Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Homeschool Essentials: The Core Knowledge Series

If you are thinking about homeschooling this coming year, I want to highly recommend that you consider the Core Knowledge series (aff link) and purchase the book for the grade your child will be starting. For example, next year, I'll have a sixth grader, so I'll pick up a copy of "What Your Sixth Grader Needs to Know."

The Core Knowledge Series of books has been my guide for many years. In it are all the basics that my children should know by the end of the year. I use this as my spine while using separate programs/lessons for teaching each subject. You can find them new and used in my Amazon store, Librería, or ask for them at your local library. Personally, I want to reference them all year long, so I like having copies of my own.

I LOVE this series. The books themselves are divided up by subject: Language & Literature, History & Geography, Visual Arts, Music, Math, and Science. They were not originally written for homeschoolers, but rather as a supplement for parents wanting to get more active in their children’s education. This series is a byproduct of the Core Knowledge Foundation whose mission is to improve our national education system through the creation of specific guidelines that promote a sound foundation and which builds upon itself. In other words, it is sequential and each grade builds upon the knowledge that was learned in the previous grade.

Important note! I should clarify right now that I am NOT (and have never been) a fan of Common Core Standards (CCS). While I think that it is good in theory, I think it is an atrocious failure in practice. Why? Because although it is great to have a guideline for what children should be learning in school, I know that kids learn in different ways and in their own time. I object to teachers being forbidden to teach anything outside of the CCS, or to teaching to tests. Our goal is to teach children to be functioning and contributing members of our society. My goal as a parent and teacher is to raise happy, healthy, considerate, and hard-working kids.

The series has recently been updated so you may find books with different covers. Grab them if you can!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Sonrisas Spanish Curriculum for Preschool

Sonrisas Spanish Preschool Program
I frequently get messages from readers looking for ways to begin teaching Spanish to preschoolers. The reality is that there are not a lot of Spanish curricula out there for this age group, and I'm always happy to learn about new ones. So when Sonrisas Spanish reached out to me and asked me to take a look and share their curricula, I agreed.

Name of program: Sonrisas Spanish: Calendar Time
Target age: Preschool
Amount of materials: Moderate
Price: $189

Calendar Time from Sonrisas Spanish is a detailed curriculum that helps teachers establish a conversational (and educational) classroom. Students will spend time talking and learning all those basic Spanish words, such as colors, numbers, seasons, days of the week, months, and more.

Sonrisas Spanish Preschool Program
The educator's guide is comprehensive with and introduction and detailed information on how to set up a calendar time, lists for daily questions and activities, and a template for organizing your lessons. You decide how often you'll have class, and therefore which activities you'll cover in each class meeting.

The lessons consist of 7 parts:
  1. Daily Questions
  2. Review
  3. Daily Activities
  4. Alphabet Activity
  5. Geography Activity
  6. Month Activities
  7. Season Activities
Sonrisas Spanish Preschool Program
But the lessons are flexible; you can choose which activities you'd like to focus on using the suggestions listed in the front of the guide. You are provided a blank template of a lesson plan that you can print and fill out according to your needs or preferred activities. (If you need help, Sonrisas has included a scope and sequence for one year that you can reference.) It also has a checklist that you can use as your plan your lessons so that you can be sure you've covered everything.

Sonrisas Spanish Preschool Program
I have to stop right here and talk about how much I love how Sonrisas has taken the time to include geography in this program. Most preschool curricula don't bother to discuss other countries. I just LOVE how Sonrisas explores not just the United States with preschoolers, but also Spain and all of the countries in Latin America. The program comes with four large laminated posters for your classroom, including a world map. As part of the lesson, you'll show your preschooler where the country of the week is located, and you'll also discuss how you would get there (cue the topic of transportation!). And you can introduce the names of nearby oceans and countries.

Sonrisas Spanish Preschool Program
The program also comes with 69 small (8.5 x 11), full-color posters (don't you love them?!) that cover:
  • the alphabet
  • the 12 months of the year
  • the seasons
  • weather & common weather phrases
  • the days of the week
  • colors

The thing I really love about beginning Spanish programs is that they can be used a) with younger children, and b) as an immersive preschool curriculum. Essentially, they cover the same topics that English preK programs cover...but in Spanish.

