Though homeschooling has become more mainstream over the past few years, there are still those who will ask you why you homeschool your child with special needs. Some will ask, listen, and thank you for your reply. Others will come back with some sort of criticism. One reader asks,
“How do you deal with less than understanding responses and attitudes (complaints) from people you and your child will be around regularly? At what point do you just NOT explain or ask for accommodation, and just try to be diplomatic?”
Of course we want to be civil and kind in our interactions with others. There are a few ways I see to handle this. Let me first say, I have not experienced this very much and so I may not be the most qualified person to answer this question.
- If it seems the person is genuinely interested in understanding, then why not give some examples of your child’s success and how homeschooling works better for him than a typical classroom. For instance, you might say, “You know, typical classrooms are stay-in-your-seat-most-of-the-day style. My son learns much better when he can move around, jump on a trampoline, run up and down the hall yelling math facts, etc. He’s become excited about learning and much less stressed.”
- Another option is to acknowledge the concern. Perhaps the person has a legitimate suggestion. “Thanks, I hadn’t thought of that. I’ll take it into consideration.” or “You know, I thought of that, too, but what I found is…”
- Depending on the situation and how much you can tolerate, diplomacy may be the order of the day. Smile and listen.
- If the person simply will not leave you alone about homeschooling your special needs child, kindly tell them you and your spouse (if applicable) have made the decision that you deem best for your child and your family. Thank them for their concern for your child and politely say your decision is final. Sometimes it helps to mention that you evaluate homeschooling on a year-by-year basis.
A special needs child’s education is a sensitive topic, for both the parent and the observers. You may find yourself the object of comparison. Graciously remind the speaker that all children are different and do not respond the same way. What has worked for some other child may not be a good fit for your family. Or, if you’ve had the conversation more times than you can count, just hold your tongue. I try to avoid the snarky route because it tends not to accomplish more than riling the other person. Finally, remember your child is your child. You are responsible for the education of your child, whatever that may be, not someone else.
Ironically, a similar vein of topic came up in the Special Needs Homeschooling group on Facebook while I was writing this. One mom said, “Only YOU (not your family members or friends or medical personnel) can make this decision for you. You need to start now growing a thick skin against negative comments leading to doubts, or you’ll have a rough road ahead! Any mama with a heart to do so can homeschool. There’s no magic to it, no special training required. Just love, and the desire to do it. It’s up to you.”
(If you need someone else to do the talking for you, perhaps my post “7 Reasons I Homeschool My Child with Special Needs Instead of Sending Him to School” will help your cause.
I want to hear from you! Do you have some tips for this sensitive topic? Leave a comment!
Need some help with special needs homeschooling? I recommend you grab a copy of Homeschool Made Easy by Lea Ann Garfias and The Big What Now Book of Learning Styles by Carol Barnier. The first is a developmental approach to homeschooling and will reduce your anxiety. The second gives you an abundance of ideas for out-of-the-box teaching, sorted by subject. Another book I expect to be great but have not read is Special Education At Home: Out-of-Box Learning for Out-of-the-Box Learners by Shawna Wingert.
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