Planning Homeschool for the Struggling Learner

Planning Homeschool for the Struggling Learner -

Planning homeschool for the struggling learner takes some getting used to! If your child isn’t functioning at grade level, or is on various grade levels in different subjects, it can be even more challenging. I have had to learn (the hard way) how to plan for a struggling learner. My younger daughter struggles in multiple subjects, and I can’t buy a solid curriculum for her and just do a lesson a day until we’re finished. (I do that with my older daughter, and it’s great!) I have to piece together her curriculum and plan specifically for her needs.

Tips for Planning Homeschool for the Struggling Learner

  1. Identify what your struggling learner really needs to learn. You want to focus on the critical objectives so you can maximize your time. Some resources for finding out what children should learn include What Your Child Needs to Know When by Robin Sampson and your state’s educational objectives for each grade. (A Google search should pull those up.) Remember that these are guidelines. Your struggling learner may also be ahead in some areas and behind in others. That’s okay. You’re providing a customized education for your child’s needs.
  2. Find out more about your child as a learner. Observe your child while he does school work and while he plays. If you’ve had evaluations (speech, occupational therapy, neuro-psychological, learning disabilities) done for your child, read the reports carefully and look specifically for your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Use a tool like’s free assessment and learning profile or order a Playbook for a wealth of information. There are a host of other places to study learning styles and multiple intelligences. Use them to figure out how your child learns best!
  3. Develop a list of goals for the week. I tend to plan by the week because that’s what works for me. I think about what objectives I want to work on with my daughter that week, and I develop a loose plan for what we’re going to do each day. Be sure to include any therapy-related goals you need to focus on that support your academic goals. (For example, if your child struggles with fine motor skills that cause poor handwriting, work some hand strengthening exercises into your school day.)
  4. Plan activities for each objective. Use the information you learned about your child’s strengths to plan an activity that will help your child learn the information for each objective. Take into account your child’s special learning styles when you plan the activity. Homeschooling doesn’t have to mean workbooks every day. Play games, do craft projects, use lots of manipulatives! Do what works for your child.
  5. Mark progress. You cross objectives off your list and write them in your lesson planner. Your child needs to see progress too. One of my friends provides her child with a checklist that allows him to mark off each task as it’s completed. You can use pictures to represent each subject or objective if your child is a struggling reader.
  6. Be realistic. You know your child better than anyone else. My child struggles in multiple subjects. If I really push her to her limits in reading one day, we may go lighter in math. If math is the area where I push hard, reading may be review that day. If she wakes up and has experienced a neurological “glitch” during the night, all plans (loose or otherwise) may have to be revised. We had an episode in March this year where she regressed quite a bit academically. I had to back up to where she was and help her relearn the things she lost. It took us a couple of months, but we made it back to where we’d been and moved forward again before we ended our school year. Be prepared to go with whatever happens.
  7. Wait to write out the “official” plans for the day. When I do my “loose” planning, I write it out on a legal pad or notebook paper to refer to throughout the week, cross off the objectives we have accomplished, and see what still needs to be done. I don’t document the day’s plans in my lesson plan book until after the day is over. Then I can write everything we’ve done for the entire day, and I don’t have to go back and try to erase or white out things that didn’t get done because of a glitch, illness, or something else unexpected.
  8. Stay the course. If you don’t get some of your objectives accomplished one week, roll them over to the next week and add to them. Stay focused on your goals, and you and your child will get there—together.

My friend Becky at This Reading Mama did a planning post for reluctant readers. Please visit her site for some great ideas!

Want more help with homeschool activities for your struggling learner? Check out these posts:

What’s your best tip for planning for your struggling learner?

This post is part of the Homeschool Planning Link-Up with the bloggers of iHomeschool Network. Click the graphic below to find all the other great posts!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I only recommend products that my family and I use personally and find beneficial. See my disclosure policy for more information.

