Many parents have found homeschooling to be a terrific option for their child with special needs. Homeschooling allows these children to learn and grow at their own pace, while developing their academic and social skills in a less stressful environment. Many children with special needs have thrived under the individualized instruction and one-on-one attention that homeschooling can provide. Homeschooling can also give your child the opportunity to learn life skills in real life settings, and to develop interests and activities which play to his strengths, boosting his self-esteem and enabling him to function better in society.
Parents often find that homeschooling strengthens family bonds, and brings them closer to their child with special needs. Some parents even report that their child’s learning disability symptoms diminished or vanished completely while homeschooling—although of course, there are no guarantees that this will happen.
What You Need to Know
The laws for withdrawing a child from school and homeschooling a child child with special needs are usually the same as for any other child. If your child has an Individualized Education Plan or IEP, you may not need to continue using it in your state. Check with your state homeschool organization or your local homeschool support group to learn more about the laws for your state and how they may apply to your family’s situation.
If your child has been receiving free special services from the public schools, like speech or occupational therapy, check with your state homeschool organization or local support group to learn about your rights to those services in your state or community. In some states, homeschooled students are eligible to receive the exact same special services as public schooled students. However, in other states, homeschooled students may receive reduced services or even no services at all through the public schools. If you find yourself in this situation, families in your community can direct you to possible alternatives for the therapy your child needs.
Finding support is important for all homeschooling parents, but it’s especially important for parents of children with special needs, who may require special resources or strategies. Even if you’ve already homeschooled one or more children successfully, you may have to change your approach significantly for a child with special needs.
The good news is that you are not alone. There are families in your community and state, and across the nation, who can give you the special information and support you need to have a successful homeschooling experience. You can find that support through local and statewide support groups, your state homeschooling organization, and through special organizations and groups for homeschooling children with special needs. There also are numerous e-lists for families who wish to discuss the joys and challenges of homeschooling children with a particular challenge such as autism, deafness, visual impairment, ADHD, and much more.
There are all sorts of books, websites, email lists, and other resources for families who are homeschooling special needs children. If you visit the VaHomeschoolers website , you’ll find many helpful books and resources to get you started. Ann Zeise’s comprehensive website on homeschooling has numerous pages and sections devoted to homeschooling special needs children. Also, The National Challenged Homeschoolers Associated Network or NATHHANis a nonprofit organization which provides information and support to parents who are homeschooling special needs children.
The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers is a volunteer-run, non-profit organization dedicated solely to homeschooling issues. Created in 1993, VaHomeschoolers is a state-wide, inclusive organization that provides information on homeschooling and protects and promotes homeschooling freedoms at the state and local level.
We provide a comprehensive website on homeschooling in Virginia, answer questions through our toll-free homeschool help line and email homeschool help desk, publish the bi-monthly journal Voice, as well as several electronic bulletins, and offer conferences and seminars on homeschooling throughout the year. We represent homeschooling interests in the state legislature and across the state, and help parents and school divisions resolve homeschooling issues.
Our organization has no political or religious affiliations; we focus exclusively on issues related to homeschooling. Our website does cover the specific legal aspects of homeschooling in Virginia but it is also filled with information and resources on homeschooling that apply universally. It is a great place to gather further details and support on all the topics discussed in this series
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Leslie Nathaniel has been a member of VaHomeschoolers since she began homeschooling and is now a member of the Board of Directors. Her children began learning at home as soon as they were born, but they became official homeschoolers when her eldest reached kindergarten age in 2002. Prior to children, Leslie worked in information technology consulting. She is a homeschooling mother of two. As a volunteer for VaHomeschoolers, she answers telephone and email requests for information; writes articles for the VaHomeschoolers Voice homeschool journal; speaks at conferences and seminars on a variety of topics; and organizes homeschooling seminars around the state of Virginia.
Celeste Land is a member of the Board of Directors for VaHomeschoolers and the director of our Government Affairs department. Her two children began homeschooling in 1996, and are continuing to learn at home right through the teen years. Her daughter has recently graduated from homeschooling high school and will be attending college full time this fall. Celeste has lobbied on behalf of homeschooling interests here in Virginia and Washington, DC, for 10 years. Her articles on homeschooling have been published in the VaHomeschoolers Voice and the VaHomeschoolers website, as well as several homeschooling magazines in the USA and Canada. She also has been a speaker at many homeschool seminars and conferences.
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