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How Can You Adequately Teach Your Special Needs Child?
I am often approached by people, online and in person, who ask (sometimes nicely and sometimes not) how I can possibly teach a child with special needs without formal training.
It’s true. Although I am a professional educator and was a classroom teacher in public schools for several years before I came home, I was never trained or certified in special education beyond the basics needed to identify children who might need extra help so I could refer them for testing and evaluation.
And yet, I manage to homeschool a child with special needs, to help her make progress, and to provide her with an educational experience that has been praised by more than one professional on her team of specialists and therapists.
Just as I do not believe that you must be a certified classroom teacher to homeschool your child successfully, I do not believe parents must be special education trained and certified to homeschool their special needs children. Here’s why:
- Intuition. God gives a child’s parents that innate sense or “gut feeling” that something isn’t right with their child. I have not always been a firm believer in “mother’s (or father’s) intuition,” but I am now. I have lost track of the number of times I have felt like something just wasn’t right with one of my children and been proven correct when I finally got them to the right professional or specialist. Don’t underestimate yourself as a parent. God gives you the grace to parent your children, and the bigger the need (as with a child with special needs), the more grace you get!
- Intimate knowledge. Parents know more about their children than anyone else. They spend tens of thousands of hours with them, and they get to know every quirk in their personalities, their likes and dislikes, their strengths and weaknesses, and their talents better than anyone else. Because of this intimate knowledge, parents are best equipped to choose curriculum and learning activities that their child will receive maximum benefit from.
- Customized learning experiences. Parents who homeschool are not limited by the materials provided by the state or supplied by certain vendors. We can research vendors, price ranges, the amount of research and the philosophy behind each product and purchase the one that fits our child’s needs best. We can provide multisensory learning experiences for children who don’t learn well with traditional workbooks and worksheets. We can work sensory integration activities into our days for children who need them. We can take field trips to provide unique hands-on learning experiences related to the topics we’ve been studying at home. The opportunities are endless.
- One-on-one instruction. The student-teacher ratio in a homeschool is excellent. This allows for lots of specialized tutoring and one-on-one instruction that public schools normally can’t provide because of budget cuts, personnel shortages, and lack of time.
- Help. Parents may not be certified special education instructors, but they are certainly not without the help they need to homeschool a child with special needs! There are special needs consultants available for HSLDA members, tutors for hire locally, and websites and books with research and resources galore. There are online forums where families can ask other parents what’s working for them, professionals and therapists who evaluate and make recommendations that give these families guidance in their educational decision-making, and support groups where families can share life with other families. We do not homeschool our children with special needs in a vacuum!
Why do you believe parents are uniquely able to teach their children with special needs?
(Please keep comments respectful. Disrespectful comments and comments that are argumentative solely for the sake of arguing will be deleted.)
This post is part of iHomeschool Network’s “Answering the Homeschool Critics” link up. To read more posts, visit the landing page.
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