homeschool

Thinking about homeschooling? Or maybe you started homeschooling recently after pulling your kids out of public/private school. Maybe you are wondering if your transition is natural or you feel alone? Lori and Kathleen talk about their experience with the transition, such as leaving behind old ideas about what education really is. Grab a cup of coffee and join us for this episode that was listener requested!

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Show notes:

I met Lori at the Mom’s Tea I hosted once a week where we drank coffee and cried. This was a place where Moms could talk about what was going on in their lives. We mostly said, “me too”.We did studies together, but often went off on tangents.

The lessons: Everyone needs a support system.

It’s okay to cry.

Find someone who has been homeschooling for a while.

Your ideas about what education looks like may change.

One of the myths about homeschooling is that your kids will always love it.

You don’t have to replicate the public school.

What’s your Homeschool Style?

Don’t go to a curriculum fair alone! Go with a seasoned homeschooler!

Find out what your child needs and then base your choices on him, not what everyone tells you is the best.

It’s okay to go back to the beginning and teach foundational things that your kids missed.

Find your own family style and personality.

Don’t get stuck in the comparison trap!

Get your kids asking questions!

 

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.

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