This post is sponsored by Time4Learning.com
As homeschooling parents, you naturally desire to do all you can to equip your children to be their best and succeed in life. Sometimes, this is simply a matter of giving them a strong educational foundation. If, however, your student has special needs, they may struggle both academically and socially. Learning difficulties may result in an overall lack of motivation and focus. They may feel socially awkward and struggle with low self-esteem. So as a parent, how can you help? Think about your child’s interests and strengths, and use these as inspiration for implementing the following ideas to empower your child with special needs.
1. Create an Individualized Homeschool Program
The beauty of homeschooling is the ability to create an individualized educational plan for each of your students. You can do this by incorporating strength-based learning, teaching to your child’s learning styles, and adding in interest-led learning.
- Incorporate Strength-based Learning
Empower your kids by teaching to their strengths. A strength-based homeschool program can help lay a solid foundation for a child with special needs. Why? It’s simple really. When your students spend the majority of the homeschool day working on subjects in which they excel, they are happier, and thus more motivated to work. This is key, because a student who is motivated will be able to focus for longer periods of time and be more productive overall. And studies show that a strength-based approach will also work to build your student’s aptitude in weaker subjects. Now, that’s a big win for you and an even bigger confidence booster for your child.
- Teach to Your Child’s Learning Styles
We know that every child learns differently. So teaching your child’s preferred learning style simply makes sense. But, how do you determine your child’s natural learning strengths? Observe your children in action. Ask for their input. Then, experiment until you find what works best.
- Add in Interest-led Learning
Children are naturally curious about the world around them. So, let their curiosity fuel their learning. Give them ample time to pursue topics and subjects of interest and you will help them develop a love for learning. Interest-led learning empowers students in two distinct ways: it gives them control over what and how they learn and it typically motivates them to dig deeper into their topics of choice resulting in excellent retention and a mastery of the subject matter.
2. Volunteer Together
Volunteering as a family is one of the best ways to help your child develop and strengthen their life skills. Because many children with special needs struggle with communication and social skills, this team effort helps create a safe space to practice and learn. The great news is that everywhere you look there is an organization in need of helping hands. Here are some opportunities to get you started:
- Animal shelters
- Public libraries
- Food pantries and soup kitchens
- Community events
- Hospitals and nursing homes
Volunteering helps kids feel valued and needed. This is creative motivation at work! Volunteering can also help your kids discover hidden passions. And with the right support and mentoring, passions can grow into a successful hobby, career, or business.
3. Encourage Entrepreneurial Pursuits
So what does it take to be a successful entrepreneur? A clever idea? Lots of money? The simple answer is this: a can-do attitude. Teens and young adults with special needs are making big things happen every day. They are the faces behind many up-and-coming new businesses across the country—John’s Crazy Socks, Stuttering King Bakery, Sweet Heat Jam Co., Cozy Calm blankets, and so many more. So, what do all these young people have in common? They dared to dream big! Talk about inspiration!
The key is to begin early. Help your tweens and teenagers get a part-time job and/or seek out apprenticeship opportunities doing something they love. On-the-job training and experience can help mold your student and move them one more step closer to living an empowered life of happiness and self-sufficiency.
4. Teach Your Child About the Power of Positivity
Everyday life is full of ups and downs. Good days and not-so-good days. And sometimes it’s really hard to have a positive attitude. And harder still for kids with special needs. It takes tons of practice, determination, and an intentional mindset. So how can you help? Well, you can begin by modeling a positive attitude when life gets you down.
You can also teach your kids about the power of affirmations. Compliment your child often. Celebrate all the little victories throughout the day with a Great job! I’m so proud of you! coupled with a hug. Then, talk about how these things make them feel. Demonstrate how to use affirmations and help your kids come up with their own. If you need a little inspiration, try some of these:
- I am creative
- I am a great baker
- I am patient
- I can draw really well
- I have a great singing voice
- I am great with numbers
5. Create a Sense of Community and Celebrate Your Child’s Specialness
Children with special needs often struggle to fit in. So how can you help them to feel a sense of community? Community can be as simple as partnering up with another parent and child, or reading about kids with similar struggles. You can start by having a conversation with your child and brainstorm a few possibilities. Or try some of these suggestions:
- Seek out other families whose children have similar struggles and set up playdates.
- Read from a wide variety of picture books whose main characters have special needs.
- Begin a Mommy and Me or Daddy and Me hobby based on one or more of your child’s strengths and invite another parent and child team to join in on the fun.
- Encourage your sports enthusiast to join the Special Olympics (parents can even volunteer or serve as a coach).
Homeschooling is one of the best ways to empower your children with the gift of positivity. You have the ability to create an environment for your kids that is filled with positive words, learning experiences, activities, and people. We hope that you will take inspiration from these ideas and use them as a springboard for empowering your children to be and feel their best.