Children can develop the same mental illness as adults. They can experience a range of mental health conditions like Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Anxiety, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorder to name some.
Unfortunately, the stigma about Mental Illness still remains. People are still uncomfortable discussing it and worst, there are few who still don’t acknowledge it exists. And for children with mental health concerns, the discrimination they experience can make their situation harder than it already is.
Children with mental illness may exhibit the following signs but are not limited to: boredom, sleeping problems, aggressive behaviours, appetite problems, and throwing tantrums. Imagine a child getting through all these emotions they absolutely cannot comprehend or control while trying to fit in a traditional school setting? Where even adults are having a hard time, how much worse is it for a child?
Many parents of children with mental illness are looking for alternative education that best suits the special needs of their children. That’s where homeschooling becomes a smart choice.
How does homeschooling help children struggling with mental illness? And why as a parent should you consider homeschooling your child?
If your child has been diagnosed with depression, bipolar disorder, or other mental health illness, homeschooling will give them the safest environment where they can be themselves - as the name implies - it’s your home. And we can all agree that, “There’s No Place Like Home”.
Parents, admit it! You know your child can’t show his/her full potential in a traditional school setting. You know that their needs cannot be fully met. You know your child is not like the others and thus his/her learning style is different. You know that because you’re the parent. And like any parents out there, we all want the best for our children.
When homeschooling, your child’s exposure to anxiety and depression triggers could be reduced. Take the pressure off their shoulders by allowing and guiding them to learn at their own phase. One of the causes of anxiety and depression in our children could be the high expectations around them like getting high grades, being good at this or that. Or maybe the school load is just too much for them to handle. With homeschooling, they don’t need to conform to school standards.
Another is the case of bullying at school. It hurts any parent seeing their child bullied at school because they are fragile, because people don’t understand them and see them as prey. They will call them names or labels and are treated with very little empathy. That takes a bigger toll on the child’s mental health condition. It will make them feel bad, feel less worthy, and worst it will make them take their own lives - tragic but it happens and we don’t want that to happen. In fact, this is one of the major reasons why more and more families are exploring homeschooling. The bullying is one of the reasons why children fall into depression.
Most children with mental illness does not also learn from the structured traditional school setting. Considering the fact that most teachers are not equipped to teach or handle them, the rigid type of education just doesn’t work for them. That is exactly why they struggle in the first place. Children with mental illness needs a different style or approach when it comes to learning.
Homeschooling also gives them more time needed to focus on coping with their mental health condition without compromising their education. Having mental illness requires some children to go on therapy and with homeschooling, you don’t need to miss a class to attend to a therapy. You can work around a flexible schedule that includes other needed activities or errands that helps them with their condition. Maybe incorporate more exercises or play works for them to condition their moods. Come up with teaching styles that will make them cooperate better. You know your child better, you know his/her triggers so work around it.
Others who are already homeschooling also find their journey a stress reliever to cope up with their child’s mental illness. It’s not perfect of course, but it provided them healing. It also takes off the worry and pain any parent would feel when you see the struggles your child has to face every single day trying to survive the traditional school setting. And with whatever unpleasant experience they had before, homeschooling provides a new hope to start over and create pleasant memories that will help bring back their self-esteem while healing from the trauma of the past.
Homeschooling also gives any parents the opportunity to encourage their children more. Having full control over their child’s education is in fact an advantage. You help them heal if they are suffering from depression because of let’s say bullying in school for example. You help them better understand what they are going through and help them cope in healthy ways. Know that your child needs your support more than ever.
And contrary to what most people know, homeschooling your child with mental illness does not mean you’re isolating him/her. Socialization is still there. You are just providing a better venue for your child to learn and cope up with his/her weaknesses that the traditional school setting is not ready to handle. There are a lot of online and offline homeschooling community you can join.
I know you want the best for your child but you must be doubting yourself if you can handle the responsibility of homeschooling your child with mental illness. That is totally understandable and that’s fine. Some normal days can already be difficult and taking your child’s education into your own hands, not knowing what to expect every single day can be quite frightening. It will be hard, yes, maybe harder than the usual but here’s what I want you to keep in mind. Your child won’t care if you’re not the “best” teacher out there. Your child won’t mind if you sometimes fail, because you will but that’s alright. Your child will not even remember you failing. What your child needs is you more than anyone else. The love and care only his/her family can give will have a big impact not only on his homeschooling journey but with his/her life as a whole.
The loving environment of home will surely help children with mental illness in treating, overcoming, and preventing their mental health problems.
But please remember that homeschooling is not a cure for mental health problems. However, its benefits are undeniable.