Latest Posts

Homeschool AMA: Is It Special Needs?

Hi! Thanks again for sharing your homeschool questions with me! In these Homeschool AMA posts, I’m sharing with you some of the great research I’ve had fun with while writing Everything You Need to Know About Homeschooling! For several weeks, I’m answering YOUR questions. Got something on your mind? Catch me on Facebook, join my email list, (where I share so much more real-life stuff!) or contact me here. Whatever you want. I can’t wait to talk with you personally!

Here’s today’s question?

How to homeschool special needs children? Specifically,  those with dyscalculia, ADHD,  APD or dyslexia. What are curriculum suggestions? To diagnose or not to diagnose? Where and how?

— Cathy, via email

This is a difficult question. I spent quite a bit of time researching and interviewing for my chapter on special needs and gifted students. I’m going to tell you one thing: I learned a lot.

I think the most important place to start is with the child herself.

  • How is she growing?
  • Has she continued to make progress at her own rate over time?
  • How does her physical development compare with the large range of acceptable norms?
  • How does her intellectual development also compare with the large range of norms?
  • How comfortable is she with her own learning and development?
  • What about her development bothers you: her stage compared to that of others, the difference between her and her siblings, what grade level work she is doing?
  • Is this a fairly new development, or has she struggled over a prolonged period of time?

I think all of these and other considerations need to be thought through before rushing to judgment.

Another concern I had while working on Everything You Need to Know About Homeschooling is that most of us don’t fully appreciate how broad “normal” can be. Within physical and intellectual and character development, there is a general path of development, but every child goes at his own pace. There are frequent plateaus, a few growth spurts, and a lot of zig-zags through growth. This is a key tenet of homeschooling: no child is standardized.

But some children have very real needs. How do we know? And then what do we do?

First of all, we take a deep breath and pray.

Secondly, we seek to appreciate the broad range of child development (the numerous growth and developmental outlines in my book will really help with that).

Thirdly, we work gently with our children to help them overcome momentary difficulties (the moment might last a year, so there’s that).

Fourthly, we go with our gut. If something seems a little off, we ask for help. A pediatrician is an excellent place to start because we don’t often appreciate enough that learning is a physical activity. Besides a great check-up, the pediatrician can also give another perspective on the child’s overall development. And of course, the doctor will have some great suggestions for other experts.

Next, we might seek an evaluation. There is likely a learning center right down the street from you. Some public school systems may do a free evaluation. Your pediatrician would have information on others.

Finally, we get help if we need it. This is where we need to be flexible homeschoolers. We can get tutors, we can join a co-op, we can hire therapists, we have so many tools at our disposal.

When it comes to individual diagnosis, I don’t have time to talk about it all today. There are many things you can do to support your child and to ease learning. The magic of homeschooling is just that: meeting your child’s needs right where he is.

Have you homeschooled a special needs student? How did you get him diagnosed?

Share with us in the comments!

I really do go into much more detail on special needs and specially gifted students in my book Everything You Need to Know About Homeschooling. It’s my prayer that will give you comfort that you are on the right path.

Do you have a question? Be sure to comment below, message me on Facebook, or use my comment form. I would LOVE to hear from you!

Your friend,

Lea Ann

Homeschool AMA: How Do I Protect My Marriage?

Hi! Thanks again for sharing your homeschool questions with me! In these Homeschool AMA posts, I’m sharing with you some of the great research I’ve had fun with while writing Everything You Need to Know About Homeschooling! For several weeks, I’m answering YOUR questions. Got something on your mind? Catch me on Facebook, join my email list , (where I share so much more real-life stuff!) or contact me here. Whatever you want. I can’t wait to talk with you personally!

Here’s a question I actually receive quite a bit.

How do you keep your marriage strong while homeschooling?

— Cathy, via email

My friends, you’ve messaged me and emailed me this several times. It’s an issue we all face, a question that a lot of “here’s how you homeschool” resources miss. But sometimes we wonder or we struggle and we really don’t want to mess this up!

How do we protect our marriage while homeschooling?

