Homeschooling a bipolar child can be a good decision. One of the biggest challenges in my work with bipolar children is working with the public school system. I have had many failed attempts to work with school personnel to help them understand the issues bipolar children face.
Some of the key reasons for homeschooling children with bipolar disorder are:
Self esteem is a positive sense of self. Kids cannot develop a positive self concept unless they have success. Bipolar children and adolescents often struggle with simple tasks like getting out of bed to go to school. They struggle with learning, peer interactions, and teachers. Getting through a school day takes every ounce of energy they have. These children already know they are different from other kids. They know they take medicine, cannot control their emotions, and that their parents fight because of their behavior. Difficulties at school may add to their sense of failure. I have bipolar adolescent clients who still talk about how traumatizing kindergarten was. Because the symptoms of their diagnosis are often attributed to bad behavior, they are treated like bad kids, and you are treated as a bad parent! Homeschooling can build self esteem and protect them from harmful experiences. If a child is unstable a school setting can exacerbate their illness.
Schools can be completely inflexible with children who have bipolar disorder. Bipolar children may need modifications in their school day that the school is unwilling to make. Technically the school is required to make them, but can be a long fight, and sometimes it’s not worth it. Homeschooling allows you to start and stop whenever you want, to coach your child through difficult times, and to abandon teaching methods that don’t work. A regular classroom setting does not usually make these accommodations.
Bipolar children are that they are often very creative and talented. This is one of the reasons I love working with them. Traditional school settings do not always foster creativity. Most of these kids have incredible musical, writing or artistic talent. This needs to be fostered. Homeschooling a bipolar child makes it possible to capitalize on their strengths.
Homeschooling a bipolar child enables you to monitor your child’s nutrition intake. Bipolar children usually have food issues and sugar, caffeine and carbohydrate intake need to be monitored. Medications can side effects that make children ravenous. Feeding kids healthy food at regular intervals helps to stabilize their moods.
If your child is having rapid mood swings, homeschooling will allow you to monitor you child’s moods hourly, and adjust the demands on their attention concentration and energy level based on the patterns you discover.
When is Homeschooling a Bipolar Child not a Good Idea?
If your child is experiencing a great deal of academic or social success in the school setting it may not be a good idea to home school them.
If your child is aggressive or violent towards you, and the parent- child relationship is a greater source of tension than those in school, it may be better not to home school.
If you have a household structure that would allow for you to home school your child, but doubt your own ability, please don’t! A loving, safe, flexible environment is a much better place to learn then one that the child perceives as hostile. Not one parent I know who has made the decision to home school regrets it. In fact most, wish they made the decision to do it earlier. Homeschooling a bipolar child can create a sense of safety and stability that is necessary not only for learning but for healing from their illness.