Best Homeschool Math For Struggling Students

Best Homeschool Math For Struggling Students

Best homeschool math curriculum for struggling students

This is part two of a two part series answering the question,

“How to choose the best homeschool math curriculum for struggling students?”

If you have not read part one, definitely check it out.

In it we discuss the 5 Tips every mom needs to know before purchasing homeschool math curriculum.

Save yourself money, stress and time and read that here.

In today’s post, some veteran homeschool moms share their opinions on the best homeschool math curriculum for struggling students.

For all intents and purposes, we are using the term “struggling students” to describe:

  1. ADHD
  2. Autism
  3. Dyscalculia
  4. Dyslexia
  5. Any other learning difference
  6. Kids who just hate math

If your child tends to struggle with math, regardless of the reason, this post is for you.

Mastery Vs Spiral Based Homeschool Math

There are two different approaches to math curricula out there: spiral-based and mastery-based.    I discuss these in more detail in Part One.  

  • Mastery-based 
  • Spiral-based 

Here is a brief explanation of the two and important factors to consider when deciding which will be best for your student.

Mastery-based curriculum focuses on one concept at a time.  The goal is for the student to master the concept before moving on to the next math skill.

On the other hand, spiral-based homeschool math curriculum reviews previously learned material while learning new concepts.

Both mastery and spiral approaches have their pros and cons.  Again, check out this post for more info.  

So let’s go ahead and check in with the veteran homeschool moms to see what has worked with each of their uniquely-wired students.  

Mastery-Based Homeschool Math Curricula

1. Learn Math Fast

Beckye Barnes, of Beckye Barnes Consulting, recommends Learn Math Fast.  

We have enjoyed Learn Math Fast. It works for all ages and it starts with the basics.  You only move forward once you master the concepts. It is mastery-based and teachers the concepts without busy work.  An excellent choice for those who need a refresher course.

Beckye points to the importance of solidifying foundational math skills.

They also focus on foundational skills in a real world way. Basic addition and subtraction is taught using pennies. I think fractions is explained using a dollar then four quarters. It also focuses on learning the concept without endless worksheets.

Beckye Barnes, homeschool mom, Autism, PTSD, ADHD, dyslexia & dysgraphia.  She just graduated a student with a 4.868 GPA who is entering college as a freshman with 30 college credits.

Learn Math Fast was a game changer for my daughter with dysgraphia.  LMF breaks the lessons down to make it easier to understand, and they keep it simple.

Colleen Webster, homeschool mom of 4, also loves Learn Math Fast.  Her daugheter has dyscalculia, and has tried several math curriculum options. LMF was the first that explained certain concepts in a way she understands.

My daughter felt like she could follow along better with the shorter explanations they gave. She benefited from the break down of each equation into bite size pieces.

Colleen Webster, homeschool mom of 4, dyslexia and ADHD, dyscalcula and dysgraphia

Homeschool Math Planning

2. Math U See

What math does a math professor use in her homeschool?  Melanie Fulton of, The Math Profs, 

For math we do Math-U-See, but we add a lot of supplemental math with it. When you have two math parents in the house EVERYTHING can become a math problem.

Melanie, received her PhD in math from Virginia Tech University, she explains more about the benefits of Math U See.

MUS works for us.  The lessons aren’t too long–and sometimes we don’t even do a whole lesson in 1 day.  Have review built in. 

Visually Clutter-Free

She continues to point out the simplicity in the layout of the pages which is helpful for kids who struggle with visual discrimination.

The books and worksheets are plain–not tons of pictures or stories to distract.  There is a video included so that my children don’t have to have mom or dad teach it.  And there are manipulatives to see what is going on. 

Melanie does want to point out that MUS lacks a lot of word problems.  However, this may be a plus for kids who struggle with reading comprehension.  She says it is easy to supplement word problems in her home.

We make up for that because we do lots of real math problems around here!  She and her family live on a farm and do lots of math problems with eggs.  

Melanie Fulton, Math-loving mama who homeschools her 4 children and often employs the aid of chicken, dairy goat, cat, and dog math tutors.  There are math problems EVERYWHERE. (www.themathprofs.com)    

2 More Votes for Math U See

My older kids did very well with Math U See. Using the mastery approach made it easier for them to focus on what they were learning. 

While Colleen found success with Learn Math Fast, she also likes how Math U See allowed her kids could move at their own pace.  