So, here’s the thing. I only started homeschooling because of a knock-down, drag-out fight with my husband. No way did I want to homeschool! He made me do it.

And homeschooling doesn’t really work if you aren’t in agreement. He negotiated the “only one-year” clause, so I could stomach that. And you can see how that ended up …

We have not always been in agreement about our homeschooling since then, either. But we, again, have usually negotiated something, often a trial period of a new strategy. That has worked for us.

How do we keep our marriage from falling apart — or even strengthen it — while homeschooling? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Make the marriage more important than the children. Every day of the week.
  2. Make the family more important than the homeschooling. Always.
  3. When a disagreement arises, see 1 and 2 above.
  4. Take time out from homeschooling on a regular basis. If my head is clear, I can look up at the bigger picture of, again, number 1 and 2.
  5. Schedule regular time alone with my spouse. I go out to eat every Friday. My friend spends early morning hours having coffee with hers. Just SOME time needs to be sacred marriage time. We can’t cultivate what we never spend time for.
  6. When a disagreement arises, take a deep breath and remember it’s not the end of the world. Almost nothing is worth that knock-down, drag-out fight like I had. Learn from my mistake and calmly work it out.

Ok, do you have more ideas? Comment below and share them!

And seriously, I’ll tell you ever, ever so much more in my book. It’s just the truth–my publisher won’t let me say it all right now. Even though I really, really want to.

This question is answered in way, way more detail in my upcoming book, Everything You Need to Know About Homeschooling. In it you will find developmental milestones, what your child will learn academically during this time, and even how to “teach” Early Learning through real life. Be sure to keep an eye out for that.

Do you have a question? Be sure to comment below, message me on Facebook, or use my comment form. I would LOVE to hear from you!

Your friend,

Lea Ann

Am I Preschooling Enough?

Homeschool AMA: Am I Preschooling Enough?

Hi! Thanks for sharing your homeschool questions with me! I’m having so much fun talking with some of you one-one-one (you haven’t written to me yet? Contact me!). I’ve been straining my brain to complete Everything You Need to Know About Homeschooling, so it is nice to finally put some of this research to good use!

Last week I answered Jena’s question about how to teach Early Learning. This week, I got a follow-up question from Sarah. We had a great email conversation about it, but here’s the gist of her question:

Is it important for me to jump into a co-op of some sort, so that my child will have friendships?

I don’t know where he is getting these words, but he often says ” I want to see all of my friends!” Of course those can be the strangers at the park.

He can recognize all of his letters in ASL, almost all written letters, He counts to 20, he knows where he lives…what else is he supposed to know? Daily, I wake up wondering what have I forgotten to tell my kid?

Sarah W., via email

She actually got two great questions in there, so I’ll tackle them one at a time.

How does my Homeschooling Early Learner make friends?

Lots of ways! The wonderful thing about little ones is that they generally reach out naturally to make friends. They just love people. So, of course, your little guy wants to get out there!

Do you have to join a co-op? no. Should you join a co-op if you want to? absolutely. Homeschool your own way.

There are co-ops with great little-learner activities. I personally have never been to a co-op, though my best friend started one, and it seems like every homeschooler around me is active in a co-op. I’m the anomaly. Join a co-op if you want and enjoy it!

I have socialized (let’s all roll our eyes and laugh together) my little ones in lots of ways: Sunday School, Wednesday night church activities, VBS, homeschool park days, community recreational sports … We made more friends than I wanted. Really. My child’s social calendar cannot compete with my own when he is only three years old, for Pete’s sakes!

Also, sometimes when my children were whining for time with friends, they really meant they were bored at home. So I cranked up the field trips: more zoo, more museums, more library time, stuff like that.

So if I kept up with taking the children to the regular weekly activities and a field trip every other week, I heard no complaints. They were plenty “peopled” out by the end of the week.

What does my homeschooling Early Learner need to know?

A lot, but not what you think.

One of my favorite parts of Everything You Need to Know About Homeschooling is answering this very question age-by-age. I got to delve into how children develop in their character, minds, and academics to sift out what is expected, what is extra, and what to do with it. It is a lot of information, but so, so, so much fun to put it all together!

