Last month I was excited to share with you how to teach the five basic Texas required home school subjects in relation to specific special needs diagnoses. This month, as promised, I am sharing specific ways special needs home schooling parents can keep records to help track all the work and progress of their special needs home schooling student.
General Home School Record Keeping
Home school record keeping can be difficult, and that is why last year I wrote a series of articles on how to keep home schooling records. The following blog posts give specific instruction on how to keep home school records in general, how to measure student success, and how to keep records through those all-important high school years:
- Resources for Home School Planning with Diligence
- How to Measure Success for Your Student
- How to Successfully Home School Through High School
Special Needs Record Keeping
When it comes to special needs home school record keeping, there are many additional factors that need to be considered that go above and beyond the typical home school student records. In the past I have heard from parents that they are also looking for a streamlined way to keep track of the following items for their special needs home school student:
- A child’s yearly cognitive and behavioral baseline
- Diagnostic reports, doctors’ reports, and therapists’ evaluations
- Specific instruction accommodations, modifications, and/or adapted curriculum their child requires
- Assistive technology needs of the student
- Individualized goals and evaluation of those goals throughout the school year
Communicating with Outsiders
There already is a way to track the above items in a single clear, concise document called an IEP (Individual Education Plan), which professionals in the special needs community are accustomed to receiving when accessing data for special needs students. Thus, not only is an IEP beneficial to the home school parent for keeping track of data, but it is also helpful to parents in advocating for the needs of their child when the student requires the same accommodations, modifications, assistive technology, and/or adapted curriculum outside their home school.
Recently, three families came to THSC looking for help in putting together IEPs for their children. The first family needed documentation for the ACT review board so their son would be able to bring his iPhone into the test, as the phone was programmed to monitor and administer glucose to control his diabetes. The second family had recently been questioned by a new occupational therapist as to whether it was advantageous for them to be teaching their child at home instead of putting him into public school. The IEP that was developed for this family gave them the ability to show the progress their son was making by way of the educational and functional goals they had been setting for him. Finally, the third family called for help in assembling an IEP because their Medicaid representative had requested one to be part of their son’s paperwork, so it would be in compliance with the typical paperwork that is requested on all school-aged special needs children.
Making it Easier for Home School Families
Public schools put together IEPs for their special needs students every day, and these IEPs are used in various ways to advocate for special needs students. Therefore, to make communicating with individuals, groups, and entities easier for the special needs home school parent, THSC has developed an IEP template with a similar layout to many other IEP templates used by Texas school districts. Using this IEP template makes it easy for those used to the public school system’s record keeping to understand and meet your family’s needs.
If you want to know more about home school parents’ right to create their own IEP document, read the blog I wrote entitled Home Schooling Your Special Needs Student With an IEP.
Right now the THSC Special Needs department helps THSC members put these IEPs together on a one-on-one consulting basis. However, we are developing an automated process that any THSC member will be able to access to create IEP documents on demand. It is an exciting innovation that THSC will be offering as a member benefit for special needs home schooling parents.
Finally, if you are looking into or just getting started with special needs home schooling in the high school years, you will also want to reference How to Teach Special Needs Through High School, which will help in clarifying how to write up your child’s transcript and in setting out a plan for earning a high school diploma.
To find more about how THSC can help you home school your special needs child, make sure to check out the full list of THSC member benefits, the special needs section of our website, and the special needs student programs THSC offers at our Conventions. For special communication with home school families, you may also follow our THSC Special Needs Facebook Group and connect with other families like yours.