If you are the parent of a child with a learning disability, you know the difficulty in understanding what your child is going through. Even once you've begun to understand the "condition," your child has probably already been stressed and overwhelmed for a while. Fortunately, educators, and to some extent our communities, have started to create structures that help support children with different learning styles and needs. But we are a long way from knowing for sure what's truly best for a child who is suffering in school.
Recently, Partners with Parents has seen a increase in the demand for private tutoring for use as part of a homeschooling program. In the past, homeschooling has had a reputation as a "solution" for parents who differed religiously or disagreed philosophically with how their kids were being taught in school. Now, particularly in places like New York City, there is a new group of parents who want, need, and are finding the vast benefits of homeschooling programs for kids with learning disabilities.
There is a lot to be said for the advantages of socialization in school and for the theory that having all different kinds of kids and abilities in a classroom is a good thing for all involved. I agree. My point in suggesting a short term homeschooling program is to save kids from acute stress -- and that is what many with undiagnosed or newly diagnosed learning disabilities are experiencing. This is especially true if they are in schools that aren't appropriate for their needs or if their leaning difficulties are also accompanied by emotional, psychological, or physical issues. The fact is that a stressed child is using all of his or her capabilities to cope, not to learn. Changing the environment and social stresses can make all the difference if it is done well and gracefully.
If you think such a change might be beneficial to your child, consider:
1) Does your child complain about school, fear it, pretend to be ill, or otherwise avoid going to school?
2) Can you clearly see your child likes and wants to learn but is just in the wrong environment?
3) Can your child's school make the accommodations necessary to help your child learn and function socially, in the near term? Do they have the capacity to include you in a plan to implement changes for your child based on his/her emerging needs?
4) Do you question whether the school you chose was the right one for your current situation? Is it too late to put your child somewhere else this year or do you worry that he/she can't get into the school that is a better fit?
5) Can you envision your child connecting with one or two teachers/tutors in your home and getting to study more of what he/she likes and in ways that fit his/her learning needs? Would that be a good thing at this stage?
Depending on your answers to these questions, it might be time to consider a short stint of homeschooling, giving everyone a breather. Kids may need that emotional break, a respite from feeling like they are failing (often socially as well as academically). They need to find their natural love of learning, and discover the strategies that work for them. Parents and guardians need a moment to get their bearings and figure out what is best for the whole family. Logistically, it takes time to find and apply to the right schools even if you know that school is the place you ultimately want your child. While, short term homeschooling may not be the solution, it may just be the right fit at the right time.