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People homeschool for all kinds of reasons - sometimes faith-based, sometimes for the flexibility it offers, and sometimes for academic reasons. Perhaps a child is not being challenged enough, or perhaps he or she learns in a different way than a regular school can provide. We began homeschooling mostly out of a desire to incorporate our faith into our children's education. Along the way, we found out that our son has certain issues that are mild compared to many others, but nevertheless, they make learning more challenging than it would be otherwise. Dealing with that allowed me to enter into the world of special needs homeschoolers, a world filled with amazing, resilient parents and students both! And in the last several years, I've learned several lessons I want to share.
You are your child's first teacher, and you know your child better than anyone else. Homeschooling allows your child to have individualized instruction from someone who knows and loves him or her inside and out. You can do this!
There is an amazing number of resources out there today for homeschooling parents of special needs students, whether a blog, a social media group, a local resource center, or a specialized curriculum. In addition to this, most public schools offer some special services, such as speech, to homeschool students. There are also some incredible apps that help students to adapt their work in ways that they can do it more independently. One that has been helpful to us is SnapType, which was developed by a married couple, an occupational therapist and an engineer. It allows you to take a picture of an assignment, which a student can then complete by typing or even writing with a finger. (If you get this, get the Pro version right off, which is less than five dollars and includes the drawing option and an unlimited number of documents. Do NOT purchase it from within the free version or you won’t be able to access it from multiple devices.)
Don't worry about completing a certain book by a certain date, or making sure your child can read fluently by a certain age. Children progress at different rates, even without special needs, and the important thing is that your child is moving forward, at his or her own pace. Rejoice in the small steps forward that you see and don't be overly discouraged by the steps back that will happen. If the general trajectory is not moving forward, by all means reach out for help from others, but if your child has not mastered a certain point in reading and spelling, it doesn't mean that homeschooling is not working. Keep pressing on!
Many children with special needs struggle with particular skills. Maybe reading is hard, or writing, or math. That doesn’t mean your child can’t learn amazing, rich content. Explore other ways to make that accessible for your child, whether through audio books or video or hands-on learning. We have made our third grade son’s homeschool curriculum almost completely oral, in that I read most content to him, and I am also often his scribe for written answers. We are gradually moving him to more independence, but in the meantime, he has learned about American History, Greek Mythology, US geography, the amazing diversity of mammals, and Latin, along with reading wonderful children’s classics together, such as Charlotte’s Web and Farmer Boy. Find out how to accommodate your child’s curriculum to make learning accessible at the same time you are strengthening areas that are weak.
Any special needs parent will tell you that rarely do they stumble upon the perfect curriculum right from the beginning - and even more rarely do they find everything in the same place. Our son uses one curriculum for spelling, a different one for math, and yet another one for most of his content learning. One of the best resources we have found has been the Simply Classical arm of Memoria Press, a classical Christian curriculum company. Developed by Cheryl Swope, herself a homeschool mom of two special needs children and the author of Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child, it offers a gentle approach to learning that meets students where they are, while still stretching them and providing them with the richness of a classical education. The Memoria Press forums include one specifically for Simply Classical where parents can give and receive advice from one another as well as from curriculum experts.
Give grace to yourself and to your child. Expect great things, but hold expectations loosely as you see how God leads you. Homeschooling is a great adventure that can certainly include your child with special needs. Offer it to the Lord and see what He will do with it, on His timetable and in His way.
As I’ve shared in a couple of posts, our family shifted last spring to using mostly Memoria Press. I was first drawn to them because of their Latin curriculum, which my daughter used in an online class with True North Homeschool Academy. Then I decided to look into their literature guides, and then writing, and then science, and before long I realized that other than math (Saxon was working for us) I didn’t want my kids to miss out on any of the rich education that Memoria had to offer.
Placing my first order with MP last spring was a little daunting, but I quickly learned how to navigate their website and, especially, how to save money the MP way, and that is what I want to share with you!
Order when they have free shipping.
This month, February, Memoria Press is offering free shipping all month long. You can also get free shipping during various homeschool conventions, where they will ship to you for free if you place an order with them while you are there.
Save with bundles.
When you buy a bundle (for example, their First Form Latin set, which includes flash cards, the teacher guide, test boon, CD, etc.), you usually save money over ordering them individually.
Get the biggest discount with their core curriculum packages.
When you order a grade level package containing lesson plans and all of the subjects for a grade, you will save the most money, even up to 40% in some cases. That is what we do now. Don’t forget to add in items that would have been included in the packages for earlier grades - for example, I need to add the Geography flashcards for my daughter, since she will study Geography 3 next year but did not take Geography 1 and 2. Here are a few other things to keep in mind about this option:
Do order your core curriculum from Memoria Press directly.
You can get Memoria Press curriculum from Christian Book Distributors, and from Rainbow Resources, and others, but there are some very big advantages to ordering from MP directly:
If you get the printed Memoria Press catalog (it’s free and has wonderful articles in i!), you will find a $5 off coupon code in the most recent one. If you don’t subscribe, you can request it for free! Also, in December, they sent small gift cards to everyone who placed an order last year - so if you become a customer this year, you will be able to save next year!
Use your local library.
I do not buy everything from Memoria. Many of the books in their elementary school read-aloud and American history collections are either in our home already or are in our local library. I went through those lists and found just five that we don’t have. I am watching for them on ThriftBooks and Exodus Books, my favorite used book websites, and I may get them there, or I may end up placing another small order with MP before the month ends.
