Special Needs Workshop – Wednesday, February 20th – 1pm
FEAST Resource Center 7735 Mockingbird Lane
Teaching a child with special needs or learning differences is a privilege, but it can also be difficult. Homeschooling a special needs child takes a tremendous effort on behalf of parents. Often times, we pray for the Lord to help our child overcome his/her struggles, yet fail to ask how we as parents can best serve our struggling learner whom He created in His image. God fashions each child with His purposes in mind and as parents of special needs children, we need to trust God’s good purposes.
As 1 Corinthian 13:4-7 reminds us, love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. A child who learns differently requires extra love, support, and reassurance. Their self-esteem is constantly put to the test. They are uniquely aware of their weaknesses which can often lead to feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy. These feelings, in turn, create an intense frustration with their inability, which may lead to unwanted behaviors such as acting out, causing distractions, and school refusal. Homeschooling your special needs child makes that intense, loving support possible but also requires much sacrifice, patience, and unconditional love. A homeschooling co-op provides parents and children alike an opportunity to be loving and accepting of all others created in His image, regardless of special needs.
My fourteen-year-old son was diagnosed with severe Dyslexia at the age of seven. By this time, he was two years behind his peers. All five signs of recognizing Dyslexia were present in my son.
1. Difficulty rhyming
2. Consistently inconsistent reading
3. Difficulty writing and spelling
4. Struggles with word retrieval
5. Challenges memorizing information.
I quickly learned that information is power and to use that power to best support my son’s learning differences. I always insisted on his best effort and refused to allow him to use his diagnosis as an excuse to fail. While we all struggle in certain subjects or activities, we also thrive in others. It is the struggle that helps us to become stronger and more resilient individuals. If you suspect that your child struggles with learning, have him/her tested and guide your child to find and cultivate his strengths in order to reinforce self-esteem.
I made the decision to begin homeschooling when I realized that my son’s needs were not being addressed in a group setting. This is often the case with Dyslexia. Dyslexia requires direct, individualized instruction of all concepts with continuous student-teacher interaction. The teaching plan is based on careful and continuous assessment of the individual’s needs. The content presented must be mastered step by step for the student to progress (International Dyslexia Association, 2009). Dyslexia not only affects reading and writing but also spelling, speaking, and interacting with others. After much trial and error, I found an outstanding reading program that was the key to my son’s success. The Barton Reading and Spelling Program is an Orton-Gillingham influenced, multisensory, one-to-one instruction, designed to teach reading, writing, and spelling to children with Dyslexia or learning differences. After extensive training, I began a tutoring service to help others who struggle with reading, writing, and spelling. Through both my personal and professional experience, I learned that there is power in joining others who face similar challenges and that we who have special needs children need to humble ourselves and let others serve us and our family.
Jennifer Pizzini, Barton Tutor
“I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” Psalm 139:14