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185: Homeschooling Special Needs Children and Teens with Terrie McKee

In this episode, we delve into homeschooling special needs children, emphasizing the importance of understanding regulations and maximizing extracurricular opportunities.

For many parents, traditional schooling settings may not adequately address the diverse needs of their children and teens, leading them to explore alternative options. The good news is that in recent years, homeschooling has gained traction as a transformative educational alternative for families with special needs children and teens, offering a tailored approach that caters to their unique learning needs. However, it's crucial for parents to understand the rules and regulations regarding homeschooling in their area to make informed decisions about extracurricular involvement. By exploring more about homeschooling special needs children in this episode, homeschooling families can make the most of the opportunities available to them.

Homeschooling and special needs education.

The shortcomings of the public school system in properly executing Terrie’s daughter's Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) became the driving force behind her decision to homeschool. This was a good move considering that Terrie witnessed an incredible transformation in her daughter's academic progress. Within just one semester of homeschooling, her daughter went from reading at a kindergarten level to performing at a third-grade level. This emphasizes the crucial role of parental involvement and highlights the effectiveness of homeschooling, particularly for children with special needs. In fact, my parenting journey in relation to homeschooling wasn't initially intentional, but rather prompted by my son's struggles. What began as a temporary solution revealed numerous benefits, not just academically but socially as well.

Homeschooling and learning styles.

Unlike some traditional school settings, homeschooling embraces various teaching methods, with classical education being one example. However, project-based learning stands out as an effective approach, particularly for special needs children. By integrating subjects like science and history into engaging projects, homeschooling enables students to excel in their areas of interest, fostering a profound understanding and appreciation for learning. Terrie emphasizes that when children are passionate about a subject, they can excel in learning anything, whether it's math, science, history, or others. For her son, his current fascination with Thomas Edison has led to significant improvements in reading, writing, and overall academic growth.

What are steps parents should take when considering homeschooling?

The first crucial step in homeschooling is to ensure legal compliance, as regulations vary by state. You may check out Home School Legal Defense Association (https://hslda.org/) for comprehensive guidance for every stage of your homeschool journey. Every child has a unique way of processing information and engaging with educational material. And so, another step involves understanding your child's learning style, as it influences the homeschooling approach. By identifying your child's learning style, you can adapt teaching methods, curriculum choices, and learning activities to optimize their educational experience. This ensures that your child remains engaged, motivated, and able to absorb information effectively, ultimately leading to better academic outcomes in the homeschooling environment. Additionally, conducting placement tests can help gauge your child's academic level accurately, enabling tailored instruction to meet their needs effectively. When conducting placement tests for homeschooling, it's not just about determining where to place your child academically. It's also about identifying any gaps or strengths in their learning. Recognizing areas of weakness, such as percentages or decimals, allows you to address them directly and provide targeted instruction. By utilizing placement tests effectively, you can ensure that your child receives the support and challenges they need to thrive in their homeschooling journey. This thorough preparation sets the foundation for a successful homeschooling journey.

Homeschooling, socialization, and curriculum choices.

Transitioning to homeschooling can be like a detox from the traditional school environment. Unlike in public schools where much time is spent on crowd control, homeschooling can often be completed in a fraction of the time due to the personalized approach and lack of distractions. Choosing curriculum for homeschooling can feel overwhelming for parents, as there are numerous options available. What Terrie recommends is exploring different providers, requesting catalogs, attending homeschool conventions, and even visiting homeschool stores to evaluate materials firsthand. Some parents may prefer comprehensive packages that include everything they need, while others may opt for a more flexible approach. It's essential to remember that curriculum doesn't have to be expensive, especially for preschoolers and kindergarteners. Simple activities like baking, nature walks, and descriptive conversations can be valuable learning experiences. Additionally, focusing on phonics and play-based learning is crucial, especially for children with reading disabilities. Another concern for homeschooling parents is socialization. But what we want to clarify is that homeschooling actually allows for a broader range of social interactions beyond the constraints of a traditional classroom. It provides children with opportunities to interact with individuals of various ages, backgrounds, and interests. They can engage in community activities, sports teams, and more, fostering social skills and adaptability in different settings.

Homeschooling and integrating therapies into daily routine.

One critical aspect to consider in homeschooling is understanding the specific regulations and requirements in each state. While some states may offer more leniency and support for homeschooling families, others may have stricter guidelines. Regardless of the state's regulations, integrating therapies into the homeschooling curriculum is crucial, especially for special needs children. Therapies such as occupational therapy or speech therapy should be viewed as essential components of the educational journey, with their incorporation into the daily schedule. Another important point is the flexibility homeschooling affords regarding scheduling as it allows parents to tailor the daily schedule to their child's unique needs and interests. Furthermore, parents should not feel compelled to adhere strictly to a traditional school schedule or curriculum. Instead, they should focus on what works best for their child's learning and development. For children with special needs who may require additional support, homebound tutoring can be an option. This involves collaborating with the school through the IEP process to provide one-on-one tutoring tailored to the child's specific needs. Parents should also consider extracurricular activities such as sports and music lessons when homeschooling their children. But ultimately, the homeschooling experience is shaped by what the child is passionate about.

Homeschooling Special Needs Expo.

The Homeschooling Special Needs Expo is a valuable event for parents seeking support and resources for homeschooling children with special needs. This expo, to be held in Shelby, North Carolina on June 28-29, 2024, offers 50 educational sessions covering various topics related to special needs, including autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and more. The lineup for this expo is truly remarkable and feels like a divine arrangement. Renowned experts in the field will share their knowledge, providing attendees with valuable insights and tools. One of the highlights of the event is Dr. Temple Grandin's keynote speech, offering a unique opportunity for attendees to engage with her autism advocacy. Additionally, there will be exhibitors showcasing relevant resources and services. The expo aims to empower parents and provide them with the necessary tools and encouragement to homeschool their special needs children effectively. Attendees can also benefit from sessions tailored to specific needs, such as the session on homeschooling autistic preschoolers. It’s truly going to be an incredible event so we look forward to seeing you there. However, due to the limited capacity, we encourage everyone to register early. It's an opportunity not to be missed, and attendees can expect an enriching and impactful experience. So what are you waiting for? Buy your tickets now!

Explore more about the Homeschooling Special Needs Expo. CLICK HERE

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