- February 19, 2016
There are many different rationales behind making the choice to homeschool children. My focus will be on those that choose to homeschool because their child learns differently from what is considered the “mainstream”.
There are a variety of domains that are frequently involved when making the decision to homeschool children with learning differences, such as academic skills, social skills, language skills, and behavior. This group of children can often times “fall through the cracks” in a school environment. Many of these parents choose to homeschool their child that learns differently and discover that the choice was a success! Some find that there child continues to struggle, which can then cause the parent to question their decision to homeschool.
Where do we go from here? There are many professionals that offer services to identify your child’s strengths and weaknesses, but I genuinely believe there are some qualities to look for when seeking help for your child who learns differently:
1) Look for qualified professionals. Find therapists, examiners, and specialists that are qualified in evaluating your child’s strengths and weaknesses. As a speech language pathologist, I have seen many evaluation reports from examiners that are not trained to identify specific areas of weakness. Children with learning differences do not always exhibit a cut and dry expressive or receptive language delay; therefore a comprehensive language test does not always indicate the area of need.
2) Find professionals and specialists that offer a team approach. This means finding professionals willing to work together and communicate with one another concerning your child’s progress, areas of need, and any accommodations being used in therapy. This also means that as a team, these professionals will communicate with you and inform you of therapeutic techniques and your child’s progress.
3) Beware of the quick fix. As a parent of a child with ADHD and a therapist, I would love to find a “cure” or quick fix for my child and yours. Unfortunately, there are many people offering these options to parents and they DO NOT WORK! Once again, make sure you are seeking qualified professionals that use research based methods to treat your child in a holistic therapeutic environment. A slow rate of progress is often times frustrating to parents. Be patient and know that a qualified professional is using methods of treatment that will work best for your child and will change them accordingly if need be.
4) Make sure you know how to integrate therapy techniques into the homeschool setting. Therapists take your child to a separate room for an hour and return your child to you with little communication. A few hours of therapy a week will not maximize your child’s academic potential! Therapists should be communicating with you on how to implement therapy techniques and strategies into the homeschool setting and curriculum. The therapist should be providing activities and “homework” for you to complete with your child to encourage the generalization and carryover of skills being taught in therapy.
In closing, I cannot make the decision for a parent as to whether they should homeschool their child or not. I can only make a recommendation based on my evaluation and observations of the child. I can promise that the child’s well being is the focus and priority of my work and I will recommend what I think is best for the child and if it doesn’t work, I will keep searching until I find the program, technique, or person that I believe can benefit your child the most. In the end, the parent is the child’s biggest advocate and if you are unhappy with your child’s services, it may be time to do some research. Good luck!!!