Homeschooling Your Special Child: Ten Tips

By: Robert Brooks

Watch Dr. Brooks's Look What You've Done!: Stories of Hope and Resilience, on YouTube.

Guidelines from someone who is "not an expert - just someone forced to learn."

Refer to this list when something isn't working.

  • Break everything down to its smallest unit, and spend a long time on every step.
  • Teach only the most important things if time is a problem. Don't shortchange the reading and math. Everything else is optional for now, and can be taught in context of other things
  • In math, stick to the basics if this is hard (for now, until they are mastered).
  • If a child can't read, nothing else matters. If you have to, do nothing but reading every day until he catches on.
  • LD kids will know something perfectly one day, and act like they've never seen it the next. A child will swear you taught him to do something a certain way because he somehow got it in his mind that this is how it's done. It's not your fault-it's how they are. Hang in there!
  • Review, Review, Review. It's got to get into their long-term memory and it takes a long time.
  • Don't forget the public schools. Consult with local special education and homeschooling support groups to find out what special services you are entitled to, and how to get the most out of your local public school system. The experts in special education are often very supportive and will answer your questions about how to help and encourage your child as they come up.
  • Don't be afraid of labels. In today's world, you have to have labels to get help. They're just a name to get you what you need. The label doesn't define your child. Get the evaluation and be grateful for the label.
  • Become the world's greatest expert on your child's disabilities. Read all the special education books in the library, buy the best ones, and search the internet. Learn the vocabulary. You'll be taken more seriously by the school if you can talk the talk, and you'll be better prepared to make choices.
  • Don't be afraid to tell your child what his disabilities are. Treat a label not as a problem or a monster to be feared, but as an interesting challenge. Sympathize: "You're right. It isn't fair that you have to work three times harder than any other kid to learn this. Good thing you're a good worker!" Let them become experts too, and help them practice an explanation for their disabilities.

Robert Brooks (1998)