Thursday, October 25, 2018

Reflecting on Home Educating Special Needs Students. .. The Road Less Traveled.

Some of you know I had two students graduate last year. One is Autistic and currently in a work program and the other is gifted and is going to MIT. Two very different wonderful experiences in parenting and home education. I wanted to share my biggest take-aways from home educating each. Hopefully they are helpful to you and all who take the road less traveled.

What I have learned home educating a student with special needs. 
I still remember the day. I was wondering what I was going to do with our oldest son and schooling. He had been diagnosed with autism and multiple other issues. I knew he would not make it in kindergarten and the special needs preschool was not going particularly well. I remember trying to get him on the bus for preschool and he would lock himself in the bathroom. He would lock the door as I would unlock it. I knew elementary school would not work for him. I was praying and the thought hit me. . . I could home educate him. So I began the path of learning about home education and how to make that happen at my house.

Currently my son is in a work program called Project Search that meets at Children’s Hospital. He enjoys it greatly, and loves being there. I feel our home education help prepared him for this. Here are a few things I have gleaned along the way.

1. Time spent on Life Skills is time well spent!

I am so glad I took the time to teach life skills! Emptying the dishwasher, laundry, cooking, greeting people, pleasantness etc. It is easy to get wrapped up in the skills of school which are important, but at the expense of life skills. Those are the skills his job program appreciates. Those are the skills that help him now.

2. Sometimes it is easier to do it yourself than to depend on others.

I am glad I put my time and energy in my child rather than trying to get others to do their job. For me this was very freeing! Home educating was a good fit.  

3. On the flip side. . . I was able to use the autism scholarship to get help.

I was able to use the autism scholarship in Ohio to get  help  for my son. An OT, tutor and special education coordinator who shared my philosophy of education worked with my son. They listened to me and were on my team. He was able to be at home in a less stressful environment. It gave me a time to be with my other six kids. I am glad I reached out for help and did the necessary paperwork.

4. You get more done at home than they do at school even if it does not feel that way.

When my son went back to school his last 2 years of high school, I was surprised how well he was doing. He was doing well and could keep up. At one point they told me he was ahead. The principal nicely told me that the standards were not as high as they used to be.

5. I am so glad we went at our own pace and learned for mastery.

I would sometimes worry we were behind. Were we doing as much as they were doing at school? Would he be able to get back in school if needed? At some point I gave that up, and I am so glad I did. Right now I am glad for the mastery of skills he has, glad we did our own thing.

6. I wish I had worried less. Really.

Looking back, I am thankful for the moments I enjoyed my time with my student. I also probably worried too much about what they were doing at "school". He did not need more school, he needed more life. I was not school and could do amazing things the school could not do. I had chosen a different path. I was glad I did. 

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Next:  Reflections on Home Educating a Gifted Student

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