Am I Qualified to Homeschool My Child With Special Needs?

Am I qualified to homeschool my child with special needs? Yes! Here is why you are qualified to homeschool your child with special needs and what you can say to the critics.

“Aren’t you worried that you are keeping him from really getting the help he needs?”

“You don’t want your son to miss out on the professional help the school system provides.”

“How can you possibly think that you are more qualified than someone who has been trained to help with autism and dyslexia?”

All three of these comments came from concerned family members and friends.

All three caused me a little bit of anxiety. A little bit of fear. And then a lot of ‘I just wish they could see how good this has been for my boys, how much progress they’ve made, how much this adds to their life (and to mine).’

We have been homeschooling now for five years. We began before we had a single diagnosis for either child, largely because school was a very difficult place for my oldest son. After two years in public school classrooms, it was clear that although he was in the top 1% of second graders in the school district and had perfect grades, my son was miserable every single day. Because he was so advanced academically, he was also not learning anything new at all.

It took seeing him painfully try to fit in, hearing kids tease him about his 6th grade reading level, having meltdowns every morning over having to put on shoes/get out the door, his teacher telling me that she didn’t need my input, the constant threat of bells ringing, crowded cafeterias, PE on the prickly grass – it took all of this to cause me to take a step back and say, maybe this isn’t working.

The sensory issues my son deals with everyday, are alone enough to make schooling at home a good choice for him. He could hear other student’s pencils writing on papers in classrooms, the whir of the air conditioner, the ticking of the clock. He could smell the sickly, sweet lunch boxes in the corner after lunch, the grass on the bottom of someone’s shoe, the markers used on the dry erase board. My son’s memories of school mostly revolve around the sensory overload he experienced every single day.

A year after we began homeschooling, he was diagnosed with autism and generalized anxiety disorder. A year later, we learned his brother is profoundly dyslexic.

In both instances, I was asked if, now that we had the diagnoses, I would be putting the boys back in school.

My answer was a very resolved, “No.”

One of the reasons I am so passionate about writing, is because I think there is a serious misconception that homeschooling not a viable option when your child has special needs. Moreover, there is also a perception that a child with special needs is missing out on valuable therapies and resources, when they are not a part of the school system.

The question I am most often asked is this –

Am I Qualified to Homeschool My Children With Special Needs?

My answer is, in short, “Yes.”

I Have Training 

I do have some training. I actually went to school to be a special education teacher back in the day. I did my student teaching in special education classrooms. I studied book upon book about individualized learning plans, IEP’s, education law, and classroom management. As a result, I know a little more than some about what my children could expect in a special needs classroom. I also know that for my two guys, there is no way that would be an option. Both of my children have genius level IQ’s, but also have serious education deficits. This asychrony (also called ‘twice exceptional’) makes classroom placement difficult.  For example, at home, my dyslexic nine-year old is reading at a 1st to 2nd grade level, but is completing 7th grade level science and history. This would be impossible to replicate in a school environment. (Please note: In my state, no special training or education level is required at all to homeschool any child, including those with special needs. Some states do require a little more oversight, but all allow parents to choose to homeschool their children, no matter what the diagnosis. I have some education and training, but it is not necessary or required.

Access to Resources 

My children do have access to therapists and use outside resources(boy do they). My youngest saw an educational therapist for a year to help lay the groundwork for reading. In addition, I met with her once a month and she taught me the methods she used with him, so that I could replicate them at home. The same is true for occupational therapy and social skills therapies for my oldest. We are by no means doing this alone, and have plenty of experts helping to speak into my children’s overall development.

Expertise 

Every single mom I know with unique little ones like mine is an expert. I say this with complete confidence. We read more books, learn more online, ask more questions and try to piece together answers for our children beyond what the school system can provide. Children with special needs, whether in school or not, rely on their parents to be their most passionate advocates.This is true in IEP meetings, doctors’ appointments, therapists’ offices and parent teacher conferences, without fail. It is also true in homeschooling. I know my boys better than anyone else on the planet. I know what works and what doesn’t work when my oldest did not sleep and was anxious all night long. I know how difficult the last set of sight words were for my youngest, and can take the time to research the best way to help him proceed. I have the time and the passion that would be unrealistic to expect from anyone else.

