After taking the decision of homeschooling our special needs’ son, the next question was; what am I teaching him? Which curriculum should I use? Will it work for him? The questions overwhelmed me, and I had no idea where to start. Our conclusion might not be a fit for your kid’s needs, but it might give you a start.
Jonatán is non-verbal, he uses a communication device which he has mastered how to use it. Still, he needs to establish an effective communication with others. He has done pre-school in public schools for a few years and this past year he was enrolled in first grade, because of his age. We needed to consider that he hasn’t mastered yet some basic skills of preschool or kindergarten. I used the term mastered, because that’s our way to measure his skills.
After a lot of research, that included watching video reviews, talking to other homeschool moms and searching for previews. I couldn’t make a choice, I found curriculums that I loved the approach, the structure, etc. but they didn’t seem to be the right fit for Jonatán and his current needs. We had to figure something out and soon, the months were starting to fly.
I’ve shared our final decision with our therapists and clinician, and we all have concluded that it’s a good start. After checking the subjects, we are required by the state to teach; I searched the department of education website to find the Academic Standards for each subject. Paying special attention to the pre-school and kindergarten, to make sure he has mastered the basic goals for each grade and subject.
While examining the goals establish by the state, I had to determine a few things:
- Were these goals achievable or not for him?
- Which ones were a priority or a pre-skill for another skills?
- Was the goal too abstract for him? If modified, could it be achievable?
During this time, I was taking notes and chatting with my husband about his opinions and how we could adjust some topics, so they were helpful for Jonatán. Our main goal for him to master any skills if for him to achieve an effective communication and his independent care. Obviously, I would care for my son all of our lives if needed, but our goal is for him to have the best life and enjoy the most of what he can.
The General Teaching Plan
As we started nailing down those mini goals in each subject, I started grouping and organizing them so that one built in to another; or that we could work on a few similar goals at the same time. Finally, we came up with a general plan, of the topics we wanted to cover during our schooling.
No curriculum seemed to fit for our needs, we are blending a lot of activities, books and manipulative exercises and getting help from our team of therapists. Since day one of our struggle of deciding to homeschool or not, we got all his therapist on board with us. They have helped with ideas, resources, and willingness to incorporate the topics we will be working at home.
To my surprise, all of these steps were becoming a great educational plan for my son. We increased his therapies sessions, and all of his goals connected across the board. It has been a week and half since we started our home school year, August 2019, and I still have some fears and worries about this new adventure; but here’s something that I’m 100% sure my son has the best scenario to learn and grow.
My oldest son, who is going back to his past charter school soon; told me the other day: He’s doing great, he has the best teacher in the world. I don’t boost in that, but I’m happy with what we are doing, and all of our plans are in pencil, adjustments will be welcomed as needed.
How was your process of choosing curriculum or deciding what or how to teach your kids?