Traditional full-day school provides children a chance to learn social skills, interact with a varied group of adults and peers, and participate in various enrichment and extracurricular activities -- plus it gives a structure outside of the home that prepares children for higher education and the workforce. But there also many options for homeschooling that may be appropriate for a child with mental health issues. Here in Louisville, Kentucky, I’ve seen clients participate in full-time online programs, half online/half small classroom school, and programs where a public school teacher comes to the home several times per week to assist with work and lesson planning.
When do you know that homeschooling is something you should seriously entertain?
- Your child reports consistent and increasingly severe anxiety, depression and/or distress when preparing for school, traveling to school or during school.
- You have already worked with teachers and school administration to make any accommodations that would make your child more comfortable.
- School refusal results in somatic symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches and acne outbreaks.
- Your child has already worked with his/her school or outpatient therapist to develop coping skills, but the interventions have not made a significant change in functioning.
- Your child is willing to give up things he/she loves in order to be homeschooled, such as a school activity/sport or peer group.
Remember that homeschooling does not have to be a permanent solution and does not mean your child will fall behind academically or socially. Here are some tips to keep him or her on track:
- Research your state’s homeschool requirements, policies, and statutes.
- Encourage your child to keep up with school friends and strongly suggest social/athletic activities. Some cities have programs that gather homeschooled students and take them on field trips and other social events.
- Work with teachers so the homeschool curriculum mirrors what peers are working on in the classroom.
- Consider changing schools for the next semester or year. A smaller campus or a school with different activities and academic requirements might be a better fit for your child.