We are considering homeschooling our child. Can you help guide us?
Homeschooling your child can be a very rewarding and enriching experience at any ageit can also be a very challenging task without adequate information and preparation. To begin with, consider your response to several key questions, including*:
- Can we do this?
- Can we afford to homeschool?
- What about relationships?
- What resources are available?
- Would homeschooling be good for our child?
- Do we really want to take full responsibility for our child's academic learning?
- Are school district personnel available to us to provide assistance in shaping a program of home study? If so, how often can we speak? Can we meet in person on a regular basis?
- What services and supports are available to us given our decision to provide home instruction? Is the IEP still a valid document? Will meetings with the school-based child study team or committee on special education still take place?
- Can instructional support (e.g., resource room) and related services (e.g., speech-language therapy) be provided to our child at home?
- Can our child visit the school building for certain classes (e.g., advanced placement science, studio art) but not others? How about participation in sports, chorus, clubs and after-school activities?
- How will our child's progress be officially monitored and reported? Will our child have to take mid-term and final exams? (in school? at home?) Standardized assessments? And will these be given with appropriate accommodations?
- How will our child's grade point average (GPA) be calculated and recorded on the official school transcript?
- Will the decision to home school have an impact on our child's college application process or work application status?
If, after pondering these questions, you are still interested in homeschooling, the next step is to contact specialists and find an educational consultant to guide you through the process of selecting curriculum and instructional strategies best suited for your child’s specific needs. Join networks to learn about your state’s requirements and more by visiting homeschooling websites, such as:
- Home School Legal Defense Association (www.hslda.org)
- Homeschoolers Support Network (www.homeschoolsupport.org)
Seek out reading materials and training opportunities through websites, homeschooler newsletters, curriculum fairs, and organizational conferences such as the Learning Disabilities Association and homeschooling networks. Publishing companies, along with local schools and universities, may also provide “professional development” in specific materials and teaching methods. Consider the following books for more excellent advice on preparing for and supporting the education of your child at home:
- Field, C. M. (2005). A practical guide: Homeschooling the challenging child. Nashville: B & H Publishing Group.
- Hensley, S. C. (2009). Home schooling children with special needs (3rd ed.). Enumclaw, WA : Pleasant Word.
- Kuhl, K. (2009). Homeschooling your struggling learner. Herndon, VA: Learn Differently.
With careful consideration and proper planning, the homeschooling experience can be a positive one for the entire family, ensuring that your child receives the best instruction from the ones who care most for her educationyou!
* Adapted from ncld.org.
B. J. Wiemer, Ph.D. | Director of Special Services, Kirk Day School | St. Louis, MO
Dr. Wiemer is a special educator, national teacher trainer, and educational consultant. She has spent 38 years working in public and private settings with students with special needs, most notably as a specialist in specific learning disabilities, children with behavioral/emotional needs, and the at-risk reader. She especially enjoys working with families. She trains and consults with teachers and administrators across the country to address the needs of the at-risk learner. Dr. Wiemer has served LDA in many roles and currently serves on LDA’s national Executive Committee. She holds a B.S. in Elementary and Special Education from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University, an M.Ed. in Counseling from the University of Missouri, and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Saint Louis University.