Dear Special Needs Homeschool Parent,
I know it’s scary to homeschool your child, especially if your child has a social delay. You feel like it’s oxymoronic to pull her from a more social setting and bring her home. Maybe other people have told you that, even.
I know better. I’ve seen my son’s progress. I know your child can make progress, too.
You feel your days aren’t as full as a regular classroom. You think you fail your child. You wonder if you should put him back in school.
Look at your day. Today you helped your child work through frustration. Instead of a meltdown, he asked you for help with something. You succeeded!
Last month your child wouldn’t use a red crayon to color. Only blue. Today he used red and blue without fussing. You succeeded!
When your friend stopped by to drop something off, your child stood still long enough to say “hello”. He even smiled. Last year he wouldn’t have acknowledged your friend was in the room. You succeeded!
Later you read a picture book to your son. Did you notice he stayed next to you the entire time? Remember how he was able to tell you the girl was sad because of the frown on her face? He understood a facial expression. He listened to an entire story. You succeeded!
At lunch time you gave your child healthy food that avoided his allergies. As you put his lunch together, you showed him half a sandwich compared to a whole sandwich, introducing math concepts. He was able to move around, leaving the table and coming back when hungry. He could sing and dance. You succeeded!
Today during rest time your son stayed in his room for ten minutes. Sure, it’s not the hour you’re hoping for some day, but it’s five minutes more than a few weeks ago. You succeeded!
When you did laundry, your son pushed the basket full of clothes down the hall for you. This gross motor work and pushing gave him some sensory input that he needed to calm himself. He felt grown up helping you. He helped you sort dark and light clothes by shooting baskets with the clothes. This gave him some occupational therapy as he learned some life skills as well. You succeeded!
You played with toy cars together. He didn’t seem to be paying attention, but you kept counting the cars as you lined them up together. You said, “There are 11 cars. If I take one away, how many are left?” He didn’t answer, so you continued. “I have ten left. Eleven minus one is ten.” You kept playing cars with your son, doing simple math as he listened and played, prepping him for the day he’ll write it on paper or say it himself. You succeeded!
When you walked around the block, you did an animal scavenger hunt with your son. You encouraged him to look for birds and squirrels. He squealed when he found a dog waiting by a fence. You got in a science lesson. You succeeded!
Before bedtime you gave your son a bath. You’ve been working with him for months to tolerate getting his hair washed. Tonight he didn’t push you away. He didn’t cry. He let you wash his hair. You succeeded!
You see, special needs homeschool mom, there’s more to learning than just sitting in a classroom. Your child needs life skills. He needs the ability to care for himself and interact with others in a positive way. Giving him confidence is more important than reading at six. Providing a safe place for him to practice social skills and life skills is more important than adding two numbers. Helping him love learning and discovering how he learns is more important than if he can write by a certain age.
And as he gets older and you’re focusing on life skills, reading, and math, that’s ok. Teaching him how to find information and get help when he needs it, providing him with strategies for interacting with people, helping him learn to care for himself…those are all invaluable to your child.
You are not a failure. You are succeeding. Remember that.
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