New here, so overwhelmed, I really need advice!

Having problems figuring out where to start? Let other homeschoolers offer you some advice!

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Joined: Thu Dec 22, 2011 12:00 am

New here, so overwhelmed, I really need advice!

Postby mitzig » Thu Dec 22, 2011 12:25 am

This will be kind of long, and I apologize in advance. Summing it up: For the last 2 1/2 years, our life has been nothing but one crisis after another. Serious mental and physical health issues, multiple deaths in the family, personal crisis. After months of missed school for dr appts, appts with specialists and therapists and alternative medicine people, my kids were a mess, I was a mess, and my husband had a nervous breakdown. My daughter (age 13) had such severe health issues that starting school this year wasn't even an option. Son, age 8, started 2nd grade, but after a few months of school worsening his major depression, anxiety and panic attacks, I had enough. I took him out, and basically, everything in our life has come to a screeching halt. No more doctors, no more school- just trying to have a relatively peaceful existence and let everyone heal for a few months. It is working. The root of most of the health issues was Celiac Disease- if you aren't familiar with it, you would be shocked to know the damage it does to ones physical and mental health. Most of it has been reversed, or is healing, thanks to 8 months on a gluten free diet. (myself and kids have it) My son has what is most likely permanent neurological and nervous system damage from it- but all we can do is wait and see. Anyway- things are getting better since I just quit trying so dang hard! But...there is the matter of what to do about school? So could say we have been "unschoolers" Meaning I haven't so much as flung a spelling word at them in months. Both kids are very bright. My daughter, exceptionally so. Last year, in 6th grade, her Iowa Test of Basic Skills scored her at an advanced college range. I dont really know what to do with her. She amuses herself by downloading educational apps on the IPAD- currently she is teaching herself mandarin. For her, LEARNING is not the issue- she is very self directed and seeks out any new thing she can. But...I know we have to have SOME sort of formal plan set up if she is to get a diploma and go on to college, which she wants to do very much. My son...whole other child. He is very smart too, but struggles with learning disabilities. He has been diagnosed with dyslexia, but even the psychologist who dx him wasn't sure about that. It took him 23 hours to complete 6 hours of testing- she determined he had a "processing problem." Yet, the child can do double digit multiplication IN HIS HEAD, despite not even having been introduced to multiplication in school yet. He just figured out the concept himself. His vocabulary is that of a brainy adult, his comprehension and recall are phenomenal- yet if he were asked to write the sentence "Bill kicked the ball to Spot." he would burst into tears, spend 30 minutes getting it done, at which point it would likely be illegible. We had him tested for scotopic sensitivity, he wears Irlen lenses, they help alot. But there is still SOMETHING there that no one, not doctors or psychologists or teachers...can explain. To think of him trying to do worksheets---it isn't going to happen. Iowa requires homeschoolers who aren't in a supervised program to take Iowa Test of Basic Skills every year to make sure the kids aren't falling behind. The idea of him even attempting to test is ludicrous. He can't sit for 2 minutes, let alone the hours required to test? And filling in little dots? He can't. No way. The school denied him Special Ed however, despite his doctors and psych recommending it, because he wasn't falling behind in his work. The only reason he wasn't behind is because the kid is brilliant, and they dont understand that it took him half an hour to write about Bill and Spot and the stupid ball! Sorry...getting off track here...just so many months of frustration.

So...what do I DO with these children? I am NOT sending them back to school. I have ruled out virtual schools- not interested in having them logged into a computer "attending" for hours a day. For my son, in has to be something we can do in short bursts throughout the day. My daughter is just bored right now- I would like for her to take college classes...but how does she do that when she is technically only in 7th grade?

I removed SO much stress from our life by slowing things down...and I know a few months of lost school will not matter in the long run. Right now, getting their physical and mental health back on track is the MOST important thing to me. But...knowing that I need a plan here, and not having a clue how to develop said is really weighing on me. Which is why I am on this board at midnight. Please, someone...POINT ME IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION!!!

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Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2010 12:30 pm

Postby hscoach » Thu Dec 22, 2011 4:00 pm

It sounds like you and your family have been through a lot recently. My heart goes out to you. In this type of situation, homeschooling is ideal because it offers you the flexibility you need to cope. It sounds like neither of your children would really 'fit' in a public school this is probably a real blessing in disguise.

I would say that our family does quite a bit of unschooling but I have never had the courage to take the complete plunge.......ha. Here are a couple of links on unschooling if you are going to continue in that direction. There are ways to document what your child does in high school and even put it on a transcript for college admission. (Lots of complete unschoolers are admitted to college.)

As far as your son taking an achievement test each year, it looks like you could use another form of evaluation instead. If you know someone who is a teacher, you could have that person evaluate him. Here is a quote from

"If you choose annual assessment, there are basically three options to submit:

•the results from a standardized test
•a report from a certified teacher's evaluation of a portfolio of your child's work
•a report from an accredited correspondence school in which your child is enrolled"

So if the achievement test would frustrate him, maybe you could try the evaluation instead.

If you decide to not unschool all the way, I would recommend several things that are basic for both of your children:

1) Math on their grade level
2) Some type of grammar program (I like Easy Grammar)
3) Read the classics
4) Writing assignments

It looks like they will need to study social studies and science in the higher grades (Iowa requirements) because they will be tested on it on their achievement tests.

You can use a scope and sequence as a guide to show you what they need to learn each year. Here are 2 links: ... ndex.shtml

There are many free educational resources online and you can make use of your local public library without spending much money on curriculum.

Here are a couple of links for free online college classes:

And here are a few other links that might be helpful to you:

I believe your children will thrive in a homeschool environment! Best wishes.

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