The Power of Homeschooling
We started homeschooling when Ananth was 6. I had not thought about homeschooling. Our older son went to public school. However, public school was not working for Ananth. I was uncomfortable with our IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) experience. I was not sure that the public school was the right place for Ananth.
While I was a professor, I had no experience teaching kindergarten! Would I be able to do it? Would it work? Would I be able to create the right educational and social opportunities for Ananth? I had many doubts as I considered this decision. In contrast, I found it much easier to choose therapies and make other decisions. Unlike many parents, I did not struggle with initial acceptance of the diagnosis. However, I had many misgivings about homeschooling. Somehow, it seemed easier to quit a therapy that didn’t work than exit homeschooling.
A neighbor encouraged me to homeschool. She reassured me that even if the first-year progress was less than expected, we had many years to learn together! Finally, I decided to give it a try. Access to a neighbor who had a passion for homeschooling and could suggest resources and approaches was an important factor that helped me choose this path.
While homeschooling offered many benefits, I want to focus on one key benefit that I did not expect when I started homeschooling. Homeschooling has provided a family-centered foundation for Ananth’s transition beyond school.
Ananth is now 24. Homeschooling has transformed us into co-learners who are learning together daily. Homeschooling is not just from kindergarten to high school! Homeschooling has paved the way for learning for LIFE!
• L: Learn together daily
• I: Pursue our individual and shared interests
• F: Grow our interactions with other Family members
• E: Work together in engaging our community
Homeschooling planted the seed for us to work together daily. Recently, Ananth developed the LIFESMART website as part of his professional web development course. As he started working on the course, I saw an opportunity for him to create a website for our LIFESMART community. I requested Manu Sekar, Ananth’s coding coach from HashHackCode to guide Ananth in building the site. Our years of working together during our homeschool years helped us work together on this important project.
As an autistic adult, Ananth’s journey to learning and workplace transition is different from those who go straight to college after high school. Ananth finished his Bharatanatyam arangetram. He finished his diploma in Medical Records and Hospital Documentation. In the meantime, he started working on coding with HashHackCode, an organization that teaches coding to neuro-divergent individuals. Recently, he also started his BBA undergraduate program and a theater arts program.
Because of homeschooling, I can guide and support Ananth in all his experiences. Given that educational systems and workplaces are not designed for neurodivergent individuals, the role of parents in guiding and supporting their children is much more extensive and lasts for a much longer duration than for neurotypical children. Homeschooling has prepared us for this journey.
Glad we did it!
We are glad, we had the opportunity to learn together for many years and become co-learners. We often hear of homeschooling benefits such as the possibility for the child to learn at his own pace and the possibility of tailoring education to the child’s needs and interests. While these are important benefits, a major benefit for us is the impact of homeschooling on the transition to post-secondary education and work. A LIFESMART transition as Ananth would call it!
– Dr.Dasaratha Rama