Thursday, November 7, 2013

Why I decided to homeschool my daughter with Down Syndrome

I have heard other moms of children with Down Syndrome wonder should they homeschool. I thought I would share some of my thoughts and reasons that helped to make the decision to homeschool my daughter.

This is my 5th year homeschooling and my 3rd/4th year homeschooling my daughter. Miss K is 9 years old. (I put 3rd/4th year because the first year she was going to the preschool in the mornings and so she was only home some days.)

Let me give a bit of background. Miss K was born overseas and we had a PT that worked with us until she was about three. We would meet with her every month or so and she would evaluate and give us new goals and exercises. Miss K was slow in speaking. I remember at 3 she would babble and give long speeches complete with hand gestures which no one could understand but we all knew to be quiet and listen. For about a year in Hong Kong we had a speech therapist that worked with us once a week.

Miss K and Mama working together on preschool.

From about age 4 1/2 to 6 Miss K did go to the Early Intervention preschool three afternoons a week. She was able to get therapy there -- physical, occupational, and speech.  She went to a "normal" preschool two mornings a week at age 5. Then when she was 6 she went to the same preschool three mornings a week.

Miss K loved her preschool.

The decision to homeschool came as we were transitioning from the preschool program to the elementary school.

1. I was already homeschooling her brother, Bob. Homeschooling was not new. I was familiar with the local requirements, had ideas about curriculum, and was not afraid to try homeschooling a special needs child.  Combined with that I didn't want to be tied to the school schedule -- having to be home by a certain time to meet the bus or follow the school calendar.

2. I saw more potential than the IEP goals for the first year. Some of the goals were to read the high frequency survival words like men, women, information, caution, push, and pull. The school was going to put her in the life skills class. I knew she could do more than life skills.

3. I evaluated where my time and energy would be spent. I could push, fight, be in the classroom to make sure that she is included, etc. or I could spend my time and energy teaching her. The elementary school where they would be sending her was not the local one but the one across town. So that would mean more of a drive to her school for me.

4. I knew where Miss K's delays were and felt confident that I would be able to work with her. When I began homeschooling her, she was speaking in two or three word sentences. Her reciprocal language was very high. She recognized letters and knew their sounds. Her fine motor skills needed some improvement but I felt I could work with her.

5. I knew that she was very observant and a great deal of her learning came from observation and wanting to keep up with the others. I was concerned what would happen in a special needs classroom.

These were some of the factors that helped us in making the decision to homeschool. Knowing myself, our family situation, the local school situation, and my daughter helped to make that decision.

Miss K interacting with a Norman Rockwell Art exhibit.

Each child, parent, and school situation is unique and we each need to make a decision that works for our family at that time.  Hopefully this will help you as you make the decision on how to educate your special needs child.

What were some factors that helped in making the schooling decision for your child? What concerns do you have about homeschooling your special needs child?

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