They were able to move quickly through a lesson if they grasped it right away.  On the other hand, they were able to take longer if they needed more practice.  

Colleen Webster, homeschool mom of 4, dyslexia and ADHD, dyscalcula and dysgraphia

Janelle Burke also likes MUS for her son who has ADHD.  

One of my sons does Math U See and likes it because it is a mastery approach.   He is a kinesthetic learner and can SEE it and BUILD it using Math U See number block system.   This is key!

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

Homeschool Math curriculum

The Love Just Keeps Pouring Out: Math U See for Struggling Students 

Katherine, homeschool mom of 4 different learners, tells us that despite a whole host of learning differences,

Math U See works for us because it is very sequential.  This is essential for struggling learners.  The program helps with retaining math skills by focusing on one math concept at a time.

She points out that even though her kids have a variety of learning differences and styles, that homeschooling brings out her kids’ best selves.  With MUS, 

A student masters a math concept before they move to the next one. I have seen my child struggle in the fall with MUS, but by spring, the fall math is “easy” and we can both see their progress.

 For the kids who struggle more, Math U See is very logical.  It also lends to student independence with the videos and instruction manual. 

We have always used MUS, because my bookends definitely need the mastery-based curriculum.

My middle 2 could probably handle spiral, but they are doing great, so there hasn’t been a need to change.

Katherine Fain, homeschooling for 7 years, Autism, Auditory processing disorder, Dysgraphia and probably more

Spiral-based Homeschool Math Curricula

1. The Good and The Beautiful

Melanie loves The Good and the Beautiful for math.

I have loved The Good and the Beautiful Math for my ADHD-kiddo.  Each math lesson is a different activity.  I thought I didn’t like it at first because it’s a spiral approach, but now I LOVE it because it’s a spiral approach! Ha!  

Melanie talks about the multisensory teaching of TGTB.

It’s hands-on and they incorporate games for review and learning.  They include short and sweet worksheets, a simple review each week.  TGTB uses songs, colorful workbooks,and bonus activities for extra practice if you wish. 

Like me, Melanie understands the importance of shorter lessons to allow her kids push through an entire lesson.  She also raves about the shorter lessons.  

Lessons take 15-20 min max.  We are still learning our basic facts, but we are also learning time and money while playing games. My kids really LOVE it!  

Melanie tells us that she is now anxiously waiting for them to release level 3 so she can do it with her oldest!!

Spiral-Based Homeschool Math For Struggling Learners

2. Teaching Textbooks

We love Teaching Textbooks.  We’ve been homeschooling for about 8 years. One kid who just doesn’t like math, one with special needs, and one who finds math easy. Teaching Textbooks has worked well for all of them.

Krista tells us that she has transitioned her kids to their new online platform.  

We started with the CDs and now use the online version. Lessons are taught via the online course.  So my role is more support and encouragement in this subject and not the direct teacher.

Krista, 10 years homeschooling, 3 kids, Girl 17, ADHD, Boy, 15 ASD, G 12 Diva

Magda Miller has been homeschooling her two kids for going on 8 years.

I second Teaching Textbooks. I have a very self-motivated, math-minded older child who started TT when he was 5.  It just clicked.  I thought his less math inclined younger sister might not do as well with the system, but I was pleasantly proved wrong. 

Like so many homeschool moms, she points out how nicely Teaching Textbooks supports moms.

Teaching Textbooks does the teaching and the grading.  I am more involved with my younger child’s movement through the program, but it still allows for her to be very independent in her learning and it sticks.  She is learning and retaining.

Magda also likes using the physical books and CD option.

We have the CDs and the physical books as I find mine tend to do better when they write things down as well as view and hear them.

Ma Miller, homeschool mom of 2 rockstar kids, suspected ADHD, ASD 

homeschool math for struggling students

What Spiral-Based Math Worked in My Own Homeschool?

3. Christian Light

Within my own homeschool, we have used a variety of math materials for our ADHD and math-minded family.  

One of our favorite spiral-based math curricula is Christian Light Math.  

I like Christian Light for several reasons.  

Christian Light is broken up into ten worktexts for each grade level.  

This, in and of itself, is highly motivating to our kids who like to check things off their lists.  Every finished worktext feels like an accomplishment. 

Secondly, CL is thorough and on the advanced side.  This is great for your math-minded kids.  

Student-led Set Up

All of Christian Light materials are designed to be student-led.  As such are visually appealing and broken up into smaller chunks.  They are clean and easy to follow without being overwhelming.

