Homeschool and public school have completely different sets of support available and distinctions on what needs to be in a document for proper support for children to be successful. But what happens when you move from homeschool assumed support to public school where support is a legal document?
Homeschool IEPs should include support that parents perform in the event that a transfer to public school becomes imminent. This will ensure that the child will always have the support they need to be successful no matter the setting.
By the time my son was 9 years old, he had attended 6 different public schools including public charter schools. At each school, he had an IEP, IFSP, or a 504 plan so I have seen firsthand what needs to be included on the official school documents to make sure the transfer is smooth.
What To Put On An IEP In Anticipation For Transfer To Public School
A homeschool IEP, sometimes called a PDP or SEP, can include what you as the parent are providing at home. If you include this information in your IEP, even if it is unofficial, it can help with any transfer between schools.
There is a middle ground between homeschool and public school in some states – homeschool charter schools. These schools are publicly funded and the students with disabilities have IEPs with all the same requirements. The difference is that in these homeschool charters the parents are responsible for everything in the “classroom” that the student may need.
Some things that should be on the homeschool IEP include therapies required, functional academic level, and related services.
Some things that are not usually included on a homeschool IEP are functional day-to-day supports like technology, one-on-one aid needs, gifted services, and placement needs.
Including things on the homeschool IEP that aren’t being provided by those outside the home can make the transfer between homeschool and public school as seamless as possible. This will help the teacher understand what the student needs to succeed.
Things the teacher will need to know are their educational levels and abilities in each subject, things you do at home that a classroom aid would do, and functional classroom supports that help the student be successful.
I highly encourage everyone who is homeschooling a child with disabilities to create a homeschool IEP whether or not your state requires it in case someone else takes over the job of teacher. The important thing is to include everything that will help another adult be successful academically with your child.
Homeschool Vs Homeschool Charter School IEP
When you choose to homeschool your child, your family becomes the one in charge of all teaching, expenses, and everything else to do with school.
In some states, charter schools offer a distance learning option where the parents become the teacher and the home is the classroom. Functionally, this is very similar to homeschooling in the day-to-day. The benefit of participating in the charter is getting the support of staff and many of these schools offer a set amount per child to purchase curriculum.
Because these distance learning charter schools are public schools, IDEA is applicable and the full IEP needs to be completed each year.
For homeschooling, some states require a document like an IEP, sometimes called a PDP or SEP. The laws vary depending on the state so check your own state’s laws to see if it is required. Some states also require the local school district to provide some services to students if they are in the district even if they are homeschooling.
Distance charter schools in many ways are closer to public schools than homeschool. At least when you look at the laws and requirements. In practice, homeschool charters are more like homeschool.
What Needs To Go On A Homeschool IEP
If you need to make a homeschool IEP or choose to make your own, a few things will need to be on it. This will be extremely sparse compared to a public school IEP.
The main reason to have a homeschool IEP is to get services from the local school district or state.
So some things to go on the homeschool IEP are:
- Annual Goals
- Academic Levels
- Starting and Ending Dates of the IEP
- Speech Therapy
- Occupational Therapy
- Additional Instruction Required Outside the Home
The main purpose of this document is to make sure that students who qualify for special education are getting support at home and to say which services should be provided by the school district or state. This will vary depending on the state, some states don’t provide any services at all to homeschool students.
It is important to define their current academic levels and goals if your state requires testing. This way there will not be questions regarding their academic level when it is related to a disability.
Make sure the dates on the IEP reflect state guidelines on how often they need to be updated. If you are only required to do it every 3 years and the date reflects that it is only active for a year you will need to have another meeting at the end of the effective date.
Lastly, and most importantly, you will need to include what services you need the school to provide. This might be speech therapy or occupational therapy, and the school may even be required to provide individual tutoring services for your children if they qualify for special education.
What Doesn’t Go On The Homeschool IEP
The list of what doesn’t need to be on the IEP when the student is being taught at home is long. In the most basic sense, anything about the day-to-day services and support for the student doesn’t need to be on the IEP.
