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Putting My Kids in a School for Children With Learning Disabilities Helped Them Grow

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Many of us are parents whose children are on summer break. Five of my kids just wrapped up their first-ever year of school. They finished 10th, eighth, second, and kindergarten/first grades. Before this, they were homeschooled almost exclusively. I took pride in the fact that I did almost everything on my own for five kids — several of whom have learning challenges. (The one exception was our teenager who attended a homeschool co-op for ninth grade.)

In 2021, we made the decision to put all of our school-aged kids in school. It was a difficult decision because I considered myself a lifelong homeschooler. I had visions of my children learning together their whole childhood, of doing high school science experiments together, and of taking mid-week family hikes.

But adoption, learning disabilities, and my own mental health changed that future I had imagined. I came to a point where I realized that my kids needed much more help than what I could give them. So we made the hard decision to put them in a small school that specializes in helping kids with learning disabilities.

I realized that one of the reasons I held on to homeschooling for so long was out of fear. I was worried that my children wouldn’t be “seen” by another teacher, that they would get overlooked, and that they wouldn’t get the education they deserved. I realize now that this was my pride talking. I thought I was the only one who could cultivate their minds, but I was so wrong.

Now that their first year of non-homeschool is behind them, I am convinced that putting them in that school was the best thing for them. Their world expanded beyond our eight family members and our four walls. Each of my kids was blessed with a teacher that worked hard to challenge and treasure each of their students.

My teenage boys just finished eighth and 10th grade. They enjoyed being in a class with peers, discussing what they were learning, and bouncing ideas off others. They were able to have respectful debates with those with whom they disagreed. They have loved learning this way.

My 6-year-old learned how to read and write cursive (something she very much wanted to learn but that I never had the time to teach her). My 9-year-old with dyslexia and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) received reading and writing tutoring and has made huge progress. She also had the opportunity to perform in a play and had an absolute blast. My 8-year-old with disabilities received the reading, writing, and math help she needed. She is so proud to show me how she writes her numbers and letters.

The author's children stand with a teacher in a classroom.

My children have formed relationships with new kids, new families, and new adults — and all of these relationships have blessed them. We have had some disagreements with things they have learned, but each situation we faced provided us with a great opportunity to talk through different ideas and about why we believe what we do.

Instead of being protected at home, they have experienced a world outside their home, one with new thoughts, ideas, personalities, and ways of doing things. They all have made good friends. They each have had tough situations involving friends and learned to work through them. My kids’ world has expanded, and that makes me so grateful.

Image via contributor.

Originally published: July 16, 2022
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