Homeschooling used to be a controversial topic. However, lately, more and more parents are choosing this for their children’s education. For an adopted child, there are some things homeschooling parents need to take into consideration. Please note, in most states, foster children cannot be homeschooled without the approval of the state. But once that child is adopted, that child has the rights of any other biological child and can be homeschooled.
The home is supposed to be a safe space. The safest! Your kiddo may be coming from a home that was not so safe. But if your home provides safety, food, shelter, and comfort, then shouldn’t it also provide education? Let’s look more deeply at this choice that is becoming more and more popular.
Homeschooling is more than just an education. It is transmitting principles and core values to the child that could not be transmitted elsewhere. There are many reasons why a parent may choose to homeschool their child, but here are five reasons why an adoptive parent may choose to homeschool their child.
1.) Attachment. Adopted children need attachment. For an adopted school-aged child, to expect them to trust their teacher, to get along with their classmates, to control their behaviors, to balance unusual feelings. and then to try to grasp abstract ideas is a lot to ask for an adopted child! What we are asking that child to do is to balance relationships and ideas that have been foreign to him up till now. That’s a lot to ask for any child, let alone a child who has been adopted.
All adopted children have experienced some type of trauma in their lives. Whether they were abused, neglected, abandoned, or adopted overseas, they have all undergone some type of trauma. Even if you adopted your child as an infant, they experienced trauma. Even if you took the child home from the hospital on the day she was born, there was the trauma of being separated from her birth mom! For nine months she grew, received nourishment, felt her mom’s stress and joys within her mom’s womb. That physical bond is like no other! To be separated from that bond is traumatic! And to try to reattach to a new caregiver is no small task. They need to reconnect to their caregiver in a way that a biological child cannot. Homeschooling does exactly that!
Homeschooling provides the attachment that adopted kids need. Reading to a young child opens up pathways in the brain that iPads cannot! Hearing the parent’s voice enhances attachment. Physical closeness to the parent enhances attachment.
1.) One-on-one attention. The one thing that many adopted children lack is trust, especially of their primary caregiver. Subconsciously, they feel if their primary caregiver could not care for their needs, why should any other caregiver? A teacher of a large class will have a tough time connecting with an adopted child because of all the other kids she needs to care for, as well. Many public schools have large classes, upwards of 20 children per class. It would not be right for a teacher to devote all of her time to one student. However, homeschooling provides the focused attention that an adopted child needs. A homeschool parent can focus on the child’s special needs, give that child the attention he needs, and model what a trusting relationship is like. Again, an adopted child should not be compared to your biological child, who has known little, if any, trauma. Adopted children need focused attention! Homeschooling provides that.
2.) Special Needs. I believe all adopted children are special needs by sheer virtue of the fact that they are being raised separately from their birth parents. However, many adopted children have many special needs that some school districts are unprepared to handle. Aside from physical disabilities, many adopted children have attention deficit disorder, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, sensory processing disorder, autism spectrum disorder, and other delays and disorders. Homeschooling will not “cure” these disorders, but it will certainly mitigate the negative effects of being in a large classroom. This does not mean that the child is no longer eligible for services. By all means, if a child has been diagnosed with one of these disorders, a homeschooled child can receive these services in the comfort and natural environment of their home.
3.) Bullying. One huge issue, which has been around since the dawn of time, is bullying. Many children are victims of bullying. But let’s face it, adopted children don’t always fit into large social settings. Because of their behaviors or special needs, making friends is not always easy, and they could easily be the victim of taunting, teasing, or mocking. They don’t have to worry about “fitting in” in a homeschool. They already do fit in. In a homeschool, they don’t have to earn approval, love, or acceptance. They already have those. They can focus all of their attention on learning and not social acceptance. Many schools have anti-bullying campaigns to mitigate this problem. Homeschooling is the biggest anti-bullying program out there. And it works!
On the other hand, an adopted child may actually be the bully! Because of their special needs, an adopted child may choose to be antisocial. They do this, not because they are adopted, but because they may have been the victims of trauma in the past. Perhaps they were bullied, mistreated, abused, or mocked. And now they want to see how it feels like to be on the giving end. Another reason adopted children may bully others is because, for the first time in their lives, they have control over their situation. Bullying provides a sense of power and control. They need to be taught and modeled that every human being has worth and value. They need to treat others as they would like to be treated. They need to learn that other people are not just objects, but real human beings with feelings, hopes, and dreams, just like them. They need to channel their negative emotions into positive outlets such as outdoor activities, athletics, drama, art, and music.
