Encouraging Words for Homeschooling Moms of Special Need Learners

by Dawn Oaks on July 2, 2013


Over the last six months I have had the wonderful opportunity to get to know several moms who homeschool and also have children with special needs. The thing that I found interesting is that they do not necessarily identify themselves in this manner. Loving and teaching their children is a just a normal part of their life. They realize that their days may be ordered differently and that even more research may go into curriculum choices and other school considerations, but they still see themselves as moms that love their children and desire the very best for them.

When Emilee of Peas Of Sweetness asked for contributors to this Blog Hop, I was almost reluctant to participate. You see I feel like we are beginning to see the other side of many of our challenges. I no longer see our son as having special learning needs, but that has not always been the case.

Our son began his education in a public school kindergarten class. Many days he would come home literally in tears. He had realized that no matter how hard he worked, it seemed that the class was always moving on to the next thing before he really got the previous topic. He saw friends learning to read while he still struggled with identifying letters by name and writing his numbers so they would appear correctly. His kindergarten teacher actually came to me half way through the year and admitted that even though she had been a special education teacher and been in the classroom for 30 years, she did not have a firm grasp on what our son knew and didn’t know. He exhibited an extreme splintering of skills that did not match normal learning patterns.

The following year, we decided to bring our son and his two older sisters home and begin homeschooling them. Through much research and countless hours of tears, I came to realize that our son had auditory processing issues, dyslexia, visual tracking problems, and mixed dominance processing issues. Part of me wanted to run back to the school district and enroll him. After all, doesn’t our culture do a great job of convincing us that unless you have expert credentials and licenses, you certainly aren’t qualified!

Through our many struggles, and there were many, we began learning what worked and didn’t work in helping our son to learn. We came to realize that gross motor exercises of a specific type did more for helping to resolve his reading and dyslexia issues than hours and hours of practice ever could. We began learning how he learned and he began to take off. My husband and I were learning and being molded in the process. I learned one of the greatest truths that still brings me to tears.

There is not a teacher in this world that will ever love my son the way that I do or be as devoted as I am in finding a way for him to overcome his challenges. I may not be the best teacher in the world, but I am his biggest cheerleader. No one else would ever spend the time and energy helping my son to believe that he has worth, talent, gifts, and a purpose in this world with more devotion than I could and would. The bare fact is that I could not accomplish these things in his life if I couldn’t love him, encourage him, build him up, and push him to be exactly who God created him to be if I only was with him for a couple of his waking hours each day. He needed me present in his life more than anything else.

I am thrilled to share that he is no longer making his letters backwards, is able to follow multi-step directions, show leadership to his younger brother, and read above his grade level. Our journey was just as much for us in fully accepting him as it was in him developing his skills and talents in a less than traditional journey and a uphill climb. Our journey has convinced me more than ever that God has a special plan for our son’s life and he will be capable of exactly what God knows he will need to be able to do. Our greatest challenge is in helping him to believe in himself and learn to love himself as Christ does. Most kids with special needs have huge and sensitive hearts toward the needs of others. This also makes them incredibly vulnerable to hurt and pain.

If you are questioning whether you are capable of homeschooling your child with special needs, may I ask if you can really afford not to?

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris July 2, 2013 at 9:03 AM

Thanks for sharing your experience. My son, too, had difficulties in the elementary school years, and it took a while to determine the cause. He was not home schooled, as I had no choice but to work during those years. He struggled terribly with learning to read. I took him for various testing, which ruled out auditory processing and other issues, but did identify visual tracking problems. For about two years, I took him to a wonderful doc for weekly vision training. This training included not only exercises to strengthen his vision, but also gross motor/motion exercises that helped him learn to “find” his place in the physical world, and coordinate that with what he interpreted visually. The benefits soon started showing, and his reading abilities literally took off and skyrocketed, and I couldn’t keep his nose out of books from that point forward! He still struggled with the amount of written work they required in public school. More testing, done by a language specialist, revealed that his verbal grasp of language was off the charts (as a 9 year old, he tested at the 98 percentile all the way up to the age of an 18 year old – she kept bumping him up in the testing procedure since he was at the top, but decided to stop once she had him at the 18 year old level!), however, his written language scores were in the 30-40 percentile. I can only imagine how frustrating school was for him, having the ability to understand and process information in his head, but the inability to convert it to the written word that the public school demanded. She had outlined practices and strategies for him to follow, but due to custody issues with his father, it was impossible to implement her recommendations. Fast forward several years, and my 18 year old son dropped out of school, having basically shut down and refusing to do any work once he hit 10th grade. The summer he was 18, I took him for his GED, and he sailed through the pre-tests, and then passed the GED testing with very high marks. I often wonder how much better he might have been prepared for the real world if he would have had the benefits of the additional training the language specialist outlined back when he was much younger, and potentially had had a better public school experience. He’s on his own now at 23 and seems happy. That’s what any mother ultimately wants for their child – to be happy, so I’m glad with the outcome. But I still wonder at times…..

Dawn Oaks July 2, 2013 at 9:21 PM

Chris, not everyone is necessarily called to homeschool or able to because of circumstances in their life that are beyond their control. You have shared this even in your struggles in helping to get your son the help he needed and then having it withheld by his dad.

I am not sure that there is a mom out there that doesn’t have those “I wonder” moments. There is an argument that hindsight isn’t always 20/20 or we would have a lot less “I wonder” moments. What we can have is faith in the fact that God promises to work all things together for the God of those that love him. I believe He uses our motherly blunders and insufficencies too for His good and can not believe that my God isn’t big enough to work His miraculous plan in my son’s life inspite of me and my imperfections. Thank goodness!

Emilee July 2, 2013 at 5:54 PM

Thank-you so much for sharing your story. You are SO right. Nobody loves our children and will advocate for them as much as we do.
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Dawn Oaks July 2, 2013 at 9:13 PM

Thank you for coordinating this Blog Hop. It was a message that came from my heart, but not one that I would have thought to write about without your prompting. I know that you lead because it is also dear to your heart!

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