“Eighty percent of life is showing up.” Woody Allen’s point when he said this, was that you have to actually begin to do something before anything happens. If you’re ready to “do” this homeschool thing, do it right. Start off with a house that is organized for your family. You could have Martha Stewart come and organize your kitchen, your school room and all of the children’s bedrooms and your house would be the envy of your neighbors for about an hour. The reality of living with children with special needs, especially kids with sensory issues, is that your house, when functioning at its best for the whole family, is going to look a lot like your family – quirky, fun and unexpected.
But where do you start? The following is a list of Special Education Homeschool Resources designed specifically to help you get organized;
1. Add Books And Other Information To Your Library Of Special Education Homeschool Resources;
All three address how to work with your child’s needs and personality to get some order into your daily lives. All three address specific special needs, general child development and clear, easy-to-implement strategies.
- Organizing the Disorganized Child, by Martin Kutscher, MD was written for kids with and without special needs. The book does not focus on homeschooling but his advice for helping children learn to organize themselves apply to every family.
- The Sensory Child Gets Organized, by Carolyn Dalgliesh is a direct, parent-friendly guide written by a mom whose raised a child with ADHD. There are tips on using visual cues to streamline chores, setting up sensory areas and how to set up a bedroom that actually gets used for sleeping!
- The Organized Homeschooler by Vickie Caruana is especially helpful for parents looking to stay on top of all the paperwork, housework and schooling! Her suggestions are reasonable and easy to put to work one step at a time.
- Special Education Tutoring is a rapidly increasing way to supplement the curriculum you’re teaching your child. A Special Education Tutor is often able to assist a homeschooler in finding the “learning sweet spot” of a child with special needs.
- Additional Special Education Resources are available online at the click of a button. We have several available on this site, and millions more are available from a simple google search.
2. Get A Clipboard And Take A Tour Of Your Own Home;
How your home is used and organized can make it your number one special education homeschool resource or it can be your worst enemy. In a perfect world, you could peform this exercise alone in your house while your partner takes the kids to the park for an hour or two. In the real world, you might end up letting the kids watch a special movie with an awesome snack while you do this. Have a page for each room in your house. Starting at the front door (yes, go out and walk in with fresh eyes) go room by room noting the following:
- Biggest kid-related problems with the room?
- Are there color issues?
- What is room most used for? Is it maximizing its space and storage potential.
- Do you have trouble keeping this room organized?
- Could it possibly be used in a different way?
3. Start With A Room That Is Making You The Most Crazy;
Don’t panic, you are starting a long-term project. No one is expecting you to remake your home quickly. If all the rooms make you equally crazy let’s start with the area where you will be doing school. Set reasonable goals that fit your time, energy level and budget. Try breaking the organizing of each room into 15 minute daily chunks or dedicate a weekend to getting the whole room together.
- If you have a dedicated homeschooling room, great. Note what furniture you currently have and if it is working well for you. If not, start scouting thrift stores and garage sales for pieces the will better suit your needs. (A can of paint works wonders!)
- Start with your own work area. Do you have a desk? If you are schooling in your kitchen, do you have one or two shelves for storing your Homeschool Resources? Do you have a simple, thorough way to file schoolwork, house related files, personal files on your entire family? Milk crates with hanging folders work well and can often fit on the floor of a pantry closet.
- If you have not considered using Sue Patrick’s work box system, it’s worth learning about. She outlines the system on her website and a quick internet search will lead you to hundreds of blogs with pictures of how different families have implemented it. The work box system was designed for children with special needs in mind. It’s visual. It helps you and your children divide school work into manageable chunks. For parents, it helps you establish a routine of planning, teaching and keeping on top of paperwork that helps you make the most of your time.
- When you’ve got the schoolroom shipshape, wander over to the Friendship Circle blog and read Karen Wang’s article on making your home autism-friendly. She’s got a great sense of humor and a practical approach. Take some cues from her as you approach the rest of your house.
4. Remain Organized Once The Initial Hard Work Is Complete;
Once you are starting to feel a little more in charge of your house, figure out how you’re going to keep it up and stay organized. Don’t make that face! With an internet connection you are never far from support, resources and advice. Bookmark a few of these sites and spend some time figuring out what mix and match of things will work best for your family.
- Melissa Morgan at Homeschool World offers advice from a veteran homeschooler’s perspective.
- At the Eclectic Homeschool Online this page gives you a nice range of downloads for planning, teaching and record keeping.
- For all things organized and homeschool-related, you cannot beat Donna Young’s extensive site. You can find advice, lesson plans, downloads for everything from graph paper to transcript forms.
- Still struggling to find your method of organizing? Who better to ask than The Homeschool Mom. Her tips and links on organization are practical and address the fact that not everyone thrives on a minute-to-minute schedule.
It’s your house! It will take time to find the best way to use and organize each room to suit all the different personalities in your family. Everyone will likely have to make a few compromises to find something that works. Take your time. There are no homeschool police. No one is coming to check if your spices are in alphabetical order. Read, ask questions, talk to other parents as you figure out the direction you want to take.