Right Choice 

I don’t think this is the right choice for every family, but I do think it is the right choice for mine. I care deeply about my children’s education. I have put a lot of thought into this. What I have found is that homeschooling is the best way to give them what they need to be successful in life. This is true academically, as well as socially. We have a supportive and loving community of friends who also homeschool. My children benefit from the opportunity to make friends in their own time and at their own pace, as much as they benefit from progressing academically at their own pace. Homeschooling actually gives them a social experience that makes sense for their needs.

Special education itself in America, began as a way to individualize learning for the children that needed it most. I think there are wonderful ways to do that within the school system. And I think there are wonderful ways to achieve the same objective at home.

The longer we do this, the more progress I see, and the more I learn that I am perfectly qualified to homeschool my children with special needs.

You are too.

And I am so grateful we have the opportunity to do so.

 

Bio – Shawna Wingert is a grateful wife and mother, an accidental writer, and a passionate speaker. She writes about motherhood, special needs, and the beauty of everyday messes atwww.nottheformerthings.com. She is also the author of two books, Everyday Autism and Special Education at Home.

 

 

Embracing the Many Roles of a Homeschool Mom

The roles of a homeschool mom can leave us feeling exhausted. But, we don’t have to. Here are three ways we can embrace the many roles of a homeschool mom.

The alarm goes off at 5:15 am. Within minutes I’m up and working as a VA. A few hours later the kids begin to roll out of bed and I start hearing the word “mom”. Breakfast needs to be made, and chores need managed.  Before too long I’m gathering up the kids for school time.  Hours later more food needs cooked and served, followed by more time teaching.

After school means piano and soccer, followed by yet another meal.   The husband comes home and the role of dutiful wife is upon me.  There are bedtime routines, family devotions and hugs good night.Throughout the day There had been boo boos that needed bandaged, foreheads that were kissed, animals that were fed and books that get read.  I fall asleep exhausted knowing the next day will be the same.

The Role of a Homeschool Mom

The role of homeschool mom never ends. There are no yellow school buses taking our kids to school while we clean the house and run errands.    I have said before and I still stand by the fact that our jobs are one of the only  ones that are truly 24/7.

The many roles of a homeschool mom can leave us feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. But, we don’t have to feel that way. Here are three ways we can embrace the many roles of a homeschool mom.

Count our Blessings

When I am feeling overwhelmed and underpaid (HA!) I remind myself of the blessing of homeschooling. There are no good byes at the bus stop. There is no homework at the end of the day. There is no wondering what our kids are doing if they are safe, or what they are being taught. I know. Homeschooling is a blessing and one that the Lord has called me to do. When I stop and count the blessing that homeschooling has given me I feel a lot less overwhelmed.

Rest

This is something that most of us don’t do enough off. However, I was reminded of the importance of rest this past school year. As I faced a year of burn out I realized that really the only person I had to blame for my predicament was myself. I said YES more than I said NO. I homeschooled out of negligence. I chose frustration over joy and all of these situations came because I was tired and hadn’t allowed myself to rest. Homeschool moms NEED rest and without we are not equipped to handle the many roles we face each day.

Enlist Help

We don’t have to do it all. Yes, we face many roles, but how many of those have to lie solely on our own shoulders? Not many.  Dad can help with grading papers, kids can help with chores, see if grandma can help with that errand that needs ran, and ask a friend if you can carpool to soccer practice. Too many times we carry a burden on our shoulders that we don’t have to face alone.

Moms, as we all start back to school chances are before too long we are going to feel overwhelmed and overextended. The many roles of a homeschool mom means we are running to and fro. However, we have a choice to make. Do you want your children to remember a homeschool mom that was too busy for one more book? Or one that said yes to what truly matters? Do you want to be an over tired mom who hasn’t made time to rest? Or do you want to be a mom who takes the time to care for herself so she can better serve her family?

