Unexpected Benefit of Homeschooling

September 22, 2014

This past week I became aware of an unexpected benefit of homeschooling. It is easy to think of the benefits of being able to teach to your child’s interests, flexible scheduling, using books or videos to teach, and even teaching on snow days.

However, this past week I was attending a meeting in my new position as parent educator/advocate when I became aware of a benefit because of what could have been. I was at this meeting and parents were describing the horrors their children go through being educated in the public school system.

As a parent of a special needs child, most of the mothers are unable to hold a job while their child is in school. They have to be able to leave at a moment’s notice to go pick up their child due to a meltdown. Since insurance companies are cutting services, these special children are being left without any additional supports in our schools. The schools are not able to pick up the slack, either due to interest or lack of funding.

Teachers today do not have the training to handle the special challenges that a classroom of 30+ children may have. In today’s classroom, a teacher not only has to teach to the test, she has to handle emotional and behavioral issues that half her students may have. You have kids coming from broken homes, dealing with issues such as neglect, poverty, substance abuse, and being raised by the TV/computer games. There is simply no way a teacher can handle this type of situation on her own.

I’m not talking down about teachers. I studied to be a classroom teacher myself. I admire the profession. In fact, I feel the teaching profession should be one of our highest paid professions. I think it is a shame that Americans pay professional sport players millions of dollars and teachers rarely get paid a living wage. Teachers are not allowed to discipline any more either.

I could go on about the teaching profession and its challenges, but I want to return to the point of ‘what might have been.’

When my son was younger, he had many issues that would have made attending public school a living nightmare. He was given so many labels that he would have been placed in a special ed classroom. Those special teachers deserve crowns of gold. I have been in those rooms subbing, so I know what they deal with. However, the students often do not receive much of an education. They get the basics, maybe. And I mean basics. There is no following of interests or abilities.

I thought of my son. Due to his challenges, he would not have been able to learn what he was good at. In fact, I could easily see how the prediction I was given when he was nine would have come true. He would have had to be placed in a home or I would have had to stay home to care for him on a full-time basis. He never would have been able to earn his Eagle Award in Scouts. He never would have been his 4-H Club president. He would never have been able to follow his interest in history to the point where he can discuss Ancient History and each president’s term in great detail. In fact, he probably wouldn’t have learned to read since I used the Bible to teach him to read after he failed to learn using multiple reading programs.

Listening to these parents and the challenges their kids face on a weekly basis made my heart hurt. Their kids face the same things my son faced in regards to challenges. However, the road diverged for my son. He was able to be homeschooled where those challenges were accepted and worked around. He didn’t have to fight to have an IEP/504 to try to get accommodations. His insurance company couldn’t cut services just so he can get help to stay in the classroom without a meltdown.

I want to encourage you on those days when you wonder if homeschooling your special needs child is worth it, think of what could have been. Then look at your special blessing and thank God for the opportunity to help your child fulfill his potential.

Walking Down Memory Lane

August 10, 2014

My special blessing turned 18 last month. Tomorrow we celebrate a huge accomplishment in his life. He earned his Eagle award for Boy Scouts.

Today we were sharing information about my son’s Eagle Ceremony tomorrow. People were coming up here and there to congratulate both of us for his accomplishment.

As we were leaving, my mind flashed back to when he was 10. He had just be diagnosed the year before. I was still scrambling trying to figure out how I can avoid the prognosis I was given by the school system.

When there was a potluck during the summer at the park, my son would come sit only long enough to shove a plate of food into his mouth. After that, (still not talking to anyone) he would take off to walk the perimeter of the park for over an hour until we were ready to leave. No matter what I did, he would not talk to any of the other kids.

In the youth group he belonged in, along with the scouts, the kids made fun of him. At 10, he was not even reading yet. I fought countless battles trying to get the adults to do something about how the kids treated him. Nothing. I used to get so very angry.

Finally, 5 years ago, I got him into 4-H. He spent 3/4 of the year griping about it. Then something happened. Not sure what but he started talking to the other kids. Over the next year, this spread to the scouts (changed clubs) and the youth group.

Now, at a newly 18 year old young man, he has earned Eagle, the highest rank in Scouting. Less than 4% earn this honor. He has been elected by his peers to be in Order of the Arrow (honor scouts). He has now been appointed by his Scout troop parents to be asst Scout Master. He is president of his 4-H club. He has friends, real friends, from all over the PNW area.

Today, during a potluck, he sat at a group of friends (same kids that used to tease him), talked and laughed.

Wow, what a ride it has been. He is still Aspie through and through, but he can carry himself in public and talk with anyone about a wide variety of topics. He still doesn’t like people, but he can socialize well enough. He still has ADD and other learning challenges, but he has learned the needed skills to function as a successful adult. He will never have to be put into a group home as I was told when he was 9. He has strong opinions about things and he can express himself well.

That prognosis I was given when he was 9…that was a bunch of crap. I tell parents all the time not to allow a label limit their child. I dare anyone to tell me that the 11 labels my son was given has limited him.

Yeah, I guess I’m bragging. I think I have the right. I worked my butt off the past 9 years to help him become the man God created to be. I did not want him to be an adult as I was, scared to say hi to someone. I wanted him to learn the skills he needed at a young age, rather than in his mid-40s.

Tomorrow is going to be a huge ‘leaky’ day for me. I know it now since I tear up every time I think of how far he has come. I’ve been blessed by having such a son.

thanks for allowing me this sentimental moment

Helping a new homeschooler

October 18, 2010

Last week I met with a friend who has only been homeschooling a couple of years. She was frustrated with her curriculum choices. Her children were not appearing to ‘get it’.

We went through her stuff. I shared some resources I had. We discussed ways to combine what she had bought with new stuff. I showed her how to apply book learning to real-life.

It was good. She is doing better now. Her children are happier.

Sometimes it helps to connect with another homeschooler to help smooth out your program issues. Brainstorming is fun and works great.

Get together with another homeschooler in your area soon. It will benefit both of you greatly.

 

Welcome to Homeschooling Special Children

April 8, 2010

Welcome you wonderful parents who have taken off a big bite so your special child can have the best education you can provide. Home schooling is not easy with “normal” children. It takes a lot of work, preparation, and money. It takes a lot of sacrifice.

When you add a child into the mix with special needs, then you triple all the work required. I have been home schooling for over 15 years. I actually lost count some years ago since I home schooled my older children before my youngest was born. They are all adults now. I have only one super-special child left at home.

You know how it is. You have successfully taught others, but nothing is working with this child. Nothing. No matter how hard you try, he is not getting it. So you stop. Regroup. Try something different.

Maybe the child has ADD/ADHD, Aspergers, CP, dyslexia, or even a gifted child who is not challenged. It doesn’t matter what the diagnosis is. It takes something more to reach this child in order to prepare him for real life.

Here we will discuss different matters in dealing with our special child. We will discuss wonderful books, some great curriculums, some support groups, even discipline for that wild child.

I have a special child who has a long list of issues. He has been a blessing from God from the very beginning. We have made great progress over the years. I will share what I have learned. I am working on my Master’s degree in counseling. I lead out in a parent support group for special children. I am a writer and speaker.

I know that together we can find some solutions to your problems. We can provide some support for each other. Come in and grab a chair. Relax. Let the kids watch the History channel for a few minutes while you check in for some respite care.

Things will get better. I have seen this happen. Take a deep breath. And relax.

Welcome.

Hello world!

April 8, 2010

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