The best part?  The price!  Christian Light materials are very affordable.  

Pivoting Between Mastery & Spiral When Needed

Despite loving this math curriculum, eventually we hit a wall with it. 

We moved away from Christian Light as math concepts increased in complexity.  

As we neared Algebra, my oldest needed to focus on one concept at a time in order to best process, retain and develop mastery.   

We shifted to a mastery, topic based curriculum, Developmental Math, in order to solidify very specific math concepts to prep her for Algebra.

Being willing to temporarily pivot when we hit that wall, made all the difference in the world for her as she entered Algebra.

Homeschool Math Curriculum For Your Struggling Student

Ultimately, what homeschool math curriculum is best for your uniquely-wired child will be based on a number of factors.

The responses from the veteran homeschool moms in A Heart For All Students homeschool mom community, tell us one thing. 

Regardless of diagnosis, every student is different. 

What constitutes as the best homeschool math curriculum will be what works best for you and your family.

Understanding who your child is, how your child is wired and your own capacity, will guide you to make the best decision.

As you make your fall homeschool plans, grab a copy of the homeschool 101 planning guide that I’ve created for you.

In it you will find some prompts to help you identify the critical information that will help you make the best homeschool decisions. 

Uh.. I mean… make the best homeschool decisions…

  1. for your uniquely-wired student
  2. in this specific season.

And don’t even get me started about choosing the best homeschool language arts curriculum.  

When asked my opinion about what is the best homeschool language arts curriculum, I always end up answering with a question.

How does your child learn and how is she wired?  

The answer to this question is probably the most important variable that I consider when working with a new homeschool coaching client. 

So before I ever discuss curriculum, I walk them through a series of questions designed to help us identify their child’s wiring and learning style.

Continue reading to find out the best language arts curriculum for your child.

 

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.  

Parenting Neurodiversity Kids Well

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?  

Christian Moms & Neurodiverse Kids

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.

special needs kids, adhd, autism, aspergers, aspie, asd, sensory, moms, parenting, homeschool, christian parenting, aspie girls, aspergers, autism, adhd, aspie girl

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!

homeschool mom, special needs mom, adhd, autism
Encouragement for the Young Girl with Aspergers

Encouragement for the Young Girl with Aspergers

To the Young Girl with Aspergers Syndrome

Just yesterday morning, a dear friend of mine reached out to me.  Her oldest daughter is an 18 year-old college student.  She is also an amazing young lady on Autism Spectrum .  Having grown so much in these past 4 years as a girl with Aspergers Syndrome she wrote a letter to her 14 year-old self.

She has allowed me to share it here for any young girl who feels different and needs this encouragement.  What an honor and my privilege.

For the mom raising a neurodiverse young girl… please share this with your precious creative.  Let’s celebrate the uniqueness of all of our children and allow our girls to thrive as the people God intends them to be.

This post contains Amazon affliliate links.  If you purchase any resources that I recommend using my links, I may receive a small commission from Amazon at no cost to you.  I will not ever recommend any product that I do not stand behind fully.  Thank you for your support so I can continue to offer as much free content as possible to mommas like you and me.  🙂

Dear 14-year-old me,

Well. Four years can certainly make a difference, now can’t it? Seeing your face again brings back a lot of memories, y’know. Makes me realize just how much both the world and I have changed. Time is more of a kiln than a river, in all honesty. Life can and will hurt, yes, but as I look back, I know that I wouldn’t change anything.
Hmm? Advice, you say? Well…let me see. What advice could I give you?
Y’know, in all honesty, I’d say that the best advice I could give you is that you’re not alone.
You’re not broken, or defective, or glitched.
A Young Girl With Aspergers

Popping Balloons

You’re not the only one who’s scared by the sound of balloons popping and gets extremely uncomfortable at parties.
Fortunately, plenty of other girls out there have that same wild fuel for the imagination.  They too navigate those same issues with feeling as if you need to perform in order to be accepted.
In fact, there is a shockingly high amount of people who will completely understand when you try to scurry off to another room to escape the hubbub. There are so many other girls and boys who get this pacifying and focusing effect that music has on you.
There are countless other Aspies who know what it’s like to be drifting off to sleep and suddenly be murmuring out dialogues, solidifying plots and characters before slumber overtakes you.
They too understand what it is like to be trying to do school and suddenly it’s half an hour later, and you have a doodled battle scene and no progress on school whatsoever.
You’re not a weird outcast.
A Young Girl With Aspergers Offers Encouragement

