by Isabel Shaw

The Best Place to Learn?

For families who have kids with special needs, the decision to homeschool is usually a desperate move. Parents are often frustrated by the inability of schools to provide the services their children need. Others are discouraged by the way their child is treated by his classmates or even his teachers.

Motivated by an intense desire to overcome labels or individual challenges, parents are deciding to take on the role of “teacher” with increasing frequency. But can ordinary parents help their children succeed when teams of experts are unable to do so? Isn’t a school environment the best place for kids to learn? And what about socialization? The answers to these questions may surprise you.

Thomas Armstrong’s book, The Myth of the A.D.D. Child, explores the idea that the traditional classroom actually contributes to kids’ learning difficulties. Armstrong states, “Kids who are labeled ADD are those who can’t or won’t put up with the (school) situation. And that may not be such a bad thing, because they’re telling us this isn’t working. They’re harbingers of whatever we need to reform in our schools.” In other words, the conservative model of the teacher at the front of the room lecturing and giving instructions with students sitting at desks isn’t effective for these kids. Usually very bright, often artistic and dramatic, they simply fall apart when faced with worksheets and meaningless busywork. Armstrong’s solution? “It seems to me that homeschooling would be tailor-made for the child who is having trouble in that worksheet wasteland and getting slapped with the ADD label.”

Parents of kids with special needs are often advised to medicate their children. They spend hours with counselors and school psychologists developing coping strategies to get through each school day. Jeffrey Freed and Laurie Parsons, authors of Right-Brained Children in a Left-Brained World: Unlocking the Potential of Your ADD Child believe we have to rethink our whole approach to working with kids. Freed writes, “What these children need is not a prescription for pills but a prescription for a different learning method.” For many families, homeschooling is that different learning method.

How Does Homeschooling Help?

How does homeschooling help kids who have had a difficult time in school? By providing a quiet, safe, non-competitive environment, free of distractions and meaningless busywork. An individualized education plan can be tailor-made to fit the child’s abilities and needs. Also, homeschooling allows a child to learn at his own pace and pursue subjects that are of special interest. Hobbies and talents develop and grow. Parents can experiment with different teaching methods, eliminating those that don’t work and focusing on those that do. Situations that lead to frustration can be carefully monitored, greatly reducing outbursts and temper tantrums. As one boy who recently started homeschooling told his father, “I didn’t know learning could be so much fun!”
A Synopsis from Barnes and Nobles bookstore of:
Right-Brained Children In a Left-Brained World: Unlocking the Potential of Your ADD Child by
Jeffrey Freed and Laurie Parsons

Practical advice for alleviating the time pressure many parents face, ranging from eliminating morning madness and making mealtimes fun to establishing a simple and rewarding bedtime routine.

From the Publisher
Freed has developed a simple, easy-to-apply program that works with, not against, the special abilities of the ADD child. In as little as ten minutes a day, parents can help ADD kids learn to harness their powerful visual memory and heightened perceptions, enabling them not only to hold their own but to excel – even in a classroom situation that is less than ideal. In straightforward language, this book explains how to use the innovative “Learning Styles Inventory” to test for a right-brained learning style; help an ADD child master spelling – and build confidence – by committing complicated words to visual memory; tap an ADD kid’s amazing speed-reading abilities by stressing sight recognition and scanning rather than phonics; access the child’s capacity to solve math problems of increasing, often astonishing complexity – without pen or paper; capitalize on the “writing and weaning” technique to help the child turn mental images into written words; and win over teachers and principals to the right-brained approach the ADD child thrives on. For parents who have longed to help their ADD child quickly and directly, Freed and Parsons’s approach is nothing short of revolutionary. This is the first book to offer them reason for hope and a clear strategy for enabling their child to blossom.