Home instruction is a useful tool for certain behavioral and health challenges, but it should be considered a restrictive environment and be utilized when there are no other viable options that will provide the student with access to education. Learning without the social and mental health benefits of an accepting community and school-based counseling services can leave students with mental illness and emotional issues lacking the support they need and deserve.
In 2016, approximately 3% of school-age children received instruction at home in one form or another.1 The vast majority of these 1.69 million students could be successful in a thriving school environment with support from a Sage Certified ClinicianTM.
What Are Appropriate Uses of Home Instruction?
In cases where the student is unable to be safely supported in the school environment, home instruction may be required by a medical doctor or recommended by an outside professional.
Some of the reasons students need at-home instruction include:
- Physical illness or injury requiring medical intervention that cannot safely be provided in the school setting.
- Physical illness or injury that prevents the student from moving safely around the school building or medically ordered bed rest.
- If the student’s condition presents a serious safety risk to themselves or others.
Inappropriate Uses of Home Instruction
Students with mental health challenges and emotional issues need positive social interaction and peer support to thrive. Home instruction is not appropriate for students with emotional issues, as it can do more harm than good.
With school-based therapeutic services, students with these conditions can and should be accepted in their school setting:
- Anxiety and panic disorders
- Behavioral disorders and emotional issues
- Depression or mood disorders, including suicidal thoughts
- Eating disorders
- Gender dysphoria
- School avoidance or refusal
What Are the Risks of Using Home Instruction Inappropriately?
When students are not able to interact with peers, staff, or counselors, school districts face the following risks:
- Reinforcing dysfunctional behaviors
- Hiding a worsening condition
- Missed counseling sessions and other appointments
- Failing to meet educational and IEP requirements
- Denying both the student and their peers access to supportive relationships
Making the School Setting More Supportive
While much attention is rightly focused on the student when determining whether home instruction is appropriate, school districts, staff, and teachers may need to work collaboratively toward changing the school environment to better support mental and physical health for all students.
Providing comprehensive and challenging academics in a therapeutic setting with individual, group, and family involvement will open the doors to the widest variety of students and offer the richest educational environment. Partnering with Thrive makes it possible.
As educators and board members learn more about the need and expectation to offer more mental health and social supports, they can find the solution made affordable with our effective programs. Sage Certified CliniciansTM can provide effective school-based counseling that will allow you to keep more students in-district, with the knowledge that your school can fully support them on their path to academic success and personal achievement.