The Whatz-Up Book: A Guide tot he PA Homeschool Law for Special Needs Students by Barbara McMillan, $15.95.

Reviewed by Susan Richman

(from Issue #63, Summer 1998, of PA Homeschoolers newsletter)

This book is a real help for families homeschooling special needs children, as it fully explains the extra procedures required for compliance with the homeschool law in PA for these families. Author Barbara McMillan is a certified teacher of elementary and special needs students, and is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist. She is also a homeschooling mother, and was one of the pioneer homeschoolers in PA when the homeschool law was being written. Barbara gave substantial guidance in formulating the due-process wording of the law. She works extensively with many homeschooling families as an evaluator, and has a real heart for families working with special needs children.

Most people homeschooling today are probably not aware of something that Barbara knew aboutó at one point in negotiations over the homeschool bill back before 1988, a clause was inserted to require that all special needs students had to attend school and couldn't be homeschooled. Barbara and others helped fight this restriction, and the compromise solution was the procedure now in place. A growing number of families of special needs kids are very happily homeschoolingó and this guide will make their lives even easier.

Included in the guide are many sample ideas for writing objectives, showing effective progress in the portfolio for children at all levels of competence, finding an evaluator who is qualified to do special needs evaluations, explanations of testing options for students who can't make it through regular group testing, and more. There is discussion of accessing special services for your child, either through the school district or through community-based agencies. A section of questions and answers addresses such questions as getting a student's special education label removed, and more. An especially helpful aspect is an appendix of curriculum resources for special needs students, helping parents find materials and approaches to learning that may be more effective than traditional methods. Also there is a listing of national organizations that offer help to families with special needs children, with everything from the Parents of Chronically Ill Children to the Spina Bifida Association of America to the American Society for Deaf Children and more.

The book helps you see that help is there for you, and that you can indeed meet all requirements of the homeschool law in a way that honors your child's abilities and needs.

This loose-leaf binder guide will be equally helpful to both families and to special education evaluators.

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