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“The Homeschooling Option: Creative Education for Students with Lyme Disease” Sheila M. Statlender, Ph.D Clinical Psychologist Private Practice Newton, MA 617-965-2329SStatlende@aol.com
Introduction • Many students with Lyme disease find it difficult to learn within traditional educational settings. • Unpredictability • Reduced stamina • Fluctuating medical symptoms • Cognitive difficulties • Need for flexibility and innovation • Teacher:student ratio • Credit-driven system
What is Homeschooling? • Homeschooling • Goals defined by the learner • Primary concern = the “how” of learning • Content: Defined by the interests of learner • Emphasis on autonomy, competence and self esteem • Learning opportunities are explored as they arise (non-linear) • Traditional Learning Models • Goals defined by an outside party • Primary concern = the “what” of learning • Content: Defined by an outside party • Emphasis on acquisition of a predetermined body of knowledge • Learning occurs in a structured, sequential fashion (linear)
Message from one Lyme patient who opted to homeschool: “When you’re sick and have so little energy, you have to focus on those things you are truly interested in. All the ‘shoulds’ go by the boards. My focus and priorities continue to change, depending on my health and my energy level.” And from her mom: “For us, the energy that it took to fight for services – and then to jump through hoops to learn what someone else was defining to be essential – well, it was better for us to find another way. It took a whole level of stress out of our lives.”
Principles of Homeschooling and their Relevance to Lyme Disease: Honor individual pacing: may be especially relevant in Lyme disease, where impaired processing speed and fatigue make it harder to keep up with an externally imposed time frame Promote learning which is interest-based: to help overcome the distractions posed by impaired attention, pain or fatigue Offer a menu of options: to maximize the likelihood that a student will find something s/he is able to do, given the fluctuations in cognitive processing Minimize or eliminate busy work: which is wasteful of precious time and energy Eliminate rigid schedules to allow routines to evolve which will reflect and respect individual differences given disrupted sleep and energy levels Stop before undue frustration sets in Learn to recognize the inherent learning opportunities in everyday life, and highlight these as legitimate and important
Nuts and Bolts of Homeschooling • Homeschooling opportunities in everyday life. • Is homeschooling too time-consuming for parents? • Social Development • Legal Considerations • Support from Umbrella Schools: • The Clonlara School, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan • The North Atlantic Regional School, or NARS • “Self-Design,” a Canadian-based agency: Trains parents to recognize opportunities for learning, stemming from observations of where their children’s interests lie.
Conclusion The homeschooling model departs dramatically from traditional approaches to educating students. It won’t be right for everyone. A major challenge will be to recognize that learning can and does occur, despite the absence of a formal curriculum. Familiarity with homeschooling philosophy will help to support the student’s learning in non-traditional settings.
Learning Resources Fair & Homeschool Mini Conference New to or considering homeschooling? A veteran entering a new phase of homeschooling? We'll be offering several sessions on the how-to's of homeschooling from just getting started, homeschooling high school to dealing with special needs and much more. Voyagers, Inc. 530 Main Street Acton, MA 01720 Friday, June 11, 3 - 7 pm Saturday, June 12, 10 am - 2 pm Sunday, June 13, 12 - 3 pm Weekend Highlights: Mini Conference - eight experienced homeschoolers, professionals in their fields and areas of expertise, will be speaking on a variety of topics. Homeschool Resources to connect with groups and organizations from across New England. Live Chat Room - come talk shop with other homeschoolers and some of our conference presenters.http://www.voyagersinc.org/wiki/bin/view/Public/ConferenceSchedule Preregistration is requested for the conference sessions. Walk-in registration will be accepted on a first come, first served basis if space permits. For more information, contact LearningResourcesFair2010@voyagersInc.org
Resources and References • 1. The Teenage Liberation Handbook by Grace Llewellyn • Home Education Magazine (www.homedmag.com) • American Homeschool Association (www.americanhomeschoolassociation.org) • Homeschool Laws and Regulations (www.homemedmag.com/groups.html) • Anything written by John Holt (e.g., Teach your Own, and A Life Worth Living) • The Exhausted School by John Taylor Gatto • The Independent Scholar’s Handbook: The Indispensable Guide for the Stubborn Intelligence by Ronald Gross • Nurturing Genius through Natural Learning by Brent Cameron • “Self-Design” – Canadian-based umbrella school which encourages self-directed learners – soon to be accredited in the U.S. (www.selfdesign.org) • Monica Cochran, M.Ed. – homeschooling consultant, formerly with the Clonlara School (email@example.com) • “Lyme disease and Tick-Borne Infections: Causes and Physical and Neuropsychological Effects in Children.” Ron Hamlin and Deborah Kliman. In Pediatric Disorders: Current Topics and Interventions for Educators. Paul McCabe and Steven R. Shaw (NASP and Corwin), 91 – 152. • “A Controlled Study of Cognitive Deficits in Children with Chronic Lyme Disease.” Felice Tager, Ph.D., Brian Fallon, M.D., John Keilp, Ph.D., Marian Rissenberg, Ph.D., Charles Ray Jones, M.D., Michael Liebowitz, M.D.
“Neurocognitive Abnormalities in Children After Classic Manifestations of Lyme Disease.” Bradley Bloom, M.D., Patricia Wyckoff, Ph.D., H. Cody Meissner, M.D. and Allen Steere, M.D. Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, 1998: 17, 189-96. • “Memory and executive functions in adolescents with post-treatment Lyme disease” Patrick McAuliffe, Marla R. Brassard & Brian Fallon. Applied Neuropsychology, 15: 3, July, 2008, 208-302. • “The Homeschooling Option: One Family’s Experience” and “From Public School to Homeschooling.” Maia Donnelly and Sheila Statlender, Ph.D. 2 articles in the Lyme Times, Summer, 2006, Number 45. • Judy G. Leventhal, Ph.D., (Neuropsychologist). Various communications and professional presentations. • Leo J. Shea, III, Ph.D., (Neuropsychologist). Various communications and professional presentations. • “Homeschooling with Lyme.” Ari Donnelly. Lyme Times, Winter, 2009-2010, Number 58