Home educating beyond ‘ learning difficulties’

I have long had concern about the number of children labelled as having ‘learning difficulties’ in schools. Believing that, for many, the ‘difficulty’ lies not with the child, but with the school and their approach to teaching.

There’s an item in the news this morning that suggests there’s some truth in that:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/sep/14/half-special-needs-children-misdiagnosed

But it’s not only this report that backs up the idea that the ‘difficulty’ lies with the way we teach children in school. It’s also the fact that over our years home educating we have met many children who were reputed to have these difficulties in a classroom, or were heading towards that label, but whilst home educating these children parents have found that these difficulties have not inhibited them from achieving educational success.

And how have they managed that? By suiting their approach to learning to the needs of the individual child.

For example, it may be that the child needed more practical or hands on approaches to understand a subject, it may be the child needed more time for personal development and the parents were able to remove age constraints from their child’s learning schedule, it may be the child needed a lot more physical and creative activity which stimulates mental activity. In other words by suiting their approach to the individual parents have found that issues which are labelled ‘difficulty or special need’ in a school environment, where mass teaching of prescribed lessons is necessary, can be overcome.

It is simply a question of taking a different approach. Rather than trying to make a square peg fit a round hole as they have to in schools, you can instead adapt the shape of the hole! By taking away school style learning approaches some home educators are successfully educating their children despite apparent ‘difficulties’

It is proof that we need to look seriously at approaches and come up with something different before any more of our children’s potential is destroyed.

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2 thoughts on “Home educating beyond ‘ learning difficulties’

  1. Oh Ross does this bring back memories! Back when my oldest was in Year 2, his teacher & the special needs coordinator were convinced he had Aspergers. Why? Because he preferred his own company at playtime; the other boys played football, he wasn’t interested so played his own imagination-driven games. I tried to tell them otherwise because he was (& is) so very sociable. But they insisted he see a speech therapist, paediatrician & education psychologist (wish I’d had the gumption to tell them to go forth & multiply!) but we were vindicated in the end when the ed.psychologist said he was a normal little boy & the problem was with his teacher!!! And this was a private school as well! Her big problem with him — she couldn’t get him to fit neatly into any of her boxes. Sad that things haven’t changed…

  2. As usual you are right. Unfortunately, “labeling” is a modern day disease, especially in schools. We are all individuals and if a child is forced to learn in a way which is not natural to their personality, a learning barrier will be put up. Quite often, the child does not have learning difficulties overall but simply learning difficulties with the teaching method which is being used. By labeling the child as having learning difficulties, the child herself/ himself begins to believe that they are not capable of learning when it is simply a learning barrier which has been raised. I dread to think how many children’s lives have been spoiled by this.

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