Why Homeschooling is a Wonderful Option for Special Needs Families during the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond
People consider homeschooling their children for a myriad of reasons.
Something that used to be considered “off the beaten path” has become more mainstream in recent years and is a viable option for many – especially those with diverse learning needs.
With the question of whether schools will reopen in the fall (and if so, what will that look like?), many parents are considering homeschooling their children for the very first time.
Could this be the right choice for you and your family?
Let’s dive in and look at some of the benefits of homeschooling a neurodiverse child!
The Ability to Meet your Child’s Individual Educational Needs
Outside-the-box children often have a difficult time navigating a system that is very much “one size fits all”. Unfortunately, this is exactly how our public school system is structured.
It’s very hard for a child in class of 25+ kids to get the individualized instruction they need to fully comprehend a subject they struggle with. Homeschooling gives you the opportunity to tailor each lesson to your child’s specific needs.
If you have a tactile learner, make use of math manipulatives and fidget toys.
For little ones who love to read, choose a literature-based program that allows you to learn together by curling up on the couch with a good book.
If your child struggles to pay attention, keep lessons short and take frequent wiggle breaks.
For those who are always moving, take lessons outside. Practice math fact flashcards while jumping on the trampoline. For science, take nature walks or dig in the garden.
If you’ve got a budding chef, let school happen in the kitchen. Learn to read with cookbooks. Learn fractions with baking. Learn to write with shopping lists and concocting new recipes. Talk about health and nutrition, food safety, and budgeting.
When you open yourself up to all the different possibilities, the sky is the limit.
More Time for Family Togetherness
In a world where people pride themselves on how busy they are, quality time as a family is hard to come by. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed that for many. It was a wake-up call, a time for people to re-evaluate their priorities and figure out what is truly important.
Homeschooling offers families the opportunity to spend more time together. A typical day of learning can often be done in just a fraction of the time a child spends in a public school classroom. Your child won’t have to wait for other students to finish assignments, take bathroom breaks, or eat meals.
Time spent waiting turns into time spent doing.
You can structure the day in a way that makes sense for your family.
Do you work part-time in the mornings? Your child can hang out with Grandma while you work (and maybe even do independent assignments). Then, the two of you can complete your lessons after a hearty lunch together.
Does Dad travel often for work? Homeschooling can give your family the opportunity to travel together and see the country instead of spending all that time apart.
Do you have several kids spanning a wide range of ages? Look into unit studies where the whole family learns together and assignments are tailored to each child’s ability.
Whatever your family life looks like, homeschooling your child offers flexibility and the freedom to make it work for you.
Flexibility for Necessary Medical Care
A neurodiverse child often requires more medical care than a neurotypical child. Routine visits, specialists, and therapy appointments all take up time and require children to miss school. For a child already having trouble in a standard classroom, the time missed is likely to put them even further behind.
When you homeschool, you have the ability to schedule lessons around your child’s medical appointments. There are many ways to do this.
You can block out certain days of the week for appointments.
You can complete lessons in the evening after dinner.
You can school year-round and take frequent breaks for appointments, errands, and even vacations.
Or, you can take school on the road with you and work your child’s education into your busy day-to-day.
You can listen to an audiobook or science podcast in the car.
You can bring a clipboard and do worksheets in the waiting room.
You can even turn certain appointments into field trips.
Going to the dentist? Spend a few days leading up to the appointment learning about dental health. Call ahead and ask the office if the hygienist and/or dentist would be willing to answer your child’s questions and maybe give a quick tour if they aren’t too busy. If so, let your child prepare a list of questions they’d like to ask. After the appointment, they can present what they learned. This can be done by writing a sentence/paragraph/page (depending on their ability) and drawing a picture, designing a poster, writing a short book, or even creating slideshow or video.
Take this same format and apply it to any appointment or errand. How can you meet your child where they are and encourage learning in any environment?
That is the beauty of homeschooling.
Wrapping it all up
Homeschooling offers many benefits (more than we can possibly cover in one post!) and can be a great option for so many families – neurodiverse or not.
– An individualized education
– More time together as a family
– Flexibility and freedom in your schedule
– And so many more!
With all the uncertainty surrounding the coming school year, now might be the time to take a leap and let your kids learn at home. You can always re-enroll them when you’re ready, but who knows? You might find you love it and decide to keep going!
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