Sunday, November 13, 2011
Why did we decide to homeschool?
Why...oh....why???? Why would we choose to give up "free" public education for our children?
Well our journey began when we still lived in Indiana. In our area, homeschooling was very popular. When we started having trouble with Joey while he was going through Kindergarten the first time, we started researching and trying to decide if it was possible. At the time I was doing daycare, had a newborn baby and Brayden (who was already receiving special services and they were using that dreaded "A" word to talk about him). We stuck it out in public school.
We decided to move to a smaller district thinking that may help the situation for Joey. Less students equals more programs...right....NO CHANCE! We had Joey repeat kindergarten because we could tell he wasn't ready to move on to 1st grade yet. It was a challenging year of meltdowns, tantrums, and struggles. He was diagnosed ADHD, but not with any other issues yet. 1st grade started and more trouble started and the old situations continued.
Our young principal tried, but had no idea how to handle the situations that Joey would present on a daily basis. Meltdowns would occur right after he would get to school, and continue until he was picked up. There were days I had to pick him up within half an hour of school starting. I was basically homeschooling him already. He was behind on schoolwork. Even after several warnings about the intensity of Joey's meltdowns, the principal chose not to listen to my warnings. During a meltdown, Joey took the principal out with a swift kick (I probably should just say he was brought to his knees.). Joey didn't mean to do it, he was just swinging his legs hard which at the time was a calming act he would do. The principal insisted on kneeing down to Joey's level and that's what happened.
The principal threw in the towel and threatened to call the police on a 7 year old. I was nice and didn't kick him myself. Joey didn't even remember what had happened. So here my 7 year old was scared because he thought he was going to be arrested. He was suspended with full grades and transferred to an Emotionally Disabled (or ED) classroom in a district 45 minutes from our home. Joey was forced to ride a bus to school an hour one way.
The teacher there was awesome, but the busing got bad. Joey couldn't control himself. Medication issues were causing roller coaster emotions. He was diagnosed by this point with severe ADHD, Aspergers, Visual Perception Delay, fine & gross motor skill delays, and OCD. (I think I am forgetting something.). He missed a lot of school for therapy and doctor appointments. The district was threatening me with each missed day....so one day I forced him on the bus. He was borderline meltdown, but I made him go anyway to avoid the phone call from the district. 20 minutes after pick up, I get a phone call to get Joey from the bus garage. He is in police custody. My 8 year old in police custody!!! WHAT!!! I started yelled at the bus superintendent and threatened him. And went running out the door.
Well to make a long story short after many unkind words to the bus superintendent and threatening calls to the superintendent of the schools, the situation was handled. The police questioned why they were called to deal with an autistic meltdown. I responded, "Because of laziness and the inability to listen to the parental warnings given." The officer shrugged, made sure I got Joey into the van ok and left.
At that point we let him say goodbye to his teacher and classmates, and pulled him from school. Joey and I schooled and worked on his learning style. And I started having more and more issues with Brayden in the same district. He was having manic episodes at school. The teacher was allowing him to wander the halls unsupervised of an unlocked building!!!! The full-time aide was worthless and never anywhere near him....or she couldn't be found.
I nicely brought a situation up to the principal, and she responded sarcastically to me....and I decided that my child was not going to become a statistic and just an extra paycheck for the district. He was missing one full day a week for therapy, and I already told the attendance officer to give me a better solution. She couldn't....so we pulled him. It was obvious that the district did not have any plan in place for autistic children, and they didn't want the advice of the outside world (or even the child's parent) to guide them in any direction.
Lydia started school also, but because of Joe's travel schedule. She missed two weeks of school right after school started. Her teacher and principal were very nice about the situation, but the attendance officer got sarcastic with me AGAIN!! Told me basically that I did not know how to educate my children. Tried to drag the other two boys into the situation that should have solely been about Lydia. So after being told that, I thought, "Well, even though we love her teacher. Life isn't going to be changing for us. She needs to homeschool also."
So even though we started out of necessity, I am grateful that we made this choice. I love introducing the children to new topics, countries, and cultures. I love making lessons as creative as I can. This decision, though scary and difficult, is one that I would not change for anything.
Our life is always changing, and I keep adjusting to fit the needs of the kids. And yes our life is a bit hectic...but I have lots of pictures to prove that their lives are not boring.
And when life is so stressful I just feel like balling up and crying, I stop and remember how much I love the kids and teaching them. I say prayers for strength to endure whatever is thrown at me that day (and I mean thrown both verbal and physically). I love the ability to take advantage of time to talk with the kids, that otherwise I wouldn't get because they would be away from 8-9 hours a day. I really think that this has allowed Joey's faith to become more concrete to him. In the past few months he has made many changes, and I really believe that it is because he is homeschooled. It gives us more one-on-one time for me to answer his important questions that come at weird times. Times when a public school teacher would not be able to answer questions that involve faith.
So even though there is a belief out there that Special Needs children should not be homeschooled, we have a different view. Even the boys psychiatrist applauds our efforts to continue to homeschool. When someone makes a comment, I just know they are not educated on homeschool. And they have no idea what great efforts we take to make sure all the kids learn.
So they is why we decided to homeschool.....first out of necessity. And then because we wanted to out of love.