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Advantage of HomeSchooling a child with disabilities

Updated on October 10, 2016
Dean Traylor profile image

Dean Traylor is a freelance writer and teacher. He wrote for IHPVA magazines and raced these vehicles with his father (who builds them).

a converted classroom for home-schooling
a converted classroom for home-schooling | Source

For a child with a learning disability, the classroom can be a daunting -- even frightening -- place to be. His non-disabled peers may look down on him; the teacher may not have time, ability, or the tools needed to teach him the curriculum. Additionally, the child’s confidence and skills are in danger of eroding from misunderstanding, neglect, and a lack of accommodations needed to help him keep up with the other students.

The child is not the only one facing this dilemma. Parents or guardian may find themselves trying everything they can to help him from slipping behind in school. Also, they may feel the same type of hopelessness the child feels.

Education doesn’t have to be so restrictive and destructive. While it is not a sure, proof-positive alternative to special education, homeschooling can offer a child with learning disabilities a chance to accomplish some educational success.

There are several advantages homeschooling can offer a child with learning disabilities. It can be anything from a smaller and more intimate “classroom” environment to more one-on-one interaction with the teacher. Best yet, the child will be working at his pace and be able to use his learning style or preference to fulfilling his academic goals.

Home-Study (a clarification)

Homeschooling has been viewed as an alternative to public school. However, many public schools have their own brand. The district I work in refer to them as either Independent Studies or Home Study. In this situation, a public school teacher (usually special education - but not always) goes to the student's home and teaches various subjects.

The parents of a student doing home-study may have requested this service for various reason. Sometimes, it's temporary. The student may have a serious condition that renders him/her unable to school. It can be an illness or (in one case) ordered by the court on grounds of safety.

Home study differs from traditional homeschooling in terms of curriculum. A home-study student is expected to follow the standards of the district and state he or she resides in, whereas the latter doesn't. Also a child with disabilities in a home-study program will still need an Individual Education Plan (IEP) if eligible for it.

Much of the information gathered for this article pertains to this program.

The State of Education

Public schools around the country are hurting for money. Educational standards set by the school district and state are increasingly becoming difficult to achieve with the limited supplies and technological resources allotted to schools.

This is particularly true for special education, a program designed to meet a special needs child. Also, many schools are implementing mainstreaming or full inclusion for these students. While, in many cases, this tactic will work, others with severe deficiencies in academic skills or in need of special accommodations will be left in limbo.

Many classrooms in local public schools may not be ideal for teaching to these students, despite the teacher's competence or desire to accommodate them. Simply put, a crowded classroom makes it tough for a teacher to give a child with learning disabilities individual help.

A smaller, personal “classroom”

Referring to a part of a child’s home as being a classroom might be a stretch; however, this place is often the most comfortable area for the child to learn. The “classroom” will be in a smaller and more familiar environment. Whether it is the living room, den, or dining room, the place can be equipped with accommodations or resources to fit his learning abilities and styles.

Parents who do the teaching – as well as an outside tutor or public school teacher assigned homeschooling duties -- can supply the child with the needed materials such as books, paper, or pens, or other amenities such as personal computer, smart board or audio lessons. Best yet, these materials can be kept at the house in the spot where the lessons are taking place.

just one of many homeschool "classroom" designs.
just one of many homeschool "classroom" designs. | Source

One-on-One Interaction and Attention

There are a variety of learning disabilities that can affect a child. Many of them are mild and can be treated with a combination of small classroom environment, individual attention or teaching techniques that use repetition, stimulation of various senses, or reinforcement of remedial skills (while building new ones).

One-on-one interaction is another advantage. In homeschooling, the teacher often works with a small number of students. In many cases, he or she will have one child to teach. With such a low teacher-student ratio, the home-school teacher can individually teach the student.

Children with learning disabilities will have a myriad of issues. They may have problems such as processing auditory, visual information or memory storage. With one-on-one interaction the teacher and student can take a longer time to work on a problem or to clarify a lesson through useful techniques such as direct instruction, scaffolding, repetition, and utilization of auditory or visual cues to support the lesson.

Best Environment for students with disabilities

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Prevent Distractions

Students with auditory processing disorders, autism, or ADHD can be easily distracted. Sometimes, it takes a while for them to regain their concentration and attention on a lesson. In a classroom, this can be a disaster, especially if the teacher is moving quickly through the lesson, or is teaching to a classroom of 30 or more students. For a child being homeschooled, and diagnosed with one of these disorders, he will have an easier time getting that focus back.

The reason is that the home-school teacher can take away or control any stimulus that can alter a child’s attention from a lesson. That teacher can get the child’s attention by either tapping on the paper, or signaling to him to return his attention to an assignment.

For parents who home-school, they may find a sound-proof room, cover windows, unplug the phones, or have the TV turned off. Either way, the parent/teacher will have control over the learning environment.

Healthy Student

Another advantage to homeschooling a child with learning disabilities has to do with health. A child with ADHD (accompanying a learning disability) may need a daily dosage of medication. Often, children with ADHD at a public school will routinely avoid a trip the nurse’s office at times when they are supposed to receive their meds. In a home school environment, the teacher or parent will be vigilant and regulate the dosage.

Another problem pertains to physical disabilities and serious medical conditions the students may have. Often, this alone doesn't qualify a student for special education service, unless it has been determined that it affects their ability to learn.

An example of this situation is described in the following scenario:

A particular student had muscular dystrophy. The results of his conditions has left him with a weakened immune system and difficulties with respiratory functions and mobility. He is wheel-chair bound and dependent on oxygen tanks. On top of that, common diseases such as a cold can be a life-threatening situation. Understandably, his condition also affects his ability to learn in a classroom setting.

In situations like this, homeschooling will keep the student healthy. It may even prevent an untimely death.

*****

Good home schools, as well as public and private schools, are the results of effective educational programs and teaching. Also, one type of school may work for some while not for others. Still, the process of homeschooling has its advantages by offering a small and personal environment and personal attention.

A child with a learning disability can learn and be at the same level as his non-disabled peers. It's just a matter of time to find the right fit. Homeschooling can offer that service.

Source

© 2014 Dean Traylor

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