As leaders in homeschooling, many of you encounter families with students affected by disability, special needs, or asynchronous or atypical development. You may find yourselves wondering, “How can our organization do a better job helping these families feel welcome and encouraged?”
Tips and Ideas
Be warm, welcoming, and unambiguous in messaging and imagery.
One simple yet meaningful way for your organization to help families with special needs feel welcome is by simply having space for them on your website and in your literature. When hosting a conference or other event, send a positive message by stating or advertising that “families with children with special needs are welcome.” When updating or designing the organization’s website, make sure to reflect special needs in images and wording.
Offer information and resources on special needs topics.
- Let families know about HSLDA webinars that relate to special needs.
- Do Zoom or Facebook Live presentations with invited guests, such as specialists and parents who have experience homeschooling students with special needs. Speaking information for HSLDA’s Special Needs Educational Consultants is available here.
- Another valuable resource is SPED Homeschool, which has a YouTube Channel and speaker's bureau.
- Share informative websites that help parents understand special needs: ADDitudemag.com; AutismSpeaks.org; Dyscalculia.org; HomeschoolingWithDyslexia.com; Understood.org
Help parents and their children with special needs feel part of a community.
- Help families connect with mentors, whether in person or through online venues such as the Special Needs Homeschooling or Special Needs Homeschooling High School and Beyond Facebook groups.
- Encourage parents to find one or more homeschool groups to join. HSLDA’s Group Search is a good starting point.
- Create an online support group for families whose children have special needs so that they can easily connect with each other.
- Order flyers from HSLDA about homeschooling children with special needs.
Looking for links and other resources to share in emails, on social media, and on your website?
- HSLDA’s resource page for new-to-homeschooling parents of children with special needs
- “How to Start Homeschooling Midyear with Special Needs! Q&A” (webinar)
- “Homeschooling Students with Special Needs” (podcast)
- “Don’t Go It Alone! Support for Special Needs Homeschooling” (article)
- “You Can Homeschool with Special Needs!” (webinar)
- “Building a Homeschooling Community from Your Home Outward” (article)
- SPED Homeschool directory of support groups and resources
- “Experiencing God’s Grace in a Special Needs Family” (video and podcast)
- “6 Tips for Accommodating the Special Needs Child in Your Homeschool Co-op” (article)
- “A Mom Shares Her Perspective—Making Families of Handicapped Students Welcome” (article)
- “Teach Children How to Include Classmates with Disabilities” (article)
Learn more about how organizations can welcome and support families of children with special needs:
- Joni and Friends: “Joni and Friends is built on Biblical truth and the foundation of Jesus Christ. Since 1979, we’ve been advancing disability ministry and changing the church and communities around the world.”
- Nathaniel’s Hope: “A private organization that celebrates kids with special needs (‘VIPs’). It also educates and equips communities and churches to provide free respite care and programs to enrich the lives of VIP families. Its programs are designed to provide hope and practical assistance to VIP kids of all ages and their families.”
- Key Ministry: “Key Ministry was founded to help churches welcome families of children with hidden disabilities. Since 2002, we’ve provided knowledge, innovation, and experience to the worldwide church as it ministers to and with individuals and families of kids with hidden, developmental, and physical disabilities. In addition to being a disability inclusion ministry resource, we find ourselves uniquely called and positioned to serve churches seeking to become more intentional and effective in ministry with children, teens, and adults impacted by mental illness and trauma.”
- AllBelong.org: Headed by Barbara Newman, All Belong is a charitable organization that “equips congregations and schools to glorify God through purposeful, innovative inclusion of persons with varied abilities.”
- Accessible Gospel, Inclusive Worship: This book by Barbara Newman and Betty Grit offers practical ideas for creating environments to share the gospel and worship alongside persons with disabilities.