As vaccines roll out and schools head back for at least part-time in-person learning, many families will be thinking carefully about whether homeschooling will be the best choice for them in the coming year.
NOTHING WILL BE PERFECT
First off, it’s best to be aware that there is rarely a perfect solution for anyone – often there are various levels of fitting and not-fitting and once a decision is made, then you might find ways of minimizing weaknesses for a particular plan.
COMPENSATE FOR WEAKNESSES IN WHICHEVER PATH YOU CHOOSE
For instance, if you decide to homeschool, and a potential weakness is social interaction, then a priority might be finding opportunities for regular socialization in regular school time. If public or private school is decided upon, but math is challenging due to dysgraphia and or dyscalculia, then seeing if your student might be able to have an individualized approach to math (working with a math tutor or working through an online math program that works for them), either excusing themselves to work independently for math or shortening the school day so math can be done outside of school.
FOR STUDENTS WHO NEED SHORTER DAYS
There may be many reasons why students need shorter school days. Some work more efficiently in smaller bits of time separated by exercise, while others may have short periods where their medications are most effective.
If school is on part-day schedule, you could see whether it’s possible to optimize your students schedule. Some students may fare better with a 3 day – 2 off schedule rather than every-other.
We’ve definitely known some students who get into a routine of exercising (running around the block) before heading to school. In fact, this can even be an accommodations in a 504 or IEP.
Of course, homeschoolers can really optimize schedules to fit students particular optimal cycles.
HOMESCHOOLING CAN BUY TIME TO MAKE UP FOR COVID LOSSES
Because it looks as if schools are opening only a few months before the school year closes, some families might want to consider low key working through the summer to see if they can make back any pandemic learning loss this past year.
Many tutors have now mastered online tutoring based on Orton-Gillingham / structured literacy practices. Some students may develop a better rapport with some tutors compared to others and if a student’s learning is atypical, she or he may learn better with a tutor who knows how to adjust curriculum or vary it for different students’ needs.
HOMESCHOOLING AS TOTAL FREEDOM VS HOMESCHOOLING TO RETURN
Because uncertainty continues about the pandemic, viral variants, and vaccine protections, it looks as if for the upcoming year, homeschooling, private school, and public school may still be different from what they were pre-COVID.
Within the homeschooling decision, student may choose to homeschool with total freedom – freedom to pursue passion projects, remediation as needed, and rest and as many extracurriculars as possible, or they may try to carry out a homeschooling plan that will allow them to catch up to their classmates with the plan that they ultimately rejoin classes in public or private school.
Homeschooling parents may discover with relief that it’s easier for students to learn more quickly at home 1:1 with a parent who is able to help, than in a general classroom where there are more distractions, more background noise, and more than one student to teach at one time. With a continued requirement to distance and use masks, students may have an even greater difficulty distinguishing similar sounds spoken by the teacher; they can’t read lips, and they can’t see mouth positions.
When students lose track in a lesson (or lessons) entire periods, days, or weeks can be lost until confusion about information is discovered and addressed. Ideally, a parent (or tutor) who has adequate knowledge can detect problems and misunderstandings more quickly, allowing learning to proceed more efficiently.
What can students do with the extra time? They can get recovery down time, develop expertise at hobbies, and socialize. Some families are able to get permission for homeschooling students to take field trips and join clubs, sports, and extracurricular activities with public and private schools. There are also homeschooling groups at local and national levels that allow students to find like minds and friends.
Some families may also choose to homeschool for the short-term, but with the goal of returning full time to school in a year or two. Some public schools may have homeschooling resource groups that meet on campus, but only require attendance at school for one or a few days per week.
Some private schools for dyslexia have “transitional programs” where public school students attend a school for 1-2 years in order to get more intensive remediation with the idea that they will be able to rejoin their classes after dedicated structured literacy / Orton-Gillingham instruction.
I want to share their hybrid systems because sometimes we have families cobble out their own hybrid program to keep their students learning and happy.
The transitional program doesn’t have the total freedom of unschooling, but it may be preferred by parents and children who are highly motivated to return to public or private school after “catching up”.
THERE ARE MANY WAYS TO BE SUCCESSFUL
Dyslexic minds are great minds. There are many ways for students to be successful as they progress through their education and their educational plans may also change as student and family priorities change.