One-of-a-kind Rare

You are one-of-a-kind rare, but not in your troubles. There will always be someone out there who’s gone through the exact same issues with anxiety and feeling as uncontrolled as you, and they understand what it’s like.
  • Keep going.
  • Imagining.
  • Writing.
  • And keep drawing, even though you think you’re no good.
You’ll get to a point one day where you step back, take a good look at your rough draft for a novel and the art you’ve done so far, and you say, 
“This is something that could change someone’s life. There are people out there who need this message, and I have the God-given ability to give it to them. To have a character say something that will stick with a complete stranger and motivate them to make the world a better place.”

God has a Vital Purpose for You

You are FAR from unimportant, younger me. God has put you here for a vital, vital purpose.
There will be perfect strangers who will decide to give life another chance because you spoke the Gospel to them, people you have never seen in person and probably never will who will know you as a beacon of light and hope…if only you keep pushing on.
Fight past your own fears and hatred, and fight past the bullies you’ll run into. Neither of them have any right to have any power over you.

Healing & Inspiration for the Young Girl With Aspergers

You are a juggernaut of healing and inspiration: you can’t and won’t be stopped after you get unleashed on this broken world.
 
You have God with you for every step of the way no matter what.  His opinion – not any bully’s, not any critic’s, not even your own – is what matters.
 
You have so, so much power for good in you because God is your king. Use it. Ignore the voices and fears saying you can’t.
 

Break Down the Walls of Despair

You have been given a gift like no other: so by golly, go be a juggernaut, and break down those walls of despair and darkness threatening people’s souls.
You are a healer and a warrior so powerful that this broken world tried to weaken you  a young girl with Aspergers…but it messed up and just made you even stronger.

Find Your Aspie Army

So find your army to remind you that you’re not alone, and then draw your bow in a world that only knows how to fire slingshots.
You are unique, even when you don’t think so. You are talented, even when you don’t think so. You are never walking your path by yourself, even when you think you are. You are strong, even when you don’t think so.
You are a young girl with Aspergers Syndrome, and you are amazing.
Fight on, young warrior.

Your Older & More Confident Self,

Leigh 

Leigh is an 18 year-old Aspie warrior who’s also learning how ADHD, SPD, and anxiety can all be gifts.  As a college freshman, she is preparing to accomplish her dream of publishing her first self-illustrated novel.  She loves nothing more than helping others see how God celebrates their uniqueness.  

Holiday Hacks for Moms

Holiday Hacks for Moms

Like so many mommas, I am loving this cooler weather.  The colder weather lends itself to more cozy times at home with the family.  Though more indoor time at home as a family can be an opportunity for sweet memories, it can also lead to extra stress when our uniquely-wired kids begin to bounce off the walls.  Just as the cooler weather offers opportunities both for fun and stress, the holiday season itself adds even more nuances of joy and chaos. That means if we are raising uniquely-wired kids, we need to be prepared with some mom holiday hacks .    

Because many minds are way better than one, I reached out to my private AHFAS Facebook group to see what holiday hacks our moms had to share.  Of course, they did not disappoint. We are in this together, Sweet Mommas, and we need one another’s wisdom to set our kids and ultimately, our entire families for the sweetest holiday season possible.   We would love to have you join us.  Click here to join this tribe of brave mommas.  

Uniquely-Wired, Outside-the-Box Kids

The moms in the AHFAS private Facebook group are gifts to me and to one another.  This community has come together beautifully sharing openly and honestly the highs and often brutal lows of parenting children with a variety of cognitive differences or behavioral issues.  We are learning together that there is incredible hope and ways to raise our outside-the-box children so that they can thrive as the people God has created them to be.  Join us here. 

 

christmas, thanksgiving, holiday hacks, stress, mom, special needs

 

Diagnosis: Holiday Chaos (AKA Loss of Routines, Over-stimulation, & Lots of Junk Food)

How do some experienced mommas raising kids with special needs handle the holiday chaos?  Let’s turn to them and capitalize on the Holiday Hacks that have saved them one or two kid (and momma) meltdowns throughout the years.

Holiday Hack for Moms #1: Less Clutter!!

I encourage (as much as I possibly can) fewer gifts. In fact we don’t give any gifts to our children because we don’t want to add more on top of what family already gives. Most gifts = more mess = more frustration!!  

