Can We Really Do This? Thoughts on Home Educating a Disabled Child

by | Reflect & Connect

In the parenting community, home educators are a breed of their own.

Even within the homeschool community, we parents of neurodivergent/disabled children are in a separate category.

We get the looks. The questions. The comment: “I don’t know how you do it.”

We often have to explain our choices—sometimes even defend them.

However, we may find ourselves stifling our complaints, our exhaustion, and the feeling of overwhelm because we’re also given a look, “Well, this was your choice.”

We’re made to feel as though, since we’ve chosen to homeschool, we don’t have a right to complain like other parents. Besides, we have all the time in the world, now. We have no right to grumble about the housework being impossible to get to. No right to fuss over dinner never being ready on time. No right to complain about being tired because we made the choice to educate at home.

We may absorb all of the reactions and find ourselves asking the question, “Can we do this?”

I’m here to tell you that you can.

While this was our choice, it doesn’t mean that we aren’t human.  It doesn’t mean that we don’t have a right to complain. It doesn’t mean that our homes need to be perfect. It doesn’t mean that we can’t collapse at the end of the day along with other parents.

It also doesn’t mean that the alternative would have been easier. It doesn’t mean that conventional schooling would have been the right choice for our child. It doesn’t mean that we didn’t weigh our pros and cons. It only means we chose the best path for our child.

No one needs to know our reasons.

Some things about parenting don’t need an explanation at all.

Some of the things we do are so deeply ingrained in our gut that we don’t have words and a reason for it. We just have the feeling that this is what we’re meant to do right this minute. This week. This month. This year. This time in our lives. This time in our child’s life.

You have permission to do this.

If you have chosen this route for your family, you have more than just permission. You have the know-how and the how-to.

 

You can do it.

No one is more qualified to teach your child than you because no one knows your child the way you do. Yes. You read that correctly.

Parents are commonly considered to be “good enough” to raise their children until about age 3, but then we are expected to hand our children off to a system of strangers because we are no longer deemed qualified. ⁣

When lawmakers feed us tales of inadequacy, of the need to depend on authority, and the necessity of organized groupings, we begin to doubt ourselves.

If you chose to homeschool, you’re not strange. You’re not an oddball. You are determined. And, self-assured. And, even a little bit headstrong.

 

You might be considered an oddball if…

You would be considered usual, however, if you thought you could do this alone.

Remember that families who send their children to school and who work full-time may get some kind of help along the way. Some hire cleaning help; others have grandparents picking up children at the bus stop. Others have tutors and babysitters who give a few hours of their time to homework—allowing parents a well-deserved break.

You are no different. Don’t undervalue the work you do at home just because you do it in yoga pants. You need a break, too. You need help, too. You deserve it just as much as parents who work outside of the home do. And, it’s perfectly OK to reach out to others.

Be clever about who you hire, and for what reason:

  • Do you crave more time alone? Hiring a babysitter a couple of times a week might be helpful.
  • Do you need help rearranging your living space because you can’t function as a family? Hiring a cleaning team is probably a good start.
  • Do you need guidance with planning the next school season? Hiring an educational consultant might serve you. (I had to slip that in because I can help you regain valuable time as well as a refreshed outlook).
  • If you’re looking for an all-inclusive type of support, consider an online school or a packaged curriculum.
  • If you’re looking for occasional, direct support, look into tutorial services.

 

Surround yourself

The best thing you can do for yourself is to inundate yourself with those who understand and support you. You may never convince your aunt about your home educating choices, but you will be embraced by those who have been there and experience the same concerns you do.

Contrary to what others might say, as homeschoolers, we aren’t superheroes.

While the job is not an easy one, we have chosen a different educational route—and we’ve embraced it.

Be sure to surround yourself with those who embrace you as well.

 

Ask yourself:

  • Where can I get some breaks?
  • What does our family budget afford regarding outside help? Cleaning crew? Tutor? Fitness Trainer? Babysitter? Coach? Consultant? Other?

 

I am here to support you!

Find out how we can work together here.

2 Comments

  1. Chantal Halle

    Thank you for putting things in perspective for all those parents out there who choose the hard task of homeschooling.

    • Gabriella Volpe

      Thank you, Chantal! Parents are already doing great. I like reminding them!

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