Calendar Time can be used as a stand-alone curriculum, or it can be used together with Sonrisas Spanish I (more about that next week!). I would definitely supplement it with bilingual (Spanish) children's books on the topic of the lesson.

Overall, it is an excellent curriculum for those of you looking to start teaching your preschoolers Spanish.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post with Sonrisas Spanish. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

5 Favorite Homeschool Math Curricula

5 Math Curricula Favored by Homeschoolers

As promised yesterday, here is a list of additional math curricula that are beloved by homeschoolers across the country. The important thing to remember is that you are not locked into any one curriculum. If you buy one and it is not a good fit for your family, there's no reason you why you can't move on to another one. I went through several math curricula before finally finding the one that works best for us, Teaching Textbooks, which I told you about yesterday.

I ALWAYS recommend that you:
a) take the assessment/placement tests before you buy so that your kid isn't bored with lessons that are too easy, or frustrated by lessons that are too difficult, and...
b) try to purchase or borrow a gently used curriculum to try it out first. If you love it, you can then purchase a brand new curriculum with no writing on the pages for the rest of the year or next year.

This post may contain affiliate links.

Mammoth Math

Mammoth Math / Matematicas Mamut

I'm starting with the curriculum that is available in both English AND SPANISH. (There aren't many!) Mammoth Math is available for 1st - 12th grades. This program is more for traditional learning. If you want a program available as printable worksheets that you can print and go, this might be the best choice for your family. The workbooks in this series are all available as downloads, but if you prefer printed workbooks, you can also purchase most of them as such.

On their website, you'll find free assessment tests, and MORE THAN 400 FREE SAMPLE PAGES. There are five different math series. Visit the Mammoth Math website to read about the difference between each one and see samples so you can pick the one that best suits your family's needs. And be sure to watch the videos where Maria Miller (the creator) talks about her program!

Saxon Math

Saxon Math (aff)

If your child is more of a hands-on learner, then Saxon Math may be a great choice for you. I used this program with my daughter early on. I loved how it used lots of manipulatives (flash cards, tangrams, pattern blocks, bear counters, geoboards, color tiles, and more!) to help her learn basic concepts. The lessons also have you use lots of things found around your home, helping children to discover that learning opportunities are everywhere!

The lessons are not overwhelmingly long; new concepts are presented in small bits. And there is a LOT of repetition to help establish those new concepts and skills. I like that there is consistency in all of the lessons.

This program does require parental involvement in the younger grades. Students receive a workbook, but all instruction is given by parents using the teacher's lesson book.

Older students, however, get a textbook that is written directly to the student to allow for independent work.

PSST! And did you know that now through May 31st, you can save 30% on Saxon Math (and Phonics) over at (aff)? They have a great sale going on!

Singapore Math

Singapore Math (aff)

I've never used this curriculum, however, from what I understand it is very different from all of the others. So if you are looking for a program that teaches outside the traditional methods. The curriculum description on says...

"Singapore Math Primary Mathematics is a favorite homeschool math curriculum! Students learn through concrete and pictorial methods before moving into abstract thought and development. Singapore Primary Math US edition encourages an active thinking process, thoughtful communication of mathematical ideas, and engaged problem solving."

It is based on a teaching method and curriculum used in Singapore, a nation that consistently ranks at the top of international assessments of student achievement in math.

Life of Fred

Life of Fred (aff)

Available for K - 12, I'm focusing on the elementary math curriculum. Life of Fred is a series of math books that are unlike any other math curriculum. There are no boring lectures or workbooks but instead just fun stories about Fred Gauss, a child prodigy math genius. Children will be fascinated and love following along with his hilarious adventures! In each chapter, he encounters situations that call for solving math problems. The curriculum description on says...

"The stories carry on through the exercises, leading the student through them. Many of the books have a series of quizzes called Bridges every few chapters. Passing a quiz means the student is ready for the next chapter. Some books have all the problem solutions in them, while others have separate answer keys or companions."


Math-U-See (aff)

I've not used this program, but know many homeschoolers who have and who absolutely love it. The lessons do require lots of parental involvement, but parents are told exactly how to teach each lesson via video-based instruction. Here is the description straight from

"Math-U-See is a complete, skill-based, multi-sensory mastery curriculum for grades K-12. Designed to teach students specific skills in a definite, logical sequence, this systematic and cumulative approach will help students learn how to solve math problems and discover why they're solved in such a way.