-Melanie, themathprofs.com

Holiday Hack for Moms #2: An Outside-the-Box Christmas

What I would say is think outside the box.. we go on a nice quiet family vacation every year for Christmas. (We try to go somewhere we’ve never been if we can). The holidays don’t have to be spent exactly like everyone else… we don’t all have to rearrange the house and put up trees and spend a fortune on things.. If you and your family absolutely love those things and it brings joy, do it. If that isn’t your thing, don’t! No need to feel any kind of guilt either way.. don’t be afraid to try out some new traditions that fit your family. It could be the best thing ever. My family thought I was a little nuts when I started thinking outside the box about holidays. Our kiddos say they like it the way it is and wouldn’t go back. 

 -Erica, Mom of two (one with dyslexia, anxiety & sensory processing issues)

christmas, thanksgiving, holiday hacks, mom, special needs, kids

Holiday Hack for Moms #3: Sticking to Nutrition Goals

I have my child on a strict no gluten, no dairy diet. So I just bring plenty of approved treats, with enough to share of course, and act like it’s no big thing. There are usually enough meal options so that I don’t worry about as much. 

-Maggie (1 child with moderate non-verbal ASD)  Maggie’s Fresh Kitchen

Holiday Hack for Moms #4: Think like a Boy Scout

Be like a boy scout and be prepared! Think ahead and try to get in front of as many possible situations as you can. The more prepared you are, the more calm you are likely to remain when something inevitably goes wrong. 

-Amy, Mom of 4 (Cerebral Palsy, ADHD, Anxiety, SPD), Real Talk with Amy

Holiday Hack for Moms #5: Double Check All Itineraries

I learned the hard way to always ALWAYS double check the itinerary at any new or old town/city holiday festivities —and vacation outings. As well as to always travel with noise cancelling headphones.

It happened to us twice, when our oldest was 2 and again at 4. Once was during a tree lighting ceremony in a new town we had just moved to and at age four at Broadway at the Beach. Both places, fireworks went off and we had ZERO clue it was part of the evening’s agenda. 

My oldest was my sensory avoider and he was a runner. We almost lost him both times into the crowd (and he was non-verbal!) He was only a few feet in front of us but at the sound of fireworks he turned into “Dash!” Pure fight/flight mode.  Y’all, it was scary! 

For the town Christmas tree lighting, the fireworks were being set off on top of the parking garage that we were parked in and every business was closed. We found him banging on doors to get in, to escape. Once we caught him, there was no escaping the terrifying sounds!! He and I both cried through it as I held him inside my winter coat as far as we could get away from them. It didn’t help the sound was bouncing off all the downtown buildings.l, echoing loudly. At Broadway at the Beach, thankfully we saw him run into a busy candy shop with doors open. We found him hiding behind a trash can. Luckily we stayed there, in a restroom till it was over.

He is 15 now, verbal, and can handle and enjoys fireworks! But not my middle son (11.) So no matter how many times we go to a familiar place or holiday festivity, we travel with noise canceling headphones and double check the itinerary!  

 – Alicia, Mom of 3 boys (2 biological and 1 adopted through the foster care system.  ASD, SPD, RAD, Microcephaly, Mood Disorder, Shaken Baby Syndrome)

 

Holiday Hack #6: The Power of “No”

Be ok with saying no. If something doesn’t fit the needs of our family, we graciously decline—then celebrate in our own way. Sometimes we just decline because as parents we are too exhausted. We have become comfortable with only choosing what is best for us all.

-Anna

Holiday Hack for Moms #7: One Thing a Day

Holiday hacks for my SPD kiddo… We only plan ONE THING A DAY. JUST ONE.  However, we break our own rule on Christmas Eve but plan nothing the day before or after to cushion the overstimulation.  My husband and I always explain the plan in advance. We write out the overview of the week, then every morning we go through the schedule with our kids.  We pack familiar snacks. When we stay with family, we ask them to buy the same usual breakfast foods we eat at home. Practicing some family traditions at home is very important.  For example, we all sing Christmas carols on Christmas Eve, so we pre-teach them a few songs so they feel prepared when we are with extended family. 

