Can I Do It?

Hundreds of parents who now home school their special needs children can testify that you, too, can do it. They will probably also admit to their own initial fears at the prospect of withdrawing their child from a school setting to educate that child at home.

They will tell you that they wanted their child to persevere, so they learned to model that ethic of “plugging away” and “sticking with it”—even on those days when giving up seemed desirable. (Most home schooling parents, whether the child has special needs or not, will confess that they have felt like “throwing in the towel” at some point during their years of home schooling.)

You, like them, know your child best and can teach your child at home using real-life experiences in a natural setting to make learning meaningful. You establish a “need to know.” That is taking advantage of actual—not artificial—motivation for them to learn. In the process of doing this, you can emphasize your child’s strengths while you are working on his relevant needs. What had previously been drudgery now has the potential to become a joy.

Armed with the truth that fearful feelings are normal, you can now proceed to some other concerns:

• Who is out there to help me?

• What curriculum shall I use?

• How can I spread myself around and manage to teach and care for my other children also?

WHAT HELP IS AVAILABLE?

Parents of struggling learners or children who have special needs are often made to feel that they need to have their children taught by a professional in order for them to reach their potential. This opinion is often presented by very loving people. The parents can’t help but ask themselves, “Am I doing a disservice to my child by teaching him or her at home? Would he/she be making more progress if he/she were in a school setting, with the professionals?”

Home schooling a special needs child is an individual decision, of course, but if you decide to home school such a child, we are here to help you be the best special education teacher you can be. With the literature, teaching aids, and other resources now available, any parent who desires to help their child learn can find that help, and eventually do a much better job with that child than any school could do.

At times there may be a need to enlist the help of some of these professionals in areas such as speech or physical therapy. However, the bulk of the teaching can be done by the parent, and is being done by parents across the nation very successfully!

RESOURCES

HSLDA

Special needs coordinators: Where else can you talk to a professional about your child’s special needs in learning, just by picking up the phone? This is a very valuable service for HSLDA members. There are two special needs/struggling learner professionals available at HSLDA to answer your questions, and guide you on your way to make your child’s learning successful.

Legal advice: State-by-state laws, testing issues, progress expectations, and transferring IEP’s from the public school setting are just a few of the areas of legal advice that are available to HSLDA members, along with all the other general membership benefits.

Rental of skills tests to determine grade levels: HSLDA has copies of the Brigance Skills test available for you to rent to find the achievement levels of your child at home. Other informal tests are also available through your special needs/struggling learner coordinators.

THERAPIES

While the bulk of the child’s education occurs at home, outside interventions for a period of time can be very beneficial in helping a child overcome some larger obstacles. These therapies are offered by professionals in your community. Their services are paid for by the family of the child. Even though it can be a hardship financially, most places offer payment plans and reductions for certain situations.

There are times when some of these services can be paid for by the family’s medical insurance. This is particularly the case if the service is recommended by the child’s pediatrician. Then a local hospital or clinic would provide the speech or occupational therapy or such, with the insurance company picking up the majority of the cost.

If the parent chooses to have his/her child’s services provided by a regional center, or public school, then there is a chance that there could be some strings attached. For example, the professionals could decide that the child is not being served well in the home school setting, but would be better served in a government-sponsored program. This is not always the case and, if it happens, please contact The Education Alliance office at 501-978-5503.

There are times when a child would benefit from therapy that is difficult to provide at home. An example of such therapies would be:

SPEECH THERAPY

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