In the Spring of my youngest child’s second grade year, he began BEGGING for us to homeschool him. My oldest child had been in school for five years and had significant learning needs. Honestly, I was TERRRRRIIIFIIED by the thought of home schooling. What if I failed to meet my child’s learning needs? What if I did worse than the school? What if we battled all the time, and he ends up hating me? How will I ever deal with the tantrums? I was very reluctant, but felt strongly that if I homeschooled one child, I NEEDED to homeschool the other because of his learning needs, diminishing self-esteem, and lack of progress in school.
While it may seem like a daunting task to educate a child with special education needs, I soon learned it can be MUCH less stressful for everyone to address educational needs at home. My son’s tantrums over school work, or anything else for that matter, disappeared in a relatively short time frame, and home schooling wasn’t as hard as it seemed like it’d be. (continued below..)
My kids were in public school for five years and we battled with school issues CONSTANTLY. If it wasn’t battling with the school to get the needed services, it was battling with our child whose self-esteem shifted downward every year he was in special education, it was battling with attitude that he “can’t” learn because he has a disability (even though his IQ is high), or battling with our own distress because we knew our son’s potential was being effectively ignored. It was SOOOOO much less stressful when we started home schooling.
After home schooling for a few months, my bright, happy, eager-to-learn child returned to his body.. the same child I sent off to kindergarten years earlier. All of his depression lifted, he became mentally ‘available’ for learning, and, as long as I was understanding and patient, he was even willing to work on tasks he had difficulty with, like reading. I’d say, “I know this is hard, but let’s work on this together so you’ll get better at it.” It was very important for me to be encouraging and supportive, and never to have a “why can’t you do this?” attitude (He’d had plenty of that at school ;-).
We spent HOURS working on reading. In our first two years of home schooling, my son’s reading level went from a 0.9 grade equivalent, to a 10.0 grade equivalent. It is amazing what understanding, patient, one-on-one, direct instruction can do for a child who struggles. I think patience, and a kind, understanding attitude was just as important as the instruction to keep my child willing and available to learn.
If you are considering home schooling a child with special needs, it may be a difficult decision, but also remember your decision doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing, set-in-concrete, decision. If you decide to homeschool, then find out it is NOTHING like you expected and your life turns into a nightmare, you can change your mind back again. The idea that I could change my mind was the one thread I hung onto when we began home schooling, but I soon got out my scissors and snipped that thread right in half!
Best Wishes in your homeschool endeavors,
(You can do this! I know you can!)