Topic | How to Get Started with CM

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  • Deanna

    Hello, my name is Deanna and I am thinking about homeschooling one of my children, he has some learning disabilities. He basically processes things at a slower pace. He has done quite well in the public system but I’ve been thinking he may do better with a one on one approach.(he is in 4th but doing the work of 3rd grade level) My friend who has been homeschooling her kids from day one referred me to CM. I wanted to know if there is anyone who uses CM with a child who has any learning disabilities and if they can give me any insight or recommendations on how to get started. I am planning on homeschooling him after summer. I just wanted to get a jump start on having a plan, I am not one to wait till the last minute. It keeps me from being stressed as I am sure you are well aware of this.

    All my kids have been in the public system from day one, I hear a lot of good things about homeschooling and not so good sometimes. I know the bottom line is that I have to dedicate the time needed to invest in my childs education and I am willing to do this but it is a little scary and overwhelming sometimes when I think about it. I have been praying about it daily and I know God would have me do my part in researching all my avenues available to me so that I may be prepared and the rest I will give up to him. Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for taking the time to listen.


    Sonya Shafer

    Hi, Deanna, and welcome. My youngest has autism and developmental delays, and I’m so thankful we can homeschool her and give her the one-on-one attention in a supportive and encouraging atmosphere. You’re right that you have to dedicate the time and effort to homeschool, but you will also find that the rewards far outweigh the investment.

    Great idea to start planning now! One thing I have discovered over the years with my little one is that I need to have a detailed plan, but not put any deadline dates on it. Does that make sense? For example, when I started teaching her phonics I thought we would cover short-A and short-I during one year. I figured that would allow plenty of time for her to catch on. Wrong! We’ve been working on short-A for a couple of years now, and I think the light is finally beginning to come on. But during those months when my plans said I was supposed to be on short-I and I wasn’t, it became a source of stress and second-guessing and doubting for me. Bottom line was that she simply needed more time to process the concept. So now I lay out what we are going to cover and how I want to teach it, but I don’t put a deadline on when she has to have it mastered.

    It seems pretty basic now that I write it out and look back at it, but it was a big lesson for me. 🙂

    CM methods seem to be a good fit for many special needs kids. Have you done much research on them yet? I’d be happy to share more if you want. 🙂


    Sonya, I would love to hear more about how CM works with special needs kids. Do you have any particular books or articles that would help? I am homeschooling 3 special needs kids, and I do agree that this method is wonderful for these kids, but I am frustrated by teaching my autistic son to read. I can relate to your post, Sonya!



    Sonya Shafer

    The aspects of CM that I think mesh well with the special needs I deal with are

    • Short lessons — On days when my youngest is “on,” we can keep going on a subject; but on her “off” days (which can be thrown “off” by something she ate or something she’s wearing and she can’t/won’t communicate that to me) her attention is anywhere but where it’s supposed to be. Short lessons seem to help her balance that pendulum out. We enjoy “on” days but don’t tire her out, and we can nudge a little bit longer on “off” days because she’s used to those short lesson lengths. Does that make sense? I’m not sure I explained it clearly.
    • Things before symbols — Charlotte’s emphasis on using manipulatives and giving the child firsthand experience with things in her environment/surroundings makes so much sense, especially for those children who aren’t ready to comprehend symbols on paper and what they “stand for.”
    • Handicrafts and life skills — Charlotte was so right that these skills are a definite part of the child’s education and should be recognized as such. Even her four recommendations for selecting a handicraft or life skill make a lot of sense for our special needs kids.
    • Fine arts — Our children need beauty in their lives, and Charlotte’s emphasis on beautiful art and music as a regular part of schoolwork helps us share that “soul food” with them.
    • No grades — Evaluations of our special needs kids can be helpful, but having to assign a grade to everything they do would be so overwhelming and, frankly, discouraging many times. I’m glad Charlotte emphasized teaching the child as a whole person, encouraging the child’s natural curiosity, and spreading the feast while allowing the child to assimilate what he or she is able to at that point.
    • Living books — It’s easier for anybody to understand and retain information when it’s clothed in a story, and our kids are no exception. Maybe we can’t tell how much of it they are “getting,” but the odds are much higher because of our using living books, I think.

    I’m sure there are lots of other CM methods that are especially helpful with special needs kids, but those are the first ones that come to mind. Tammy, over at Aut-2B-Home in Carolina, does a great job of writing about how she uses CM methods and philosophy as she educates her autistic daughter. You’ll find a lot of good reading on her blog.


    Thank you, Sonya, for the information.

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