Originally Sent: 9/11/2014

HSLDA Homeschooling a Struggling Learner

September 11, 2014


Skills -- The online autism solution

Helping Your Kids Bloom … Spring Assessment and Fall Planning

Need Help?

Remember that HSLDA graciously provides special needs learning consultants to talk with you in person, to help you determine what would be the best course for your struggling learner. You are not alone! We come along side and help you with these decisions. Just contact us at 540-338-5600.

Join 20,000 others...

The HSLDA Curriculum Market is buzzing with activity! Save money on new and used homeschooling materials, or sell your extras.

You can only do so much...

No one can be everywhere at once. And you can't be at home, teaching your children, while monitoring your state's legislature. Through electronic legislative services, HSLDA is monitoring state legislation for you—watching and listening carefully for any proposed laws that could erode your right to homeschool.

Join HSLDA today—we'll watch out for your future. We also provide 24/7 legal assistance and some great money-saving benefits!

More reasons to join HSLDA...
You Can Help!

The Home School Foundation supports homeschool families in need. Whether it's a widow or a family suffering after a natural disaster, HSF is there to help. You can give directly, or through our Clicks For Homeschooling program; online merchants contribute to HSF when you shop!

Start shopping here to contribute to HSF at no cost to you!

Helen Keller Knew Latin!

Classical Christian Education … for Special Needs?

The Struggling Learner/Special Needs Department of HSLDA is pleased to have a guest writer for this month’s newsletter. Cheryl Swope, the author of Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child (with foreword by Dr. Gene Edward Veith), serves as the special needs consultant for Memoria Press and is a homeschooling mother of two children with special needs. This month, Cheryl shares some practical resources, tips, and personal success stories about teaching writing to children who struggle and who have special needs.

• • •

  Cheryl Swope
Cheryl Swope

Literature, sacred music, art, and even Latin—do you ever wistfully turn the pages of a classical education catalog? Do you wish your special needs child could be given such beauty? Would you like to bring a more humanizing and formative education to your child?

Some parents and educators have the misconception that classical education is only for “smart kids.” It is easy to understand why someone might think this way. Latin at age 8? Herodotus by 14? With such standards, one might reason, surely classical education is only for born geniuses—the brightest and best of our children. Certainly for advanced performance at the highest levels of classical study, this theory has merit.

But what about those children who are not born geniuses? What about those who, far from being intellectually gifted, are living with cognitive challenges, language disorders, or physical disabilities? Does classical education have anything to offer them? Can classical education benefit any child?

No doubt Helen Keller’s concerned parents asked the same question back in 1887. Their young daughter was deaf, blind, and severely “behaviorally disordered.” Distraught and fearful for the little girl’s future, as most parents would be, the Kellers hoped that Helen might somehow receive an education. In the late 1800s, this meant a classical education.

Helen Keller began her adapted classical education at the age of 6 with her private teacher, Annie Sullivan. Although no one could predict the eventual outcome, the Keller family embarked on this ambitious, beautiful journey nonetheless. And the world received captivating evidence that classical education truly can benefit any child.

Ready for More? Consider These Tips for Beginning (or Strengthening) Your Child’s Education

The very tenets of classical education assist us:

Teach by asking questions—the Socratic method. Ask clear, step-by-step questions to assess, lead, and strengthen the child's understanding. The oral Socratic method with good discussions can effectively replace some written answers.

Teach “slowly and steadily”—the tortoise and the hare. Delve deeply and seek mastery. The high quality of the best resources will assist the child’s mind and character, even when taught at a more relaxed pace.

Enjoy the original “multi-sensory” methods—recitation, dictation, oration. Enjoy songs, chants, and narration. Allow shortened exercises. Add visual cues or movements to accompany auditory learning.

Read aloud great literature. Even without extensive literary analysis, rich and beautiful language soothes, lifts, and teaches.

Repetition—reading a story or poem several times can build fluency, expression, understanding, and appreciation.

Encourage wonder—coax the child’s own questions. Seek truth, goodness, and beauty together.

A Personal Experience

As a very young child, my daughter Michelle exhibited an odd, puzzling language disorder. Words perplexed her, as much as she perplexed us. Even the language therapist admitted, “Michelle’s language is not just delayed; it is aberrant!”

After language therapy and an education rich in literature, poetry, hymns, and Holy Scripture, we witnessed in Michelle something we never expected from such a child. Although all of her disabilities remained, Michelle began to love words. She even began to write some of the most touching poetry I have ever read.

