T.C. asks from Harrison, AR on January 08, 2008
Homeschooling - Harrison, AR
I am really struggling with if I should or should not home school my son. He is almost 5 & would start kindergarten in the fall. He is a high-functioning autistic who is in a pre-K setting right now & doing well. I have always wanted to home school my kids but I don't want to delay his development. I am afraid for one that i would fail as his teacher & for two he is already lacking in his social skills, but I know that there is no one else in world that cares more about his well being than myself & my husband. My husband is very supportive but the weight really doesn't fall on him at all. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
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M.W. answers from St. Louis on January 10, 2008
I am a psychologist who's been homeschooling for 8 years. I do not have a child with autism, but I have a friend who's homeschooled her autistic child for many years. For her, homeschooling was a matter of necessity. Her son simply couldn't cope with the school environment. If your son is doing well in preschool, he may do well in school.
You obviously are a concerned and involved parent and whatever you decide to do, now or in the future, will be in your son's best interests. Do remember that homeschooling isn't a one-time opportunity. If he goes to school and it isn't working, you can homeschool and vice versa.
I will say that much of what has been written here is just patently false about homeschooling. The research (and not just parents' claims) clearly shows that homeschoolers outscore their public schooled peers academically. They also have the highest self-esteem of any group. As far as social skills, what skills are we discussing? The ability to follow the crowd and backtalk the teacher? What about completely disrespecting parents? These are social skills I hope my children fail to master. If we are going to use specific instances of failure to impugn homeschooling, let us use the same standards with public and even private schools. Despite more money being put into education, achievement continues to decline.
A homeschooler wrote recently to say that if as products of a public school system we are not qualified to teach our children the most elementary of subjects, why on earth should we educate our children via the public school system? So they can be similarly unqualified? As for the woman who hated being homeschooled, I wonder if you would have fared any better in a public school? I agree with Oliver DeMille that all education is self-education. If you weren't motivated to learn at home, you probably wouldn't have learned anywhere.
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T.G. answers from St. Joseph on January 10, 2008
I am a hs mom of an 8 yr old girl and boys 4 and 10 months. Home schooling needs to be a calling, which it definately is for us. I know the fear of failing!! It's a huge, though not impossible burden to bear. I commend you for even considering it with autism. You are absolutely right--not one single person cares for your son as you do. The Lord has given you exactly what you need to me his mommy, and should He call you to hs, his teacher, too.
As far as the socialization goes, a home schooled friend of mine shed some very interesting light on that subject for me several years ago, before I was even pregnant with our oldest. The first time i met her, knowing she'd been home schooled, I asked her, "What would you say is the best thing you've gotten from being home schooled?" She immediately said "Definetly social skills!" Since I was quite stunned, she went on to explain that public school children are taught to interact with people who are there same age, and for the most part, same ability level. "Since I had an older and younger sister," she said, "I had to learn to get along and interact with them and their friends, as well as my parents and their adult friends."
That made so much sense to me!! Think about your life and all the people you have to interact with. Are they all 29? Certainly not. What a great lesson to learn and practice from a young age!!
Another thought, so many people think that all homeschoolers are backwards. True, there are a good number of them that are, but there is certainly a huge number that aren't. Do you know any public schooled children/families that are different? Absolutely. More than likely, if the parents are backwards, kids will be also; home schooled or public schooled.
Just something to think about. Good luck with your decision.
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A.W. answers from Topeka on January 09, 2008
I have worked with families in the Court system for 7 years and I am skeptical of home schooling. Now, before I get bombarded with nasty emails, I want to say- there are some people who can do it. However, I've seen a lot of children who are severely socially and academically behind due to home schooling and their well-intentioned parents always seem to have the belief that their children are so advanced and "exceptional".
If you want to do it, I would recommend you do it within a home schooling "community" rather than alone. I have a Masters degree and there is no way I could provide my son (or any other child) the education they deserve. I have no advanced or specialized training in algebra, chemistry, biology, geography, world history, American History, etc. Children deserve to have that in their education.
I have a coworker that actually does have a positive home schooling experience for his children. They are part of a home schooling "community". His wife happens to have a degree in math. So, she teaches math to their children and approximately 15 other home schooled children. Another parent may have an English degree, and they teach English, another parent with specialization in another subject, teaches that subject and so on. The children have the socialization of other kids but the care that you are desiring from home schooling. I don't know if you would be interested in this or not but if you are, you may want to check it out either on the internet or with your local school system to see if their is an organization like this near you.