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32 Responses to Planning Homeschool for the Struggling Learner

  1. Pingback: How to Plan for a Reluctant Reader

  2. Caroline says:

    Don’t you love how God gives you exactly what you need when you need it? I’m planning to start homeschooling (not virtual, like we have been) when we move to Texas in March or April, and with both of my girls’ special needs and learning differences, this is going to be so helpful. Thanks, Jennifer!

  3. Patches says:

    I am doing lots of researching on homeschooling. I have 3 kids, but only 1 will be homeschooled. he has learning disablities and has fallen way behind in school. I want to help him get a better education. I was looking into all the possiblities that are out there. I am in TX also. I need to get all the answers before I start homeschooling. I know that is what i really want to do. but i just dont know how, where to get all the info. so i am browins the web and asking everyone i can. I dont want to be stuck into a program that doesnt work for us. i know he is on a 3rd grade reading level, so i want to focus more on the reading, spelling, and writing. any info you can provide, will help a great deal. i am on a fixed income-meaning very low.

    • Have you done the Kidzmet assessment yet, Patches? There is a lot of information in the free profile. It would help you understand your son’s learning style better, which would give you some direction for what type of curriculum might work best for him. What types of programs are you looking at currently? There are ways to homeschool very inexpensively—or free!

      Please let me know if I can be of further help. You may email me, if you’d like, at jennifer (at) jenniferajanes (dot) com

  4. Joan says:

    These are EXCELLENT tips, Jennifer (and thank you so much for sharing my post on what NOT to do – boy, I wish I’d known you when we started!!!)

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  6. Adrienne says:

    Great tips! One of great things about homeschool is being able to adjust to what our children need.

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  12. Hi Jennifer!
    Thanks for sharing such valuable advice on homeschool planning for the struggling learner on NextGen Homeschool’s “What’s Working Wednesday” blog link-up. Your experience in your own homeschool offers invaluable insight to all the moms who face the same challenges. It’s also great to see that you’ve been able to find a system/rhythm that works for you and your children.
    Renée at NextGen Homeschool

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  14. Shannon C says:

    Thanks, Jennifer! My 9 year old son was recently diagnosed with autism and has some learning difficulties. Even as a former special education teacher, I feel lost! I will be perusing your blog for ideas!

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  18. saipanstayathomemom says:

    I love your suggestions. I’ve been homeschooling my daughter now for 3 years, she has ADHD. She’ll be in 5th grade this coming school year but we’re not focusing on that grade level, we’re two grade levels below. And I also homeschool my son who has no LD. Thank you so much for your post.

    • Thank you so much for letting me know how much it helped you! It sounds like you’re doing a good job of customizing your daughter’s education for her. Keep up the good work! And congratulations on making it to your fourth year of homeschooling!

  19. Candice Wilkinson says:

    I’ve been reading a lot of your post and listening to a pod cast of yours tonight. Information overload is where I am at but very grateful for your site. I have a child who is on the long journey of recovery of a brain injury and homeschooling is intimidating. Thanks for the tips!

    • You’re welcome, Candice! I have certainly been on brain overload myself. Take some deep breaths and give yourself plenty of time to process what’s going on with your child, your feelings about it all, your ability to homeschool and what a gift it is to your child, and to grieve, if you find it necessary. Researching and reading volumes of information are certainly necessary, especially at certain stages of the journey, but they can be overwhelming. I’m glad you’ve found some helpful ideas in my writing and speaking. That blesses me so much! I’m saying a prayer for you and your child now.

  20. Pingback: How to Plan for a Reluctant Reader

  21. kelly says:

    Hi. thank you for this post. Do you ever share one of those planning weeks? I’m wondering how much is too little and how much is too much for my 8 year old with Ld.

    • I haven’t shared exactly what a week looks like when it comes to our homeschool, I don’t believe. I have shared, though, that I focus on math, reading, and language arts first every day. Then we work on science and social studies throughout the week. When she was younger, I rotated these subjects, doing science on one day and social studies on another. Now that she’s older, we do science and social studies most days, but we use curriculum that I have found to be a very good fit for her, so it’s not a big deal.

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