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The Special Needs Life

I’m so glad you came to see my new home on the web!  If you’ve read me for very long, you know that my sons have some challenges.  We daily live with and teach two boys whose brains were drug-affected when they were in their biological mothers’ wombs. Both are affected differently, with varying severity that appears in different and sometimes surprising places and ways.  For us, it is life.  For them, it is normal.  Normal for us is not going to be the same normal that you live with.  Normal for someone else will be completely different also.

It’s funny how I can lose sight of things when I create An Agenda.  You know what  I mean. I can’t be the only one who tends to live by the almighty Lesson Planner! Right? Tell me I’m not alone here.  It just looks so good to see all those lessons written out so neatly in the little white squares in my planner. It looks so… accomplished.  So tidy. So productive!

So what’s the problem?

My planner for Tuesday may say “Handwriting p. 21 #2; Math Lesson 36; Spelling List Day 38 full assignment parts 1-5 on SpellingCity; Read aloud 30 min.; History- Read Ch. 7 and do Explorers lapbook parts 3 and 4; Health p. 17-20; Grammar p. 139 Common and Proper Nouns” but what gets done looks more like “Math Lesson 36; Spelling List Day 38 assignment pts. 1-2; Grammar p. 139.”

This is life.  This is life with a child who struggles to stay focused and takes over an hour to do a ten minute copywork assignment in his handwriting book.  This is life with two boys who take off like rockets at lunch time, and reeling them back in for more school work afterward takes the patience of a saint. And I’m no saint.

What happens to those neat little white boxes full of so much productivity?  Well let me tell you: Nothing. I quit writing lesson plans down ahead of time.  These days I’m all about loose planning, going with the flow, and documenting everything after the fact. It’s the only way I can come out not feeling like we are failing, because with special needs you just can’t always plan for everything.

We go day by day, and week by week.  We do get that history project done sometime during the week, just maybe not on Tuesday.  The math and spelling do almost always get done, because they are both on the computer and the boys love using the computer for school work.  And the other things? Experiences sometimes trump lessons anyway.

Two weeks ago the boys were in the thick of things when for three days, we had a concrete crew here that tore out our driveway and poured new concrete. They watched, they helped, and they asked questions.  Sometimes you just have to go with the flow.  That week, not a lot of actual “school work” got done, but don’t try to tell me they didn’t learn.  I documented hours’ worth of social studies, PE, life science and occupational education over the course of those three days.


Homeschoolers love their planners, and I am no different.  My personal choice for planners is actually a digital journal.  I have used the Homeschool Daybook for a long time now, and I love it. It is lesson relaxed schoolwork documentation. It is simple and easily customized, and guess what? Today’s giveaway is a premium license for the Homeschool Daybook! Giveaway is closed. (Click the screenshots for close-ups!)




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11 Responses to The Special Needs Life

  1. Jessica Braun #2 October 10, 2011 at 12:31 am #

    When my daughter is having a hard time paying attention(i think shes adhd need to get her tested)i usually get her attention back by having her help bake something. anything hands on usually works.

  2. Sharla October 10, 2011 at 1:46 am #

    I have these little cards printed up that say things like "run around the outside of the house three times" or "do ten jumping jacks" and that kind of thing on them and when one of the kids is having a hard time focusing or everything is just not going well, handing out those cards seems to really do the trick.
    Sharla recently posted..Weekly Wrap UpMy Profile

  3. AnnMarie Brown October 10, 2011 at 4:12 am #

    I homeschool my special needs daughter and a few years ago I through out the planner in one sense I also write in the planner what we did that day after we have done it … saves having so many things crossed out during my day. My daughter loves music so I put on some of her favourite music to help her with her day when we are having one of those days.
    AnnMarie Brown recently posted..Can you make it on $1,000/month??My Profile

  4. Karen October 10, 2011 at 6:52 am #

    Are you kidding? Nothing goes by the plan this year! It is our first year! We are just trying to get accustomed to having school at home and getting the school system mind set out of our heads. If plans don't go well…we go outside in nature and draw or play or treasure hunt!
    Karen recently posted..Why Are Some Pastors So Afraid To Teach About Tithing?My Profile

  5. Wendy October 10, 2011 at 9:03 am #

    I know this will sound lame in comparison to most people, but honestly my best go-to tool when homeschool isn't going according to plan is their own curiosity. When I say, "Hey kids, let's take a break…" they'll start talking and sure enough, come up with questions. Next thing you know, we're pulling out encyclopedias (yes, we still have those!), looking up answers and getting our attention drawn in by something else on the page that looks interesting. It's not learning by "the" book, but there's learning, there are books, and it works for us!
    Wendy recently posted..Relections from the BeachMy Profile

  6. Martha October 10, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    My favorite fall back plan is to get out a book and read. I try to pick something new that will work for a read aloud. Then while I am reading my children will usually start drawing and by the time I can't read any more they will be ready to move onto something else. Hopefully something on my plans.
    Martha recently posted..Visual Latin TOS ReviewMy Profile

  7. crafty_cristy October 11, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

    Thank you for the homeschool day book!
    crafty_cristy recently posted..A is for …My Profile

  8. jennifer October 12, 2011 at 4:00 am #

    i pulled my son out of preschool last spring and started homeschooling this fall with sonlight. I think some of it goes over his head, but i plan on repeating this program next year, so i try not to stress about it. He has speech delay and motor planning problems. We go next month to have a full workup and hopefully rule out autism.

    • Dawn October 12, 2011 at 4:04 am #

      Jennifer: Your son is really young and Sonlight is fairly rigorous with the schedules and all of the reading. Take things slow, go at his pace and don't worry about the planner. Enjoy spending time with him and watching him grow! Therapies like Speech and OT are wonderful to help get young ones on track developmentally (been there, done that, for many years). If you stick with private therapies then you won't have to deal with any of the public school IEP nonsense either. Enjoy him!!

  9. kelli-AdventurezInCh December 5, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

    I'd love to chat with you someday about some of those issues- we are having some tough times with my youngest- he's also a baby who suffered the effects of a birth mom doing drugs- he's doing well, but there has been a long long road- and we're still on it!!
    kelli-AdventurezInCh recently posted..National Adoption Month- Bringing Home BabyMy Profile

    • Dawn December 6, 2011 at 11:44 pm #

      Kelli, it's a road you won't believe. We've run into so many times when our boys "seem like" they have something or other… you name it… autism, Asperger's, sensory processing disorder…. but what you get when you have a drug affected child is a whole different ballgame. They can have so many little things, one big thing, or a myriad of possibilities but it comes down this this: Work with him where he's at, be realistic about his abilities, strengthen his disabilities, and just keep moving forward. The labels don't matter in the long run, except that labels get him services. Things like speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy CANNOT be ignored. Have a full developmental assessment done if at all possible and then follow through with recommendations for therapies. Early intervention gives them the best chance to develop they way that they should. One of our kids has a lot of neurological issues and the other has a few but more physical issues. You just take where they're at and move ahead. :)

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