Guest blog post by Lottie West

Parent helping child with homework. by August de Richelieu

The surge in homeschooling among children with learning disabilities underscores a shift in educational preferences. According to Accesswire, a striking 38%  of the 2.5 million homeschoolers in the United States are students with special needs. This is a substantial increase compared to the 14.7% enrolled in special education programs in public schools. The reasons for this shift are manifold. While public schools have made strides to accommodate students with disabilities, they still confront challenges, such as physical barriers to classrooms and limitations in communication, social interaction, and behavioral support. Homeschooling offers a compelling alternative with its inherent flexibility, adaptability to individual accommodations, and personalized approach to teaching and testing. This is particularly advantageous for students with ADHD, dyslexia, auditory or visual impairments, mobility issues, and other disabilities that necessitate a different learning approach.

Cultivating an Optimal Learning Environment

Conventional classrooms, often bustling with activity and visual stimuli, can be overwhelming for students with special needs. A child with ADHD might find the visual noise of charts and decorations distracting, while those with physical disabilities may find navigation difficult in tight spaces crammed with desks and chairs. This can impact not only their academic performance but also their mental well-being. Homeschooling addresses these issues by allowing the creation of a dedicated learning environment that can be customized to the child’s individual requirements. This might mean transforming a quiet room into a study haven, free from unnecessary noise and visual clutter. For children with attention difficulties, tools like stress balls or fidget toys can be introduced to aid focus during lessons. And for those with sensory sensitivities, the learning space can be optimized with subdued lighting, alternative seating options such as bean bag chairs, soft carpeting, and controlled temperatures to provide a calm and conducive educational setting.

Personalized Attention in Homeschooling

The University of the People suggests that one-on-one instruction is particularly beneficial for students with special needs. Personalized teaching allows for an intimate understanding of a student’s unique strengths and challenges. In a typical classroom, learners with disabilities may feel self-conscious and less inclined to ask questions, fearing judgment from peers. This stress can inhibit their willingness to participate and engage. Homeschooling circumvents this issue by providing a safe space for students to express themselves and interact directly with a tutor or parent-educator. However, to maximize the benefits of one-on-one instruction, it’s imperative to select a tutor who not only possesses the requisite academic credentials and experience but also demonstrates a genuine commitment to your child’s safety and academic growth. Thorough vetting of a tutor’s background ensures that your child is in capable hands, which is crucial for their educational journey.

Strategizing Breaks for Enhanced Focus

For students with attention-related disorders, the traditional school schedule can be taxing and counterproductive. These learners often require frequent breaks to prevent cognitive overload and facilitate smoother transitions between activities. Homeschooling offers the flexibility to tailor lesson plans to include these necessary pauses. Parents and educators can get creative with break strategies–using cues like timers or a favorite song to signal the end of one activity and the start of another. This structure aids students in mentally preparing for transitions and maintaining focus throughout the day. Incorporating regular breaks is not just about adhering to a schedule; it’s about respecting the student’s cognitive processes and optimizing their learning potential.

Embracing Innovative Teaching Methods

Accesswire highlights that homeschooling provides an unprecedented range of educational possibilities for families with special needs children. Collaborating with therapists, educational consultants, and specialized teachers, parents can curate curriculums that resonate with their child’s interests and abilities. This educational freedom is a life changer, allowing for innovative teaching techniques that can make learning more engaging. For example, a child struggling with multiplication might benefit from reciting times tables while pacing the room or incorporating physical movement like jumping jacks. For spelling difficulties, vocal repetition of words could be helpful. Utilizing diverse tools like whiteboards, manipulatives, and multisensory strategies can revolutionize the learning experience. This ability to adapt teaching methods to each child’s needs is a cornerstone of homeschooling’s success for students with learning disabilities.

The Homeschool Advantage for Special Needs

Homeschooling stands out as a particularly effective educational model for children with learning disabilities. It offers the freedom to create a conducive learning environment and the flexibility to employ various teaching methods tailored to each child’s requirements. The one-on-one teaching model, which is often a cornerstone of homeschooling, ensures that students receive the individual attention they need to thrive. Moreover, the ability to design a school day with multiple breaks caters to the unique cognitive needs of these students, allowing for a more focused and effective learning experience. 

Posted 1/15/2024