I’m thrilled to introduce you to my new friend, Jennifer Janes. She offers a perspective on an important homeschooling issue that I am often asked about. If you enjoy her guest post (and I know you will!), I hope you will visit her blog.
Some parents know they’re starting the homeschooling journey with a child with special needs. They can prepare themselves for the journey ahead. But what about those who think everything is fine, then find out otherwise?
I knew my daughter had special needs early on. What I didn’t realize as we started her kindergarten year is that she has learning disabilities too, making her special needs even more challenging. It took me until October, when we were on our fourth reading curriculum, to admit that there was a problem. This smart, bubbly little girl was really struggling with academics. I wasn’t prepared for that. I started to panic.
If you find yourself in the same situation I did, there’s hope.
When you realize you’re homeschooling a child with special needs, there are things you can do to take control of the situation.
- Take some deep breaths. The situation isn’t as hopeless as it seems. There are a lot of families homeschooling a child with special needs successfully. You can do it too.
- Figure out the problem. You have to know what you’re dealing with before you can create a plan. Whether it’s ordering some books from Amazon or seeking a professional evaluation, you need to take steps to identify your child’s specific challenge.
- Gather resources. If you haven’t already joined HSLDA, I highly recommend that you do. The legal representatives can help you with the legalities of homeschooling in your state, connect you with special needs consultants who can guide you through finding a curriculum to use with your child, and provide you with regular newsletters to address different aspects of special needs homeschooling.
- Find your tribe. There are other families out there who are on a similar path. It helps if you can find some to collaborate with. They can share their research into different resources and teaching strategies and may even have some items you can borrow (to see if they work for your child) before you invest in them. If you don’t know anyone in your community, there are groups for special needs homeschooling online on various forums and social media sites.
- Be willing to try something different. Your child may not (probably doesn’t) learn with the same learning style that’s comfortable for you. Learn about different teaching methods and use them with your child until you find what works best.
- Relax. Your child will learn, and you will navigate through the issues that seem so daunting now. Give your child permission to learn at a comfortable pace and learn to mark progress, not completion of curriculum at a certain grade-level.
What are your best tips for navigating those first days of homeschooling a child with special needs?