There is an ongoing debate regarding integrating special needs children into regular classrooms or home schooling. While this discussion is not new, it has taken some interesting turns in recent years. The educational system has changed in a number of ways during the past decade with the children of immigrants enrolling in larger numbers than ever. This has resulted in a change of curriculum in many school districts in the way students are taught. Finally, teachers are demanding more in terms of monetary rewards for the rigors of educating an ever diversified student population ripe with drugs, guns, family discord, and sex. On top of all of that, districts struggle with budget issues and increasing pressure to have students score high on standardize tests. If you are the parent of a special needs child, this is the school environment your child is exposed to on a daily basis. Often the resources are simply limited and there just isn’t enough to spread around to address your child’s individual learning needs. Ideally, as parents we would like to think a healthy balance can be reached to give our special needs children the support they need within the public school system. Private schools may be another option, however there are limitations with this educational choice as well. Frequently these schools lack diversity and may have a philosophy completely different from your fundamental beliefs.
Obviously there are no easy answers to this dilemma. However a practical approach tempered with optimism may offer some viable solutions. First, and foremost, we must consider the child in question. What is the child’s level of functioning and what is the family background? There must be an objective assessment made to determine if being in a regular classroom or receiving lessons at home is most advantageous to the child. Is there a network of friends, family, and community contacts to provide socialization outside of the classroom? Parents must decide if their child be best served by staying home and which parent should assume home schooling duties. In years past, moms took on the traditional role of staying home with the kids and this included any home school activities involved. Today this may or may not be the case as many more fathers actively participate in staying at home and caring for young children. In addition the financial well being of the family must be accounted for in the event one parent has to give up a job outside of the home. Finally parents should talk to their child to gain input before making such an important decision. Valuable insight can be gained by simply talking the situation out with your special needs child and other children in the home. Ultimately this is a family decision that should only be made after considering both short term and long term ramifications.