In this post I’m going to tell you how to homeschool your neurodivergent child. But it’s going to be entirely from my experience. Neurodiversity falls on such a wide spectrum that there can’t be a step-by-step guide. But what I can share are some things that I think all of us parents need to do, to homeschool our kids in a positive way.
Contents of the Post
Go Through Your Grieving Process before You Start Homeschooling
I was devastated when our children were diagnosed with Autism. I was so afraid for them and what their lives would be like. The term conjured up such negative thoughts and emotions. And this was based almost entirely on what I’d seen in media and how people spoke about it.
I also grieved for the loss of how I thought my life would be with kids. I think many parents have dreams and aspirations for their children that are based on what they desire as parents. Children often don’t even make these choices themselves.
But going through the grieving process was really important. Once I came out the other side, I was ready to advocate for my kids. I needed that time to process and grieve so that I could offer my children the best homeschool possible.
I would suggest giving yourself as much time as you need to do this. Because your homeschooling mindset is one of the biggest elements of the whole process. You need to be open, willing to learn and ready to give your child exactly what they need.
I’m a huge believer in the power of deschooling…especially if your child is neurodivergent. And this is why:
- You’re going to have the most success if you throw everything you think education should be, out the window. Your kid is going to need a tailor-made learning experience that suits them and their needs.
- Once you open your eyes to all the different types of learning, you’re going to be blown away by what you can offer your child. The way we were taught as public school cannot compete with what’s on offer these days!
- As soon as you embrace the flexibility that homeschool offers, you’ll be able to craft a homeschool that will encourage your kiddo to love learning. Because it’s going to be on their terms entirely.
- And finally, by releasing any need to measure your kids against others, you’re going to be able to work to the strengths of your child…whatever they may be.
Homeschool your Neurodivergent Child with Kindness
As parents we want the very best for our children. Naturally. But it’s very easy to let things like expectations from society and family creep into how we deal with them. I know that I would get super frustrated with my kids at times when they were ‘misbehaving’. Or if they weren’t learning in the way that I expected, I would get annoyed. See deschooling above!
As much as it’s difficult for you, think about how difficult it is as a child. They’re navigating a world that they don’t understand and that doesn’t understand them. They might not be able to regulate their emotions or even express how they feel. Homeschooling your neurodivergent child with kindness is so very important.
So in practical terms, this looks like:
- giving them as much time as they need to complete something,
- having oodles of patience,
- being a true advocate for your child,
- praising and rewarding them all the time,
- and being 100% fully and totally invested and present in the homeschooling process.
Don’t Forget to be Kind to Yourself Too!
You’re not going to be able to give your child what they need if you don’t look after yourself. You need to be strict and consistent with self care. This means:
- taking time for yourself,
- eating and sleeping well,
- asking for help if you can,
- and looking after your physical and mental health.
It can be really exhausting and frustrating to homeschool your neurodivergent child. So you need to be at your best. And you also need to know when to walk away for a while.
Homeschool your Neurodivergent Child with a Community
I wouldn’t have had the courage to homeschool our kids without my online community. They were, and are, so instrumental in helping me to make this decision. And they’ve also helped me with doing it successfully.
It can feel so very lonely when you feel like you’re failing or your child is having an epic meltdown. There’s so much guilt and shame when you lose your shit or when you lash out. But it’s times like this that make community so invaluable.
A community of like-minded moms can:
- tell you you’re not alone in losing your shit (we’ve all done it!),
- give you advice and tips for dealing with obstacles,
- tell you where to find resources,
- and just be there of you need to vent.
There are so many groups on Facebook dedicated to neurodivergent homeschooling. Find a group that speaks to you or even start your own if you can’t.
I know it’s easy for me to give you all this advice, more that 5 years down the line. But I just want to say that it’s hard but you can do it! Just by deciding that you want to give your child more or different, means so much!
It’s going to be hard at the beginning. Anything new is! But it will get easier and you will get better at it. It’s inevitable if your desire is strong enough. You can do it! I believe in you!