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Resources - Homeschool Groups - Article

This article was published in the HSLDA Discount Groups E-Zine, March 2007.


Guest Article: A Mom Shares Her Perspective—
Making Families of Handicapped Students Welcome

By Esther Mast

Given that homeschoolers come in all shapes and sizes, it is not surprising to find a few in wheelchairs. The local homeschool group is in a position to make these students feel as valued and included as possible. There are a few practical ways to do this:

First of all, keep the physical limitations of handicapped students in mind when planning group activities. Try to arrange at least a couple events a year that can include everyone, even those who can’t kick a ball or run races. Such awareness of limitations is especially important when planning a field trip. A considerate coordinator will research the proposed location well beforehand and inform the pupil’s parents about accessibility issues, so that there is less chance of an unpleasant surprise on arrival.

In addition, all students must be treated with respect by their homeschooled peers. Even if the venue of an activity is physically accessible, a handicapped student may feel out of place if other people constantly stare, ask awkward questions, or try to be too helpful by pushing the wheelchair for him. Remember, it is not the responsibility of the handicapped family to educate the entire group on demand, they have enough stress as it is. Make it a priority to teach proper courtesy to your own able-bodied children; if you must ask, direct a tactful question to the parents privately. If a handicapped student senses that others are uncomfortable around him, he will also feel very uncomfortable.

A wheelchair indeed places certain restrictions on the student and her family and homeschool group. With thoughtful planning and good manners, however, it need not be a hindrance to the homeschool experience.

The Masts have homeschooled eight children, four of whom have graduated and gone on to college. One of these college students is in a wheelchair.