Home Schooling Your Child With Autism - Part 1by Kimberly Kaplan
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Should you home school a child with autism?
I mentioned home schooling in my previous blog and there are arguments for and against home schooling a child with autism. Here’s my argument against.
Do I believe in home schooling?
In general, I am against any type of home schooling. I attended public schools for K through 12 and a New York State college for both undergrad and grad school.
Our child attends a public school. We moved into an area so our child could attend the schools in this school district. These schools have a terrific education reputation. Even in the public school arena, I believe there are decent schools out there.
Of course, there are also private schools. Yes, you have to be able to afford them. But, if you can afford to send your child(ren) to a private school, many provide a quality education which include smaller classroom sizes and more structure.
Having no first-hand experience with private schooling, I’ll pass on commenting further on whether a private education may be appropriate for your child.
Home schooling, however, is something I want to discuss.
What do I have against home schooling?
I see home schooling as an easy way out. Even with a typical child, I believe home schooling should only be considered as a last resort. It appears to me that the decision to home school is way too easy these days.
First, it is more work for the stay-at-home parent. Are they always ready to take on this responsibility? Or are they taking it on because they think it’s easier?
Second, the stay-at-home parent has to be educated. How can an uneducated parent oversee the education of a child?
Third, parents have to pull their children from a school and register a stay-at-home schooling experience. Somebody has to be informed of your decision to home school. Plus, they have to be able to prove that a child is receiving an equivalent education. All of this has to be legal.
Fourth, isn’t it easier to not to be involved with a school district, a teacher, and a principal? I’m talking to those parents who have probably found it hard to deal with schools.
Let me ask you this question…If you haven’t had a good experience with your child’s school, have you done everything humanly possible to amend the situation? Or, did you switch to home schooling because you don’t want a fight?
Fifth, I see home schooling as less disciplined. If the person in charge of the home school doesn’t feel like giving instruction on any given day, they won't do it. What if the parent says, “Oh well, we can just skip reading today. None of us feel like doing work today anyway.” Or the other scenario that I love, “Let’s go to the zoo instead. We can get an education there.”
I believe home schooling is an easy way to give in to the whims of children or the whims of a parent. It’s too easy to make an excuse for not schooling your child. And, then, what is there for the child? The fun stuff, of course.
I have a nine-year-old who would like nothing better than to find a way to negotiate more time to play his Wii or be on the computer. If he was home schooled, I guarantee he’d try again and again to negotiate with us. Which, by the way, wastes time. He can go on and on. And why not? His computer and his Wii are in the same location as his school. He’s going to go for it!
On one aside, I do know of a situation where home schooling is appropriate, even though I still believe the education is of less quality. I recently worked with a child actor whose mother tried to keep her child in regular school but ended up switching to home schooling. This was also a military family that had to move every few years. Once the child actor began getting consistent work, the mother decided it was just too hard to constantly pull her son out of school.
What about home schooling for a child with autism?
Okay, what would you get if you home schooled your child with autism?
You won’t have to deal with an aide or a special day class or even an IEP.
You won’t have to deal with bullying and you won’t have to deal with all those times when your child with autism disrupts the entire class with their behaviors.
You also won’t have to deal with an unqualified teacher. Yes, I do know that some teachers are more qualified, more experienced, and simply better teachers than others. What if your child got the “bad” teacher? Home school would eliminate that problem.
Oh, and they’ll be no homework because the concept of home schooling (as it has been described to me) is all about test preparation. Basically, a parent has taken on the responsibility for preparing a child for a state test to prove that the child can advance to the next grade level.
All a child has is classwork and their class takes place at home.
What is missing for your child with autism if you decide to home school?
I’ll name a few things - peers, teachers, aides, school functions, and a daily schedule that is followed on most days (“special” days like field trip days obviously take on a different schedule.) There are also other administrators, RSP workers, gym teachers, other parents, your involvement with the school, and after school functions.
These things add up. There is a lot that is missing from your child’s life. And a child with autism is already at a disadvantage. Why make it even harder on that child?
How is it harder?
In my next blog, I will discuss why I feel a home schooled education is harder on your child and I will also look at a few of the examples of what I feel is missing from a home school education.
To Find Kimberly Kaplan:
www.smashwords.com or Amazon Kindle ebook “A Parents’ Guide to Early Autism Intervention”