For many years, we coasted along with home schooling with few interruptions. Approximately four years ago, however, we officially entered the realm of struggling learners, testing, tutoring, and diagnoses. Without question, this has been one of our greatest blessings as we learn about the differences in teaching methods, different learning styles, God's wonderful variety in gifts that He bestows on every child, and the valuable support that we have found in numerous ways. The greatest surprise to me in this journey, however, is simply how much time it takes to home educate a struggling learner. Assignments simply take more time. As do the tutoring sessions, the appointments, and learning about the issues through attendance at seminars, reading books and articles, and talking with different people who have experience with the issues we face. All of my children are intelligent and have a high comprehension level. Not all of them, however, learn in the same manner or with the same ease. They all, however, are growing and learning according to God's timetable for them. I have learned to prayerfully enter into God's perfect timing for each child - and these tips have been of help to me. I hope they will be of help to you as well.
1. Pray! Every day, spend time in prayer seeking God's wisdom, grace, and guidance.
2. Establish well defined goals for each child in the family. Write these goals down. Knowing what the priorities are for each child will help you order your calendar and better help you identify in which activities you or your child should participate.
3. Prayerfully consider the best way to meet the goals for each child. Be creative. Be willing to think outside the box. And be willing to do what is best for your family regardless of what other people say. As a parent of a struggling learner and/or child with special needs, you will be faced with many difficult decisions. God, you, and your spouse truly know what's best for your family - be confident to do that which is best.
4. Give yourself permission to say "no." I love to volunteer! I also love to help others when needed and be involved with my children. However, I have learned that I can no longer do as much outside of the home as I was once able to. I find it difficult at times, but I have also found it necessary, to guard my time so that I can give my "best fruits" to my family. I have learned to say "no" without offering an excuse. A simple, "Thank you for the invitation. I sure wish I could participate but am not able to right now" is all that is necessary. There are different seasons throughout life. Currently, I am in a season in which I am needed at home with my family. Someday, things may look different and I may be able to volunteer for a multitude of different programs, attend home shopping parties, and play Bunco. Right now, however, is not that time.
5. Ask for help! Consider asking someone to help you with carpooling. Look into enlisting a tutor. Find people who are willing to come to your house (for example your piano teacher) to save you from additional running around. Look into having someone help with household cleaning (this can include your older children, a friend, a family member, a church member, or a hired cleaner). Ask others who have children with similar needs for their recommendations. And above all, ask others for their prayers!