10 Questions with Peggy Ployhar, Founder and CEO of SPED Homeschool

Peggy started homeschooling her son at age 5 because she felt homeschooling provided the most flexible and individualized alternative for him, while simultaneously providing the freedom to expand his education focus to what he could uniquely add to this world with his gifts and talents.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I started my career with a degree in Physics and working as a Quality Assurance Analyst in the medical device industry, but left work to be a stay-at-home mom when my oldest son was born. Fast forward 22 years, I now have 3 children (22, 20, and 14), have homeschooled 17 years, held multiple leadership positions in the homeschooling community including launching my own organization, am a frequent speaker at homeschool conventions, and am a published author.  

How did you become involved in homeschooling and why did you focus on special education?

My oldest son was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome at the age of 5 which is about the same time we realized he had been experiencing severe episodes of depression. After looking at various schooling options, my husband and I felt homeschooling provided the most flexible and individualized alternative for helping our son. We not only had the opportunity to focus learning around the social, mental, and educational deficits he had, but homeschooling also allowed us the freedom to expand his education focus to what he could uniquely add to this world by developing his gifts and talents. When our other children reached school age they were already taking part in the learning environment we had developed in our home, so it was a natural transition for all of us to keep learning at home together.  

What’s a typical day like for you?

Now that my oldest two have graduated from our homeschool, and my youngest finishes most of her homeschooling lessons on her own, I focus the majority of my time on running SPED Homeschool.  Each week I host a live broadcast on our Facebook page called SPED Homeschool Conversations.  These broadcasts feature special guests who provide training and encouragement for families who homeschool children with any variety of special educational needs. I also work with a team of gifted individuals who are all experienced special education homeschooling parents and I round out my time traveling and speaking around the world on special education homeschooling issues. When time allows, I enjoy cooking, paddle boarding, and hanging out on my aerial silks.   

What are some of the biggest challenges your homeschooling parents face?

The biggest challenges our families face are finding unbiased resource recommendations and tapping into a compassionate community who understands both their parenting and teacher support needs. Both of these challenges I experienced personally while homeschooling my own children thus fueling my passion for finding effective methods to help our families overcome these challenges.

How are the needs of homeschooled special education students unique?

Homeschooled children with special educational needs are no different than children who struggle in private and public schools but the nature of homeschooling does make teaching these children easier. Homeschooling is usually always done using a one-on-one teaching approach, with customized curriculum products, and in an environment that accommodates the specific needs of the child. For these reasons, many parents tell us once they start homeschooling these simple changes alone dramatically increase their child’s ability to learn.

What are some of the services, resources, or benefits that you offer to parents of SPED Homeschool?

In addition to our weekly live broadcast on Tuesday nights on our Facebook page we also have a podcast and video library, articles, checklists and interactive pages on our website that answer the most common questions parents ask about homeschooling a child with special educational needs, online support and resource groups, lists of vetted organizations who offer quality products and services to families, and a monthly newsletter. An additional benefit subscribing to our newsletter is exclusive access to discounts, special offers, and freebies offered by our partner organizations.

How can someone become a member of SPED Homeschool?

We are a 501.c.3 nonprofit and our services are not membership based. Through volunteer hours, private donations, and educational grants, we provide families with resources, training opportunities, support, information, and encouragement completely free of charge.

What are you most excited about when it comes to SPED Homeschool?

The best thing about our work at SPED Homeschool is that we are empowering parents to teach their children successfully while at the same time bringing communities as well as individuals together to increase the quality level of resources available to families.

What has been the reaction of parents and students to SPED Homeschool?

Families tell us all the time how glad they were to find us. They’ve even said that SPED Homeschool has become a much-needed advocate for them in the homeschooling community as well as the special education community. Our willingness to educate others about their needs takes this pressure off these hard-working parents so they can focus on what matters most…teaching their child.

What future plans do you have for SPED Homeschool?

Our overall goal of SPED Homeschool as we move forward is to make homeschooling a more accessible option to families with children who have special educational needs. We are continually working on ways to advocate for the needs of this unique community and support these families in their choice to home educate their children. The most exciting endeavor we are currently working on is an innovative tech solution which will allow families to develop local social and resource networks based specifically on their unique needs.

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