It was never our intention to homeschool. In all my life, I never thought that I was capable of homeschooling my children. I did not feel any confidence in my ability to provide them with enough of an education. However, when my oldest son went to school for the first time, he would come home from kindergarten each day in tears. At the age of 5, he said that he felt stupid due to not fitting in or performing well at school. His teacher was wonderful and the school was great, but they simply did not teach him in the way that he best learned. I knew at that moment that we had to do something different. Therefore, we made the choice to homeschool him for a semester to see how it went.
In the name of full disclosure, the first semester of homeschool did not go well. It was chaotic and I felt often like I was going to mess everything up. It took quite a while for us to get into a rhythm and for me to figure out how my child could best learn the material. It took a while for us to figure out how to work together and how to get the most out of each day. I was so tempted to mirror a public school day that I was simply trying to reinvent the wheel. I was doing things the way that didn’t initially work for him. As time went on and the second year of homeschooling came, we got into a better rhythm and he was growing by leaps and bounds in his education.
As he was the oldest, we were not sure that we would homeschool all of our children. However, as my younger children became school-aged, homeschooling began to make more sense for each one. My two oldest children are biological and my two youngest children were adopted. While the two youngest children are not yet school-age, we have chosen to do preschool at home. We have discussed often whether or not homeschool would be the best option for them having been adopted.
In general, when it comes to choosing schooling for a child who has been adopted, there is no firm right or wrong answer. You will have to choose based on your child’s individual needs and the area in which you live. For some children, especially those who were adopted at an older age, the normalcy of traditional school may be important for them. They may want to have that sense of normalcy and be in an environment in which they are comfortable. If you are part of transracial adoption, it may be important for your child to have an experience of diversity at a school that will offer them racial mirrors.
For our children, they were adopted as infants and we do not live in a very diverse area. We do not have the opportunity to move at this time. With this, even though we are part of transracial adoption, sending our children to a public school would not provide them any additional racial mirrors. Otherwise, we may consider public school a bigger asset in that case. With this, we seek opportunities for racial mirrors for our children through other avenues such as other homeschool groups, traveling, and alternate experiences.
Traditional schooling can be beneficial, but it does allow for a lot of constraints in regards to time and ability to participate in activities during the school year such as travel. You may find that homeschooling allows you to help your children experience more within the world, due to the freedom that your homeschooling schedule allows. It also allows you to be more conscious of your child’s need for sleep and when they learn best. My children sometimes have good days and bad days. For one child, they learn best in the early morning. For another, they do their best work after dinner when everyone is winding down. Homeschooling allows you to teach based on your schedule and to live life without constraints.
For our family, homeschooling made sense because of many different reasons. It is easier to homeschool all of the children rather than send some to school and keep some home. For my oldest son, homeschooling works better for the way that he learns. While my daughter is a social butterfly, she also likes to learn from home as she can move at a faster pace than she would be able to in public school. She learns very easily and in her own way. For her, we felt that sending her to a regular school might hamper that as public school tends to keep kids on a very linear path. Homeschool allows us to move at a pace that is comfortable for each of our children. While they identify as one grade based on their age, they are in different grades depending on the subject. Homeschooling allows us to take more time on some subjects and less time on others. It is really about the freedom that homeschooling offers in allowing our children to grow and learn at their own pace and to receive more attention in areas they may struggle.
I do not homeschool because I feel that traditional schooling is inherently bad; I homeschool my children because it is what is best for our family. When it comes to deciding whether or not to homeschool your adopted child, you will really have to research and find out what is best for your situation. There is an incredible amount of freedom that homeschooling provides. However, if you work full time out of the home or are within a great school district, traditional schooling may be your best option. The great news is that there are many options for types of schools or even types of homeschools that are very self-lead or different from traditional schooling.
