Homeschooling can be a good option for some kids with learning and attention issues. It allows parents to work closely with their kids. And there are generally fewer distractions at home than at a school.
But learning at home does have some potential drawbacks. One of them is limited social interaction. Another is limited or nonexistent services.
Fortunately, there are public resources available to homeschoolers that can make those less of an issue. (Unschooling, a type of homeschooling, relies less on a curriculum and encourages children to learn based on their passions and interests. The same regulations and resources apply to both unschooling and homeschooling families.)
Public School Activities and Classes for Homeschoolers
Some parents worry that their child will miss out on important experiences if he’s schooled at home. They may wonder if their child can still participate in public school activities like team sports or band. Or if he can take certain public school classes when the school has better resources, such as science lab classes.
The answers to those questions vary by state, and sometimes even by school district. The right to homeschool is nationwide. Equal access to public school resources isn’t.
Right now there are 22 states that allow some access to classes or activities. But kids often need to meet certain requirements to participate. For instance, they may have to show proof that they’re passing their core subjects.
The states that allow access are Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming.
In other states, the decision is left up to each school district. This summary can tell you what your state allows.
Either way, you may want to contact your local school district to find out what kind of access it gives. If you’re unsure which district you’re in, this tool is a good resource.
Supports for Kids With Learning and Attention Issues
Eligible kids who go to public school have a legal right to special education services. These may include accommodations, assistive technology and things like occupational or speech therapy.
But what if your child is schooled at home? Can he also get these free resources? The short answer is yes. But you may need to enroll him part-time or full-time in public school.
First, you’ll need to seek an evaluation for special education services from your school district. If the results show your child is eligible, the district must provide them for free. But only if he attends public school on at least a part-time basis.
Understanding Your Options
To find out what resources are available to your child, you have to contact your local school district. But even if your child can’t get access, there are ways to create some of the opportunities of public school.
You can connect with other parents in your area who homeschool and work with them to form sports teams, go on field trips and find supports. You can also check out these homeschool organizations in your state affiliated with the Home School Legal Defense Association.