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Advantage of Teaching a Child With Disabilities Outside the Classroom

Dean Traylor is a freelance writer and teacher who writes about various subjects, including education and creative writing.

a converted classroom for home-schooling originally posted at pinterest.com

a converted classroom for home-schooling originally posted at pinterest.com

Looking For the Right Fit

The goal stipulated in most special education program is to provide the least restrictive environment possible for students with disabilities. However, the term "least restrictive environment" (known in the special education laws as LRE) is a broad term meant to assure these students are either included in the general population or are in a place that will help them access the educational material at their level and comfort. As a result, the classroom environment is critical in accommodating these students. And, in some cases, the typical school classroom doesn't fit LRE.

Recently, the COVID pandemic revealed that some students with severe physical and emotional disorders cannot function in a regular classroom. Aside from those with chronic illnesses or preexisting conditions that prevents them from gathering in classrooms with their non-disabled peers, other students with anxiety disorders and finding it hard to attend school due to the stress of being in close proximity to others.

Additionally, some parents or guardians may have concerns about their children's safety at school. Other may believe that children are not best served at school for various reasons.

There are several advantages homeschooling can offer a child with learning disabilities.

Students with disabilities and their parents have alternatives. Such offering is a form of homeschooling that's actually offered by school districts. While these are not sure, proof-positive alternatives to special education, homeschooling can offer a child with learning disabilities a chance to accomplish some educational success.

There are several advantages this alternative can offer a child with learning, physical or emotional disabilities. It can be anything from a smaller and more intimate “classroom” environment to more one-on-one interaction with the teacher.

Best yet, the child will be working at his pace and be able to use his learning style or preference to fulfilling his academic goals.

Alternative "Classrooms" at Home

Homeschooling has been viewed as an alternative to public school. However, many public schools have their own brand. For example, the district I work call them:

  • Independent Studies (the interactive format used during COVID campus lockdown).
  • Home Study.

There is a third one called home hospital; however, this particular designation is a temporary program offered to students that fall under a particular medical/psychological category and have been recognized as not being able to function in a normal school setting (often designated by a therapist, psychologist, or medical specialist). In addition, it’s not a true homeschooling situation even though the student may be at home in this (this particular offering warrants an article of its own).

In terms of the home studies, independent studies and home hospital, a public school teacher (usually special education - but not always) either

  • goes to the student's home and teaches various subjects.
  • Proctors courses through an Internet education platform often approved for district use.

The parents of a student doing home study/independent studies may have requested this service for various reasons. In some cases, school and district administrators may request it and offer it to the parents and students. Often, safety concerns for the students may be a factor.

Sometimes, it's temporary. The student may have a serious condition that renders him/her unable to attend school. It can be an illness or (in one case) ordered by the court on grounds of safety.

Home study differs from traditional homeschooling in terms of curriculum. A home-study student is expected to follow the standards of the district and state he or she resides in, whereas the latter doesn't. Also a child with disabilities in a home-study program will still need an Individual Education Plan (IEP) if eligible for it.


The State of Education

Public schools around the country are hurting for money. Educational standards set by the school district and state are increasingly becoming difficult to achieve with the limited supplies and technological resources allotted to schools.

This is particularly true for special education, a program designed to meet a special needs child. Also, many schools are implementing mainstreaming or full inclusion for these students. While, in many cases, this tactic will work, others with severe deficiencies in academic skills or in need of special accommodations will be left in limbo.

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Many classrooms in local public schools may not be ideal for teaching to these students, despite the teacher's competence or desire to accommodate them. Simply put, a crowded classroom makes it tough for a teacher to give a child with learning disabilities individual help.

The pandemic, which started in March 2020, has proven to be game changer in education. In many districts, including mine, distance learning was used to educated several students over the computer. Often, the students took courses from home on laptops distributed by the district.

As of this writing, in-person teaching returned; however, not all students returned. Many took advantage of the interactive independent studies program while others went into home-studies or home hospital. These students have IEPs and many have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder that prevents them from attending the physical school.

