Kildonan admissions 01

Home School? Private School? Why the School System Doesn’t Work for Kids with Dyslexia

The upshot of the neuropsychological assessment is that our daughter, who has dyslexia, should go to a school specific to kids with language disabilities or we should consider home schooling. I apologize for the semantics as I usually say reading or language differences, but this is how everything was presented to us, and this is the beginning of our story. Whether it is a gift, difference or disability can be debated with input in another post.

I was totally floored by this suggestion, and certainly not proud of my judgmental, knee-jerk reaction, but once I saw the price tag of the recommended schools, and the way our lives could be altered, I became what my old corporate vocabulary used to term “guardedly optimistic.” Now, it’s not that I think home schooling is awful. There are kids that could thrive in a home school environment, and for some families, it is a great choice. Look at Sawyer Fredericks, the winner of The Voice. There’s a mature guy. For us, though, home schooling is not a natural or a good choice. Our daughter is social and athletic. She lists eating lunch with her friends as one of her favorite subjects. She thrives being around her peers, and it would be a crime to remove her from a more social setting.

My gut tells me that the best solution for my daughter is a private school for language differences. Why a school for language differences? She wouldn’t be stuck with me all day, and she would be around other smart and gifted kids with challenges similar to her own, and most important, teachers that know how to teach to dyslexics. Why is it so hard for kids with language/reading differences to get access to schools with teachers trained to teach them? Parents of kids with hearing or visual impairments don’t fight to be taught with sign language or Braille-as far as I know. Why are multi-sensory curricular interventions a fight?

So, in the best scenario, we consider a school for language differences. Here are the challenges we face:

1.The nearest school is an hour and twenty minutes away.
2.The annual tuition is challenging.
3.Our lives could be irrevocably altered.

While a school specific to language disabilities is a great recommendation there’s the issue of our life in a car. Assuming she will participate in extracurriculars, she will have a crazy, long day, and I will be in the car for potentially six hours unless I park myself somewhere in the vicinity of the school, and hang out all day. When would I run? What about our dog? But hey, this is about our daughter and her future.

Then there’s the issue of cost. Unless we win Powerball or Mega Millions, yes, I’m willing to give that a try, we may as well throw our retirement plans out the window. My spouse and I will be paying back the tuition or recovering from our depleted savings until we die or ultimately through all of our assets and savings. The logical solution is that the school district will pay, and I’m willing to take up that fight, but logic has never been my friend, and I’m tired.

Finally, there’s my spouse. While our daughter could easily adjust, with minor complaints, to life in a small town, how would we get through the next seven years being apart? My spouse needs to stay in her job for five more years before she can retire so how would we make that work? Rent a place near the school and then come home on weekends? Buy a house halfway between her job and our daughter’s school? The dog would come with us, but what about the cats? Any choice rocks our world, but there comes a point where the sacrifice is the difference between seeing our daughter thrive versus barely get through middle school or high school.

So, knowing we need all the information we can get to make a decision, on Friday we spent a few hours at The Kildonan School, a private school in Amenia, New York, for kids with language disabilities. Stay tuned!

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  1. linndc August 17, 2017 at 1:22 am

    This is exactly where we were with Michael when he was about her age. I was the only one with a job and working remotely wasn’t an option then. And the tuition!!! OMG!!! It would have been like paying cash for college for 6-7 years!

    We didn’t have any other options. He stayed in the Catholic school where he had been for the first 6 years of school, went to the local Catholic high school, and I spent the entire time fighting for him, advocating for him, and trying to help him survive his education.

    I will tell you honestly…if I had to do it all over again, I would have found another way to earn a living (I always do!) and homeschooled him. He paid a hefty price for trying to cope in an environment that just could not support him. I strongly encourage you to reach out to homeschool support groups and do the research. I can put you in touch with someone I know (I think you know her too, actually) who homeschools her two children mostly because they have life-threatening food allergies. They both appear to be thriving.

    Also, “homeschooling” doesn’t mean the teacher HAS to be you all the time. I would consider looking into having tutors come in on a regular basis. You may not be able to afford having a full-time private teacher come to your house, but having a part-time educational partner would do a lot to help you carry the load. You could probably spend half the money you need for tuition and get a stellar person to come out regularly.

    Social interactions can be engineered. You can talk to her current school about keeping her involved in their extracurricular activities, if they’re open to working with you. Look for community groups and activities that she might enjoy.

    Homeschooling is a rapidly growing option. It’s not limited to the narrow subset of personality types usually associated with it. It might be worth some serious consideration, given the impact a specialized school would have on all of your lives.

    In the end, no matter what happens though, she benefits the most from having you as her loving parent and fierce advocate. Michael did not have an ideal setting, and I won’t minimize the negative impact of that; however, he DID survive and is a lovely and loving man who makes me very proud. 🙂 Donna

  2. marion August 17, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    Thanks for the comment, Donna. Those are great options. I love hearing that Michael is thriving, and I have no doubt that he is a lovely man. Stay in touch!


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