Don’t Let a Piece of Paper Place Children in an Educational Box

Carol’s story of personalizing her daughter’s education through homeschooling is a genuine example of a Smart Parent. Like Carol, we believe that, “All children can succeed if we are able to think outside the box and create an education that truly fits the needs of each unique child.”

We’re sharing this blog, that first appeared on The Ed Fly, in celebration of  the “Smart Parents” series. Sponsored by Nellie Mae Education Foundation, the series and culminating book, tentatively titled “Parenting for Powerful Learning,” will act as a resource to guide parents in creating, choosing and advocating for powerful, student-centered learning experiences for their children. If you have stories to tell about your own decision-making processes as a parent helping your student to navigate through their educational journey, email us using [email protected] with subject line “Smart Parents” and follow the conversation using #SmartParents on Twitter. For more information about the project see Calling All Smart Parents.



Carol Iles 

In our family, six-year-old Kasey is the proud big sister of the bunch. Kora (3) and Renly (1) think she’s the best. And she is.

Kasey loves learning. She loves playing with her siblings and using her imagination. She loves making new friends and going on playdates. Kasey also happens to be paraplegic. She was diagnosed with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephelus before she was born.

This has been our first year homeschooling Kasey, an option that allows us to customize her education to meet her unique needs. We are about halfway through her kindergarten lessons at this point. Like most kids, she has her favorite subjects: loves math and handwriting…not the biggest fan of phonics.

Kasey’s different diagnoses, Hydrocephelus and seizures mean extra learning hurdles, time constraints and challenges for our family. In addition to her school studies, she has to spend time strengthening her hands and fine motor skills which greatly impact her educational journey.

Thanks to the Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts (PLSAs) in Florida, Kasey will be able to receive tools that give her the more customized experience she needs. She will be able to access a tablet device and educational software which we would not be able to afford otherwise. It will give her the ability to learn on the go when she is in waiting rooms or in the car on the way to various appointments and therapies. These small tools will contribute in big ways to Kasey’s educational growth. It gives our family resources to help her succeed.

My hope for Kasey is that she will reach her full potential in spite of all the “extras” she has to deal with. I don’t want to limit her life choices based on her diagnoses. I want her to do whatever it is she sets her mind to, and I want to give her every opportunity in life to learn and grow. I am thankful a PLSA will help make that possible.

Don’t let a piece of paper place children in an educational box based on their diagnosis. As more families access PLSAs, I know more will see that all children can succeed if we are able to think outside the box and create an education that truly fits the needs of each unique child.

Carol Iles is the mother of three children, including six-year-old Kasey with special needs, in Fleming Island, Fla.

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