Choice to homeschool a deeply personal one

By Chloe Goodyear

Jan. 13, 2017

Mary Whitehead’s autistic grandson was in the P.E.I. public school system for six years before she and her family decided to try homeschooling.

He was in the public school system more for the social aspect than the academic, she said.

“He needed the public school system to practice his speech, to learn the social skills, to learn what a community was.”

After her grandson, Joshua, completed Grade 6, they decided it would be in his best interest to homeschool him instead of sending him to their local junior high.

“If it was ever going to work at a junior high level, it would have been at this school. But for us, it was looking like he was going to fall through the cracks.

“Nobody could guarantee us that they would be able to modify the program to suit him, which was disappointing. Not surprising, but disappointing because that’s what should have happened.”

At that point they decided to take his future into their own hands.

“The original idea was just to do it for the junior high years and put him back in the public school system for high school. But homeschooling just worked so well and was a good fit for him.”

It’s an unusual decision, she said.

“There’s not very many that homeschool with specials needs children, although that is becoming more and more the norm.”

Louise MacAdam knows something about homeschooling.

She was homeschooled and homeschooled her four boys from kindergarten until they completed their high school requirements.

The stigma around homeschooling has gone down significantly, she said.

“People would be concerned about socialization or separating children.

“Our parents decided to homeschool us and at that time it definitely was not the run of the mill, any means. You felt a bit odd ball, but at the same time we were not unhappy with the choice.”

It’s not always the easiest decision and it takes a certain kind of person to be able to homeschool, she said.

“It’s challenging. It requires a strong commitment on the parent’s part. As a parent you have to be quite disciplined about actually doing it and getting down to it each day.

“It is somewhat counter-cultural. So one has to change one’s mindset from the usual going-to-school mindset, expectations and so forth.”

Even though it has its challenges, it is also quite rewarding, she said.

“It opens the whole family up to new ideas and exploring all kinds of things together. I’ve learned a lot of things through homeschooling that I probably wouldn’t have come across if I hadn’t been doing it.”