Learning Disabilities

Home education is a wonderful opportunity for children who may have a learning disability or those who learn differently. We all know the story of Thomas Alva Edison being labeled as “addled” in school and that his furious Mother removed him from that scenario and home-taught him. She didn’t think he was addled at all, but extremely bright. Thomas Edison said many years later, “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me, and I felt I had someone to live for, someone I must not disappoint.” In his “Biography Of Thomas Alva Edison” Gerald Beals wrote, “At age 11, Tom’s parents tried to appease his ever more voracious appetite for knowledge by teaching him how to use the resources of the local library. This skill became the foundation of many factors that gradually caused him to prefer learning via independent self instruction.” And that is what parents do. We find the best resources for our children and we help them learn how to find them as well.

I’m sure we all know at least one individual who is a square peg and isn’t going to fit into the round public school hole no matter how hard they are pushed. And why should they be forced to? Why not simply allow them their squareness and let them live and learn in a way that best meets their own needs? Home education offers that opportunity to any child, but I believe that children with special needs really enjoy the freedom to be themselves that homeschooling brings.

Here are some articles and resources for Learning Disabilities:


A World of Learning by Barbara Theisen

“Kenna’s eagerness to learn certainly matched her older sister’s. But she was easily frustrated with her lack of instant success. Her learning style was so different from Kate’s – and my own. How could I possibly have the skills, resources and patience to teach her?

My husband Tom came to the rescue. Tom had overcome great odds himself as a severely dyslexic child. Attending public elementary school in the 1960’s, he was given no special help with his learning disabilities. Instead he was labeled “unteachable.” But fortunately his mom stepped in and fought the system. Somehow she was able to find him the special help he needed. Eventually Tom learned to deal with his dyslexia and went on to spend many summers working at a camp for children with learning disabilities. His knowledge and patience gave me the courage to work with Kenna and once again I felt confident enough to forego the pre-packaged curriculum.”

Learning Disabilities or Learning Differences? – Marsha Ransom
“The biggest challenges we faced were to let go of preconceived notions of how various subjects should be learned, to be flexible enough to try new things, and humble enough to realize that when something wasn’t working it was time to try another tactic. We found that learning differences can be a catalyst if they are recognized as differences and worked with as assets, instead of something that needs to be reshaped into someone else’s mold. Whatever happened to the value of marching to a different drummer?”

An Interview With Dr. Thomas Armstrong
This essay, by Janie Bowman, was originally published in the November-December 1996 issue of Home Education Magazine.

“Attention deficit disorder and learning disabilities. Public schools sometimes push children with these diagnoses out of school because they are not able or perhaps not willing to accommodate their learning styles. What suggestions do you have for parents of children who have been abused by the “system” and are new to homeschooling? How do they get a good start?”

Writing Group Strategies – Karen Kirkwood
“The class was a helpful stepping-stone for students planning to attend school. It strengthened their writing ability as well as provided them with a classroom experience. It also gave students with learning disabilities a chance to write without the shame inherent in a competitive system. I tried to emphasize everyone’s gifts to our group, rather than our individual difficulties. For example, one of my students with a severe learning disability wrote hilarious stories. Many words were spelled incorrectly, but when translated to correct English and read aloud, we rolled with laughter and marveled at his creativity. Self-confidence was the most important writing skill my students took with them when they left my class. They believed they were writers, and in learning to write, that is half the battle.”

Homeschooling the Child With ADD or Other Special Needs
Elizabeth McCullough’s Review of by Lenore Colacion Hayes Book

Two Perspectives- Elizabeth Ryan
“I was talking to a mom at Karate class and mentioned that our three boys were homeschooled. She sighed and said it was hard for her to put up with her son for half a day, that raising a handicapped child was like raising six kids. I was watching her son practice his karate kicks and he seemed normal to me. Thinking she must have another child I inquired about the nature of her child’s handicap, and she told me he had ADD. I had never considered ADD a handicap and I tried not to act surprised. I kept the conversation rolling on homeschooling, giving examples of my oldest son, hoping to give a little hope to this mom whose son, only five, had already been told that he was handicapped.”

Mark and Mary Kay Hollinger
“Our daughter said of school, “I felt like an animal locked in a cage and no one would let me out!”We let her out and don’t regret it.”

Personal Notes on ADD – Janie Bowman
“What Really Matters?
Public school or private school? Meds or no meds? Does ADD really exist? We’ve juggled many of these issues while raising our son, Cj. In public school he had great teachers and dysfunctional teachers, but homeschooling has been the best choice for our family. The structure children with ADD crave is not one of isolation or being surrounded by four walls with an authority figure at the head. Rather, structure is predictability and consistency. It’s providing a world-view of life, including diversity, mentoring, healing and the time to pursue personal interests. Structure may mean tapping into public school programs, or programs for children with disabilities, like Cj’s involvement with the DO-IT program at the University of Washington. Or it may mean getting back to nature, studying ants for three years, or being involved in projects to save our environment.

It’s not surprising families with attention differences and the homeschooling community have many things in common. Homeschooling isn’t easy, and certainly more challenging for some families than others. But if we want to provide important learning opportunities for our children and also teach them respect and compassion for diversity, we, as parents, have to take the first step. Just ask Mom Edison.”

HEM Special Situations Index
Be sure to scroll down for the books and other resources listed there.

Still More Resources for learning disabilities here.

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