We are often asked how exactly we can help with our consulting services- what will you actually get?
To help explain it, we passed the question on to our families:
How has the consulting service been of help to you?
My name is Christa. I hired Sharon in June of last year and my time with her has been like "gold" to me. Smile. I have a huge amount of respect for Sharon. She is a very wise, practical and experienced consultant.
For example, when I was choosing math curriculum - she walked me through step by step - pros and cons based on my kids' needs. She does not have an agenda to sell. She is objective and also flexible. All of the tutors and teachers I have worked with in the past - seem so opinionated and pushy. Many times after working with other tutors/teachers/helpers - I've left feeling badly about my kids or my situation. That's such a defeating and dismal feeling.
But Sharon - has only helped empower me. She understands the struggles. There is no judgement. She is loving and kind and her goal is to help me help my kids take ownership of their struggles, offer practical help and ideas to me as their teacher and THRIVE. She has completely helped me simplify and make the "main things the main things." She has processed through so many various emotions with me. I NEVER feel rushed with her or like I am taking too much time.
And it's the little things like - once she asked me - "Why are you holding the book when you guys are reading? She should be holding the book." Duh! That never even crossed my mind!
I am stronger and better equipped because I have had her by my side navigating this journey with me. I honestly think, I will feel sad when I don't "need" her anymore. I am so thankful the door opened for me to be able to work with Sharon. I recommend her wholeheartedly!!!!
Wishing you all the best on this amazing journey,
When we decided to teach our daughter with language and reading issues at home, I went looking for someone -- ANYONE -- who could help me navigate all the issues I knew we'd face (and the ones I didn't anticipate, too). (She was 6 at the time.)
The ONLY option I found that would support my efforts to homeschool (instead of offering to do it for me for ten times the price) was AVCS. (I'm sure there are more now.) Now, seven years later, I'm still grateful for the support I receive from AVCS consulting. Let me count the ways.
- I got a crash course in understanding my child's difficulties and strategies to accommodate them.
- I receive help in selecting curriculum and customizing it to our needs. And not just once a year -- we can change course whenever we need to.
- The IHEPs (In-Home Education Plans) that Sharon helps me craft every year really clarify what our plan for the year is, and again, we aren't chained to it. If it needs changing, we change it!
- I can ask questions whenever I need to.
- The quarterly evaluation forms streamline keeping track of our progress, and the comments section of our monthly attendance forms is more than a mere formality. Sharon reads them and responds -- sometimes when I didn't even ask a question! I love that personal touch.
- Sometimes we moms just need a pep talk, and Sharon is always a terrific encouragement.
To sum it all up, I couldn't keep our homeschool program going without the support I get from AVCS. If I've neglected to say so lately, "THANK YOU!"
I am so thankful for the help of Sharon and Prabha through AVCS. We homeschool all of our children, and have found it somewhat difficult in the past to find "experts" who understood the demands and benefits of homeschooling, some pressuring us to put our (fairly severely dyspraxic) daughter in public school special education programs despite our conviction that she would do better at home. Also, being mothers of "special needs" children whom they taught themselves for many years, Prabha and Sharon have in my estimation, earned the right to make suggestions to me, in a way that most other people (even therapists and specialists) have not. Likewise I have been immensely blessed by the meetings and interaction with all of the AVCS mothers at these events. I was not particularly looking for a "support group" and really have been surprised at what an enormous blessing the support of all the staff and members of AVCS have been!
Excerpt from a Homeschooling Mom's blog about AVCS:
My name is Eileen. I homeschool all 4 of my little ones. All of my kids have some issues, primarily two boys on the spectrum. Homeschooling special needs kids I think is a great way to give personalized therapeutic attention tailored to your kid's needs. There are so many great resources out there.
I found the single most helpful and life changing resource out there is Almaden Valley Christian School, a homeschool ISP provider run by Sharon Hensley, located in my small town of Morgan Hill, CA. It is a homeschool ISP for families with special needs learners and their siblings.
She provides consultation as well as ISP if you choose to go under her school instead of filing your own, at a very low cost. I love the flexibility of choosing ether the consulting or ISP option or both if needed, but the great thing is both options also give you the majority of control over your kids schooling. Reporting is a simple with her and you choose all your own curriculum. If you need help she is there to guide you.
I can't say enough about how Sharon has helped me more than any therapist or book I've read, she has hands on personal experience but just seems to be the queen of schooling special learners. VERY PRACTICAL ADVICE is what you get. I can't stress enough how any special needs parent needs to get plugged in with her. She thinks outside of the box more than anyone I've ever met, which as you know is the key to special needs where you have to deconstruct even more your idea of school and learn how to teach as your child needs. She has literally been a God send.
