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Homeschooling the LD Child

One of the fastest growing reasons that parents turn to homeschooling is to help their learning disabled child. More and more parents are growing dissatisfied with the learning environment that their child encounters in a traditional school. Learning disabled children struggle more than others to learn, which does not mean they are less intelligent. Try as a public school might, they cannot always do the best for these children.

If you put yourself at the helm, you have the power to help your child succeed no matter what learning disability she has or how severe it is. Whether your child has already been diagnosed with a specific learning disability or you merely suspect she has one, the best thing you can do is learn as much about it as possible.

What is a Learning Disability?

A learning disability is one of a group of neurological disorders. These disorders cause the brain to take in and process information differently than in others. This is completely separate and unrelated to a low IQ or a physical problem such as difficulty seeing or hearing. With a learning disability, a child may struggle to learn using the traditional strategies found in most schools.

Different Kinds of Learning Disabilities

There are several different types of learning disabilities. Some of the most common are:

  • Dyslexia – trouble with reading, spelling, and writing because of a difficulty with processing language
  • Dyspraxia – impaired fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, balance, and dexterity
  • Dyscalculia – trouble with math and calculations
  • Dysgraphia – difficulty with writing
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – difficulty focusing, paying attention, staying organized, and following directions
  • Visual processing disorder – difficulty interpreting visual information, trouble with reading, math, and using charts and graphs
  • Auditory processing disorder – difficulty hearing differences in sounds, trouble with language, listening, and reading

Signs of Learning Disabilities

If your child has not been diagnosed with a learning disability, but you suspect she may have one, there are some common signs that you can look for. Showing one or two of these signs does not necessarily mean you are dealing with a learning disability, but if your child has several and they are impairing her ability to learn, you may have cause for concern.

  • Difficulty organizing materials and keeping them organized
  • Inability to follow directions
  • Reversing numbers, letters, and symbols
  • Extremely messy handwriting
  • Awkwardness or clumsiness
  • Confusing letters and numbers that are similar
  • Trouble memorizing
  • Inventing words or using words that are inappropriate for the child’s age
  • Inability to rhyme words
  • Becoming easily frustrated with school work or lacking self-control
  • Avoiding school work
  • Trouble aligning numbers when calculating
  • Reading or writing very slowly
  • Trouble telling time
  • Behaving inappropriately in social situations

If You Suspect Your Child Has a Learning Disability

Even though you are not educating your child in a traditional setting, it is still a good idea to get a professional opinion and diagnosis. Although you should be able to successfully teach your learning disabled child, depending on how severe the disability is, you may need assistance to get started or from time to time. It also helps to know exactly what your child’s disability is. You may know enough to recognize that there is a problem, but an expert can tell you precisely what the issues are. You should be able to work with special education teachers through your local public schools, or you can hire a consultant.

Once you have a handle on a diagnosis, it’s time to educate yourself. Learn all you can about your child’s disability and how to help her. Track down books written by experts in the field of education and learning disabilities. You should be able to find books about the disability as well as those that will help you learn how to educate your child.

Homeschooling with a Learning Disability

Now that you are armed with knowledge about your child and her disability, it’s time to start educating her in an appropriate manner. While at times it may become frustrating for both you and her, it is important to maintain perspective. With the right planning, knowledge, and care, you can successfully teach your child to learn.

Here are some tips to keep in mind for homeschooling a child with any type of disability:

  • Focus on the basics first. Your child will struggle to learn anything else or be successful in life if she cannot read, write, and do basic math. Because you are homeschooling, you are working on your own timeline. Spend as much time as necessary to ensure that she has the basic skills she will need for the rest of her life.
  • Reading. Of those basic skills, the most crucial is reading. Make that your number-one priority and then work on the rest.
  • Break things down. Learning disabled children do best when tasks are broken down into their smallest units. Simplify a reading passage, for example, by asking her to read one word at a time. Eventually, she will be able to string the words together.
  • Be patient. Working with a learning disability can be terribly frustrating, especially if you learned easily. It can be hard to put yourself in your child’s shoes, but you must if you want to be patient. Imagine what it must be like to struggle with basic learning tasks like reading and writing. If you feel yourself losing it, take a quick break to calm down.
  • Work with your expert. When you find a great consultant or public school teacher to make the diagnosis, keep that relationship going to get help in the future. You may want to schedule a few meetings each year so that you can have an expert’s opinion on how your child is progressing. The consultant can also give you tools and suggestions.
  • Talk to your child. If knowledge is power for you, it is for your child as well. Don’t keep her in the dark about her disability. Explain what it is and how you are using different strategies to help her learn.

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