There is no firm answer on whether homeschooling is best for an adopted child across the board. There are many factors that may play into this that may pertain to any child whether they are adopted or biological. In the case of schooling, it will really depend on the child. There may be some children who have been through foster care or some traumatic experiences in their life before they are placed for adoption. There may be children who suffer from trauma that affects their behavior or learning process. For these children, homeschooling may allow for much-needed freedom and flexibility in their education. This can be vital in many situations. If you find yourself frustrated with the traditional school system and it lacks affect flexibility with your child, homeschooling may be a great option for you.
For my 5-year-old child, sending him to kindergarten kind of felt like feeding him to the wolves. Don’t get me wrong. I have many teachers in my life that I adore. However, my son is diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and anxiety. To take a child who suffers from these issues and put him in school for seven hours a day did not seem practical for him. For my 4-year-old, she would thrive in regular school. She is a people person and loves to meet new people. For my 5-year-old son, our best option was to keep him homeschooled and help him to ease into situations where he is in group settings away from us such as co-ops and other group offerings within the community.
The good news is that as homeschooling grows in popularity, there are many more offerings for children who are homeschooled. There is even a school in our area that allows children to go to a traditional school for three days a week and be homeschooled for two days a week. This offers a sort of in-between option for parents who are not sure that they want to go full homeschool or full traditional. For my family, there are a lot of groups that meet during the week that allow my children to socialize with children their age and also be in the care of other trusted adults. This helps them build not only independence, but friendships outside of the home. My children are involved in multiple sports and extracurriculars. The idea of homeschooling is not to shelter them, but to help them learn in their own way and in their own time.
Homeschooling also allows me to address any trauma or issues that my children may have to struggle with on a day-to-day basis. As my youngest two children were adopted as infants, this helps me to customize their education to any issues that may arise in the future. It also allows me to customize their education to support and grow them in any areas where they may excel or want to pursue as a career. Homeschooling allows for endless customization and individual attention that you may not receive otherwise going the route of traditional school. We also hope to do foster care in the future. If you are seeking to homeschool your foster child, you need to make sure that you have approval from your agency in order to do so. If your adoption is not finalized yet, you still need to make sure that you have the approval of your agency to start homeschooling.
With the popularity of homeschooling, the amount of options available to homeschoolers also grows as far as curriculum goes. There are programs such as K12 in many states that allow for public schooling but in the home. This can be great for a child who struggles with anxiety or who struggles socially at school. This can be great for kids who cannot be in a traditional school setting for safety reasons but thrive with the public school setup. K12 is completely a public school curriculum just done in a home setting. There are teachers who the children answer to via video chat and also this allows for a lot of accountability. In most of these cases, all a parent has to do is make sure that their children are doing the work just as he would in a traditional school setting. This option allows for parents who work outside the home or parents who do not feel confident in teaching their children to have an option for homeschool that is still accredited and ensure a child is achieving all of the common core requirements.
For any parent trying to find the best schooling option for their child, it will really be about seeing what is available in your area and what makes the most sense for your child. It does not necessarily change for adoption unless you are concerned about providing racial mirrors for your child or about addressing some sort of behavioral or trauma aspect. The freedom and flexibility that homeschooling can provide may allow you to address your children more as an individual and give them the individual attention that they need. Traditional schooling can sometimes be a distraction no matter how wonderful a school system is. However, many school systems have resources in place that can help your child and are diverse in allowing for the racial mirrors your child may need. It is best to take the time to research what is available to you and what feels best for your family.
It is definitely a good idea to homeschool your adopted child, but not necessarily the only good idea. I am a huge advocate of homeschooling when it is right for you. If you feel that you can take that leap or that it might be beneficial, you can try it for a while and decide to place your child in a traditional school later on. Committing to homeschool or traditional school is not a lifelong commitment. You can choose to change your mind at any time. Find out the regulations in your state about homeschooling and see what works best for you. Only you can know what is best for your child.
Lita Jordan is a master of all things “home.” A work-from-home, stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of five. She has a BA in Youth Ministry from Spring Arbor University. She is married to the “other Michael Jordan” and lives on coffee and its unrealistic promises of productivity. Lita enjoys playing guitar and long trips to Target. Follow her on www.facebook.com/halfemptymom/.