Fun-Schooling Learning Challenges- Tips for Homeschooling Learning Disabilities and Special Needs

Last week we told you about our series on Fun-Schooling each grade/age. Grateful parents have been telling us all week how excited they are. We’ve had several questions asking about learning disabilities, special needs, and medical struggles.  We know homeschooling learning disabilities and special needs can feel overwhelming.

Today I’m glad to tell you we will also discuss these topics this school year. We hope this series will not only help parents better support their children but will help you learn about different learning challenges.

First, we’ll introduce the challenge and how it typically expresses itself.
Next, we’ll share common learning adaptations and tips to optimize learning.
Then, we’ll talk about building a learning plan/curriculum.
Last, we’ll share the most popular journals for children with this learning challenge. 

Remember– This series will be based on the average child with this learning challenge. We recognize most of these have a huge range of expression. This is intended to be a supportive overview.  The bell curve is extremely important to remember throughout this series. Some children will fall outside of this average. We’ve chosen to homeschool for a reason- so we can customize our children’s education to their unique academic level and needs This is especially important for children with special needs, medical concerns, and learning disabilities.

Sounds great, what’s the plan?

October ‘23- Dyslexia
November ‘23- Dyscalculia
December ‘23- Dysgraphia
January ‘24- Executive Functioning Weaknesses 
February ‘24- Reluctant/ Struggling Writers
March ‘24- Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities/Disorder
April ‘24- Autism
May ‘24- Anxiety & Depression
June ‘24- PANS/PANDAS
July ‘24- ADHD
August ‘24- Chronic Health Problems & Cancer
September ‘24- Trauma and Transition 

Please let us know what specific questions and struggles you’d like to see addressed in this series. We hope it will be helpful for your family. 

Disclaimer- The content of this post is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any condition or disease. Please seek advice from your healthcare provider for your personal health concerns prior to making any changes for yourself or your child.


About the Author- Amanda Osenga is a Fun-Schooling mom in Columbus, Ohio. She is also the social media manager and Virtual Assistant for Thinking Tree. Her family combines Thinking Tree books with the Charlotte Mason method using books from Ambleside Online and Wildwood Curriculum. In her free time, Amanda is an avid reader and loves to be outdoors.

Fun-Schooling Math for All Levels

Let’s talk Fun-Schooling Math.

First of all, we do not have a math “curriculum.” Our math journals work best as a supplement or warm-up to your chosen curriculum. Lots of families like Life of Fred, but dozens of choices exist! Some families choose to exclusively use real-life math and no curriculum at all, along with our journals. At the bottom is a suggested order for working through our math journals.

In the early years, Math looks like learning numbers and shapes, lots of counting (count anything you can with your little ones!), hands-on materials/manipulatives, and practicing writing numbers.

Young elementary school is mainly about addition and subtraction. Kids also begin work such as skip counting, patterns, place value, and measurement. There are lots of good math games for this age! Math Craft Level A can be introduced at this age. It is excellent for helping students develop early math skills regardless of if they have Dyscalculia.

Upper elementary introduces multiplication, division, fractions, decimals, and percents. Continuing with games is a great idea too. Lots of families like to work on cooking as a way to teach math at this age too. Math Craft Level B is excellent for helping cement multiplication, regardless of if a child has Dyscalculia.

Middle and high schoolers focus on the math skills they will need to succeed in life. They also work on developing skills for their future careers and callings. For example, a student who desires to own a business will focus heavily on business math skills while a student who desires a career in science will need to study a wider range of math.

As adults, we can continue to develop our math skills and keep our brains fresh! Scientific study after study has shown how good it is for our brains to keep challenging ourselves with pencil-to-paper math as we age.

A suggested order of journals is as follows. Remember, this is a suggestion- your student(s) may or may not go in this order! Early-level learners may not need to complete all of these journals.

What are your favorite books, documentaries, podcasts, tips, and resources for Fun-Schooling Math? Leave them and any questions you may have in the comments.