One day Michelle said to me, “Mom, I want my story to help other children like me.” Because of her autism, dyslexia, dysgraphia, and schizophrenia, Michelle could never give voice to her story. So we did. Through Time’s Looking Glass: A Book of Poetry, a simple collection of Michelle’s poetry was published earlier this year.

She now finds great solace in words.


With sparks of joy in our eyes,
And embers in our heart
We continue this journey
Of love and great art.

Michelle Lynn Swope

Explore Classical Education for your child more fully in several ways:

Read the honest, encouraging story of two homeschooled children—my own adopted twins. Even with autism, learning disabilities, attention difficulties and severe mental illness, they enjoyed a classical Christian education. Find their story along with resources and strategies to benefit your own child in Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child.

Learn the fascinating historical precedent. Discover what happened after language unlocked young Helen Keller’s mind at the water pump so many years ago. Yes, Helen Keller knew Latin!

Join us for support in our free, online Struggling Student discussion forum. You can ask questions about your own child. Memoria Press and I moderate this forum and read posts daily. (If you do not wish to post, you may appreciate the many stories from other homeschooling moms of special needs or struggling students!)

Take heart, even if your child has significant special needs or an intellectual disability. Consider the unique new Simply Classical Curriculum filled with beautiful poetry, Scripture, music, and more—just for children with special needs. After all, in Martin Cothran’s words, “If a child cannot accommodate the amount or depth of knowledge of most children, it is not less, but more important that what they learn be of the highest quality.”

Above all, with compassion we remember our child’s humanity and God’s gracious, merciful provision for our child’s every eternal need through Jesus Christ, our One Thing Needful.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine.” (Is. 43:1b)

In Him,


• • •

  Faith Berens
Faith Berens
  Krisa Winn
Krisa Winn
  Joyce Blankenship
Joyce Blankenship

You’ve probably heard it said many times that there is “no perfect curriculum.” And if you’ve been homeschooling for very long at all, you probably agree. Some programs and approaches will be better suited for your child than others. See the HSLDA Toddlers to Tweens website for a terrific description of various curriculum options and educational approaches.

If you’ve considered a classical approach, but felt it would be too rigorous for a child with special needs, we hope this article has encouraged you to explore the idea further. The special needs department is here to encourage and equip you in your homeschool journey. Please visit our website for a wealth of information about homeschooling children with special needs.

HSLDA Special Needs Consultants

• • • •

“I Saved My Entire Membership Fee with One Discount”

“When I called Liberty to find out what kind of discount we could get, they told us we would save 10% off our car insurance and 5% off our homeowner’s insurance. What we will save is more than double what it costs to join HSLDA. With one child getting his driver’s license this year, the savings will be a real blessing!”

More reasons to join HSLDA >>

“Homeschooling a Struggling Learner” is a newsletter of the Home School Legal Defense Association. All rights reserved. For more information on Homeschooling a Struggling Learner or the Home School Legal Defense Association please contact us at:

HSLDA • P.O. Box 3000 • Purcellville, Virginia 20134-9000
Phone: (540) 338-5600• Fax: (540) 338-
2733 • Email: info@hslda.org
Web: http://www.hslda.org/strugglinglearner

Subscription Information: You subscribed to the “Homeschooling a Struggling Learner” email as:

Subscribe | Unsubscribe | Change Settings

POSTMASTERS: This message is being sent to the most recent address we have for our subscribers. If this is an invalid email address or you have other problems, please reply to webmaster@hslda.org.

DISCLAIMER: This is considered a private and confidential message from HSLDA to its bonafide HSLDA E-lert Service subscribers. HSLDA cannot attest to the authenticity of copies posted, forwarded, or sent by any party other than HSLDA.

ADVERTISING WITH US: The appearance of advertisements in the Homeschooling thru High School newsletter does not imply recommendation or endorsement by Home School Legal Defense Association, and the opinions expressed by advertisers do not necessarily reflect the views of HSLDA. Use of any information, product, or service herein advertised is voluntary, and reliance upon it should only be undertaken after independent review. Caveat emptor—let the buyer beware.

NOTE: Please do not reply or otherwise use this email address; hslda@hslda.org is for broadcast purposes only and is not intended to receive incoming messages. We cannot reply to any email sent to this address. If you have comments or questions, please send email to info@hslda.org or call HSLDA at 540-338-5600. HSLDA members can also email staff directly through the Members website at http://members.hslda.org/contact.asp. Thank you for your cooperation.

© 2019 HSLDA. All rights reserved.