4.) Personal beliefs. Lastly, one huge motivation for homeschooling is one of personal beliefs. Whether it is faith-based or lifestyle or the school is simply not providing the education you think your child deserves, parents should have a choice on how their child is educated. Perhaps a parent feels that the school district is going beyond their mandate as educators and presenting things to children that should be the purview of parents. Homeschooling provides that safety net.
Myths of homeschooling
Of course, there are some myths and misbeliefs out there about homeschooling. Some well-meaning parents have avoided trying homeschooling because of these myths. But of course, as with everything, being educated on a topic breaks down the barriers preventing progress. Hopefully, the following will dispel some of the myths that are out there.
1.) Homeschooled kids suffer from a lack of socialization. Nothing could be further from the truth! Please consider the topic of this article: Homeschooling your adopted child. As stated previously, adopted children have different needs than other children. Adopted children need to grow lasting attachments with a caring, patient, loving, skilled adult, not necessarily other children. That being said, homeschoolers are some of the most socialized students out there! Consider this:
a.) Family. Many home-schooled children come from large families. Isn’t the family the smallest societal unit? Isn’t it within the confines of a loving family that a child learns not only socialization, but also, cooperation, negotiation, industry, recreation, respect of authority, kindness, forgiveness, and restitution? Sure, a child can learn this at a traditional school, but who better to teach him these things that a parent who has made a commitment in the presence of a judge and other witnesses to care for that child in a “forever family?” There are many great teachers out there, and this is not meant to impugn their character. But there is no greater teacher than your own parent.
b.) Co-ops. Cooperative learning is when a number of different homeschooled students come together to learn a common topic such as science, dance, music, or history. Co-ops can be held in a home, a library, or a church. How is this different from a “brick and mortar” school? It is parent-led and parent-directed, the classes are smaller in size, and the lessons are tailored to the individual needs of the child. Co-ops are optional and give the parents a breather and a respite from being with the children all day. Co-ops give homeschooled children the socialization they need.
c.) Youth Groups. Church youth groups, parachurch organizations, and other groups such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are great outlets for the socialization of homeschooled children and youth. They bring together youth from all over the community to develop common skills such as loyalty, leadership, teamwork, survival skills, patriotism, spirituality, economics, and service to the community. Which leads to my next point.
d.) Community Service. Homeschooling offers opportunities for real-time, real-life experiences in the community. Community service offers more than just socialization; community service lifts the child outside of himself and helps the child see a different perspective on his own situation. Whether it is cleaning a local park, working for free at a local animal shelter, helping an elderly shut-in, or tutoring a younger student, assisting another person less fortunate than them teaches great life lessons beyond academics. It shapes and rounds the student into a productive citizen. Which is what we want for all of our children, adopted or not.
2.) Homeschooled kids can’t compete in high school sports. Not true. In most states, if a homeschooled student is properly registered in their municipality, they can attend, participate, and compete in any sport their peers are competing in.
3.) Homeschooled kids can’t go to college. False. If you as a homeschool parent belong to a homeschool association, you can receive a high school diploma and transcripts that they have earned. Many, if not all, colleges accept these homeschool diplomas.
4.) Homeschooled kids can’t compete with “regular” kids. Incorrect. As a matter of fact, most homeschoolers do as well or better than their peers academically. Consider that in 2011, even though homeschoolers comprised of 2.9 percent of all students, nearly 10 percent of the Scripps National Spelling Bee were homeschoolers!
Alternatives to homeschooling. Homeschooling may be a goal for you down the road, but perhaps it is not the right time. Your child still needs non-traditional learning. What can you do? Here are a few alternatives:
– Computer-based learning. This is a state-run curriculum that your child or youth completes in the comfort of your own home. The youth is still guided, evaluated, and proctored by certified teachers in real-time. This comes in handy for students who cannot learn in traditional settings.
– Charter schools. Charter schools are free public schools that are parent-run. They are smaller in nature and may not have all the resources that a traditional school has, but may meet the needs of your child more satisfactorily. Charter schools may specialize in certain areas such as the arts or science or children with special needs.
– Behavioral IEPs. An Individual Education Plan is a plan where the curriculum is modified to meet the needs of the student. An academic IEP may include longer test times, no homework, or extra services. A behavioral IEP acknowledges the child special needs and does not penalize the child for their special needs.
Whatever you choose, remember, we need to adjust to the needs of the child, not the other way around. Find what works for your child. And if he is emotional and developmentally prepared to attend a public school when he is older, by all means, go for it!