When a child receives a diagnosis of a learning disability or an attention disorder, there are myriad emotions that the parent experiences: “Is this my fault? Should I have caught this earlier? What hope can I have for my child’s academic and vocational future?”
If you are a homeschooling parent, these questions and concerns are compounded: “Is it because we homeschool? If my child was in a real school, would they be able to help him? Would this have been caught earlier? Is this my fault?”
The truth of the matter is, for children with special needs and for struggling learners, home is often the very best place for them to learn. If you look at the accommodations that are suggested by the testers, you’ll see that many of them are easily met at home.
Does your child need instructions spoken to one ear in preference over the other? Does your child need a solitary corner to work in with no distractions? Does your child need his or her name to be cued before instructions are given so they can process and retain the information? Does your child need a scribe, or audio textbooks, or time to stand and walk around? Does your child need extra time to complete assignments and exams? Or maybe your child needs to repeat a grade to ensure mastery in the foundational subjects?
All of these (details) recommendations can be more easily attended to at home than in the classroom. (Now, that is not to say) This does not preclude that the classroom is a bad place for struggling learners. There are great teams of trained professionals and plenty of excellent resources available for student with special needs in the traditional classroom. However, be encouraged that homeschooling is not a wrecking ball to your child’s academic and vocational needs.
At the same time, do not waste the opportunity to really use your homeschooling to maximum advantage. Once your child has received their diagnosis, and once you have assessed the magnitude of his or her needs, be sure to be intentional about addressing that learning difficulty. Your child will not ‘grow out of this’. Your child needs intentional, intensive intervention. You can give this to them by altering your curriculum choices, or by bringing in a wide range of therapists who can best meet your child’s weaknesses.
The freedom to homeschool can be a great gift to a child who struggles to learn. Over the next several months, we will look at specific – yet manageable – changes you can make to your homeschool day that will help your child to thrive in the homeschool environment.
In the meantime, please leave a comment about your experience of homeschooling a child with special needs. Or ask your questions about working with struggling learners. Let’s be a help to each other in our journeys by engaging in a conversation here.