Welcome back to the 2nd annual event of 10 Days of Homeschooling for Free and Frugal. You can read the entire series from the beginning on the Homeschooling for Free and Frugal series beginning post.
Affording to Homeschool a Special Needs Child
This article is by Penny from Our Crazy Adventures in Autismland.
I’ve been homeschooling my child with autism since I yanked him out of school at the end of his second grade year. I say yanked but it was really my husband and I decided the older he got the more he needed an education that was really tailored to his strengths and weaknesses. One day, I just didn’t take him to school anymore. We filed our intent to homeschool and went on our way.
When we first took him out we were dirt poor. There was no extra money for books and all that other jazz. Between RDI therapy, speech, occupational, special diet and supplements and a toddler in the house, money was stretched thin. Really, it was non existent.
At that point we had a fantastic therapist who gave us some sound advice:
- Don’t try to emulate school at home.
- Take a break and let him deschool.
- Spend time together.
- Read books.
- Play games.
- Join him in his world.
- Take time to build a trust relationship with him and lessons will go so much better in the end.
- That year we also let him play a lot with his toddler sister.
Children with autism often have a different developmental age than their chronological age. For example, they may celebrate their 8th birthday but really be more like a 4 year old inside. The best advice I can give for homeschooling a special needs child is to take some time really determining where they are academically and socially. Then make an unofficial list of things to work on for the school year. Some years it will be academics. Other years it will be social and life skills that need addressed. It’s better to stop academics for a season to address developmental gaps that prepare the way for higher order thinking and lessons.
In my opinion you never need to buy a boxed curriculum for your special needs child. You will end up not using portions of it making it too expensive in the long run. Children with special needs often have varying degrees of competence in subjects. My son can read and comprehend at a college level in ninth grade but is doing the same writing program as his fifth grade sister. Another great benefit of knowing his strengths and weaknesses is that I can get different levels of curricula to fit his needs. Since he loves to read we use the free curriculum Ambleside Online. It has all the lesson planned out. All you really need to add is math and science. Most of the books can be found at the library freeing up valuable money.
For social time or hands on learning don’t be afraid to take advantage of free activities. Story time at the library is fantastic even if your child is chronologically older. Playing at the park or an indoor playground is a great way to practice social skills among other things. The best part of this is that if your child is ready to go then you can leave since it was free. Or if your child melts down you can elect not to go back. It takes some of the pressure off of everyone.
No matter your child’s special needs remember the tortoise always wins by going slow. It will all get accomplished by moving forward slow and steady!
Resources for special needs homeschooling:
Special Needs Homeschooling: Resources for homeschooling children with ADHD, autism, learning disorders, and for parents with special needs as well.
Homeschooling With Dyslexia: A 10-Day Series
Reasons to Homeschool an ADHD Child
School ADD Isn’t Homeschool ADD (Note from Jamerrill – one of my favorite articles – ever.)
Resources on Homeschooling with Autism from Meet Penny:
Penny is a sweet tea drinking, Jesus loving, transplanted New Hampshire girl living in the South with her Cracker children and husband. They have some pretty crazy adventures living and homeschooling at Our Crazy Adventures in Autismland. Sharing them keeps her sane!
Do you homeschool a special needs child or are you a parent with special needs? What resources have you found most helpful? What advice and helps would you share with other families on this journey?
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