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How Do I Homeschool My Special Needs Child?
Q: Currently, my child goes to a MRDD (mental retardation and developmental disabilities) school, but I would like to homeschool him. However, I did not graduate from high school. Can I still homeschool my child and, if so, how do I go about it?
A: I correspond with many parents who are dissatisfied with school programs for their special needs children. Often these parents are intimidated and feel they are not as qualified as the "experts" to teach their kids. Remember, you are the "expert" when it comes to your child no one knows your child like you do. A willingness to do some reading and research and a sincere desire to help your child is all you need not a diploma or teaching certificate.
I'm assuming your child's IEP is already in place for this year. Perhaps you can begin by following that plan for the remainder of the school year, until you feel confident enough to branch out and create your own course of study, based on your child's needs and learning style.
I recommend two books written by moms who homeschool their special needs children: Learning in Spite of Labels by Joyce Herzog (written from a Christian perspective) and Home Schooling Children with Special Needs by Sharon Hensley. These women were once in your shoes, and I think you'll find their advice helpful and inspiring. Be sure to visit our How to Homeschool topic page. I don't know the extent of your child's disability, but you'll find practical advice about legal requirements, getting started, and meeting other homeschooling families.
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Isabel Shaw is a freelance writer and homeschooling mom of 15 years. She and her husband Ray homeschool their two daughters, Jessica and Amanda. Besides being a contributor to FamilyEducation.com, Shaw has written for Home Education Magazine, The Link, Homeschooling Horizons Magazine, The Homeschool Gazette, and other publications.