This post is contributed by Amanda Osenga.

The Beautiful, Creative Dyslexic Mind (and a 25% off discount code!)

Dyslexia Games is designed around the beautiful and creative dyslexic mind.

It uses the gift of art, the creative genius, the ability to see through the mind’s eye to complete patterns and solve puzzles. The games focus on the dyslexic gifts and talents as the symbols, letters, words and poetry are added to the activities- step by step, little by little.

The idea is to light up the dyslexic mind that the student engages in art and logic; the strongest part of the mind is activated as the symbols are reintroduced. The idea is for the stronger areas of the mind to engage in the process of symbol identification.

I would recommend reading “The Gift of Dyslexia” to really understand what people with dyslexia are brilliant and how to engage their brilliant minds while reintroducing literacy.

Many dyslexia therapies just focus on “kindergarten type phonics” over and over and over. This type of therapy offended my brilliant dyslexic daughter.

I wanted a reading program that would respect the fact that she was an artist, a thinker, a storyteller, a creative. And that is why she thrived with Dyslexia Games.

Here are some wonderful testimonials:

“We’ve almost completed series B. My sons are more confident to try spelling and for the most part I can actually figure out what they are trying to spell. These are huge steps for these boys that could barely put pencil to paper because of the stress. Our speech lady hadn’t seen us since Covid. And I know that’s long but we really haven’t done anything for spelling since that time except these books. And the speech lady was floored at how much they had improved. One of them doesn’t even qualify for speech/language right now (which was going to be for focus and help with dyslexia). These books are the only thing I can think of that have made the difference.” Tina Perez Glenn

These books were a huge game changer for us. We went through Dyslexia Games a few years ago with my oldest and I truly believe they really helped. There was some serious struggle with the first few books while he got the hang of it, but he stuck with it and we noticed a big difference. He also built his confidence back up which was huge for us. Then we discovered their curriculum journals and have used them ever since. Both my boys enjoy them so much! I have my own books to work in alongside the kids and it really sets the tone for learning. I also love the supportive community and company itself.” Leanne Nattress

Two of my sons and myself use the Brain Games and Dyslexia Games books. My profoundly dyslexic kiddo is reading after less than a year using these books! My dysgraphic kiddo is writing FOR FUN. And, I have noticed that if I do 2-3 pages a day, my brain fog and using the wrong words is a lot better!” Stephanie Ann Goetsch

“We have used the Dyslexia Games and it made a huge difference for my youngest son. We had tried more traditional therapy and he fought it tooth and nail, but not the dyslexia games. We are currently using Math Craft and like it as well.Amanda Murray Griffey

“Our daughter is a high school junior. She was exasperated as we tried one thing after another, trying to find something that would click with her brain, as she deals with dyslexia and Asperger’s. Dyslexia Games was the solution. Having everything available in Dyslexie font was huge for her. As she’d faithfully do 2-3 pages a day, I began to see changes not only in her reading and writing, but also in her ability to organize and perform tasks in sequence (both are challenging for kids like her). It has boosted her self confidence so much! We love the journals generally and use not only Dyslexia Games but many, many other Fun-Schooling journals almost exclusively for her school now. I also do Brain Games Art & Logic Therapy alongside her which has helped me with Covid fog/fibro fog while inspiring her by my example. Win-win! What’s not to love???” Diane Heeney

Apply 25% off to Dyslexia Games + Math Craft PDF Sale with the promo code “Dyslexia2023Joy”. Go here to use the code: https://www.funschooling.com/special-needs-bookstore

This code expires on February 28, 2023.

Take a Break!

Sometimes a break from school really gives parents time to help a child with a problem area so she can go back to school with new skills and confidence.

How do you do it? I would just let them play most of the time but spend about an hour focusing on the problem area. It’s a great time for dyslexia therapy or some multiplication games.

