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Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources

Working with Children Who Have Different Needs

3 minutes

Summary

For the child with a different need; slow down when you need to, use the Seton Counselors, and know that extra time spent can build a special bond.

Slow Down When You Need To…

Homeschooling can present challenges when your student can easily grasp the lessons, but those challenges are more significant when a student has different needs.

Whether owing to a difference in comprehension, a health issue, or some other special need, some students are not best served by following a standard schedule or course of action when it comes to schooling.

And while a student with different needs can pose extra challenges in the homeschool room, it is precisely there where we can best meet their needs.

The first step in home education is to reflect on the long-term goals. We educate our children for eternity, but our method depends on their individual needs and gifts. It is essential to teach all students to pray for discernment in their vocations.

Have discussions within the family about how different gifts and abilities fit, or not, with other disciplines.

Understanding that there is not just one path for all students (i.e., the college path) can relieve students’ and parents’ pressure when working with different needs.

Use the Counselors

Don’t be afraid to seek help when you need it. Ask Seton counselors for support or advice. Talk with other homeschoolers and find out what opportunities exist for supplemental classes or support.

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Slow down when you need to. If a student requires more time to complete a course, stretch the work out over an extended period. Start a textbook or class again if a child needs a review of concepts they didn’t grasp the first time around.

And most importantly, pray for your children. Pray for the courage to lead them and for the wisdom to understand their individual needs and gifts. Pray for patience and humility. Then, rest assured that you will be successful in your eternal mission.

Tara Brelinsky, North Carolina


Fantastic Counselors Are There to Help…

My oldest son is a sophomore, and we have been with Seton since Pre-K. He is twice-exceptional, meaning he has more than one special need.

In his case, he is gifted and autistic. This has made for challenges and blessings, and our family is better for having him in it. I have found the Seton program easily adaptable for the needs of each of my children, including him.

As of now, he does not want special services per se, but we do have some things we utilize to help his academic career. He struggles with fine motor skills, so anything at all I can give orally, I do. It used to be spelling, vocabulary, and religion quizzes.

Now it is the parent-graded history and English Literature exams. Sometimes if he gets overwhelmed typing an essay for a history exam, I will step in and type verbatim what he says. That way, he can focus on the content of his answer and not be stressed by typing it all out correctly.

Practice Makes it Easier

If he has a problem and needs to call a counselor, we rehearse what he will say, and after practicing with me, he makes the call himself. I have a note on his file that the counselor can see that he is autistic, and one of his struggles is auditory processing, so be prepared to take a bit longer with him and repeat yourself two or three times. It’s not that he’s not listening; he just needs more time to process what they say and formulate a response.

The counselors have been fantastic and understanding and recently helped us switch his foreign language from Spanish to German mid-year. I was concerned about being behind, and they assured me that he has 12 months to complete the work, and a happier, more relaxed student is better than a stressed-out miserable one that finishes in nine months. It was a good reminder to me, even after all my years at this.

Author’s note: I have done everything I have shared here with his permission, as respecting my children’s dignity and privacy is of the utmost importance.

Kristin Brown, Virginia


School is No Longer a Dread…

Of my eight children, I have one child who has a challenge that my other children do not, and that is that he struggles with holding a pencil and the physical act of writing.

It also does not help that he is left-handed. This challenge has resulted in him disliking schoolwork very much.

For this child, I would have to sit with him for his schoolwork more than I would the other children to keep him on task and motivated, which I think gave him the reassurance he needed that “okay, Mom is with me in this.”

We have a daily date of doing Algebra together, which has helped build a bond between us. I enrolled him in

Special Services for 8th and 9th grade English, which has been a godsend!

He has made use of oral answers, computer-typed paragraphs and tests, and me not pushing him to write so much in all his subjects. School is no longer a dreaded part of the day for the first time in nine years!

Susan Brock, Virginia

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