Karen Warfle is a mom who discovered the gift of homeschooling and the freedom to teach in a way that helped her son to love to learn again. This transition wasn't made without some fear, nagging self-doubt, and so many of the same obstacles parents face when choosing to move a child from public school to homeschooling. Fortunately, Karen was not alone. She found her way with the encouragement and help of a great support group and welcoming homeschooling community in her area.
If you are a parent of a child with special needs, medical needs, or developmental delays, the move to homeschooling can be even more intimidating. Karen, whose son was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, began searching online for support groups to learn more about the idea of homeschooling she had heard about.
When she reached out to the local homeschool group, she discovered more than field trips and social activities. She found an inclusive support network, a generous community, and a group of families willing to take time to listen to a parent in a time of need. Their encouragement proved to be life-changing for the whole Warfle family.
Planting the Seeds of Hope
The radio program, Homeschool Heartbeat, aired on the car radio every Tuesday afternoon as I picked up my son from public school to take him to additional speech therapy. During that weekly hour-long drive, I heard stories of parents who found hope in homeschooling their children.
Before he turned two, our son was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. We would eventually come to realize that his diagnosis would include multiple physical disabilities, developmental delays, learning challenges, and a severe speech impairment that would make him unable to speak more than a few words.
Starting in preschool, he had a team of therapists and special education teachers. He remained in a self-contained 12:1:2 special education classroom until he was 9 years old. My husband and I felt our son was more capable than his labels or his IEP indicated.
An Unexpected Opportunity
One winter, our son experienced an extended illness that kept him home for over a month. As he worked to regain strength and stamina, I worked to keep his mind alert and ready to go back to school. I presented activities that he found engaging and was physically able to do.
He loved to learn! For the first time, I saw his eyes light up with delight, seemingly in the self-awareness that he could learn and do. As a result, plus a few related experiences and listening to the weekly homeschool radio program, I felt God was calling us to homeschool our son.
How Can Parents
Turn from Frustration to Joy?
After searching online for more information about homeschooling and discovering a local group of homeschool families, I attended my first homeschool co-op meeting. I was scared and worried about pulling my son out of public school. But even more so, I was frustrated with the school system. I broke down in tears telling our story to the other homeschool moms.
They set their meeting agenda aside and patiently listened to me. I took all of their time and in return these veteran homeschoolers gave me encouragement and hope. They knew the law. They knew how to homeschool. And best of all, they knew Jesus Christ. They prayed with me. And I shed more tears – not tears of frustration this time, but tears of relief and joy.
Finding a Community to Thrive
In the years that followed, my son learned and flourished in that co-op with other homeschooling families. He made friends, learned to use his communication device, and continued to develop his curiosity. I also learned and flourished. I made friends, learned how to teach my son, and developed my courage.
It is said that when we homeschool, we are restoring two generations. I found that to be true in our family. I witnessed it in other families. I thank God for the privilege of homeschooling my son. I also thank God for the homeschooling parents who went before us, came alongside us, and for you, the ones who are coming after us. You are not alone; you are among generations of homeschooling families. And the Holy Spirit is with you. Soli Deo gloria!
Karen Warfle enjoyed her tenure as a homeschool mom, learning alongside her son. Karen has co-presented at American Speech-Language-Hearing Association conventions and colleges and women’s conferences. She and her husband, Mark, continue to help their son move toward independence. Her website is karenwarfle.com.
Supports Those Who Are Supporting You!
Homeschool community encouragement truly does bring hope, and, to continue to do so, it needs more experienced homeschoolers who are willing to listen, learn, and lead. As you share what you know, you give homeschooled students like Karen’s son a support network where they can learn and thrive.
In the monthly meetings Karen attended, she found a group of homeschooling parents who gave their time and words of encouragement. These parents were willing to offer what they knew about parent’s rights, legal requirements, and specific areas of expertise. They offered a community. Through those offerings, they changed lives.
Are You a Homeschool Community Leader?
Do you serve as a leader in your community, small group, or co-op? Homeschool Iowa wants to help equip you and to encourage you as you change the lives of families around you.
Join us for our 2nd Annual Small Group Leaders Retreat, April 23 at Faith Baptist Bible College Nettleton Center in Ankeny.
Our team has planned a day filled with encouraging speakers, informative sessions, and a place to ask your questions and connect with other homeschool leaders in Iowa.
Come and be refreshed and equipped so you can plant the seeds of hope for a new homeschooling parent this year.
Reach Out to a Homeschool Group Leader
Share this with the leaders in your local group and encourage them to attend the Leader Retreat. Your group or co-op might even consider collecting funds to cover their registrations to thank them for their leadership. They will be so encouraged!
You can find out more about the Leaders Retreat on the Homeschool Iowa Blog