Home Schooling and Learning Disabilities
For the vast majority of the almost 50 million children enrolled in public pre-kindergarten through grade 12 programs, this (or some variation thereof) is how each school day morning begins. Students travel from their homes and spend a third or more of the day sharing interactions with dozens of teachers, administrators, coaches, librarians, and specialists, who offer instruction and support in areas such as music, drama, computer technology, speech-language, and reading. At the end of the day, they return home, share time with neighborhood friends and family, and dive into extracurricular activities, homework, and no doubt some screen time before heading off to bed.
For an estimated 1.5 million students, the scenario is quite different. While they may find their way into their neighborhood school building or adjacent sports field for activities and sports, their academics take place in the home. Parents (or others engaged to provide instruction and guidance) are in charge of "teaching." Parents must create opportunities in which their child can master curriculum content they need to meet state graduation requirements and prepare their child for successful transitions from grade to grade, to post-secondary education, and to gainful employment.
Is home schooling (also known as parent-led home-based education) a good option for students with learning disabilities? Read on.
Some Background on Home SchoolingIt may be hard to believe, but in 1980, home schooling was illegal in 30 states! It wasn't until 1993 that provisions were set in place to allow for home schooling in every state in the nation. A National Household Education Surveytells us that from 1999 to 2007, there has been a 74 percent increase in the number of students who are home-schooled, more than 12 times the increase of public school enrollment over the same period.
While most sources point to 1.5 million as the number of children currently engaged in home schooling, this number may be subject to question. The 2003 NCES survey (the full 2007 report is not published yet) has a 58 percent refusal rate, suggesting that many home schooling families are strongly opposed to any sort of oversight and are not willing to participate in efforts to gather data documenting their efforts and outcomes.
Even though the numbers of students who are home-schooled is relatively small, there has been concern expressed by education officials that there is no way to assure that these children are receiving the high quality education they deserve and to which they are entitled by law. For example, according to a 2004 report by the Education Commission of the States, most states do not require parents to obtain any sort of teaching certificate in order to home school their children. The report continues to warn that only half the states monitor the educational progress of home-schooled students, and that those that do monitor this progress differ in their requirements for test scores, portfolio assessments or informal narrative evaluations.
That said, there are many parents who have successfully managed the home schooling process and whose children have graduated high school, gained admission to (and enjoyed success in) selective colleges, enjoyed active social lives and have become contributing members of their school and work communities.