There's plenty to consider when it comes to homeschooling your special education student. What kind of curriculum should you use? What records should you keep? How do you get the most out of every minute without overwhelming yourself or your child? At first, answering these questions might seem stressful, but with a little help in all the right places, you can make homeschooling a perfect fit for your family.
What to Know Before YOu Begin
You probably already know the why of homeschooling. It's flexible, it's creative, it's full of new opportunities and adventures, and it's an especially good option for special education students who could benefit from personalized learning plans.
Now, you're ready to move on to the how.
The truth about homeschooling, especially with special needs students, is that you may not always know what to do right away, and that's okay. It's a learning experience for you and your child.
"Special needs" can encompass many different types of learners, from children with down's syndrome to those with ADHD, autism, or learning disabilities. That means there's no one-size-fits-all approach to special education.
What's important is that you have a plan and can always find the resources you need if that plan doesn't go the way you thought. For example, an online school to help you with classes you don't feel comfortable teaching. There are many social media forums for discussing tips and tricks with other homeschool parents, as well as lots of online resources to help you get started.
Homeschooling special ed students is similar to any other student in that you'll need:
- A dedicated learning space
- Flexibility to change things up if something's not working
- Patience and curiosity
Don't let yourself get overwhelmed. It's a big job, but it's a worthy one, and you'll have help every step of the way.
Tips For Homeschooling Special Ed Students
Are you looking for some concrete, actionable tips to help prepare yourself and your special needs child for homeschooling? Here's what you need to know!
Keep Curriculum in Mind
Remember to look up your state's requirements for subjects. You have a little flexibility in how you teach those subjects, though. For example, some students do better with textbooks, while others learn better on a computer or even a mobile device. Many providers have a trial or "placement quiz" that will help you determine what level your child is working at, so you can select the appropriate curriculum. Remember, a little challenge goes a long way. But you don't want to overwhelm or frustrate your student with work. Finding the right balance for your student is key.
Stay on Top of Record-Keeping
Homeschooling involves a lot of record-keeping, and there are even more things to keep track of when you're working with a special needs student. Remember to save doctors' notes and evaluations, personalized academic and developmental goals, any special instructions for curriculum, and yearly records of behavioral patterns.
Stick to the Plan, but Be Flexible
You won't know everything on day one, but it does help to have a solid plan in place. Try working with your student to create an individualized learning plan that involves subjects they're interested in as well as the "less fun" stuff for well-balanced days. Don't be afraid to get creative--for example, try volunteering as part of a social studies course, or makeup games to help remember spelling words. It's all about finding what works for your special needs child and translating that into a class or learning opportunity.
Make Learning Fun
Homeschooling is educational, sure, but it can also be fun. No one knows your child better than you do--so remember to find creative ways to keep your student engaged and inspired throughout the school day. Feel free to try new things until something clicks. After all, you're learning too!
One thing that many new homeschool families worry about is socialization. Indeed, your student will likely have fewer opportunities to interact with peers. But for children who have trouble focusing or are struggling with bullies, sometimes a little personalized, one-on-one education is just what they need. Additionally, there are plenty of opportunities to socialize in the homeschool community--and since you're in charge of deciding what works for your special needs child and what doesn't, you won't have to worry about social situations going south.
Are you homeschooling your special education child? Looking for a little help along the way? Contact us today!