You never think about the machinations the human brain has to go through to learn to read until you have a child who can’t read.

Learning to read is not easy. Heck it’s not even natural.

While we humans have evolved to be hard-wired to learn language, the 5,000 or so years we’ve been writing hasn’t been long enough to do the same for learning to read.

Anyone whose ever had to listen to a young child painfully and slowly sound out words in an easy reader knows that learning to read is slow and takes effort.

And despite what your child’s kindergarten teacher might tell you, there’s no scientific evidence for six being the magic age when every child should be able to read.

One of my girls has dyslexia. She didn’t learn how to read until the summer before the third grade. We struggled with her, with private reading tutors and hours spent helping her sound out basic words and memorize spelling lists.

Geez I hate spelling lists.

Once she was diagnosed half way through the second grade, we got her one-on-one tutoring with a certified academic language therapist (that’s the credential a reading tutor needs to have to work with dyslexics) and her reading took off.

And I mean really took off. In a six month period she went from not being able to read the most basic of Dr Seuss books to Harry Potter. Thank you Missy Payne!

Public school districts are required to provide a full range of special education services for their students. Private schools are not (and most couldn’t afford to).

If your child has a learning disability and you want to enroll them in a private school or home school them, is your local public school district required to provide them with any special education services?

The answer is yes.

Evaluation for special education services

If you or your child’s teacher suspect your child may have a learning disability, the first step is getting your child evaluated by a specialist.

If your child is enrolled in a private school or you home school, you have two options: find and pay for a private specialist to evaluate your child or contact your locate public school district.

Public school districts are required under federal law to look for and evaluate students who may have learning disabilities. This requirement, known as Child Find, applies to all students, whether they attend a public or a private school or are home schooled.

So which school district is the right one to contact? If your child attends a private school, contact the school district where your child’s school is located. If you are home schooling your child, contact the school district where you live.

Evaluations are paid for by the school district, and a representative from your child’s school is included in the evaluation process. The school district and your child’s school will develop a “service plan” for your child.

What’s a “service plan?” A service plan is a list of the special education services and accommodations that would be appropriate for your child.

Equitable (but not the same) services

If your child is eligible for special education, you have two choices.

You can choose to enroll your child in his or her local public school and receive the full range of special education services offered by the school district.

Or, if you decide to keep your child in private school (or continue to home school), your child is eligible to receive “equitable services.”

So what are “equitable services?” If your child receives equitable services, they will receive some special education services from the school district, but not all of the services.

You will have to decide if the limited services offered by your child’s private school together with the “some, but not all” from the school district is enough for your child.


While your child’s private school may only offer limited special education services, they are able to provide accommodations to “level the playing field” for your child.

Review your child’s service plan for possible accommodations you can request.

For example, my daughter’s school offers dyslexic children like my daughter extra time on tests, the use of assistive technology, and a quiet room for testing.

In fact, they have been very “accommodating” (no pun intended). Every accommodation we have asked for, they have granted. Her teachers, like every other good teacher, genuinely want to provide an environment where children can succeed.

Do you have a child that qualifies for special education services? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

Copyright © 2018 by Siobhán Fitzpatrick Kratovil. All Rights Reserved.