 -Stacy, (mom of 3- one with SPD) The Semi-Crunchy Mama

My Bonus Holiday Hack for Moms #8: Plan Kid Friendly Holiday Table Activities 

Every year I make sure to fill the table time with activities to engage the whole family.  I print out Thanksgiving Word Searches, Thankful-For Activities, Christmas Make-a-Words, and a variety of other activities that engage the family in shared activities.  These simple activities are something that not only brings all of the ages together (we team up in pairs… grandparents and kids, etc), but also helps conversation flow for those kids who struggle socially.   I created a mini-family dinner table holiday pack that you can access for free here.  Thanksgiving and Christmas Word Scrambles and Make-a-Words.  Super easy to print out and have simple family fun around the holiday table.  

-Lindsay, (mom of three, 2 biological & 1 through adoption: Aspergers, FASD, ADHD, Anxiety) Our Adoption Story

 

God Chose You

Mom Friend, whether your child struggles with sensory issues, bounces off the walls when anxious, or simply needs the predictability of routine to self-regulate well, we can only do our best as moms.  Don’t be afraid to say no to holiday commitments and make sure to give your family plenty of wiggle room as you schedule the months to come.  God chose YOU to parent your child on purpose.   Release the worry about what Aunt Betty thinks when you have to duck out early or take your child to another room to calm down.  Trust in your role as your child’s mother and ask the Lord to lead you in the moments of anxiety this holiday season.  Praying for you to be flooded with His peace and joy in even the chaos.

What about you?  Do you have any hacks that may be useful to another momma?   Comment below.

Calm a Child During a Meltdown

Calm a Child During a Meltdown

Perspective Shift on Meltdowns & Discipline

Knowing how to calm a child during a meltdown is not easy. Parenting a child with special needs is exhausting.  However, the needs of the child and how his cognitive differences show up on any given day will impact the severity of mom’s fatigue. Mom’s burnout is exponentially magnified when her child struggles with behavior issues. For that mom in the trenches, finding a way to calm her child during a meltdown can be impossible.

Without reservation, while I was in the thick of daily tantrums and meltdowns with my son, I was a mess. Anyone who knows me has heard me repeatedly say the same thing over and over again.

Yep, in that season of absolute misery, I wanted to “check myself into a mental institution.” All of the parenting strategies I knew to use were absolutely useless and I felt helpless. I had no idea how to calm my child during a meltdown.

Shifting Perspective On Discipline

Prior to the adoption of our son, I would never in my wildest dreams have believed that I would have zero control of my child.  Once my son’s volatile behaviors began to display themselves at 18 months old, my world was completely rocked.  All that I thought I knew about being a good Christian mom went out the window.

In fact, each technique and strategy that had been effective with my girls was useless and completely ineffective with my son.  Read Special Needs & Need for Perspective Shift on Discipline to learn more about our journey. 

I was the mom who had read all of the Christian parenting books out there.  When my biological children had a meltdown, I could bring order quickly. A firm voice or swift consequence and I had successfully trained my child to calm down from a meltdown. In hindsight, I can see now that my perspective on parenting was pretty skewed from the beginning. Determined, I was going to parent my children the EXACT OPPOSITE way my parents had raised me.

In my home, there would be love, stability, consistency and discipline. Dang it!

Oh, Mercy!  God clearly had other plans for our family when He brought our boy into our world.

By the time he could move, our son steamrolled his way through our home.  He screamed bloody murder every moment of the day. Destruction was his middle name. He manhandled anything and everything in our home. Some of the behaviors we navigated on a daily basis included: scaling walls, escaping the house, hitting, scratching, biting and destruction of property.

There wasn’t a single discipline strategy that helped calm my youngest child during his raging meltdowns. Consequently, I suffered deep emotional anguish. As I have discussed in previous posts, we lived in a war zone, navigating grenades at every turn.

Despite being surrounded by a loving Christian community, I felt like I was drowning. I felt alone, isolated and I eventually believed I was a failure as a parent. At times I believed that we had made a mistake in adopting our son. Plummeting to the depths of despair, I was desperate and broken. Broken for my husband, my two biological daughters and my adopted son. His hourly meltdowns were too much for me.

 

Download Your Free 4Four Steps to Meltdown Recovery Cheat Sheet

“Parents take way too much credit when their children are doing well. They take way too much credit when their children are doing poorly.”

Rather than checking myself into a mental institution for what promised to be a mini-vacation, I decided to make a different plan. In order to prevent myself from “setting the house on fire because I was about to lose it,” I made an appointment for counseling.

Side note: No one panic… I was never going to set my house on fire. I use A LOT of hyperbole when I tell a story. Its one of my gifts. Ha!