The Math-U-See system features step-by-step procedures for introducing, reviewing, practicing, and mastering concepts; each lesson includes a video, and many of the lessons from Primer through Algebra 1 use hands-on manipulatives. Teachers watch the video lesson to learn the new concept and how to demonstrate it; they then present the new concept to the student using the build-write-say model; finally, students practice the new concept using lesson practice problems from the student workbook. Student-paced, teachers are given clear guidelines for determining when students have achieved mastery and are ready to move to the next lesson or level."

Monday, May 22, 2017

Teaching Textbooks: Math Curriculum for 3 - 12th Grade

Teaching Textbooks Math Curriculum

I know that for many of you, the last day of school (aka the beginning of summer) is only a week or two away. But for many homeschoolers, now is the time when lots of great sales on curricula for next school year are taking place.

So for those of you looking for new curricula, and those of you who are considering homeschooling for the first time, these last two weeks of May will focus on curricula to use either during the summer or the coming school year.

Today, I'm sharing the math curricula that currently works for us.

Tomorrow I'll share a list of others that are available. Not all math programs are created the same. The program you choose should really depend on your child's learning style.

  • Do they learn best with repetition? 
  • Do the prefer hands-on activities to learn math concepts?
  • Or do they learn better with visual examples?
  • Are you looking for traditional ways to teach math or do you want a program that teaches outside the box?
  • Do you want to teach your child yourself, or do you want an online or computer-based program?

Be thoughtful before you buy. Try the sample pages out first and see if you both like them.

Affiliate links used below. 

Teaching Textbooks (aff)

A few years ago, I switched to Teaching Textbooks for my own children. Before this, I had used several different others, but they just weren't a good fit for my kids. My kids were struggling or just hated math. So I finally tried Teaching Textbooks and it has been fantastic. I wouldn't say that my kids love math now, but there are way fewer tears and less frustration than what we had before.

It is really the only subject that we do on the computer. What I love about it is that it does not require an Internet connection; the program comes with four (or more) CDs. All you have to do is install it on your computer (it is super easy!) and assign your child a password.

Review: Teaching Textbooks Sample Problems
The computer portion is awesome. Students do a lesson each day for a total of around 115 lessons. They begin by watching/listening to a brief lecture with visual examples of a new concept, then they proceed to complete 5 practice questions and 22 problems. The questions not only cover the current concept being learned but also repeat previous concepts to keep your child's math skills sharp. Each lesson builds on the last.

The presentation of the computer program is fun and engaging without distracting the student with too many graphics or illustrations. In the top corner is a spot where simple animations take place as incentives for completing the work. The student can flip through them to select a specific theme. From Rapunzel letting down her hair to robots and penguins, every time your child gets an answer right, the mini-story unfolds until it reaches the end. It usually takes about 3 - 4 right answers to see the animation complete its story. If you don't want this distraction, you can turn it off.

Review: Teaching Textbooks Sample Problems

Review: Teaching Textbooks Sample Problems

Review: Teaching Textbooks Gradebook

The great thing is that this computer program includes quizzes and KEEPS TRACK OF GRADES for you! Parents have their own separate login and can access each child's gradebook, see how they did, which questions they got wrong, and whether or not they watched to see the right way to get to the answer. You can even edit it if needed. Here's my daughter's. I love that I can see how she does overall, and which specific lessons (concepts) she's struggling with...

Review: Teaching Textbooks Sample Gradebook

But what I like best about the program is that it also comes with a workbook with all the lessons. They are presented simply; no distractions. So if you prefer to vary the lessons by mixing both computer and paper lessons, you can do so.

I found that my daughter (in 7th grade) does really well with the computer lessons, but my son (in 5th grade) is doing better with the workbook. After a while of using the computer program, I found that my son was having trouble because he was trying to do everything in his head. He simply refused to use the dry erase board that I provided to work out the multi-step problems. And he was getting a lot of them wrong. Nothing I said helped. I also realized that he wasn't memorizing basic math concepts. Instead of knowing what 4 + 6 or 7 + 8 equaled, he just counted it out on the keypad. Yikes!!

