Updated: Jul 10, 2020
My favorite reasons for homeschooling is the ability to flex and change to meet the individual needs of each of my children. A truly customized education allows us to have ladders to climb up from weaknesses as well as climb higher to build on strengths.
The pressure to meet standards is not easily avoided even in the homeschool setting. Often the pressure to meet and exceed standards comes from within as we place undue burdens on ourselves in an effort to prove that homeschooling works. So when our curriculum schedule tells us we have to read a certain amount of pages, cover a certain amount of material or accomplish certain tasks we feel it's a mandate vs seeing it as a guide or suggestion. We often feel like we are failing when all those little boxes aren't getting checked off.
Don't fall into the trap! We as parents of special needs children must view our curriculum and schedules differently. We have to see these as guidelines and not the end all be all judgment of our success.
Education is about teaching the whole child meeting them at their level and moving them along at a pace that is right for them and not where we are told they should be. They will get there in their own time and pace.
In the public school setting your child has accommodations based on their IEP. At home you don't need to fight the school to get the help your child needs. You just do what your child needs and you don't have to have a "qualifying" diagnosis to make it happen.
1. Moving At My Child's Pace
I like to look at my curriculums schedule more as a suggestion or guideline rather than concrete rules. I just move at my child's pace and if we don't get to something or it takes a little longer there is always tomorrow.
•It's ok if it takes 2 or even 3 weeks to cover material scheduled over a given week.
•It's ok if it takes more than one year to complete the year's worth of curriculum.
•It's ok NOT to finish everything.
No matter what your child will have learned a lot and made progress and that is what is most important. There will be plateaus, valleys and mountains but every journey starts with a single step.
2. Aim For Progress Not Perfection
In the seven years I've had a school aged child I can't remember a single year that went according to plan. The thing I can cling to is that each year we've made progress. Some years the progress was overcoming the learning disabilities and crushing it academically others it was more the social aspects of ASD and learning to make and keep a friend. It wasn't always as much or the way we'd hoped for but progress is progress.
We as special needs parents have to look for progress in more than just the standardized test at the end of the year or completing an entire workbook but in the complete growth of the whole child. Our children have struggles that are not strictly academic and those are just as important.
So find that curriculum that bests allows you to flex and change it to meet your individual child's needs so progress can be made. There is no one perfect curriculum nor does your child need it. There is no perfect parent nor does your child need one. All they need is their imperfect parent(s) doing everything they can with what they've got to help them make progress.
3. Treat Some Assignments As Optional
I treat my lesson plan like a unit study having some items that we really dive down deep into and some things we avoid completely.
•You don't have to do every discussion question.
•You don't have to do every assignment.
•You don't have to read every book.
4. Teach The Child, Not The Curriculum
I have to remember daily that our curriculum is a plan not a contract a tool not the foreman. That our homeschool journey is not a race but if history has taught us anything that it's the tortoise that wins the race with a slow and steady pace.
So when you plan your year, the week or just the day start first with your child. When teaching it's about teaching the whole child. So when I plan I think of what skills we need to master both character and academic and go from there. I then focus on what topics or subjects interest my child. Finally I turn to my curriculum and choose what to focus more heavily on and what we can cut out completely. We use what we need to try to not just meet but exceed our goals for the year. Sometimes we fall a little short and sometimes he crushes them but as long as we are moving forward that is what's important.
The great thing about homeschooling is you don't have to jump through hoops or have a qualifying diagnosis to make these changes. All you have to do is know your child and their needs and just do it.
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