Why We Chose Unschooling for Our Neurodivergent Kids

Staci S. Wright

Unschooling is an interest-led strategy to instruction, where the parents act as facilitators and supporters of their child’s education and learning somewhat than acquire on the function of instructor.

If an individual experienced instructed me a couple of many years back that I would be homeschooling my two small children with numerous special desires, I most likely would have laughed or just specified them a blank stare in disbelief.

There was no way I could do that.

I’m not a instructor, an educational or behavioral professional, or a therapist. I’m just a copywriter, a blogger, and a mom of 4 young ones all of whom have normally been in the public school process. What did I know?

Then the pandemic strike.

A little about us

mother and daughter

We have 4 young ones. Our oldest is 18 and has now graduated, our daughter is 16, and our two younger boys are 13 and 11. Our daughter Lilly and our youngest son Prospect (and myself) have a unusual genetic situation termed Oto Palatal Digital Syndrome.

It influences listening to and the palate, and we all have syndactyly (webbing) in varying levels on our hands.

Lilly has also been diagnosed with autism and intellectual incapacity and has a feeding tube. Likelihood is also neurodivergent (although he has in no way been formally diagnosed) and has a tracheostomy tube.

All a few of us have noticeable facial dissimilarities, as OPD is also a craniofacial condition.

Considering the fact that Lilly and Possibility commenced preschool at the age of three, which is the standard in California if your boy or girl is in the early childhood intervention program, all we’ve acknowledged is the special training process for these two.

Our other two boys have also been enrolled in community faculty- most recently attending a nearby hybrid community homeschool constitution.

After the educational institutions opened back again up, I commenced debating no matter whether or not to mail Lilly and Opportunity. My most important worry was, “how could I replicate their unique education and learning method- or compete with it?”

Now I know – you never have to.

How our unschooling journey started off

We went from virtual lessons, which were not operating at all for our two neurodivergent children, to impartial review through their colleges for the duration of the very first yr of the pandemic.

At the beginning of the 2021/ 2022 faculty year, their independent research option was taken absent, and we were being faced with the decision of sending them again to the classroom. It was an quick choice to preserve Chance residence. He has serious lung disease, and the threat was even now also superior for him.

Lilly was a further story. She’s nonverbal, and even though she enjoys remaining at university with her friends, it also prompted her a ton of panic, and we would get calls at the very least two times a week to select her up simply because her behaviors had been escalating.

Because she started off studying at household, we seen that her panic and behaviors experienced lessened significantly.

So we filed a private faculty affidavit with our point out, which began our comprehensive-time homeschool journey.

Why unschooling?

unschooling multiple children

I had hardly ever listened to of unschooling before we started thinking about entire-time homeschooling, but the far more I researched it, I understood it could be a fantastic suit for us.

There are so quite a few pros to unschooling for any one who chooses this route, but I sense like it is in particular beneficial for children with supplemental healthcare, behavioral, and academic requirements.

Right here are just some of the reasons why we appreciate it:


Getting little ones with disabilities indicates various doctor appointments per thirty day period to see professionals. Homeschooling and unschooling let us to make these appointments with no worrying about missing exams or things to do at faculty.

If Likelihood and Lilly ended up nonetheless in community colleges, they would be in 6th and 10th quality, respectively. But since of their developmental delays and understanding disabilities, their competency in unique subjects is all over the map.

Unschooling makes it possible for us to meet up with them the place they’re at rather of following a established curriculum.

Endless possibilities

Lots of unschoolers don’t use any curriculum at all, but some do. That is the elegance of the flexibility of alternative about unschooling.

We also do a good deal of fingers-on discovering with manipulatives and adapt our assets to their needs. Most universities will get adaptive mastering aids for young ones, but dependent on funding, it’s not always guaranteed.

Opportunity wants enlarged print to be ready to read through appropriately even however he can produce and spell, he prefers to kind.

We also allow them investigate diverse methods devoid of time restrictions- anything they would not have been equipped to do at faculty. They invested a number of hours participating in with Google Earth a single day, studying about geography. Opportunity recently discovered Google translate, so he put in a very good chunk of time translating his favorite DVD titles into French and Spanish.

Much less bullying

Bullying usually seems to be an challenge in middle and significant college, and youngsters with disabilities, however, feel to constantly be specific.

Unschooling delivers a secure, inclusive environment the place our children can nonetheless socialize- but we have a lot more manage more than who they interact with. And if bullying does become an problem anyplace, we can be a lot more informed of it.

Some things to take into consideration

As with all instructional selections, there are some disadvantages to unschooling.

Due to the fact you’re no lengthier tied to a school district, you have to pay out of pocket for companies like speech or any adaptive understanding devices and aides. Relying on your finances and child’s requirements, that may possibly not be some thing you can do.

Criticism from household and pals is another problem. Unschooling or even homeschooling is still tremendously misunderstood, and there is still a stigma around it. It is typically affiliated with neglectful parenting or laziness, and we however get a large amount of unsolicited suggestions and the occasional impolite reviews. 

How it’s heading now

Nowadays, we are properly into our next yr of unschooling, and the distinction in the youngsters is like night and working day.

Their nervousness has decreased drastically, which usually means less detrimental behaviors.

They are far more ready to have interaction in mastering due to the fact they’re learning about what interests them.

Both of those young children have snooze problems, which can be popular in neurodivergent young ones, so with their versatile schedules, they are allowed to slumber in if they want to, and they start off their day effectively-rested.

We nevertheless have our “moments,” and they nonetheless have specified triggers that upset them and can disrupt their discovering. A huge one for them is ready for anything at all, but it’s gradually acquiring better as they study about time, how to read clocks, and established timers for visible aids.

Due to the fact we switched to unschooling, I can confidently say it was one of the most effective conclusions we at any time manufactured. Each and every family members is unique, and each boy or girl learns in another way, but the advantages have been a great number of for our kids and their unique mastering needs and for us as dad and mom watching them thrive.

Jennifer Arnold
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