Of course, we know that our children with special needs have struggles with learning. But it doesn’t stop us, parents to dream for them to finish school and to be productive citizens of our community in the years to come. I know you have fears of them being bullied in school for not being able to develop friendship with their classmates, and you may have this question in your mind, ” Special needs homeschool, can my child learn from me? “
You may think, I am just a stay at home mom with no formal training in teaching kids. And more doubts, ” Will my child listen to me? Will I be able to really impart to him what a regular teacher would do in school? ”
With those questions about your abilities and thinking of his safety in school…..
You have to decide, because it will impact his future.
Is homeschooling the better option?
Let us look at the pros and cons of homeschooling.
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Benefits of a special needs home school
As parents, we always hope for the best outcome or learning potential for our special kid.
If you have the time and the resources to home school your child, it could be your best option for him.
These are some positive aspects for letting your child attend home school.
- Specific needs will be addressed. You as the parent who is there for your child 24/7 truly understands what your special child needs, for example you will know what your child is struggling, maybe reading or verbalizing his needs.
- One-on-one attention will boost your child’s confidence more than ever and he will learn faster.
- Avoiding many obstacles in a traditional classroom. Communication will be the biggest struggle in school, but with you around in the home school, he can always be open to verbalize his needs or put forward his concerns non- verbally if need be. Bullying would be an issue that can be avoided there as well.
Click the images to buy these helpful books and planner to make homeschooling easier.
- Flexible time and schedule. A structured time and schedule is good, but there will be times that your child would need to move his schedule or you may need to do it yourself for whatever reason.
- Observing up close your child’s progress and struggles. As the parent-teacher, you will see first-hand your child’s development or what area he needs to focus on.
- Understanding your child’s inadequacies and coping mechanisms. Only a parent can accept unconditionally his child’s shortcomings.
- Pacing of teaching can be adjusted depending on your child’s improvement. You don’t have to report to a principal or superior about why your child is still unable to read or identify colors at a certain time and explain why.
- Comfortable surroundings for your child will let him learn more effectively. You can both be in your jammies and sitting in your bed reading together. He doesn’t need to go out in extreme cold if the weather is not so good.
Drawbacks of homeschooling
Attending a traditional school for your child would be the best option if need be, but it is not always possible, or you think making him attend home school is the best because you believe you can offer him the best education there is.
There are negative feedback of course, and would include the following:
- Social skills will not be optimized. Since he is alone at home with you, he will not develop the best friendships and good communication skills.
- Your child will test the limits of your patience. There might be a time that you might feel so frustrated if he learns so slow or forgets what he has learned and you feel that homeschooling in not fit for your special child.
- You might feel inadequate for your child as a mentor having no teaching experiences in school, more so with a special kid.
- Tantrums or meltdowns might happen many times that are hard to control and as a parent, may discourage you to stop the lessons for the day.
- In the early stages or even before starting homeschooling especially if a special child has been previously enrolled in a public school, some school officials harass the parents and don’t allow the special child to dis-enroll because of fear of losing funding.
- Special needs children may lose government-funded special child services such as speech therapy when home schooled.
How to improve your child’s skills as a home schooler
As the teacher for your special child, you can always plan on improving how you handle him. You don’t need to suggest to his teacher in the regular school what you think is the best way to offer him lessons.
- Let your special child attend group activities like your church’s Sunday school or your neighbourhood’s annual picnic to broaden his horizon and meet other kids.
- Enrol him in extracurricular activities like piano lessons where he can interact with another teacher or other students if they will have recitals or concerts.
- Let him stick to a routine as much as possible, like the same schedule each day for school, play, and homework. This will develop in him discipline and good study habits.
- Daily habit of reading if he can, or reading to him if still not able on his own.
- Related post: The Benefits of Reading Everyday ( Make Learning a Fun Experience for your Special Child )
- Encourage him to ask questions, thus enabling him to learn through exploration and discovery.
- Give rewards for his achievements. There is no better way to encourage him to achieve more if he sees that you appreciate his efforts.
- Encourage him to repeat works or projects that are not acceptable at first or second try. Let him feel that mistakes are okey as long as he tries again to correct them.
- Discuss with him why he did not get good results or scores with certain exams or projects and encourage him to give suggestions on how he can overcome these.
- Balance learning with fun. Introduce play as much as possible or activities that your child enjoys in your daily lessons.
- Connect with other parent-teachers ( join home school groups ) so you could compare ways on how to optimize teaching to your child and he can meet new friends as well.
- Be patient with your child’s progress and just be content of what he can achieve daily. Don’t expect too much.
- Display his works at home such as in the fridge or a dedicated corner or show to family so he knows that you are proud of his achievements.
