Every home educator has so much to juggle, but homeschooling a student with special needs alongside typically-developing siblings is much more of a challenge. While some struggles may never go away, there are some ways to get a better flow going in your home school day while still meeting the academic and personal needs of all your children.
Create a Schedule and Set Expectations:
When students (especially special needs students) know what to expect, they are more likely to reach their goals for the day. Plan when you are going to work with each student and what you will be working on. This will help the students know when they need to focus on their work with you, and will help you focus on working with them rather than worrying about the next lesson.
Additionally, prepare self-driven activities for your students to complete while you work with others. Format the activities the best way for your special needs learner.
Give Siblings Teaching Responsibilities:
The great thing about having students with different interest and learning at different interests and learning at different levels is that they can help you teach! Use the strengths of one student to assist with the struggles of another. This helps you manage several students at once, allows the “substitute teacher” to feel important, and helps foster a culture of learning and support within your family. This type of teaching can also help students with special needs learn to interact appropriately in social situations and improve their overall communication. Because students have a wide variety of strengths and interests, you can usually find a topic for each sibling to teach-not just to the special needs learner, but to the whole class.
Use Lessons That Work on Multiple Levels:
It is possible to structure lessons to teach students on multiple levels at the same time. For example, if you take a simple science experiment, you can engage one student at a lower level, teach the basic scientific method and record data with a middle learner, and then delve into the chemical properties with an advanced student. This works for variety of subjects. There needs to be some one-on-one guidance, but the basic lesson can be taught to the kids as a group. Taking a little bit of time to plan out your day, helping your students, and become the teachers in some subjects, and making lessons work for the whole family are time-and energy-saving techniques that benefit both teacher and students.