Can I Realistically Do This?


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  • Jami Desemone

    I have 4 kids, one on the way due in the fall. My oldest is 7, and has a rare genetic disorder. She needs care for every aspect of life, in a wheel chair, nonverbal… receptive language is strong, but little ability to perform or express what she understands. We have been “homeschooling” this year, although most of her schooling is therapy and preschool level. We read lots of books, try to get outside as much as we can, help her with daily life skills… we also sing hymns, read through the same psalm everyday for weeks so she becomes familiar with them, Bible passages and Bible story books.

    My next in line is going to be 6 in the fall, and I am considering getting started with him, or at least getting a feel for everything. I think he will be ready to start more than the early years. But I am struggling to discern whether I should put him in school or actually try and homeschool. I want to homeschool, but he is a tough kid, I will have three babies under him, and then most importantly we are definitely homeschooling my oldest.

    Is it realistic, or reasonable or even fair to think I can do both the kids who will be progressing into reading, writing, math… and then also daily physical therapies, occupational therapy, speech therapy… appointments.

    For quick example, on a typical day, after completing morning routines, we spend time inside or outside playing/doing physical therapy. My hands are on my daughter helping her work on skills, but she can not be just let go of for safety reasons. The others play with us or around us depending on the activity. Then I get her back into her wheel chair and work on speech therapy. Occupational therapy gets stuck in all over throughout the day, stacking blocks, feeding, dressing… after lunch we relax a little, play outside, go for nature walks, read books. Then the younger kids have nap/quiet time. My oldest can then roll around on a safe mat for a while our concern of being hurt on accident. Then dinner prep, evening, more books, bedtime.

    How can I take care of doing the hands on stuff my daughter needs, and do narrating and writing and math… and also care for 3 babies at the same time, one a newborn…I will be nursing all the time too! I am just looking for some honest feedback, I am only one person, do I need to let go of my hopes to homeschool and find contentment in our situation? Am I being a silly and just complaining too much? I am new to this, I love Charlotte’s philosphies and fully believe I can still incorporate them into my home whether we homeschool the others or not. I just don’t want to try to overachieve and cause stress for everyone, I want our homeschool/home to be peaceful and refreshing and enjoyable. But if there is a way, I really want to see if I can find it! I would love your thoughts! Thank you!!

    Heather Robbins

    Wow Jami, I hear you. My first thought when you mentioned your son was “does he get enough attention?” So I am curious to know how he is a tough kid.


    Homeschooling has its hard seasons no matter the situation. It is possible to do in your circumstance. The biggest question to answer for yourself is “why” are you homeschooling. The why is what will get you through on the days you feel like quitting.

    And pray pray about which is a good choice for your family. Jesus surely hears you and He knows what you need more than anyone else.

    Jami Desemone

    Thank you! I do think he needs more one on one time, marriage is kind of in a difficult season so I am doing a lot myself and don’t have any other person able to care for my daughters needs. That being said, he is a strong willed boy, not compliant at all, wants his way and struggles with authority. It may a lot be negative attention, but he also isn’t a big fan of being touched, sometimes he wants hugs and snuggles, other times he is quick to withdraw. As for the three together, he is almost always the one causing the problem, hurting the others or playing not nicely. Generally if he is not an element it’s pretty peaceful in the house. I am a pretty attentive mom though, I am not perfect, but I feel like a mark of good parenting is being able to interpret behavior…whether it’s childish irresponsibility/ignorance or willful disobedience. But I am only mom, I think his Dad plays a role here as well, but unfortunately not the one my son needs, sorry for the long reply!

    As for why I choose homeschooling, for my daughter it’s because I know we do way more at home than she would ever get in a school. I want her to be loved and cherished and have opportunities to do things like nature walks and lots of real world, real tangible experiences. We also don’t want her exposed to so much contagious viruses…  for my others, I want them to know the name of Jesus in there everyday lives, in their routines and their schooling, I want to guard them from the darkness that is in the schools, I want them to be able to learn individually and discover what excites them and be able to expand on those things. And I just want us to bond as a family, learning and growing and discovering together.


