Homeschooling Special Needs, Part 2

The Homeschool

Okay, you never wrote back re: homeschool, but upon re-reading your question I realized 😉 that I probably DID do a lot of saying what was on my heart, and not what you asked for. So, I’m going to try to stay on point this time…

In answer to the question of how to homeschool: FEC is key.

1. Be aware of the regulations of your state.

The difference between compliance and non-compliance is usually no more than 15 minutes of educating yourself on what is expected of you as a homeschooler. I am not meaning to state a position regarding the correct role of the state; only that (especially with a special-needs situation in the home) it is not in your family’s interest to paint a target on your back. Know the laws, plan in FEC how to incorporate your state’s regulation of homeschooling into your family education plan.

2. Be aware of the resources in your state.

We have loved the local elementary school in our little town as a resource for Hyrum’s special needs. It’s very TJEd: I meet with the individuals who do his various therapies and the specialist who coordinates for him and we set goals together, trouble-shoot areas of concern, consider proposals for various resources and equipment that might enhance his prospects and progress. I wish everyone in our situation could have such a wonderful team of loving, mission-driven caregivers to support the child and the family. And I wish every child, public, private, charter or home-schooled could have such a process to help them achieve their potential.

You may, as the FEC, determine that to apply for state and/or federal assistance to meet your child’s needs is the right thing to do. If this is your decision, be sure to know in advance what type of reporting, oversight and performance is required for your family, and that you are willing to submit to that process.

3. Simplify your life.

You can’t do it all. You never could; but now you need to have laser-focus to do what’s most important. Most often it will probably feel like you’re not going to get anything else done. The sooner you align your expectations to that truth, the less you and your family will suffer. And the strange thing is—there’s a sort of serenity and groundedness that attend such a family–a groundedness that everyone notices and sort of wishes for (although, they are quick to note, they wouldn’t want the trials that have demanded it).

It’s like that feeling you get after a very old person dies a happy death and everyone is momentarily brought to their senses about what they want out of their life. Too soon this passes for most; not so for the family with special needs. The absolute values are played out daily in choices and sacrifices and disappointments and miracles. This is a gift! Learn to treasure this above the triviality that promises to be the sought-for relief of your burdens.

For your family, the “Purge”, the “No”, the “Inventory” all have vast and dramatic consequences if long neglected, and can bless you immeasurably if applied.

4. Happiness is Cresting

Think of a wave in the ocean. Sea water, sand, minerals and minute plant and animal life all jumble together from top to bottom and through the middle. The contents of the bottom of a swirling wave are foundational to the top that we see. In poetic/metaphysical terms, the molecules of the bottom of the wave are just as important as the ones on top, in terms of all of them together forming a wave. But as the wave rolls, they take turns being on the crest. If you had the same amount of water, the same constituency of minerals, etc., and no motion, no sea floor to press upward, you would basically have a quantity of still water. This would be death to the abundant ecosystem that depends on the oxygenation and ionic activity the friction and motion supply.  And more: such stillness was every ancient seaman’s dread: to be “becalmed”. In such water you cannot progress with no current or wind to carry you forward.

So if we apply the example of nature (as I love to do), we note that having all things in balance, with nothing in a pre-eminent position, nothing subordinate or supporting, we have mediocrity. No progress.

If we allow waves in our life (and we cannot avoid them—from sound, to light, to the harmonics on a planetary level) we must embrace the process of giving our energy to some things while other things are supportive, or at rest. This is Cresting. For example: last Fall I was cresting on expanding into new areas of personal study and on Scholar Phase mentoring. This Fall I am putting a great deal of energy into my family’s health and nutrition and on writing. We must not sacrifice excellence at the altar of balance. Be at peace with waves that ebb and flow, and know that Nature will supply the opportunities that are needed for you and your family if you are doing the right thing now. How do you know? How do you define “the right thing”? FEC.

5. Happiness is Being Grounded

As noted above, Cresting only occurs with oppositional forces. Without the sea floor and the wind and the lunar forces, waves and tides cannot form. Certain foundational principles undergird your progress and deserve a minimal attention with constancy. These principles include:

  • Tend the marriage
  • Tend the physical health
  • Follow sound financial principles

If any of these cannot be depended upon, it strains the whole process. If these three things are maintained well, the Cresting has a driving energy that carries you where you want to go. It’s like the difference between a trade wind and a blustery storm.  They may carry the same level of power to move your ship, but one is chaotic while the other is productive.

These are some of my thoughts today on how-to. In theory, they are profound and uplifting. In practice, they are certainly insufficient. You will know, through inspiration, FEC and consulting other resources available to you, how these should apply to you–and what other principles you need to apply. Blessings to you and your family. I know you will be an inspiration to many as you undertake this journey with courage and grace.

rd

About the Author:

Rachel is the co-author of Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning and the audio series Core and Love of Learning: A Recipe for Success, and the author of the award-winning educational resource, This Week in History. She is an accomplished musician, writer, literary editor, public speaker, consultant and momschool organizer.

2 Comments

  1. Megan August 15, 2013 at 7:36 am - Reply

    After reading your, homeschooling special needs part 2, I’m a little concerned. As far as I was aware the only thing I needed to do to homeschool my special needs child in Utah was to fill out the exempt form but now you have me worried that it is different with a special needs child. School starts soon and I want to be in compliance. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Megan
    P.S. My son sees a myriad of specialists and I’m nervous to tell them of my choice to homeschool (I’m still struggling with the idea myself). Any suggestions on what to say to them? (I feel prompted to homeschool. That’s not really a concrete answer for them)

    • Rachel DeMille August 15, 2013 at 9:22 am - Reply

      Megan, I’m not aware of any other requirements – and we live in Utah. Was there something that I said that provoked concern? You might want to join the TJEd Special Yahoo group – full of great TJEd parents and mentors dealing with special needs: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/tjedspecial/

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