Homeschooling a Child with a Learning Disability

Homeschooling my oldest son has always been a breeze.  He learned to read when he was 3, and my greatest educational challenge with him was poor penmanship.

I was not prepared for the struggles I faced with our second son.  He wasn’t ready to read at age 3.

Or at age 4.

Or at 5.

Or even at 6.

Some days I felt like I was a failure, and other days I thought he wasn’t trying hard enough.

School wasn’t fun for either of us.  It was disappointing, frustrating, and exhausting.

We had him tested at age 7 and found out that he is dyslexic.  At first I felt like I had been punched in the gut.  I worried we would continue to struggle together for years.

But we didn’t!  In fact, his diagnosis was the key to unlocking his tremendous potential, and the turning point in his education.

Here are some ways we turned things around:

  • I knew that working one on one with my son would be his best chance at success, so I stopped entertaining ideas about putting him in school and going back to my easy life.  I committed myself to home schooling for the long haul and started figuring out how to do it better.  I read and researched and tried different methods and curriculum in each subject until I found some things that worked for him.
  • We began thinking outside the box.  Some of our new methods were unconventional (such as learning through games), but it didn’t matter.  I was tailoring his education to suit his needs, and we started seeing success for the first time.
  • I stopped doubting myself as a teacher and him as a student.  I am grateful that my son never suffered the embarrassment of struggling in a classroom setting, but I confess there were days when my attitude discouraged him. I became more patient and more positive, viewing each challenge as a solve-able puzzle instead of an insurmountable obstacle.  We both gained confidence and began to enjoy school more, approaching difficulties as a team.  This had a positive impact on our relationship as well as on our school day.
  • I began to employ a two-pronged approach of remediation and accommodation, which allowed him to move forward in areas of strength while continuing to work on areas of weakness.  Before his diagnosis we spent all our time working on the things he couldn’t do well and never found time or energy for other things.  Our new strategy meant that at least part of every school day was enjoyable and felt productive.  His self confidence grew, and he had more energy to tackle things that were difficult.
  • We began using audio books for history and literature.  He began to truly enjoy learning for the first time.  Audio books changed his life so much that we built a website (and a home business) dedicated to helping kids get inexpensive access to the best educational books.

That little boy is a teenager now.  We are still successfully–and happily–home schooling.  Through the use of audio books and other technology, he is an independent, thriving student. He doesn’t have quite the same love for school that his older brother has, but he likes it just fine.  Some things are still hard, but it is no longer a daily battle.  Even the challenges have turned out to be blessings in disguise, shaping our son’s character in wonderful, God-glorifying ways.

I’m so thankful that we stuck with home schooling!!!  The fruit of it is sweet and vastly outweighs the challenges and frustrations.

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