Choosing to homeschool your children can be a very scary leap to take. It is especially so when you are considering homeschooling a child with special needs. When planning for your school year with a child with special needs, there are several different things you should keep in mind to ensure you are meeting the academic, behavioral, and social needs of your child. The first, and most important, is an individualized education.
Children with special needs who attend public school have an IEP, or Individualized Education Plan. This IEP explains in detail the individualized education the child will receive. The plan is designed to allow the student to access grade-level curriculum and experience success. An IEP includes individualized goals and services. A team of individuals, or a committee, meets at least annually, to determine this individualized plan.
All states are required to evaluate homeschooled children who may have special needs. They are not required, however, to provide services in the home. Kids may need to attend public school in order to receive services. Some states offer more services than others.
A comprehensive evaluation will give you a great deal of information regarding your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Like a brick and mortar school would, you can use that evaluation to plan your child’s individualized education.
Look closely at the evaluation report. You may not understand all of the numbers and percentiles, and that’s okay. Most educational evaluations include an explanation page that describes each test as well as your child’s score in comparison to like-aged peers. Scores should include some type of interpretation as well (average, low average, etc). Look for areas of weakness: scores that are well below average.
Your child may need accommodations to help him access their grade-level curriculum. (We will discuss accommodations in a future post.) He may need extra instruction in basic skills. The beauty of homeschool is that your child gets one-on-one instruction at his or her level - you can take the extra time necessary to ensure you are building a strong academic foundation.