By Amy Vickrey, MSE
When I went into business for myself a few years ago, the key to success was networking. Finding other business owners who could refer to you and you would refer to in return. Networking takes a lot of time to establish relationships and build trust with others. However, over time, networking builds great business relationships.
Homeschooling a special needs child is very similar to starting a business. While it doesn’t necessarily take a “village” to raise a child, parenting and homeschooling a child with special needs is much easier when you have a quality network of people you can trust and rely on. From restaurants and playgroups to doctors and therapists, your entire network is vital to helping your child and you succeed. You just can’t homeschool a special needs child well all alone.
In our own daily lives, we work to be consistent and build relationships everywhere we go and in all that we do. From the restaurants we eat in (who know us by name), to the therapists and doctors we see, we have worked to build relationships and select people and places that are supportive of our homeschooling efforts and lifestyle.
For some families establishing these networks are easier than others. Within the next few years, it is the goal of SPED Homeschool, through our new SPED Strong Tribes program, to do much of this legwork for special needs homeschooling families as our tribes grow in local communities. Eventually, we envision a new special needs homeschooling family will be able to join their local SPED Strong tribe and instantly be able to find all the resources they need through that group.
But, even while SPED Homeschool is still in the fundraising phase of developing SPED Strong Tribes, here are some tips for working to build your NETWORK:
N – New
Look for new opportunities and recommendations to expand your network. This keeps people from being overburdened and preserves relationships.
E – Encourage
Encourage a relationship of asking questions and open communication within your network. This will keep surprises from creeping up.
T – Teach
When you come across someone who has little experience but a heart to learn, take the time to teach them. These can be some of your biggest allies down the road.
W – Work
Work with your Allies. Build relationships with doctors, therapists, community members, members of your church, and other people you interact with so that you have someone who knows you and can speak on your behalf in the event it is needed.
O – Open
Be open with people. If something is not working, say so. This will keep communication and relationships intact.
R – Respite
Plan for time for you and for others to be able to have breaks.
K – Keep it Open
Be willing to accept others into your circle who are needing these same things. There will be mutual understanding when one of you is having a bad day.
As I stated above, SPED Homeschool is working towards bringing networking opportunities to families that homeschool special needs children. SPED Strong Tribes will be local groups that will allow families to gather together and recommend trusted local resources to streamline the process for families to find quality professionals and businesses to help with their homeschooling efforts.
Giving Tuesday is a day nonprofits like SPED Homeschool ask for public support through donations so they can continue to provide services AND to raise additional funds for new projects. This Giving Tuesday, we at SPED Homeschool are focusing our fundraising towards this new SPED Strong Tribes program. By contributing to this campaign, together we can build stronger families.
Visit the SPED Homeschool’s SPED Strong Tribes campaign at www.fundrazr.com/spedstrong
For more information on the five basic foundations we will be building into our new SPED Strong Tribes, check out all the blogs in this series:
Homeschooling Families Strengthened by Togetherness
Homeschooling Families Strengthened by Respite and Opportunities
Homeschooling Families Strengthened by Networking
Homeschooling Families Strengthened by Growth
Did you know SPED Homeschool is 100% donor funded?
(all donations are tax-deductible)