This year I want to face the many roles of a homeschool mom head on. I want to embrace my role as a homeschool mom and not look at our homeschool day as another thing to mark off of my to-do list.  I want to enlist help from others so I can face my roles with a smile. I want to be a joyful and happy homeschool mom. And that choice starts with me!

How can you embrace the many roles of a homeschool mom? 


Author Bio: Misty Bailey and her husband have been married for over a decade and have three beautiful children. She shares her struggles with time management, becoming unglued, homeschooling and finding joy in the everyday moments on her blog Joy in the Journey.

What to Teach in Middle School

Middle school! Preparing for high school can be overwhelming. Wondering what to teach in middle school? Here are a few basic concepts that need to be taught in middle school.

The past few weeks we have been taking a look at homeschooling middle school. Check out part one and part two to see topics discussed thus far.  As we shared, homeschooling middle school is a time of transition for the homeschool mom and the student. It is a time of more responsibility, fewer hands on cutesy stuff, and more independent learning.  This week we are going to continue discussing what to teach in middle school.

How to Teach Social Studies

Up until this age many subjects — history, geography, current events, and government — are lumped into the social studies category, but once students reach middle school, they will start receiving instruction in each category.

 The separate areas that make up social studies, however, can all be taught within the context of history. Government, economics, geography, and sociology all come together in one particular time and place in history.

Typically during the course of middle school, a student will have one year of U.S. History. This year will cover the colonial period and the American Revolution and continue on through the Civil War.

During middle school students can also spend a year studying the history of their personal state, followed up by a year studying government including the U.S. constitution, the political system, and how citizens participate in it.

How to Teach Science

The key to teaching middle school science? Keeping it fun! Studies have found in schools where the focus of science is fun, students score higher test results and retain more information. How do you do this in your homeschool? Keeping them engaged and interested. This helps prepare them for more complex and abstract science in high school.

During middle school, a student will study a variety of different topics related to science. This includes:

  • Physical science-Including laws of motion, force, speed and the transfer of energy. They will conduct experiments, use tools to gather and organize data, and learn how to make graphs present their findings.
  • Life science-This includes everything from the human body to ecology.
  • Earth and space science-Students will learn how the earth was formed, about the earth’s orbit and how it relates to time.
  • Geology-This typically focuses on a single point of interest like the Grand Canyon. Students learn how to read geological lessons in the rock and discern the effect of erosion on the earth’s natural features.

The learning continues by taking trips to places like zoos, aquariums, planetariums, nature preserves, and tech museums. Students at this age will often benefit from participation in a science fair. If your homeschool group does not offer one consider setting one up yourself!

How to Teach Social Skills

This may be a time of great transition for your middle schooler—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. These years can be a challenge as your child deals with changes they may not understand. With these changes can come problems with friends, relationships, and peer pressure. It is important to teach your child respect, manners, and how to deal with situations that may arise. In doing so it is also VERY important to keep the lines of communication open. Let them know they can come to you with problems regarding social issues. Let them know you will listen without judgement. Take their concerns seriously and you will develop an even stronger relationship with your middle schooler.

How to Teach Health and Safety

At this age, middle schoolers are learning about food, nutrition, the importance of movement and more. Teach your child how to track what they eat, read a food label, count calories, and the importance of exercise. The key at this age is not to hone in on losing weight, or “looking” good, but to teach them the importance of caring for their body and staying healthy and active.

These are a few areas to focus on teaching in middle school. Keep in mind that in addition to the above it is always important to focus on areas that your child is interested in. Interest led learning is an important aspect of homeschooling. We hope this series on homeschooling middle school has encouraged and educated you to homeschool middle school.

 

Author Bio: Misty Bailey and her husband have been married for over a decade and have three beautiful children. She shares her struggles with time management, becoming unglued, homeschooling and finding joy in the everyday moments on her blog Joy in the Journey.

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