Education of Neurodiverse Kids – Part III
Homeschooling Neurodiverse Kids
In the last blog, I shared my views about special schools and tried to explore the positive side of special schooling. Education, as such, is the primary need of every child but in case of a special needs child, it usually becomes difficult to educate the child in regular manner. It is not impossible but yes, very challenging when it comes to educating a neurodiverse child. This need calls for an enthusiastic out of the box approach on the part of parents of special needs children.
One such ‘out of the box’ approach is ‘Homeschooling’. As the name suggests, homeschooling is where the child does not attend a regular school rather parents take complete charge of child’s education with flexible approach and child learns at his own pace without stress of unhealthy competitions. These days, homeschooling is increasingly becoming popular, especially among families of kids with special needs as it gives ultimate control to the parents along with flexibility, making it easier for them to create an ideal educational program and goal setting for their child.
My ND child was also struggling with academics for a very long time. During the first covid lockdown, I got connected with homeschooling communities in Mumbai, Pune and Bengaluru and was surprised to learn about its popularity in south India as compared to north India. Also, none of the homeschooling families with whom I got connected had a ND child and two of these families had parents working as teachers in mainstream schools. These families were homeschooling their children out of choice and their children were pursuing innovative professional courses along with regular education. After many rounds of detailed discussions with these families, who were kind enough to spare their time to help me understand in detail the underlying principles of homeschooling and also shared their experiences with me, I decided to homeschool my child with initial target of 3 months, based on whose result I would decide to pursue it further.
Though my son, was 5+ years at that time, I literally started from scratch. After struggling for about 10-15 days, my son started showing little bit of interest in whatever activities I was doing. One thing I made sure, not to use conventional stationery viz notebooks, pencils, eraser etc rather I used white board and colorful marker pens to attract his attention. Also, I had pasted colorful blank chart papers on both sides of all doors in my house (that I replaced with new ones, when needed). I, along with my elder (NT) child started playing racing games with my ND son, as to who will reach the door first and write on it, may be some alphabet or number or draw sleeping/standing line, etc. Gradually, his interest started increasing in academics along with progress in taking instructions, turn taking, etc. This one activity benefitted him in multiple ways.
Similarly, I devised many innovative activities for my child’s learning and literally within just 6-8 months, he was at par with his peers in academics. We also took help of many websites and free resources available on internet. A child who couldn’t identify alphabets and numbers 6 months before, was now reading and writing both English and hindi languages along with developing mathematics skills. It was litrerally magical to see him progress this way. I had never thought that homeschooling could do such wonders for my child.
One more important activity that I did with him everyday without fail was recap of how we spent the whole day. Overall, our homeschooling experience was wonderful and very enriching. Based on my experiences, some of the pros and cons of homeschooling are as follows.
In the next blog, I will be discussing the legal status of homeschooling in India and other similar innovative education concepts like unschooling, roadschooling, etc. Till then, feel free to share your thoughts on WhatsApp number +919910353219 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Author CA Shivani Lohia
Shivani Lohia is a Chartered Accountant by profession and mother to 8 years old child on the autism spectrum. The cause of autism awareness is very close to her heart and she strongly believes in equal education for all & strongly advocates inclusion. She has been homeschooling her son since he was 5 years old.