Sometimes the school schedule is so packed that a break like this offers us a chance help our kids grow in a specific area so they can go back to school stronger in the problem area.

Also, some kids have passions that they don’t have time for during the school year. I have a daughter who was obsessed with parrots and endangered species. It was a perfect time to let her “major in parrots” and learn to dig deep into a topic she really loves.

So we put together a Fun-Schooling basket full of stuff that helps her research birds and Endangered Species. It’s easy to focus because she’s so passionate.

So, during a break from school I would suggest only two things:

1. Zero in on just ONE problem area so the child can overcome some of her struggles.

We use DyslexiaGames.com for reading, writing and spelling problems. It’s so easy to use.

Try Math Craft for problems with basic math and multiplication.

2. Give the child resources based on their passion, and really make time for that passion. What is your child passionate about?

It’s exactly what we would do on summer vacation since this is a chance to focus on strengths and weaknesses, letting everything else go.

Besides that, the kids can have a blast and stay busy being creative, playing video games, watching movies, cooking their own meals, exploring nature, training a pet, learning new skills, and being together. The possibilities are endless!

Example of a Horse Lovers Fun-Schooling Basket

Math Craft: Not Just for Dyscalculia!

Not Only for Dyscalculia! 

Math Craft has proven to be a fun way to introduce math to young children, not only those with Dyscalculia. Children who struggle with math in school also enjoy the games. They are an entirely different way to learn than what is taught in classrooms. It has also been a good way to ease children into homeschooling after leaving a school setting or for kids who had a negative experience with math. Older siblings love to do these games with their younger siblings too! 

Helping Adults to Stop Counting on Their Fingers

Moms who played the games with their children also saw benefits for themselves. Many had always counted on their fingers and struggled with basic math. It is likely some have Dyscalculia and were never diagnosed. Schools also tend to pass children along with levels in math before they’re ready, especially with girls, so bad habits develop. We’ve been thrilled to hear from adults who have seen progress and gained confidence in math after playing the games with their kids. Plus the kids love to see their parents being good examples and learning too! 

After Math Craft

Parents often wonder what the best path to take is after a student has completed Math Craft. We suggest one of our Math journals. They are written in a similar style and will be a good way for students to practice their new skills. Math Mysteries, Comic Book Math, and Math for Minecrafters are especially good options. Multiplication Games is a good journal for students who need help with memorizing their Multiplication tables. 

Families can use our journals exclusively for a few years or combine them with a math curriculum of their choice. Life of Fred is a popular option among many Fun-Schoolers and seems to be Dyscalculia-Friendly because Math is presented as a story. There are many other options out there too! What’s your favorite?

Dycalculia and Math Craft!

While most people are familiar with Dyslexia, Dyscalculia is much less well known. It relates to the ability to understand math and to properly identify numbers. Sometimes folks call Dyscalculia Math Dyslexia. While the two have similarities, Dyscalculia impacts things such as the ability to differentiate between concepts like biggest and smallest, remembering math facts, estimating time, judging distance, retaining numbers, and more.  Children may outgrow Dyslexia- this is rarely the case with Dyscalculia. Those with this learning challenge need to develop skills to properly process and understand math. 

Dyscalculia Statistics

The official numbers state 6%-7% of the population has Dyscalculia. Experts estimate it could be closer to 15%-20% because it is often overlooked. Teachers may think a child is struggling to understand a concept when in reality they have a learning disability. It’s not as easily diagnosed as Dyslexia because of the wide range of progression of math skills among children. Countless adults have spent a lifetime thinking they were bad at math when in reality, they needed to be taught a different way. 

Creation of Math Craft

After Dyslexia Games took off and gained popularity, we started getting requests for a Dyscalculia therapy program. Parents were seeing some Dyscalculia improvement and wanted something deeper. My Mom, Georgia, and I started working together to develop Math Craft.

