Would or should you homeschool a child with learning disabilities, ADHD or special needs?
This is going to be an off-the-cuff post about a topic I’m sure many have personal experience with, and certainly an opinion on. I’d like to hear from you in the comments below with full understanding that this is an inclusive site. So no shaming please! However conflicting points of view are welcome and I encourage anyone willing to chime in.
We chose to start our homeschool journey eight years ago because of personal philosophy. Our oldest completed kindergarten at an arts immersion school and did well from the outside looking in. That is to say he was reported to have completed all the milestones and was promoted to grade 1 without concern. He had no flags for attention, learning difficulties or behaviour issues. I’m explaining this because I want to make it clear that we started homeschooling because our son wanted to stay at home and I was always interested in the idea of homeschooling long before I had children.
Fast forward 8 years and we are in the middle of a diagnosis for several issues for one of our children. This is leading down a path of homeschooling that wasn’t in the plan. Part of me thinks the learning disabilities would have been identified earlier had he been in school with early intervention as the benefit. The other part of me knows had he been in school the impact on him as a person would have been greater as a whole. Am I prepared to change the way we homeschool because those guiding us through this process say it’s necessary for his success? Better yet to stop homeschooling all together and focus on moving him to a school that supports learning disabilities to help “close the gap”? And at what cost?
Could, or should, we homeschool children with learning disabilities, ADHD or special needs? Is there a genuine benefit to them to homeschool or are we sacrificing their needs over our education philosophy?
Tell me your thoughts and personal experiences. I’m heading to the workshops at the conference called Connecting Dots with therapists Sara Turner and Elizabeth Beaugrand, as well as My Literacy Space with Hanna Stroud to give me some ideas.
Our personal experience was 3 years of public school which lead to a label and an IPP, which did nothing to help. Or at least we didn’t stay in there long enough to see if it would have helped. What I am trying to say, in our experience, my child’s LD was not identified earlier because she was not disruptive, and fell through the cracks, with teachers focusing on other kids who had LD AND were disruptive. Without me advocating for her she would have continued to fall through the cracks. Without extensive remediation at home, after already being in school for 6 hours, and being exhausted for having to be on best behaviour and focusing in an environment that’s not conducive to focusing, she would have continued to fall behind, and I wasn’t prepared to ruin her life with constant remediation.
That said, if we found the right fit of a school, I may have put her in there. But we didn’t even try. Firstly, I wanted my kids to go to school together, not separated. Getting to separate schools would have been a gonkshow. Second, that school would have wanted her to perform to arbitrary standards of how ALL kids should develop, that some white heaired white men a million years ago established, and I don’t believe in those. So why bother? Interventions that are free would have been nice though.
In short, no, I don’t believe any school, no matter how costly, shiny or progressive can meet the unique needs of our children, because I don’t believe any teacher has the extensive knowledge we have accumulated about them, not just by living with them, but the zillion hours of research we put into just that one kid, or two, or five.
I also prefer the term learning differences, as opposed to learning disabilities, they don’t have a disability to learn, they just learn differently than others. It’s impossible to have a disability to learn, just by living and growing they are learning constantly, it’s just not measurable.
Thanks Melinda. I have had many reach out to me personally to offer support from all areas of the homeschool community so I know others have thoughts on this topic. Your comment points out an interesting side effect of assessment around “where does your child fit in the box”?
There is no box. They try to tell you there is a box, but really, there is only a very diverse and ever changing world.