Home schooling is an educational alternative whereby parents assume full responsibility for educating their children, usually from their homes (Wong & Perry, 1998). Wong and Perry state that home schooling takes place when a parent chooses to educate his/her child in a home setting (1998). In many cases, the choice of home schooling is based on the conviction that it will meet the needs of a child, especially special educational needs for a child with learning disability or any other forms of disability that can prevent a child from attending school.
Reilly and colleagues observe that the number of parents who have opted to remove their children with disabilities from the schooling system in order to provide them with home schooling is increasing across the world (2002). This indicates that home schooling is fast becoming a universally accepted mode of education for children with disabilities. In fact, statistics indicate that children with disabilities perform better in home schooling settings as opposed to normal school settings. This is attributed to the one-on-one learning technique applied in home schooling and the ability of a child to move at his/her own pace without experiencing pressure from his/her classmates (Reilly et al., 2002). In addition, parents consider the level of care that they would be able to provide to their children while they school them at home.
The first thing to do when developing a home schooling plan for a child with disability is to find out the laws that regulate home schooling. This is important in order to avoid a situation where the authorities accuse a parent of denying his/her child a chance to acquire education in the normal schooling system. A parent is required to inform the District Educational Officer or other relevant authorities so that they can issue a permit and a schedule for annual assessment of the development of the child. In addition, where a child is already enrolled in a school, a parent should inform his/her teachers and the school nurse about the decision. This is important in order for the school to determine whether the parent should teach all the lessons to the child or not. Moreover, this helps the school to make a decision whether the child can continue to benefit from the professional academic and medical therapy or other resources that are funded by the government through the school (Reilly et al., 2002).
Next step is to conduct an assessment on the child to be home schooled. Child’s assessment is important for the determination of what a child knows and what he/she does not know (Reilly et al., 2002). This helps a parent to identify the areas where he/she should pay greater attention to during home schooling. A parent should seek professional help from a nurse or a child pediatrician to conduct child’s assessment. A nurse/pediatrician is better equipped to conduct assessment on the “whole child” as opposed to a parent (Wong & Perry, 1998). The nurse’s role in child assessment for home schooling include to diagnose any health problems in the child, screen the psychological wellbeing of the child for the home schooling program, as well as to evaluate the home environment and the nursing care provided by the parent at home (Wong & Perry, 1998). Based on the information gathered, the nurse then determines whether a child is eligible for home schooling.
Once a nurse verifies that a child is eligible for home schooling, the next step is to develop a home schooling program for the child. Both the parent and the nurse/pediatrician should develop the plan. This is to ensure that the academic goals and objectives set by the parent meet the special developmental needs of the disabled child. A nurse also assists in ensuring that the plan allows the child to engage in other activities, which are deemed necessary for the development of a disabled child. These activities include exercises, physical, mental, and social therapy. The nurse should also ensure that the plan includes a child health care plan, which should constitute regular health assessment of the child by a medical professional or a pediatrician (Wong & Perry, 1998)
Once the nurse and the parent have developed a suitable home schooling plan for the child, the parent should go ahead and implement it. The first thing to do is to create a healthy learning environment for the child. Area such as sitting, walking, playing, and eating surfaces should suit the needs of the disabled child (Wong & Perry, 1998). In addition, the teaching style adopted by the parent should be consistent with the child’s learning style as well as his/her psychological nature and special needs. An important thing to note is that when implementing a home schooling plan a parent should provide adequate time for the child to engage in physical and other activities that contribute to healthy development of a child with special needs.
It is important to note that a parent should not proceed to the next stage/step in a home schooling plan before conducting an assessment to evaluate whether his/her child has acquired the required health standard in each stage. A nurse or a child pediatrician should be involved in this kind of assessment too. A nurse must first approve whether the child is physically, mentally, psychologically fit to proceed to the next stage of home schooling.