Homeschooling kids with LD or AD/HD: The pros and cons
Get answers to common questions about homeschooling students with special needs.
By Kristin Stanberry
Parents often wonder about the advantages and disadvantages of homeschooling children with learning disabilities (LD) or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD). While there is no single right answer as to whether homeschooling is the best option for your child and family, the following information about this alternative form of education may help guide your decision-making process.
What is homeschooling?
By definition, homeschooling is an education option in which parents accept total responsibility for the education of their children. Home, versus school, becomes the center of the child's educational universe. Homeschooling is an accepted alternative for kids of elementary school age through the high school years.
In recent years, several styles of homeschooling have evolved, including (among others): faith-based education, self-directed learning, cyber-learning (or online learning), and even an approach called unschooling. This article will focus on the more traditional approach to homeschooling, specifically as it applies to kids with learning and/or attention problems, and their families.
Why would parents of kids with LD or AD/HD choose to homeschool?
Parents of kids with LD and/or AD/HD offer a variety of reasons for homeschooling. Some believe they can do a better job than a public or private school in meeting their children's special needs. Some parents think they can more effectively tailor the curriculum to their children's needs and also protect them from the teasing and stigma associated with being in special education.
Some families opt to homeschool on a short-term basis, to help a child finish a difficult year of school or to reach a certain level of maturity and development. Other parents homeschool their kids from elementary school age through high school years.
What kinds of skills and training do parents need?
Important general factors to take into account when considering homeschooling a child with learning and/or attention problems are:
- Your overall ability to serve as your child's teacher and meet her individual educational needs
- How well you can apply self-discipline and structure to your child's homeschool routine (and instill those habits in her)
- Your flexibility and creativity when you encounter obstacles or need to alter your course to adapt to your child's needs
Homeschooling does allow for individualized curriculum and attention to your child's needs. However, providing targeted interventions to address a child's areas of difficulty may require you to do more research and training than a parent of a homeschooler whose needs are more mainstream.
Some parents feel the need to go through formal training to teach a child with LD or AD/HD, while others purchase packaged curricula from vendors who specialize in products for homeschool parents. Other parents create their own homeschool curriculum by combining prepared lesson plans with enrichment components such as field trips, the arts, and community involvement.