    Thats is the first time I have written that for others eyes, would definitely appreciate feedback!


    Thanks again!


    You could start out with just the basics (reading, copywork, and some math games, plus a weekly or biweekly picture study, listen to classical music throughout the day) to get him going, and the once you’ve gotten into a good routine for a few months, add a little bit more.


    Since your son is noncompliant, maybe working on Bible and character/habit training now would be good before he formally begins ‘school’. Many here are using Laying Down the Rails. Maybe you could use something like that to help. I am homeschooling my last child, with only 3 and 1/2 years to go. She has been a challenge because of learning disability. There are many things I wish I would have done differently over the years and so many things I still would like to implement. So, I just ordered Karen Andreola’s book, Mother Culture. I want to read it and hope to benefit from that in some way. I do have a daughter-in-law who is homeschooling that I can pass it on to:) Just some ideas to help with your son and even to help you through your days of mothering AND teaching.


    Oh Jami you are an amazing committed momma. I wish I could give you a big hug. If the Lord has laid homeschoolong on your heart than you absolutley can do this through Him. It may not look like my homeschool or anyone elses but your kids can thrive. I agree to start slowly, 6 is young especially for a boy, you dont need to do much at first. Just some hands on math, copywork, short reading lessons. You are already doing a lot singing hymns, reading, nature walks. Just play some classical music in the background, use reading time for a little living science and history, look at some art and youve got yourself a full education. You are already half way there with what you already do. There is another amazing momma on this blog frequently with 10 kids I think, maybe 11, one with special needs. I hope she sees your post. I know she can offer some good tips and encouragement.

    Jami Desemone

    Thank you! That’s so encouraging!


    Yes! Her username is Tristan.


    Yes! Tristan. For some reason I could not remember her name. She is amazing, I hope she chimes in.

    Tamara Bell


    My heart goes out to you.  Other Mommas here have offered such wonderful advice.  Please know that utilizing Charlotte Mason’s method isn’t an all or nothing approach.  There are so many seasons to life. We are Mommas and wives most often without outside help.   I agree that you just start with the basics and add in other elements as you can.  You may never be able to get (in 1 term or year) every “subject” that Charlotte suggested children have and that is fine.  Perhaps it looks like lots of outdoor time during the warmer weather and winter is when you are able to get in an artist.  Play a composer in the background in the morning or afternoons.  Don’t worry about a “formal” studies in each subject.  Add nuggets of truth, beauty, and goodness to your lives.  Little nuggets tucked away here and there add up to a large sum.


    I’m not sure if this will be at all helpful, but near us we have a large population of Amish and I have hired a girl to help with meal making, laundry, gardening and especially harvest and canning times.  Elsie is super sweet and very helpful and does anything I ask her.  So, my thoughts, could this also work for you?  So, the education is a priority and the house work for someone else?   It is often times very challenging to find balance and as I’m interested in fostering children, we can’t do it all.



    Hi Jami! Welcome to the group! I’m Tristan, and as was mentioned, I am a large family mom and one child has major medical needs. Let me give you a quick intro to my family and we’ll go from there. I’m 37, live in Ohio with my husband, and our 10 children. We have always homeschooled. The kids are:

    • Makayla age 17, 12th grade
    • Joseph age 14, 8th grade
    • Emma age 13, 7th grade
    • Daniel age 11, 5th grade
    • Oliver age 9, 4th grade
    • Caleb age 8, 2nd grade
    • Mason age 7, 1st grade
    • Samuel age 5, Kindergarten (when he wants to do school, nothing when he doesn’t ask! But he insists on being in “kindergarten”.)
    • Tobias age 3
    • Rebekah age 11 mos

    Mason, my turning 7 tomorrow, is my child with special needs. He has spina bifida, hydrocephalus, scoliosis, osteoporosis, and other things. He uses a wheelchair, is paralyzed from about the hips down, but is able to army crawl, sit, and speak. He does cath, has a bowel management program, lots of appointments, therapies have been part of life since he was little, and he’s had 22 surgeries so far with more down the road. It sounds like your daughter needs more care in many ways and that you are a wonderful mama who loves all her kids!