She gives quarterly talks and posts them in a special log in place for us parents that are invaluable.
Sharon has also worked with me in the training of our service dog and provides therapeutic horse riding and Animal Assisted therapy. This has become our families forte and it’s been great to have her help us integrate that in our lives.
I sincerely hope this helps, I know it has made it possible for me to homeschool on many a difficult day where I wanted to give up.
I cannot believe how fortunate we are to have found Sharon. My son has some severe learning disabilities (secondary to cerebral palsy) but is extremely bright. It seemed there was no place in the world for him, so we had to make one for him at home. With Sharon's guidance, we've been able to navigate the legal ins and outs of what's needed (and what we can do without!)
She has shepherded us through creating a custom curriculum and we are now on year FOUR of homeschooling with great success! I was terrified when I started, but Sharon gave me just the hand-holding I needed. She also gave me reassurance and support....even when I didn't know I needed it.
Thanks, Sharon...my son will graduate high school with an actual degree (not just a GED) in two years thanks to you!
We had the great fortune of finding Almaden Valley Christian School and the services of Sharon Hensley last Spring, when my husband and I decided that we were going to take control of our son's academic future and Home School him for his High School years. We never in our wildest imagination thought that we would ever be Home Schoolers. Now we ask ourselves why we didn't do this sooner!
Initially the decision to Home School seemed quite daunting, but after we did some research, we knew we wanted to be aligned with someone that could act as our "consultant", and to help us feel like we weren't alone. We also knew we wanted someone else to handle the paperwork for us. Plus, truthfully, we just wanted a feeling of belonging. Needless to say, all our "searches" kept leading us back to Sharon and AVCS.
After our initial call we never looked back or anywhere else for that matter! Sharon helped ease our anxiety trying to disseminate all the curriculum choices out there, which in and of itself can be an overwhelming task. As much as I may be an expert at having a son with learning disabilities, I am not an expert in learning disabilities, and there is a difference.
A perfect example was in our initial choice for an on-line math program. I realize now it never would have worked! We had found what we thought would be the perfect math program, but after talking to Sharon and having it revealed to us a greater understanding of and discussing our son's "visual learning style" we knew we needed a program that would better fit that model. We ended up with Math-U-See and it has been perfect!
Our friends and family are so surprised at how comfortably we have transitioned into Home Schooling and we credit Sharon and AVCS for making that happen. We could not have done this without her!
A few years ago I sought answers to difficulties within my then home school group.
My child has autism and some retardation, and that previous group had no knowledge about laws nor IHEPs.
HSLDA referred me to Sharon Hensley and Almaden Valley Christian School. It turned out that I already had a book of Sharon's. She was extremely helpful with pointing out what I did and didn't need to do legally for my special needs child - and how to explain that to the other school's director - considerably before I decided to change schools.
I got nowhere with that other school and thus switched to AVCS about 3 or 4 years ago. Sharon is very helpful with any questions and with ideas for the IHEP.
I am very thankful for engaging Sharon in my homeschool this year, as a Consultant. I SOO needed her!! She is available as I need her, and tries hard to accommodate me/us as we need her. I felt her support by phone call, through email, AND regular mail! She even called me on Skype/VP per my request, since I am hard of hearing, to make sure I could understand everything- she is willing to accommodate me/us however we need, with the ultimate goal of getting the best plan designed for my students. She has surprised me with the texts and materials she has available, to consider if I wanted to incorporate a new idea into my teaching. I so appreciated the opportunity to view firsthand any new options for supporting my students- a new therapy approach, a new curriculum approach, etc.
I also appreciated her wealth of knowledge and familiarity with all curriculums and educational options I explored- she was able to match my students with the best educational approach for each of them. I loved that I could ask her, "What do you think about trying Classical Conversations?" And she knew exactly what the format of CC was, and whether it would work for my students. She also was able to move us from our old ineffective habits, to new, exciting options that gave my students a new approach to a task, that caused them less struggle- she had ideas I never thought of before!
I have never felt judged, she is available as I need her, and she has helped me with personal habits that may be preventing me from helping my students reach their maximum potential. I also appreciated her wealth of understanding in what my students are experiencing as a struggle when trying to read, or do school work. She is able to explain it in lay person's terms, that help me, the teacher, empathize with my student, and challenge them academically, the best I can. She also alerts me when I may be trying to do too much, or maybe am doing something that is not necessary- and it's always with a gentle tap on my shoulder.
I highly recommend Sharon and her team, to support your home school, as you challenge your children academically, and encourage them to their highest potential. Good luck!