Things that might be on a public school IEP but aren’t usually on a homeschool IEP:
- Specially Designed Instruction
- Bus Transportation
- Floating Classroom Aid or 1:1 Aid
- Items To Have Available In The Classroom
- Extra Time On Assignments
- Alternate Delivery Of Assignments
- Taking Tests Alone
- Peer Helper
- Extra Curricular Support Plan
- Teacher Education and Support
- Classroom Adaptations
- Placement Specifics
- Assistive Technology
This is just a list of possible items that could be included on an IEP in a public school that would not need to be included on a homeschool IEP. However, these are all things that might need to be included if there is a possibility that the student might need to change school environments.
Why Writing A Homeschool IEP For Transfer Is Important
As a parent of a child with disabilities, I am always planning ahead. I need to be twice as prepared as any other parent. I plan for things that might happen and how my child might react in a potential situation to be prepared to support my child in the best possible way.
When it comes to school it is no different. If he needs to transfer to a public school for an unforeseeable reason, I need people to know how to best support him and keep him at his best.
I have no plans to transfer him to an in-person public school, but there is any number of reasons this might be necessary. If something happened to me such as an extended hospital stay or I got very ill, if child services intervened and he was in foster care, if the homeschool laws in my state change, or for any other number of reasons I haven’t thought of I need my son provided for in the best possible way.
This is why I choose to write the IEP for the child I school at home to include what a public school would need to do for his education. Not because there is an expectation this document will be required, but as part of my planning for every possible outcome.
What To Put On An IEP To Help A Teacher For Homeschool Transfer
Try to think of a public school teacher and administration who doesn’t know your child and is sent this document to prepare to educate your child. What are the things you want them to know?
There are things that you can put on the IEP to help support the teacher like planning and collaboration time, but the most important things are the ones you accommodate at home in your everyday activities.
These can be difficult to consider when you are so used to doing it.
For example, my son needs a warning before a big change in routine. I am used to giving these warnings and reminding him multiple times before it happens. A teacher that doesn’t know him would need to know this detail for him to be well supported.
This process is difficult but I encourage you to make a list of things that you do at home that might be needed. Here are some questions to get you started:
- How do you change assignments?
- Do you give extra explanations?
- Can your child fill out worksheets?
- If your child was given an assignment could they do it without help?
- Do you teach up or down to their level?
- Do they need a set schedule?
- Do you use a visual schedule?
- Are there private therapies?
- Is the student ahead or behind in school?
- Can the student manipulate small objects?
- What technology do you use?
- Could your child go from one class to another on their own?
- What additional things do you do to increase understanding?
An example of accommodations that you include for school might be:
- The student is 1 year ahead in math, adjust the curriculum to their level.
- The student is 1 year behind in reading and receives speech therapy and specially designed instruction for language arts.
- Student needs a visual schedule and notification of a change in routine in advance.
- Student needs a floating aid or dedicated aid in the classroom for help with fine motor activities including opening packages in his lunch, using math manipulatives, and turning pages in a book.
- Student needs a larger desk to accommodate special equipment.
- Student needs their assignments delivered in electronic format.
- Noise-canceling headphones to be available at all times.
These are only a small sample of what you might put on the IEP. They are also vital to the student’s success in a classroom.
Future Proof Your Child’s IEP To Ensure The Best Support
It is frightening to think about your child in an environment that you are not in control of and that you may not choose for them to participate in. It is important to take these steps before they are needed. And if you are already doing an IEP yearly, including what you are doing for them at home shouldn’t add too much to your plate.
When you add these items you are doing at home to the IEP, just specify that these are services that are being provided by the student’s guardian at home and not something that the school district or state is being asked to provide.
Even if you are not in a state that requires or offers an IEP or similar for homeschool students, you can make your own and set it up in the same way that will help anyone caring for your child whether it is in a public school environment or continuing in your home.
I highly recommend everyone with a child on an IEP, or that has a child that qualifies for an IEP, make one that would read appropriately for a public school.
It might just be the only thing that protects your child in school in the midst of a terrible situation.