Learning Difficulties and the Homeschooled Child


From the first moment we discover we’re pregnant we have dreams for our child. Dreams of who they will be and what they will accomplish. We marvel at first words and cheer on first sentences. We imagine storytimes and science projects to come.

Yet when a child has learning difficulties, we are often discouraged and disappointed. We may wonder if we did something wrong. Is it our fault?

Every student wants to be able to learn easily, and when learning doesn’t come easy, they think, “I don’t want to do that . . . thank you very much.” It’s our job as homeschooling parents to find tools and services that will help our children and to make them want to keep trying.

When You Think There’s a Problem
As a parent you’re with your children all day, and you’re most likely to be the first to realize your child might have a learning challenge. You’ll no doubt get well-meaning advice from friends: “Oh, children learn differently,” or, “Just wait and see.”

The truth is that for some challenges, such as dyslexia, waiting will not help. If you think your child has a learning problem, don’t wait to get help. Get your child evaluated, and then seek out services and resources. I’ll save you both a lot of heartache and struggle.

In public school, children with learning disabilities are often pushed through the system. They hear things like:

“Try harder.”
“Don’t be lazy.”
“He’s just unmotivated.”
“She needs to learn to pay attention.”

This can be true in our homeschooling, too. We must remember that when it comes to our children they will each have unique challenges and strengths. No child is “less than” or defective. Every child is designed by God, for God.

So what should we require of our homeschooling students? To teach them to do what we believe each one can do, and to do that well.

Recently I attended a workshop on learning challenges by Joyce Pickering from the Shelton School in Dallas, Texas. Here are some practical tips I picked up. Feel free to try them, too! (And they should work with all our kids.)

  • Teach patience. Teach your child the “waiting” position: sitting on the floor, legs crossed, hands on knees.
  • Teach turns. “I’m going to show you something. This is my turn, and soon it will be your turn.”
  • Teach preparation. Slow kids down, prepare them, and get them ready to learn.
  • Teach healthy eating. High protein diets—and diets that limit carbs and sugar—can often help children with learning disabilities.
  • Teach routine. Routine is a gift to our children. For example, a bedtime routine clues their bodies in that they need to get ready to sleep.

Do you know a good resource for children with a learning disability? I’d love to hear!

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  1. The thing that has helped me most with my kids with learning differences is to adjust my expectations. I am careful not to limit them though. Our goal has become to let them reach their fullest potential, to be who God created them to be, regardless of what that potential is. Changing my own attitude has made a world of difference in teaching them.

  2. Angela says:

    This has been one of the most helpful articles I have read on schooling children with learning disabilities. My daughter is borderline dyslexic and hyperactive so it can be frustrating at times to get her attention. I need to remember God made her the way she is to serve His purpose, and I need to work around God!

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