When adopting children internationally, parents can struggle to select an educational program that offers solid academics within a context of empathy and understanding about their child’s situation. Children who have been in institutionalized care often don’t perform at the appropriate grade level in school, leading many adoptive parents to homeschool their children at least for the first year. However, your family and your needs will be unique.
Some of our adoptive parents have reported that their children were ready to go to public school only a few weeks after arriving home after seeing older siblings go every day. All in all, whether you homeschool or not depends on what is best for your child. While we cannot answer this question for you, we can give you some of the pros and cons of homeschooling.
Pros of Homeschooling
Homeschooling often equals less stress and anxiety for the child. Homeschooled children are able to take the first year to focus on adjusting to their new family, culture and environment. You can work on your child’s interests and motivations. You can also take time to focus on forming parent-child and sibling-sibling relationships. Forming these important relationships can happen more quickly if everyone is at home together all day. Immersion into family life and a break from the peer dependency cycle, is important for a child who grew up in an institutionalized setting like an orphanage. Homeschooling allows you to focus on forming these attachments.
Homeschooling allows your child to learn at his own pace. Many children who have lived in orphanages are behind their peers academically, socially and developmentally. If you adopted your child internationally, they will also be behind their peers linguistically for quite some time. It often takes a year to adjust to a new language and culture. Homeschooling allows for a slow paced learning environment that takes all these factors into consideration.
Your home will be a safe place where you can address negative issues such as lying, cheating, manipulation, and avoidance of adult interaction. A “safe” adult is often the one that sees the worst of a child’s behavior. This is because a child feels that they will still be loved even when they are mean and hurtful. If you’re at home together you can work on these issues that might not manifest in a traditional school setting.
If your child has any special needs, you may be visiting various therapists throughout the week. Homeschooling allows you to make these appointments during the day without missing school work. You can create your own schedule that takes into account appointment times. You can also work at-home therapies into your homeschool curriculum.
Cons of Homeschooling
The number one problem with homeschooling is caregiver burnout, especially since the primary caregiver is often the one to see the worst of a child’s behavior. Caregivers can become very stressed and tired. The first year is full of trials, adjustments and possibly tantrums and meltdowns for both parties. Without the intellectual stimulation of coworkers or friends, caregivers can develop feelings of isolation and loneliness. Being solely responsible for a child’s emotional, spiritual and educational well-being is a daunting task. Taking all this responsibility on themselves can even cause some parents to develop post-adoption depression.
Homeschooling can also cause stress to the other children in the family. The needs and emotions of a newly adopted older child can increase challenges if all your children are being homeschooled. If you have to stop the lesson to deal with a behavior problem, your other children won’t be getting the education they need. It’s important that the needs of each child are considered when making decisions about schooling. If the best thing for your family is to have one homeschooled, one in a religious private school and one in public school, then that is what you should do.
Some children who have grown up in orphanages might actually find comfort in a school’s more institutionalized setting. Many older adopted children lose everything that is familiar to them, including language, foods, culture and people who look like them. Many older adopted children have lived their entire lives with a group of children their own age. If they’re around a group of children their own age, school may actually function like a stepping stone, allowing your child to ease into family life from an institutionalized setting.
Some children may learn the English language more quickly in a public or private school setting. Being around a variety of people who speak English all day can facilitate the language transition.
Lastly, if you choose homeschool, you forego public school resources for children with learning disabilities, FASD, ADHD, dyslexia, and speech and hearing problems. Many parents need help managing their child’s needs at home, and public schools are often able to direct parents to resources they need.
Again, we cannot answer this question for you, but we’re certainly happy to give guidance and help in any way we can. If your family is struggling with school, please feel free to call us any time at our Mississippi Office 1.662.842.6752 or at our Tennessee Office 1.615.378.7099.