More than twenty-percent of all US households have a special needs student. Often these students struggle with learning challenges, especially in traditional school environments. The choice to homeschool these special needs learners is an easy one for many parents when they realize that the customization they can offer their children is far more flexible than anything a classroom can provide.
But homeschooling doesn’t mean that mom and dad do all the teaching. Online classes take the burden off of parents while exposing their children to a variety of teaching styles and academic subjects. There are even opportunities for socialization integrated into many online learning platforms.
Although any kind of learner can benefit from online learning, these types of classes are especially fitting for special needs learners.
1. Online Homeschool Classes Have a Low-Stress Environment
Generally speaking, students with special needs find traditional classrooms distracting. The settings tend to be colorful, have bright lights, a variety of different sounds, and an almost constant flurry of motion which can create a chaotic environment for these students. In such a situation, learning is very difficult if not impossible.
On the other hand, online classes can be taken in the comfort of your own home, giving you the opportunity to control the learning environment for your student, leading to better attention and learning.
2. Online Homeschool Classes Allow for Flexible Pacing
Another challenge facing students with special needs face is the fast pace of traditional classes which push students past their tolerance level. Online class are recorded and can be played back at any time, or multiple times.
Students can take control over the pace of their class by controlling the recording. Using the pause and rewind features gives students the time they need to take notes, work through problems, or re-watch a part for a more complete understanding of the material.
Because class sizes are typically small, online teachers have the flexibility to adjust the course material and schedule to accommodate the needs of the particular group of enrolled students.
3. Online Homeschool Classes are Convenient
Some days, it’s a struggle to just get out the door. This is true of everyone, but it is often especially true of special needs families. Online classrooms eliminate that stress because students can work in the comfort of home. There is no stress getting out the door or anxiety about forgetting homework.
Have a student who is a late sleeper? No problem! Your teen is at her best between breakfast and lunch? No problem: pick classes that fit into your schedule.
4. Online Homeschool Classes Level the Social Playing Field
Social skills is one big area of concern for special needs students and their parents. Anything from anxiety about being called upon in class to navigating the often complicated minefield of school life, students who struggle to interact with their peers can often feel stressed, excluded, and isolated.
Online classes can help level the playing field for all students by providing safe opportunities for interaction with their peers and teachers. There is no anxiety about cliques, and students can choose how much of themselves they share with their virtual classmates. Students are given chances to meet people and make new friends from all over the world.
5. Online Homeschool Classes Leverage the Fascination with Technology
There is no question today’s children are fascinated by technology. Enrolling your student in an online class leverages that excitement about technology and channel it into their school work. A reluctant or struggling learner may suddenly become excited about his least favorite subject as soon as they learn they can do their lessons on the computer.
Students can also learn new but unexpected skills while taking an online class. A child who hasn’t yet mastered keyboarding may quickly develop those skills to be able to interact with peers and the teacher via online chat.
If the class utilizes a class page, students can acquire a sense of ownership over their classwork by learning how to access class resources and turn in assignments on the class page. Imagine the look of pride on your student’s face after that first assignment is turned in independently!
If the class assigns a research project or paper, students can learn how to safely and effectively research their topic on the internet which is a skill they will carry with them for life.
Students aren’t the only ones learning new skills either. Teachers of online classes constantly strive to come up with new and better ways to keep their students’ attention and make their classes fun and engaging yet not overwhelming for their assuredly varied audience.
6. Online Homeschool Classes Forge a Partnership Between Teacher and Parent
Online classes provide an opportunity for students to forge a relationship with their teacher, but it also allows the parents to do the same. Parents can see the class page and follow along with what is going on in class. This partnership between parent and teacher can work to the great benefit of a student because parents can help ensure the student stays on top of classwork and offer help and encouragement when needed.
Roni Bergerson is a veteran homeschooler who has spent the last 15 years educating her two sons, one gifted and one special needs. Together with her husband, they started their homeschool journey in 2002 when their oldest son was just two years of age. Although he was enrolled in the early childhood for his special needs, they remained unsatisfied with the quality of care he was receiving. The end of his enrollment in the program signaled the start of another journey. Their second son was also born with special needs in 2003 and has been homeschooled his entire life. Her oldest child has now moved on to college while her younger son is flourishing in his studies and making great progress. Her experiences led her to create fun, engaging, yet high-quality and rigorous online classes that she wishes would have been available to her sons earlier in their homeschool journey. You can find her offering great online classes and educational materials under the publisher name Eastern Wind Academy.