October 31 | Harvest Bible Chapel | Elgin, Illinois
November 2 | True Freedom Ministries | Cleveland, Ohio
November 13 | Southlake Baptist Church | Southlake, Texas
Despite no public complaints against either display, two nearby southern Virginia counties have ordered the removal of Scripture in the last six months, dishonoring the first responders they were meant to support.
Three churches impacted by Hurricane Harvey—and responding to their communities’ needs—have filed a complaint against the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for blanket discrimination.
One year ago, in August, a Facebook user asked if Country Mill Farms hosted so-called “same-sex weddings” on its property. The user was politely informed that the Charlotte, Michigan, farm did not. Shortly after, the owners of Country Mill Farms,Steve and Bridget Tennes, received multiple requests from East Lansing city officials (22 miles away from Charlotte) to cease coming to their municipally operated East Lansing Farmer’s Market (ELFM).
Henderson County Mayor Dan Hughes received a hostile letter from the anti-religious liberty group, the so-called “Freedom” From Religion Foundation (FFRF), on June 30. The focus of their warning—an inscription from Psalm 89:14 on the side of the county courthouse’s cornerstone: “Justice and judgement are the habitation of thy throne: Mercy and truth shall go before thy face.”
On June 19, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld an individual’s First Amendment right to express a viewpoint, as outlined in the Free Speech Clause, even if it is allegedly offensive. The context of the ruling was the denial of an application for federal registration of a mark by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
As a new homeschooler, I would read the accounts of other families and dream my dreams. Would my children earn early admission to Harvard? Would they be National Merit Scholars? Never in my dreams did I ask myself, Will they ever learn to read?
Yet, that became the question and cry of my heart with one of my children, the third of my four. She has challenged me and forced me to grow. She has allowed me to dream new dreams. With a lot of hard work and prayer, she is doing well.
When she was first diagnosed with ADHD and a Learning Disability, I doubted that I could adequately provide for her educational and emotional needs. I was ready to pack her off to the experts for them to deal with her. I am so glad I didn’t!
I took the counsel of several of those experts and did my own research and created a program that makes sense for her and for our family. I did not close my eyes and hope that it would all go away – the behavioral problems, the inattention, and the seeming inability to learn. Instead, I opened my eyes to another way to look at learning. I settled in my heart the incredible value and blessing of each of my children, no matter the level of their academic success. Instead of pushing them to be scholars, I now view my role as that of teaching them to be successes – with whatever gifts and abilities they have been given.
Has your child been given a special needs label? Rest assured, yes you CAN homeschool.
Will they be OK?
Little research has been done in this area. There was one study that looked at the amount of time students spent responding to a parent’s teaching. In the classroom, this would be called academic engaged time, or AET. The thinking is that the greater academic engaged time, the more significant academic gains. The study noted that ten times as much one-on-one instruction was observed in the home school versus the public school. (Steven E. Duvall, et. al., “An Exploratory Study of Home School Instructional Environments and Their Effect of the Basic Skills of Students with Learning Disabilities,” Education and Treatment of Children 20 (1997): 150-172)
As a parent, I know instinctively that if I spend time with my child, they will learn. This study suggests that spending that time teaching the child is effective and that the child will do as well, if not better, than their traditionally schooled counterparts. I am grateful that some academic research corroborates what I already know – home is best for all kids, even those with special needs.
In addition to reassuring you that you CAN meet your child’s academic needs, think of the other benefits of homeschooling them. If your child has special medical or dietary needs, you can meet them effectively in the home. Socially, think of the pain and stigma you are possibly sparing them by not having them pulled out of their class for special services. Lastly, remember that by educating them at home, you have the primary influence in matters of faith and values. I always remember that I am raising a child who will someday function in society without me. I want to make sure they are grounded with God and equipped with values to withstand the culture. Homeschooling is the idea atmosphere for this training.
What are special needs?
