I Can’t Homeschool Because My Child Has Special Needs

I Can't Homeschool Because My Child Has Special Needs - jenniferajanes.com

I Can’t Homeschool Because My Child Has Special Needs

I hear a lot of reasons why people can’t homeschool, but the fact that one of their children has special needs is a big one. The truth is that you can homeschool, even if your child has special needs.

When I learned that my younger daughter had serious learning difficulties, I was terrified. I was a classroom teacher before I married my husband, but I had no experience in special education. I did a lot of research, talked to a lot of people, asked a lot of questions, and had some evaluations done for my daughter. I gathered a little more information each time, and I have finally come to the point where I feel comfortable in my role as the homeschooling parent of a child with special needs. Do I have all the answers? No, but I am confident that I can find what I need for my daughter to reach her full potential.

Homeschooling a child with special needs is really no different from homeschooling other children. It may take a little more trial and error to get to what works for your child, but it can be done.

Being patient is key to homeschooling a child with special needs. You have to be patient with your child and with yourself, realizing that both of you are doing the best you can. Give yourself the time you need to figure things out for both of you. Homeschooling is a wonderful way to educate a child with special needs. They get one-on-one, customized instruction from someone who is completely emotionally involved and has their best interests at heart. You won’t get that anywhere else.

Steps to Help You Homeschool a Child with Special Needs

  • Determine what your child’s learning difficulties are. Is the problem primarily with math, handwriting, reading, or are you dealing with a combination of issues? If you can’t figure it out on your own, see about doing some testing. You can pay for an evaluation, or use resources that will allow you to test your child yourself.
  • Find resources that help you address areas of difficulty. Talk to a friend whose child has similar struggles and ask what works for them. Search for blogs, books, and organizations that can help. If you’re a member of HSLDA, you have access to special needs consultants who can help you on the journey. There are groups for special needs homeschooling on Facebook and Google +. You can follow hashtags on Twitter that will show a stream of tweets with links to great information.
  • Try some things, and then try more! I have tried more methods and used more programs than I can list here in helping my daughter. When something didn’t work, we put it aside and tried something else. I asked to borrow resources or purchased used ones whenever necessary until I was sure something worked.
  • When you find something that works, run with it! I finally realized that multisensory teaching methods work best for my daughter, so if a book or program doesn’t use multisensory activities, I don’t even consider it. It has made looking for new curriculum and programs much easier.
  • Know when to take a break. You can’t go full speed ahead all day every day (or even for several hours in a row) when you homeschool a child with special needs. Learn to recognize your child’s cues of impending overload and honor those. Take time to read aloud, play a game (with educational value, of course 😉 ), do sensory diet activities, create an art project, or whatever relaxes your child. (A documentary on Netflix might even be in order!)
  • Remember that the race goes to the slow and steady. Your child has processing issues that make it difficult to process academic information? Mine does too. We don’t work through concepts as quickly as my older daughter did, but we’re making progress. There’s no point in pushing her faster than her brain can comprehend everything. But if you keep nudging your child forward, a little at a time, pushing them just a little further than the day before, you will look back at the end of the semester or school year and realize how far you’ve come. Celebrate that progress!

Resources to Help You Homeschool Your Child with Special Needs

What is your best tip for homeschooling a child with special needs?

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The bloggers of iHomeschool Network are exploring a lot of reasons why people say they can’t homeschool. Yes, you can! Read all the posts for encouragement and inspiration!

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38 Responses to I Can’t Homeschool Because My Child Has Special Needs

  1. Dawn says:

    This is a great article. All four of our children have special needs. I love that you said, “The race goes to the slow and steady”.
    Blessings, Dawn

  2. I would love to be able to post your article as is- with a link back to your web site- on my site Surprising Treasures – under the heading Treasures in Life Challenges – would that be possible? What a great article encouraging those with special needs to home school! (we do too! Bethany- 12 ds) blessings

    • Cindy, Google really frowns on duplicate content and will penalize both our sites if the same article appears on both. You may write something about having found an encouraging article, etc., with a link back to my post. Thank you for your interest!

  3. Our family actually began homeschooling because our children have special needs – their needs were not being met in the school system, and their spirits were being crushed. In the end, it came down to a choice: as parents, we could either spend our time and energy fighting for services and supports the schools did not want to provide, or we could spend that same time and energy creatively, providing what our children needed ourselves. We chose homeschooling because it was a more positive path for our special needs kids.

    • Thank you for sharing that, Tricia. I know many parents who have been in the same situation. We actually began homeschooling before we realized the extent of our daughter’s special needs. I am thankful every day that we followed God’s leading to homeschool.

  4. Thanks for sharing, and thanks for the list of resources! Even with my son’s learning issues, I still feel that I’m the best person to teach him, it’s just a matter of figuring out how :) Thanks for the encouragement.

    • You’re welcome, Crystal. Hang in there! You are your son’s best teacher and best advocate. You know him better than anyone else, regardless of what some professionals may try to tell you. Please stay in touch and let me know how I can help.

  5. Excellent post, Jennifer. It isn’t easy but it is so worth it!

  6. Angie says:

    I am just beginning this journey, as you know. It has been such a blessing to connect with other special needs moms online. I would still be so confused and overwhelmed with how to sort out all of the information had I not done so. I’m so excited to go through the list of resources you listed! I’m a resource junkie!

