I originally wrote this for the Homeschool Network in 2008. Currently, I am consolidating all of my writing to this blog.
Homeschooling has many advantages for children with learning disabilities. It is much easier for your child to receive the intensive one-on-one instruction needed to succeed. Instruction can be tailored to meet your child’s individual needs. Educating a child with learning disabilities can be a challenging task especially in the beginning. Today, I would like to offer some suggestions if you are considering homeschooling or even already homeschooling a child with learning disabilities.
First, before you begin or as soon as possible have an educational assessment of your child. This should include an individual IQ test and achievement test. If possible, have a learning styles inventory done as well. This gives you a base line of where your child is functioning. Both IQ and achievement tests are needed to determine learning disabilities. To have a learning disability there must be a two standard deviation gap between IQ and achievement in one or more areas (i.e. reading, math, language, etc.) Individual tests are more reliable than group tests. A learning styles assessment will help you determine through what channel your child best receives information. This makes it much easier to effectively deliver instruction.
Evaluate the testing data to determine what areas you need to emphasize. If your child is two or more grade levels behind in reading or math focus on these subject. If your child is above fourth grade, it is important to teach coping strategies and skills that will help your child function independently and successfully in life. It might be helpful to prepare goals similar to an Individual Educational Plan (IEP).
Become an expert on your child’s particular learning disability. Know your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Keep a record of what instructional methods work and do not work with your child. This does not have to be formal but can be anecdotal.
Keep a notebook or portfolio with evaluation reports, goals, other important information, and a sample of your child’s work. At least every four to six weeks evaluate and record your child’s progress. Add these results to the portfolio as well. Annual achievement testing is also helpful. It is a great tool to see what progress your child has made in the past year and plan for the next year. If possible, have your child re-evaluated every three years.
One last thought, be flexible and willing to try many methods until you find what works for your child. There is no one best method or right way for teaching children with learning disabilities. Whatever works best for your child is the correct way.