    I understand how hard it is to do the extra work of medical care with babies and toddlers in the mix! And keeping a marriage strong is hard too. Some studies show that marriages with a special needs child end in divorce more often as well. Adding in homeschooling can add to that full load — BUT in many ways it also lightens that load, especially for the child with medical needs. You simply have more flexibility to do appointments without missing out on school (because school can happen any time of the day and so they aren’t missing class like a public school child would be).

    Would it be a positive for other kids in the family to go to public school instead? That is something you need to pray about for sure. What I know is that God put our families together on purpose and there are things each of our children will learn and be called upon to sacrifice because of our specific family combination, and that those very sacrifices are the things they need to develop their character to be more like Christ.

    God will take your imperfect efforts and multiply them in the lives of your children. He blesses far more than we deserve!

    Practically speaking, do lessons together for all content based subjects. These are things like history, science, art appreciation, music appreciation, etc that don’t matter when you learn what topic. They don’t build on each other like skill based subjects.

    Skill based subjects would be learning to read, learning to write, and math. Those are the only things you need to be doing one on one with kids, and even then, you can often work with two kids at once. For example I had a child sitting on either side of me and one across from me at the table this morning and each worked on their math page. I helped when needed, so I could help 3 kids in the same 20 minutes.

    For your son who is next in age: set a specific, measurable goal of when and how you will spend some time focusing on enjoying him. I have one son I am doing this with right now specifically. I looked at him a few weeks ago and asked what was one thing we could do together every day that he would enjoy (ex: reading a book, cooking, playing a game). He is 11. He picked playing a game. Now every day in the afternoon we play a board or card game. Sometimes (often) siblings join us. It doesn’t have to be just us, but it was important for him to know we were doing it for him and I. It has made a lot of difference having that positive interaction every day.

    For him for homeschool, remember that basics are the most important and don’t take long each day. When he is 6 choose a math program to work on for 15 minutes a day. Choose a reading program to work on for 15 minutes a day. We like All About Reading, and reuse the activity pages for each child when they are ready by keeping it all in page protectors in a binder. I like that it is literally open and go, it tells me exactly what to say. We also skip the letter tiles (too messy to keep track of) but use a dry erase lap board instead). Choose a handwriting program or set of free printables and work for 5 minutes a day. That’s it! The rest of homeschool for him is enjoying the same time outside as big sister, exploring, looking at books together, having a piece of art hanging up each week to look at (or set as your computer screen saver! free!), listening to music in the car or during a meal or at quiet time. Free audio books from the library are fun! None of the rest of ‘school’ is formal for a couple years. Just solidify those basics of learning to read, learning math, and learning to write letters, then words, then sentences. Notice that those basics only take 45 minutes total in a day. Do one after breakfast(reading), one after snack(math), and handwriting’s 5 minutes whenever. Easy and it doesn’t even feel like a lot to a wiggly little boy! The rest of the day is available to care for the needs of your oldest, or little ones, or just enjoy life together.

    ((HUGS)) You are the mom God chose for these children. He has been preparing you to mother them since you were born. Enjoy it, rest when you can, and pray lots!

    If you want a peek at my family I blog weekly at

    Jami Desemone

    Thank you Tristan! That was incredibly encouraging and helpful. I have never homeschooled so it is difficult to picture, but the way you break that down seems really doable. Not simple, or easy, but doable. And it’s what I really want.

    Would it be possible to stay in touch with you somehow? I don’t want to add to your plate at all, it is so hard to find other homeschooling parents who do it with such intense special needs. I am always looking for people I can turn to in my life for different things, if that’s not too presumptuous!

    Thank you so much of your response!


    Absolutely Jami! Go to my blog and comment on a post. Just leave me your email address and name there. I will write it down and email you, and delete the comment so your email and mine don’t end up on public forums. 🙂

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