The article explains why some families may prefer to use accredited homeschool programs for students with learning disabilities, and provides strategies for finding such programs.
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Many parents of children with learning disabilities who are considering educating their children at home start by seeking accredited homeschools for learning disabilities. Parents may choose this route for a number of reasons.
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Why Specialized Accredited Homeschools?
One of the main reasons some parents opt for specialized accredited homeschools is that they may not feel that they are capable of meeting their children's special educational needs without some guidance and support from individuals who have expertise in educating children with learning disabilities. Such parents are typically committed to homeschooling yet feel they need access to additional support and resources to help remediate their children's learning deficits, either on a short-term or long-term basis.
Homeschools that specialize in working with students with learning disabilities are able to offer specialized support that is specifically designed to meet the needs of learning disabled students and their families. This support may be in the form of expert consultants, customized curricula and/or teaching materials. An added benefit for homeschooling parents who choose to enroll their children in specialized accredited homeschool programs is the opportunity to network with other families whose children have similar needs.
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Strategies for Finding Accredited Special Needs Homeschools
When searching for accredited homeschools, it is important to keep in mind that while you will not likely find any homeschools that are accredited in learning disabilities per se, you will almost certainly find a number of accredited homeschools that specialize in working with students with learning disabilities, address their special learning needs or, at a minimum, provide some accommodations for them.
Your state department of education is a good starting point for identifying accredited schools, including homeschools, in your area that support students with learning disabilities. Its listing of approved nonpublic schools may be especially helpful since it will likely list schools according to the special populations they serve.
Support groups and advocacy organizations may be able to help you with finding accredited homeschools. For example, the National Center for Learning Disabilities provides a listing of schools for students with learning disabilities in its "resources" section. Homeschool associations and groups, especially those focused on homeschooling children with special needs, are another excellent resource for finding accredited homeschools for special needs students. In addition, AdvancED maintains an extensive database of accredited schools, some of which offer homeschool options.
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Selected Homeschool Programs for Learning Disabled Students
Accredited homeschools are homeschools that either use an accredited curriculum or where children are enrolled in an accredited home-based program through a public school, private school, umbrella school or distance education program. Homeschool programs for learning disabilities will either use a curriculum designed for learning disabled students, or will have experts on staff or under contract who can provide advice or guidance on educating students with learning disabilities.
Here are a few homeschool programs for children with learning disabilities:
Bridgeway Academy: Bridgeway Academy works in partnership with the Essential Learning Institute (ELI) to deliver customized programs for students with learning disabilities. Bridgeway Academy is accredited by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Private Licensed Schools, the Southern States Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS CASI), the National Association of Private Schools (NAPS) and AdvanED. Homeschooling families may be attracted to Bridgeway Academy because it offers specialized interventions for learning disabilities.
Des Moines Public Schools Home Instruction Program: The Des Moines Public Schools Home Instruction Program is a state-accredited homeschool program that offers assisted and unassisted (independent) instruction options. Families that participate in the assisted program receive regular visits from a certified teacher, access to district services—including services for students with learning disabilities and other special needs, and opportunities to participate in field trips and extracurricular activities. Families that opt for the unassisted program develop students' educational plans and choose their own curriculum and instructional methods. However, a certified teacher conducts an annual evaluation to ensure that state legal requirements are met. Homeschooling families might be attracted to this program because it offers access to district personnel, resources and services that can help meet the needs of students with learning disabilities.
K12 Online Public Schools: K12operates approved virtual elementary and high schools in many states that provide services to students with learning disabilities and other special needs. Homeschooling families may be interested in K12's programs because they offer students with learning disabilities access to special education teachers and specialized curricula.
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Some homeschooling families of children with learning disabilities feel that their children's needs can be best served with the assistance of an accredited homeschool that specializes in educating learning disabled students. Fortunately, there are a number of resources to help such families find homeschools to meet their children's needs. Utilizing the tools available to investigate and compare accredited homeschools for learning disabilities can help you find just the right fit for your family.
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References and Resources
"Accreditation in the United States," www2.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/index.html
"Homeschooling and Students in Special Education: Sorting Out the Options for Parents", http://www.ldonline.org/article/5891
Association of Christian Schools International, www.asci.org
National Center for Learning Disabilities, www.ncld.org
National Council for Private School Accreditation, www.ncpsa.org