As parents of children, challenged or not, we want the best for them. All children need love and support and the needs of challenging children, both emotional and academic, can be far more intense.
Children who learn or act differently may experience self-confidence and self-esteem issues as they continue to notice their differences. While homeschooling is not the answer for everyone, it can shelter your child from some destructive situations. If your child is already in the special education system, bringing them home may also bring healing for damaged emotions. One mom noted that she was in special education when she was a child. Walking to the resource room while the other children remained in the regular classroom was lonely and humiliating. Homeschooling her child was her answer to spare her child that feeling of humiliation she felt under those circumstances. Children are spared the brunt of comparison and competition that are rampant in the classroom. It also allows us to practice selective socialization, apart from pain and ridicule of school. We can help our children to nurture friendships that are God-honoring and respecting of individual differences.
Most of us, unless we were homeschooled, have this notion in our minds of our own public school experience. There were probably lines of neatly arranged desks with children sitting still, listening intently to the teacher and being actively and busily engaged (at varying levels) in the process of “being educated.” That, however, may not be the shared image of your own child with a learning challenge.
Their brain is telling them: “Move! Jump! Twist! Turn!” All of their energy is being expended towards that goal. Their brain may be nearly constantly engaged in a rapid-firing mode with mixed, garbled messages much like a person talking to another person on a walkie-talkie but on different frequencies. There is a message coming through, but it is all static noise. Or, the words are understandable but there are several people talking on the same frequency.
Think about the old black-and-white television sets that had horizontal and vertical controls to get the picture clearer. Often it took only a slight turn of either of the knobs to get the picture to stop rolling to take out the vertical or horizontal lines that distorted the true picture. Making an adjustment in your child’s learning environment or your approach may be the key to him having a clear picture. But it takes time and one-on-one attention.
A classic classroom environment with perfectly aligned student desks simply can’t give your child the one-on-one attention that is possible in the home. If your child is in school and struggles, consider how much time you spend helping with homework. Have you ever wondered why all the work can’t be completed during the school day? Often it is because the child needs additional one-on-one time or practice with a concept. When you homeschool, you eliminate homework because it’s all “home work!” If you have helped a tired, cranky, challenging child with homework, rest assured that you will be able to handle homeschooling this child.
Consider also the tremendous benefit of flexibility. You can strengthen the weaknesses and teach to strengths – a maxim that will be more fully fleshed out in future articles when we talk about planning your program. In addition, you can use materials on many grade levels, instead of learning lock-step with the rest of a school. Many of us have children who are at one grade level in math and at a completely different grade level in language arts, for example. In the homeschool setting, we work with the children with no stigma or shame, using materials and instruction that are appropriate for that individual child. Your schooling environment and program can be perfectly tailored to meet the individual needs of your child.
In the home, one can exercise greater control over the physical environment. Consider the child with dietary restrictions who daily visits the school cafeteria to be bombarded with the sights and smells of delicacies (often disguised as processed foods) which, if ingested, would send his behavior and concentration into a nosedive. At home, a child’s diet can be monitored and the environment can me modified to deal with physical distractions.
Is homeschooling the alternative for your challenging child? Consider this: Homeschooling can provide you with time and energy to work on your relationship with him and can give you the chance to teach critical life skills, which often have little to do with academics. Our goal is to launch them out of home as productive, God-honoring husbands, wives, fathers, mothers and workers in the workplace.
It can afford you the opportunity to impart God-honoring values and to build on your family’s strengths. Best of all, you can be instrumental in instilling in your child that he is a person of value and worth. You will never regret the energy you invest in growing another human being.
You can do this!
Homeschooling the Challenging Child by Christine Field is my book on this subject
Understood.org is geared toward school children but has some great information