So Happy to Learn looked too easy for my son

Justin and I are learning partners!

Since I’d home schooled his 8 older siblings, I was determined to successfully home school Justin. I researched how to teach a child with DS, used unique methods and materials for him, and he was learning and thriving. But each year, as he dropped further and further behind his peers, I tried harder and pushed him more. Sadly, by the time he was 12, he’d lost his love for learning. He was a very good reader, and could do copy work with relative ease, yet he hated writing. If I asked him to write an original sentence, he’d say, “I can’t!” I’d have to suggest a sentence, repeat it several times, and spell most of the words for him. I could not get him to draw. He’d say, “I can’t!” He used every tactic in his bag of tricks to delay starting school, to interrupt our school time, and to avoid doing his work. When he did do his work, he whined and moaned about it and just wanted to be done so he could play.

I’d seen a few people mention So Happy to Learn on a homeschooling fb group, but when I looked at the website, the samples looked far too easy for Justin. Then one day I saw Terry Brown was responding to questions about SOHTL in that group. I wrote a detailed description of the level of work my son was doing in each subject and asked her if she had any more advanced material on a 2nd thru 4th grade level. Her simple reply to me was: “You would benefit from my program if your son is not working happily independently on work and if he is not writing expressively. If he’s doing both of those things you probably would not find benefit. Please feel free to email me.” So I emailed her, asked more questions, and decided to give it a try. I was skeptical, but the optimistic Mrs. Brown seemed so certain that Justin would benefit.

The first thing that began to change was me! I soon realized the reason he hated to write is because I’d been making him correct every misspelled word and poorly formed letter, and fix poor spacing! Within a few weeks of using SOHTL materials and teaching methods, Justin was happily writing simple sentences without help! He was happily drawing simple objects: balloons, a person with a body, a cat, a house! Within 6 months, he was writing sweet little love notes to me, to his dad, and to his siblings!

In the 4 ½ years we’ve been using SOHTL, his expressive writing and drawing skills have flourished. His confidence has soared! He does an entire Level 1 Happy Sheet packet independently with enthusiasm and pride. He and I work on Level 2 Happy Sheet packets together. I print two copies of the packet, one for him and one for myself. I model for him by doing my page out loud and then he does his page. This is helping him expand his writing and creativity. I’m really enjoying writing, drawing and coloring, and being creative. It is a calming, therapeutic outlet that relieves stress and anxiety.

It has been a process for me to make the SOHTL shift in my thinking and allow it to transform all of our home schooling. But it is so worth it! Justin is a much happier boy, and I am a much happier teacher!