Review: Teaching Textbooks Sample Problems

So I essentially decided we needed to change how we used the program and had him start using the workbook instead of the computer. It forced him to work out the problems and I am delighted to report that now it is not unusual for him to get 100 percent of the problems correct. After he completes each lesson, he calls out his answers to me and I check them in the Answer Booklet. If he gets any wrong, we work it out together. But if I didn't know how to help him or show him the right way, I would simply pop in the disk, go to that lesson, enter in his answer, and then click on the button to see the solution.

He loves the little animations of the computer, though, so as a reward for his hard work, I allow him to use the computer once a week to complete his work. But I didn't agree to this until he had completed 25 lessons in the book first and we had established a routine.

I've heard some parents say that the program wasn't challenging enough for their children. I haven't found this to be the case with my own children, but maybe if your child is a math genius, this might not be the program for you. I do encourage you to visit to try their sample lessons and see for yourself. REMEMBER: It's okay to skip ahead a grade or two if you need to! In fact, their website has placement tests to help you figure out which grade level would be best for your child.

I buy the curriculum here on, though, because they frequently have great sales.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Free Printable from Kinder Bilingüe

Kinder Bilingüe

I've been getting a lot of messages lately about homeschooling preschool and kindergarten. One of the main questions has been where to find bilingual materials. So I'm excited to share with you today, a new independent store online: Kinder Bilingüe!

The store may be new, but the materials aren't. They've been created by Juliana Suarez for the last few years. Juliana is a bilingual ed teacher who made these printables for her own students and decided that she would offer them to other teachers who were looking for similar materials.

Her products are designed specifically for K - 2nd grade. The activities are so fun and are visually engaging with lots of illustrations.

For example, this bilingual monkey diary is a great way to get your kids writing about their adventures with their new (or old!) friend...

Bilingual Monkey Diary

Or maybe you want to teach your kids money concepts, including personal finance and addition and subtraction? Then check out her bilingual Mini Mall that helps you set up a classroom (or home) store!

Mini Mall Activity

Are you looking for morning work downloads in Spanish? Juliana has packets available for every month (September through June) or one comprehensive bundle with over 300 pages that has all of the months combined for a discount.

Morning Work in Spanish

Don't know what morning work is? It is basically a review of concepts that your students are learning in class. Each morning, they'll complete a worksheet that helps them master specific basic concepts. Here's a sample page:

Morning Work in Spanish

So far, Juliana has focused on writing and reading materials that may be used year round, especially this summer. But she has many others that she is in the process of uploading so be sure to check out her site regularly.

Bilingual Reading Log

A Free Download!

Juliana was kind enough to share a free download with MommyMaestra readers! Her bilingual reading log is a good way to kick off the school year because they're so much fun to color and fill out.

Thanks, Juliana!

So if you are looking for high-quality educational materials for your students/kids in K - 2nd, I highly recommend Kinder Bilingüe! You'll take comfort in knowing that you're not only helping your child to learn, but also supporting a Latina teacher. 

Remember, the more you buy, the more products educators are encouraged to create. :)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

WOW in the World: NPR's New Podcast for Kids

This morning, we started our homeschool lessons off doing something totally different; We spent the first half hour listening to stories of mysterious planets, seaweed, and gratitude - and then discussing everything we just heard. We had the BEST time!

The podcast we listened to was the first episode of "WOW in the World," NPR's first weekly podcast for kids. It's hosted by Guy Raz and Mindy Thomas, who are certainly the most animated, child-friendly radio hosts I've heard. (Don't worry, they don't go so overboard that parents want to throw up.) They are engaging and full of informative trivia that fascinated my kids.

WOW's intended audience is children ages 5 to 12. My kids are on the older end of this spectrum. Actually, my youngest is 11 and my oldest is 13. (Yes, my 13 year old enjoyed this podcast.) So in this first episode, my kids learned about three things: an opportunity in which they could join the search for the mysterious ninth planet, about the cerebral cortex and how seaweed affects our brain, and how showing gratitude is a form of mental exercise (loved this!!).

Mindy also interviews kids on the show, which I think is fun for young listeners, too. She challenged one to make up a story on the spot about a grandma and a panda bear and seaweed. And she asked others what they thought of some of the information they just learned on the podcast. The answers were hilarious!

At the end, I went to their website and clicked on the link above their podcast to see their conversation starters and we used them to talk about what we heard. They also included links on their site to an article or website that allows you (the parent) or your older children to learn more about each subject.