Legalities and requirements of homeschooling
While homeschooling is legal in all 50 states in the US and all provinces in Canada, there are different requirements of each state or province where you live.
Call the authorities or agencies in your place just to be sure that they will not go after you and you will be out of trouble.
Some places require home school parents to meet basic educational qualifications, like a high school diploma or GED or a teaching certificate, but most states in the US do not have this requirement.
For Canadian homeschooling, please visit your province’s Department of Education websites for specific requirements. Some provinces may require you to report to them periodically for your child’s achievements. Or you need to tell them before you start home schooling.
I have mentioned only US and Canada here as examples, but if you live somewhere else, this could also apply to you.
Parents excel in giving education to their special needs children
A year-long research was conducted by Dr Steven Duvall in eight elementary and two junior high students with learning disabilities, where five students were home schooled and five attended public schools.
He did this by seating-in on teaching sessions and observed every twenty seconds how the students used academically engaged time during instructional periods. He then encoded data in his laptop which were double-checked by a second observer.
Likewise, Dr Duvall measured the students’ scores in standardized achievement tests in reading, math and written language.
Look at the amazing results!
- The home schooled special kids showed academic engagement two and a half times more than those enrolled in public schools.
- The home schooled kids spent only 40.7 % of their time with no academic responses against 74.9 % for the kids in public schools.
- The teachers and kids in home schools were sitting side -by-side or face-to-face 43% of the time compared to only 6% of the time for public schools. This gave more advantage for the home schooled kids.
- The home schooled kids showed an average of six months improvement in reading compared to only half a month gain for special kids enrolled in public schools.
- The home schooled kids showed an average of eight months improvement in written language skills compared to only 2.5 months in kids enrolled in public schools.
Dr. Duvall summarized, “These results clearly indicate that parents, even though they are not certified teachers, can create instructional environments at home that assist students with learning disabilities to improve their academic skills. This study clearly shows that homeschooling is beneficial for special-needs students.”
It is a very positive and encouraging study, so my dear parents, take the opportunity to home school your kids if you can!
What parents say about homeschooling or home education:
Here are three parents who found homeschooling effective for their children with special needs.
JOYCE has this to say – from HE Special-Home Education in the UK-Special Educational Needs
” My son was thrown out of a private mainstream nursery at the age of 4. What followed was his diagnosis of autism and my decision to home educate. I am lazy and chicken, decided I would rather provide him what he needs socially and educationally myself than spend my days beating my head against the doors of authorities to convince them to provide it. And all that otherwise frustrated time is instead spent enjoying my happy, unique son.The result so far –
My husband and my family are now convinced that we made the right choice. My son is happy and excited about learning. It’s not all roses, he does balk at writing but he excels at chemistry (sorry for the brag).
They have come to see that it works. He can race ahead at what he loves and get extra time for things he struggles with, all in a nonjudgmental environment.
It is so far beyond what I could hope to find for him in a school. His joy in learning is worth all the effort.”
MARSHA IDDINGS shares her feelings about homeschooling her son Matthew:
“The most important fact that I discovered while developing Matt’s home school program is this: You, the parent, will always be your child’s greatest advocate. No other professional knows, cares, or loves your child with the depth that you do. This, more than any other factor, is important in creating a successful learning environment for the challenged child.”
LIANNA KOERNER, whose 13 year old son Gabriel, has Down syndrome, homeschooled him after four unsuccessful years in the elementary school.
Lianna says , ” The luxury of Gabe’s learning ability is a gift. We can master a skill before moving onto another. There are no “precedents or antecedents of behaviour” to be discussed. He has been growing into a responsible person who is assured that it is okay to be right where he needs to be educationally. He is happy now and it shows.
Gabriel is living a life of inclusion, where he can safely learn what he needs to learn without adults pushing their own perceptions about Down syndrome into his education. “
Home schooling could be the best option for your child with special needs
There you go, considering the many benefits of homeschooling plus the positive results of the study done by Dr. Duvall and the awesome and positive experiences of some parents, let you be inspired to start to home school your special kid and erase your worries that you cannot be the best teacher for your special child, but of course, he can definitely learn from you.
You as the parent who is there for your child 24/7 is the only one who knows your special child’s strengths and weaknesses to the core.
You are the only one who can offer him unconditional love and full support.
Your child feels secure with you at home, where it is the safest environment for him.
So, my dear parents, if you have the time and resources, go and home-school your special child!
You can be the best teacher for him. Ever.
Originally published: November 30, 2019 Updated: June 13, 2020
Do you have plans of homeschooling your special child?
Or are you already homeschooling your child with special needs?
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