Your Child Has Special Needs, Too

Your Child Has Special Needs Too

“My kids don’t go to school?”

[silence, mild contemplation]

“Do you homeschool them or something?”

“Well, we don’t use that term….but yeah.”


“My kids have special needs.”

“Oh.” [apologetically]

[end of conversation]

Now, in general I don’t short-circuit the homeschooling conversation like that. I actually very much prefer to go on the offensive until the inquiring party gets defensive and tries to break free!

But I certainly always have that retort in reserve and you are welcome to use my special needs silencer to ward off interrogations yourself.

It’s all aboveboard because as far as I’m concerned, and with all due respect, ALL CHILDREN have special needs.

Yes, many can claim medical and/or psychological distinction (ADHD, dyslexia, Apsergers, autism, etc.) but I submit that all other kids also may especially NEED:

  • To sleep more
  • To be outside more, if not all day
  • To spend copious time in solitude
  • To accelerate their education
  • To be constantly moving (i.e. can’t sit all day long!)
  • To read a ton
  • To be around their family a lot
  • To have vast creative space for art/music/dance
  • Etc.

I’m always talking to parents who are upset and frustrated that their kids can’t sit still in school, can’t focus on the assigned tasks, and are being strongly advised to medicate…

The first thing I do is try to flip their moods around.

I say that the fact that their child has energy and is self-directed is a HUGE POSITIVE for their long-term development. I point out that some of the most successful people ever to walk the earth have shared those same gifts.

And I assert that if their child was doing well in school. If they could competently sit for hours on end, blindly take orders and jump through hoops….if they were unstirred by any internal passions then they would have a MUCH BIGGER PROBLEM on their hands.

The fact is, all children, including yours, have prodigious latent talent, gifts, and energy bottled up inside them.

And if they (and you) aren’t aware of them…

Well they aren’t in an environment or on a plan to unlock their full-potential.

If you don’t take steps, SOON, to drastically change the situation….there will be unpleasant long-term consequences, painful side effects all-around, i.e. for them AND you.

Jim Rohn has famously said, “Potential underutilized leads to pain.”

I know I can attest to that personally and I bet you can, too.


Dan (21 Posts)

Husband to Inez. Father of John and Christine. Homeschool Coach, Accelerated Math Teacher. Former derivatives trader and future scratch golfer! Follow our learning adventures at

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Unexpected Lessons from the Life of Fred Math Books


We’ve been using Life of Fred math books in our homeschool for about 7 months now. We’re using the Pre-Algebra series with my 8th grader and the elementary series for my kindergartner and second grader. They love it! The stories are engaging. For kids who love to read, but aren’t so crazy about math, this is the ideal combination.

Unexpected lessons we've learned in our homeschool from the Life of Fred math books.

Life Of Fred is like no other math program out there. This math book series is known for weaving math concepts into exciting stories about a 5-year-old math genius. The author has tossed in valuable lessons that kids wouldn’t typically find in a math textbook.

Many of Fred’s readers will say that these books are very fun to read. But why? Here’s what one homeschooler says about the books:

“Even if the math concepts are a review, your kids will enjoy learning about the zany extras in each book. My son still enjoys saying toenail in German. That’s an additional important life skill if I say so myself.  😉” -Jamerrill,

It’s true that the Fred books are full of unexpected lessons beyond math concepts. Here are a few of our favorite unexpected lessons from the Life of Fred Elementary Math Series.

Unexpected Lesson #1

In the Life of Fred Butterflies book, students will learn linear measurements, time, geometry, and specific numbers!

In Chapter Nineteen of Butterflies, “Mysteries of Life,” Fred and his buddy Kingie receive a pizza delivery. Kingie proceeds to chomp down his half of the pizza (Kingie says he is so hungry because “being an artist is hard work”). But Fred takes a moment to set the table while the pizza cools off. He shows the reader how to set a table:

Place mat goes down first.
Then the plate and the napkin.
Then the fork on top of the napkin.
Knife and spoon on the right with the knife next to the plate.
The cup above the knife.

life of fred excerpt

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One page later, your child receives practice sheets for addition and subtraction!

Unexpected Lesson #2

In the Edgewood book, students work with concurrent lines, the commutative law of addition, touch on quadrilateral shapes, and more! The materials covered in this 128-page book are parallel lines, right angles, functions, quarter of an hour, half dozen, six examples of functions, math poems, the four kinds of sentences, firearm safety & more!

In Chapter Fourteen, “Food and Warmth,” your student reviews how to calculate half of a number, measurement of distance, counting calories in a meal, and the phases of the moon. Fred’s bus breaks down outside of town, and he was determined to run to town to get help. It was 6 p.m., and Fred did not want to run in the dark.

Maybe there will be a full moon, Fred thought. Then there would be enough light to keep on running.


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In the next chapter of Edgewood, Fred explains the meaning of voluntary and involuntary actions. How does he fit all of these lessons together to create a funny math story? You just have to read the book and find out!!

