some thoughts on homeschooling + special needs homeschooling

Before I write how well we are doing homeschooling I thought I’d write a few thoughts on homeschooling and special needs homeschooling. Otherwise it was going to be a very long post.

Firstly,  I love teachers. Whenever I share a homeschooling post on FB I seem to get someone commenting on how hard teachers work. Absolutely. That’s a given. My mum and granddad were both career teachers and devoted their lives to it. Teachers work long hours and have even more work as they try to teach a crowded curriculum, prepare children for NAPLAN, testing at earlier ages, more children in the class and more children with a range of special needs in there (without help). So I love teachers, we’ve had lots of great teachers in our schooling life and I have friends who are teachers and wonderfully dedicated.

Next up inclusive education is wonderful…………when it’s well funded. Unfortunately for us we were never going to get funding and an inclusive education locally. Having a mild intellectual disability means any access to funding in a public school is equal with children who are struggling to read, have dyslexia, learning difficulties or are undiagnosed. Mild ID  as a diagnosis is a bit misleading because mild makes it seem like it’s the mild end of things but really it’s a lifelong disability that affects every aspect of a person’s life. There is a local private school that has a great reputation for children with disabilities and it does it very well for children with physical or hearing issues but if you have an intellectual disability you need to provide your own aide or go to their special school which starts from a moderate ID later in primary grades.

When you start homeschooling any child you realise that children don’t have to go to school to be well educated. 13 years of a child’s life spent in the classroom doesn’t always make them happy, well educated, lead to a job or a successful life. When you throw disabilities in there you really question why a child needs to be in a classroom when really they need to be prepared to live in the real world. Homeschooling allows you to choose your own priorities for what they need to learn, fit in therapies comfortably into their day and pursue their interests as well.

Even as a homeschooler I have to provide a year’s plan of what we will teach and how I will meet all KLA’s of the NSW curriculum. And it still strikes me as a little bit silly that I need to teach geography and history to a child who is still learning how to use the toilet independently or learn what ‘in’ and ‘out’ or how to ask for something.  Thank goodness we have a sensible Authorised Person from NESA (formerly the Board of Studies) who tells us what to focus on and meets the child before approving your plan. Yes we have a plan that shows we will meet all subject areas but we do our maths and english every day and try to tick off our other subjects in less conventional ways compared to how they would be taught in a classroom. It’s still a lot more work than would be done in a special needs classroom or meeting goals in an IEP and that makes me happy.

If you live in Australia, Centrelink have a scheme called Assistance for Isolated Children whereby parents of a child with a disability can receive $4k a year ($1k a term). This money could be used for tutoring, supplies, help coming into the home, classes, courses and more. It is a huge help and we use it for our sessions at a local learning centre. There are 2 forms to fill in and your GP or paediatrician needs to complete the medical form.

Homeschooling any child is a big responsibility and commitment, it assumes that there is someone at home who can do the teaching and care during school hours. Not everyone has a parent who is home during the day and there can be a huge financial cost to homeschooling if one income is lost. I know that families might have a parent stay home during the early years and then when the children start school that parent goes back to work. There are families where both parents work and homeschooling is achieved and it’s worth researching how other families make it work before ruling out homeschooling.

You will have good and bad days just like you do when you send your child off to school. Sometimes the bad days make you want to pack everyone off to the local school tomorrow but I’ve found once I relaxed our daily routine and stopped stressing over everything we had to cover that we just got into our routine and everything seemed to get easier.

There is a lot and I mean a LOT of support on Facebook. There are local groups, special needs groups, australia wide groups and more. You will get lots of tips, advice and reassurance on the groups and sometimes it’s nice just to know that there are other people out there with a bit more experience or you can help out someone new.



  1. Corrie, what an excellent insight!
    I am a ‘career’ teacher but, for now, my career and my classroom has shifted slightly.
    My classroom is now my home with my son my only student. He is ASD and has other ongoing health issues.
    Our goals are entirely different to those of his neurotypical peers. Our resources are different. Our approach is different.
    I forever felt stressed by what we were doing, whether we were meeting all of the right requirements. So, we relaxed it. We have a home program, we seek outside support and we go ok.
    The resources you posted about previously were invaluable to me and we are learning to read sight words at the moment. Utterly amazing!
    I don’t know how mainstream and inclusive classrooms will work for us. He’s not ‘severe’ enough to require a unit. And probably won’t get an aide at all times. But, I have faith that even if school is not the place for him – home might be.
    Thank you, Corrie, for sharing your journey with us.

    • That all sounds great, so glad it’s helped. When you go through the schooling system you just wish there was a place that your child could belong, there really isn’t. All this talk of inclusive education and I’m thinking to myself where is this place because it’s not near me and it’s not what I’m hearing from other parents!!!!!!! If you ever have any questions just ask but sounds like you’ve got it all sorted!

  2. Gail Roberts says:

    thank you for your comments on homeschooling and realistic encouragement for people who need to know there is that other option out there for both those with special needs and with out. I am coming to the end of a long journey of home schooling (5 Children) it will be 20 years at the end of this year since we began our journey.( no special needs children though) there are pros and cons and ups and downs but worth it and the right journey for our family.

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