A guest post by Jenny Wise from http://specialhomeeducator.com/
Parenting and homeschooling are demanding. If you are raising a special needs child, you face unique and complex challenges in the effort to see your child thrive. Thankfully there are many tools available to set you as a special needs homeschooler and your child up for success.
Homeschooling is viable. While all children are different, many of those with special needs particularly benefit from a homeschooling education. The Home School Legal Defense Association explains that by homeschooling special needs children, you can provide encouraging, flexible opportunities tailored toward supporting them as individuals. They suggest homeschooling may be perfect for:
- Children with attention deficits who flourish in specially adapted schedules and an environment with reduced distractions.
- Special needs children who benefit from “real life problems” rather than fabricated assignments.
- Children with medical sensitivities that require special monitoring.
Curriculum options. It may feel overwhelming to choose appropriate curriculum for your special needs child. You should use this general criteria when establishing your program as a special needs homeschooler:
- First find curriculum options that meet your state’s education requirements.
- Then choose curriculum that meets your child’s needs, conforms to your homeschool environment and fits your teaching style.
- Choose curriculum designed for your child’s level of comprehension.
Tips. When making your selections, keep these tips in mind:
- Do some research. Don’t purchase curriculum until after you explore a variety of options; read books, surf the web and check through magazines that offer reviews.
- Don’t stress. Education is important, but your homeschooling decisions aren’t life and death matters.
- Routinely review progress or make assessments to adjust your plans as needed.
- It’s normal to experience ups and downs in the course of homeschooling special needs children.
Considerations. Note that although your child may want to work on a computer or another electronic device, it doesn’t mean the choice will be appropriate for your child. Also, many providers offer free trials on curriculum. Take the opportunity to see if it’s appropriate to your situation as a special needs homeschooler. Some professionals point out there is no “one-size-fits-all” curriculum, so expect to make adjustments and modifications. You may even need to blend multiple educational materials and approaches to meet your needs. In addition, you can save money by purchasing workbooks from different publishers, choosing in accordance to subject and learning style. Remember that whatever works for your situation is the right answer!
Environment. Creating an appropriate learning environment is a key to successfully homeschooling, especially if you are a special needs homeschooler. Experts recommend making a space at home optimal for learning. The bedroom should be organized into zones, with each zone having a single, specific function. In general, there will be three: one for sleeping, one for playing, and one for learning. The sleeping zone will include the bed (ideally against a full wall, and never against windows or doors), the play zone will include a toy chest or bin and comfortable sitting space, and the learning zone will include a desk or workspace. Keep these spaces tidy and clutter-free with labeled, non-see-through storage bins or non-topple drawers.
Find support. Remember that you aren’t alone as a special needs homeschooler. There are many resources available to help you meet the challenges of a successful education. The Indiana Association of Home Educators lists a number of online support groups, organizations, tools and resources available to parents who are homeschooling special needs children. Reach out when you need help or advice, or just want to feel connected.
Success awaits! Homeschooling special needs children is not only viable but may be the best option for you and your child. Do some research and choose curriculum that suits your situation. Create an appropriate learning environment and establish a support network. You and your child will be set up for success!