Parents who choose to homeschool their special-needs children operate on an elevated level of determination, courage and commitment. Not only must they go against the flow of the general public and educational experts, but they also must accept that certain schooling approaches that work well for other homeschool families are counterproductive for them.
However, just like all other home-educating parents, parents who homeschool children with learning difficulties strive to create a framework for effective learning. Finding a way to present material to a child while matching his learning style is of extra concern in developing an effective special-needs homeschool program.
It’s also important to remember that under any circumstances, the parent is the expert when it comes to knowing a child’s likes, dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, and in knowing which teaching methods are likely to work. The choice of schooling approach lies with the one most qualified to make that determination — the parent.
Even educational experts can make mistakes in diagnosing learning difficulties. Many families have worked beyond the initial limits and labels that traditional educational institutions have placed on their children. The homeschool community is full of their success stories.
Now, more than ever, resources are available to help homeschoolers meet the requirements of special-needs students. These resources include support organizations, newsletters, how-to books, manipulatives, textbooks, workbooks, evaluation personnel, testing and software. The problem is not necessarily in finding help, but in not being overwhelmed by the plethora of choices.
NACD - National Association for Child Development. An organization of parents and professionals dedicated to helping children and adults reach their full potential. 801-621-8606, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.nacd.org
NATHHAN NEWS — NATional cHallenged Homeschoolers Associated Network. Provides encouragement for families homeschooling special-needs children. Membership includes a newsletter and lending-library privileges, as well as other information useful for those schooling special-needs children. 208-267-6246, email@example.com, www.nathhan.com
PREACCH – Parents Rearing and Educating Autistic Children in Christian Homes. This organization offers e-mail support. www.bondingplace.com/bkpreacch/index.html
GUIDES AND BOOKS
Home Schooling Children With Special Needs by Sharon C. Hensley
Special Needs Resource Guide by Patty Rendoff. Provides names and contact information for many manufacturers of materials for special-needs students.
Strategies for Struggling Learners — A Guide for the Teaching Parent by Joe P. Sutton, Ph.D. Instructs parents on teaching children who struggle with learning, attention or behavior problems.
Montessori at Home by Heidi Anne Spietz. Lists publishers that offer materials.
Joyce Herzog. Offers her writings and personal counseling, honed by a master’s degree in learning disabilities. 423-553-6387, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.joyceherzog.com
IEP Manual by Jim and Debby Mills. Provides a format for systemic, individualized education planning for a “challenged” student. 619-469-5822, email@example.com
Merritt Speech & Learning, Dana M. Merritt, M.S., CCC-SLP, IMT. Based in Jacksonville, Merritt Speech offers diagnosis and treatment of communication disorders due to developmental delay, as well as auditory, visual and motor-processing disorders. Dana has over five years of experience teaching grades K-5 in a homeschool setting. 904-721-4122, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.merrittspeech.com
Educational Diagnostic Prescriptive Services. Diagnostic test devised for homeschoolers by a homeschooler, and parentally administered and scored with proven remedial strategies. email@example.com, www.edudps.com
The Learning Connection (Steve Shapiro). Help in evaluating perceptual skills. 888-556-0230, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.thelearningconnection.org
Article from the FPEA Guide to Homeschooling in Florida.