Trying to sum up 19 years of experience homeschooling both biological and adopted children is a daunting task, but I’ll do my best! Our homeschool journey has not always been an easy one. Actually, it’s never been easy because living and teaching children 24/7 is stressful. When we adopted a sibling group of three in 2000 we didn’t know how much our lives would be turned upside down. Parenting children with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) presented challenges beyond our imagination. Yet, we have soldiered through and are entering our last years of homeschooling with our youngest two.

Here is my best advice for you mothers homeschooling children with Reactive Attachment Disorder. I also think these ideas can apply to many other special needs children (You can read more about our journey parenting wounded children through my adoption archives).

What are your goals for your child? What do you want your children to look like/be/do/experience by the time they graduate from high school?

I have an overall plan for my children with goals for their lives at the end of their homeschool education. For every single one of them, I desire that their relationship to Christ be more important than any other and that they will walk by faith in determining God’s plan for their future. We try to achieve that goal through Bible study, personal alone time with God, conversation, church worship and activities, friendships with other believers and mission trips, to list a few. This is not the concentration in our homeschool, but it sets the foundation for what we believe is most important.

Relationship or education?

As much as your RAD child wants to push you away and sabotage it, this is the most important aspect of your child’s life. Learning about relationships and living with others is a key skill for adulthood.

For me, this has meant stepping back many (many, many, many) times and asking God what is most important for this day. Is it beating those math facts into their heads one more time (and sometimes the answer is yes) or is it about stopping what we’re doing to address the heart issues? To try once again to overcome the fear of abandonment, the debilitating shame and anxiety that encompass their hearts. Letting the child know in that moment that he/she has my complete and total attention. Praying over them one more time that they will take to heart the blessing they are from God, chosen by Him for our family, innocent victims of a fallen world.

Strive for excellence but accept limitations.

Whether your child is in a public, private or homeschool, the teacher can only pour into your child as much as the child can hold. Realizing that your child may not be capable of higher math or research papers is a part of the process. Just as there are classes for students with special needs in public school your child may have unique needs that you are best equipped to address.

I want all my kids to be lifelong learners, to know how to research and experiment and discover where their gifts/interests lie. I want them to be godly, loving people who I will always desire to experience life with. If my kids accomplish my primary goal I believe they will be all these things.