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Homeschooling Your Child with Special Needs

Obviously, every parent isn't qualified to teach. But for parents who are committed to helping their children learn and willing to work with them on a daily basis, the answer is "yes." As with any major commitment, preparation is essential. Reading, researching, and speaking with experienced parents who homeschool are all necessary steps to building the foundation for a successful homeschooling adventure. Because each child's educational needs are so diverse, it would be impossible to give specific advice or recommendations in this brief article. However, the following resources should get you off to a good start.

Books:

  • Home Schooling Children with Special Needs by Sharon Hensley. This is a good reference for parents who are new to homeschooling.
  • Think Fast! The ADD Experience edited by Janie Bowman and Thom Hartman with Susan Burgess. You'll find practical advice and true stories from Bowman's work with an ADD/ADHD support group. Bowman homeschools her child, who has ADD.
  • Learning in Spite of Labels by Joyce Herzog. This is a gentle guide geared to the Christian homeschooling parent. A veteran teacher (and homeschool mom), Herzog draws on her years of experience to inspire parents with her positive "can-do" attitude.
  • How to Get Your Child Off the Refrigerator and on to Learning by Carol Barnier. Yes, Barnier's very active son likes to climb on the refrigerator! A funny book with serious suggestions for helping your child.
  • Talking Back to Ritalin by Peter R. Breggin, M.D. Here you'll find documentation and discussion about the dangers of Ritalin and related drugs.
  • Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood Through Adulthood by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., and John J. Ratey, M.D. This is a fascinating perspective from two psychiatrists who have ADD.
  • The Homeschooling Book of Answers - The 88 Most Important Questions Answered by Homeschooling's Most Respected Voices by Linda Dobson. Your best bet for a solid introduction to homeschooling.

Homeschooling is not for everyone. It takes commitment, patience, perseverance, and the unwavering belief that your child can and will succeed on his educational path. Suzanne Stevens, writing in The LD Child and ADHD Child: Ways Parents and Professionals Can Help discusses the homeschooling option with candor: "In the hands of the right family, homeschooling can prevent many painful and destructive situations from developing and can bring healing to children who have been all but crushed by the system. When I ask families if such a radical commitment (homeschooling) was worth it, these parents beam with delight as they say, 'We've got our child back.'" And that, dear parent, says it all.



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