Out of the Box Kids don’t fit the standard, “one size fits all” box. They are a little extra, more intense. They play harder and ask more questions. They may carry a special toy longer and hate change. Their brains are wired differently, often due to a learning difference or a disability.
When my kids were younger, I would get frustrated because the parenting books I read didn’t work. I finally gave up reading most of them and started listening to my special kids and trusting my instincts. Little did I know that a few years later I would begin to gather a list of terms that could explain why the parenting book weren’t working. My kids weren’t normal, they were exceptional. Their brains were fundamentally wired different than the norm. Some of the terms our family has collected include Autism, Dyslexia, ADHD, Gifted, Dyscalculia, Anxiety, and Dysgraphia. These differently wired brains require an Out of the Box learning environment, which makes homeschooling perfect for them.
Seeking Out of the Box Solutions
Our special kids challenge us as their parents to seek out of the box parenting solutions. I learned to be a student of my children and learn their cues. I have learned to listen to their behavior and actions as well as their verbal communication. As Charlotte Mason says, “Children are born persons.” They think, act and feel. Honoring a child’s behavior as a method of communicating their feelings and needs validates them as people.
We keep the big picture in mind to nurture them into successful adults. When we have the big picture in mind we can worry less about grade level goals being met and enjoy the progress and growth of each child on their own schedule. For us this has looked like learning to tie their shoes at 10 instead of 5, and mastering the multiplication table at 7 instead of 9.
Identify Challenges by Name
For our family we have found it helpful to seek professional help to identify each child’s specific challenges. By gaining an official medical diagnosis we are able to educate ourselves and seek the tools to help our special children. We are also able to share with our special child what makes them different from their peers. Being able to have a name for the challenge is powerful, it allows the child to separate themselves from the challenge and together you can work to overcome the challenge. Instead of a child internalizing a struggle to read and enjoy literature (“I must be dumb”), knowing that they have dyslexia can empower them to seek something like audio-books as a way to learn differently. Reading doesn’t have to hold them back from gaining information in other ways.
The more our family learns each year about the unique strengths and gifts each of us has, we embrace being an Out of the Box family. We prioritize the things that work for us and don’t sweat the small stuff. We celebrate the qualities that make each member of our family unique. Each member is empowered to know their weaknesses and how to adapt and overcome them. Life at our house might look “Out of the Box” at times, but to us it’s just Normal.