For many parents of children with special needs, homeschooling can be a first choice or a last resort. The label “special needs” covers a broad spectrum including: physical disabilities; chronic illness; severe allergies/dietary issues; Autism; sensory/visual/auditory processing disorders; dyslexia/dysgraphia; and behavior disorders – ADD, ADHD, RAD, ODD. And, that’s a short list!
The reasons to begin homeschooling are virtually endless. The need for special education services has skyrocketed in recent years, the challenge is that school budgets have not kept up with demand. Resources are dwindling and teachers are forced to work with more students. Many parents have turned to homeschooling as a way to take their child’s education back and offer them the resources and attention they need to reach maximum success. And why not? You, the parent, love your child more and are more invested in their success than anyone else. This alone makes you uniquely qualified to teach your child at home.
With the wide availability of homeschool resources at your fingertips, you are not an island. You’ll be able to connect with other homeschooling parents, locally and around the world via the internet. Being able to access multiple reviews of curriculum and other materials can save you time, money and heartache. Finding and getting to know other families who are sharing or who have lived through similar experiences is priceless.
The ability to personalize your child’s education and provide one-on-one instruction allows you to help your child fulfill their potential. While many school systems strive to meet the needs of all children, it is STILL quite common for children with special needs to get lost in the cracks. If you are considering or are already actively homeschooling, having access to a variety of homeschool resources specifically designed for special education, can make a challenging job a little easier.
1. Basic Homeschool Resources For Special Education;
Whether or not your child is enrolled in special education services, all homeschoolers should have a firm grasp on their rights and the requirements imposed upon them by their state. HSLDA, the Home School Legal Defense Association, has been helping parents protect their constitutional right to homeschool since 1983. Members and non-members alike can access their website which is full of general homeschool information (including state by state laws) and also features constantly updated articles and news about homeschooling. This site also features a state-by-state listing outlining which states have provisions for homeschool parents of children with special needs.
2. Homeschool Resources -How To Teach Children With Special Needs;
Once you know your rights within your state, it’s time to decide exactly how you want to go about homeschooling. Now in its third edition, Homeschooling Your Child with Special Needs by Sharon Hensley is a refreshingly honest and insightful book for parents just starting their homeschool journey. The book does not focus on one single type of special need; rather it gives you a map to guide you to the process that will most help your child.
3. Every Child Is Different; Homeschool Resources Specific To Special Education Need;
While a child who is blind and a child with RAD are both labeled “special needs,” their actual requirements are going to be different. The following links will help you get a foothold as you start your homeschooling journey. If you find a website or a blog that you connect with jump in and participate or leave a comment – you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!
- Sensory Processing Disorders (SPD)– Sensory, visual and/or auditory processing disorders can make teaching a real challenge to your creativity. Start with this list as you build your own.
- Meet Penny – Start with Penny’s fantastic list of homeschool resources. Her list is geared toward children with Autism, but many of the sites and activities will benefit a child with processing issues.
- Sharla, a homeschooling mom of seven!, blogs at Chaos and Clutter. Here is her list of must-have items for SPD kids – she’s got four, so she knows. Search her archives and newer blog posts for more on SPD.
- Asperger’s – Many parents who have children with Asperger’s, are discovering that the ability to provide a consistent schedule in a loving environment is best done at home.
- My Aspergers Child is a website dedicated to helping parents whose child has Asperger’s or is otherwise on the high function Autism spectrum. The website does not advocate homeschooling or traditional schooling, rather it encourages families to objectively decide what is right in their situation.
- Homeschooling the Child with Asperger’s by Lise Pyle offers concrete answers to many tough questions. Her suggestions are workable and affordable.
- Many children with Asperger’s are also high gifted. At Davidson Institute, you can read about many characteristics of a gifted child along with strategies for teaching.
- Autism – In addition to Asperger’s syndrome, Autism covers a wide spectrum. Fortunately, there are homeschool resources geared specifically toward teaching children with Autism.
- Aven’s Corner – A site founded by a dad with mild autism for his son with autism, Aven’s Corner has computer games designed specifically for children with Autism.
- Meet Penny – Penny’s daughter has Autism. She’s used her experiences to create a terrific, information filled website. The link here will send you to a list of homeschool resources you would spend hours trying to find on your own!
- Dyslexia/Dysgraphia – Children who struggle with reading, deciphering numbers and writing are at a great disadvantage in a traditional school. At home, you can tailor their learning experiences and allow them to work at a pace that makes sense.
- Get Dyslexie – a free font specially designed for people with dyslexia. Use it with your child to work on reading skills. The site gives you suggestions for how best to lay out text for your child.
- Homeschooling with Dyslexia is a site designed to educate and encourage parents who are homeschooling their child with dyslexia. Lots of practical tips and advice.
- Do you suspect your child may have dysgraphia? If so, check out these ten tips for homeschoolers.
- A slightly unconventional homeschool resource to consider is the Audiblox/Edublox. Watch the video on the website to fully understand how the program works.
4. Special Education Tutoring;
For many parents who have made the choice to homeschool their child with special needs, not fully understanding their unique learning requirements can be challenging. Remember, every single child in this world is different and each learn the best when information is presented to them in a way that’s unique to their needs. A special education tutor is skilled at designing curriculum based solely on the learning style of your child. Setting clear expectations for reaching goals and developing a plan to get there can be a complete life changer for many children.
Thousands of homeschool parents are turning to special education tutoring as a way to supplement the curriculum they are teaching at home.
Along with special education tutoring, there are millions of additional special education resources available to help ensure your child reaches their excellence.
Which ever option you choose, just know that you’re not alone. Until the school system can change (mainly an increased budget for resources), homeschooling is continuing to increase in popularity across the US. Though homeschooling a child with special needs can be challenging, so can homeschooling a child not enrolled in special education!