Homeschooling and Down syndrome

Homeschooling and Down syndrome

Making the decision to homeschool any child is difficult—if not scary—for any parent, and especially for those who have children with special needs, such as Down syndrome.

Do the benefits of homeschooling a child outweigh those of public education? How can one be sure that homeschooling is right for their child? These questions can only be answered by anyone considering the option. However, once the decision to homeschool has been made, there are a few things that need to be done that will help your child reach their maximum potential in this educational arena.

In the first place are the individual needs of the child and his learning process. What spectrum or how severe is their learning disability? What are their interpersonal skills? What goals are sought and how are they reached? Because every child is different, an individualized plan is critical.

An Individualized Education Program, also known as an IEP, is required for all children who attend public schools. This assessment is also essential for homeschooled children. An IEP analyzes a child’s specific needs and helps identify a specific program with goals and effective strategies for learning as well as teaching. The plan allows for flexibility so that the child can learn at his own pace and his success can be measured more effectively.

There are several steps involved in an IEP, as well as measurement and re-evaluations, but this highly effective tool is useful for students, parents, and caregivers alike. Information about the IEP, the steps involved and what to expect can be found at the website below (1)

The second strategy for creating a successful and positive home education is the environment in which the child will learn. Having a separate area in the home is essential for the homeschooler. This area should only be used during the learning process and at all other times. This area helps set the mood for study time, just as being at school or the library helps a child make the connection between quiet and reading time versus the cafeteria at lunchtime. The room should be full of necessary study aids and materials. Some parents also include items that can be used as rewards after the child has successfully completed a task or learning session. The National Homeschooling Network (NHEN) has excellent resources, links and information on homeschooling along with forums, support and help for those just starting the process or those who have been homeschooling for years. (2)

Structuring study time in homeschooling is also vital, while leaving room for flexibility. Many families study at home during set hours, while others feel that shortening study time gives children time to absorb what they have learned in a short period of time before either reinforcing the same material in a different way or starting with new goals. Again, it’s a matter of personal preference and what works best for your child. Karen, an Ohio parent, has found that taking short breaks between study sessions with her son Tom allows for much-needed mental breaks when the material seems too difficult for him, but has found that he has exceeded goals they never believed possible. that it can achieve in the beginning. Her schedule is flexible, with an attitude of “If he does well and completes the tasks, we move on!”

Finally, homeschooling should be both fun and educational. The boundaries of teaching and learning are limitless. Children do well in a rewarding learning environment and most often exceed goals and expectations when given an exciting and fun curriculum. Almost anything can be turned into a fun learning activity, limited only by our imaginations. And for those who may struggle with this part of teaching, a visit to your local library has excellent resources to help tap into that fun and creative side we may have buried.

The decision to homeschool is both rewarding and challenging, but by assessing your child’s needs and creating a program that works with an IEP, creating an environment with the tools necessary to get the job done, having a schedule that works, and an exciting and rewarding atmosphere for your child to learn, excel, and grow, you will find that both you and your child will flourish beyond expectations. So, pop those bubbles, tickle your fingers and silly faces and enjoy the whole process!

#Homeschooling #syndrome

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