Homeschooling Fact Sheet
By: Learning Disabilities Association of America
Families having students with learning disabilities who are struggling in school frequently consider providing for their educational needs at home. Parents are often attracted to homeschooling because of their disillusionment with the traditional school. New technology is also driving the increase in homeschooling. Sophisticated software is now available which evaluates how much a child knows on a subject, designs lessons to fit the child's needs, and tests how well the lessons are learned.
Although statistics are not readily available, most authorities believe that the number of children taught in home-schools is growing (estimates range from 500,000 to one million). In 1991 the National Home Education Research Institute conducted a national survey of parents who belonged to a home-school organization, and reported the following characteristics of home-schooled children:
- average age, years: 8.24
- average grade: 3.25
- years taught at home: 3.02
- grade through which parents intend to home-educate child: 10.88
- attended public school before home-education: 25.6%
- attended private school before home-education: 24.4%
- attended public school after home-education: 2.8%
- attended private school after home-education: 3.0%
Questions to ask when considering homeschooling
Why teach children at home?
homeschooling allows individualized planning for each child-an opportunity to consider his/her needs and interests and to tailor an educational program accordingly. It gives family members an opportunity to spend more time together. Many families choose to become involved in homeschooling because of strong mora] or religious convictions and their desire to convey these values to their children through their educational experiences. Sometimes parents disagree with the educational philosophy of the public school system.
How does homeschooling affect socialization?
Home-school advocates might argue that sending children to school does not guarantee the desired social opportunities and outcomes and that the home can protect the child from negative influences. Parents serve as role models in the area of socialization. Other social opportunities for children being educated at home include interaction with peers after school and on week ends, dance/art classes, theater groups, music lessons, sports teams, church activities, etc. Many home-school parents belong to cooperatives which provide moral support and information and often opportunities for children to study together, go on field trips, or take informal classes.
What personal parental characteristics are needed for successful homeschooling?
Parents who make this choice need to be flexible, patient, sensitive to the needs of the children and spouse, have organizational ability, a sense of humor, a desire to grow and learn, tenacity and determination, a desire to spend extended time with children, good family communications, financial resources and space, and be able to avail themselves of needed resources (materials, support groups, community opportunities, etc.)
What is the financial impact of homeschooling?
When considering homeschooling, a side-by-side cost analysis of public, private and homeschooling should be made. homeschooling requires the presence of one parent in the home, eliminating a second income. Expenses may include curriculum, support services, resource materials, field trips, equipment, etc. Library services can be used to reduce resource material costs.
What about legal requirements and record keeping?
Laws regarding homeschooling vary from state to state, thus it is essential to contact state and local education agencies to determine legal requirements. Some states require that files be kept including proof of immunization, work samples, evaluation of progress, etc.
How do home-educated children compare academically with other children?
The National Home Education Research Institute reported in 1991, after studying 1500 home-educated students, that the average scores for these children were at or above the 80th percentile in all categories (reading, listening, language, math, science, and social studies). Major standardized tests used included the California Achievement Test, the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, and the Stanford Achievement Test (SAT).
What about homeschooling students with learning disabilities?
Children with learning disabilities represent challenges in finding educational methods that work, and thus present additional challenges to parents who attempt to serve as their primary educator. The attraction of homeschooling for students with learning disabilities might be the ability to individualize for his/her particular needs and to avoid the frustrations of trying to find the right "fit" in the public school system. If homeschooling is attempted for these children, parents must become informed about learning disabilities and the resources which will address their unique needs.
Foe additional information, read:
Homeschooling — Answer to Questions Parents Most Often Ask (1995) Deborah McIntire & Robert Windham, Creative Teaching Press, Cypress, CA 90630
Learning Disabilities Association of America does not endorse any method, curriculum, treatment, program, etc. for persons with learning disabilities, but provides this information for families who may be considering this educational option.
Learning Disabilities Association of America (1998)