New to this and overwhelmed...

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

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Joined: Mon May 31, 2010 8:44 pm

New to this and overwhelmed...

Postby gypsystar » Thu Jun 03, 2010 5:46 pm


My name is Tabatha and I have three little boys. Gabriel is 7, Tristan will be 6 in July and Julian is 2. My oldest son has a chromosomal deletion and is globally developmentally delayed. He doesn't speak, he can't walk unassisted and he requires all his foods to be pureed. He'll be in the 2nd grade this year. He's in the special education room with a wonderful teacher and a full time aide that cares for him all day (feeds him, changes his diapers etc). He is a joy to be around, he's such a happy little fella. The only issues we have had with the school and Gabriel are them not fully understanding his medical problems and we haven't had any issues with that even since he "graduated" preschool. Kindergarten and 1st grade were fairly smooth. I often feel guilty that the school is just babysitting him all dayt in between his therapies (PT, OT and Speech) and he only gets each of those once a week for 30 minutes each. I'm not sure if I want to pull him out of school or not. His teacher and his aide have been good to us and I've come to think very highly of them. If he's absent for an appt or illness his aide always calls to see how he is doing. He had a very serious illness last fall and she sent flowers, a card, a prayer cloth and took up a small donation for us while we were in the hospital.

Tristan, my soon to be 6 year old, attended public school since he was 3. He had two years of preschool and 1 year of kindergarten. He's always struggled in school. He's rambunctious and I've already had it suggested more than once that he might need medication. He can be aggressive towards other children. The school has him classified as a special education student and he has a full time aide as well to help him with his school work, though I mostly believe she is there to keep him from disrupting the other children as much as she can.

It has been weighing on my heart for a while now that I should home school both boys, or at the very least Tristan. Tristan really does love to learn and he loves attention. I feel like I could do a good job with him and that he would just eat it up because it would be mostly just me and him working together and learning together.

I've looked into the laws regarding homeschooling in Kentucky. The requirements were to sent a letter of intent to home school within 2 week of the beginning of the school year. They require 185 days (10 of which can be teacher days - (though I'm a bit confused about what that means - like lesson planning I guess?). The law says something like 6 hour days totalling up to 1050 hours of school and I would have to teach reading, writing, spelling, grammar, history, mathematics and civics.

I've decided at this point that I am going to home school Tristan for sure next year. I've looked around at some curriculum for 1st grade so far found the curriculum packages that we can afford don't have all those subjects (science, history and civics/social studies specifically) and focus on reading, writing and math. I don't want to get in trouble for not teaching all the appropriate subjects. I'm also not sure I should even bother purchasing 1st grade curriculum since he is still behind. I picked up some cheap flashcards from The Dollar Tree and found that there are some letters he doesn't know (C,D, P and V) and he doesn't know the sounds most of the letters make. He can count to 14 but almost always skips the number 6. He confuses 6, 8 and 9 frequently when trying to identify numbers. He doesn't seem to know 15, 16, and 17 at all and has trouble identifying 10-20 on sight. He doesn't know any sight words. I wonder if I should do kindergarten over with him or at least go back and work on the stuff I know he doesn't understand. He has an IEP in place and was promoted to the 1st grade so if he did go back into public school he would be in 1st grade.

I gather, I need to keep an attendance book and grade book and/or portfolio of best work if I ever need to show proof that I'm home schooling and not just letting my kids be truant. I'm confident I can do that for Tristan but if I home school Gabriel I'm not sure how I would keep records of his schoolwork considering his abilities. Gabriel does not do school work at school, he occasionally brings home art projects that his aide has done for him in art class.

I'm also not sure about schooling for 6 hours a day. From what I've read so far 1st graders usually only home school for a few hours a day. I don't want to do him a disservice though. I'm willing to put in as much times as it takes but I don't want to make things harder on him by stressing him out with too much either.

I also have a fairly needy 2 year old in the mix. I'm actually not too worried about dealing with him while we are doing school work. I'm sure he'll be a challenge (he always has been LOL!) but I know if others can figure out a way to manage it then we can too. I would love to home school him from the start and not even send him to public school at all. He has a pretty serious case of neurofibromatosis type 1 (nf1) (he has cafe au lait spots all over, some are really large). He's not speaking yet (but is getting speech therapy for it), he has scoliosis because of the NF and one of his legs is growing faster than the other. He has a very shy, cautious personality and I just know he's going to be a target for bullies when he goes to school. I know I can't protect him from everything but I was bullied in school and I know how traumatizing it can be.

If you were able to make it through that novel up there do you have any advice to offer?