Turning the Home Into a Classroom

Referring to a part of a child’s home as being a classroom might be a stretch; however, this place is often the most comfortable area for the child to learn. The “classroom” will be in a smaller and more familiar environment. They can be:

  • the living room,
  • Den,
  • dining room, or
  • Any place that can be converted into a classroom, including the garage..

A student bedroom may not be the best place for this. This may work for homeschooling parents, but it doesn’t for visiting teachers.

just one of many homeschool "classroom" designs. Originally  posted at pinterest.com.

just one of many homeschool "classroom" designs. Originally posted at pinterest.com.

This space can be too personal for the student. In addition, when home teaching involves a visiting teacher, the learning environment needs to be in the open where parents can observe.

Parents who do the teaching – as well as an outside tutor or public school teacher assigned homeschooling duties -- can supply the child with the needed materials such as books, paper, or pens, or other amenities such as personal computer, smart board or audio lessons. Best yet, these materials can be kept at the house in the spot where the lessons are taking place.

One-on-One Interaction and Attention

There are a variety of learning disabilities that can affect a child. Many of them are mild and can be treated with a combination of small classroom environment, individual attention or teaching techniques that use repetition, stimulation of various senses, or reinforcement of remedial skills (while building new ones).

One-on-one interaction is another advantage. In homeschooling, the teacher often works with a small number of students. In many cases, he or she will have one child to teach. With such a low teacher-student ratio, the home-school teacher can individually teach the student.

Children with learning disabilities will have a myriad of issues. They may have problems such as processing auditory, visual information or memory storage. With one-on-one interaction the teacher and student can take a longer time to work on a problem or to clarify a lesson through useful techniques such as direct instruction, scaffolding, repetition, and utilization of auditory or visual cues to support the lesson.

Prevent Distractions

Students with auditory processing disorders, autism, or ADHD can be easily distracted. Sometimes, it takes a while for them to regain their concentration and attention on a lesson.

In a classroom, this can be a disaster, especially if the teacher is moving quickly through the lesson, or is teaching to a classroom of 30 or more students. For a child being homeschooled, and diagnosed with one of these disorders, he will have an easier time getting that focus back.

For parents who home-school, they may find a sound-proof room, cover windows, unplug the phones, or have the TV turned off.

The reason is that the home-school teacher can take away or control any stimulus that can alter a child’s attention from a lesson. That teacher can get the child’s attention by either tapping on the paper, or signaling to him to return his attention to an assignment.

For parents who home-school, they may find a sound-proof room, cover windows, unplug the phones, or have the TV turned off. Either way, the parent/teacher will have control over the learning environment.

Healthy Student

Another advantage to keeping a child with learning disabilities in a home setting has to do with health. A child with ADHD (accompanying a learning disability) may need a daily dosage of medication. Often, children with ADHD at a public school will routinely avoid a trip to the nurse’s office at times when they are supposed to receive their meds. The teacher or parent will be vigilant and regulate the dosage.

Another problem pertains to physical disabilities and serious medical conditions the students may have. Often, this alone doesn't qualify a student for special education service, unless it has been determined that it affects their ability to learn.

An example of this situation is described in the following scenario:

  • A particular student had muscular dystrophy. The results of his conditions have left him with a weakened immune system and difficulties with respiratory functions and mobility. He is wheel-chair bound and dependent on oxygen tanks. On top of that, common diseases such as a cold can be a life-threatening situation. Understandably, his condition also affects his ability to learn in a classroom setting.

In situations like this, such alternative education programs will keep the student healthy. It may even prevent an untimely death.

Good home schools, as well as public and private schools, are the results of effective educational programs and teaching. Also, one type of school may work for some while not for others.

A child with a learning disability can learn and be at the same level as his non-disabled peers. It's just a matter of time to find the right fit. Homeschooling can offer that service.

Best Environment for students with disabilities

Work Cited

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Dean Traylor

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