September 28, 2020
By Betty Granata
With talk of schools reopening for fall despite the surge in coronavirus cases, some parents are thinking about homeschooling. In this post from our archive a parent of two kids with LD sheds light on her family’s experience. Although their decision to homeschool predated the pandemic, their experience offers insights to anyone considering educational alternatives at this time of uncertainty.
We decided to homeschool our sons with learning disabilities after trying all the other traditional routes. The public school and their resources proved completely inadequate. Fighting the system was a full-time, highly stressful job that provided limited results. Private schools designed to educate children with LD were far better than public school but were expensive and had their own limitations.
Homeschooling provided us the freedom to direct the educational path of our children, while at the same time freeing our children from the peer pressure to perform at a given level. Parents are the sole decision makers and can choose service providers, specialists, curriculum or programs that they believe will benefit their child.
We were able to direct and choose the type of reading intervention and curriculum that we knew would work for each of our sons. This proved highly successful, because it gave them the intensity that most schools (public or private) could not provide. Each saw at least three years growth in their reading abilities in less than a year.
Socialization concerns, which tend to be the greatest question about homeschooling, in our experience were a myth. As homeschooling has become more mainstream, the number and types of organized activities specifically for homeschoolers has grown.
Our children have the time in their day to express and pursue their personal interests and talents. Our sons joined the “Not-School Newspaper” staff, something I could never imagine them doing in a traditional school setting. There were three proms last year in our area, as well as the annual Shakespeare theater performance.
Every community is different, with some having a higher concentration of homeschooling families. Before we made our decision, I asked to join one of the groups and spoke to their members, so that I would have a sense of events and activities that were available in my community.
Another big question I often hear is, “Do I have the patience?” There will be frustration, but you don’t need to take it all on yourself. In most communities you can find tutors or interventions for your child’s specific needs. There are local libraries and community colleges that are a great resource for both online courses, and other educational programs.
In addition, cooperatives are a great way of giving your child a small, intimate classroom environment without you teaching them directly. Many communities have cooperatives where children can come together to do joint science, writing, art, history, or gym classes. Many times they are led by a parent with expertise or experience in the subject.
Some parents collectively hire a certified subject-matter teacher and split the cost. For a child with LD, this provides the additional attention they often need. The internet and technological advances have opened up new approaches to learning by offering a vast source of free curriculum. My boys are trying an online class for the first time, where they use FaceTime to interact with students and their teachers in other states.
One other question that I’m often asked is about the time commitment. Working parents may not have the time to devote to educating their child, but they can direct tutors, or co-ops, or spend one-on-one time with their child during non-working hours.
Keep in mind that the actual amount of time spent on core subject areas in most traditional schools is less than four hours a day. Other elective activities that take up the remainder of a child’s school day such as gym, art, and music can be fostered in other ways. For instance if your child plays a competitive sport, do they really need two additional periods of gym class a week? That is something you can decide.
Homeschooling is like any other educational decision that you make for your child with LD: It needs to be considered with your family in mind. It may be an overlooked solution to your child’s educational challenges—but one well worth considering.
The author is is the former local Parent Committee president and Chapter Development Manager of Smart Kids with LD.