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D.G. answers from St. Louis on March 17, 2008
One key thing to evaluate is this: do you have the dedication and time required to homeschool? Do you get stressed easily? How do you cope with the stress? These are all questions you need to seriously ask yourself. Then, if you feel you can handle it, GO FOR IT! No one knows your child as good as you do. It will be a little overwhelming at first, but it does get better. There is tons of support out there to be found. Another key point I would like to make, you do not HAVE to take your child to a public school for speech therapy. My son went to the hospital for his. Its under outpatient services. You really do not have to rely on the public school system for anything unless you wish to do so. Plus, there are places out there that will work around YOUR schedule, within reason of course.
Another thing I would like to say is, socialization is NOT just a public school thing. They get socialization everywhere they go. When they go to speech, they are socializing with another adult. When they go out to anywhere, they are socializing. There is just so much out there that socialization just really is not an issue anymore. Plus, there is a lot less negative socialization to be had when you homeschool. Public school kids (not all mind you) tend to be less accepting of a special needs child and they tend to have an overall negative impact on them. Again, this is my opinion from my own experiences.
I hope this helps and good luck!
C.B. answers from Kansas City on January 09, 2008
don't let anyone tell you if you homeschool your son, he won't have any social skills. It's your responsibility, along with your son's education, to make sure he has social interactions. I homeschool my children, they are 3 and 5. They were adopted by us and have some emotional special needs. I know for *us*, it was the best choice. No one knows my children better than my husband and I and with all of the issues, I know there just isn't a teacher out there that can and will put in enough effort to overcome and handle these issues properly. Getting started homeschooling is kind of confusing and scary, and when you add a special needs child into it, it's even more so. I believe you can do it. You are not the only homeschooling parent of a special needs child..and there are TONS of websites out there with others and tips with homeschooling an autistic child. You can also look into his health coverage..some health insurances will provide special needs services like physical therapy or speach if it's at a hospital, you dont' necessarily have to have it at a school.
I encourage you to homeschool. Having special needs kids, I know how you're feeling..I had the same fears..but there are ways to handle the different concerns you have. Make sure you find a good support group and join a co-op too. Midwest parent educators is one in Kansas.
There are people out there that "homeschool" and shouldn't. I have known some families that call counting money their kids math lesson for the day..and the kid's 16! It's up to you. There are TONS of curriculums (ABEKA is my favorite) that is accredidated and actually has you send your son's work in. ABeka also has DVD's of the teacher teaching the class like Algebra and Chemistry and things. It's not impossible..like I said, you just have to find the way and be determined. I hope this is of some help...and it's very hard not to comment on the negative comments :) I'm such an advocate of it..as long as it's done right..if it's not, then you have those other issues to deal with.
V.S. answers from Oklahoma City on January 09, 2008
I was home schooled my whole life - 5th grade. I disrespect to my mother but I wish I hadnt been home schooled. I felt like I was behind in school so once I was 18 I had to study extra hard so I could take classes and not be completely lost. My mom did what she could but she isnt a teacher so there is no way she could help me with everything.
Also I had no friends and for the longest time didnt know how to make friends unless it was other home schooled kids. I also had no peer pressure. I know that is a big reason why allot of parents want to home school but I had no chance to express myself or to choose for myself right from wrong. so once I turned 18 and had to work I didnt know how to deal with peer pressure so I went along with most of it b/c I wanted friends. But anyway not to make it sound soo bad but I'm also dislexic and my mother didnt have the skills or training to give me the help I needed. so for me, no home schooling is not something I'm going to do with my daughter.
B.W. answers from Springfield on January 11, 2008
There's a good book about homeschooling children with disabilities. I can't think of the title, but you could look at your local bookstore or library. It will help you make your decision.
Parents have been very successful at homeschooling children with disabilities. The kids often do much better than they would at public school.
We are in our 12th year of homeschooling. My youngest is severely dyslexic, and I know homeschooling has been best for him. I don't know much about autism, but the limited social engagements you would be able to provide homeschooling, instead of being around kids all the time, might be better for him?
Best wishes to you.
B.W. answers from Wichita on January 10, 2008
I am a special education teacher in a public school. Just think about this --your child cannot improve his social skills without being in a social setting. If you choose to homeschool then you need to intentionally plan for structured social settings for your child to practice his social skills and you will need to directly instruct him in social skills.
If he is doing well in a pre-k setting why not give Kindergarten a try? Stay in good communication with the teacher and ask for other help for your child. You know him better than anyone else.