If you are homeschooling a child who finds learning very hard or has special needs, it can be so reassuring and encouraging to discover there are both at-home and outsourced therapies that can help make the learning process easier and more rewarding for your child!
For struggling students, including special therapies in your homeschooling program can be instrumental in building confidence and propelling progress.
Therapies generally involve a one-on-one approach (a natural for homeschooling!) combined with specific activities, exercises, and methods targeted to equip your child to overcome or learn coping skills for specific learning difficulties or disabilities.
The great news is that some therapeutic activities and interventions can be provided by you at home and organically integrated into your homeschool routine!
Others can (or must) be provided by professionals—either personally in your home, remotely through video conferencing in your home, or at a clinic or practitioner’s office—in order to best address your child’s specific needs and challenges.
Here is a quick sampling of interventions and therapies.
At-home interventions and therapies
Visual processing difficulties
- EyeCanLearn.com and EyeQAdvantage.com are computer-based interventions to target visual processing skills such as eye tracking or convergence insufficiency.
- Straight Talk is a speech/language curriculum that includes interactive activities. It was written by a homeschool mom and certified speech-language pathologist. The curriculum helps parents address speech articulation, as well as expressive and receptive language processing difficulties at home.
- Lexercise offers professional language therapy for children who struggle with dyslexia, dysgraphia, and other reading and writing problems.
Addressing multiple learning difficulties simultaneously
- OT Mom is a collection of resources created by a homeschooling mama of 3, who happens to be a pediatric occupational therapist. She provides wonderful at-home activities for kiddos who have dysgraphia, fine motor issues, and sensory-integration difficulties.
- Maintaining Brains Every Day (DVD) by Kathy Johnson shows parents how to help kids do primitive reflex integration exercises—often used in occupational, physical, or vision therapy—in about 15 minutes daily at home.
- Equipping Minds Cognitive Development Curriculum and Therapy by Dr. Carol Brown trains parents to use a curriculum that targets and seeks to increase working memory, processing speed, attention, comprehension, critical thinking, and communication skills, which can affect academic, social, and language abilities. Parents can use this at-home program on their own or under a trained therapist.
- Brain Integration Therapy Manual, Right Brain Phonics and Reading, and other educational resources, by Dianne Craft guide parents in taking a neuro-developmental and creative approach in addressing learning difficulties like visual, auditory, and sensory processing issues and teach them to how to use the Writing 8 exercise to address dysgraphia.
Outside or outsourced therapies
- Art therapy
- Music therapy, drumming, or voice therapy
- Social skills group or play therapy
- Equine therapy
- Counseling or behavioral therapy
So, when should I seek professional assistance with my child?
There are certain kinds of help that only professionals can provide. And we know that identifying times when you really need to outsource can be tricky. (After all, we moms sometimes try to do it all!)
Here are some examples of times when professional assistance can be particularly beneficial:
- Life circumstances that make it hard to provide all therapy yourself: a new baby, illness, trauma or loss, job demands, time constraints, marital struggles, the needs of your other children, etc.
- Your child has medical needs: for example, a physical therapist may be warranted for a child with a neurological disorder, a traumatic brain injury, or cerebral palsy.
- Your child is experiencing anxiety, depression, or self-harming behaviors: licensed counselors and psychiatrists are wise choices to help your child with these and other mental illness symptoms.
How do I document therapy as part of my child’s homeschool program?
Whether you choose at-home therapy or outsourced (or both!) these critical interventions are part of your child’s education: they can certainly be counted as “school” and should be documented and integrated into your child’s individualized home educational program.
To learn more about documenting your child’s education—including therapeutic activities—check out these resources:
- Visit our Recordkeeping section to get a quick basic overview of homeschool records, what to keep and recordkeeping tools, high school recordkeeping, and electives and extracurriculars.
- You can use a Student Education Plan (a homeschool version of an IEP) for planning, evaluating progress, and documenting/recordkeeping.
- Teaching a teen? You can learn more about what documentation your student may need for graduation, employment, or further training and education in High School and Beyond.
Ready to start exploring therapies that might be right for your child?
You can start by getting a better understanding of your child’s learning difficulties and additional suggested therapies and interventions for specific learning struggles.
Or, learn more about working with a local special education professional.
Fortunately, there are lots of resources available to support and teach you as a parent how to provide at-home therapies to address specific learning needs.
And you don’t have to do it all: you might also decide to hire one or more tutors to share the task of providing at-home therapies. Or—another outside-the-box option—you could enroll your child in a supplemental course at a small co-op or private school.
You’ll need to take into account your unique family and circumstances when deciding what therapies to use and whether to provide them yourself or outsource them to professionals.