How Homeschooling Transforms Special Education into Specialized Education
As I cited in my previous article, The Then and Now of Special Education Homeschooling, more parents who have children with special educational needs are choosing to homeschool as a reaction to the lesser quality educational options offered by public or private schools. But, with this transition, many parents unknowingly bring the same teaching mindset they were looking to leave into their new homeschooling experience.
Below are what I believe are the 4 most important distinctions of how specialized home education differs from an institutionalized special education program and opens the freedom potential parents have in homeschooling a child outside the box of special education.
1. Schooling is focused on the positive aspects of your child, not the negative
Special education within the school setting was created to detect and correct a child’s learning issues. By focusing on what doesn’t work well for a child, the negative aspects of a child’s learning disability becomes pronounced in their lesson plans and overall educational goals. The beauty of homeschooling is that although a child may still struggle with an ability to learn, a parent has the freedom to design lessons around the positive ways a child can learn. Over time homeschooled children learn what methods and tools work best to help them learn, which they then can adapt to take into their adulthood.
2. A child is taught according to their gifts, not their deficits
All children have specific gifts, as well as deficits. Unfortunately, non-academic gifts are outside the reach of a traditional special education classroom. Homeschooling allows a parent to supplement a child’s studies with opportunities to work on specific skill sets and gifting alongside the subjects the child struggles in, which allows a child to find success in their studies where before they may have only met defeat. Turning interest in cooking, woodworking, computer programming, acting, or even martial arts into school subjects is not out of the question. The options are endless on what you can turn into an academic subject and the benefit of adding these classes for children who struggle in core curriculum subjects, is they start to realize that learning can be fun instead of always a defeating experience.
3. Progression happens at the rate your child learns, not against a “norm”
Classroom learning and grading, in general, are based on norms. If a child is not keeping up with a specific norm, then they are considered “behind.” Schools focus on working with a child to make them just like everyone else. Unfortunately, each child is unique and those who are more pronounced in their uniqueness will never quite reach what society deems “normal.” Homeschooling, on the other hand, allows children to be unique and to discover how they learn best, not how everyone else does so they can be the same or “get caught up”. Each lesson learned by a child in a homeschool setting sets the bar for what lesson comes next, no matter how long it takes the child to move from one step to the next.
4. A lifestyle of learning takes education into every realm of life instead of compartmentalized the process
Many children with learning challenges also struggle with translating a learned concept from one mode of education to another part of their life. This inability for a child to learn one lesson at school and then translate that same lesson to a scenario at home or in a “real world” setting prolongs the learning process for these children. When a family starts homeschooling, they also start a shift in how learning is perceived. Learning is no longer just found in books, in classrooms, or on a computer, but everywhere in life. Every experience, every encounter, and every relationship bring lessons to be taught as well as lessons to be learned that flow over the boundaries of subjects and grade levels.
For a child who experiences learning challenges, educational delays, or struggles with a disability or medical condition, a specialized home education approach provides opportunities to succeed in learning instead of hurdles they must get beyond. Embrace those freedoms as a homeschooling parent and watch your child soar above their struggles.
Written by Peggy Ployhar of SPED Homeschool