We understand how difficult it can be to find the right academic path for your child with special needs. But there is an alternative to more traditional education worth considering: homeschool.
From the reasons why homeschooling might be the answer for your child, to the potential drawbacks of saying goodbye to the classroom, this article will cover everything parents of children with special needs should know before committing to the homeschool route.
The pros of homeschooling for children with special needs
Better flexibility for appointments
Special needs children often have very busy schedules. When you’ve only got time to learn between appointments, it can be difficult to stay up to date with a traditional school curriculum.
That’s why homeschool can sometimes be the best solution for families with a special needs child — it offers the flexibility to fit appointments in whenever they’re needed without having to miss designated school hours.
Better flexibility in teaching styles
As well as offering more flexibility for medical needs, homeschooling also allows for a very tailored approach to teaching, and this could be beneficial for your child if they require a highly customized curriculum.
If, for example, your child lacks attention after an hour or so of learning, homeschooling offers the flexibility to change things up and take a break whenever necessary. Similarly, if your child needs to be taught in a very specific way, this can be accommodated at home with far less unwanted attention than in the classroom.
The benefit of one-to-one instruction
Although special needs schools will have the resources to teach your child, nothing can beat the one-to-one instruction available at home.
Without having their attention stretched across many students, a parent will be able to provide the most customized and focused lessons. The result could be truly invaluable if it helps your child’s development.
Homeschooling is better for special needs equipment
If your child depends on special needs equipment, homeschooling offers a safer and more sensible alternative to the set-up of a traditional public school.
In a school filled with children, the equipment can very quickly get broken. And although breakages like these should be covered by insurance, that doesn’t avoid the risks that a mishap could pose for your child’s safety.
Homeschooling removes the common stressors of school
Depending on your child’s needs, they might struggle with large groups of people, social interaction, and the structured expectations of life at school. Unfortunately, there’s also the risk of bullying (particularly if you’re considering a standard public school, as opposed to a special needs center).
Homeschooling can offer a less stressful experience for your child, which, in the long run, could help to expedite both their social and academic development.
And, above all… mom or dad always knows best
Special education professionals are great at what they do, granted, but no one will truly understand a child’s unique needs better than their parents.
This, coupled with the benefits we’ve outlined above, means that homeschooling offers the chance to create a completely custom curriculum that will help your child in a way that’s precisely right for them — and to deliver it entirely at their pace.
The cons of homeschooling for children with special needs
Lack of immediate access to trained support
While homeschooling does provide autonomy, it can sometimes remove you and your child from immediate access to professional help.
In a special education school, your child’s learning will be directly informed by qualified doctors and child therapists, who can be extremely useful when things get tough.
And while homeschooling doesn’t stop you from booking appointments with these professionals, it does separate them from your child’s day-to-day learning, which is something worth considering.
The overall lack of structure
While some special needs children will benefit from the flexibility of homeschooling, others won’t. In fact, structure and continuity are typically extremely important for special needs children.
With that in mind, if you can’t provide a consistent day-to-day routine for your child’s education, you could end up hindering their progress.
That said, structure isn’t always possible for children with unpredictable patterns — and if that’s the case for you, the flexibility of homeschooling is probably more of an advantage than a drawback.
The high responsibility
Regardless of the particular child, taking over their education is a big responsibility — and that’s only heightened when your child has unique needs that make learning more challenging.
The financial commitment
Since you’ll have to purchase educational resources, such as books and school equipment, homeschooling can certainly be a financial commitment.
And when you add the extra expenses of school trips, access to professional help, and the fact that you’ll have to forego a full-time wage, the costs of homeschooling can quickly add up. For some families, it’s simply not viable.
And finally… the energy demand
Above all, both teaching and parenting your special needs child is going to require a lot of energy. And while this doesn’t outweigh the rewarding benefits of putting your child first, it does mean that you need to think about whether you can balance these roles.
If you can’t, be realistic about that and make sensible decisions that are right for both you and your child… because, often enough, the two are one and the same.
Should you homeschool your special needs child?
As you might imagine, there’s no right or wrong answer. When it comes to what’s best for your child’s education, the solution is dependent on many different things at once.
Consider the pros and cons above, weigh them against your personal circumstances — both financially and logistically — and come to a decision that’s realistic, sensible, and right for your family.
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