“5 Tips for Homeschooling a Teen With Special Needs”
by Homeschool.com’s Rebecca Kochenderfer
If you’ve decided to make the move toward homeschooling your teen, that’s fantastic! We want to see you succeed in this goal, so we’ve put together some quick tips from parents of children with various special needs:
- Allow your teen to get physical. – Too often, teens are restrained from moving around and are conditioned to believe that the only acceptable way to learn is to sit uncooperatively still at all times during “school” sessions. For teen with different abilities, this may not be at all realistic. Let your teen have regular bouts of movement. For instance, your teen can recite multiplication facts or spell out his spelling list while jumping on a trampoline!
- Be aware of anxiety kickstarters. If you know something triggers anxiety in your teen – perhaps transitioning from one activity to the next – you can completely eliminate or reduce such triggers! Don’t be afraid to establish boundaries, but help your teen be successful. For instance, offer 5,10, or 15 minute warnings that your teen know he or she needs to “find a stopping place” before transitioning activities.
- Don’t take it personally! If your teen has an active imagination and is easily sidetracked, remember none of that is a rejection of you or your teaching methods. You can encourage healthy and acceptable “daydreaming” at appropriate times. Perhaps taking a mental break where your teen can go somewhere quiet to recharge will help.
- Provide a refuge. If you have a teen who is sensitive to bright lights and loud sounds (SPD), perhaps providing a special place (the “comfort corner”) will give him or her a chance to internally regroup. Create a special comfort corner with a large bean bag, books, music, stuffed animals, and anything else that provides comfort to your teen.
- Give your teen plenty of time. While you probably can’t give an indefinite amount of time for your teen to complete activities, you also don’t have to stick to any time constraints listed in your curriculum if those won’t work for your teen. This is especially critical with fine motor skill activities.
Homeschooling a teen with special needs takes an incredible amount of patience and will often require that you make several accommodations. You’re doing the absolute best thing for your teen! Apply these tips to your homeschool, and we think you’ll be happy with the immediate improvements!