Homeschooling kids with learning disabilities can be an intimidating thought. You may wonder if it's better to put your child in a traditional school where the "professionals" can help your child to excel. In the following interview, you will see why homeschooling may actually be the best choice for a special needs child.
Homeschooling Kids with Learning Disabilities
Kim Ashby is a homeschooling mom of three children who all have special needs. When the school system could not meet the needs of her children, Kim decided she could do better. Her children suffered from self-esteem issues due to the school system's inadequacies.
Kim has become a pioneer and inspiration to other parents of children with learning disabilities. She started a support group called GiftsNC (Giving and Getting Information For Teaching Special Needs Children) and, recently, she she opened Creative Tutors in North Carolina, specializing in special children like hers.
See what tips and encouragement Kim has to offer in this very enlightening interview.
Interview with Kim Ashby
LoveToKnow: What are the most common learning disabilities in kids?
Kim Ashby: Reading, writing and math disabilities are probably the most common. There are a variety of diagnoses that can cause these delays including ADD/ADHD, Autism Spectrum, Processing Problems and more.
LTK: If a parent has children with learning disabilities, should they give up on the idea of homeschooling?
KA: Not at all! All children, but especially children with learning disabilities, respond very well to one-on-one, individualized, child-specific teaching. Homeschooling a child with special needs is an excellent educational option. The parents are vested in their child and want to do anything possible to help their child reach his or her potential.
A parent can provide the least restrictive and least threatening environment for the child which will promote learning. Homeschooling has become a viable educational option all across the USA and we now have a vast array of curricula available for parents to purchase. This allows the homeschooling family to evaluate the child's learning strengths, weaknesses, and learning style, then be able to pick and choose, to mix and match, curricula which will allow the child to be successful.
Tips for Teaching
LTK: What are some tips to help parents homeschool their learning disabled child more easily?
KA: Homeschooling a child with special needs is not easy. The parent needs to develop a support system which would include local homeschool support groups as well as online support groups, like GiftsNC. Read several different home schooling books and curricula catalogues.
Most families homeschooling a special needs child will need to be eclectic in their approach to curricula purchases in order to find what works best for their child. Networking with other families that home educate special needs children will help them find creative ways to present and modify material.
LTK: What if the parent has trouble? What help is available?
KA: GiftsNC is a homeschooling special needs Yahoo! support group with members who represent a large variety of special needs and learning challenges. The members are supportive of each other and creative. It is an excellent resource for families.
Many families find it helpful to contract with a local tutoring service. Creative Tutors provides one-on-one, in-home, individualized tutoring for all academic and ability levels from Pre-K through 12th grade. This company has partnered with a lot of homeschool families to support their educational choice and help the children succeed.
You're Not Alone
LTK: How common is it to homeschool a child with learning problems?
KA: It is becoming more common to encounter families homeschooling a child with learning problems. I haven't been able to find any statistics, but my personal experience is that home educating a child with special needs is the fastest growing subgroup within the homeschool community.
LTK: What is typically most difficult to teach and how can this be overcome?
KA: This is impossible to answer. One family may find a specific subject difficult to teach, yet another family may not have any trouble teaching the subject at all. The important point here is for the home school teacher to be able to identify any area where he/she may struggle and need additional help to teach a subject.
There is nothing wrong with the parent learning the material along with the student. The parent may opt to bring in a tutor for a specific subject. There are also on-line courses, co-ops, homeschool enrichment classes and local community colleges which may help the homeschool parent teach a specific subject.
LTK: How do you deal with school systems that feel they should be in charge of teaching a child with special needs?
KA: The way parents interact with the local school system may depend on which state they live in and what the state home school laws require. I live in North Carolina and homeschools are regulated by the Division of Non-Public Education.
Homeschool parents do not have to interact with the local school system. After a parent has submitted their Notice of Intent to Homeschool and has received the Orange Card from DNPE, the parent simply notifies the child's public school that the family is withdrawing the child in order to home school. The parents do not need the approval of local public school personnel in order to home school.
LTK: What else should people know about teaching their special needs child?
KA: Home schooling is not easy. We all have good and bad days. We all have days when we wonder if the child is learning. We all have days when we revel in the learning successes.
Research statistics show that homeschooled children are learning and many surpass their public schooled peers on standardized testing. Homeschooling works! This is true for our special learners, too, though the successes may, at times, take longer to see.
LoveToKnow would like to thank Kim Ashby for helping readers to better understand homeschooling kids with learning disabilities.