How Do I Choose The Best Homeschool Curriculum? Learning Differences

How Do I Choose The Best Homeschool Curriculum? Learning Differences

How Do I Choose The Best Homeschool Curriculum?

When mommas ask me to share my thoughts about what’s the best homeschool curriculum, I tend to answer with a question.

How does your child learn, how is she wired and what is he most interested in?  

Many moms haven’t yet identified this essential understanding about their children before jumping into spending big bucks on curriculum.  And that often bites us all in the butt.  (This includes me… Many times.  In the past decade.  Took me way too long to learn.  Ugh.)   

Anyhoo… Because of this, before I ever discuss specifics about curriculum, I walk my moms through a series of questions.  Utimately, the goal is to help tease out their child’s learning style, interests and wiring.   This will save everyone a lot of heartache and stress.  And it doesn’t hurt that it’ll save cash too.

Best Homeschool Curriculum - Learning Differences

by Lindsay Leiviska | A Heart For All Students

What’s the Best Curriculum?  The Most Important Info First

I ask questions designed to identify learning strengths and weaknesses. For example, 

  • What subjects does your tend to do well in and which does he or she struggle in? 
  • Are there any subjects that your child particularly enjoys?
  • Which concepts cause tears on a regular basis?

This helps us dive deeper to establish the root cause behind why a child struggles in a subject.  With this understanding, we then have a starting point.  

By doing this pre-work, moms are armed with essential information to choose the best homeschool curriculum for their child.  This’ll serve kids academically and emotionally.  In the end, this will bless the entire homeschool dynamic. 

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you do end up purchasing any of the recommended items through this link, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you which allows me to continue offering as much free content as possible. I appreciate your support.

homeschool language arts curriculum, special needs

Homeschool is NOT School At Home

Because we are all uniquely-designed, it makes sense that many children think and process the world differently.  Often, moms choose to homeschool their kids when they realize that their children are not served well in the traditional system. 

Ultimately, the reality is that a school system is just that.  It is a system meant to serve the masses and not the individual.  However, this is not a criticism.  By virtue of being a system, institutionalized educational frameworks cannot serve each individual child.  

So when a child consistently struggles or resists school, it is often best to step back and seek out other educational options. Check out this post for 7 Tips For The New Homeschool Mom.

This, my Friend, is when homeschooling shines as the blessing that it is.  No where else can one find the ability to meet the individual educational and emotional needs of the whole child. 

Homeschool ADHD Cheat Sheet

Homeschooling is a Gift for Unique Thinkers

Homeschooling allows parents to provide outside-the-box thinkers the opportunities to succeed as students.  Whether a child has ADHD, dyslexia, a processing disorder or other learning difference, every child can thrive as a learner.

Working with the grain of our kids’ wiring and interests is key.  Doing so improves learning, self-worth, and creates a more joyful and peaceful educational experience.  For tips to optimize your child’s ADHD brain for the best learning, listen to this episode of the podcast.  

So What Is The Best Homeschool Curriculum For Unique Thinkers?

Sadly, I cannot tell you what the best homeschool curriculum is for your child.  However, I can offer you some great resources to check out once you have a baseline understanding of how your child is wired.  

For this post, I asked homeschool moms in A Heart For All Students community to share their insights.  They gave us their “best homeschool curriculum” choices. 

Please note that these moms are homeschooling kids with a variety of learning differences and styles. 

Today we will focus on the preferred Language Arts homeschool curricula of these seasoned homeschool moms.  Next week, we will hear all about their favorite math resources! 

data-pin-description=top homeschool reading curriculum for kids with special needs

Best Homeschool Curriculum- Language Arts

1. Master Books

Melissa Cochran, M.Ed., is a former principal, reading specialist, and kindergarten teacher.  She homeschools 2 teens with ASD, ADHD, PTSD, Anxiety, SPD, and PDD (Persistent Depressive Disorder).

She describes her homeschool as “it’s like alphabet soup around here!”  With so many nuances to how her kids learn, Master Books has been a hit in her home!

Master Books curriculum is open-and-go. The curriculum is written to the student and is easy for new homeschoolers to jump into without feeling overwhelmed.  Bonus! They have materials for Social Studies and Science, too.

Heather Purvis also enjoys Master Books with her son.  

My favorite is Master Books. It is Christ centered with a Charlotte Mason approach. I have had luck with the phonics and reading for my struggling reader.  It is not strenuous which makes it approachable for my son. 

Master Books isn’t heavy on pencil paper work, but more living education.  Their phonics and reading is focused more on letters, sounds and recognition. Not a ton of sight words. 

It’s a laid back approach with very simple reading by student with more reading to them by the parent.

Heather Shank-Purvis is mom to 5 very different learners.  Some are in homeschool, private and public school.  Her homeschooler navigates life with  ADHD, OCD, Anxiety, PANS/AE, Dyslexia and Dysgraphia.

Another Vote for Masterbooks As A Best Homeschool Curriculum

I am just switching to Master Books and so far I am loving the look of it!! We’re starting with the Language Arts for a Living Education.  Also, we purchased their Bible curriculum for my 11 year old.

Janelle, homeschool mom of 3, ADHD-infused homeschool life

Logic of English Tree

Orton-Gillingham Based Reading

2. Logic of English

Beckye Barnes, a homeschooling rockstar and an educational advocate, loves Logic of English.

Logic of English amazing. It is available both online and in print.  Based on the science of reading, it is a full language arts curriculum. 

Beckye Barnes is a homeschool mom of two teen boys, Autism, PTSD, ADHD, dyslexia & dysgraphia.  She just recently graduated a student with a 4.868 GPA who is entering college as a freshman with 30 college credits.
All About Reading

3. All About Reading & All About Spelling

My dyslexic son is doing well with All About Reading at a slower pace.   We are able to go at his pace.

