Families homeschool for a number of reasons, but in recent years the number of parents homeschooling special needs kiddos has risen. It’s no surprise, as the one-on-one attention a child can get in a homeschool setting is far superior to the many-to-one attention they can get in a traditional school setting. It can be challenging, though, particularly if the special needs are profound and one feels isolated from the rest of the homeschooling community.
When homeschooling kiddos with special needs, it’s crucial to remember the importance of empathy, compassion, and finding balance amidst the challenges of meeting the diverse needs of a differently abled child, while nurturing your other children’s educational journeys.
Embarking on the Journey: An Interest-Led Approach
There is no one-size-fits-all method to homeschooling, but adaptable, individualized approaches can be particularly beneficial for special needs children. By making homeschooling a lifestyle, you can ensure that your children are constantly immersed in a nurturing educational environment.
Nature, Organic Learning, and Joyful Lessons
Nature and organic learning within a homeschool routine can be particularly valuable. Encouraging your children to explore the world around them, you can emphasize the joy of short, engaging lessons that align with their interests. By prioritizing quality literature and facilitating open conversations, homeschool mamas like you can foster a love for reading and allow your children to share what they have learned, empowering them to become active participants in their own education.
Finding Balance: The Challenges of a Special Needs Family
With the responsibilities and challenges that come with being part of a special needs family, it can be difficult to keep track of your children’s learning amidst therapy appointments and other commitments. Traditional school-style learning often does not align well with the unique circumstances of a special needs, homeschooling family. However, through your homeschooling journey, you can find solace in knowing that you have the power to add to, or take away from, the pulls on your time as needed.
Creating a Supportive Community
Special needs families face their fair share of challenges, particularly when it comes to finding understanding support systems and groups. In order to find compassion and understanding, it takes time and searching around both in-person and online. There are many established online communities that provide a safe and empowering space for families facing similar experiences. Whether sharing support requests or seeking advice, communities online have become an invaluable source of strength, reaffirming the importance of connection and shared empathy.
Navigating Social Interactions and Individual Interests
Part of your homeschool journey as a special needs family involves navigating social interactions for your children, ensuring they have space to express their creativity and individuality. Sometimes finding the right environment can be challenging, but by exploring individual interests and participating in group classes or programs, you can enable your children to blossom and connect with like-minded individuals. Understanding and respecting your child’s needs, particularly when it comes to sensory sensitivities, plays a pivotal role in your family’s success.
From Defensiveness to Advocacy
As a mom in a special needs family, you have probably experienced a range of emotions, including moments of feeling disconnected or guarded. However, when you can shift your mindset from defensiveness to advocacy, your family and homeschool can thrive. You can become a powerful advocate for your kiddos and other neurodiverse children who are often misunderstood or overlooked. This transformation exemplifies the resilience and strength of special needs families, as they navigate an often uncharted path.
Investing in Relationships: Love Languages and Individualized Attention
Nothing is more important than investing in relationships within your family. Each child has unique needs, so it can be helpful to identify their individual love languages. By observing and taking notes on their behaviors, you can gain valuable insight into how to connect with and nurture each child effectively. Additionally, homeschooling parents have the opportunity of cultivating a family team and “all for one and one for all” mentality that ensures no child feels left behind, despite differing needs.
Making Learning Memorable: Embracing Experiential Education
To make learning more vibrant and memorable for your special needs kiddos, you can engage in experiential education. Whether through memory work in the car, reading in waiting rooms during therapy sessions, or visiting significant locations related to their studies, you create multi-sensory experiences that deepen your children’s understanding and connection to the material. This personalizes the learning so your kids remember more of it, and are motivated to keep learning.
Homeschooling children with profound special needs poses unique challenges for families. However, it can be an inspirational journey that enhances the immense love, dedication, and creativity that you feel for your kiddos. By prioritizing empathy, personalization, and the fostering of supportive communities, you can create an environment in which all children, regardless of their abilities, can thrive as lifelong learners.
Raising Lifelong Learners Episode #216 — Homeschooling Kids with Profound Special Needs with Katie Keene
In the episode, special guest Katie Keene emphasizes the importance of open conversations about disabled children and the need for empathy and compassion. As a homeschool mom, Katie has faced numerous challenges in balancing the needs of her differently-abled child with those of her other children. She shares with us her approach to homeschooling, which aligns with the philosophy of Charlotte Mason and an interest-led learning style.
At the heart of Katie’s homeschooling approach is the integration of learning into everyday life. She nurtures her children’s curiosity by immersing them in nature, encouraging organic, hands-on learning experiences, and facilitating short and joyful lessons. Quality literature plays a significant role in their homeschooling journey, fostering conversations and allowing each child to share what they have learned.
However, homeschooling a child with profound special needs comes with unique challenges. Katie discusses the difficulty of keeping track of learning progress due to therapy appointments and other commitments. Traditional school-style learning often does not fit their family’s situation. She beautifully compares their experience to a ballerina on pointe shoes, gracefully balanced yet constantly working hard behind the scenes.
Katie opens up about the emotional challenges she faces as a mom in a special needs family and the importance of finding a supportive community. She shares her personal journey and the establishment of an online community as a safe space for her family. Listen for more…
Links and Resources from Today’s Show
- SPONSOR|CTC Math
- SPONSOR|Reading Eggs
- The Greater Honor Special Needs Community: https://herhomeandheart.net/tgh
- Her Home and Heart on Facebook
- Her Home and Heart Podcast with Katie Keene
- Raising Lifelong Learners Community – The Learners Lab
- Masterclass| Homeschooling Your Gifted and Special Needs Child | Get Started
- Raising Resilient Sons by Collleen Kessler, M.Ed.
- RLL #45: Homeschooling Special Needs Kiddos with Faith Berens
- My Neurodivergent Kiddo Needs So Much Help…
- Forget the Box | Embracing Your Child’s Otherness
- Safe Place Fatigue | The Wear and Tear of Being Your Child’s PersonRLL #64: What to Do When School Doesn’t Work
- RLL #60: Raising Differently-Wired Kids with Debbie Reber
- Homeschooling During Overwhelming Times – Raising Lifelong Learners
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