Thinking About Homeschooling Your Special Needs Child?

I can’t believe how quickly the summer flies by.

I hate that.

I love summer.

And educating my kids is the hardest part of parenting for me.

My special needs daughter had the very best kindergarten teacher in the world. Really, she did. I am not just saying that. This particular teacher is likely, realistically, in the top 1% of teachers in the nation.

She is THAT good.

However, not everyone is that good. The next grade, my daughter (who was mainstreamed in a typical 1st grade class) got her first report card. The entire thing was filled with the grade N/A. Not Applicable.

Gets along well with others? Not applicable.

Follows classroom rules? Not applicable.

Every category didn’t count for her. Obviously, that was not going to work.

When we went to look for a second grade teacher, I observed the class of the most highly recommended teacher at the school. Everyone raved about her. She was clearly uninterested in my daughter. She was curt when I was in her class, unwilling to attend any planning meeting, and if she saw me in the hallway would turn around and head the other way.

Obviously, that was not going to work.

The coordinator for her case at the school insisted we go look at the special education class. Ryan climbed up into my lap, curled into fetal position, and sucked her thumb the whole time we were there.

Obviously, that was not going to work.

That same coordinator, at the next meeting, would not put my concern/complaint about the school’s speech therapist into my daughter’s file. My daughter never hit a single IEP goal for speech; the therapist would not allow her to bring her school-paid-for-speech-device to speech. But complaints were not allowed to be put into the file.

Obviously, that was not going to work.

So we moved to private school. But the school changed and the enthusiasm for her weaned, so eventually we decided to homeschool.

Perhaps you are there, wondering what to do for your precious little person, asking if homeschool is the best available option.

I am a terrible homeschooler. I have moments of unbelievable glory, but incredible inconsistency. However, it is absolutely the very best thing for our family. We began in California and have continued in Texas. We did not sell our home in California for nearly two years, so we did not have the money I wanted for the therapies she needed. Additionally, in the two years since we moved, my mother in law passed away after a twenty year battle with dementia and my mother was diagnosed with A Typical Progressive Supranuclear Palsy.

My mom can no longer talk. She eats liquid food only. It is difficult and full of grief and anguish; and lots and lots of appointments. So there are HUGE things stacked against me in may quest to do a great job homeschooling.

But my daughter is cherished every day. She is not picking up behaviors I don’t like. We are learning–step by step. We have made progress and are ready for what will be our best year ever.

If you are wondering, YOU CAN DO THIS. Let me give you my recommendations:

  • Meet Sarah MacKenzie. She is the author of Teaching From Rest and The Read Aloud Family. She has a podcast and blog called The Read Aloud Revival. Make your number one priority to fill your world with great stories.
  • Audible. Actually, there is probably a free way to get audio books, so look there. But add audiobooks to your day’s plan. We have recently begun this and I LOVE not having the IPad out in the car. Instead, we have great stories to listen to. Running errands or going to appointments has become a productive part of our days.
  • Five In A Row. Five in A Row is a curriculum centered around reading the same story 5 days in a row. There is incredible learning tied into each story including life skills, geography, writing, comprehension and social studies. It is wonderful. It is the easiest I have come across that helps us feel like we are doing a great job day after day.
  • Light Tables. Light tables offer an open ended activity that encourages exploring and creativity. I have LOVED our activities and intend to build on that this year.
  • Play games. We play Yahtzee, go fish, and Whack-A-Mole. I am hoping to promote quick thinking and math skills. We are struggling in math.

If you add to the repertoire art and music and field trips, you will feel good about your child’s education. We have the 5 In A Row cookbook, so we will add cleaning up and cooking to the day.

Once I understood that sitting at the table for two hours each day makes all the difference in the world, things worked smoothly. Not two hours in a row–we break it up with walks, or giving her books to retreat for quiet reading time, or chores–but two hours at a table makes an incredible home school day.

It is so much less stressful than watching the system fail her..

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