Despite whether or not your child has a learning difficulty, parents should assess their children’s needs and find suitable, local schools. For example, some children respond better to more rigid schedules and discipline, while others thrive in an open, hands-on environment. For a child with special needs, finding a good fit is most important.
Just because your child is diagnosed with a disability does not mean that he/she cannot attend private school. Public school districts are required to spend a proportionate share of their federal special education funds for students with disabilities parentally placed in private schools, to fund service plans. Public school districts are required to meet with the administrators of private institutions in their area at least annually to discuss what services they will provide.
Parents may decide to enroll their children in home school programs for a variety of reasons. Some feel their child needs the small structured environment of home. Some do not want their child exposed to the standardized requirements of a public school. Some need to avoid social situations. It could be that the child is involved in an activity that requires them to have an extremely flexible schedule.
If you believe your home-schooled child has a learning difficulty, you have the right to an evaluation and to seek services from your local public school district. However, the school district is not required to provide services to home-schooled children.
Options in Jewish Baltimore
At most local private Jewish day schools, SHEMESH is available to fill the void. In these schools, SHEMESH provides the following services:
- Advocacy for Students
- Case Management
- Day School Learning Centers (for fee)
- Early Childhood Intervention
- Executive Function Coaching
- Facilitation of Inclusion in the Day School
- Professional Development for General and Special Educators
- Reading Intervention
- Social Skills Development
- Speech/Language/Occupational Therapy & Consultation
- Strategies and Behavior Management Instruction
Supplementary Jewish Learning
For those parents who opt to send their child with special needs to a public school or to a secular private school, their child can still engage in Jewish learning. The Macks Center for Jewish Education (CJE) offers Gesher LaTorah. Gesher LaTorah literally means, “a bridge to the Torah,” and is the CJE’s dynamic community-based Jewish special education program serving students with significant special needs between the ages of four and 21. Students attending Gesher LaTorah are usually enrolled in a self-contained classroom and have special needs including autism, developmental disabilities, language disabilities or physical challenges.
In addition, the mission of Inspiration Express is to provide children with a recreational, informative and supplementary Jewish experience that empowers them with a sense of competence and confidence with their Jewish heritage. Through the provision of low-cost, high-convenience, weekly after-school lessons and monthly family activities that are recreational, creative and provide "camp-style" fun, Inspiration Express will awaken Jewish pride, values and appreciation in our participants. This program initiates a life-long process of growth and a love of learning that will instruct its participants throughout their lives.