We developed a series of hands-on games, tactile lessons, abacus work, and logic games like Dyslexia Games. They were tested on my 15 children as well as dozens of children with Dyscalculia. Children stopped counting on their fingers, retained math facts with ease, and were able to understand math concepts for the first time.

The creation of these games has involved extensive testing and research. We wanted them to be effective and fun. They engage the brain in a relaxed state through the games. This removes any mental blocks a child (or adult) may have to math. When we’re having fun, we’re able to learn easier. 

Math Concepts Covered

At the time of this writing, we have five Math Craft books. They are:

  • A-1 covers quantity, matching quantity to numbers, numbers and their numerical symbols, and basic addition with no counting required. 
  • A-2 focuses on addition up to ten without needing to count. 
  • A-3 begins introducing subtraction.  
  • A-4 introduces double-digit addition and subtraction, carrying borrowing, and numbers up to 20 and beyond. 
  • B-1 is for basic multiplication and introduces skip counting.

We suggest all children start with book A-1 unless they have a strong foundation in addition and subtraction and do not count on their fingers. Then they can start with B-1. Children who have a strong addition foundation can start on book A-3, most will need to start with book 1.  More Math Craft materials will come in the future. 

Dyslexia Games: The “Brass Tacks”

Three Series of Dyslexia Games

Anna was young when I created Dyslexia Games. Older kids with Dyslexia felt the games I’d created were too easy. I set to work at creating more advanced games. These were helpful both for Anna as she grew and for older children.

Series A is best for children ages 5-8. It can also be used by older children who are profoundly Dyslexic. This series is primarily art-based and introduces a bit of writing and spelling. 

Series B for children aged 8-12. The art-based games become more advanced and more reading skills are required. We also include spelling and copywork in this series.

Series C is for ages 10+. We continue with intricate art-based games, add in some math, and work on cursive writing skills. 

Not Only for Dyslexic Kids

Families began introducing their early readers to series A- regardless of if they showed signs of Dyslexia. Parents realized they made learning to read fun and engaging and that children thrived. Older kids saw Dyslexic siblings working on series B and C and wanted to try them out. It became apparent these games were not only helpful for Dyslexic kids. 

We’ve heard from thousands of families who share remarkable stories about the benefits of Dyslexia Games in their homes. Parents have used Dyslexia Games with:

  • ADHD/ADD kids to help them focus and relax
  • Asperger’s 
  • Autism 
  • Dysgraphia 
  • Dyspraxia 
  • Non-Verbal learning disabilities
  • Visual Processing Disorders
  • As “brain breaks” before working on a more focused/difficult task
  • To de-stress and relax a kid when they were frustrated
  • For relief from Brian Fog
  • To help develop executive functioning skills 
  • Memory support 
  • And more!! 


This was certainly not something I ever expected. At this point, we think we’ve had about as many non-Dyslexic kids use Dyslexia Games as those with Dyslexia. Especially series A for new readers. I began to incorporate pages from these games into some of our Fun-Schooling journals and students have loved having them there.

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The Fun-Schooling Story: The Branches of The Thinking Tree Spread Out!

What The Thinking Tree Offers

As we’ve grown our tree has branched into several different offerings. Today we have six “branches” on our Thinking Tree. 

Fun-Schooling Journals consist of our core journals, the first journals we created. We also have dozens of smaller “single subject” journals on standard school subjects like Language Arts, History, Math, Science, Art, and Geography. Single-subject journals on “elective” topics have also been created such as Dance, Foreign Language, Animals, Sports, and even Minecraft! There are about 300 Fun-Schooling Journals.

Dyslexia Games is our art-based Dyslexia therapy program. It was created a few years before the first Fun-Schooling journal. There are three series for different age groups. Throughout the years we have found it helpful for students with ADHD/ADD, Asperger’s, and other learning challenges too. Interestingly, we’ve also found children without learning challenges or disabilities benefit too. It helps children with creative thinking, problem-solving, handwriting, spelling, art skills, math, and more.

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