We homeschool Peyton. I have since he started school. Many people ask me if I started homeschooling with him because he is autistic? My response is No. I actually homeschooled all three of my older children also. I am a strong believer in homeschooling, but I also know it isn’t for everyone. I personally found it a great venue for my kids. My older kids were under an umbrella school as well as taking classes in a class setting. They were in a “homeschool school” that was classical education. They had plenty of social time and other activities, not to mention great classes. It was somewhat amusing to me that others had opinions on how I should raise and educate my kids, yet never took the time to actually find out what umbrella schools and other such venues are! In fact now that homeschooling is becoming more mainstream, the amount available to families is almost overwhelming!
Peyton enjoys being homeschooled and is he not subjected to bullying and other such negatives. We use many resources that are available to us, such as Coursera, Khan Academy, iTunesU and other such online classes on his computer and iPad. He uses workbooks for subjects such as math and keeps notes on all this in his series of journals. When we travel or expose him to unique opportunities, he journals about them. When we see a subject or area he is weak at, we try to not only have him work extra in it, we also have him get study aids. We have found that if Peyton is given some extra time and resources on subjects he struggles with, he feels more confident. I found with my older kids that they all learned differently and when I was able to teach or find them the right curriculum to their learning style, they could overcome many obstacles. As I stated earlier, homeschooling isn’t for everyone for a variety of reasons, but there are amazing benefits for so many. Online college classes are now readily available for not only college age, but for kids in high school. Peyton has taken many online classes and really has learned a lot. I also feel strongly that when kids are used to learning on their own, they continue to use that habit. I know this is true with my older kids.
One resource we have found that is awesome and free is the local library! Not only are they great resources for books, videos etc…but many have book clubs, volunteer opportunities and books for sale. We have found some amazing books at our local library and most are under a dollar. There are year round programs available. Most areas have homeschool support groups as well. Many put together field trips, classes and social groups. This is a great way to network with other parents while kids make friendships. The negative that is most frequently thrown at homeschoolers is the lack of social interaction, but there are other ways for kids to get the social time. Youth groups, summer camps, homeschool meet ups, sports, book clubs are just some. My older kids are still very close to many of the kids they were homeschooled with, even though they are adults and live in different states. There are also many state organizations for homeschooling. These usually have conferences as well as year round activities. We also have used social media to our advantage. Peyton tweets and follows many learning accounts. Many times they tweet very interesting facts which peaks his interest, so he researches more! I also find it is a great way for him to feel like he is a “typical teenager”. Of course we monitor his tweets etc… We also love Flipboard, Peyton flips many interesting articles. This is a great way to get him to read and research so many different topics. We are looking for other homeschool flipboarders to network and collaborate with, if you are one or know someone, please let us know. If you are unfamiliar with Flipboard, we strongly suggest you give it a look.
I would love to get feedback from other homeschoolers of special needs kids, so I can share in future blog tips and ideas as well as organizations that have been a great benefit to many. The more we network and support one another the greater impact we can have not only on homeschooling for special needs, but for all!