That moment when a parent learns that his or her child has special needs can feel like being stuck in the tracks, while an oncoming train of information is running full steam ahead. If you are that parent, a major decision that you will have to face is education. There are many options, but if you have decided to homeschool, you may be feeling apprehensive. Don’t let the lack of experience or credentials lead you to believe you’re not qualified to do this. You are a greater expert on your child than you think.
You Can Homeschool Your Child with Special Needs
Study Your Child
You will be a student first before becoming a teacher. By studying your child, you will have a firmer grasp on his temperament and learning style. A helpful resource is 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy [affiliate link]. This was instrumental in figuring out my kid’s learning style as well as shrinking down the mountain of available curriculum to what would best work for us.
Split Up Your Day
My child was first diagnosed with a language disorder and, later on, with auditory processing disorder. My biggest mistake when I first started homeschooling was trying get our work done as quickly as possible to avoid any resistance, like when you gulp down that nasty medicine because it’s easier than torturing your tastebuds with little sips. But it doesn’t work that way with a special needs child. Little sips of work with lots of small breaks sprinkled in between will grant you a more productive school day.
Spend One-on-One Time
One of the biggest reasons why you probably want to homeschool is because your child thrives on one-on-one interaction, whereas a busy classroom of 30+ kids may leave your child ignored at best. If you have more than one kid, set up rotating “stations” of independent activities, like computer games, reading, or workbooks, and make one of those stations a Mommy and Me time. That way, everyone can have one-on-one time with you.
Set Up Your Child for Success
Another mistake I’ve made was presenting lessons solely in a lecture format, containing little or no visual aids, even though my kid was a visual and kinesthetic learner. When preparing schoolwork for your child, set him up for success. Slowly challenge him in areas, where he is weak, but not to the point of frustrating him, and pair it with activities that will call on his strengths.
See Each Day as a New Day
When you’re homeschooling a child with special needs, today will not look like yesterday or the day before. That science experiment may not have piqued your youngster’s interest as you thought it would. That very engaging math lesson just went over his head. An unavoidable meltdown caused you to end school early.
Though you didn’t complete anything in today’s lesson plan, the learning doesn’t have to stop. So, close those school books, just for now. Snuggle on the couch with a favorite story book or bake some cookies together. Tomorrow will be a new day.
Are you considering homeschooling? What are some of your concerns?
Have you homeschooled a child with special needs? What is your advice? I would love to hear your thoughts!
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