My middle son, A-Man has a fairly severe speech and language delay. He has speech therapy every week, and he will soon be starting occupational therapy as well for his sensory issues. The public school system has a preschool specifically targeted for developmentally delayed or disabled children. So why would we consider homeschooling if that’s an option? Can you even homeschool a special needs child? And why in the world would we want to??
Homeschooling and Special Needs
If you have a special needs child, and you feel like you can’t homeschool because you haven’t been specifically ‘trained’ or you don’t know if you have what it takes to teach your child, I’m just going to throw out there that you can! Will it be easy? Not at all, but I haven’t really found parenting in general to be easy… And like with parenting, it can be so so worth it!
I am sure [or at least I hope] that the specialty preschool in my town has lovely teachers that care about the kids in their class, that the teachers love on the kids and are extremely patient with the varied abilities, and that they are able to see when children are being bullied or harassed. Unfortunately, I also know that schools in my area are horribly understaffed, and while teachers have the very best intentions, some kids do fall through the cracks. With A-Man unable to effectively communicate, If he was away from me for several hours every day and someone was hurting him, he couldn’t tell me about it. That risk is enough for me to keep him home.
Also with the preschool, it would be much more difficult to get A-Man to his private therapies. The preschool offers several “group therapy activities” throughout the day, but with his private sessions he gets 45 minutes [soon to be an hour and a half] of intentional, individualized activity based on solely his needs. Not to mention, I get to be there for his therapies and learn from his therapists. I may not have special training, but I can soak up every little thing that his therapists do and incorporate those into his everyday learning.
One example, A-Man learns everything through pictures and songs. So we’ve started making picture cards for as many words as we can think of. We practice lots of different songs and like to learn our letters through Super Why’s songs instead of the traditional manner. We also can take pictures of every day activities and places [the park, the car, his breakfast] so that when he can’t find the words he can use the pictures to help bring forward that vocabulary. Then of course we’ve been learning some basic sign language with him, which has helped ease his frustration tremendously!
So there are a few reasons that we choose to homeschool our son with special needs. We’ve seen so much improvement with A-Man’s vocabulary in the last few months that we know that it has been worth it. He even made it through a whole Sunday gathering in the preschool room instead of the nursery! A small victory to some, but we celebrate every accomplishment in this family!