Sadly, I cannot paste this huge chapter right here. Because you need the whole thing to get a clear picture. But I’ll give you a quick answer.

Your Early Learning child is growing at a rapid pace emotionally, mentally, and physically. You already know that. But you probably think you might miss some window of opportunity if you don’t take advantage of this special time period that everyone shouts is the most important for a lifetime of learning.

But what they don’t tell you is what your child really should be concentrating on for this time. And that’s your exact question to me. And I’m not going to give you a list of academic goals you should have for your child from age three to six.

Because you shouldn’t have one.

Your child has a lifetime — a lifetime — to learn about literature and history and science and even algebra. He only has a few short years to learn how to look at the world with wonder and to playfully interact with everything around him. That is the most important part of your homeschooling right now.

Yes, Early Learners often reach a few nice academic milestones:

  • learning letters
  • counting
  • mastering personal hygiene
  • practicing small motor skills
  • beginning phonics and perhaps reading
  • understanding patterns and time
  • acting out simple math situations and perhaps memorizing facts

But look back at that brief list. What is the most important? I’ll tell you what — it’s not reading and memorizing math facts. That is what the rest of elementary school is for: learning the basics of English and math to apply toward higher grades.

Relax and enjoy the Early Learning years. More importantly, let your child relax and play through the Early Learning years. That’s what it’s all about.

This question is answered in way, way more detail in my upcoming book, Everything You Need to Know About Homeschooling. In it you will find developmental milestones, what your child will learn academically during this time, and even how to “teach” Early Learning through real life. Be sure to keep an eye out for that.

Do you have a question? Be sure to comment below, message me on Facebook, or use my comment form. I would LOVE to hear from you!

Your friend,

Lea Ann

AMA: Do You Homeschool Pre-K?

I’m excited to say that I have finished writing my homeschool reference work, Everything You Need to Know About Homeschooling. It is huuuuuuuuuge. I hope it answers all of your questions! In it, I discuss…

  • how to make the decision
  • how to get started
  • what you need to buy
  • how to teach
  • how to know your own teaching style
  • what are several different learning style theories, and what you need to learn from them
  • detailed information on how your child develops spiritually, mentally, and academically in each stage of life
  • how to handle the high school details
  • how to navigate the pitfalls of homeschooling …

And much, much, much more! There’s a reason this took me over a year to plan, research, and write!

So the book is in the editing stage — my favorite part, actually! I’m not sure how much gestation until the book baby is born, but I’ll definitely keep you posted.

In the meantime … I’m going to answer YOUR questions on homeschooling. ASK ME ANYTHING! I did all this effort, I may as well help you out!

Send me your questions — comment below, message me on Facebook (are we friends?), or use my contact form. I would LOVE to hear from you!

Ok, now for the first question! …

When to Homeschool Early Learning

 

Did you start homeschooling at Pre-K or did you jump right into kindergarten?

 — Jena, via Facebook

That’s a great question! And I have a few children, so I have a few answers.

My first son: yes. I’m sad to say that from the age of three I sat him down at the kitchen table and on the floor in the family room and taught him like a school child. Not my best homeschooling moments. I didn’t completely ruin him — he was my fastest child to read and understand math principles. But that wasn’t because of the way I taught him those early years. I found over time it was just because of the way his mind works. I am 100% sure he would have been an amazing student (maybe better?) if I had allowed him to have a relaxed few more years.

My second child (daughter): the same mistake, only four years old.

My third child (son): I was so busy with the other two that he naturally got left in the dust. It was for his good. He didn’t start formal phonics and numbers until he was around five. I taught him slowly and gently, and he had a much more relaxed early learning period. I learned so much from teaching him.

My fourth child (son): I was determined to practice what I learned with the third child. He started sitting down and looking at letters after age five. He learned very quickly and progressed, like his older brother, quite nicely in elementary years.

My last two twins: They were adopted at age six, so we did start slowly but picked up steam in the subsequent years.

Ok, learn from my mistakes. Early Learning years are not for formal teaching. They are about learning from the world around them and building a beautiful home relationship.

