Parents sometimes ask whether they would be able to home educate a child who has special needs.
The short answer is yes, many have done so very successfully and it was those difficulties with learning in school that drove some parents to take their child out.
The longer answer is to understand that all children are different and all should have their needs catered for whatever they are, but this is a near impossibility in classrooms where there is little time for addressing individual differences. So some parents find that through home education they can cater for children who have particular needs better.
Whilst some children have a particularly severe difficulties which inhibiting their performance, even those with a Statement of educational needs can home school, although there is more intervention from authorities which is not always helpful as you can see from this report.
Home educating a child with special needs depends very much on both the child and personal circumstances.
It’s important also to consider our own perception of learners. We are led to believe that if a child does not achieve what the government says should be the ‘norm’, if they don’t fit, then they have ‘learning difficulties’.
But we could look at it another way, we could say that each child is different, each individual has their own ‘norm’, and if the learning approach catered for the individual child, as the government professes to do, every child would be able to achieve in their own way.
But we know that individual provision would be very difficult to achieve in a normal school setting. Consequently there is a whole middle area of children, whose needs are slightly off the ‘norm’, who will not be catered for and therefore they could end up ‘failing’.
Many home educating parents, who have removed a child from school because they were failing to achieve and were considered as having ‘learning difficulties’, find that with a different approach their child can successfully learn.
I appreciate that some children do have needs which are challenging and difficult to cater for. But it is often those with less severe needs, whom are becoming lost and forgotten in a system which races towards specific targets without time for some children to achieve them, who could find success if their learning were tackled differently.
A child who is Dyslexic is a good example. Learning approaches in classrooms are very much print based and focussed on reading and writing, even at an early stage. So a Dyslexic child is at a disadvantage immediately and will soon fall ‘behind’. However, by educating at home parents can approach learning in more audio and visual ways leaving the academic skills until the child is older. Home educating families are proving that although their child may not practise those academic skills constantly, they are learning, developing intelligence and maturity, and go on to achieve the same academic successes when they’re 16 or beyond as other students who’ve come from school.
Children who find it difficult to concentrate in a classroom setting, children who are Hyperactive and need more practical activities, children who found the school environment overwhelming, boring, noisy or distracting, or who have regular illness, who failed to achieve their potential in a school setting, can thrive and flourish when parents remove them to home educate.
There are many, many children who do not fit into the ‘norm’ of school. Home educators find that they can achieve very successfully in a different setting through different approaches. The beauty of home education’s flexibility is that is can turn a learning difficulty into learning success.