In its early days (1970s-1980s), modern homeschooling was often a complete rejection of traditional school. Homeschooling parents, many of whom had to fly under the radar, truly embraced learning at home and had a fierce independent streak. They encouraged other parents to believe that they had the knowledge, tools, and love to educate their own children, regardless of what the educational establishment told them. They forged ahead, developing their own curricula, starting homeschooling newsletters, and crafted a homeschooling lifestyle that worked for them.
We have much to thank these homeschooling pioneers for. Homeschooling is now legal throughout the United States (although we need to continue to safeguard that freedom). Most people view homeschooling as a valid educational choice. One other thing that we can thank these early homeschoolers for is that we no longer have to educate our children all on our own.
Co-ops, Community Classes, and Hybrid Programs
Homeschooling today looks different from family to family and from season to season. At some points in our homeschooling journey, we may want to hunker down and do it all on our own at home. There are other times when we may need help. There may be subjects you don’t feel comfortable teaching. Science and/or math often fall in this category. Others may desperately want someone else to teach their child art or music. These types of needs are often easily met through online classes or classes in the community.
Homeschool co-ops are abundant. These are groups in which two or more homeschool families come together to provide academic or social opportunities for their children. Many museums, art studios, and gyms have come to realize that there is a great market for homeschool classes. They provide such opportunities in their programming. Colleges and universities sometimes offer homeschool programs to give teachers-in-training a place to hone their skills. A little investigation into your local community can uncover a wealth of opportunities.
But sometimes, the need for help can run deeper. Perhaps you are committed to homeschooling, but you are truly overwhelmed. Maybe you feel that you can’t possibly provide your children the education that they need. Hybrid programs, in which children attend school with other homeschoolers two or three days a week and complete the rest of their education at home, may be an option. Some homeschoolers also run small cottage schools out of their home in which they educate a few other children in addition to their own.
Seeking Help for Children with Special Needs
Does your child have special learning needs? Many students with special needs thrive in a homeschool setting. We can provide our children with individual attention. Children who have a hard time sitting can get plenty of exercise. Those who are anxious can move at a personalized pace. Lessons can be tailored to current interests. In addition, we love our children and are highly motivated to want them to succeed.
This doesn’t mean we might not need some extra help. While each child develops at his or her own timetable, if you notice that your child is lagging far behind peers, it may be time to seek some assistance. Speech-language pathologists, reading specialists, occupational therapists, and behavioral counselors all can have a role to play in helping your child.
As homeschoolers who also pay taxes, we are eligible for testing and services through local public school districts. In reality, that availability may depend on how friendly your local school district is to homeschooling and how overwhelmed they are with the public school caseload. You may wish to ask other homeschoolers in your community what their experiences have been.
HSLDA (the Home School Legal Defense Association) has special education counselors who can provide assistance and point you to appropriate resource. If you have concerns about your child’s behavior or physical development, your pediatrician may be a good place to start. You may also want to reach out to other local homeschoolers to see if they have any recommendations of homeschool-friendly specialists. If you need academic help, college students may be able to provide tutoring.
Keep Your Eyes on the Goal
As homeschoolers, we all want to offer a quality education to our children and help them to become all God wants them to be. Sometimes, that means getting outside help. It can be hard to admit that we can’t do it all on our own. Keeping our eyes on the goal of helping our children be successful can encourage us to be willing to seek out resources. Homeschooling does not always have to happen at home or mean that the parents are the ones doing all the teaching. Thankfully, we have the opportunity to use the whole world as our classroom.