Colleen has homeschooled four children, each with different learning styles.  Speaking about All About Reading, she continues, 

Physically moving the letter tiles, my son can now see that the ending or beginning sounds stay the same.  He was thrilled when he was able to read a story from the reader. I think that boosted his confidence that he will be able to conquer this struggle.  

Colleen Webster, homeschool mom of 4, dyslexia and ADHD

Dyslexia Resource Library

More Orton-Gillingham Homeschool Reading Curriculum Choices

The Orton-Gillingham method is systematically designed to support children with dyslexia and other reading learning disabilities.  Here are just a few more recommendations that you may want to consider when teaching your struggling reader.

Beckye Barnes offered these suggestions.

She recommends several programs for struggling readers.  Each of these employ the Orton-Gillingham method and start at the foundations of phonemic awareness.  If you have a struggling reader, she recommends checking out any of the following programs:

Beckye also recommends two online supplements Nessy and Teach Your Monster to Read as they are also based in the science of reading. 
my kid hates writing, homeschool help

Here are some other homeschool reading curriculum choices that Crystal and Kara have found helpful in their homeschools.  Both ladies have children who learn differently, from autism, adhd to language processing speed.  

Misc. Homeschool Language Arts 

4. Collections Close Reader 

I like Collections Close Reader for 6-7 Language Arts. My girl hates reading, listening, writing, etc. and this has collections of short stories.  There are short questions and vocabulary sprinkled throughout the stories. It can be done in small chunks even if a student can’t finish a whole short story.

Crystal, homeschool mom of 2,  Autism 

5. Rod and Staff Grammar

Kara, a homeschool mom of two adopted sons with multiple learning challenges, offers her favorite grammar curriculum.

For grammar we love Rod and Staff for GrammarI like that it’s traditional and gives clear examples. 

I love that they include sentence diagramming and start it early.  It really forces kids to learn the parts of speech and how to use them.  This is something I wish I had learned earlier as a kid.  I really only learned them through taking Latin. 

She continues by emphasizing the bite-sized approach that is often helpful for kids with executive functioning issues.

I also like that they give short exercises that are to the point, not just busywork. I also like the teacher’s manual- it gives easy to understand examples and uses concrete things within my kids’ realms of experience.

Kara, homeschool mom of 2 adopted sons, ADHD, Aspergers, Sensory Processing Issues

6. Classical Academic Press- Writing & Rhetoric

Kara continues about her favorite writing curriculum for her boys.

We love Classical Academic Press’ Writing and Rhetoric. It seems more comprehensive and we can go at our own pace, which right now is important.  If we cannot finish an entire one in a day, we can break lessons into two smaller ones. It’s concrete, but also allows my kids to think about things in depth, but in smaller chunks they can process. 

Kara points out that her son will often write long, involved “paragraphs” with tons of words, but without any cohesive meaning.

Writing and Rhetoric is forcing him to use the concept and main ideas of the stories to create his own.  It gives him a good example of appropriate length and level of detail.   Being able to cut lessons down and spread them out keeps them focused while  working in-depth, with good quality. 

Homeschool ADHD Cheat Sheet

Two of My Homeschool Language Arts Curriculum Choices

7. Christian Light Homeschool Language Arts

Christian Light Language Arts is a program that tends to lie low in it’s advertising, but it packs a mighty punch.  I was introduced to CL several years ago after teaching my children how to read.  This was a godsend for a number of reasons.

This homeschool curriculum is:

  • Student-driven: It’s written for the student to work through on their own.  There are small check boxes throughout each lesson to guide the student.  Who doesn’t love to mark off checkboxes?  (Wait?  Is that just me?)

 

  • Small Chunks of Teaching:  Each grade level is broken into 10 smaller workbooks which allow kids to have small attainable goals throughout the year.  Kids love to “finish” each workbook.  This helps with motivation.

 

  • Complete:  Once your child is reading, this program can stand alone for several years.  Includes grammar (with simple sentence diagramming beginning in second grade), spelling, vocabulary, and penmanship.

 

Note that I absolutely love teaching English grammar.  Christian Light does an EXCELLENT and thorough job of teaching English grammar in a way that is not overwhelming.

Homeschool ADHD Cheat Sheet

What Is the Best Homeschool Curriculum?

If the ultimate goal is long-term learning, it only makes sense to use materials that will support each child (and family) best.   Like all things, however, no homeschool curricula is perfect.  A resource may be an excellent fit for one season, but not another.  This is to be expected as kids grow.  

When it isn’t working, feel the freedom to pivot in order to best educate your unique child.   While you are planning, grab a copy of the Homeschool 101 Planning Guide below.  I’ve included some of the questions I ask homeschool coaching clients to create targeted plans for their unique children.  

What would be on your best homeschool curriculum list?  

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you do end up purchasing any of the recommended items through this link, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. I appreciate your support.

Six Ways We Make Spelling Easy
Logic of English Tree
Our Journey Westward
homeschool planning guide
Parenting An Anxious Child

Parenting An Anxious Child

Parenting An Anxious Child

Raise your hand if you are parenting an anxious child.  Friend, you are not alone.  Just recently, I posted the following question to a private Facebook group primarily made up of moms.

If you could solve one major problem that you are currently navigating with your child, what would it be?

The answers to that question revealed a lot of common issues that parents are facing.  However, the number one underlying issue these moms were facing?  I’ll tell you:  parenting an anxious child.

I don’t think this comes as a shock with all that is going on in our world these days.  

Whether your child has a formal diagnosis or not, so many of us are parenting at least one anxious child.  

So what can we do when we are parenting an anxious child?

Parenting An Anxious Child

by Lindsay Leiviska | A Heart For All Students

Disclosure:  This post may contains affliliate links.  If you purchase anythink through the affiliate inks, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you.  I won’t ever recommend a product that I do not stand behind.  Thank you for your support so I can continue to offer as much free content as possible.

Parenting An Anxious Child

Hope in Numbers?

Knowing that so many of us are parenting an anxious child can actually offer parents hope.

Why should we moms be hopeful when so many children are struggling with childhood anxiety? 

