LifeLine frequently gets calls from parents and caregivers saying, “I think I need to home-school my child with special needs, but I have NO idea were to start.”   The following resource has been compiled by parents who have home-schooled and who have shared their experience and expertise.  This list is by no means exhaustive, but we hope that you will find these resources a helpful beginning.

1. Write a letter of intent to the public school the child is zoned for or fill out the online form.

NOTE: Before you withdrawal your child, you may want to consider application for Individual Education Accounts (IEA Accounts/Tennessee) or Special Needs Scholarship Program (GSNS – Georgia) to see if you qualify for funds from the state department of education to help with your homeschool, therapy, and other expenses.

2.  Verify the laws in your state – determine if you need an umbrella school.    Then choose an umbrella school if you need one.
  • Homelife Academy
  • Aaron Academy
  • Family Christian Academy  
  • Some curriculum may have an umbrella school associated (example: A Beka), so you may not need a separate one if you us the complete curriculum from one specific publisher with an associated school.
  • You may also be able to partner with a Christian school who may allow you to take part in extra curricular activities, sports, performances, competitions, field trips, banquets, and walk with their class during graduation.  Some schools may also allow your child to receive therapy on their premises while the therapist is providing services to children within that school.

There are others, but these are common options.

3. Register with Home School Legal Defense Association
  • “Home School Legal Defense Association is a nonprofit advocacy organization established to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children and to protect family freedoms. We provide homeschooling-related legal advice and representation to our 84,000+ member families, promote homeschool-friendly legislation at the state and federal levels, and offer information and resources to encourage and support all homeschoolers.”  There are many other perks and information available to the members of Home School Legal Defense Association.  This is not a required step, but most families find it worth the minimal expense.
  • Some families also choose to register with CSTHEA – Chattanooga Southeast Tennessee Homeschool Association for additional support and information on a local level.
4. Choose a Curriculum (or Multiple)

There are many other options.  These are some of the most common used by families educating children with and without special needs.

5. Connect with Other Homeschooling Families for Coops, Resources, and Activities

You can find some here:

6.  Attend the curriculum fair that occurs every year at Camp Jordan by CSTHEA. 

Ideas and Resources and Networking abound!

7.  Pray, then go for it!  Keep in mind these suggestions from veteran families who homeschool:
  • If it isn’t working, try something different.  You won’t destroy your child if you change how you do it after you have already started.  Classroom teachers make mid-course corrections all the time based on their classroom’s feedback. Use something for awhile, then you can re-evaluate.  Function with what you know now until you find something else you get the same feeling about.
  • You don’t have to have every day of the year planned out before you start.  It will become clearer as you learn your child and your curriculum.
  • Protect your role as the “principal and teacher” of your school.  There are many reasons people choose to homeschool, but at the core of every reason is the fact that you know your child best.
  • It is OK not to be at the same exact level in every single subject. Let them follow their hearts without forgetting to work on the areas of struggle.
  • Everyone has their own preference, style and choices, but don’t reinvent the wheel.   There are tons of resources online and among other homeschooling parents that will give you shortcuts, printables, and already prepared materials.
  • Don’t feel guilty by comparing your child/your homeschool/your curriculum to someone else (or Pinterest!).  You can’t do it all. Evaluate and correct your course, but don’t second guess yourselves.
  • In the effort to make sure your child has a social life, there is a tendency to get over-involved in activities and then you find yourselves running every hour of the week.  Just because you choose to homeschool, doesn’t mean you have to completely exhaust yourself in the process.  You can find a few regional activities here.  There are Facebook pages and links through the pages listed above to help you determine the activities in which you want your child to participate.

Do you need one on one family support and help in order to determine options for a home-school IEP or 504 plan? Do you need accommodations and modification ideas?  Request a consultation with LifeLine staff.  We’ll be happy to talk you through some of your options and connect you to additional resources and/or mentors.
Other Resources:
National Challenged Homeschoolers Associated Network