Teaching Kids With Labels and Without

Special needs homeschooling can be a hot topic. Discussions abound as to what kind of educational placement is appropriate for a child with special learning needs. I don't have any kids with official "labels." I do have two different kids that I feel could have been labeled if they had been in a typical school environment. I also majored in special education in college, and I had the opportunity to work in that field briefly. So I've seen how a traditional school can sometimes help but can also hurt a child with a label.

Should you homeschool your child who has special needs? Maybe. I know families who have worked hard to keep their kids with special needs at home and to provide what they need to learn and develop to their full potential. I know families who homeschool but who look to a traditional school to provide educational support in some area. And I know families who have their children in traditional schools and who work hard in conjunction with the school to provide an optimal education. Here are some things to think about.

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Every kid has some "special need." Now, obviously I understand that some kids have many, many special needs- physically, emotionally, educationally. I know there are some kids with severe disabilities. I don't mean to belittle that in any way. But, when you consider kids with some basic learning disabilities or sensory issues or attention issues, most kids have something that they have to work with or have adjusted in order to learn at their maximum potential.


Some kids must move instead of sitting still. Some kids can't think when any noise is happening because it's too distracting. Some kids can't stay focused from one task to the next. Some kids read late. Some kids hate testing. Even when we don't label these kids, they work better when we adapt their environment and adapt their curriculum. Homeschooling is a wonderful place for that.

When I taught in public schools, once a child was labeled with a learning disorder, he was given an Individualized Education Plan- and IEP. This plan spelled out for his parents and teachers exactly what accommodations he needed. Maybe he needed his tests read aloud. Maybe he needed to be seated in a certain place in the classroom. Maybe he needed to present his work orally instead of writing it. All the teachers and principles and parents received copies of this IEP and then, it was assumed that it would be followed by all parties. But, sometimes a teacher couldn't do it. In a class of 20 students, it was hard to try to individualize for a few.

At home, I can specialize all the time. I have a kid who can't sit still. It's okay. He walks around all day. He used to crawl around up and down over furniture when he was younger. It's okay. He worked better that way. I have a kid who has trouble focusing. I can set her up so that she has fewer distractions and a better work environment. In homeschool, we individualize all the time.

No one knows your child better than you. The truth is that God gave this child to you. He didn't include a manual. But over time spent together- sleepless nights walking the floors, days of fighting toddler tantrums, times of holding and rocking and loving- you've developed a bond with this child that is different than any teacher will develop. You can sense when your child has had enough. You can see when a tantrum is about to occur. You know when he's reached the limits of his frustration. You can tell when she just isn't getting what she's hearing. You are uniquely qualified to educate your child because you know him. And you love him more than anyone- except God- ever will. That means that you will go to bat for him again and again and again, trying new things and starting over and spending more time.

No matter how good a teacher is, she can't do all that. She has too many students. The students aren't with her all the time. And she doesn't have the same bond with the student.

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 There is help for you if you are homeschooling a child who has special needs. You don't have to go it alone. There are many families who are doing it. There are many organizations that can help you do it. There are people who can support and guide you along the way. I'm linking to a round up with the Schoolhouse Review Crew. We have some great members who do homeschool special needs kids- with labels or without. Find encouragement knowing other parents are doing this. I'm also listing some resources below that can help you find information and some blogs of moms who are homeschooling special needs kids so that you can be encouraged.

[One word before my lists: I know there are some moms who are dealing with kids with very severe disabilities. Therapies and doctor visits and more therapies are your world. I haven't walked where you do. So I do not presume to advise you. You may find resources in some of the information I post below. I would love to pray for you and with you. If you want to leave a comment or contact me privately, I'd love to pray. Thank you.]

Resource list:

Homeschooling a Struggling Learner: This page from HSLDA offers encouragement as well as links to a variety of resources for homeschooling kids with special needs.

NATHHAN- National Challenged Homeschool Association Network:  This site is a wealth of resource information as well as a support network for parents with kids of special needs from mild to more severe. There is a sister site- CHASK (Christian Homes and Special Kids) that is meant to help parents who face a severe prenatal diagnosis or are adopting children with known special needs.

Different Roads to Learning: This site is especially geared toward families with children with autism. It isn't specifically a homeschooling site, but they offer many great resources for autism.

Lemon Lime Adventures: This is a special needs blog filled with great information and day to day encouragement.

Special Needs Homeschooling: This blog also is filled with great resources and encouragement.



You can also click on the banner below to read more information from other Review Crew members. (Will be live on 2-11-15)


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