Perhaps the one silver lining of parenting an anxious child is that we know that our children are not alone in this. 

The more we moms speak up about the need to support our anxious kids, the more awareness.  

When we are open with moms and professionals about parenting an anxious child, the more we can work together to best support our kids. 

The Demands Of This World Create Greater Anxiety

The reality is that our children (whether or not they have a diagnosis) are bombarded by so much stimulation. 

Whether through the demands of school work, social pressures and a world-wide virus, kids are stressed out.

Teen Anxiety & Bible Study

On a Saturday morning, I sat with a group of 9th grade girls from my church.  We had just begun a Bible Study about their Identity in Christ. 

Many of these sweet girls shared about their stresses at school.  As I looked around this table of 7 typical teenage girls, it hit me.  

Every single one of them struggled regularly with anxiety.  

Friend, we are not the only ones parenting a child with anxiety. 

Parenting an anxious child in my own home

I understand how debilitating anxiety can be and how much it can negatively impact life. 

Coping with anxiety is hard enough on adults. Pushing through life with anxiety is beyond exhausting. 

As our children begin to show signs of debilitating anxiety in greater numbers, we need to take note.

Signs That You Are Parenting An Anxious Child

You may be thinking,

“I am not parenting an anxious child.  My child is just disobedient and angry.”

Here is the reality. Anxiety in children does not necessarily present the way we often think.

When children are anxious it can show itself in many ways.  If we are not careful, we can exacerbate anxiety.  We need to stop to recognize it. 

How often do we see…

  • A child who is throwing a “temper tantrum”
  • The destructive child who cannot keep his hands to himself
  • A student who appears to be checked out in class
  • Tween girl who is struggling to turn in homework
  • Student who bombs a spelling test that they were confident about the night before
  • The child who complains of headaches and stomach aches
  • A kid who cannot sleep at night

Often in our culture, adults see these types of behaviors as willful.  We demand that a difficult behavior stop without finding the root behind it.

“Stop biting your nails. It is a disgusting habit.”

“Keep your hands to yourself or you will lose recess.”

“You are so irresponsible. You forgot to turn in your homework again!”

“Snap out of it! I told you to pay attention!”

These “difficult” behaviors are most often symptoms of fear, shame, embarrassment and anxiety.

Anxiety Needs To Be Released

Because most children do not have the vocabulary to identify what they are feeling, they often act out negatively. 

These outward symptoms are simply a reflection of those emotions.  

When parenting an anxious child and when we notice these behaviors, we need to pause.  Like us, our children experience thoughts and big feelings daily. 

We must be intentional to see these painful times as opportunities.  We can use these anxiety-driven moments to equip our kids with the tools they need to work through their stress.

childhood anxiety help

4 Simple Tools To Help When Parenting An Anxious Child

Here are 4 of my favorite tools that you can use at home to help your child navigate anxiety well. 

These resources support children in their understanding of their own thoughts and feelings.

When we give our children a vocabulary to describe and understand their physical sensations, thoughts and feelings, we give them an incredible advantage.  

Additional Tools For Parenting An Anxious Child

1. Turn Around

Turnaround: Turning Fear into Freedom by David A. Russ, Ph.D. & Christopher T. McCarthy, M. Ed.

This resource  is phenomenal. 

Several years ago, my oldest daughter suddenly developed severe separation anxiety.   Overnight she became paralyzed with fear and could not leave my side for more than two months.  

Because her fear was so intense, we immediately began Christian counseling.  It was then that her counselor recommended this program.

This is a 10-day program.  Each day includes an audio and workbook component.  The story follows a group of children as they attend camp. Each of the characters struggle with some area of anxiety.

Following the audio session, there are workbook exercises for your child to complete.  There are written and drawing exercises that help kids label and illustrate their fears in various ways.

The fact that the storyline follows a group of kids who understand anxiety is so beneficial.  Children can more easily relate and invest in the strategies provided.  

The strategies introduced to the child equip them to combat the thoughts and feelings that lead to anxiety. This gives these kiddos a greater sense of control.

Personal Success

My daughter was 12 years old when she used this set of materials.  While she was very apprehensive when she started, she felt relief after the first day. By the end of the ten-day program, she was much better able to combat her anxiety.

Turnaround: Turning Fear into Freedom is recommended for children ages 6-13.  I highly recommended it to moms parenting an anxious child.

Praise God that my daughter was quickly diagnosed with PANS (Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome).  She was treated  and is back to her old self.  

If you notice sudden-onset severe anxiety, aggression or OCD-type behaviors, please talk to your child’s doctor.  For more about our story with PANS and PANDAS, check out this post.

zones of regulation, emotional regulation in kids

2. The Zones

Zones of Regulation by Leah Kuypers, MA Ed., OTR/L

When parenting an anxious child, using the Zones of Regulation chart can be incredibly helpful.  

The Zones were introduced to me through my son’s developmental pediatrician, Dr. Yasmin Senturias of Atrium Health.  

Dr. Senturias has been a godsend to our family as  we desperately searched for answers for our son.

The Zones of Regulation materials were developed by Leah Kuypers.  She is an Occupational Therapist and has an education background.  

She created this resource as a way to help children learn to develop emotional and self-regulation skills.

The materials are often used in schools as well as in mental health settings.  The Zones are a visual representation of what a child may be experiencing internally at any moment-in-time.

The Zones of Regulation program contains a simple chart.  This chart is made of color bands that represent specific feelings and thoughts.  It is especially helpful for young children who learn well with visual cues.

By giving kids a visual representation and vocabulary for emotional states, they are able to move through tough feelings and bring themselves back to a “regulated state.” Using the Zones, you provide your child the ability to release and communicate that which they are feeling.

This is a wonderful childhood anxiety resource. 

Check out this post where I discuss practical and actionable ways to use this tool at home today.  

anger iceberg

3. The Iceberg

Anger Iceberg

The Anger Iceberg is a visual tool.  It helps children understand the multitude of ways that anger displays itself. 