I love how interactive it was for us to listen and then discuss what we heard on the show as part of our morning routine. I'm thinking that this would be a great way to kick off our homeschool lessons every week: just start off listening to the previous week's episode!

What's especially great about this show is that if you're a parent with kids obsessed with tech, and limiting screen time is a constant challenge, here's a great way to give them a tech fix while still teaching them something without their staring at a screen. They can listen to the podcast anywhere: in the car, on the couch, at the grocery store, in a hammock...

But you don't have to take my word for it! Listen to their first podcast yourself here, or by clicking on the play arrow below...

Monday, May 15, 2017

Homeschool Enrollment for the Pizza Hut Book It! Program

Did you know? Homeschool enrollment for the 2017-18 program year is officially open!

The Pizza Hut Book It! Program is a literacy incentive program for students in K - 6th grade. This free program is simple and flexible, but you do have to register in advance. It runs during the 2017-2018 school year, so beginning in October you set monthly goals for your student(s) and by meeting those goals, they can earn a free personal pan pizza each month through March. Those goals can be the number of books, chapters, pages, or minutes your child is expected to read each month...YOU decide!

If you are a homeschool FAMILY with children in K-6 grade, you are eligible to participate. And, YES! The program is also available in Spanish! If you select "Printables" under the TEACHERS option in the drop down menu at the top of their website, you can view all their Spanish printables.

This is the last year that my son will be eligible to participate, but it is such a great initiative, I just registered. And so should you!!

Friday, May 12, 2017

PBS KIDS Plug & Play

Did you know that this week, PBS KIDS launched the first ever kid-safe TV and playtime streaming stick? Now I'm not promoting increased screen time for your little ones, but I do advocate that when your child is watching TV, the content be child-friendly AND educational!

The PBS KIDS Plug & Play device is pre-loaded with exclusive sing-alongs, games and more, which can all be accessed without Wi-Fi (I love that it doesn't eat up my data!!). This allows kids to navigate through the interactive playtime experience, in an entirely kid-friendly environment, with access to nothing but kids content.

When connected to Wi-Fi, the Plug & Play’s features expand, offering free access to PBS KIDS’ 24/7 channel and livestream, and over 100 hours of on-demand videos, with no subscription required. 

So let's say that you let your little one watch TV for one hour three times a week. With this device, you can rest easy knowing that they will have over 33 weeks of quality, educational content in videos alone. That's not including the sing-alongs, games and other stuff. So when you put it all together, that's basically one school year!

And that's a parenting win-win.

The PBS KIDS Plug & Play will be available for $49.99 in Walmart stores nationwide by May 24 and other retailers later this year.

Disclosure: I am a PBS KIDS ambassador, which essentially means I learn about new programs and products to share with my readers on a regular basis. I did not receive any compensation for this post and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

MommyMaestra's Teacher Appreciation Sale

It's Teacher Appreciation Week!

And teachers remain some of the most dedicated and caring figures in a child's life. I can still remember many of my favorite teachers from grade school through college. I love them for making learning fun and for encouraging me to be my best. I also include parents and grandparents in this because they are without question a child's first and often longest-lasting teacher.

So if you are a school teacher, a homeschooler, a parent, or a grandparent, I want to offer you something special to show my gratitude and help you keep up all the great work you are doing with your children.

I'm throwing a sale! TpT is having a site-wide sale in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week. All of my products are on sale for 28% (the maximum they allow). You can click here to find my store.

But if you are a parent who may prefer not to sign up on TpT, I do offer most of my products for sale here on MommyMaestra, too. So you can click on the "My Shop" tab at the top of this page, or just click here to view my products on MommyMaestra.

This is a great time to stock up on no-prep activities and games to wind up the end of the school year, or to keep your kids busy learning in a fun way during the summer!

The sale is good through May 10th (tomorrow evening).


Monday, May 8, 2017

Free Download: Restaurant Conversation Activity in Spanish

It's MAY, my friends! And do you know what that means? For most of us, the end of the school year is in sight!!

Now's the perfect time to wind down your year of Spanish learning with a field trip to your local Mexican(?) restaurant so that your students can practice their fabulous Spanish-speaking skills. Or maybe you are stocking up on materials to start Spanish lessons with your kids this summer.

