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Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp
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Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp.  All rights reserved.
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The Homeschool Diner's Guide to
Homeschooling With Special Needs
Learning Disabilities

Learning Disabilities and Homeschool Jitters

by Sandy Cook, copyright 2005


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 homeschooling. 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 ended up hating me? How would 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 homeschooling wasn't as hard as it
seemed like it'd be.

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 affectively ignored. It was SOOOOO much less
stressful when we started homeschooling.

After homeschooling 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
homeschooling, my son's reading level went from a 1.9 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 homeschooling 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 homeschooling, but I soon got out my scissors and snipped that
thread right in half!


Best Wishes in your homeschool endeavors,
SandyKC
(You can do this! I know you can!)


Copyright ©2005, S. L. Cook, ALL Rights Reserved
[ Sandy Cook has two children with specific learning needs and is
webmaster of
Learning Abled Kids. She has completed 56 hours of
Orton-Gillingham training, is a trained Special Education Advocate, and
will complete her master's degree in Instructional Design in Fall 2006. ]