You homeschool!?!?!? Aren’t you smarter than that? Didn’t you go to college to become a teacher and have a career? Your son is autistic, how are you going to ensure his social skills are developed? You are a public educator, why are you pulling your son out of public school? You know the system works!
These are all questions that were asked to me and that I asked myself when considering this adventure. Even my own family in education thought what I was doing was a huge tragedy for Wayne, and for me. When I say that choosing to homeschool was the toughest decision in my life, I truly mean it. All other tough choices were clear. This one was a cluttered choice with me having to dig deep as to what was my goal and motive for homeschooling.
1) I knew I had missed out on 2 of the most valuable years in my daughter’s life by giving my all to a group of children who were not my own children. I felt a struggle as I neglected my own children by leaving them in the care of others or just flat out not paying attention to them. Being pregnant, I did not want to miss out on those things with my 3rd child, and I wanted to be able to give my daughter all she needed from me during her later preschool days.
2) I have taught almost 100 high risk to special needs children and helped them grow significantly and almost overcome their gaps in education. However, I did not have the time or energy at the end of the day to help my own special needs child close his gap. Over the last 3 years, I have watched him make gains but only fall further and further behind instead of catching up. I knew he could do better, and I was the one who could make sure he did.
1. Provide quality curriculum in an intense but loving manner to help my son catch up to his same age peers.
2. Surpass all the IEP goals set for him by the public school system and encourage him to continue to grow.
3. Encourage, cheer, and observe my daughter grow and become excited about her own education.
4. Be a full time mommy and help encourage the 3rd (unborn at the time) to meet all of his developmental milestones and know he is loved and needed.
5. Grow as a family closer with more respect towards each other and how we are our own community.
The Main Events:
This school year, we have had meltdowns, blow outs, and battles of wills. It has been full of ups and downs. From the beginning, we had to establish roles, Mom the teacher, Mom the mother, Wayne the student, and Wayne the son. We also had to figure out where Eve fit in the picture. She was a strong willed toddler when we began the year, and although she is still only 2, she is a curious preschooler. After starting early, July 4, we plunged right into school with learning our levels and setting our own learning goals.
In September, we did something all school kids would love to do…. A field trip near the equator! We took off to Costa Rica and did school early in the morning before the rest of the group was up, and then spent the rest of the day learning through tours, trips on the beach, or just plain observing life around us. To wrap up the field trip and our learning, we celebrated with Costa Rica night.
In October, we hit burn out mountain, we were all tired. I was only a month away from delivery and worn out. We plunged through October, watching learning goals be met, the word “I can’t” disappear, and independence on the brink. We also took 2 field trips in October, 1 to King’s Mountain and 1 to Columbia to the State Museum. The State Museum was a blast that we shared with the Ropplets.
November was a fast but fun month. We tried to squeeze in all the school we could get in, along with the holiday fun we were accustomed to. Come November 24, school would be done and the first half of the year complete. With Braxton hicks contractions hitting almost daily, we managed to finish the first half of the year out with a bang. Wayne was ready to begin on all new levels come the spring semester. He had met over half his annual goals.
We had the wonderful opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving with the Landis side of the family and enjoy the festivities. Kohl (the 3rd) made his debut on his father’s birthday, November 30. We hosted Christmas with the Landis’ at our house, enjoyed a quiet Christmas on Christmas day at home, and then headed to Louisiana for more family fun.
When we arrived back home in January, we waited for about a week before truly hitting the grindstone again. Wayne continued to work hard, but would have mini meltdowns and would just struggle with getting back into his
schedule. I do not blame him; his baby brother had no schedule yet! We struggled through January and hired Kerri in February to help with Eve and to get through the distractions of school. We also started heading back to the library for Homeschool at the Library. Our learning goals had also changed in February, by the end of February, Wayne had met all of his annual goals and we needed to set new ones. Also, Wayne moved up to his 5th grade math book, and reading with books on tape to a 6th grade level. He was reading on grade level 60 wpm. We have seen tons of improvement. However, with effort, Wayne had been attacked by the 5th
Grade virus. This is the virus that keeps all 5th graders from acting like the sweet young children they were just before Christmas but instead makes them act like crazy lost minded victims of puberty. Also a huge highlight of the year, Wayne posed with a mascot!
