link to reading and spelling section link to reading comprehension link to math link to gifted/LD link to older learners page link to contact information

Related links at Resource Room:

Pulling out! Making the transition to homeschooling students with learning disabilities

Homeschooling Gifted Students: An Introductory Guide for Parents (every word of this applies to LD students)

Lowering the Language Barriers in Middle and Secondary School

Multisensory Structured Language Programs: Summary and Reflections A brief summary of "MSSL" programs (including Orton-Gillingham) and thoughts from a free spirit on "repetition, repetition and drill, drill, drill."

Home > Homeschooling > Considering Homeschooling Your Older Child

Considering Homeschooling Your Older Child Who Learns Differently

When the gap between learning and potential turns into a chasm: time to consider home education?

Many people consider switching from homeschooling to traditional schooling as a student grows older, for reasons including more challenging content, social and athletic opportunities, and growth and independence.

For the special needs child, the reverse often occurs. It is at home that the student can be appropriately challenged and can become an independent learner. This is for a number of reason:

  • Challenges often become more troublesome, and often students are deprived of academic opportunities because they cannot take advantage of the way that learning is being offered.

  • School often simply becomes more competitive.

  • Gaps between reading and writing skills and intellectual ability become much more of a problem as students are given reading and writing assignments that *may* be appropriate for most students - and if not, most students can survive them -- but are overwhelming to the student with dyslexia or dysgraphia.

  • Many schools that provide excellent special services to students in elementary school simply don't provide them at upper levels.

Other schools don't provide the services students need at all -- but a bright student can compensate for a while. Many the student who has not been taught accurate reading skills has successfully memorized enough words and used his native intelligence and pictures and context to succeed in elementary school; then when a "reading problem" is discovered in middle school, parents are told "it's too late to remediate." It's not.

At some point in the school year, often in that interminable tunnel between New Year's and Spring Break, many parents begin to wonder, "Couldn't I do a better job myself?"

And many (especially if the current situation is toxic, and as one parent said "You read about the signs of child abuse and they are there in my child") are thinking "yes, but how?"

Making the jump to homeschooling can be intimidating. Here's a bit of structure to help you decide whether this is an option that could work for you -- and help you get started if it is.

  1. Whatever your way of making yourself a "to do" list and completing a big project -- do it for this one. I would get a big binder and a few pocket folders and lots of blank paper. Even if you don't end up homeschooling you'll be glad you have the information organized.
  2. Go to the "get started" article at the Homeschooling Support on the Internet site. Read it and make your first "to do" list and ... get started! Have sections for things like "websites," "legal information," "local support groups," and "printed out articles."
  3. Figure out what to teach and how to teach it.
    Don't panic. This isn't as scary as it seems. Start with your priorities and don't be afraid to start small. Do put enough structure and activity into your lives so your child isn't simply sitting idle for most of the hours s/he would be in school, especially older students. Don't, please don't, feel like you have to spend 7 hours at a desk with trips to lockers and the lunchroom!

    In my experience the best approach is to teach content areas to the kid's strength, and work on problem skills separately -- with connections between the skills and content, for sure, but basically not making the kid have to use his "weak learning channel" such as reading to learn science or history or mechanics or drama or math. Movies are one way to do this; but structure the learning so that the movie is used to teach the content and terms. (See Video Guide: GLory for an example of questions to guide learning; see Teaching with Movies for lots of information about specific movies.) One of the most common issues with kids with any of the various LDs is that they need tasks broken down a bit more, and then they need to be taught how to make connections between those broken down steps to put them together.

    A general outline for learning content is:

    • Teach the content to the strength and assess to the strength (so for a visual learner and/or struggling reader, make lots of connections between verbal and non-verbal, visual and auditory. See Lowering the Language Barriers in Middle and Secondary School for more information about this.
    • When the content is mastered, then bring in the weaker area. So, *after* a struggling reader has learned about the Industrial Revolution, and has seen videos and can label and talk about pictures of various inventions, have him read a passage about familiar content and answer questions about it. If he can't, review using both strong and weaker 'channels' to make those connections.
    • In the meantime, work every day at filling in the holes in those skills.

    Seek a balance between working with strengths on things your child will feel great about, and working on those challenges that you want to overcome. Consider problem skills or thinking processes as "weaker mental muscles," and don't demand that the student use those muscles for carrying the new, heavy knowledge into the brain. You need to make sure the information gets all over the brain, though, not just where the strong "mental muscles" like to drop things off (they're bulky, you know, and have trouble maneuvering in small places :-). So, getting that learning over the threshold and between the ears should be done with the strong muscles-- but let the less developed skills get stronger by giving them the job of making connections and reinforcing and practicing the knowledge.

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