Specialized Homeschooling

We have all experienced moments as homeschooling parents when what we are teaching just isn't getting through. Perhaps you're teaching a new topic that is tough for your child. Perhaps it is a subject that is simply harder for your child. Or perhaps you or your child are just having a bad day.

In those moments, we find ourselves in a tough position. We only have a short time to diagnose the situation and decide how to respond. Do we encourage the child who is frustrated? Do we shift gears and try a new strategy to teach the skill? Do we set the topic aside for now? Do we run and lock ourselves in the bathroom (or closet in my case) for a few moments of peace?

I have to admit that I do go and hide occasionally. In those moments, I tell my boys that I need a time out. They still have a hard time respecting that boundary, but it is important. When I don't take that moment, when I let the emotions override my sensibilities, that's when I lose it. Those are the moments I regret.

When you have a child with special needs like I do, there is an extraordinary need for time for yourself. As a homeschool parent, you may not get it consistently. Parents of children with disabilities, physical or emotional, and parents of children with chronic illnesses are constantly on the lookout for the next struggle. It's overwhelming and stressful and chaotic and nonstop. But it's also beautiful and wonderful and peaceful when you see that same child succeed and know that you played a part in that success.

"Special" children need special specialized parenting and education. They may need different teaching strategies, different curricula, different medications, and different ways of handling stress, frustration, and anxiety. As a parent and as a teacher, trust your instincts. You know your child best. So, encourage your child when they are frustrated. Shift gears and try a new strategy to teach a skill. Set aside the topic and come back to it later. And lock yourself in the bathroom or closet for a few moments to regain your own composure and sanity. Then look at the precious faces you are teaching and remind yourself what you are doing and why.


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