We have approached March and are close to spring testing (later this week). Wayne has out done the expectations that I have had for this year. I believe he is actually enjoying school and knows that he is growing. This school year will end on May 24, but Wayne will continue to do 5th grade until the 1st week in August to help him finish meeting the second round of goals.
Let’s be realistic: this year has not been the most fun all the time where the world is roses and my kids have just naturally learned to be great students and children. There were downs. Just as Dr. Seuss predicted in Oh The Places you will Go! There were drab times, waiting times, and times we just wanted to give up, however, we did not give up! So let’s look at the doldrums.
1. The students do not go home. Yup, that is right they are your children, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and if you want a parent teacher conference, you have to look at yourself in the mirror.
2. There is a TON of work to do each day. For some reason, when you stay at home, your house gets messy. Now to save you the “If you give a Mouse a Cookie” Story. Basically, you have to find a way to balance the house, the big children (students), the little children (your daycare), and the husband (your principal).
3. The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men: You can have a plan, in fact a plan is suggest. A plan for everything, meals, lessons, chores, etc. However, what you do when the plan fails, truly shows your flexibility and how you react to stress. I think I am still growing here.
4. Discipline: You are going to see the best and worst in your child while homeschooling (their character, their academics, and their motivation). It is the worst that you are going to be the most surprised about and most lost!
Along with the bad times, we have experienced many great times. Those “high flying times.” Some involve friends, others successes, and many family.
1. Birth of a Baby: I have never witnessed the bond between siblings that I have seen with Kohl, Wayne and Eve. They are all so sweet to each other (almost all the time). The true miracle of the birth of the baby has brought joy, love, and overall peace to the family.
2. Finding Faith: I have always hated other people pushing their religious beliefs on me. I have also always had a unique way to view faith and religion. Therefore, I never wanted to push those beliefs onto my children. I wanted them to find God for themselves. This year, I have learned that finding God is a family effort and takes the whole family to learn and grow. If you do not introduce your children to Him, how will they ever know and love him.
3. Goals MET: The most exciting part of being an educator is seeing children meet their goals. Wayne has met and exceeded many goals this year! We have taken this special needs boy who was failing in school and moved him up 2 grade levels as far as development.
4. Seeing Thinking: I have been able to watch my children learn to think for themselves, learn letters, shapes, complex math problems, and character. All of these great steps have been a blessing to observe and know that I helped contributed.
Learning does not happen unless everyone involved is a learner and a teacher.
· I have learned many things and am still striving to master other things.
· I have learned that there is no greater joy in life then seeing your own flesh and blood succeed where they have never been successful.
· I have learned that it is best when the shit hits the fan, to turn it into a bad weather day and see what lesson life will teach you about yourself, your kids, and everyone’s character.
· I have learned that the Serenity Prayer is not enough if you truly do not try to strive for those blessings.
· I have learned that sometimes, talking about it is better than shouting about it.
· I have learned that if you expect a child to persevere, then they will. If you let them give up once, they will want to quit every time!
· I have learned that an education system without policies and procedures, but the highest stakes laid out, both the student and teacher will succeed.
· I have learned that public education policies and politics are what have kept my child from shining.
· And…. The lessons continue to come on a daily basis!
This was just a one year experience and you are putting Wayne back into public school next year right? HAHAHAHAHA! As far as I am concerned, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This year was a huge success. I think as a family we have grown as well as in academics. I feel that although there are some changes that will be made to next school year, we will continue to do the homeschooling avenue until it is no longer the correct placement for Wayne. At this point, I feel that if I were to put him back into public education, I will be doing him a disservice and say to him, you are a failure even with one on one, so go back to the garbage heap. You belong in a self-contained chaos class where you will learn to your minimal capacity.