Homeschooling Your Child Who Has Pulmonary Hypertension

“Nicole finished high school late due to hospitalizations and other PH-related issues. In public school, there are only a certain number of days a student can miss before they are not able to advance to the next grade or graduate. Homeschooling provided more flexibility, which was beneficial to Nicole and her health needs.”

Families who have school-age children living with pulmonary hypertension (PH) may face difficulties when it comes to their child and school. PH can interfere with a child’s ability to learn in the classroom or participate in school activities. If PH becomes too overwhelming for your child to manage while attending school full-time, one alternative is homeschooling. This resource is designed to help parents of children living with PH learn more about homeschooling as an option for them. Read on for an overview of homeschooling, or read a parent’s experience with homeschooling her PH teen.

Is homeschooling an option for my child?

Am I equipped to homeschool?

You have been teaching your children since they were born, whether it was to walk, talk, play a game or ride a bike. Teaching primarily relies on communication. Parents who know how to communicate with their child are proven to be successful teachers in a homeschool setting. However, parents who want to homeschool must be willing to give the time and commitment that homeschooling requires.

Am I qualified to homeschool?

By law, most parents qualify to teach their children. As of 2009, forty-one states do not require homeschool parents to meet any specific qualifications and the remaining nine states require a high school diploma or equivalent. You should check with your state’s Department of Education for state-specific qualification laws.

With the proper curriculum and support, parents have the resources they need to teach their child. Homeschooling is heavily based on independent learning. Most curriculums come with teacher guides or other resources to help parents better understand the subject they are teaching. If you are not qualified to homeschool or prefer that someone else teaches your child, other options are available, including hiring a certified school teacher or using an online curriculum.

I am interested in homeschooling my child. What do I do next?

Find a support system.

Find other parents who homeschool, whether locally or online. These parents will be able to direct you on how to get started, give you advice when you need it and become a great support system. There are national and local support resources for parents who homeschool, including homeschool organizations and support groups.

Find national and local homeschooling support:

Determine your state’s laws, rules and regulations on homeschooling.

Homeschooling rules, regulations, laws and start-up procedures vary by state and county. Thus, you will need to determine your state’s and county’s rules and regulations, such as if your state and county require notification, attendance procedures or curriculum standards. Check with your county’s school system to see if there are any county-specific regulations or procedures for homeschooling. You can learn more about state-specific laws by contacting your state’s Department of Education or researching online. Look for information about homeschooling on your state’s Department of Education website or find your state on the Home School Legal Defense Association website.

Research your homeschool options.

Once you are aware of the laws and regulations, the next step is to research homeschool methods. There are many homeschooling methods available including:

  • Classical Homeschooling
  • Computer-Based Homeschooling
  • Eclectic Home Schooling
  • Textbook-Based/Traditional School
  • Unschooling
  • Online Accredited Homeschool Programs

Read an overview of these different homeschooling methods at Home School Curriculum Advisor.

Develop your homeschool plan.

Once you know what method you want to use to homeschool, you need to make a plan. You will need to determine when you will start homeschooling, what materials you need and what curriculum or program you will use. The HSLDA offers tips on how to choose the best curriculum and the different options available. Curriculums can be purchased at many different places including online or at a curriculum fair.

Additional homeschool resource websites for parents include:

A Parent’s Homeschool Journey

Jane Northrop always knew she wanted to homeschool her daughter, Nicole, but had some concerns about her ability and the process. Jane enrolled Nicole in elementary school to give the public school system a try. Upon Nicole’s completion of elementary school, Jane decided that homeschooling would be a better fit and provide Nicole with more of a challenge than the public school system could. Nicole was diagnosed with PH in 2010 when she was in the ninth grade. The PH diagnosis reinforced just how beneficial homeschooling was to Nicole and her educational success.

Jane used A Beka, an accredited homeschool program, to homeschool Nicole. This program provided Jane with the curriculum, books and other resources she needed. Jane always wanted Nicole to receive a high school diploma. Nicole earned her diploma in the spring of 2013, and started an online program at a liberal arts university in Fall 2013, to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Animation.

Most helpful homeschooling resource

Jane found researching online to be the most helpful way to get started. She found the Florida Parent-Educators Association (FPEA), an organization for home educators in Florida. Through this organization, Jane was able to learn more about the homeschooling laws in Florida and her specific county. She was also able to find a list of local homeschool support groups in her county.

Hardest part of starting the homeschool process

For Jane, the hardest part of starting the homeschool process was the self-doubt she experienced once she decided she was going to homeschool Nicole. She was unsure if she would actually be able to teach Nicole everything she needed to know. Jane was able to overcome this by talking to other homeschool parents and joining a support group for homeschool parents and their children. There, Jane was able to get advice from other homeschool parents in the community. Monthly meetings featured speakers who talked about different homeschooling issues and topics. Jane encourages any parent looking to homeschool to join a support group. For parents who live in an area without local support groups, there are online groups available.

Jane also faced resistance to homeschooling from her husband and daughter. Her husband was concerned that Jane was not a certified teacher and Nicole did not want to be taken out of school. Jane and her family had no idea what to expect from homeschooling. To overcome this resistance, Jane told her family to give homeschooling a chance. They agreed to try homeschooling for a year. If it did not work out after a year, she would enroll Nicole in public school again. After the first year, Nicole never wanted to go back to public school.

Benefits of homeschool

For Jane, a major benefit of homeschooling was that Nicole was able to finish school and graduate with a high school diploma. This would have been a much harder task, if not impossible, had she been in public school. Nicole finished high school late due to hospitalizations and other PH-related issues. In public school, there are only a certain number of days a student can miss before they are not able to advance to the next grade or graduate. Homeschooling provided more flexibility, which was beneficial to Nicole and her health needs.

Through the program she used, Nicole could work on assignments as she was able to. If she woke up late or had an appointment, she could adapt her school day to fit the needs of her schedule. Nicole’s classes were video recordings of teachers teaching students in a classroom. Science experiments and other demonstrations were performed on the videos for Nicole to see. Nicole was able to complete projects and study subjects that were of interest to her. As long as she completed the required number of credits in each subject, she could choose the classes she wanted to take. Overall, homeschooling provided a flexible environment for Nicole to learn and worked better with her health needs.

Socialization in homeschool

Jane felt that homeschooling provided Nicole with many socialization opportunities. It also got them involved in the community, much more than public school would have. The homeschool support group provided activities specifically for high school students, including field trips, co-ops, volunteer opportunities and more. Nicole also volunteered as a teacher’s assistant in a preschool class. Jane believes that the opportunity for Nicole to interact with people of all ages on a weekly basis was more beneficial than only meeting peers of her own age in a public school.

Advice for other parents

The biggest piece of advice Jane offers to other parents is that they can do it! With all the information, support and curriculum options available, there is most likely an option that fits the needs of any family looking to homeschool. Parents interested in homeschooling their child should give it a try. Should homeschooling not work out, parents can always re-enroll their child in public school.

Jane also recommends that parents make sure they know the laws of their state and county. For example, in her county, Nicole had to be evaluated by a teacher to proceed to the next grade level. Each year, a teacher was required to look through all of Nicole’s school work and evaluate her work. The teacher would then write a report about the work Nicole had completed and state whether or not she could advance to the next grade. Jane would then take that letter to the county homeschool office.

While Jane recognizes that homeschooling might not be the solution for everyone, she says that homeschooling Nicole was the best decision she ever made. Nicole benefited from homeschooling in numerous ways and excelled much more than she ever would have in public school.