Homeschool Crutches and Why You Might Them
A million years ago we pulled my oldest out of public school. We fought for years to get the accomodations he would need for his Tourette’s Syndrome and other co-morbidities. That’s what they call it (co-morbidities), when you have more than one diagnosis. Doesn’t that sound inspiring for a parent and kid? See that word morbid in there? That’s what every single IEP meeting was like for our family and for our child. It felt like a death sentence. But we learned so many things along the way. Here’s my theory on homeschool crutches and why you might need them. 

Labels

Labels are needed in public school in order to receive services, and what ends up happening is that special education teaches to what the child can’t do, or it tries to correct where standard performance is low. All students must be at the same level, grade, expectations and outcomes. Except research tells us that children (and adults!), all learn at different paces and have spurts and lags in developmental growth.  Homeschooling our kids taught us a different way to look at learning.

Meet Them Where They Are

My daughter took a year and a half to master Calculus. She struggled with it in the beginning; and we had to repeat the first six months of basic skills when she just wasn’t getting it. Then, in just two months, she completed the entire book when her brain just was able to figure it out. She needed time, not tutoring.
The ebb and flow of learning I think is one of the hardest things for homeschooling parents to sit and be okay with.

What Is a Homeschool Crutch and Is It Bad?

Back to my oldest child. In fourth grade when we pulled him out of public school, he used a variety of tools to help with the daily work. The school called these crutches and told us that our kid would be forever doomed (not to mention the bad parenting comments), in his ability to learn. Really? A multiplication table would cause my child NOT to learn? Hmmmm. Kinda no.
What we discovered when we started homeschooling was that kid’s gaps in learning were lumped into one big disability bucket in public school. They gave a fancy diagnosis like discalculia, which meant he couldn’t do mathematical calculations. The truth was, he did understood math. What he couldn’t do was recall math facts. He had a recall disorder, not a comprehension issue. He also had difficulty sequencing the steps to solve the problem by himself, because of a visual processing disorder, not for lack of understanding the process.  The school insisted he MUST memorize his math facts and solve the problems without assistance. He MUST take the straight and narrow on the correct path to solving problems the way the school deemed appropriate.

How Was I Going To Help?

When we decided to homeschool our child, I didn’t care what name, or label the system gave my kid. My only goal became figuring out HOW I was going to help him. What did this kid need RIGHT NOW to succeed? What did he need to achieve even a small victory, instead of being told that he was a failure in everything he tried?

Homeschool Crutches and Why You Might Need Them

What he needed were crutches and tools to allow him to celebrate what he COULD do, not where his deficits were. We let him use multiplication tables. and highlighted his math operations signs in pink, blue and other colors. Posting corresponding charts on the walls for quick color references was a tremendous help. Graph paper was used daily, and we switched back and forth between him completing problems, and us assisting. The trampoline became the place for getting out excess energy, and for reciting math facts. The homeschool crutches were allowed as often, and for as long as he needed them. It took 4 years to memorize the multiplication table. 4 YEARS.

I honestly believe that the only way he did learn them was through the sheer repetition of seeing them on that chart everyday, and the fact that something just clicked in his brain when it was ready to accept the information. He most definitely would have been held back in public school because of it, and yet we tackled algebra in eighth grade — right on schedule! 

When my kid got to college, no one asked at what age he learned his multiplication facts.

See Where I’m Going Here?

 Kids need time to blossom. They need time to develop. The labels and diagnosis don’t allow them to come into their own, in their own time, and instead; force the bud to bloom before it’s ready. Sometimes kids understand one part of a concept and not another. That’s NORMAL.
I’m not suggesting that we ignore learning differences. I refuse to call them disabilities, because it immediately directs people to what the child can’t do. Sometimes outside help from professionals is needed and beneficial. But you know your child best. If the only goal or outcome of the services your child is receiving, is to bring him/her up to the typical standard, to make them perform as all the other students do; then maybe you need to decide if that goal is realistic, or attainable in the format that the school provides. 

We Each Follow A Unique Path

In our adult lives; in our businesses, in our own learning, we each follow a unique path. I’m a manual girl. I find directions make much more sense to me if I have them written out in front of me. My youngest, watches videos for learning. My middle child likes to listen to directions, and then go off on her own. She has great recall, and I can’t even remember why I walked into the kitchen.  
All people are different so why do we try to fit kids into a particular box of learning, when we don’t have those expectations for ourselves?
Crutches are a necessity in life, and we need to stop the negative connotations that go with them. They are tools to get us to the next step, however long that next step may take.
Homeschool crutches are there to help us succeed, not impede our journey! 
Think about it this way. I use a cane when I walk due to a muscular disorder. Would you take the cane away and insist that I walk without it just because I AM able to use my legs?
Be okay with learning tools. Any learning tools. Crutches are there to help us succeed, not impede our journey. Give your kids time to blossom in their own way.

Happy Homeschooling,

Bev

***Read more about my family’s journey to homeschooling in my book,Out of the Box Learning-Empowering YOU On Your Homeschool Journey.
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