Homeschooling a Child with Special Needs
All children have unique differences that set them apart from their peers. As a society, we could not function if everyone was the same. This, of course, includes how we learn, and there is a vast number of learning methods. We will explore how to begin homeschooling a child with special needs.
Children with special needs require specialized help to excel in academics. There has been a misconception that the only way for children with special needs to receive this assistance is through resources available from public school systems. However, children with special needs can, and have, succeeded with alternative schooling methods, such as homeschooling. Parents of special needs children may opt to homeschool to help manage stress in their children’s lives. Here are a few things to consider, when deciding whether homeschooling may be the right option for your child with special needs.
How Do I Know If My Child Has Special Needs?
Students with special needs encompass a diverse group of children. Usually, they live with either learning disabilities or intellectual disabilities. Learning disabilities include dyslexia, ADD or ADHD, and other learning and attention issues. Intellectual disabilities include typically genetic conditions, such as Down syndrome. Children with autism spectrum disorders qualify for, and often need, special education, as well. If you suspect that your child may be living with any of these disabilities or disorders, seeking professional help will lead to adiagnosis for your child.
The resources available to students with special needs depends on the state and school district in which they live.
Accommodations for Students with Special Needs
The public school system offers various accommodations for students with special needs. For example, some students will be permitted to work on or take a test in a different room with few distractions. They may also be allotted more time to complete the test or other assignments.
If a child struggles with written communication, they may give answers to a scribe who writes or types on the student’s behalf. The list of potential accommodations is expansive. In public school, students have access to specialists and experts, such as counselors, speech pathologists, and special educators.
Despite these accommodations, children with special needs still may not receive everything they need to excel in school. For this reason, many parents have elected to take their students out of the public school system, and instead, take matters into their own hands. A parent will care for a child’s education like no one else. Homeschool will give the child the undivided attention they need to do well when it comes to academics.
Homeschooling State Laws for Students with Special Needs
When a child has a disability or disorder that requires a unique set of needs, federal law states that they are eligible for special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Every state has different laws about how special education applies to homeschooled students.
For example, some states can require children to attend public school to have access to special education services and do not provide any special education resources to homeschooled students. Other states will provide Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) to children who are either homeschooled or attend a private school.
Any parent who considers homeschooling should research the homeschooling laws in their state, especially if their student has special needs. However, even families who are unable to receive these resources for their students with special needs can successfully homeschool.
Benefits of Homeschooling Students with Special Needs
Like every other aspect of parenting, there are pros and cons to homeschooling, and what works for one family may not work for the other. Homeschooling can offer many benefits to students with special needs. First, plenty of private services are available, such as occupational therapists or speech pathologists. This means that parents can still get their students the professional help available at public schools, but the help will be even more personalized. Parents also need to communicate with educators about their child’s education constantly; therefore, homeschooling would take away the teachers as the middlemen.
Bullying is a problem that many children with special needs encounter. Homeschooling allows theses students to avoid the threat of bullies and learn in the safety of their own homes.
Parents have the flexibility to try different homeschooling methods to find what works best for the students. These methods can be tailored to the child’s preferences and interests, as well. Homeschooling families can implement a schedule that works for them with a balance of structure and flexibility that they feel comfortable with. Overall, many students feel more comfortable, can focus better, and are less distracted when receiving a homeschool education.
Downsides of Homeschooling Students with Special Needs
Despite all these benefits, homeschooling is difficult, especially when your student has special needs. It requires a level of patience that most people can only dream of mastering. Homeschooling also requires consistency and commitment to the child’s education. Socializing also becomes difficult because of the limited access to clubs and sports. However, many homeschooling groups offer these same extracurriculars.
At public schools, the resources and help that a student with special needs is free. Getting professional help as well as investing in homeschooling tools and resources adds up to be costly. Lastly, depending on the state’s homeschooling laws, parents may need to take meticulous records.
How to Decide If Homeschooling Is Right for Your Child
There are plenty of resources available for parents looking to start homeschool, whether their child has special needs or not. For one, public resources may still be available to homeschooled students with special needs. A variety of homeschooling curriculum programs are also available for purchase online.
Many families have been successful in homeschooling, and it is being seen as a viable education alternative to a traditional classroom more and more. For some parents, it can be even more stressful to send your child to school because of the worry that ensues around academics, bullies, and more. If you are considering homeschool for your child, deciding whether it is the best option for your family is the hardest part. Doing as much research as possible will make you more confident in your final decision. Surrounding yourself with a homeschooling community will ensure the best outcome for your child if you do determine homeschool is the best option.
Homeschooling mom – 30 years and counting
Movie reviewer/Travel blogger