All adults will benefit from understanding that anger and difficult behavior is just a symptom.  Anxiety and fear is often the root of anger and rage.

By simply discussing the anger terms, parenting an anxious child will be less intimidating.  

Quite frankly, it is important to learn to look behind the your child’s angry behavior.   By doing so, you allow your child to release and process the underlying emotions.   

If we don’t allow our kids the opportunity to understand and verbalize the stressors inside of them, they will come out eventually.   Most often, anxiety and fear will come out in even more destructive ways.  

Choose to discuss a few “anger” terms at a time.  If your child does not know what a term means, explain it.  Share a story from your life that applies to the specific anger word.

Simply engaging in these conversations will deepen connection with your child.  This, My Friend, is the best medicine for anxiety.  There is power in knowledge and relationship.

4. What to Do…

What to Do When You Worry Too Much by Dawn Huebner

This workbook series is an excellent resource to help children navigate many issues including anxiety, complaining, fear, etc.

It is an entire series based on varying issues that children will face throughout life.  It is definitely worth checking out.

Parenting An Anxious Child And Our Kids Identity in Christ

One last thing to note if you are parenting an anxious child.

If you are a Christ-follower, may I encourage you to equip your child with practical knowledge of their identity in Christ?  

We often talk to our kids about their identity in Christ and yet we fail (me included) to clearly explain what that means.  Confusion just adds to fear, right?

Equip your child to know deeply what it truly means to have an Identity based on what God says and not based on what the world tells them.

Download FREE Identity in Christ Printables.  Use them with your kids.  Read them aloud daily, discuss them, and pray them over your child.

For more about helping our kids know what it means to have their Identity in Christ, read this post. 

Friend, let me encourage you.  God has chosen each one of us on purpose to raise our kids during this delicate time.  You are exactly the right mom for your child even when you don’t do it perfectly. 

God doesn’t expect us to do it all perfectly.  So give yourself grace to do the best you can to love your child well during these hard seasons.  

He is in this with you and He loves your child fiercely.  

Would love to hear from you.   We are in this together.

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you do end up purchasing any of the recommended items through this link, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. I appreciate your support.

Parenting Neurodiverse Kids to Thrive

Parenting Neurodiverse Kids to Thrive

Parenting Neurodiverse Kids Well

To my momma friends who are fiercely in love with and are parenting neurodiverse kids, let’s be brave. 

You know the ones I am talking about.

  • The children who are constantly hearing that they are not enough.
  • The ones who will never live up the expectations of the adults around them.
  • Like the kid back in school who was considered a troublemaker (yep, he ended up exactly as expected by the adults around him)
  • The “loser” with a life that went nowhere.

So many of these neurodiverse kids simply grew up shrouded in a culture that believes that outward behavior is always willful.  

Sadly when it comes to parenting neurodiverse kids and children in general, this mindset is often quite dangerous.  When we have black and white thinking to what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior, outside-the-box children end up suffering.

The Lord looks on the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7

Parenting Neurodiverse Kids to Thrive

by Lindsay Leiviska | A Heart For All Students

What is neurodiversity?

 The concept of neurodiversity is basically a viewpoint that says that all people are wired differently.  

For kids with ADHD, Autism, or any other cognitive difference, this shift can be life changing.   This means that instead of viewing them as disordered people who need to be “fixed”, we embrace their differences as part of their wiring.  

When we remove the “willful disobedience” mindset, we begin to see the whole child through the eyes of grace and of strength.

Our responses to perceived infractions on expected behaviors lose their rough and often aggressive edge.  We are able to then see the strengths that need to be harnessed for good. 

Our kids lose the shame and instead are able to see us as in their corner.  We can then parent our neurodiverse children with what they need to thrive.

Diversity in who we are and how we are all designed.  Doesn’t that sound like something to be celebrated?

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you do end up purchasing any of the recommended items through this link, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you which allows me to continue offering as much free content as possible. I appreciate your support.

neurodiversity, christian special needs moms, adhd, autism acceptance

Parenting Neurodiverse Kids Well: Difference vs disordered  

As moms begin parenting neurodiverse kids from this mindset, anxiety and fear is lessened.  By recognizing our child’s ADHD or Autism as an inherent part of what makes them unique, we experience freedom. 

Parenting our neurodiverse kids in this way allows us to focus on their strengths instead of trying to constantly fix these traits out of them.  

For more about neurodiversity, check out this article from Understood.org.  

Neurodiversity brings freedom 

Culturally, when adults cannot “control” the “challenging” behavior of a child with ADHD, the perception is that there is something wrong with the child.

The idea that perhaps we are using the wrong approach with these kids rarely comes to mind.  Adults blame the child and continue with the same ineffective, life-sucking discipline strategies… and the behaviors increase as the child’s sense of self-worth decreases.

Albert Einstein is often credited as saying, 

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”  

So… as we parent our own neurodiverse kids, what is our goal? 

To force these fish to climb a tree, never allowing them to swim in the pond for which they were designed?  Do we want them to believe there is something inherently wrong with them when they can NEVER meet our expectations?

neurodiverse children, special needs mom, adhd, asd, sensory processing

Kids set up for failure

So many of our kids are placed in no-win situations.  They continuously fail to live up to the accepted expectations of the world around them.

These expectations are often based upon an environment that they were never meant to thrive in. 

Sadly, our outside-the-box kids are consistently living from a marginalized position.  They are repeatedly corrected, punished, and shamed.  

These kids spend their formative years hearing about their faults.  Oftentimes these “faults” are simply differences in the way they receive and process the world around them.  

What about the real world?

Some may argue that modifying how we educate and parent neurodiverse kids is not realistic because “they have to learn sometime”.

Hello?!!!

There are millions and millions of people in this country who are suffering and have suffered their entire lives because of this belief that its the kid who is broken.  