The term special needs covers a huge territory. An overall Federal law covering disabilities is the Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1997 (IDEA). This law delineates the following areas of disability: autism, deafness, blindness, emotional disturbance, hearing impairment, mental retardation, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, specific learning disability, speech or language impairment, traumatic brain injury, and visual impairment including blindness.
Another Federal law, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, lists even more categories of disability, including any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory including speech organs, cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitor-urinary, hemic and lymphatic, skin or endocrine; or any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities. ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is generally categorized under this descriptive heading.
A further definition of a specific learning disability might be helpful. It is present when a child has normal or above normal intelligence, but is underachieving in one or more academic areas. In other words, there is a significant discrepancy between the child’s intelligence and his level of achievement. The academic areas covered by this definition are basic reading skills, reading comprehension, written expression (including spelling) listening comprehension, oral expression, mathematics calculations and mathematics reasoning.
Has this bored you to death? It is intended to help you get an idea of where your child’s difficulty might lie. It is also meant to reassure you that you are not alone. According to the United States Department of Education, as many as one out of five Americans have a learning disability, and almost three million children receive special education in school. (U.S. Department of Education, Twenty-second Annual Report to Congress, 2000) Once you begin to get to know the special needs community, you will be surprised at the numbers of families you probably already know who deal with these challenges.
Homeschooling a special needs child is generally not something you can do completely alone. You will need advice and maybe other people to help you. Rather than thinking you are the only one dealing with your issues, you will be surprised to learn about the many resources available.
NATHHAN (National Challenged Homeschoolers Associated Network) should be your first stop, no matter what your challenge. (www.nathhan.com) They have a magazine and a web site. Together, they are a virtual education in special needs. The organization is the creation of the Bushnell family, a large group consisting of biological and adopted kids.
Next, you need to decide whether to avail yourself of the services of your local public school. If you are in a state where homeschoolers are considered a private school, this may be available to you. They can provide you with testing, therapy services and tutoring. If you bring them information pointing to the possibility of a special need, Federal law requires that they test your child and offer services. You are free to accept or reject the services. Many argue that homeschoolers should have nothing to do with the public schools. Others of us take a less strict stance and avail ourselves of some services while continuing to home educate. You will have to make the decision that is right for your family.
If you pursue private testing and programming, there are also many options. Do you research carefully.
To begin, educate yourself before signing any contracts or agreements for services. The book, Homeschooling the Challenging Child (Broadman & Holman, 2005) provides a good, general introduction to the topic. Just as you went through a season of educating yourself to begin homeschooling, this should be another season of self study. You can learn techniques and strategies to work with your child. As you learn more about the resources available, you will see there is no shortage of materials to use to teach your special child. Your challenge, as with any other child, is to find the right approach for the student.
A word about ADHD
We all know some child we suspect has ADHD. This is the child swinging from the light fixture, right?
Yes, and no. There are actually three “strains” of ADHD, according to the American Psychiatric Association. The first is the hyperactive type we have been accustomed to thinking about. The second is an even more pervasive type of behavior characterized by inattentiveness. This is the extreme daydreamer, easily distracted child. The third type is a combination of hyperactivity and inattention.
It should be noted that ADHD, while it is considered a disability by the U.S. Department of education, is not a learning disability, although the two may appear together. A learning disability, as defined above, affects specific areas of learning, such as reading, spelling or math. ADHD is an overall disruption in attention, which can drastically affect a student’s functioning, but is not a learning disability, per se.
Homeschooling an ADHD child is an ideal fit. If they are the more bouncy type, you can accommodate this with a hands-on, active approach to learning. If they are inattentive, you can control the environment to reduce distractions. There are many tips and techniques to help this child. A bouncy child might review their math facts or spelling words while jumping rope in the kitchen. An inattentive child would be best served by having a desk placed in an area with few visual distractions. With experience and education, you can learn many strategies to give this child a tailor-made environment for success.
And so, to begin …
Are you convinced that you CAN homeschool your special needs child? Good. Let’s get started.