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When I first considered homeschooling, I read everything I could get my hands on about the subject. I focused on homeschooling boys because I had three of them at the time, but I read about homeschooling in general, too. My favorite books were the ones that walked through the day of a homeschooling family. A close second was any book with teaching tips included. Our guest post today is by my dear friend, Karen Wingate (bio below). Karen has spent many years working with children at her church. When she offered to write a book review on “A Pair of Miracles” I gladly said I would publish it. And, after reading Karen’s review, if you think you’d like to read this book, I’ve included a link at the end that will take you directly to it on Amazon.
Book Review: “A Pair of Miracles”
Karla Akins had a dilemma.
She’d homeschooled her other children. Yet, when it came time to consider school options for her twin boys, it was an entirely different ball game.
You see, Isaac and Isaiah were autistic.
In her book, A Pair of Miracles: A Story of Autism, Faith, and Determined Parenting, Karla addresses the dilemma of schooling for the special needs child. She recognized early on that she didn’t have all the answers to sufficiently help her boys. Yet as she tried to navigate the maze of educational options, she quickly discovered there is no perfect solution for one major reason: Each child is unique. Each family unit is unique, and the offerings of each community are unique. What is right for one parent isn’t necessarily best for another; what works for a family one educational season may not be the best for the next season.
A parent must work with the best they have at the moment.
With that in mind, Karla shares what, for the most part, worked for them. They started with a developmental preschool. This not only provided the necessary early intervention so crucial for special needs kids, but it freed her to focus on homeschooling her other children.
A move created a new set of choices. This time, she enrolled the twins in public kindergarten. But by first grade, inclusion in a big classroom wasn’t working. Sometimes the best a school district has to offer is not the best for the individual child.
Karla set up what she called, a “cottage school.” Similar to a co-op, parents and other volunteers taught a group of up to 15 children a curriculum based on the Charlotte Mason philosophy. After several years, she homeschooled on her own, taking advantage of resources through the community homeschool co-op and what public school special education resources were available to her.
In one of the chapters, Karla gives an extensive list of the advantages and disadvantages of public, private, and homeschool options for the special needs child. She includes detailed information about the cottage school and includes a chart of their weekly homeschooling schedule.
Homeschooling in the later years allowed her to tailor the twins’ learning to their unique needs. It also allowed her to weave academic material and life skills together, something particularly important for her boys.
Overall Thoughts on the Book
My children are grown and gone, yet I truly appreciated Karla’s detail, candidness, and encouragement to parents of special needs children. One of her final chapters outlines how a church community can include the special needs child. It’s brilliant! It’s, like, why haven’t I heard of a church doing it this way before?! Most importantly, she gives a one and a half page list of all the jobs a special needs child could do to be included in church community life.
I love Karla’s emphasis on how every child is unique, every learning situation is unique, and life skills are as much a part of the learning process as the 3 R’s. The last part of the book is thick with appendices giving practical lists of resources, checklists, and suggestions for developmental toys.
But what I love most of all is this book gives hope. It’s not an easy journey to raise two severely autistic, initially non-verbal boys into incredible young men who use their talents to serve their community and church.
But it can be done.
Karla tells us how.
“A Pair of Miracles” by Karla Akins is available on Amazon.
Guest Author Bio
Karen Wingate lives with her husband and unique Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Baxter, in Western Illinois. Karen’s blog, Grace On Parade, appears at www.karenwingate.com/blog