We live in the United States of America.  It’s 2020.  We say we celebrate diversity.  So let’s do it.

It is time we offer an alternative system.  

autism, adhd, neurodiversity, christian parenting

Momma Friend, I hear it every day.

  • The school called. My kid flipped out and hit a little boy in class. Now he is suspended.
  • My daughter clings to me at church because it is so loud and crazy in there. She started melting down in the middle of the foyer last Sunday.
  • The teacher said that my child is off in lala land and that’s why she can’t learn to read.
  • My son comes home from school every day and screams and has meltdowns. No one believes me because he is quiet at school.
  • My child begs me not to send him to (church, sports, school, etc).
  • Getting my child to do her homework always ends up in tears and stress. She just screams that it’s too much to do.
  • My child hates going to birthday parties, he just cries and avoids the other kids.

These children struggle to please adults and even other kids around them by trying to suppress their responses to an environment they were never intended to live in.

They receive the message loud and clear that they are inherently defective.  

Our neurodiverse kids are suffering.  Their anxiety is through the roof.  Wouldn’t yours be as well?  

my kid hates writing, homeschool help

Mental Illness Hamster Wheel

These misunderstood children frequently end up trapped in a cycle of mental health issues that plague them for life. 

Rates of childhood anxiety, depression, cutting, and suicide are growing.

Moms parenting neurodiverse kids… we need to join together to advocate for our children.  We need to be brave enough to parent the children God has given us and not the one Aunt Edna wants.

We are raising children to one day be adults. These formative years are crucial.

Moms parenting neurodiverse kids differently

It’s time to be BRAVE for our uniquely-designed children.  

  • ADHD
  • Autism
  • Sensory Processing Differences
  • Learning Differences
  • Anxiety

These are not personality defects.  These are inherent differences in wiring just as are introversion and extroversion.

  • That struggle to take direction is not her being willfully stubborn but is her independence
  • His hyperfocus on his latest “obsession” is not a disorder.  It is a gift that has allowed some of the greatest inventors of our time to change the world.
  • The boy who cannot sit still was made to move… he receives and processes information through movement.  
  • Is your daughter the day dreamer? The one who can’t focus? That is her incredible imagination taking her places that others will only experience when she becomes a published author.

We must begin to shift our perspective so that we can set these kids up for success.

Let’s stop shaming those who don’t fit the mold.  We need to stop clinging to this belief that our kids are WILLFULLY making a choice to disobey.

It is time for us to be our child’s cheerleader and coach.  

Let us coach them well while we equip them to thrive as who they have been designed to be.

christianchristian moms raising adhd and autism moms raising adhd and autism

God Intentionally Chose You

Moms, you know in your gut there must be another way for your neurodiverse kids.

Deep down, you know that God has created your child uniquely and that He must have a plan for your child. 

Yet, fear takes over.  

  • The world tells you that a child who is screaming in public deserves a good spanking.
  • Aunt Edna tells you that you had better nip that bad behavior in the bud now.
  • Your mother-in-law glares at your child when he begins jumping on the couch.
  • That perfect mom stares in shock when your child begins shrieking uncontrollably at the fireworks display.
  • The teacher at your child’s school told you that your child needs to learn to sit still now.

You don’t know what to do, but you know your child will never thrive knowing that he is a constant disappointment.

Parent the child we have been given

We must be willing to parent our children who have been created differently. As a Christ follower, I believe with every bit of my being that God creates every child with gifts, passions and purpose. 

We must be willing to think outside-the-box with our outside-the-box kids.

Let’s partner with our children so that through safe relationships, we can influence them.  We want to equip our kids with tools and strategies so that they can live a life of confidence and purpose.

Or we can continue to listen to the world and it’s rewards and punishment mentality.  

How is that working for your child?

Every child needs an adult who believes in them… let’s be that for our kids.

Wisdom of Moms Raising Neurodiverse Kids

Mom Friends, it’s time to be BRAVE for our children.

It’s time to be willing to allow other adults to disapprove of us in order to save the future lives of our children.  Let’s allow our kids to dare to be exactly who they are.

If you are looking for the support of other moms who are parenting uniquely-wired kids to thrive, join the private AHFAS community.  

We are in this together!

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you do end up purchasing any of the recommended items through this link, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. I appreciate your support.

Strategies For Struggling Readers

Strategies For Struggling Readers

Strategies For Struggling Readers

Are you looking for effective teaching strategies for your struggling reader? 

Are you fearful that your child will become one of the tens of millions of US adults who don’t have basic literacy skills?

Reading and writing open doors to a better quality of life on so many levels.  

For many children, traditional reading instruction strategies are effective. 

Unfortunately, however, those same strategies are also just as ineffective for others.   This is when parents and educators need to take notice.

Same lessons and methods 

When we insist on using the same teaching methods for all kids due to convenience, we set them up for a lifetime of failure. 

Often kids who learn differently can easily be led to believe that they are inherently bad students and readers. 

Understandably, they mentally give up due to frustration.    

Think about it.  Who wants to repetitively engage in an activity that causes tears, anxiety and frustration?

I know, I don’t.

Of course, the last thing we want is for kids to struggle with and hate reading. 

We know the value and importance of reading, but often hit a wall when we run out of strategies for our struggling reader.

The Value of Reading

Fortunately, as a society we espouse the importance of literacy for all children. 

That statement is definitely true on the surface.

However, when we dig deeper into how we equip children to read, many begin to think differently.

It is not uncommon in our educational culture to determine that a child is “behind” in reading at ages as early as 6 or 7.

This message is communicated to Mom or Dad with an urgency that reading needs to improve quickly in order to be “ready for the next grade level.”

Arguably, we are standing on a dangerous precipice when we make these judgement calls based upon one modality of reading instruction and age alone.

We must begin to view effective reading instruction with the child’s “wiring” in mind.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you do end up purchasing any of the recommended items through this link, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you which allows me to continue offering as much free content as possible. I appreciate your support.

reading help, dyslexia, adhd, homeschool

Adults Who Hate To Read

How many children do you know who think they “hate reading”?  

