Thursday, May 10, 2012

All The Reasons Why...And Then Some

Looking back through my posts I realize that I've never posted about the reasons why we've chosen to homeschool our kids. Truthfully, Josh and I had always planned to homeschool. My parents had wanted to homeschool me and my brother but back then they couldn't afford it and private school was out of the question. Josh was homeschooled himself through high school and had also attended private Christian schools off and on through his schooling years. We did a lot of praying and discussing and we both felt the same, we felt the Lord leading us to homeschool. I apologize for the length of this, we went through a lot before we finally opened our eyes to the wisdom of homeschooling our kids.

Then the big whammy that life threw into the mix, Joey having down syndrome and Jaysen having autism. We honestly thought that we couldn't homeschool, that they had to go to public school. It really wasn't that bad at first. Through preschool and the first couple years of elementary school, Joey had excellent teachers who were truly the cream of the crop. The kind that adore their students and love their jobs. Things went downhill with the next teacher, one who did not care for the students and was not interested in truly educating a group of special education kids. Joey went from the star student to the class troublemaker. Joey was accused of being uncooperative, mean, aggressive with other students and even accused of inappropriately touching another student (it was determined later that it wasn't true). It didn't help, either, that the school cooks weren't as careful with his dietary restrictions as they were required to be and Joey was eating a lot of stuff that made him sick. The final straw came when Joey had a potty accident and the staff left him in the bathroom for more than 30 mins without checking on him and carried on with the rest of class. We brought Joey home and never looked back. We have spent many a day wondering if the problems Joey experienced with that teacher were due to Joey truly being a problem or if it was the teacher. Our instincts told us it was the teacher but we couldn't prove it. We've since talked with another mom who had a child in that class and she had the same experience with her daughter as we had with Joey. Lesson learned: trust your instincts.

Jaysen unfortunately had a less than positive experience at first thanks to a set of dreadful Head Start teachers who refused to give him the help he needed and fought us as we sought to find out the correct diagnosis for Jaysen's issues (at the time we thought it was ADHD only to find out it was very much more). When Jaysen was recommended to spend a third year in preschool, things began to get better thanks to a wonderful teacher and staff. That following summer Jaysen was diagnosed properly with autism and was then referred to an inclusive kindergarten program designed specifically for children with autism. His kindergarten teacher was AMAZING!!!! She fought hard to get Jaysen into the right class when he went to 1st grade and helped us get set up with a fantastic teacher that Jaysen would have for two years. But that 2nd grade year was not fun. Jaysen came home from school in tears many times, the friend he thought he had betrayed him and teamed up with another boy to tease and bully Jaysen, other kids were bullying Jaysen and by the end of that school year, Jaysen was so miserable that he begged us to never make him go back. I had wanted to pull Jaysen sooner but Josh felt Jaysen needed to stick it out. Even on Jaysen's worst day of homeschool, he still has no desire to go back to public school. I know in my heart that if Jaysen had continued in public school the bullying would've turned physical and I don't want to even think what may have happened.

One of the things I had always disliked about sending the boys to public school was feeling I had no control over their lives and I had no idea what was going on. Up until they started preschool, I had been so involved in all their therapies and appointments and such. I knew everything that was happening and what it took to deal with each individual issue. Once they were in school, I knew nothing. Nobody would really answer my questions with much detail and every summer I would ask for lists from the therapists of things to do with the boys over the summer to keep up their progress; nobody ever provided a single list. More and more I felt like I was losing my children and I could nothing about it. The nagging and tugging at my heart continued until I finally listened and realized what it was; the Lord. When Josh and I sat back and listened to Him, we finally heard what He had been saying all along. We could homeschool and we should homeschool and God would open all the doors we needed to make it happen.

One of our biggest worries was how would the boys continue to get the therapies they needed. We couldn't afford to pay out of pocket and the state insurance wouldn't cover much. We found out that in our state, public schools are required to provide any and all theraputic services that children need regardless of whether or not they are enrolled in public school. That was good, but Josh and I really did not want to have anything to do with the schools at all if we could help it. Then God opened another door when our daughter was 15 months old. Katie hadn't met her speech milestones and the doctor referred her to a pediatric speech therapy practice. We talked with the staff and to our suprise they accepted the insurance for all 3 kids, so therapy problem solved!! A simple referral from the doctor and we had that fixed. Joey had actually been graduated out of 1-on-1 physical therapy at school, his gross motor skills were right on target for his age and the school therapist felt he no longer needed help and could continue in a group P.E. with just a few adaptations. Of course, with homeschooling, we can easily accomodate all his adaptations and he also participates in a baseball league just for kids with mental/physical disabilities. His fine motor skills still need some work but that is easily worked on at home with some good books and tips from the internet plus the different techniques we learned over the years.

With the exception of a few things here and there, nearly all of Joey's behavior issues have disapeared. We still have a problem with the habit he learned with his last teacher of "playing stupid" when he doesn't want to learn but he's figuring out quickly that if he doesn't do his lessons then he's in big trouble. Both boys have improved so much with being homeschooled and we are really proud of how hard they work. Katie is our only one who will be homeschooled from the start and she's doing well, although she has some cognitive delays as well as her speech delay but the beauty of homeschool is we can work with her issues and help her more.

Homeschooling the kids is anything but easy. But I will take a bad day of homeschool over a day of either of the boys coming home from school in tears any day of the week.

1 comment:

lelia said...

Could you add a widget that will let me tweet your posts?