To help you prepare, here's a new download from MommyMaestra sponsor, Spanish for You! This month's printable focuses on a restaurant conversation. Your young Spanish learner will discover new vocabulary related to a restaurant visit with this fun activity.

This printable 4-page activity comes with an audio file for learning proper pronunciation. The game includes vocabulary cards, a vocabulary practice sheet, a dialog sheet, and a menu and order ticket.

Spanish for You!'s program is geared for middle schoolers and is the perfect choice for homeschoolers and afterschoolers alike because their concepts are carefully divided up into manageable bundles that are available for immediate download from their website.

If this is your first time here, you can find other free samples from Spanish for You! here. There are some fantastic downloads of games and activities for you and your family to enjoy. If you enjoy this activity, be sure to visit the Spanish for You! website where you'll find tons of additional resources for you to help your young Spanish learner!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Free May the Fourth Download

May the 4th be with you! 

Since I am my kids are Star Wars nuts, you know this is one of our favorite days of the year. And so I wanted to remind you that I have a free set of printables based on the series available for you to download!

It's my little gift to you in honor of the day.

Grammar Force helps your kids strengthen their grammar skills with fun pages that focus on:

• Common nouns
• Proper nouns
• Contractions
• Adjectives
• Prepositions/Prepositional phrases

Note: This file is available in English only!

You can download it on TpT or here on MommyMaestra from my Shop.

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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

MamaLingua Language-Learning App Now on Android

Summer is the perfect time to teach your child Spanish or English. Better yet, learn together as a family!

I know that a lot of MommyMaestra readers are non-Spanish speakers who may have their children in a dual-language or immersion school setting. Maybe you'd like to continue to reinforce your child's Spanish speaking skills over the summer but are worried you can't because you don't speak it yourself?

Some of you are Latino families who follow along for the cultural activities that I share. Maybe now is the time to explore or expand your child's Spanish vocabulary? Or maybe you want to start introducing English to your little one?

And some of you are bilingual educators who are looking for resources to share with your ESL students or yourSpanish learners and their families over the summer break.

If any of these sounds like you, then you'll enjoy today's resource. MamaLingua is finally on Android! I know that most MM readers are using Android devices. So you'll definitely want to check out this awesome app that contains more than 900 words and phrases in Spanish and English. It covers 18 categories and uses an easy-to-read phonetic system. Don't know how to pronounce the words? No problem. It has an audio pronunciation. You can even customize your learning with the Favorites tab and use the in-app Community tool to see daily posts, free content, and tips and inspiration for learning.

I received a copy of the app for review purposes, so I downloaded it to my son's iPhone and he used it while we were in Spain.

With MamaLingua, you’ll learn Spanish or English vocabulary and phrases you can use every day with your kids...

HURRY!! Big Sale: $1.99! 

To celebrate their Android release, MamaLingua is lowering the price of the app for a limited time. Hurry and get your Android or iOS app today for just $1.99! It normally retails for $7.99.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Homeschooling Children with Learning Differences

Homeschooling Children with Learning Differences

The following is a guest post by Stacie Servantes Farias, a Mexican-American mom of 4 who does not blog because she is too busy reading other blogs to write one of her own.

Stacie’s Story: Homeschooling Children with Learning Differences

If you would indulge me for a moment and allow me to say something very important: I am blessed to be homeschooling. Seriously. Homeschooling my children is absolutely my calling in life and it is my pleasure, my honor, and my privilege. I mean it! As a military family, homeschooling has been a tremendous blessing and the answer to prayers I did not even know I prayed.

All that said, homeschooling is HARD. Homeschooling my children has been frustrating, annoying, heartbreaking, confusing, and exhausting in every way imaginable. Why can my son memorize math facts one week, then forget them the next? Why does my daughter scan the page when she reads, looking at the pictures for clues? In no way am I an expert on homeschooling children with special needs, but there are a few of things I have learned while homeschooling my dyslexic/dyscalculic son and dyslexic daughter and if sharing them helps you in any way, I am happy to help.

Listen to the voice.

You know THE voice. It is the same internal one that said you should give homeschooling a shot. That voice will keep nagging until you finally allow yourself to think there is something more going on with your child. Maybe it IS more than, “well, I guess my kid just going to be a bad speller.” You will probably hear other voices too, most likely from professional teachers (the ones who paid), or pediatricians or family members that will say the following regarding your child’s struggles, “if your child was in ‘real’ school…” or the very popular “maybe your child needs a ‘real’ teacher.” If the words are said in judgment of you and your family’s choice to homeschool, please do not take them to heart. There are compassionate, wonderful, lovely people who want to help you and your child and who understand your struggles. Their words will encourage you and inspire you. They will NOT judge you.

