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Homeschooling for mentally handicapped children

A mentally handicapped child may have different needs that make it difficult to learn in a traditional classroom environment. Many children who are disabled cannot keep up with the pace of a traditional classroom. They may get lost. When a child falls behind, it can be very difficult for them to catch up. In a homeschooling environment, the parent can customize the curriculum to allow their child to blossom. They can utilize their strengths and find techniques to minimize their weaknesses. They can go as fast or slow as their child needs them to go. They do not need to move on to another lesson until their child has mastered the previous ones. Their child can ask all of the questions they want and not have to worry about slowing down a class or appearing different.

The Association for Homeschooling has mailing list of more than 200 suppliers of educational products and services.  This mailing list was used to request feedback on how curriculums and educational resources can be used to address the special needs of mentally handicapped children. Their responses are given below.

From my experience, I firmly believe that although the material used is important when it comes to working with mentally handicapped children, ultimately the way the material is implemented is very often more important. Over the years, we have had families whose children are mentally handicapped e.g. severely Cerebral Palsied, use our Curriculum; and from feedback received, with astounding success! You may be aware that we cater for auditory-, visual- and kinaesthetic-oriented learners, through the use of full-colour, living books, internet links and hands-on activities respectively; so within this mix there is a good chance that Love2Learn Curriculum will be appropriate; however, as already mentioned, it will always come down to the amount of care, dedication and love with which a Curriculum is implemented that will result in either good or bad fruit in our precious children.” – Mark Ries from Love2Learn

“Ons leesmetode is ontwikkel deur my ouma, Phoebe Walters, en word al vir meer as 60 jaar lank gebruik.  Dit is geskik vir almal:  Dogtertjies begin by so vier jaar en seuntjies by so vyf jaar as hulle wil leer lees en dan help dit ook die ouer kinders wat sukkel om te lees en spel.  Volwassenes is ook al gehelp (my ma het ‘n man van 27 geleer lees wat disleksies was asook ‘n vrou wat breinskade opgedoen het).  My vriendin se dogter het Down Sindroom en is nou 14 jaar oud en sy het ook op ons metode geleer lees.” – Heidi Nel van Japtraplees.

I have demonstrated our software to special needs schools like Tafelberg, Pro Ed and Vista Nova. They were impressed with the software and commented that it was particularly suitable for learners with ADHD because of the interactivity using visual graphics, sound and computer learning. The fact that the learners can repeat the tutorial, activities and tests as many times as they would like, is also beneficial. The software can also be used as a teaching aid by the tutor.” – Debbie Munn from IQSmart

“We, the Wood family, began on this home educating journey in 1989 here in South Africa. Both our children had unique special needs, the one had a blood disease which required daily blood infusions and the other a brittle bone disease. Besides physical challenges we also had a multitude of learning challenges to persevere through. Our children are both now adults and were home educated using the Oikos resources from the start through to adult life. Because we have walked the journey of discovering 'pain transformed into pearls' we now hold retreats for Special Needs families whereby we share our testimony, offer practical and spiritual support and resources to assist them in this specific calling. If families would like to know more about the resources, retreats, support etc available to them through us and within Oikos then you could direct them to the Oikos Family Ministries website.” – Sonja Wood from Oikos

It depends on the nature of the problem.  Many children nowadays are diagnosed with ADD, ADHD or Dyslexia, which are all fancy names used to disguise the fact that a perfectly normal child cannot read and/or do Maths.  In such cases, TCE is a very good solution.  We have had many such children who have done very well. However, if the problem is that the child has real mental problems, TCE could possibly help if the parent is willing to work slowly through the material at an appropriate level.  The emphasis is on basic education.  Moms who are prepared to invest the time and trouble in such children do find that they learn basic skills (i.e. reading, maths, basic general knowledge, etc.)  As there is no time limit imposed on TCE pupils (i.e. they can take as long as they need to complete a grade), this may be a viable option for some children.” - Alison Shortridge from TCE.

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