Homeschooling kids with LD or AD/HD: The pros and cons
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By Kristin Stanberry
How will homeschooling affect family dynamics?
Regardless of how you approach homeschooling, it will impact you, your child, your spouse, and any other children living at home. Here are some questions to explore:
- If your child has behavior problems — and acts out with her primary caregiver/parent — might that become even more of a problem with homeschooling?
- How will homeschooling affect your family's time, routine, budget, and physical space at home?
- Will you homeschool more than one of your children? If so, are you prepared to coordinate teaching kids with differing needs?
- If your other children continue going to public or private school, how will you balance their routine with your homeschooled child's? For example, you'll need to coordinate the schedules, vacations, homework, and activities of your kids who attend school outside the home with the schedule and routine you set for your homeschooler.
- If you have a child attending school at home and others outside the home, consider how their school experiences may differ. Kids who attend traditional schools have a different experience than do homeschooled students in terms of classroom settings, social interaction, and school-based events (such as assemblies and graduation ceremonies).
Will my child become socially isolated if she is homeschooled?
Kids who have LD or AD/HD often struggle to develop adequate social skills, whether they are homeschooled or not. But, as with all homeschool students, there are several ways to ensure your child has ample opportunity to socialize with others. To expand your child's socialization skills and experiences, consider involving her in:
- Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts
- Boys and Girls Clubs
- 4H Clubs
- Team sports and other extracurricular activities available through your community recreation department
- Groups affiliated with your place of worship
A local homeschool networking group may become a rich source of social activities for both you and your child. Whether your gatherings are as formal as a field trip or as casual as a picnic, your child will benefit from learning with - and playing with - other kids.
Note: A few states allow homeschooled students to participate in extracurricular activities (for example, team sports and music) in their public schools. Check your state laws for more information.
What are my child's prospects for long-term success (including Advanced Placement and college admission tests)?
To date, little research has been done on the long-term success of homeschooled students with LD and AD/HD. However, the outlook for homeschooled students in general is positive. For example, according to an article in Education Week (April 26, 2006), "The number of homeschooled students taking Advanced Placement tests has more than tripled in the past five years. For many high-achieving home schoolers, AP tests have become a staple of their education. That growth is due in part to home schoolers who want to validate that they've learned challenging academic material, particularly if they are applying to competitive colleges."
Where can I find information and support in the community?
Before you decide to homeschool, it can be extremely valuable to contact a local homeschool networking group. The parents in such groups offer support, experience, and knowledge related to homeschooling a child in your state and school district. Be sure to "shop around" for a group that is familiar with the needs of children with learning and attention issues. If you eventually decide to homeschool your child, such a group may well become a primary source of support and socialization for you and your child.
To locate a homeschool networking group in your area, contact the Home Education, an organization whose objectives are to provide information to homeschoolers individually and through local/state groups; make it easier for homeschoolers to network together; and promote public relations on a national level.