Talk to other homeschool moms.

You are probably thinking, “How is that advice? Talk to other moms. Really?” Yup. Talk to other homeschool moms. Throughout your homeschooling journey, you will find there are many families who have decided to homeschool because conventional school systems, educational professionals, and even medical professionals have failed their children. If you suspect or know that you have a child with special needs, there is a homeschooling mama (or dad) that has been through exactly what you are going through. Guaranteed. Sometimes this kindred homeschooling mama will be in your city or state, or maybe you will never meet them except you happen to be in the same homeschooling-related Facebook group. If you open up about your struggles with your special needs child, the homeschooling community will reach back and enthusiastically provide guidance, encouragement, whatever you need. The reality is you cannot get us to shut up about curriculum, therapies, strategies, pedagogy, etc. We. Don’t. Stop. Talking. About. It. EVER!!

Your homeschooling style is whatever your child needs it to be.

Don’t get me wrong. It is helpful, useful, and even a lot of fun determining what kind of homeschool style suits you. Classical, Charlotte Mason, eclectic, traditional, Montessori, unschooling…I could go on. Every style has elements that are beautiful and inspiring. The question you should be asking yourself as a homeschooler to a child with special needs is, does this suit MY child? If you are homeschooling a child with dysgraphia, there might lots of tears when trying to do the copywork recommended by the Charlotte Mason method. If your child has ADHD or ADD, they may experience great difficulty sitting for the workbooks used in more traditional “school-at-home” type programs. A child with dyslexia may not find the amount of reading recommended through classical programs mentally exhausting. So what do you do? You have fallen in love with a certain style, read all the books, subscribed to the blogs, created new Pinterest boards dedicated to that style. Don’t panic. Just adapt. You are the teacher and expert on how your child learns best. You CAN be a Charlotte Mason homeschooler to a child with dysgraphia, just hold off the copywork until you have found a handwriting program to remediate. You CAN be a traditional homeschooler to a child with ADHD, you may just need to take a lot of breaks in between subjects. You CAN be a classical homeschooler to a child with dyslexia, just read out loud for them. Maybe you need a particular curriculum or program that does not follow the pedagogy but works well with your child’s specific learning needs. So what?! Who is going to make a fuss? The curriculum police? Make your style whatever your child needs it to be.

I have one final disclaimer. My mother is a retired public school teacher. I have more relatives that work in the public school system than work in every other field put together. I have a profound respect for professional teachers and what they try to do. But my husband and I made the decision to homeschool because we believe it to be what is best for OUR children. If keeping your child with special needs in school is what you believe is best for your child, then wonderful. But let it be YOUR choice because it is YOUR child and whether you realize it or not, you are already their teacher. Here is a quote from someone much smarter than me, who said it with way more eloquence than I could ever hope to muster. It is my hope that it comforts you as much as it comforts me.

“If family education rediscovers the pride of its leadership, many things will change for the better, for uncertain parents and for disappointed children. It is time for fathers and mothers to return from their exile – for they have exiled themselves from bringing up their children – and to fully resume their educational role. We hope that the Lord gives this grace to parents: not be to exile themselves from the education of their children. And this can only be done with love, tenderness, and patience.” – Pope Francis, in his address to the general audience. May 20, 2015.

Here are some of my favorite resources regarding dyslexia:

photo credit: © fidelio

Stacie Servantes Farias is an Army wife and mom of 6 with a “very healthy” obsession for Snoopy, Disney movies, Audrey Hepburn, Dr. Pepper, Whataburger, books, and homeschooling. Originally from Mission, Texas, Stacie and her high-school sweetheart hubby live with their kids and dog in a different home every few years, because that is the military life. She has big plans to write a book exploring her theory that La Llorona drowned her children because they would take their socks off all over the house and then would complain that they never had clean socks! Stacie also thinks she is really funny, but she is mostly lame.    

Did you enjoy this article? Are you thinking about homeschooling your child? Let me help! My book - The Latino Family's Guide to Homeschooling - covers everything you see here and more.