Sep 112013

Anxiety & Learning Disabilities

This is an audio interview with Jenny. Jenny began homeschooling her son, who has learning disabilities and anxiety, when he was in elementary school. Public school had proven to be a poor fit.

Feel free to listen to the audio (be sure your speakers are on), read the transcript, or do both. I hope this story about homeschooling to overcome Anxiety & Learning Disabilities is inspiring to you!

Overcoming Anxiety & Learning Disabilities with Homeschooling Transcript:

Sandy: Hi everybody, This is Sandy cook with Learning Abled Kids, and today I’m chatting with Jenny Crowe. She’s a veteran homeschooling mom and a member of the learning abled kids community.

Jenny was a social worker for 12 years and she has homeschooled her son for 10 years. He has just graduated from high school and started college this month. So let’s all welcome Jenny. HI Jenny!
Jenny and Son photo
Jenny: Hello.

Sandy: HI! I want to thank you first for your willingness to do this interview to help other moms see that regular people homeschool.

Jenny: You’re welcome.

Sandy: Let’s get started then. First question: have you homeschooled from the beginning?

Jenny: No. Our son went to public school until he was diagnosed with dyslexia and they tried several things that did not work for him. And he really needed one-on-one instruction but they weren’t able to provide that either. So, I started doing it [homeschooling] part-time when he was in third grade.

Sandy: Right. So what made you end up deciding to homeschool?

Reasons for Homeschooling to Overcome Anxiety & Learning Disabilities

Jenny: Well, for one, they were not teaching to his learning style. He was a visual learner and they were doing all kinds of different things with him. So it was really difficult. They were doing “Reading Recovery” with him, which does not work. At that time I didn’t know that it does not work very well for teaching somebody with dyslexia to learn how to read.

Sandy: Right. They tried that program with my son also.

Jenny: Oh did they? It was awful. Oh it was awful. He was in first grade and and he would hang his head down and he’d say he didn’t want to go. And the teacher would be so upset, and yeah, it was terrible. So I tried pulling them out. But the teacher convinced me that we needed to give it one more try, and so we did. But it never did any good. And then I worked at the school and my husband was volunteering there. We could see that he was having problems knowing what to do when. And he was some major problems with bullying. So that’s when we decided to homeschool.

Sandy: Right. So were the bullying issues or the educational issues the primary reason you decided to start homeschooling?

Jenny: I think the educational issues were the primary reason.

Sandy: Okay.

Jenny: I mean he was also gifted, so he was not learning at the rate that he could be. In fact he was behind most of the other kids because they were going too fast and he couldn’t keep up.

Sandy: Right, I understand that completely. When you started homeschooling, did you have any special training? I understand you were a social worker, but I don’t know if that includes any training educationally.

Training to Overcome Anxiety & Learning Disabilities

Jenny: No. The only teaching experience I had was being a Sunday school teacher. That’s was it.

Sandy: Right. So before you started did you feel qualified to teach your son?

Jenny: Um, no. I really didn’t. That’s why I had believed the “Reading Recovery” teacher. Because I thought, “Well, she knows and I don’t, so it must be something that’s going to work for him.” But I got to the point where they weren’t giving individualized attention. Although they were trying, but they were so busy they didn’t have time.

I was having to help him every day after school anyway, going over everything they had gone over again. And, you know, the teacher would call me all the time for different things. You know his needs, or what did I think about that, or he was having a meltdown or whatever.

So part of the beauty of homeschooling is we didn’t have any more of that. We were at home and I could teach him in the way that he learns. And I could teach him what I wanted to teach him, what I felt was important. And so that made a big difference.

Sandy: Right. That sounds great. When you started homeschooling did you face many struggles, and if so what kind did you face?

Jenny: I’m sorry, could you repeat that please?

Sandy: when you started homeschooling did you have any struggles teaching your son, and if so what kinds of problems did you encounter?

Problems Homeschooling for Anxiety & Learning Disabilities

Jenny: Well, once we figured out what his learning style is I tried to present things visually. And I looked for curriculum that was very visual and hands-on. That was really helpful. He would get frustrated very quickly. And so that was a problem, but at home we could take breaks and he could move around. He could bounce on his ball, he could bounce on the trampoline. So all that helped him be able to concentrate better and helped him retain it better. Because we had all those extra things that we could do to break it up and to just to make it more of a fun experience rather than sitting in a classroom listening.

Sandy: I understand that. So what were some of the main benefits you experienced in homeschooling?

