Many parents of children with special educational needs have seriously considered homeschooling. For special needs kids, there is a lot to consider.
If you want some honest, and real advice about the pros and cons of homeschooling a child with special educational needs, read on!
I’m delighted to welcome Sal Shah, a Special Educational Needs mentor, into this space today to share her insight into homeschooling children with SEN.
The following was kindly contributed by Sal Shah, a special educational needs mentor.
Is homeschooling the best choice for a special needs child?
The truth is, I can’t honestly answer that because it is so unique to each child. I can only share my experiences and the knowledge that I learnt on my journey. It is a deeply personal choice and there is no right or wrong answer.
Each child with special needs has their own journey through education.
While some have a seamless journey post diagnosis and attend excellent schools with appropriate resources and supportive teachers, this is not the case for many SEN students and I like so many others, was pushed into the situation of home-schooling.
What I learnt in those few short months was how important unschooling was. How important it was to let go of expecting to control everything, to go at my child’s pace. I learnt that education is everywhere. In every single thing that we do.
We baked, we went outside and explored nature, we read books, we met with other families in our situation – special needs children forced into homeschool because their schools failed them.
For me, sending my son back to a school where the teachers really understood his needs was vital. It would have been easy to label all teachers the same after I dealt with so many who had a very poor attitude, but I also worked with many in the time that he was home who showed me what empathy and understanding led to and how a good relationship with
a scared child can work wonders.
The pros of Homeschooling
Many homeschooled children have reduced anxiety as they don’t have to play to the demands of a formal setting like school. For a lot of special needs children, particularly those with anxiety, the anxiety vanished, sleep was restored (not worrying about going to school), so this was the biggest benefit.
Rebuilt confidence and self-esteem
When a child goes through a pretty traumatic time in school, they are often left damaged and this was the case for our son. We spent most of the time at home rebuilding that confidence and working on his self-esteem. A lot of the work I did with my son was about boosting his confidence and giving him lots of opportunities to do this.
My son was seen by a team of specialist teachers who came to our house in the interim of finding a new school. We had also hired a behaviour therapist who taught us techniques as a family to help him through his experiences and anxiety. This wouldn’t have been available at school unless it was written in his EHCP – education health care plan and at that it wasn’t.
The cons of Homeschooling
I found it very hard to give all my children the same level of attention because one, they were all different ages and two, with a special needs child, things can take twice as long and sometimes you can be met with extra resistance depending on their needs.
I am not an expert
Of course, I know my child better than anyone else, but I also found that in some situations, a trained expert was needed.
Some children thrive better at home, but my child thrives better in a school setting with teachers who are experienced in dealing with special needs.
I am a massive believer in early intervention too. The earlier you can offer support to your child, the better chance they have at succeeding in later life.
It can be costly
If you have a special needs child, often you will need to buy more things and possibly access speech therapy, occupational therapy, etc and these costs can add up. Of course, if you apply for an EHCP (Educational Health Care Plan) you can request for a personal budget to help you pay for these therapies.
Although you can have some sort of routine at home, many special needs children thrive on routine and at school there is always a routine. At home, things can sometimes crop up and as mother of 3 children, I was juggling a new baby, school run for my other child and running back and forth to clubs, so this effected our learning a lot and for a special needs
child this can be further damaging.
Home-schooling is a fantastic way to learn and of course the benefits outweigh the cons, but you have to look at works best for your family. Once my son started his new school, his behaviour, learning and outlook completely changed and ultimately, we Plan, but Allah is the best of planners.
Our journey may have been tough at times, but Allah led us to the
place that was best for him and taught me that education is everywhere.
Sal Shah is a special educational needs mentor from Surrey, in the UK. She has a background in journalism and communications, and recently has recently undertaken training with the National Autistic Society and IPSEA. She also volunteers at a local specialist school in the UK and hopes to start her teacher training in 2021. Sal is highly passionate about special educational needs and ensuring all children can access the education they deserve. Sal helps mentor parents by providing them with information regarding diagnosis and where to receive further support. She also advises parents in regards to what to do if there are issues at school or with the local authority. Her ultimate goal is to empower parents so they are prepared for their childrens future. You can find out more about Sal and the services she provides on her website.
Wasn’t that wonderful! SO real and honest!
Thank you Sal, for sharing your insight with us all about homeschooling children with special educational needs.
I pray that this valuable piece finds the families that need it most. Ameen.
Peace and Love,