The following two interviews are of moms who homeschool children with learning challenges. Learning challenges can be unique to children, but the anxiety, worry, and self-doubt for the parents are not. These mothers have asked to remain mostly anonymous to protect their children. I hope that my readers appreciate the honesty of their stories.
When Your Child’s Needs Affect the Entire Family
We homeschool two amazing, loving, smart, humorous children with extra needs.
One child has specific learning challenges. While we worry, this feels manageable, because this kiddo is developing appropriate social, emotional, and behavioral skills and abilities. We can address the learning differences for this child in the midst of the rest of life.
Our other kiddo has learning challenges as well as sensory overwhelm and anxiety, with social, emotional, developmental, and behavioral differences. This comes out as sensory meltdowns, withdrawal, anger, struggles with executive functioning skills, and an intense need for regulating activities. All of this has affected self-esteem in our child.
This kiddo’s needs affect our family’s willingness to accept social invitations and our relationships in and outside our family. Some of the hardest things, as the parent, have been watching our child struggle with situations most find easy, managing the negative criticism (and even blame) of others, not losing ourselves while making sure the needs of our children are being met (the higher needs kiddo for obvious reasons and the sibling so no child is lost in the shuffle), and the simple truth that life feels predictably unpredictable.
Parenting an intense child can be very lonely, especially as the child gets older, moving toward high school.
When You Question Homeschooling
All of this has had us question our homeschooling. (Our homeschooling has been questioned harshly by some extended family, as well.) We have considered putting one or both kids in full-time school at different points, although we have not yet done so.
As our kiddos are getting older, there are more sibling squabbles, and our older, higher needs kiddo has been adding the normal teen power struggles to the mix. Currently, we are deciding whether to homeschool through high school or find a small, alternative school geared toward supporting smart and quirky kids.
How to Cope When Homeschooling Intense Kids
I would love others to know that parents of intense kids are doing the best they can (as are those intense kids)! Parenting a differently wired child can feel very lonely, but it is helpful to reach out and ask for help because we are not alone. Talking about what is hard (without guilt or a sense of complaining) can help parents feel grounded and more able to address our kids with love.
There are so many resources and groups online to help find community. I have found that taking a deep breath, pausing, and patiently trying to see what my children are trying to communicate with me helps me meet my children where they are, follow my instincts, grow my own confidence in our path, and, in turn, helps my children grow, as well.
Managing Your Anxiety While You Homeschool Children with Learning Challenges
Homeschooling through hard times is relative to the experience of the individual, lifestyle, and culture of the family, as well as the nature of the specific challenges a family faces. But, I believe we can all find common ground.
We can all recognize the thud of our knees hitting the floor when we raise our arms up in surrender. The mental, emotional, and physical fatigue of voyaging through hard times of homeschooling, of loving ourselves — heck, even remembering who we are is the common thread. It runs through the stories I hear of dear friends who have hitched a ride on a roundabout wondering which exit to take, and perhaps even hurtling over on top of the mound; wheels stuck in the turf. The rest of the world is whizzing around; executing timely exits with precision.
Harnessing Your Strengths to Help Your Homeschool
I am a very empathetic person by nature; sensitive, and more prone to anxiety, too. While these traits have been a heavyweight to bear as the needs of my family have grown, they have also been my greatest asset in leading and forging a path forward. This was especially true during a time when I was seeking answers for my son’s apparent seizure activity and specific language and learning impairments. Over time, I have learned to find ways of harnessing them to my advantage.
And, it remains something I continuously work on.
I have learned to love these traits of mine by respecting the nature of them. I have learned what tames and shrews them. Writing has been my greatest tool. Never am I far without pen and paper. It is more cathartic for me to write by hand than the tapping and thumbing of keys.
I’ve learned to separate my crazy anxious thoughts from my joyous memories into two different spaces. And, I’ve learned to identify temporary and passing fears that wax and wane with the moon.
I’ve come to understand that exhaustion begets exhaustion. It is true that no sound decision can be made without rest or reprieve. While it has seemed impossible many times to get rest, I’ve learned the only way to get it, is to surrender to it.
To stand in the kitchen and simply announce to myself “enough is enough, is enough.”
Once you admit to yourself that you are plain done and done, the universe has a way of offering a solution. Commit yourself to offers of help, and new insights from outsiders. Answers are always out there for the taking. Trust in that.
Similarly, give yourself permission to admit what you are doing, or experiencing, is “hard.” It is hard work to commit yourself to the work of raising learners. There is much involved in the nurturing and raising of young that does not get counted. But without, would amount to neglect.
Be the Encouragement A Homeschool Mom Needs
In our roles, we don’t get to step outside of our lives and look on in. We don’t get vacations. Only every once in a while do we get to view with a wider lens. So, be open to the possibility that despite how real the struggle feels, in any given moment, you are doing the best that you can and that your best is enough.
The pain, loss, grief, and struggle of others do not lessen the pain and struggle that is yours. Do not make the mistake of measuring your struggles with others. To me, that is a denial of the important role you play in the lives of your loved ones.
When you start measuring your battle with others, you lose the ability to empathize with them too. We all have our struggles. We all do. No one is less or more deserving of being heard than another. Be humble with yours, and respectful of others. Be the person that hears the cry of another. And be that sister who offers a safe space. It is how you’ll build a community and network of support around you.
How to Homeschool in the Midst of the Hard Things Series
This is day 8 of the Homeschooling in the Midst of Hard Things Blog Series!. We are so glad you are here! Check out the rest of the series by clicking the banner below.
Hi, I’m Dachelle. I’m a homeschooling mom of 3 in the South. I love chocolate and have been known to hide it from my children. I can often be found reading a good book (or even sometimes just an okay book) and enjoying a jar of Nutella — don’t judge. I blog, here, at HideTheChocolate.com when I’m not creating book clubs and making lists…lots and lots of lists (it’s an addiction). Learn more…
I could’ve written this, it’s so similar to our experience. Thank you for this series. So helpful to hear from other moms going through the trenches in this specific way. Every year in February I start wearing out from the demands of homeschooling (aka 24/7 caregiving) my special needs kiddo, my gifted kiddo, and my learning differences kiddo. Phew! My hubby & I go through a dance of- should we put them in school this coming year? But we never do. I love homeschooling them & for now, know it’s worth the burn out I feel every Spring. Thank God for summer when I sleep in right along with them, laze at the pool & recuperate!
I’m so glad it’s been helpful to you! We’ve been hearing this from so many moms out there. It’s exhausting and stressful and sometimes you just need to know that there is someone else out there going through the same things. Sending you lots of love! We are all just trying to do the best we can by our kids.