Now think about the many adults that won’t even think of picking up a book. 

Read a book as a form of entertainment?  Heck no. 

When we dig deeper, it is often because they think they hate reading.

Many adults explain that they were never good at reading when they were in school. 

I argue that these adults were likely not equipped in a way that they could process and understand.  

If we want to prevent the next generation from falling into the reading is the enemy trap, then we must be willing to explore alternative teaching strategies for struggling readers. 

Unrealistic expectations of our children

One of the side-effects of educational and developmental benchmarks is the inherent message that all kids should fit into this box.

When kids don’t respond to the traditional teaching approach and on the benchmark timelines, trouble ensues. 

Parents are under so much pressure to make their child read just like everyone else

When mom or dad aren’t informed about optional teaching approaches and learning styles, they lean in harder.  

Children struggle even more when pushed to read using strategies that inherently conflict with the way they learn.

Additionally, parents often make themselves crazy in the process in a desperate attempt to keep up with the student Joneses

  • Running their kiddos to various academic interventions  
  • Engaging in fights with their struggling reader as they push for them to read more

Unfortunately, when this occurs early in a child’s education or becomes the pattern, our kids learn the wrong thing. 

These kids learn to hate learning and worse, they begin to believe that they are dumb.  

Consequently, the idea of picking up a book causes tears, anxiety and frustration for the child (and mom or dad).

Very few adults have the capacity to fight an uphill battle every day. 

So why do we force kids to learn such a crucial life skill in a way that often times conflicts with the way they learn?  

homeschool reading, adhd, anxious child, dyslexia

Think Long-Term

Life is a gift given to us by God Himself and it is a journey. 

No two people are exactly the same.

Ultimately, a child who grows up feeling “behind” can easily believe himself incapable of learning.   

Forcing children to push through reading material based on grade level benchmarks is not good.  It can often lead them on an unintended detour of a lifetime of reading aversion.  

By taking this detour, kids miss the basic foundational skills of reading in the name of “keeping on grade level.”    

Sadly, Learned helplessness is a real force that creates its own set of mental health issues. 

This ultimately costs far more than whether a child reads on grade-level at age 7 or 8 or even 10.

Neurodiversity: Strategies for struggling readers 

Our brains, like our bodies, develop differently and at varying times.

  • Would we ever shame a young 14 year-old girl because her body isn’t as developed as other girls her age?  
  • Would we tell a young man that he is not achieving his potential if his voice was still an octave higher than his peers?

Of course not.

Why then do this to our children when it comes to brain development and its impact on their reading skills?

reading, family, read aloud, children's books, homeschool

Strategies For Struggling Readers- The One That Works

There are many variables at play in the effectiveness of any one teaching strategy. 

And we know that reading can be the gatekeeper to a life of success.

This is why it is critical that adults seek out alternative approaches for the struggling readers in their lives.   

Check out Part 2 of this post where we explore an alternative reading methodology.  The Orton-Gillingham method of reading instruction is a systematic approach to reading instruction.

It has been shown to be a very effective teaching method for kids with dyslexia and many other learning differences.

I also share one of my favorite homeschool reading programs that is based on this awesome reading method.

Could it be the right approach for your child?

Read on and let’s find out if this alternative reading instructional strategy can support your unique thinker.  

Do you have a struggling or resistant reader in your home?

Did you grow up thinking you were a bad reader?  

What has worked and what hasn’t?  Comment below and share.

We are in this together, Friend!

Join My Private FB Community

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you do end up purchasing any of the recommended items through this link, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. I appreciate your support.

Zones Of Regulation Chart & Emotional Regulation Tools For Kids

Zones Of Regulation Chart & Emotional Regulation Tools For Kids

Zones Of Regulation Chart & Childhood Anxiety

Have a kid who melts down at the slightest frustration?  Or perhaps you have one that avoids anything and everything you ask them to do???

Wait… Is that you banging your head against a wall?  Ugh.  I hear you, Friend.  There is so much hope.  I promise.

We mommas love our kids fiercely.  But I’d be lying if denied how exhausting it is to constantly navigate our kids’ tantrums and meltdowns. For moms raising kids who have ADHD, Autism, or any other executive functioning issue, the stress can be a KILLER.  (For everyone, including our children.)

If we want to do more than just survive the hard days, we moms need backup.  We’ve got to be armed with resources to best support our kids (and our sanity). That’s why the Zones of Regulation chart can make a world of difference for everyone in the family.

Devotional Christian Special Needs Mom

UPDATED to include a selection of my favorite books to help children with emotional regulation.  

The best part?  They are all FREE with Kindle Unlimited.  (I use Kindle Unlimited EVERY.SINGLE.DAY- best investment ever!)  

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you do end up purchasing any of the recommended items through this link, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you which allows me to continue offering as much free content as possible. I appreciate your support.

Meltdowns & Big Emotions

Daily I hear from moms raising kids who are struggling in so many ways. 

  • meltdowns during homeschool,
  • anxiety and stress when asked to do any non-preferred activity (think chores or bathing),
  • sibling rivalry,
  • social anxiety,
  • impulsiveness,
  • Covid, anyone?

Whatever it is… moms and kids alike are being slammed with layer upon layer of stress.

How To Handle An Angry Kid, xones of regulation chart, books to support emotional regulation

We All Experience Anxiety

Throughout life, we have all at one time or another experienced some form of anxiety.

Often, we adults don’t respond to our anxiety in the healthiest, most appropriate ways.

  • We snap at our hubbies. 
  • Yell too loudly at our kids.
  • Shovel chocolate chips down our throat while hiding in the pantry… (Wait.  Is that just me?)

However we choose to release the tension, if we don’t identify the emotions and the causes behind it, we frequently end up in trouble.  That trouble may be a broken relationship with our hubby, a friend or our kids. 

