I believe every child has special needs & I like to focus on
the word SPECIAL when I explain what I mean.
The label “special needs” started being widely used when I was in grade school
(or at least that’s when I first encountered it).
In grade 5, my teacher paired me with a “special” needs girl so I could tutor
her during class.
Back then, I was incensed – why should I have to be associated with someone
“different” & why did I have to juggle listening to the teacher so I could learn
my own lessons while helping someone else at the same time?
Every night for a week, I complained to my mother (a former teacher,
who was thrilled that I had been chosen for what she saw as an important task)
who calmly told me that she would not call my teacher to express
any sort of disapproval.
And so… I became Theresa’s teacher.
Not Wrong – Just Different
The most interesting thing I discovered almost immediately was that
there wasn’t anything “wrong” with her as everyone said but she just
learned in a different way.
No one ever told me why she was labeled “special” nor gave me instructions
on how to help her.
So, I did what felt natural. I would repeat everything the teacher said,
read any words she found difficult & sometimes drew pictures to help her
understand & retain new information.
I was only 11 & yet, was already noticing that we don’t all use the
same methods to grasp new information & that we all do it at
This is one of those stories that has been buried so deeply in me, I haven’t
thought of it in years. I can still picture her though – strange how some
things suddenly surface.
She was gentle, kind-hearted & utterly baffled as to why she was considered
Poor girl – I wish I had known then – what I know now!
Right from the start, I think the label “special” got twisted around into something
less than positive.
If someone gives you a special present – that’s good.
If you go on a special trip – that’s fun
If you wear your special dress – you’re excited
But if someone is perceived to have “special needs”– that raises a red flag,
meetings are called, people speak in hushed tones & wrinkle their brows.
Why does the term strike terror
in a parent’s heart ?
During both of my pregnancies, my midwife suggested I undergo a series of tests
(since I was in the “advanced” age group for “healthy” child-bearing – HA HA –
but that’s another story…).
They were supposed to tell me if my child might be “abnormal” & be born with
Of course, I declined on every occasion.
Seriously? There was no way that I would have terminated a pregnancy
despite what any test might have told me.
And here’s why –
There are BASIC needs we all have – clean air, good food, plenty of rest, lots of play, loads of love.
Then, there are the “special” needs we ALL have.
Every Child Has Special Needs
& I’m glad of it!
Unique is good in my book & I’m raising my kids to stay as individual as the
day they were born!
Some of us need more movement included in our days, others require vibrant colours; it could be more or less noise, greater amounts of sleep or particular foods – whatever it takes – we figure out what our children need & we give it to them.
You homeschool because your child has special needs – perhaps she doesn’t learn as quickly as others in her age group or he just learns in a different way or maybe there are other important factors that made you decide to keep them at home.
You can choose how you look at your child
– does she have problems or is she one-of-a-kind ?
Even kids who are deemed “normal” have things that set them off, that they are afraid of or intense interests in certain subjects that almost eclipse everything else in their lives.
Instead of trying to ignore their differences, it makes sense to play to their strengths – in their life & lessons – when you do – their weaknesses start to melt away.
As they say, what you pay attention to only increases – right!?
If your child fit the mold, then he’d probably be in a classroom with 30 other children all being taught the same thing at the same time. You’d feel comfortable that all his needs were being met.
Are your homeschooling days
a struggle or a challenge?
Learning is NOT about just opening their heads & popping in information – far from it!
Teaching your child about the world around her & how to BE in it is more important than memorizing her times tables, in my books. I’ve got to say not a single person has asked me to recite mine since I left grade school.
On the other hand, I have had countless situations when I had to make lightening fast decisions or come up with a great solution to an emergency on the spot.
So, since your child has special needs, those that are unique to him or her – how do you fulfill them?
Where do you start when faced with tweaking a curriculum to fit or maybe even creating your own from the bottom up?
Handwork to the rescue!
Becoming a Handwork Healer
Recently, I stumbled across a life changing definition.
I know I’m a teacher –
I teach my children and
I teach others so they can teach THEIR children but
I would NEVER have called myself a healer
– until I looked up HEAL in the thesaurus –
Some related words include –
- to tend
AND reading on, I discovered that
HEAL is derived from the word WHOLE
(it literally means to make whole)
– my eyes widened & I scribbled notes ferociously
- knit (again!)
- sew (again!)
Suddenly, I realized that when I work to bring disparate ideas & activities
together to create a holistic (whole) curriculum for my children
– I am working as a HEALER !
The bells rang & the stars shimmered –
You could have knocked me over with a twist of roving…
Healers had always been those who worked with people’s health – in my mind,
they were medical or alternative doctors or practitioners.
I was not one of them.
Never in a million years would I have considered homeschooling
my children & sharing the fibre arts with them as acts of healing!
Healing, in my (NEW) opinion, is about creating a homeschool
& lifestyle that brings information & projects together in a
fresh, (W)HOLISTIC way.
One that speaks to my children’s heads, hearts & hands,
allowing them to become who they are meant to be, day by day.
When I made my momentous Handwork Discovery, the Handwork terms
sprinkled throughout the HEAL & WHOLE definitions did not escape my notice!
I already knew that the intersection of art, craft & science – where Handwork happily sits is the perfect place to start building a strong foundation for our homeschool.
Now, I’m determined to place Handwork where it belongs
– neatly in the middle of my children’s education.
Have you ever had one of those moments when you know that
everything is finally coming together?
Having the ability to see where you can align your curriculum with
your child’s needs & interests is one that is within your reach.
I’ll bet you never use your curriculum exactly as it’s written
– that’s because it wasn’t created for YOUR child!
You don’t have to start from scratch if you want to make it suit your
child’s needs more closely – including handwork in your child’s day
can take as little as 15 minutes!
– that’s not a lot of time for a whole lot of return…!
When You Include
Handwork in your Homeschool,
♥ Give your child –
the confidence to trust in himself by teaching him how to make
beautiful & useful things.
SECURITY comes from knowing that you can provide for yourself & others.
♥ Give your child –
the peace that comes from sitting quietly & enjoying a rhythmic activity.
A calm body frees up energy for being ENGAGED in the world
& loving those around you.
♥ Give your child –
the capacity to understand her academic lessons more readily because her
brain’s neural pathways are strong & flexible as a result of
well-chosen handwork projects.
All those tiny stitches in a simple knit project are working BRAIN MAGIC – messages are flashing back & forth – each time smoothing & paving the
way to faster memory & retrieval skills!
It’s Time We All Started
Helping Children Make Their World
Make Stuff ♥ Be Happy!
For access to the Handwork Homeschool Resource Library CLICK!