    • Enjoy the resources! I love them too.

      I love how God is using technology to bring all of us together to support and encourage one another. I’m glad we have gotten connected!

  7. Thank you for sharing this at NextGen Homeschool’s “What’s Working Wednesday” link-up today, Jennifer. Such an important post! I look forward to referring moms to you when I get this question/comment. We’ve pinned it for sharing. :)
    Renée at NextGen Homeschool

  8. Staci says:

    I am thinking of homeschooling my special needs child. He will be in the 8th grade next year (which if I start would be the beginning of that year). Any suggestions or comments to help me decide?

    • I don’t have any suggestions or comments, but I do have some questions that may help you think it through:

      Why are you thinking of homeschooling your child?

      What do you hope to accomplish by homeschooling?

      How will homeschooling meet your son’s needs better than his current situation?

      Let me know if this helps. If you wish to discuss further, feel free to email me at jennifer@jenniferajanes.com

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  12. Dan R Morris says:

    What’s great about homeschooling children who have “learning difficulties” is that most learning difficulties exist because of public school. Learning difficulties like dyslexia and dyscalculia are heightened because public school forces kids to learn pretty much one way – the hard way. Homeschooling gives you the opportunity to teach the way your children learn. It’s a perfect synergy. Anyway I loved your article.

    The only thing I would add is that Dr Lindas Blog has great free “toolkits” for homeschool parents of dyslexic children.

    • Thank you for your kind words! I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s great to be able to teach your children – especially the ones who struggle with traditional teaching methods – with activities that are customized for their learning styles.

      Thank you for sharing the resource too. I’ll check it out!

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  15. Spirit says:

    I homeschool 3 special needs kids: tween to teens. I can help Staci whose son is entering 8th grade. Yahoo has a group called homeschool special needs kids – we can help you Staci.

    • Thank you so much for offering to help! This post is actually a list of ways that you CAN homeschool a child with special needs. The title was written that way because it was part of a link-up written by the bloggers of iHomeschool Network to answer objections to homeschooling. Be blessed!

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  18. Lynn says:

    I can’t homeschool my kids because I can’t afford to. ….. YET. I am finishing grad school with a very specific goal of having my own business within 5 years so I can.

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  22. Charlotte Quevedo says:

    It is worth mentioning though that I put my son thru the first 2 years of school because I had a new baby and he was aggressive. He has severe autism. I could not risk our safety. Also because of the fact that my baby wanted to nurse all the time I was torn for time. He was sitting by himself playing piano, I felt bad for him but could not reason with the baby, she would cry and I am not a believer in letting babies cry it out. I tried to get my son to relax with us but he was just angry and I had no help whatsoever. I had to face the daily challenge of getting 3 meals done with a baby who was so fixed on nursing that she hated being worn in a carrier.

    His aba therapist helped me realize that without any time on my hands and lack of money/support, he needed to go to school. It would ease me up from my stress load of trying to do it all and it would give him the aba hours he needed.

    Now that my dd is bigger she takes one long solid nap. He is still aggressive but I am able to deal with him more now that she is not a baby. Sometimes when I am cooking I still have to make him wait in his room with a piano, and some books. I am starting up a medicine now too.

    I put him on part-time enrollment this year on a schedule that meets his sleep needs. I do his ABA during her nap, putting all housework aside, plus I just bought a book on teaching autistic children to read. They have outside time in the morning, then after her nap I try to include him in finger painting or other art, he reads one page from a book since he hates books, puzzle time, etc.

    I still have equipment needed in order to be successful. He refuses to sit down or do anything and is extremely strong, so I have to buy a chair with a harness.

    My point though is that special needs children are not just children with learning difficulties. Some children who cannot talk enough have behavioral difficulties that can be dangerous to other children.

    • You’re right, Charlotte. Every child and situation are unique. You have to make the decisions that are best for YOUR child and YOUR situation. It sounds like you’re doing a great job of assessing your family’s needs and making decisions based on that information, understanding that those decisions and needs change over time.

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  25. Cindy Fisher says:

    I love that parents homeschooling their children with special needs are tailoring instruction to their sensory and scheduling needs. As a special educator for over 30 years, I have witnessed neighbors homeschooling quite successfully. The instruction included home-based businesses (baking/mowing) which included practical lifeskills. The schedule also freed them up to study topics of choice in depth.

    I’d like to offer up an idea. As a teacher, I wanted something that would build independence for students who were getting ready to graduate, but who had occasional anxiety about everyday issues. I wanted something that would provide support so that they could go into the community with a sense of confidence, while giving parents peace of mind that they would be supported. I created a decision-making mobile app, Smart Steps Mobile. It offers choices, one step at a time, for everyday problems such as a lost item or awkward social situations. Tips and social scripts are offered at the moment needed. If unable to solve the problem, they are prompted to call for help. A profile screen shows the person’s name in case they freeze up and are unable to speak in a tense moment. It can be used for role playing or practicing ahead of time, and then it’s easier to use at the moment needed. By fall 2016, it will have a portal that will allow you to edit the existing decision trees or create your own content. It’s available on Apple and Google Play as a free download. To create a free account and subscribe to the paid features (new plans available by September 2016), go to the website.

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