I call Early Learning from age three until about age six. This time should include less than one hour of homeschooling. And by that, I mean what you think of as teaching: working on letters, numbers, and other subjects. All day every day should be about play and participating in family life. Your child will learn so much just by living with you (cooking math, cleaning large motor skills, family life social skills); running errands (math, geography, social studies); talking with you (grammar); reading books aloud (grammar, literature, art appreciation) … every day is a rich education.

Enjoy this time. I would give anything to go back to those beautiful, fun years. This wonderful period of life goes by all too fast. Let your child enjoy every moment of it.

This question is answered in way, way more detail in my upcoming book, Everything You Need to Know About Homeschooling. In it you will find developmental milestones, what your child will learn academically during this time, and even how to “teach” early learning through real life. Be sure to keep an eye out for that.

Do you have a question? Be sure to comment below, message me on Facebook, or use my comment form. I would LOVE to hear from you!

Your friend,

Lea Ann

New Series: Homeschool Q&A

First, exciting news for me, then exciting news for you.

1. I’m writing a huge, huge, large, super-mega book!

So if Lea Ann decides to write a book on homeschooling, which aspect of homeschooling does she choose?

ALL OF THEM! WRITE ALL THE {HOMESCHOOL} THINGS!

I’m so thrilled that Tyndale Publishers has invited me to write the first-ever complete all-in-one, everything-you-need-to-know book about homeschooling. And one of the titles being considered is . . . *cough* . . . Everything You Need to Know About Homeschooling. This includes how to make the decision, how to get started, what to do the first day and the first year, how to choose your homeschool style, how to find your student’s learning style, how to customize your homeschool to fit your family culture, how to teach your child every step of the way, what developmental milestones to expect at each age, how to know if your child needs help, how to homeschool gifted children, what to do about high school and beyond . . .  and much, much more.

IT WILL BE YUUUUUUUUGE!

I’m very excited at the help I’ve already received on the project — so many experts have already lent their advice on specific aspects of homeschooling, and I’ve received dozens of books in donations and clearance prices. I have an amazing agent who has championed the project when it was least-likely-to-succeed and one of the country’s best publishers working on it.

Every time I get discouraged and think this is too hard, God moves the project forward himself and shows me how he is working it all for his glory. Like delivering fifty reference books for me two days after I prayed for some help. Like getting me an introduction to my amazing agent Jessie Kirkland one week after I told myself no agent wants this project. Like giving me three thousand Facebook friends who love answering my homeschool questions, giving me ideas for research, and introducing me to more experts to help.

I’m just overwhelmed with gratitude.

And now for you . . .

2. I want to answer your homeschool questions now!

Because we all have them, right? (My questions right now revolve around Montessori and unschooling, but I’m still researching, lol!) We all wonder what some homeschool detail is or what we’re supposed to do next or just what everyone else thinks about something.

We’ve got questions. I’m literally compiling all the answers!

But who wants to wait two years for a book to come out?

So, let’s answer them now!

Everything You Want to Know About Homeschooling will answer hundreds — maybe thousands — of questions about homeschooling. But what if we could get the answers every Monday?!

Let’s do that!

Send me your homeschool questions.

You can reach me how you like to best:

I may or may not hear you the last way, but all the others are excellent ways to reach me.

You could ask . . .

  • What do I do the first day of homeschooling?
  • Paperwork? Yes? No? Recycling?
  • What does my ninth-grader need to do in math?
  • What if my third-grader won’t do his handwriting?
  • Is there an easy way to teach reading?
  • Have you seen the spelling book?
  • What’s the difference between classical and Charlotte Mason homeschooling?
  • What exactly is a kinesthetic learner?
  • What’s for supper?

And anything else you’ve got on your mind! Literally anything about dads, working, science, teen hormones, housework, transcripts, co-op . . . and even Montessori and unschooling. I’ll soon know lots about those!

I will answer your question here. No question too big or too small!

It’s my new series: Homeschool Q&A. Running right here until we publish Everything You Need to Know About Homeschooling.

Join the fun! Invite your friends! Bring popcorn! Send me a message! Scream into the air!

See you on Mondays,

Lea Ann