Are you homeschooling a special needs child?
There are many reasons that you may choose to begin homeschooling a special needs child. Perhaps the nature of their needs precludes them from attending a traditional school. It could be that you had always intended to homeschool your children and the fact that your child has special needs is incidental. Perhaps while your child could attend traditional school the special education services offered are not allowing them to learn to their full potential. Whatever your reason may be, here are some tips to make the experience of homeschooling your special needs child easier and more fulfilling for you both.
Tip #1: Aim high.
Expect your children to be able to accomplish more than you think they can. One of the benefits of homeschooling is the ability to teach to our child’s strengths. Because of this we can often teach them far more than they would be capable of learning in other environments. Don’t be afraid to try subjects and topics that may seem advanced or complicated. Your child may surprise you.
Play to your child’s strengths. You know how your child learns best. If your child does not test well, don’t do tests. Is your child an auditory learner? Have him listed to audio books instead of just reading. Does your child need to move? Encourage hands on activities and projects.
Tip #2: Set a schedule.
Children love routine and special needs children often need the routine more than most. It helps for your child to know what is supposed to happen so that they can anticipate and prepare for the next activity, whatever it may be. Your schedule may be as simple as an order of subjects or as complex as a detailed calendar with time slots allotted for each activity. It is very helpful, though, to have a visual representation of whatever your schedule may be.
Tip #3: Be flexible.
This may seem to be at odds with the previous tip, doesn’t it? However, as any parent of a special needs child (and any child, really) knows – the best laid plans can easily go awry. Don’t become so tied to your schedule that everything falls apart when there is a bump in the road.
There are days when my son is… having a complicated day. It is obvious from the moment he awakens that he is off that day and any learning that I want to accomplish will be pulled tooth and nail from his crying and protesting form. Those are the days that we are more likely to watch educational movies, just review or perhaps do nothing at all.
If your child is not in a condition to learn than it would be a waste of time to try to introduce anything new. It is a much better idea to have a bank of activities that can be pulled out on the days that normal “school” activities can’t occur. Also, remember that with homeschool you are not tied to a Monday through Friday 8am to 3pm school day. This is one of the benefits of homeschooling a special needs child. If his special needs prevent him from learning at one moment, I have no problem moving that instruction to another part of the day or even a weekend day.
Tip #4: Know your rights.
As a homeschool parent you should already be familiar with the laws in your state regarding homeschooling. However there are additional laws with respect to homeschooling and special education. In many states special needs children are still eligible for therapeutic and support services from their district even if they are homeschooled. The availability and nature of these services vary widely though so it’s important to research the rules specific to your state.
Tip #5: Stand your ground.
Learning is hard. Learning with special needs is so much harder. Teaching a child with special needs is equally difficult. The decision to begin homeschooling a special needs child is not one to take lightly. I guarantee that there will be times that you or your child will get frustrated. The world is great at pointing out every little thing that you may be doing wrong or that you could be doing better. Remember that this is your child. You are homeschooling for a reason. You know your child best. Stand your ground and have faith in the outcome.
Welcome to Voices of Special Needs Blog Hop — a monthly gathering of posts from special needs bloggers hosted by The Sensory Spectrum and The Jenny Evolution. Click on the links below to read stories from other bloggers about having a special needs kiddo — from Sensory Processing Disorder to ADHD, from Autism to Dyslexia!
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