When Homeschooling Feels Like Your Only Option
For many families and for a variety of reasons, public and private schools have not met their children’s educational needs. This is what it’s like when homeschooling feels like your only option.
“What choice do I have?”
She looked at me, tears in her eyes, and total defeat in her voice.
After several different school placements, too many IEP meetings to count, a private school principal’s letter saying the school was not a “good fit” for her son, this mom had come to end of her search for a school that would help her child.
“Homeschooling feels like my only option,” she said.
While this particular mom’s child did have special needs, this particular problem is not always just about schools not providing appropriate educations for children with differences. In fact, there are more and more moms in the same situation, with children who do not have diagnosis and would never be considered for an IEP.
My friend Cait wrote a post all about making this decision called Suddenly, Unexpectedly Homeschooling.
It happens to so many of us. We never, ever thought we’d homeschool our children, and yet here we are.
Add special needs, learning differences and behavioral issues to the mix, and the thought of homeschooling can be downright terrifying.
The truth is, homeschooling children with special needs is not as uncommon or even as new as it seems.
One of my very favorite examples is Helen Keller.
Her special needs kept her from any sort of traditional school environment. She eventually learned at home, with an engaged, focused, loving caregiver.
And she was an outrageous success.
When asked about how she was able to make so much progress, she credited her teacher, Anne Sullivan.
“It was because she seized the right moment to impart knowledge that make it so pleasant and acceptable to me.”
I want to share with you what I shared with the tearful mom, asking if homeschooling was her only choice.
I told her, “You have the opportunity to seize the right moment and to impart knowledge in a way that is pleasant and acceptable to your child. The schools have not been able to do this. You can.“
Before I explain anything else, I do want to say one thing. I do not think that homeschooling is the only way, or even the best choice for many children and families. I know several moms of children with special needs who are thriving in a school environment. The moms are confident and secure, and the children are making a ton of progress.
I also know moms who wish they could homeschool their child, but for a variety of reasons, it’s not the right choice. Homeschooling is never a solution in and of itself.
But for some of us, it becomes our only option.
When Homeschooling Feels Like Your Only Option
While it may be bittersweet, I want you to know that feeling like homeschooling is your own option can be a significant benefit.
Once you get over the initial fear and shock, knowing that this is the only choice for your child means you will work that much harder and be that much more committed to making your homeschool work.
It means that when it gets difficult (and it will) you will persevere, because what other option is left?
Almost ten years later, I am grateful that we didn’t have any other options. I am 100% sure that if I thought a school would work for my boys, I would’ve quit a long time ago.
And quitting would’ve meant missing the very best parts of this homeschooling life.
The opportunity for my sons to learn what really interests them and their natural strengths.
Self-paced learning that was neither too fast, nor laboriously slow for my learners.
Protection against the bullying they experienced in school.
The confidence they’ve developed both as learners and as young men.
I am so glad homeschooling was our only option.
For more on homeschooling your child with special needs:
Why Homeschooling Is The Best Choice For My Child
100 Reasons To Homeschool Your Child With Special Needs
Shawna Wingert is a former training and development professional turned education specialist, and has homeschooled her two children for the last ten years.Shawna has written four books about homeschooling unique learners and has been featured in homeschooling discussions on Today.com, The Mighty, Simple Homeschool, My Little Poppies and Raising Lifelong Leaners.
You can find her online here at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.
We started full-time homeschooling a month ago as a result of my daughter’s crippling anxiety (manifesting as vomiting multiple times per day at school). Months of work and it was only getting worse, not better. It was terrible timing for me, with a toddler at home and another baby on the way, but what can you do? Happy to say that my oldest is thriving and learning so much. In a month at home, she’s leap-frogged forward in so many academic skills, it’s crazy. I do hope to send her back to traditional school next year — I really do want her to learn how to manage this anxiety in a gentle way while the stakes are still low — but for now, it’s been a (very challenging) gift.
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