So you have a child who has a learning disability and is also gifted in one or more areas? These kids, often called “twice exceptional” or “2E,” are a challenge to themselves, to you as the parent, and to public and private school systems. What do you do with an eleven-year-old who can reason out the most difficult logic problem and who also freezes when asked to write out his thoughts? What about the child with an encyclopedic brain who has a hard time verbalizing? If these brief descriptions (or some variation) sounds like your child, you should seriously consider homeschooling through middle school.
If you are new to the concept of homeschooling, no one is suggesting that you isolate yourself or your child. Rather, you take charge of their education in a way no school system can do. It’s not easy. It’s not always fun. But, you and your middle schooler might reap some serious rewards during this adventure. While homeschooling is certainly not for everyone, the three reasons below might help you make a decision – yea or nay – when it comes to middle school. (As always, please ask questions or share your situation in the comments!)
- One size does not fit all. Schools, by design, are set up to teach to the majority. The vast majority of kids are not truly gifted nor are they faced with learning challenges. An even smaller minority of kids in traditional school are BOTH gifted and challenged. Schools generally offer a gifted program geared to kids who are gifted across the board – if they’re good in math, they’re good in language arts. No account is taken for a gifted child who might have dyslexia, dysgraphia or who falls on the autism spectrum. Conversely, if a child is diagnosed with a learning disability once he’s in school, it’s rare that that same child will ever be tested for giftedness. The result? Kids with significant learning disabilities who also possess strong gifts in certain subjects are stuck in remedial classes that will never teach them to use their gifts. Homeschooling allows you to help your dysgraphic child learn to type and skip remedial handwriting and reading classes. He’s not grouped into a category that does not fit his abilities and he avoids the stigma of “being special.” (NO kid wants to be “special” in middle school if they can help it.) You can create a program that works to your child’s strengths and helps him learn to compensate for the weaknesses. What you can’t do can be outsourced online or locally.
- Details count. If your child has been in traditional school throughout grade school and has been struggling, it could be he has a learning disability that is being covered by the fact that he is gifted. He can compensate for the learning disability simply because he is that smart. However, he’s probably still struggling with school – and frustrated, depressed and even angry. If you suspect this to be the case, have your child tested – insurance may cover this. Find out where he is struggling and where he is strong. Bring him home for middle school and help him learn to work to his best abilities. Then, you can continue to homeschool or you can put him back into a traditional school with renewed confidence and ability.
- Avoid future struggles. If you are anxious that your child go to college and he’s struggling near the end of elementary school, a homeschool break for 6-8th grades might be just the ticket to building up his confidence, helping him find his focus and setting goals for the future. Kids get through middle school but, ask any middle school teacher and they will tell you that kids who have learning challenges (not to mention being gifted) leave middle school feeling as though they are not college material and that they have no reason to strive for anything beyond passing. How sad. Kids who are 13-14 “accepting” the fact that they will never do great and amazing things!
As I mentioned above, homeschooling is not easy. And, for most families, it means sacrificing at least half of a salary. But, if you have one of these amazing kids, it’s only three years. Those three years can make a world of difference in your child’s future (yours too, actually). Get creative and see if it’s not something worth trying for your twice exceptional child.