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Homeschooling a Child with Speech Problems
Q: My four-year-old son's speech isn't at the level it should be. Do you know of a homeschool program that will assist me?
A: First, I would do some reading about homeschooling. Linda Dobson has three excellent books to help you get off to a good start. The Homeschooling Book of Answers is my favorite because each question is answered by six or seven different veteran homeschoolers and leaders in the homeschool community. Her latest book, The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child: Your Complete Guide to Getting Off to the Right Start is also filled with helpful information. Lastly, Homeschooling: The Early Years: Your Complete Guide to Successfully Homeschooling the 3- to 8-Year-Old Child provides lots of specific advice about the unique challenges of teaching the very young child at home.
I, too, homeschooled a child with speech difficulties. It was very hard for her to communicate with others, and it was a heartbreaking experience to see kids walk away from her because they couldn't understand what she was trying to say. I'm certain this problem would have been exacerbated in a school environment, where she would have been forced to attempt communication with many people before she was physically able to do so. Today, at eight years old, she is a popular child with no trace of speech difficulties. She is still homeschooled.
I did sample several speech programs, but none of them were particularly helpful. I researched speech irregularities, and discovered that maturity was the biggest factor for attaining clear speech. For instance, the "R" and "S" sounds are sometimes delayed in children, and are often not stabilized until seven or eight years old. By seven years old, most of my daughter's speech problems were beginning to go away, and by eight they disappeared entirely. Good luck!
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Isabel Shaw is a freelance writer and homeschooling mom of 15 years. She and her husband Ray homeschool their two daughters, Jessica and Amanda. Besides being a contributor to FamilyEducation.com, Shaw has written for Home Education Magazine, The Link, Homeschooling Horizons Magazine, The Homeschool Gazette, and other publications.