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Homeschooling - Should I Homeschool My Learning Disabled Child?

By March 12, 2008

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Should children with learning disabilities be homeschooled? The decision to homeschool any child is complex and depends on:

  • Homeschool laws in your state; and
  • Your readiness to provide the instruction, resources, time, support for the idea from your family, financial ability, and other important considerations.

    Some parents choose to homeschool their learning disabled children and are successful. They enjoy the process, their children learn at satisfactory rates, and they can give their children one-on-one attention which may not be available in schools. Some homeschool because their children are not progressing at school or that behavior issues are so problematic the child cannot function. Others feel that their children are less cooperative with them than with teachers in schools or that conflicting learning/teaching styles, relationship dynamics, and complex needs make homeschooling impossible for them.

If you are considering homeschooling your special education child consider doing some research beforehand:

  • If you feel comfortable doing so, request an IEP team meeting to discuss your concerns. Possibly, other arrangements can be made at the school to address your concerns. In rare cases, such as when significant health issues are a concern, schools may be willing to place your child at home and provide some instruction and related services in your home. Typically, this is only done when your child cannot be served at school.
  • Check your local library for books on homeschooling. Your local librarian may be able to connect you with area homeschoolers who may be willing to talk with you about their experiences and answer questions you may have. Local churches may also have contacts willing to talk with you as well.
  • If you are unsure if homeschool is right for you and your child, consider trying it over school breaks. This will be a good opportunity for your child to keep up skills over the break and try homeschooling without making a full commitment to it until you are ready.
November 21, 2008 at 1:03 am
(1) Michelle says:

Thanks for the article Ann. I am contemplating homeschooling my 12 year old son who is learning disabled. Not an easy decision… I’ve tried many different things, some help, some do not. He had an IEP for 3 years, and had little (very little) progress. I paid for a private tutor to focus on his reading skills, he did improve almost 2 grade levels in the 6 months he was there. That was outstanding improvement for him! Although he is still 2 grade levels behind in reading, he has so much more confidence. But he is always behind in school, and it seems to just snow ball no matter how hard he works (and he does really try, he’s just SO SLOW). So, homeschooling has come up in a few of our conversations, and to my surprise, he wants it. It’s not a for sure thing yet, but I’m seriously considering it. I just don’t know what else to do for him. I’ve worked in his class as a helper and with his teachers for so long now, I think I have some good strategies for conducting at home school. Thanks again for your article. I’ve been scouring the net for information similar to this. Cheers, Mom in the Puget Sound

November 22, 2008 at 11:07 am
(2) Ann Logsdon says:

Hello Michelle,
I’m glad you’ve found helpful information here. It sounds as if your son responds well working one-on-one. He may also benefit from small group work in school. If your child is currently in special education, you may want to ask his teacher what other options are available at school. That may help with your decision. Here are more links that may be helpful to you.
Special Education
Parent and Teacher Reading
Multisensory Techniques
I hope these are helpful to you in making your decision and supporting you in it. Please feel free to drop me a note if there’s anything I can provide to assist.
Good Luck!

November 22, 2008 at 11:13 am
(3) Ann Logsdon says:

Hello Michelle,

I’m glad that you’ve found this article helpful. It is an important decision. Because your son responded well to tutoring, it sounds as if he would respond well to more individual and/or small group instruction at school or home. Please feel free to write if I can assist you by finding resources.

March 3, 2009 at 1:14 am
(4) Michelle says:

Hi, I had this page book marked, and just realized that you had responded to my post. Thank you!

Well, we are now homeschooling (as of January 3), and it is going quite well. It’s been 2 months now, and he is still enthusiastic to do his school work everyday. Not once has he said ‘I want to go back to school’. What I am finding a challenge, is fitting everything into one day. One of the key points to homeschooling was to allow him a bit more time to complete his work, as well as provide more 1-2-1 instruction. While this has benefited him greatly, I am still adjusting to creating a schedule that allows us to get some good instruction and learning time in all subjects everyday (well, almost all subjects… I rotate some of them. Math, reading, writing and language are everyday, the rest is rotated).

I keep reading about how flexible homeschooling can be for your family, and to not focus too much on a schedule like the standard school system. But what I am finding is that both my son and I live and breath by a schedule. We both feel kind of lost without one. Even he does not have as much of a sense of accomplishment if he cannot tell what work he completed, against what the schedule tells him he needed to complete. I hope my explanation of this makes sense….

I didn’t have a schedule set in stone when we first started out. I needed to get a feel for what it was like, in order to even know how to begin creating a schedule for his day. By the second week, my son created his own schedule, since I hadn’t done it yet. LOL. I have to laugh and cry about this. He literally wrote out all the subjects he needed to complete each day, tried to figure out how to make it all fit, and work in some PE, music and computer lab time. I love that boy. :)

So, after a few hours of brainstorming and adjusting lengths of time for various things, we now have a schedule, and by golly, he follows that schedule everyday. He doesn’t have to look at it as often anymore though, because it is predictable and we both have it as part of our everyday routine. He knows what he needs to do after each subject, and when his breaks are. This is a good thing for me, as I am a single mom and work full time from home. So in between conference calls and work I have to do on the computer, I am teaching him.

So, my biggest struggle right now is making sure we get ALL subjects covered… we are behind in Science and History, and I’m not liking that. He works slowly, so getting all the required every day stuff done isn’t leaving much time for the rest. Perhaps I need to cut back on how much he is doing in the required stuff? I don’t know… I have this urgency that I need to be trying to keep him up to the pace he was at in school, but yet the pace at school was one of the key reasons we started homeschooling…he couldn’t keep up with that pace!!

Ugh, I feel torn in different directions.

Well, I suppose I am just venting here, which is helpful by the way, so thanks for listening. :)

In terms of resources… I could use some help in effective ways to practice reading, writing and spelling with a dyslexic slow learner. Actually, he’s not a slow learner, he learns fairly quick. But his work habits and production is SLOW. Almost everything takes 10x longer than it should have. Any ideas on how I can help him speed up on some things in a gradual way? Perhaps I am too pushy. I am actually quite patient with him, I am just trying to find ways to help him increase his skills and knowledge, and push himself to that next level (but in an achievable way, that is appropriate for his capabilities).

Any advice, thoughts or ideas you have, would be most welcome.

Mom in the PS

October 8, 2012 at 8:25 am
(5) Dario Priolo says:

Hi Michelle — We are in a similar situation to what you explained in your 2008 post. Can you give us an update on his progress? Would you still recommend this?

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