Unexpected Lesson #3

In the Honey book, students work on fun math activities with Fred as he goes through fractions, multiplication facts, unit conversions and more! Perhaps your child hasn’t thought about starting their own business yet, but it’s never too soon to spark the idea to become an entrepreneur. In Chapter Fourteen, “Starting a Business,” Kingie puts on his businessman hat. (Fun Fact: Kingie sells his own art.) Kingie explains the risks of starting your own business. He then goes over the “Checklist for Starting a Business” with Fred.


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At the end of the chapter, the reader is asked to check Fred’s business calculations. Will his business be profitable? Later in the book, Fred continues to follow his dream of becoming an apiarist. (Yes, the book explains what an apiarist is too!)

More about the Life of Fred Elementary Math Series:

Buyer's Guide Life of Fred Blog Post

Who is it for? Kindergarten to 4th grade

Concepts covered: time, types of numbers, geometry, measurement, facts about stars, morse code, geography, adjectives & verbs, patterns, functions, sheet music, seven wonders of the world, math poems, percents, numbers vs. numerals, division, slope of a line, graphing, notation, the improper use of seat belts, how to prove you are not a duck, reducing fractions, and so much more.

Titles in this series: Apples, Butterflies, Cats, Dogs, Edgewood, Farming, Goldfish, Honey, Ice Cream, Jelly Beans

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What unexpected lessons have you learned in your homeschool lately?


Sara (141 Posts)

I'm a reader, writer, dreamer, wife, and homeschooling mom of 3 girls. We take a relaxed, eclectic, Charlotte Mason-leaning, Montessori-ish, literature-rich, delight-directed, almost unschooling-at-times approach to learning. Lots of unit studies, field trips, and lapbooks, too. I like to blog about our learning adventures (plus faith and encouragement) at Embracing Destiny.

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11 Brain Breaks For Your Homeschool


In the course of a school day you may need one, two, or more brain breaks to give the brain rest and keep happy attitudes flowing. Here are 11 ideas for brain breaks for the kids as well as you!

11 easy ways to work brain breaks into your homeschool day.

11 Brain Breaks For Your Homeschool

  1. Dancing– A great way to blood flowing, shake out the sillies, and wake up! Sitting at a desk for hours on end is no fun. Chances are that is one of the reasons you decided to home school. A quick search on Pinterest will yield tons of great dance videos.

  1. Exercise– This can be a brisk walk around the block, yoga, jumping jacks, or running in place next to the desk. Like dancing, exercise can get the blood pumping and give tired little brains a shot of much-needed vitality.

  2. Card Games– One of our favorite brain breaks is to play a quick game of Go Fish or Uno, we enjoy a few minutes together as mom and kids instead of teacher student and it puts us all in a good mood.

  1. Board Games– You want simple, cooperative games that are reasonably quick to play so that it is not so hard to get back into the rhythm of your day. While not a traditional board game, Spot It! it is one we really enjoy because it’s fast and fun.

  1. Snacks– Sometimes we take a brain break by preparing a simple snack to enjoy. Not only does it give us a chance to change gears and refresh but also refuel so we can continue without growling bellies and distracted minds. Choose something healthy rather than a sugar laden treat- apples and peanut butter, homemade granola bars, ½ turkey sandwich, or nuts for brain food!

  1. Listening time– Quiet time, with slow music on a lower volume is just the thing to restore and calm the minds of parents and children. Jazz, classical, worship -something that settles instead of riling them up may be what you both need. Tchaikovsky is a great choice!

  1. Coloring– If your child enjoys coloring or drawing provide a new medium that they don’t typically get to use everyday- chalk, oil pastels, watercolor, finger paint (even for older children this can be fun). Don’t make it a structured art lesson but rather free time to create as they please. Even parents can enjoy coloring for relaxation.

  1. Chores– Now of course sending your child to scrub the toilet is not going to be the best way to get them to do more schoolwork willingly. But you can use quick chores to break up the day. Have a race to put away 10 items, spend 5 minutes tidying up the classroom, have them clean the blackboard/dry erase, make baskets into the trashcan with discarded paper. Keep it fun and minimal work and you will find willing helpers. {Read more about ways to get your kids to help with chores.}

  1. Play dough– While your child thinks they are just playing and taking a break from schoolwork they are really building up fine motor muscles and developing creativity. Keep a can and a couple of simple tools on hand to break out when you can tell they need a little something fun to do. {Check out my recipe for Frozen-inspired homemade glitter play dough.}

  1. Videos– I am not saying pop them in front of the TV for a 3 hour marathon, but a funny 5 minute video clip on YouTube may be just the thing to jump you into the second half of your school day.

  2. Breathing exercises– This is especially helpful if you or your child are becoming frustrated and need a cool down break. Have them close their eyes, picture something pleasant like a field or the beach, and breathe slow and deep.

What creative brain breaks do you work into your homeschool days?

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Sara (141 Posts)

I'm a reader, writer, dreamer, wife, and homeschooling mom of 3 girls. We take a relaxed, eclectic, Charlotte Mason-leaning, Montessori-ish, literature-rich, delight-directed, almost unschooling-at-times approach to learning. Lots of unit studies, field trips, and lapbooks, too. I like to blog about our learning adventures (plus faith and encouragement) at Embracing Destiny.

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