Benefits for Homeschooling to Overcome Anxiety & Learning Disabilities

Jenny: Wow. There was a lot. I could take field trips with him whenever we wanted to. Basically–In a subject he was interested in rather than something he wasn’t interested in. I could play to his strengths and work that way. I could help him with stress. In public school he started putting glue on his hands, and letting it dry and peeling it off as a stress reliever. And he would do things like that because he was so stressed.

And so, you know, when you’re at home you can lay on the floor and homeschool, or you can ride your bike around the block and then come back and do some more school. Or you can jump from letter to letter on the floor when you’re learning how to spell. I mean there’s just all kinds of varieties and ways that you can do it. I could teach him about being a follower of Jesus. We could even go into subjects that the school didn’t provide because we were just free of all of that kind of stuff. We didn’t have the restrictions that the government puts on and he could work outside. There was just a lot of freedom in it.

Sandy: We found that to and I really like that about homeschooling.

Jenny: Me too.

Sandy: So, let me ask you what your son is doing now and what kind of educational outcomes you experienced?

Outcomes in Overcoming Anxiety & Learning Disabilities

Jenny: Well, he’s been in school for almost 2 weeks. He’s going to the local college here. And he’s taking eight hours, which I had to persuade him because he was going to go full-time. But he thanked me the other day because if it takes you a while to process things, then you need more time. And so that gives him more time to study and more time to really learn the information. And so far he says he likes it, so I’m just really thrilled that he has accommodations. He went to the teachers and asked for accommodations so that he can take a bit little more time. And they’ve been great with him so far.

Sandy: Excellent. So is he registered officially with the college for learning disability support?

Jenny: Yes. We went in the disability office and talked to the lady there. And she gave him a letter. After I gave her documentation she gave him a letter to take to the teachers and they’d sign off. And then they would provide whatever, whatever he had documentation for.

Sandy: Excellent. So is there anything else you really feel like you would like to share with people who are thinking about homeschooling, in regard to homeschooling a child with special learning needs?

Jenny: Well, I asked my son that when I was asking him permission to do this. And he said tell them, “It’s rewarding and tough.” (laughter) And he has a lot of anxiety and a lot of that came from being in public school. We’re still kind of dealing with that some. But, you know, he and I are much closer than we would have been. We got spent a lot of time together. He has some really close friends from being with other homeschooled kids. You know they have co-ops things like that.

I think he has closer relationships with our church family because he has more freedom to do things. And he’s not as stressed. Let’s see, you know I actually miss it. I don’t miss the times when he got upset and we were upset with each other, when we were frustrated with school, but those were learning times too. So, it was just something that really bonded us together.

Sandy: Right. And I found that with my boys also, that we have really good close relationships because of our homeschooling.

Jenny: Yeah! We do. Yeah, because you spend that quality time together and then you have quantity time too. And then you share all the things you learn. We saw, we had some awesome curriculum on different things and biology was one of his favorites. You know, we could talk about it, we could go outside and see it. You know, he liked history so we looked into all kinds of history things. And you go to a play or concert or whatever you want to do to just teach them the things that are important.

Sandy: Sounds great, and I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to us. And hope you thank your son for us. Tell him we appreciate his input too.

Jenny: I will. I really appreciate you giving me the opportunity because I was like most people. I was scared of homeschooling because I didn’t know much about it. And at the time we started there wasn’t very many homeschoolers. Of course that changed a lot, but it really was the best decision that we made. It was just a wonderful experience and I would recommend it highly to anybody.

Sandy: Right. And we were exactly the same way. I was terrified before we started, but it turned out to be our best decision.

Jenny: That’s wonderful. You know, and I even thought if he learns differently and has some challenges, then probably homeschooling is not the best way to go for that, definitely. But I found that it was the opposite. Homeschooling provides the freedom that they really do need. And so it was just an answer to prayer that we could do that.

Sandy: Right. I’m glad things turned out well for you and I hope they turn out well for our listeners down the road. And I really do appreciate your time doing this interview with me.

Jenny: Well, and I want to thank you too for all that you do. I mean your website and all the things and information that you’ve given us has really helped us a lot.

Sandy: Well thank you. I appreciate that. I do what I can to help, and hopefully it helps a lot of kids down the road.

Jenny: Yeah. Yeah.

Sandy: Okay, well thank you so much for calling and for your time and I really do appreciate it.

Jenny: You’re welcome.

Sandy: Thank you.

Check out other homeschool success stories of overcoming learning disabilities through homeschooling.

If you find this story inspiring, please leave a comment below telling how Jenny’s story encourages you. I’m sure she would love knowing her son’s story is inspirational to others.

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