Or… if you are in the chocolate chip shoveling crew (please tell me I’m not alone), your waistline and health take a hit.

Devotional Christian Special Needs Mom

Behavior is Information

Behavior is information.  It is a form of communication.

When our kids “act out,” they are actually trying to tell the adults around them something that they can’t easily vocalize.

Children often do not have the vocabulary to communicate effectively and appropriately.

Like our kids, we mommas we know the frustration when we can’t find a word.

zones of regulation chart, emotional regulation, christian mom

Jenny, Mike, Sarah, Sam…

(Quick… what 1980s movie is this from?  Be sure to comment below if you’ve know.)

Think about how often we have to run through all of our kids’ names (let alone our hubby’s and pets’ names) before we say the right one.  That alone can be so frustrating for adults.

Similarly, our children often become frustrated when they cannot communicate what’s going on inside of them.  They experience an “unsettling feeling” inwardly, but don’t have the experience or language to pin point it.

Without the ability to let it out verbally, our kids are going to act out behaviorally.

A Simple Tool Goes a Long Way

That’s why I LOVE the Zones of Regulation chart. 

We can use this simple visual tool to provide our kids (and ourselves) a way to identify and communicate what they are feeling.

In the Zones of Regulation chart, emotions and general mental states are identified by colors (or zones) that are easily identifiable.

Zones Of Regulation

The Zones of Regulation

The Zones were created by an occupational therapist and educator named Leah Kuypers, MA.Ed, OTR-L.  She has created an entire program often used in schools, mental health settings and in homes. 

I was originally introduced to the Zones by my son’s developmental pediatrician, Dr. Yasmin Senturias.  In those earlier visits with her, my son was so unregulated, agitated and hypervigilant.  He was all over the place.

To the untrained eye, he appeared to have classic ADHD.  (Note:  Anxiety in children can look IDENTICAL to ADHD.)

Because of this behavior and likely the horrified, exhausted and desperate look in my eyes, Dr. Senturias offered me lifeline of The Zones of Regulation.

Speaking from experience, the concept of the visual tool alone has been a lifesaver for my family.

christian special needs moms positive parenting course

Outward Behavior Not The Be All End All

When we notice children struggling with difficult behavior, it is crucial that we start challenging ourselves to shift our perspective about how to respond.   

If we only look at outward behavior at face value, we will likely not solve the actual problem. 

We need to look behind the behavior so we can help children identify their triggers.  Just like us, we need our kids to be clued into “what sets them off.”  More importantly, our kids need the skills to process those thoughts and emotions the next time.   Listen to episode 23 of the podcast, How To Parent An Angry Kid, for more support.

The Zones of Regulation chart will help you equip your child to understand these concepts in a practical way.

christian moms and teens

Willful Disobedience or Not Yet Equipped?

When a child behaves in a way that appears outwardly as disrespectful, adults have got to learn to pause.   

We’ve got to take a deep breath, step back and really think about what may be happening behind the behavior.  When we identify root issues, without getting “offended by” our kids’ behavior, we are then able to propel the needle forward.

Appropriate Emotional Self-Regulation

Think about this:  How many adults do you know that don’t know how to handle their emotions?

I would venture to say that we all know someone in this category. 

We all know with certainty, that every single one of us has experienced our own version of a temper tantrum (and will likely have another one).  We are just people, right?

The reality is that we fill our kids’ heads with a ton of information about math and reading.  However, we often fail to help our kids learn how to process through life’s tough situations.  

anxious kids, autism, adhd

ADHD, Autism, Or Any Uniquely-Wired Thinkers

For our children with ADHD, Autism, or any executive functioning struggles, it is even doubly important to equip them with emotional regulation skills.   

This will ultimately support them in their relationships now and in the future. 

We can set up our kids for life-long success by equipping them with the tools that they need to promote appropriate emotional self-regulation.

The Zones of Regulation & Your Mom Tribe

Friend, if you are anything like me, you know the exhaustion and overwhelm that comes with raising a higher-needs kiddo.

I did it alone for way too long and suffered for it.  Don’t make the same mistake that I did.  Whatever your situation, find community with moms who get it.   And have lots of fun too!

And grab your FREE 5 Day Devotional For the Weary Christian Mom.  I’ve written this devotional to equip and support the exhausted mom who has tried everything she knows to do as a good Christian momma. 

This is what I was looking for in my worst season of parenting my son.  When our days were filled with hitting, kicking, screaming, biting and scratching all.day.long. 

Be encouraged, Friend, there is hope.  Grab your free copy today and meet me in your Inbox every day for 5 days.   I promise, you will be encouraged and equipped.  

There is a better, more life-giving way to parent our uniquely-wired kids to thrive!  Promise.  

Listen to Episode 23 for more support & tools, Friend.  

Your child is a blessing to this world and has been created by God with gifts, passions and purpose.  Don’t lose hope.  Be encouraged!  We are in this together.  

Parent An Angry Raging Kid

Recommended Reading For Moms Raising Kids With ADHD, SPD, ASD (or No Acronym At All)

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook
Finger Play and Preschool Song Cards

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you do end up purchasing any of the recommended items through this link, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. I appreciate your support.

Equipping Our Kids – Identity in Christ

Equipping Our Kids – Identity in Christ

Our Identity In Christ

In my 15 years of experience in children’s ministry, I’ve noticed a pattern related to our identity in Christ.

As we share Jesus with children (and newer believers), we tend to use the same verbiage over and over again.  Some would use the term “Christianese” to describe the language used in Christian circles and in ministry.

Intentional Language

In the church, this language begins when our children are young. We start intentionally teaching preschool-age children using and repeating key phrases.  We choose specific truths from the Bible and repeatedly use those ideas to convey the message of the Gospel.

“Jesus is your friend forever.”

“God loves you so much.”

“When you are afraid, you can trust Jesus.”

As our children grow older, we may beef-up our language.

“Do all things through Christ Who strengthens you.”

“You are covered in Christ.”

