Monday, May 26, 2014

The School Year That Wasn't

I have barely found time to write here this year, and some times I have avoided it. The avoidance is a result of not wanting to sound like I am unhappy with the privilege of homeschooling my children.  However, this year has been anything but what it should have been.

Like most home school moms, I spent August preparing for the perfect school year.  Curricula purchased, routines outlined, objectives in place.  This year will go according to plan.  I know what each of the triplets needs, and Jamie is taking care of Nikita's senior year.  Leif just gets to have fun, and Kimberly has her slew of Early Intervention therapists to help me keep her on track.

Dante has been our only child in public school, and I always felt guilt about that, but with his complex needs I knew I could not home school both him and the triplets.    However he started the school year without an IEP because we had rejected it back in June as inadequate, and come September we still had not been given a new meeting date.  And he was still gluten/dairy free attending a nut free school.  And then he came home with marks on his neck from his car seat being too tight and  I was told to transport him myself until I fixed the seat to fit him.  And still we had no meeting.

So we pulled Dante out to home school, and they could not say good bye and good luck fast enough.

And so ended the year I could do it all and began the year I could not.

I once jokingly told a friend that I don't home school my kids, but rather I create an educational environment and hope something sticks.  I never knew that is what this year would be.

Bringing Dante home did not change my social life, because I do not have one. I had already stopped doing any co-ops or group activities with the is hard to be excited to go watch your kids get ostracized and be told one more time "we'd love to have your kids participate, as long as you are right there with them". They still had Special Olympics and Sunday School, plus story hour for Leif and Kimberly, and since Zachary and Nikita were still here to help watch Dante, we did get out for little field trips.

Bringing Dante home from public school did change how my time is spent each day, and despite the various routines  I have tried, the revolving door of therapist in and us going out for specialist appointments and family field trips...makes everything quickly fall apart.

So we have learned to do school work here and there, and often when the kids are unaware they are being taught...well unaware they are learning, since I was often with just one while the others were learning together.

Oddly enough, one of Dante's independent therapists- whom he has been seeing for several years- told me that she knows this year has been very stressful for me, but being pulled has been the best thing that ever happened to Dante (based on the progress he has made with her).

So how can I put him back in school next year?

Yet how can I not?

Alexander is in college, but Zachary and Nikita were still home to help.  Then Zachary entered the Navy in December, but Nikita is still home.

She leaves for the Navy in August.

And I will have 3 year old (in September) Kimberly, a very rambunctious 4 year old (in June) Leif, 8 year old Dante significantly impacted by autism and Down Syndrome, and "the triplets", who also have Down Syndrome.

Sure, God is with us and we can certainly do this...but is it really the way we want to go? Dante simply does not do field least not with Leif running ahead and Micah lagging behind and Kimberly in a stroller and....

I am already tired all the time...home schooling plus working 5 nights a week waitressing , plus housework, gardening, baking/cooking for the family...

So I am waiting on God's brilliant plan for us.  Perhaps Dante will be in school.  Or he can go once a week to get therapies there and that will be our field trip/doctor appointment day.  Or I can hire a teen to go on field trips with us or to stay here with Dante.  Maybe he will be home,  and walking to the playground or library will have to be enough for us next year.

I do know that the falling apart of this year's plans did not mean my kids did not learn, and spending time at the table is not a mandatory part of education.  Flash cards have worked well for teaching reading, and math is incorporated into snack time and play time.  Spending time outside is always good, and the use of iPads is a perfectly acceptable way to learn.

Whether Dante is here or at public school, next year will be the year of fun learning experiences led by Leif, he really gets the kids trying new things and using their imagination...having fun with him being 4 will be one learning experience after another for the triplets and Kimberly.  And just maybe, Dante too.

God is good, even when I am tired.

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