Back to it…

One winter morning after a few hours of desperately trying to calm him during one of his meltdowns, I made the call. I was so overwhelmed with his screeching,with knowing my daughters were struggling in his chaos, and with my own internal distress that I knew I had to do something.

I sent out a mass text S.O.S. to my tribe of girlfriends and asked for a referral. Within an hour I had a the name of a counselor.

Beginning the counseling process in that season has been a life saver for me.  God used that time of absolute hell to humble me. That season was so humbling and broke me in a million tiny pieces. My prideful butt was so black and blue from the beating that my son’s behavior inflicted upon me.

In true form, God took those million pieces, gathered them up, and delivered me into Christian counseling.  Unquestionably, I had a lot of my own emotional garbage to weed through.   Apparently, I needed a major kick in the pants to make that initial call.

Needless to say, my astute counselor and I have done some serious work these past few years.  One of the many nuggets of truth she has offered to me has been this.

We as parents take way too much responsibility for the successes and failures of our children.

It took me awhile to chew and digest this, but I finally got it and was able to receive this concept for the truth that it brings.

God is God.

I am not God.

‘Yes, Lindsay. I know that,” you may be thinking. ‘How does that have anything to do with my ability to calm my child during a meltdown?’

Let me put it to you this way. My ability to make any human being do anything is non-existent. I am unable to control people, even my little people.

Yes, I can influence, teach and guide my children and others.  In the end, though, I don’t have control over anyone but myself.

I didn’t realize how unhealthy it was for me to view (although not consciously) my children’s behaviors as a reflection of me.

Having gained that new perspective, I was able to see how in years past I had disciplined my girls from a place of my own pride.  How often do we as moms torture ourselves about what other moms think of us?

  • I wonder what “So-and-So” must think of me after my daughter pitched a fit at the playground?
  • How did I look as a mom to the mom sitting next to me in Bible Study?
  • That lady must think I am a horrible mother because my child threw a fit in the parking lot!
  • His preschool teacher must think I am a terrible parent because I could not calm my child during his meltdown.

I realize now how often my parenting has stemmed from my own “self-centered” ego. From my need for the approval of others. Yuck!

It was my inability to control my son that saved my entire family.

I couldn’t stop my toddler from running into the street.   Nope.  We couldn’t prevent him from using a broom handle to unhook the chain locks and escape to run wildly through the neighborhood.  Forcing him to sleep and to “obey right away?”  Calm my smallest child during a destructive meltdown?

Yeah right.  I had zero control then and I really have zero control now.

It took years for me to finally realize that in order to effectively parent my son, I had to completely shift my perspective on parenting and discipline.

My little boy, like so many adopted children, through no fault of his own, was exposed to dangerous substances that severely impacted his developing brain. I had to wake up to the notion that his cognitive differences made his ability to self-regulate a very difficult task.

A Complete Shift in Perspective Led to Big Changes

The key to learning how to effectively discipline my son was to shift my perspective. Historically, I had viewed his behavior through the lens of “He is choosing not to behave.” Once I recognized his need to be taught how to “behave” (self-regulate), I began to respond to his meltdowns with a new freedom.

We have seen HUGE changes in my son’s behavior since this shift.  Miraculous changes. Not perfection by any means, but huge gains in his ability to recover and calm himself down.

Fortunately, I have learned so much about parenting children with different cognitive issues over the past several years.  Additionally, I have been blessed with an education from amazing local specialists. As I have become involved in adoption and special needs communities, I have gleaned so much more compassion for these precious children and their parents.

Steps to Recovery

The compassion that I have developed for children who are “wired-differently” has fueled the development of my organization, A Heart For All Students. I have begun this journey to equip moms with a greater understanding of their children’s wiring and resulting behaviors.

My goal is to free moms from the emotional chokehold of our culture’s traditional parenting mentality (punishment and rewards) so they can more effectively and confidently parent. When Mom (and Dad) are free to parent and love based upon their greater understanding of the needs of their unique child, true growth for all begins to occur.

Over the past couple of months, I have begun to observe the repetitive steps that I use to help my son recover from a meltdown or tantrum (there is a difference between the two, but for now, I will use the terms loosely.)

When I was in the thick of chaos and confusion, I would have done anything to have someone come alongside me and walk me through this journey. I don’t want any mom to have to suffer in isolation the way so many of us do.

My heart hurts for all of the children who grow up believing that they are “inherently bad” because they can’t seem to get it together. So many adults are now living from the dire emotional consequences of a childhood lived as a disappointment to the adults around them.

