If an appropriate learning situation is not available in your geographic region, and if the stresses of school—any kind of school—are making it difficult for the child to function, or to recover from an episode or hospitalization, some parents may want to consider the option of homeschooling.

Homeschooling was viewed, not too long ago, as very counterculture, or something that people did solely because of religious beliefs. As outcomes of homeschooling were measured, however, and the homeschooled children often tested two years ahead of their in-schooled peers, homeschooling has become more generally accepted. All 50 states allow for it as long as the parent completes the necessary paperwork with the state’s department of education. To locate your state’s DOE, go to http://www2.ed.gov/about/contacts/state/index.html.

Thanks to advances in technology, homeschooling can be done richly and effectively on computers with CD-Rom curricula or even over the Internet. This mode of learning may be particularly beneficial for a bipolar child because it focuses learning and helps students with attentional problems. One such curriculum, Switched-On Schoolhouse, is an advanced multimedia-based learning environment that incorporates video clips, sound files, animations, computer games, drills and tests. With earphones, a parent can homeschool several children.

The student works at his or her own pace and if a hospitalization should interrupt learning, the student doesn’t miss the work but just picks up where he or she left off.

Switched-On Schoolhouse has curricula for grades 3-12, but it is a Christian curriculum with some religious content woven sporadically throughout the text. If this is an issue, a similar secular program is available from Pathway Publishers and is called “Odyssey Ware” (see homeschooling web sites below).

The availability of special education services for homeschooled children varies from state-to-state. Some states may consider a homeschooled student to be enrolled part-time in the local district; in this case, the district would continue to provide full or partial services under an IEP. Other states classify homeschooling as private schooling, so the student is not entitled to an IEP. (However, the student may qualify for a services plan. See http://www.ideapractices.org/law/briefs/brief10.php for a description of the law when parents place their child in a private school.)

You will need to research the practices and options in your state and local district. Start with your state’s Department of Education. The following link may help you determine the current status of special ed services for homeschoolers in different states: http://www.hslda.org/search.asp.

To further explore the prospect of homeschooling, or to take a look at programs that may help a child catch up when work is missed, take a look at the following web sites:

http://www.elementaryeducationdegree.com/101-homeschooling-sites/— An extensive list of home schooling support and information sites . Found within the site: Elementary Education Degree .

http://www.home-school.com –Official web site of Practical Homeschooling Magazine, Listing of homeschooling organizations in your area, Home Life Catalogue, Discussion forums.

http://www.HSLDA.org — The Home School Legal Defense Association

http://www.network54.com/Forum/180575— Interesting discussion forums for parents who are or are thinking about homeschooling.

http://www.aop.com — Switched-On Schoolhouse ‘s CD-Rom Curricula and other Alpha Omega products

http://www.pathwaypublishers.com (Odyssey Ware CD-ROM curricula, the secular version of Switched-On Schoolhouse)

ttp://www.welcometoclass.com — On-line accredited schooling from Alpha Omega Publishers (interactive schooling with teachers, counselors and support staff)