Want to see how it looks online? My friend Jennifer shares her tips and tricks in this video!
Please feel free to contact me with questions! If you decide to give Memoria Press a try, would you please use my affiliate link in this post? It helps our family at no extra cost to yourself! And please let me know how you like it - maybe we can connect in the MP forums or the MP Homeschool Families Facebook Group!
It's that time of year!
It's February, typically a time of homeschool frustration and weariness as we are in the midst of winter in an especially long year, and spring seems oh so far away - all of which makes it the perfect time to start dreaming about the future - made even easier by Memoria Press offering free shipping for the month of February!
I've been anticipating this, so already started on my list a few weeks ago, but now I'm finalizing it so I can place my order and take advantage of all of the savings I can:
Because third grade is typically such a jump academically, Memoria Press gives parents the option of pursuing certain subjects at a slower pace over two years, instead of one. That has been perfect for our son, and so we don't even need to buy curriculum next year for Latin Christiana, Christian Studies 1, English Grammar Recitation 1, US States and Capitals, and D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths. It will be nice to have several topics that are familiar both in content and approach!
This is what we will do in addition:
Math: We will probably continue with Saxon math, probably finishing Saxon 5/4 from this year (I'm trying to slow us down to ensure mastery of basic skills), and then moving into Saxon 6/5 when he is ready. I've also been looking at Rod and Staff Math, which Memoria Press uses, to possibly address some of those basic skills. So this is still a little up in the air. If we go with Saxon, we can still get the Memoria Press core curriculum discount, since math is an optional part of it.
Spelling: We started last year with Spelling Workout, and then discovered that our son had more gaps than expected, so we ended up using the word lists in Spelling Plus, along with their Dictation Resource sentences. We will continue with Spelling Plus next year and then re-evaluate for fifth grade.
Literature: We have loved the Memoria Press literature guides, which help to not only understand the finer points of great books, but also provide opportunities to model good sentence-writing skills. This year, we will read Homer Price, The Cricket in Times Square, Dangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrim's Progress, and The Blue Fairy Book, along with Poetry for the Grammar Years, which always dovetails with what we are reading. We will be diving deeply into those four books, and then we will also read widely as a family with the suggested Fourth Grade Read-Aloud books, most of which we can get from our local library.
Modern Studies: Along with completing his study of US geography, our son will be reading the fourth grade collection of biographies and historical fiction, which we will discuss with the help of Memoria Press’ discussion guide, to widen his understanding of American history. He will also continue to fill in his Timeline book, a project that he won't complete until seventh grade.
Writing: Our son will be in the first book of the Classical Composition series (Fable) next year! I am really excited about this, as I have seen the progress his sister has made in books 2 and 3 this year. I'll share more about this approach in another post soon. He will also continue to learn cursive, using both MP materials and others that we have at home or that we make ourselves.
Science: Continuing with our focus on Creation in the elementary years, we will be focusing on Astronomy next year, a subject that fascinates our whole family. My dad lives nearby and has a great telescope, so I am hopeful for some wonderful grandson/grandpa opportunities in 2021-2022!
Greek: Yes, Greek. Along with Latin, we believe Greek is a vital skill that can be easily learned in elementary and middle school. We are still making decisions about this, but are thinking that our son will begin with Greek Alphabet this year, and then start on MP’s Elementary Greek series in fifth grade.
My daughter didn't dive fully into the Memoria Press curriculum until seventh grade this year, so part of her time has been spent "catching up" to where she would have been if she had started earlier. One thing I appreciate about the core curriculum packages is the ability to swap one level for another where needed, which we do with Latin and Classical Composition. In addition to those (Third Form Latin and Classical Composition IV), and continuing with her last year of English Grammar Recitation, here is what eighth grade will look like for us this year!
Math: Our daughter is working successfully through Saxon's Algebra 1 course this year, so we will not be using MP's math option for eighth grade. Instead, we will spend a year studying Euclid Geometry, using the Classical Mathematics One course. I'm VERY excited about this, although it is completely different from all the math my daughter has done up to now.
Literature: This year, she will read The Wind in the Willows, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Treasure Island, and her first foray into Shakespeare, As You Like It. We will also dig into American Short Stories and poetry, and will enjoy her brother's fourth grade read-aloud novels as a family.
Science: This will be our daughter's first year of a science with a regular lab time. We will be using Novare's Physical Science, and we may spend some family time using Christian Kids Explore Physics as well.
Greek: Our daughter is learning the Greek Alphabet this year, and will start First Form Greek next year. Given some of the other challenging classes she will have this year, we may take this at a slower pace and stretch it over two years.
Christian studies: We will be using The Book of the Ancient World in eighth grade to get a better understanding of the people and neighboring cultures out of which Christianity came, in preparation for a study of Church History in high school. We will also continue to use the Discover 4 Yourself Bible study series, and the middle school Trek series from Awana.
Classical studies: This will focus on Greek history this year, as well as a study of The Odyssey and The Iliad. I will admit, this is a bit intimidating to me as a parent, so I'm thankful for the Memoria Press DVD that comes with this to help guide our study of it!
We still have a bit of tweaking to do, but this is our basic plan going forward. I'm so thankful to have found a classical Christian company that truly equips us to do this! Contact me with any questions, and don’t forget about Memoria Press’ free shipping for the month of February!
Welcome! My name is Kristi. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a teacher, a writer, a musician... but most of all a child and worshiper of God discovering that even in life's messes, God is still good. Learn more about me and my journey here!
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