If you have a child with special learning needs, you have probably heard at some point, “Put him in school. They are better equipped to teach him.” On days when you are repeating the same concept for what seems like the thirtieth time, you may even have those thoughts yourself. Perhaps you have even tried to reason with yourself about affording a private school or thought about the break you’d get if you just put the child on the bus to be someone else’s responsibility for part of each day.
I had those thoughts and more during the years I homeschooled a son who struggled with academic learning. Being on the other side of the table as a professional educator had never felt like this. This was real, and the pressure was overwhelming some days. I fell on my knees, asking God time and again, “Can I really do this myself?” Thankfully, God was patient with me, as He repeatedly reminded me through Scripture that I didn’t have to do it myself, that He was with us every step of the way.
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness” (Isaiah 41:10).
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6).
The list of God’s promises that He will provide what we need is a long one. But how do we put our trust in those promises when we are feeling the weight and exhaustion of the huge task before us? I finally realized that God takes a big picture view of our situation, and I stepped back a little to see my child and his needs with a wider lens. What I observed were the following seven key reasons to homeschool any child. They are even more relevant to homeschooling our children who learn differently.
1. You are the expert on your child.
There is a place for the experience and guidance of medical professionals, teachers, and therapists. But only you know how to best fit their suggestions into your child’s daily life. You know your child’s strengths, moods, rest needs, and favorite activities. You know when to push and when to back off. You are the first to see what works and what doesn’t.
2. You are invested in your child’s progress.
Your heart is committed to your child. You will be there over the long haul and see how one milestone achievement connects to the next.
3. You set the schedule.
Does your child need to sleep until at least 9 am? Is she an early riser who shuts down after lunch? Do therapy appointments consume typical school hours many days? Homeschooling allows you to time lessons when it works best for your child and your family.
4. You decide where to start.
Homeschooling isn’t about arbitrary grade levels. Instead, you have the unique advantage of meeting your child where he is and moving forward, without learning gaps that result from advancing grade level just because it is September.
5. You choose the methods.
Would keeping hands busy or hanging off the couch help your child be more attentive during read-alouds? Should math be broken into shorter lessons or involve more hands-on activities? Are audio books a better option for some reading requirements? Homeschooling gives you the flexibility to adapt to how your child learns best.
6. You can nurture talents.
Opportunities to develop mechanical, creative, athletic, technical, service, or interpersonal skills can be built right into daily homeschool routines. They are not “extracurricular activities” to be added to an already full schedule.
7. You can put character development first.
This may be the most compelling reason to homeschool your special needs learner—or any child! Instilling Biblical values into our children’s hearts is hard enough, made even more difficult if their days are influenced by the world. How much harder still it can be to insulate those children who are more vulnerable, who have difficulty connecting experiences with the lessons.
Our son is now graduated. I used to cry out to God that I wasn’t finished with this son yet, that I needed more time. What I learned was that our influence and the teachable moments aren’t confined to the homeschooling season, but the effort we make to build a foundation for our children during those years definitely matters.
Copyright 2019, The Old Schoolhouse®. Used with permission. All rights reserved by the Author. Originally appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of The Old Schoolhouse®Magazine, the trade publication for homeschool moms.