Chalking It Up: A Look at Homeschooling Children with Special Needs

Homeschooling children is a challenging endeavor that often leaves parents worrying that they are doing the best for their children. This is true for all children, but when a child has special needs we often experience increased anxiety and stress. We naturally want the best for our sons and daughters, but sometimes that means going against the grain and choosing alternative schooling solutions.
Mother and Daughter - Homeschooling Children with Special Needs
Whether our children have severe allergies, asthma, immune disorders, seizures, disabilities, hyperactivity, or any other special need they often have a hard time adapting to traditional public or private schools. While administrators and educators attempt to accommodate and push inclusion, their answers don’t always meet the needs of our children. The medical and behavioral needs of one often go unmet in traditional school settings that are trying to fulfill the needs of many.

Advantages Of Homeschooling Children With Special Needs

Choosing to homeschool a child can often be met with worrisome glances and harsh criticism. The stereotypes of unsocial and uneducated homeschooled children abound and leave many people questioning our sanity. However, a majority of the findings available today prove that teaching a child at home has many benefits.

Listed below are 4 benefits to homeschooling children with special needs:

  • We are able to embrace flexible schedules. Doctor appointments or a child’s moods can disrupt a traditional 8 to 4 school day. Thankfully, homeschooling allows parents the privilege of adjusting lesson times throughout the day to take advantage of a child’s schedule or health needs.
  • Our children receive more one-on-one interactions and individualized lessons. Having customized lessons tailored to our sons and daughters can allow a deeper understanding of concepts and allow them the ability to move ahead at their own pace.
  • Outside health threats are limited. For many children with special needs exposure to germs, stimulants, or allergens like peanuts can be deadly. Homeschooling is a viable option for these children, because parents can control the environment to a certain degree.
  • Kids are offered chances to learn life skills in a realistic setting. For many children with special needs this is a real bonus, because one day they will need to be able to function in their own homes. Homeschooling can allow children the ability to practice cooking simple meals, sorting laundry, washing dishes, or even vacuuming the floor.

Mother and Son - Homeschooling Children with Special Needs

Resources For Homeschooling Children With Special Needs

Choosing to homeschool a child isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes dedication and passion to our child’s education and well-being. Thankfully, there are a plethora of resources available for homeschooling families to take advantage. To help on this learning journey, we have compiled the following list of 4 resources to help you along the way:

Seek membership or newsletters from your state’s homeschoolers alliance or association. Most states have developed homeschoolers’ groups that offer additional resources and support. While some collect membership dues, the ability to connect with other homeschoolers is invaluable.

Follow The National Challenged Homeschoolers Associated Network (NATHHAN). This is a nonprofit organization created to help support and provide information to homeschooling families who have children with special needs. Besides the resources, it allows parents to connect on a forum to talk shop, share ideas, or offer a shoulder to lean on.

Know that under section 612 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act our local school districts are mandated to provide some assistance and services for kids not enrolled in the public school. This doesn’t entitle you to demand special services, but instead the school will decide what resources are provided. Typically, you will need to request an Individualized Service Plan (ISP) by going through the appropriate levels or chain of command at the school. Be aware that some schools are more accommodating than others, but this route may provide access to needed services for your child even while you homeschool.

Look for “virtual schools”. Take advantage of today’s technology and access “real, state-funded schools” with certified teachers that strive to provide the same level of education as a traditional school would. Students and teachers utilize webcams and microphones to “attend” class with a live teacher from the comfort of home. Teachers do all the instruction, offer feedback, answer questions, assign homework, and correct lessons with the aid of computers, emails, and scanners.

Looking Ahead

Taking care of children who have special needs can be a challenge, but we owe it to our sons and daughters to provide the best education possible. Do you have any tips or suggestions for homeschooling our kids with special needs?

This is a guest post by Hilary Smith. Hilary was born and raised in Austin, TX. She is a freelance journalist whose love of gadgets, technology and business has no bounds. After becoming a parent she now enjoys writing about family and parenting related topics.

The views and opinions expressed in any guest post featured on this site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Wired Homeschool.

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