I don’t know how many times I have heard a mother of a child who has special needs express doubt that she could homeschool her child. You have parented that child since his birth. You remain the expert on your child. You may need some guidance, but no one knows your child like you do. Further, no one loves your child like you do. Does this mean it will be easy? Of course, not!
You have many decisions to make for your child. While I may offer some things to think about, you must make your own decision regarding diagnostic labels, homeschool methods and materials, medications, special diets, immunizations and much more.
No matter what decisions you make, one-on-one learning will produce more learning than in a classroom full of children, all of whom have different needs and abilities. Classroom teachers today have their hands full with the number one priority sadly is “classroom management.”
1. Determine what is important –Spend your time doing the things that matter for your child as he grows and finds his way in the world. Usually that includes: reading, writing, math and a love for learning. For enrichment, touch the other areas (especially if your State homeschool law requires certain subjects). Also, allow adequate time for your child to explore his interests.
2. Don’t do “School at Home” –We must get over the idea that living up to the standards of the public school or even a private school provides your child the best education. Some of our special needs children need a structure in order to thrive, but that does not mean it will mimic the school setting. Your family may run a later than a school schedule or the opposite. Often, for those bringing home their child home from school, get a better start by “de-schooling” before starting. During this “de-school” families benefit from spending time together doing field trips, playing games together, going on hikes.
3. Expect Impossible Days –All families have bad days, but when a family faces learning challenges, those bad days intensify in kind and frequency. It may be that your child has a hard time making transitions or lacking skills that we take for granted or excels in areas that you want to address at another time. What to do? Step back and evaluate the situation and underlying cause. Take a break – running outside. Swapping children with a close family. De-stress with the child to understand him and help him understand the situation.
4. Plan Times of De-Stress – You and your family need to de-stress more than most families. This will get you through those bad days or maybe even prevent some of them. By planning activities that de-stress when it lands in your homeschool day and even preventing some of those bad days will make a huge difference. Physical activity is one way to de-stress from academic stress. Playing games might provide you family with less stress as well.
5. Plan with Special Interests in Mind – Plan learning activities with your child’s special interest in mind. Also, keep in mind his learning style and strengths. By doing Unit Studies on these topics, you can address many, if not all, of the subjects.
6. Explore Your Child’s Learning Style and Diagnosis –Understanding your child and how he learns must continually fit high on your “To Do” list. Be a problem solver. Unless it is a behavior issue, find the solution by planning educational activities that fit your child. Your child’s declaration that he hates math, may mean that the method does not fit your child. On the other hand it might mean that the level of work is either too high or too low.
7. Choose Your Own Way – Most schools follow the factory assembly-line approach to teaching. Real-life exposure and experiences will create a homeschool program for your family that will fit your child. Using curriculum may work for your family or not. Real books tend to interest children more than textbooks.
8. Let Them Dream – Instead of dashing water on a child’s burning dream help them explore that dream. Commonly, our children go through many dreams, even at the university level. Even if it seems impossible to us, we need to guide the child through this process.
9. Learn Family Advocacy – Know your rights and advocate for them. https://www.wrightslaw.com/
10. Homeschool Lifestyle – Good for the Family Teaching parents learn many things they missed growing up. Homeschooling families have more control over their schedule and what their children are learning.
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