Some students with special needs will flourish in a public school setting, while others will struggle. Homeschooling is a real and viable option for children with special needs, but it takes a great deal of determination, hard work, and commitment. Getting it right is important for the well-being of your child.
1. Know the Laws and Your Rights
Each state has laws surrounding homeschooling, including how many hours of instruction a child must receive as well as required subject matter. Parents do have rights, though. Laws exist, such as the 1925 decision of Pierce v. Society of Sisters, to allow "the liberty of parents and guardians to direct the upbringing and education of children under their control."
2. Get Rid of Interruptions
When you are in school mode and teaching your child, don't allow interruptions such as telephone calls. Let voice mail pick up. The same goes for visitors. Let friends and family know what your schedule is and ask them to refrain from visiting during these times, except perhaps on special occasions. They should respect that this time is important and treat it as if you are working. They wouldn't interrupt your child if she was in public school, and should hold homeschooling in the same regard.
3. Have Confidence
There will be numerous people who believe that public schooling is the only option, especially for a child with special needs, and they will tell you that you are doing a disservice to your child. If you are going to homeschool successfully, you need to have confidence in this decision and truly believe you are doing what is best for your child.
4. Decide What Is Important to You
Your child's solid education is essential. She must learn basic skills including math, science, English, and history. In addition to these, decide what you will teach your child and set goals for yourself and for her that are attainable. Create a mission statement for your homeschool that will help you stay on track.
5. Learn to Advocate
Being a good advocate for your child is an important part of your job as a parent. Many times, we let other opinions get in the way of what we know is best for our child. Learn to stand up for yourself, for your child, and for your family so that each of your needs is met. This will give your child the best chance at a great education and a healthy life.
6. Know Your Child
The best way to teach your child is to know your child. Good communication is key. When your child is frustrated, you need to be able to understand the signs and signals she is giving you. In addition, discovering and understanding how your child learns is also important. Some children do better with constant one-on-one, while others thrive through discovering ideas on their own. Some child will obsess with one subject matter. Find different ways to use that topic to educate your child. For example if your child is fixated on aliens, talk about the solar system and delve into the history of Roswell. Until you know how your child learns, you will have a hard time teaching her.
7. Set Your Schedule
It's important to keep a structured schedule when homeschooling. Keep a weekly and daily calendar that each of you can easily access. This allows your child to know what to expect and will keep you both on track. Stay organized with a filing system that works for you.
8. Know When to Seek Help
There will be times when your best efforts won't be enough for your child. If you see your child struggling, seek help for her. Turn to other homeschooling parents for advice or search through homeschooling resources. There are many tutors, psychologists, and specialists available to work with you and your child to improve her learning skills and overall education.
9. Expect Setbacks
Everyone has bad days; your child will, too. While having a schedule is important, so is knowing when to mix things up. Maintain a sense of humor and have compassion for your child. Children with special needs can become frustrated for many reasons, including material that is too easy or too hard. Work through the stressful days together and focus on the end result rather than what has gone wrong that particular day.
10. Take Breaks
Breaks are important for you and your child. Get outside and play or schedule a field trip with other homeschooling families. Include recreation time in your daily schedule to allow your child's mind to rest and relax.
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This post was included in the latest edition of the Carnival for Homeschooling.