Yes, you read that right.
Me and my littlest A are homeschooling! It’s been 2 weeks and maybe we are just honeymooning but it has been AWESOME! I love it!
Now I can just about see some of you rolling your eyes, making that skeptical face and going…yeah whatever.
I get it.
I never wanted to home school, either.
In fact, until I read through my daughters’ adoption files I always said that I would never do it because I would have hated it as a child, myself! I thought that home schooling was for really large families who like to hide away from the world or display their family on TV shows! I thought children who were home schooled were all really smart, a little socially impaired and just not normal! As you can see, I really hadn’t spent much time thinking about it or taking a look at people who actually did home school! These were just my misguided perceptions, which I am thoroughly embarrassed of now.
But when special needs walks into the picture, everything changes. Suddenly I could see that even though I loved school and it would have made me miserable to be at home, for some children it may be the exact opposite!
For some kids, school causes so much stress that they spend all their time just trying to cope! This may be a result of trauma, attachment issues, learning disabilities or any number of other special needs.
There are tons of supports available, but you have to fight for them and it’ll take time. I certainly don’t recommend that every parent experiencing difficulties with their child at school should just pull them out without exploring their options, but sometimes all the support and time in the world won’t meet the real needs of your child. This is especially true in adoption.
For months, I had been saying…we’ll just give it some more time. Or, I’m not ready yet so that’s just where she needs to be.
In truth I wasn’t confidant enough that I was ready to commit to this journey or that it was the right path for my daughter. For some reason I was really afraid that I would pull her out of school and then fall flat on my face! I was afraid she wouldn’t learn, that it would all be a mess and that we would all hate it!
But somehow God has a way of making things clear and as things got worse at school my mind lingered more and more on the idea of home schooling. Part of me fought it…simply because I love school! I love the specific school my daughters were attending, and where my oldest daughter still is. I love the community. I love the staff. I love the atmosphere and all the kids. I love the special projects and events that are connected to school. I love the opportunities school brings to experience life alongside others and to have a broader view of the world. I just love it. I am a teacher, after all.
However, God began to speak to my heart and show me that my daughter needed something different. My husband and I had always promised that we would make decisions about our children’s education according to what was best for each child, one year at a time. We could no longer claim that we were doing that, and that bothered me! Even worse, I was scared and discouraged as I watched my daughter start to fall back into behaviors and patterns that we hadn’t seen in a long time! I felt like we were losing ground instead of gaining, and I missed my happy little girl. Though we had a great team at school and communicated regularly, I realized that my daughter didn’t need a teacher. She needed her Mommy. She needed me.
So in some ways I chose to home school out of desperation and because school was not working…but even more I chose to home school because I realized that I wanted to!
I missed the first four and a half years of my daughter’s life. I want to spend more time with her! I want to be there all day, every day, even though it truly does drive me crazy sometimes! I want to know every little thing that happened in her day, and to be the constant that she comes back to. I want to be the one who laughs with her, gets frustrated with her, explores the world with her and watches her learn and grow. Because even after 18 months together, I’m still getting to know her. I’m still trying to figure out who she is and how she thinks. I’m still learning her challenges, her strengths and her learning styles. I am still figuring out her love language and her sense of humor. I am still proving to her little heart that I am her Mommy and I will always love her; that even though others have come and gone I am here to stay. There is nothing that can replace TIME.
So, here goes nothing!
The next half year is a bit of an experiment, but I am so excited. I am excited to be able to focus on the things my little girl is good at, and remove some of the things she is not yet ready to handle. I am excited to use the teaching skills I have to figure out how she learns and to make learning fun for her. Choosing to home school a special needs child is completely different than choosing to home school a child who is gifted or even just average. For the special needs child, you need to lay aside curriculum expectations, most typical teaching styles and any methods that conflict with your child’s exceptionalities. I have to fight against the temptation to follow a book, accomplish too much in one day or copy other’s home school structures. Home schooling is all about finding what works for your child and your family. Once you embrace that, there is immense freedom! It is wide open from there! You get to decide what you study, how much, how long, where and when. You get to decide everything. This can feel scary, but chances are if you set out on this venture your gut will let you know the answers to these questions.
So far, it has been the best decision I’ve ever made.
I have my little girl back.
I’m seeing peace where I saw frustration and agitation. I’m seeing happiness where I saw a constant edginess. I’m seeing success where I saw failure academically. I’m seeing gentleness where I saw anger. I’m seeing a glowing pride in her bright blue eyes where I saw confusion.
It’s not all perfect, and I’m still figuring out how we’re going to handle all this. I don’t know how long we’ll be doing this, but for right now it’s the right thing. I am sure of that.
I was given some great advice from another home schooling mom.
Pray over everything you do. Pray over the math, the spelling, the reading books and the colouring. Pray for wisdom, pray for patience, pray for grace and perseverence. Pray for courage and a sense of humor. Pray for yourself, your child, your husband and your other children. Pray blessings over your child and their school work. Pray blessings over your home and family.
Know that this work you have chosen to do…been called to do…is valuable and important in the eyes of God. At the end of the day, you are Kingdom building, not just teaching ABC’s.
This is the perspective I want to embrace as we dive into this new venture. I want to teach my daughter out of a sense of gratitude, and hand all the work of our hands over to the One who can make it beautiful and valuable.