Homeschooling with Special Needs is absolutely possible. I am not a mother to a special needs child, so I cannot speak from personal experience. However, I have worked with many children with special needs through my early elementary school training and in our social circles. And, there are many parents who also homeschool children with special needs.
You are not alone.
It can be done.
It can be pleasant.
It may be difficult at times.
But there are many, many ways to do it and you will not be alone!
If your child hasn’t been assessed by a specialist, and you feel that they need to be, you can do this in a variety of ways. This article on ParentCenterHub.Org is a great reference. This process can take time.
If you are not currently enrolled in a school, you may not know where to turn. If your doctor determines that the problem may be an emotional problem instead of a physical problem, they may refer you to a mental health professional. The Association for Children’s Mental Health website has a lot of great information regarding this topic and ways and rights on being evaluated.
There are a lot of different needs that a child can have, but most importantly, you as their parent are their number one advocate. If the child is in school or if the child is homeschooling, remember that you know your child best. Ask lots of questions from doctors! There are also many resources available online as well, and early intervention can help.
If your child has been in the public school system, they may have received an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) if they have been identified as a child with special needs. If your child has had this, it is important to keep this paperwork, especially if your child plans on attending college. While a college does not do “IEPs”, it is good to have a record of it to show for accommodations. Here is a good site for information regarding colleges and IEPs.
If your child has an IEP, your school is legally required to uphold the services that have been agreed upon in the IEP. This website has a lot of information regarding IEPs and legal information.
Deciding to homeschool
Taking on homeschooling should not be a flippant decision. I believe it should be a decision that is made with the child and the parents best interests in mind.
With distance learning as it is in 2020, many children and parents are struggling. I feel that there has also been a blurring of the barrier between school and home, and this may also cause some extreme anxiety for some parents and kids who are being overwhelmed with schoolwork. There also may be a feeling of “who is in charge?” Is it the person on the screen, or my mom/dad/guardian in the next room?
I know many parents have been posting on social media channels and reaching out to me saying that their children are crying, screaming, and even have started self hurting because of online schooling. This is not a good learning environment. While I truly believe that teachers and educators are doing their best to work within the parameters of restrictions, this may not be the best learning environment for many learners and may need to be revised.
If you are thinking of homeschooling your child, I suggest you first deschool your child. While some schools of thought suggest you should deschool for one month for every year your child has been in school, I feel it is best up to the parent to decide when their child is up to learning again. You may want to wait a week or two, or you may want to wait longer. This time should be focused on destressing, letting go of what was going on and making your home a happy place.
Learning doesn’t necessarily have to take place at a table with computers, worksheets, paper and pencils. It can be a discussion about your child’s interest. My kids LOVE watching the “How it’s Made” videos, and they learn a lot from that. You can do art projects, or just play games. But, this deschooling time is a time to reset and focus on building relationships.
Filling out the Affidavit to Homeschool
If you haven’t read my “Are You Thinking of Homeschooling?” post, this one is stocked full of how you should put in your affidavit. You will also need to withdraw from school. The withdrawal can be a phone call or email to your school. They may instruct you to do something else, but at this time (2020) the secretaries have been pretty busy taking in withdrawals).
While your child is deschooling, as a parent you will want to find support. Although many groups are not meeting in person at this time (2020), you may find some community online. There are tons of great supportive groups online for homeschoolers who can help you navigate the rough waters of homeschooling for the first time, even other parents with special needs.
- Autism and Homeschooling
- Homeschooling Special Needs Kids
- Special Needs Homeschooling
- Homeschooling our Aspergers, ADHD, ODD, ETC
- ADHD Homeschooling Support Group
- Arizona Autism Community
- Homeschooling Q & A Down Syndrome
- Homeschooling Parents of Deaf/HoH Kids
- Homeschooling Resources and Support
- Working Homeschool Mom Club
- Homeschooling Dyslexic Kids
- Arizona Dyslexia Support Group
- Developmental Disabilities in Arizona
If you are in Arizona, you can also apply for the ESA Grant if your child has already been identified as a child with special needs.
- Opting out of public school, applicants can seek alternative services such as private schools, home based education, tutoring, or therapies using state funds
- There are a lot of requirements and it is more stringent than regular homeschooling
- Who is eligible?
- Preschool students, K12 student with disability,
- Student with parent who is Active Duty Military,
- Student with Parent who was Killed in the Line of Duty,
- Student with a Parent who is Legally Blind, Deaf or Hard of Hearing
- Student attends D or F Rated School
- Student resides within a Native American Reservation
- Student is a sibling of a current or previous recipient
- Student was a ward of a court
- Student was a previous ESA Recipient
- Arizona ESA Families
Here in lies the beast of homeschooling. Finding curriculum. I think this is the hardest thing to talk about with any parent. For every 100 parents you ask about curriculum, you’ll get 150 opinions about curriculum options. There will be trial and errors with every type of curriculum, but this is why community is so important, even if it is online.
Homeschool.com has a list of curriculum that they highlight for children with disabilities. However, I have seen other people highly recommend Masterbooks, Lavender’s Blue Homeschool and so many more. Once again, you’ll find more opinions than people when it comes to curriculum. Just like any child, one particular curriculum doesn’t fit ever different child. They are special and unique in their own way.
HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association) also has wonderful articles and videos that you should check out!
Many schools have provided great routines for students that really needed that in their lives, and that may be something that you incorporate into your life once you get back into schooling. Exercise is also an important way to stimulate the body and mind, and helps kids feel more focused. Homeschooling allows to move when they need to, wiggle and feel their emotions. It can also be more relaxed for the parents too. There are no mandatory time frames to get things done. If it doesn’t get done today because everyone is cranky and not feeling it, you can put it off to another day.
Temporary vs. Permanent Decision
Many families aren’t sure if homeschooling will be a temporary or permanent solution for their family. At this time, it may be hard to know what will best fit your family, but trying a different strategy may be necessary. I did write a post about Putting your Child Back in Public School After Homeschooling that you may want to check out. It is always good to have options.
If you are a parent who would like to offer advice to other homeschoolers, I would love your feedback on this post. I have tried to include as many references as possible, but I am sure there are more out there! Thank you for all you do!