Homeschooling and Special Needs

Many parents become stymied by the concept of “normal”, especially when referenced to their child. Normal, as a word, sounds bland, flavorless without expression or meaning. Yet, when your child is defined as being less than the standard homogeneous criteria, it can equate a deep well of sadness that your child is different. It was only when I realized, not even my “typical” children are “normal” in their attributes, personality, and educational pursuits, that I came to accept that labels are merely oppressive identifiers. These classifications could never encompass the vastness that we all inhabit.

Aesop’s tortoise won the race, by ultimately crossing the finish line before the hare; the morale clearly states that speed doesn’t equate success. This concept that a prescribed age equates a predetermined grade level is becoming a more fluid concept, even within mainstream schooling. Parents are electing to hold back their children and not just for intellectual abilities. Post high school graduates are
utilizing a “gap” year before college to gain more maturity, experience an internship, or even travel the world. Some children are smaller in stature or their social skills are delayed; an extra year can bolster confidence with peers.

There are inherent advantages and disadvantages in making these choices, but homeschooling’s open framework allows a freedom for educational exploration. Families can choose levels, topics, and even milestones which are appropriate for each of their students. I am currently employing a cross-span format for my youngest child. In the fall semester, I concentrate on a grade year before their age, and in the spring, I introduce the typical grade level material (example: Kindergarten = fall, First grade = spring). We also work on planned therapy homework which the speech, occupational or physical therapists have delineated for the week.

I have altered the core curriculum conception of a heavy STEM method to learning. My younger child’s lessons are concentrated within the language arts and simple math arenas. While history and science are important subjects, enough exposure can be gained via my older children’s lessons and through supplemental material and storybooks to be sufficient. This approach gives me more time to concentrate on developmental skills. I have a “what is best now” mentality for schooling. This does not translate as a permanent pedagogue, but as my child evolves and gains needed skills, so will the educational plan.

Cultivating outside activities has allowed my younger child to work on developmental skills. Middle Tennessee has many organizations which help children with disabilities. I have adapted our schedule to include a daily outing. This is especially helpful in providing incentives for sticking with lesson time work. What has been particularly special is my older children have been able to volunteer at some of these facilities. It has created cohesion for our whole family and made my younger child’s activities less stand-alone.

Homeschooling does work with children with varying abilities. A little more creativity on the teacher’s end must be utilized, but the advantages far outweigh any extra effort. My children’s experiences with homeschooling generate a positive learning atmosphere which only strengthens what we, the parents, already know: anything is possible, even winning a race against the hare.

For information about the special needs’ organizations with which we are involved, check out these websites:
Saddle Up! Therapeutic Horse Riding
Fellowship Bible Dance Inside Out Creative Movement
Nashville Dolphins Aquatics Program
Brentwood Library’s Story hours 
High Hopes Pediatric Therapy Clinic

Kristen Kindoll was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, and then headed deeper South to Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama. Under the magnolias and dripping Spanish moss, her writing infused with the local flavors. She eventually settled in Brentwood, Tennessee with her husband and three children. It's there that she began to cook up an idea that a book about good food, a dash of humor, and stories of family love would be a perfect example of true southern comfort. You can learn more about Kristen at

Kristen's latest release, Deep Fried and Southern Sides, is available here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for commenting!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.