Posts: 9
Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2010 6:59 pm
Location: Oklahoma

Postby partyoffive » Fri Jun 04, 2010 3:49 pm

Congratulations on deciding to homeschool. It is a wonderful experience.

Regarding your worries over the time required: The reason homeschoolers say 1st graders only work a few hours a day is because the time it takes for public schools to go through their subjects in one day (6 hours), because there will be one child being taught, the individual attention cuts the time in half, sometimes even more than half. For your state's sake, you can put you schooled for 6 hours a day, as long as you have the bulk of the work to prove to them you did work.

Also, when you say that the PS promoted him to first grade, it doesn't neccesarily mean he is ready. You don't have to do all of kindergarten over, just re-introduce the things he doesn't know well, and work on them daily until the concept sticks. Young ones need repetition.

My oldest son is in first grade now and is almost done, we will be moving onto second. This is his schedule daily:

Handwriting- 15 minutes 3 days/week
Math- 30 minutes 4 days/week
Grammar- 20 minutes 2 days/week
History- 20 minutes 3 days/week
Science- 30 minutes 4 days/week
Logic- 20 minutes 3 days/week

Art, music, and any other interest he has is done on Fridays and during free time.

You must remember, the times posted above are not exact. However long it takes him to do his lesson, we take. If he does math in 15 minutes instead of 30, he either does another lesson, or we move on, depending how he feels. If math takes longer than 30 minutes, we just cut into another class unless the other class is absolutely necessary to complete.

Homeschooling is well-known for its flexibility- especially in the younger ages.

You know your son best, so you'll know whether he needs structure v. flexibility. There are also many different homeschooling methods to follow. Good luck, and feel free to PM me with any questions you might have! :P

ETA: Another great thing about homeschooling is when life takes up more time than schooling, it is no big deal. Little children are more easily adaptable. If your older son ever needed to go into the hospital again (I truly hope not), it wouldn't be hard for your younger son to stop school for a little to be with you and your other son.

Homeschooling offers flexibility, hands-on learning, one-on-one learning, a love of learning, and new opportunities every day!
Momma to:
DS (12/02)
DS (8/05)
DS&DD (3/10)

Posts: 345
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2010 12:30 pm

Postby hscoach » Fri Jun 04, 2010 4:21 pm

It sounds like your 3 boys would really benefit from homeschooling. I think Gabriel would love to be at home too, and feel included and you could do special things with him, according to his abilities.

My advice for Tristan would be to just start him in kindergarten this coming fall - especially since he hasn't even turned 6 yet. That way, you can review things and teach him what you know he has trouble with.............just get a good start from the beginning. Putting him officially into first grade might be too much pressure. If he is in K5, he can learn what he needs to and gain great confidence. Also, it will benefit him later to be older for his grade level. By keeping him at home, you will not be forced to medicate him. You can have him do some school work (maybe 15 minutes) and then let him take a break. You can do it YOUR way and do what works best for him. You're right, he will love it when you work one-on-one with him. If you give him a chance to go outside and play (that's P.E.) and other chances to stretch his legs and take breaks, he will not give you any problems. The learning can also be hands-on and fun. You can play games, do science experiments, etc. If he likes to be active, there are all kinds of ways to make that happen while he learns.

As far as keeping records for Gabriel, you can only keep records of what he does according to his ability. If he only does art projects at school and that is all he can do at home, then all you have to do is keep the art projects.

As far as having school for 6 hours a day.............well, everything and anything where learning occurs counts as school. For example, his regular written work, learning to read, etc. might only take up one hour. But other things happen during the day like -- playing outside, that's P.E............. watching an educational video, that counts for science or another subject............reading stories to him at bedtime, that counts for reading..............he helps you cook something and you teach him what one cup, half cup, etc. means, that's math............your husband helps him build a playhouse and he learns to use a measuring tape, that's also math.................see what I mean? Really, learning can occur for much more than 6 hours each day. If you have lots of books in your home or other educational toys and puzzles, he can be using those throughout the day.

As far as your 2 year old, just think, it will be at least 3 more years before he will even begin school. He can just play while you do school work with the older ones. My 2 year old daughter likes to get out a pencil and old workbook and scribble. She says that she is doing "her schoolwork" while I teach my son who is in second grade.

Here is an article that might be helpful to you -

I would recommend putting together your own curriculum rather than buying a "boxed" one. My favorite place to order from is Rainbow Resource. -

You can read reviews of curriculum at -

I would also suggest just putting in under search "special needs homeschooling" and see what information you can find online.

Hope this helps.

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