“Know who you are in Christ.”

Truth of Scripture- Yes!

The key wording we use to express biblical ideas are wonderful and based on the Truth of Scripture.  However, I’ve observed a shortcoming in our efforts to grow our children (and often new adult believers) in the Truth of the Gospel.  The apostle Paul reminds the early church:

“I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it.” 1 Corinthians 3:2

By the term “milk” Paul is describing the way in which he initially shared the gospel with the church.   Specifically, that when he first told this new church about the good news of Jesus, he approached them with what they could digest at the time. The milk he shared with them were the basic truths about Jesus.

An example of the milk we may share with children in our modern churches might be:

“Jesus is your friend forever.”

Reminding our preschoolers and younger children of this is such a great thing!  It meets our kids where they are and this is awesome!!   But… this is just the beginning.

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I receive a marginal commision on qualifying purchases.  Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you do end up purchasing any of the recommended items through this link, this allows me to continue offering as much free content as possible. I appreciate your support.

christian moms, parenting, identity in christ, special needs

Cornerstone Truth

The truth of God’s love for His people is expressed in these simple expressions that we share with young children.  These basic truths are the foundation of our faith.  Using this basic language with our children is the crucial foundation to a deeper understanding of the gospel.

Paul would not have used the term “milk” to describe the way he presented the Gospel during the infancy of the Corinthian church if it were not appropriate to do so.

However, the pattern that I have seen often in the church (and that includes me) is that we fail to move from “milk” of the Gospel to the “meat.” This lack of depth was glaringly obvious in my own home one evening a few years back.

He Uses All Things For the Good…

Our family was in a deep season of chaos, stress and growth.

My daughters had both entered the world of navigating their own friendships. That evening one of my girls was struggling with a hurt relationship and feelings of rejection. It was one of those moments in my momma journey that I’ll remember for a long time.

How I wished that I could “fix” it and take away her pain! That power was and is not mine. I comforted her as best I could but ultimately, I had to point her to Him.

What do we want our children to absorb?

Here’s the deal… our children are going to grow up receiving a multitude of ideas.  What do we want them to absorb? Do we want them to soak up the expectations of a world which tells them that to be valuable they need to:

  • Be a certain size,
  • Wear a specific brand of clothing,
  • Have the latest phone and
  • Avoid the uncool and unpopular in fear of being ostracized by their peers?

What do we want our kids to believe about themselves?

The Truth of Their Value

As Christian parents, we want them to know the beautiful truths of Scripture. Furthermore, don’t we want them to grow more deeply in their understanding of the truths we began teaching them when they were young?

So many of us say that we want our kids to know the love of Christ.    We fiercely want them to know what it means to be in relationship with Him.  However, as I realized in my own home that night, we are going to need to be intentional if we want to truly equip them.

“Who you are in Christ is what matters,” I told her.

“Remember who you are in Christ,” I would implore with both of my girls.

Behind closed doors, I desperately prayed for both of my girls to know how loved they are by God. Earnestly, I pleaded with God to allow my children to know their value because of Jesus. I begged Him to make their faith their own, to please give them the gift of knowing who they were because of Him.

Suddenly, it hit me.

  • Who am I in Christ?
  • What exactly does that mean?
  • Do I even know who I am in Christ, Lindsay?
  • How do I expect my children to cling to that truth of their Identity in Christ if I am not exactly sure myself?

I need to find the verses of Scripture that tell me more about my Identity in Christ.’ 

Did I Know My Identity in Christ?

I had been in church for almost three decades prior to that night.  In depth Bible Study, line-by-line inductive study, was my jam for years. I knew a lot of truth and a lot of the Bible.  In fact, I had chunks of Scripture memorized because my girls and I had made Scripture memory work part of our homeschool time.

Yet, when it came down to it, I really wasn’t clear of the specifics. Where did that idea come from? How could I equip my girls to know deeply that their identity is found in Jesus alone?

No longer were the illustrated picture story bibles going to do.  So… I did some digging with intention and created these Scripture printables.

identity in christ for kids printables

The Offensive Weapon

It was time to teach them to use God’s Word as the offensive weapon it has the power to be. They needed to guard their minds against the lies of this world.  It was time to equip them on a practical level, with the Sword of the Spirit.

On A Treasure Hunt

I created a personalized printable of the Scriptures for each of my children and framed and displayed them in their rooms. These reminders have been a source of strength for each of them as they navigate the world. Initially, I had them read aloud straight from the printable so as to embed the truth deep in their minds.

Repetition is an awesome and simple memory tool. To this day, when I sneak in their rooms to get one more snuggle before bed, I use it as a tool.  I pray the Scriptures out loud over them and now over my son.  Check out the Simple 6 Step Scripture Memory Plan here.  

Identity in Christ Scripture Download

Oh Friend, I am convinced that all of us need to know who we are in Christ. Often, we need encouragement and practical tools to help us remember.  This is ok.

There are incredible blessings that come from having our identity based on Christ and not on what the world says about us. However, it is almost impossible to recognize and live in that freedom if we don’t know what Scripture really says about it. Let’s equip our kids and ourselves to face this world with confidence because of Jesus.  We are in this together!

Sign up to access the free Identity In Christ printables.

  • Repeat them aloud at mealtimes
  • Insert your child’s name while praying with them at bed time.
  • Share them with one another in the car.
  • In the hard moments, refer back to those Scriptures… tease through them with your children.

Equip Your Children with The Truth in Fun

There is nothing like having fun times of connection with our children!!  So why not add Scripture Memory into the mix using this Simple 6 Step Scripture Memory Plan for Kids of All Ages!  This is the exact system I’ve used with my kids for years as part of our homeschool day.  

Whether you homeschool or not, this multisensory scripture memory plan is so easy to implement in just 5 minutes a day.  And it’s so much silly fun!  Click here to read on, Sweet Friend.  

scripture memory plan for kids

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you do end up purchasing any of the recommended items through this link, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. I appreciate your support.