I’m quitting my job this summer.
My academic research psychology position just isn’t making me happy… to put it mildly. Instead, I’m going to strike out on my own. Seeing a gap that needs to be filled, I’ve decided to open a clinical practice that focuses on the assessment needs of homeschoolers.
Right now, if you’re a homeschooler concerned that your child may have a learning disability, an attention issue, or special educational needs, your main option for an assessment is the public school system. Under federal IDEA law, the schools are responsible for identifying children with learning differences. However, many homeschoolers find that the public schools don’t really satisfy their needs.
The evaluation is likely to focus on questions of eligibility for special education services, school-based intervention programs, and classroom accommodations. Parents may be given very little advice about how to modify their homeschooling practices to remediate or accommodate their child’s difficulties. Understandably, school personnel aren’t knowledgeable about homeschooling curricula or different homeschooling philosophies which may impact educational choices. And many homeschoolers feel judged or misunderstood when they interact with the public system.
Private psychologists will also do assessments, of course, but these can be quite expensive and may be nearly as unsuited to the homeschooling context. Families may find themselves spending a lot of time educating the professional they hired about homeschooling.
I’m going to be able to provide assessment services that are well-informed about homeschooling, and recommendations that are written to the layperson and focused on the homeschool environment. Afterwards, I can consult periodically with families as they work with their kids to strengthen weak areas and work around problems.
Other families might just need a simple IQ test to establish their child’s eligibility for a program for gifted kids, or simple achievement testing to determine grade level in various subjects – say, when their child is coming out of school and they need to pick appropriate curriculum levels. I can do that too.
I think this will be a tremendous opportunity to serve the community, and it will also be work that I’ll really enjoy. And having my own practice, setting my own hours, will allow me to work less and have more time with the kids. I’ve been unhappy about racing through homeschooling most days to go running off to work, and I’ve worried about what it would be like to have both kids home. Now I’ll have the chance to set up a much more sustainable rhythm of work, schooling, and home life.