At this point you may have decided that homeschooling your child is going to be the best way to meet his special learning needs, but you have lots of questions. Chances are that you’ve already been frustrated by a school system that doesn't understand your child or been overwhelmed with all the paperwork and technicalities the school wants.
These experiences may have left you wondering: Will school officials understand or agree with my decision to homeschool my child? HSLDA is delighted to assist you on this journey! By following these recommendations, you can protect your homeschool and best enable HSLDA to defend it if necessary.
1. Know Your State Law
First, you’ll need to know what your state’s homeschool laws require. In most states, you do not have to follow any additional requirements to teach your child with special educational needs at home. You will simply follow the same requirements as all other homeschooling parents.
You can find your state’s homeschool law here.
In a few states, you are required to do one or two additional things. If you are an HSLDA member and you have questions or you’d like to be sure you are handling these extra requirements properly, you can reach out to our legal staff. We’d be happy to help. (Not a member? Join here!)
2. Arrange for Regular Evaluations and Document Your Child’s Progress
Next, you’ll need to keep accurate records demonstrating how you are meeting your child’s educational needs and how he is progressing. These records documenting your personal determination of what is best for your child often hold the key to successfully defending your homeschool should any legal challenge arise.
You’ll especially want to document periodic evaluations of your child’s educational progress. As a general guide, the more severe the special learning need, the more helpful regular evaluations are in demonstrating progress appropriate to your child’s ability.
You have several options for performance evaluations and progress monitoring. Observation notes, curriculum based assessments, skills checklists, and creating a portfolio of your child's work samples are among the available options. To find out more about keeping track of your child's progress, be sure to check out these related posts:
Keep in mind that your state homeschool law may require a specific kind of evaluation or evaluator—you can find any specific requirements in your state here.
It is best to keep all of your records concerning each special needs child for a minimum of three years or until the child is beyond compulsory school age.
3. Obtain Assistance in Meeting Your Child’s Special Needs
HSLDA encourages you to find a local private special education professional to supplement your own homeschool program. In general, the more severe your child’s special learning needs, the more assistance you should obtain to help meet these needs. Here’s some information to consider as you check out your options:
Special Education Professionals
How do you choose a special education professional? Following these tips can help you find just the right person to work with. Sometimes school officials will question the progress of a homeschooled child with special needs, so having an independent special needs educational professional who can attest to your child’s abilities and progress is invaluable.
Private Educational Programs
Alternatively, you could secure regularly scheduled assistance and/or evaluations for your child through a private program.
Public School Programs
Although HSLDA doesn’t generally recommend it, you can often get special education assistance through public school programs. These programs include any services funded by state or federal dollars though your local school district, whether the services are provided in your own home or at the school. While you can obtain an evaluation for special education needs in every state, only about half of the states require services to be provided to homeschool students. See your state’s special needs provision here.
As a homeschool parent, you already have a lot on your plate, and HSLDA has found that public school services come with strings (and potential legal difficulties) attached. So it is best to choose a private service provider whenever possible. If your child is currently receiving public special education services, you may wish to begin transitioning to private sources for your child’s special education needs.
HSLDA will do everything we can to protect a member family’s right to homeschool a child who has special learning needs. If you’re a member, you’re welcome to contact us and speak with our legal team for assistance with any of the steps described above.
You want to see your child thrive. And we’re committed to equipping and encouraging you as a parent-teacher to help your student thrive through homeschooling!
NOTE: This information is designed to assist families in establishing the safest legal environment possible for their homeschools. These recommendations do not constitute legal advice.
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