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Sunday, February 2, 2014

10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Homeschool

Homeschooling is not for the faint of heart.  It is for the determined, the committed, and the passionate.  But before jumping in with two feet, it can be helpful to ask yourself a few honest questions.  Discussing and sharing ideas and expectations with your family is a critical part to the homeschooling journey, as this is not a solo mission!  I answered these 10 questions myself to give you a frame of reference.  And the beautiful part of being a homeschooler is that all of our answers will and should look totally different.  The goal isn't to fit into a "autism homeschooler mold", but to find your sweet spot in a wide open world of possibilities...because that is what homeschooling offers at it's core - possibilities.


1.  Why do I want/need to homeschool? 

Tremendous anxiety in public middle school caused behavioral problems, inability to learn, and stress at home.

2.  Strengths and weakness of your child

S: Disciplined with schedule, hardworking, charming, funny, creative, loving
W: Short tempered, easily frustrated, loud, inflexible, destructive, demanding

3.  Strengths and weakness of you

S: Resourceful, confident, flexible, intelligent, adventurous
W: Short tempered, easily frustrated, isolationist, sensory overloaded easily

4.  Child's Interests

Jackson loves music, TV & movies, iPad, photography, drawing, and shopping.

5.  Budget

I prefer to make a smaller investment up front so I can make adjustments during the year as he seems to constantly change. We allot $200 at beginning of school year and $50-$75/month during the year.

6.  Space

Our house is not huge and I do not like clutter, therefore I like to keep all his materials and work in the dining room area, but they seem to have taken over a corner in the living room as well.

7.  Time

I am not a morning person.  So my husband helps with the early morning activities. And I like to be done an hour before my daughter gets home, so I can decompress before all the afternoon activities.

6:30-2:00 Jackson

9:00-2:00 Me (6:30-7:30 with Dad and 7:30-9:00 Independent)

8.  Community

We live in suburban D.C. which has plenty of access to services, therapies, socialization and educational opportunities, but it's heavily populated, so all outings need to be in the morning to avoid overstimulating situations for both Jackson and I.

9.  Support Network

No family and limited friends, as I'm a bit of an introvert.  Most support comes from husband and a few close friends with special needs children.  This can cause loneliness and feeling overwhelmed easily, so I need to take periodic breaks during the school day and time away on the weekends.

10.  State Requirements

Virginia's requirements are minimal which makes my life a lot easier!  We do a letter from a certified teacher who has reviewed and approved my son's work from the school year.  Check for your state's requirements here as some are much, much more rigid: http://www.hslda.org/hs/default.asp


Notice that not one of these questions is about what curriculum to use - that is secondary, and the subject of my next blog.  A lot of people get hung up on WHAT they are going to teach, that they forget that HOW and WHY they are going to teach is more important.  It reminds me of the mistake a lot of couples make when they get married...they focus all their time, energy and money on the wedding, and not on the marriage that follows.  Curriculum choices come much more easily once you understand your child's emotional, social, physical, intellectual, and spiritual needs - all within the confines of your adult realities.

As an optimistic realist, I firmly believe in being brutally honest with myself, but I'm also hopeful that everything will work out in the end:) "What could possibly go wrong??" is the Trotter family motto!



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5 comments:

  1. Would Love to Pin this Post, but it won't let me without a image associated with it. Could I beg you to update with an image so I can post it on Pinterest?
    Thanks, Jennifer Latas

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  3. This could have easily have been written by me, and my autistic son is only 4! I also believe that I am a higher functioning autistic adult, and chaos, clutter, noise and general over stimulation (which happen to be produced by my son in abundance) drive me to the brink of anxiety everyday. I have been so discouraged by my own limitations and fears that this post is such a relief to read.
    I think I get in to my head that a homeschooling mom must be an angelic superhero, with such powers that I am certainly not imbued with! I know I need to let go of the ideal image and just be who I am in the best way for what my boys need but it is so hard especially with so many around me saying "You know...they have such and such program or REAL school that handles these sort of kids!"

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  4. I teach non-verbal and autistic clients to sight-read for piano in the classical tradition (via Skype). The goals are not to create musicians, but to teach functional life skills and enhance educability for academic excellence. Homeschooled students have the added benefit of the teacher (me) teaching to their strengths by tapping into the child's Interests. You make these very valuable points here, and they are spot on.

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