So you’ve decided to do a home program for your child with special needs? That’s awesome! Congratulations on taking this monumentally important step in the life of your child and your family as a whole. You’ve found the materials necessary for your home program, learned to organize your child’s educational materials and set up your home program space. What comes next? Creating a homeschooling team!
This is a very exciting time for you! It may seem comlpetely overwhelming at first, but I promise you that all of the upfront work will pay off.
As you put your home program in place for your child, as you organize your child’s educational material to get the most out of teaching time, as you begin seeing your child in his or her special progress nook, you will feel so excited! So excited because you will know that what you are doing is great, that it is making a difference in the life of your child and your whole family and that you are one step closer to reaching those all important goals that you have outlined for your little one with special needs.
Your home program can be a complement to a school program. I have quite a few kids at my center that are attending school regularly and have an adapted program at school as well. Others are no longer attending school (for various reasons) and their home program entirely replaces school. I know quite a few unschooling parents who love the idea of combining Waldorf and Montessori for Learning as well as a NET (natural environment teaching) approach to Learning with their little ones on the autism Spectrum. Each family has different needs and that is why no two home program can ever be entirely the same. Each child needs an adapted program that is entirely unique – like the child him or herself!
So, back to creating your team! Your team is essential. These are the people who will follow your guidance to carry out a home program for your child. They will work 1:1 with your little one. They will create new activities. They will give you feedback so you know how your child is progressing. They will take data. They will become a part of your family – afterall, it is with them that you will share your most intimate secrets (your child’s problems in the bathroom, his or her refusal to brush teeth, the gorey détails of that awful meltdown on the plain). Your best friends are important but these people will become family.
My 7 steps to creating a homeschooling team :
1. Interview, interview, interview.
(Obviously, you might say). But, wait for it : interview in real life situations. You may want to have a first interview in a coffee shop, without your little bundle of joy, and that is fine. However, I highly recommend you do a second interview with your child in a real-life situation (such as meal times). This is so you can see how comfortable the applicant is just being around your child. I would argue that the personality of the people you choose is even more important than their actual training. People can attend trainings and workshops and learn tons of new schools during their lifetime but their fundamental personality is probably here to stay.
2. Check references.
Once you have decided what your feeling is about each person after that all important real-life situation interview, ask them if you can contact 1-2 people with whom they have worked previously. This is so you can get an idea of the relationships they have had with children and their families in the past.
3. Now look at their training.
Decide what kind of feeling you would like in your program. You may love the idea of “unschoolin” your child but that doesn’t mean you can’t add someone to your team that has 10 years of experience as a Montessori teacher. Each team member’s personality, experience and training will add to your child’s home program experience. Team members need complimentary training and experience – not necessarily exactly the same training and experience.
4. Hear your child’s point of view.
Ask each candidate to come in for a (paid) first session with your child. This requires a little investment up front but is well worth it in the long run. Organize 4-5 activities for the job candidate to do with your child. Observe if it’s not too disruptive to the child and the adult. Otherwise, stay close by so you can lean in once in a while and hear how the session in going. After the session, have a conversation with your child to know how he or she felt working with the adult.
5. Hear the candidate’s point of view.
Following the session, sit down with the job candidate and ask them how they felt during the session. What was their initial reaction to spending time with your child? What was the easiest / the most fun? What was the most difficult? This will help you set up a relationship based on confidence right from the start!
6. Introduce potential team members to one another.
Host a coffee or meal (with or without your child) and introduce potential team members to one another. I recommend this step because it is really important to see how potential team members interact from the very beginning. You want to make sure that you have a great team dynamic – one person who has a poor attitude can really change the tone for the whole team.
7. Create a homeschooling team for your child and get started with your program!
By now, you have selected your team members and now it’s time to get started working on your program goals with your little one! 🙂
Some additional points to consider :
- Take the time to choose your core home program team wisely. Creating a homeschooling team is important. Take your time to choose the right people rather than choosing too quickly and having to ask someone to leave after a few months or risking someone wantly to leave soon after you hire them. Your child will get attached to the team and it is difficult if team members are changing frequently.
- Provide a wonderful work environment for your team members. These people are so important to your child’s future. Treat them well. Respect their point of view and their time. They will thank you for it and your home program will be a bigger success for your child as a result!
- Have fun! Your child’s home program is part of his or her childhood and your family experience together. It is a lot of work creating a homeschooling team and running an educational home program but it can also be a lot of fun. Enjoy the journey. Use your child’s home program as a fabulous excuse to explore your own creativity and childlike curiousity.
Stay in touch as you are creating a home program team and program for your child! I would love to hear about your homeschooling journey in the comment section below or by email. Check out my “Work with Me” page for my direct contact details!
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