Becky Bailey & Karyn Purvis

Ultimately, I owe so much of my new parenting education to Becky Bailey, PhD and the late Karyn Purvis PhD. The separate work of these two ladies combined with my own education and training has been the most influential resources that have impacted my shift in what is effective discipline and parenting.

These amazing women have written books that are on my recommended reading list for moms of special needs kids. Download that free download here.

The Cycle Has to Stop with Us, Friends.

While I know I cannot serve each child and mom (and Dad) individually, I can share with you, Friend. My heart is to share what I have learned in this journey with you so that you can equip your child for the incredible life that God has planned.

Later, when you see that distressed mom in the grocery store with her screaming kid, you can reach out to her. She is everywhere. She needs community and someone to care and believe in her. Let’s love our children well by loving mommas in the messiness of meltdowns.

 

I have been writing like a crazy woman all summer long, creating my course with the most useful information that I have received through four years of absolute you-know-what. I want to provide the mommas “in-the-trenches” with actionable content while also providing the “why” behind the strategies and steps that I offer.

This material really should be called: “What I would have KILLED to know when in the you-know-what of Special Needs Parenting.” Ha! What do you think? I’m open to ideas… seriously… 🙂

Join my Private Facebook Group for Exclusive Content, Announcements and Q & As with me and my amazing Tribe of REAL moms. No judgement zone ahead! 🙂

 

I am so excited to launch my ecourse filled with in-depth explanation and the Behind the Behaviors: The Why & How of the 4 Steps to Meltdown Recovery. My goal is to provide you with actionable strategies to equip your struggling child so that he can navigate big emotions well. I want to cut through all of the wasted energy and information that I encountered during my 4 years of on-the-ground meltdown training and share what I found to be most useful.

These steps are the basic framework of meltdown recovery to get you started. I will equip you with the why and hows in the course. Yay!!

We are a Tribe & we need you!

I need your help in order to not only help you, but also that “in-the-trenches” special needs mom in your community. She is there and you will find her. She is the one dripping with sweat manhandling a screaming 7 year-old boy in the bakery aisle. Encourage her, Friend. Point her to this ecourse and our growing Private Facebook Community. We are in this together.

What About You, Friend? How do you walk alongside your child during a meltdown into recovery and calm? Comment below. Would love to know your strategies. 🙂

Grab Your Free 4 Steps to Meltdown Recovery Cheat Sheet!

 

Deepen your parent-child relationship.

Equip your child with  tools to navigate BIG emotions in a healthy way.

Empower your unique child to live a life of confidence and purpose.

Create peace & joy in your home and ENJOY your child.

Perspective Shift on Discipline, Part 2

Perspective Shift on Discipline, Part 2

special needs parenting, moms, support, meltdowns, tantrums, adhd, autism

Shifting My Perspective on Discipline:

An excerpt from the ebook Embracing Parenting Imperfection.  

I remember trudging into the pediatrician’s office one morning after my 65th night of no sleep.

We were there for Little Man’s 3-year well-visit.  I was a mess.  Sleep-deprived, no shower, (not even sure if I had brushed my teeth that morning), and in the same clothes I had “slept” in.  It took every bit of my strength to wrestle my screaming son into his own car seat to make it to the appointment.  (Like I mentioned in Part 1 and Part 2, he was literally ALWAYS screaming.”)

Our doctor finally entered the room.  The humiliation flooded my soul the minute he stepped in to meet with us. My son could not sit still.  In the few minutes that we had been waiting in the tiny primary-colored holding cell (ahem… office?), my son had literally destroyed the space.

He pulled out almost an entire package of sterile gloves. My boy sucked on more than 10 cherry-flavored tongue depressors while leaving a trail of wrappers in his wake. His curiosity led him to open every cabinet and drawer. A need for visual stimulation had him switch the lights on and off more than 100 times. He completed all of this while screaming in frustration.

I had nothing left.  I had tried everything with him. As our pediatrician entered the room, the tears poured down my face in utter exhaustion and mortification.  I was flooded with the idea that I was truly an utter parenting failure.

Grab Your Free Behind the Behavior Bundle!

 Grab tge ebook and the cheat sheet in one bundle!

Deepen your parent-child relationship.

Equip your child with  tools to navigate BIG emotions in a healthy way.

Empower your unique child to live a life of confidence and purpose.

Create peace & joy in your home and ENJOY your child.