Hoping to someday find M's brother adopted in the U.S. -
Myckola Oleksandrovych Markov - 8/26/2003

Monday, February 9, 2015

Why Don't We Homeschool?

I had a reader ask me this question: ""I am really sorry if you have already heard this from other people, but I have to ask. If you think God might be trying to get your attention now and is telling you to teach your kids at home (about Him) then is it also possible that He wants you to teach your kids at home the rest too? (homeschooling) Can you please address why you don't want to homeschool? I'm a homeschool mom and a big adoptive blog reader (hi! been reading you for a while now!) and so I'm really interested in your thoughts about that. So many other adoptive parents seem to choose homeschooling simply because of all the things you are describing here. Could God be asking you to step out in faith about that? Is there any way you have been unconsciously trusting in the school system instead of Him (helping you do it at home)? Or is there anything you think He wants to show you that you have made an idol of?"

This is absolutely not the first time someone has suggested this to me.  The question wasn't meant to hurt, and honestly its been asked so much that the sting has come and gone.

So here goes…

First off, I was homeschooled until I was 13 when I tested into 9th grade at a private Christian school.  So I was raised in a homeschool family and community for most of my childhood.  I graduated as the valedictorian of my class a few months after I turned 17.  My home-schooling was probably best described as "unschooled" while using textbooks.  It took me about 6 weeks to adjust to a regular schedule of classes, assignments, and tests; but I did adjust and honestly quite well.  Putting my kids in public school was a big decision for me.  Homeschoolers are warned of the horrors of the public school system.  However, the public school system has therapies and specialized programs for kids with disabilities that I didn't feel able to provide at home.
(Now I see what a joke that is here, but its what I felt at the time)

I actually did homeschool W and Wy.  W had a hard time in only 3 half days a week of pre-k so I kept him home for K and 1st grade.  He struggled even at home, but once M went to school and came home talking about how much she loved it, he wanted to go.  The timing was perfect because it was right before we travelled to Ukraine to adopt D, V, and E.

W loved 2nd grade last year.  He loved his teacher and she immediately recognized that he was struggling and referred him for evaluations saying she thought something else was going on besides just him being a little boy.  Well, she was right.  He has a learning disability.  He was placed in reading intervention and with the help of his teacher, he made a lot of progress last year.  This year his handwriting has continued to be an issue for him, so he now receives OT at school.  He's learning to write in cursive instead of printing because cursive is easier since it flows.  He continues to receive reading intervention and is in a collaborative classroom with a special ed teacher always present to provide more support.  Getting services for my American born child has been such a cake walk compared to getting ANYTHING for my adopted kids.  That alone has made my blood boil because I could see how differently the whole thing was handled, but that is another story.

Wy has always been the kid that picked everything up easily.  He doesn't struggle in school.  I was homeschooling him this year anyways because I really believe kids do better at home until they're around 7.  We put M in school earlier due to many external factors, but Wy did well in pre-k and did well at home.  He like W, decided that he wanted to start going to school so we enrolled him in November.  I don't EVER talk badly about my kids' school to them, so I give them no reasons to associate anything bad with it.  Wy is doing great at school in 1st grade.

The main reason we put the boys in school immediately upon coming home was that I KNEW how far behind they were because we had hosted two of them twice.  I had also had conversations with the facilitator who interviewed them (she's Ukrainian) and their orphanage director had passed along information to our hosting director.  I knew that my boys had issues.  I went to the school the summer before we adopted them, and spoke with the principal who assured me that it was THEIR JOB to take care of my kids.  She assured me that all I had to do was enroll them and they'd take care of the rest.  I  knew that trying to adjust to 3 more kids in a too small house was going to be nearly impossible if I was also trying to teach them.  At the time, I really believed that I needed the school to evaluate them and tell me 1) Where they were at academically and 2) How to help them.  I wouldn't say I was trusting in the school more than God.  I was simply trusting that the school would follow the law and do what they promised to do.

I couldn't test my kids in Ukrainian to see what they knew.  I needed the school to do that.  I really wanted to know why my children couldn't read and write.  I also thought that the ESL program would provide a great deal of support to my boys.

I was neck deep in fighting for things to be done before I realized just how bad it was.  The Dept. of Education opened their investigation into the school system in the summer, and we made the decision to move to a different elementary school district (same county).  We really thought things would be better.  I did keep D home until October of this year.  He didn't want to go back and I refused to send him back until there was some sort of plan in place that offered more support for him.  He's also a 12 year old boy that can't read or write and isn't really sure how to take having a mom that feels he needs to learn.

We put our kids in school because we thought it was the best option at the time.  If we had known what it would be like, we absolutely would NOT have ever done it.  However, as I've said before, I came to realize that there were over 100 other children not receiving adequate ESL services.  I couldn't just walk away from them, knowing how badly it was affecting my boys.

Do I think that maybe God is trying to tell us its time to homeschool?  Possibly.  I do know though that we were 100% led to put the kids in public school.  Maybe we were supposed to see the problem and be the change for the other kids?  Maybe God knew I wouldn't just walk away and leave the mess?  I don't have the answers.  We did homeschool with a tutor over the summer, so again the concept is not at all foreign to me.  What makes it difficult is trying to teach 5 children with varying degrees of learning disabilities (3 severe), attachment issues, and 4 with differing stages of language acquisition.  I know I could do it, but I am intelligent enough to realize what an undertaking it would be.

We have plans for next year.  Our lives are going to change again.  But I'm not ready to put those things on my blog yet.  My FB page is private and still people have managed to use things I've posted against me.  My blog is not private so I am more careful with what I say on it.  

I am still in the midst of getting some of the kids the evaluations they SHOULD have had last year.  I can't just walk away without these things being done.  I need them to be done.  The kids need them to be done.  I need the information.  I need to know what's going on with my kids and how to best help them.  Do I want to walk away?  OH YES.  I am so done.  I was done last year.  The public school system is ruined for me.  I have seen the inner workings of it and I have nothing good to say about the system as a whole.  It is an epic failure.

However, I have pushed hard enough to finally get my children in some intervention programs that may actually help them out for the remainder of this school year.  I have fought so hard that I feel it would be counterproductive to just pull the plug now when I finally got some of what I've been asking for.

There are still many evaluations hanging out there, still undone for the kids.  M is having an adaptive technology evaluation, a vision evaluation, and an independent therapy evaluation done.  D is having an audiological exam referred out and an OT eval.  V is scheduled to have an independent educational evaluation done by Dr. Federici next month, and E… well we haven't even gotten to his eligibility meeting for special education services beyond speech therapy.  That will be later this month or the beginning of March.  Right now he receives speech three times a week and occupational therapy once a week.

So I have so much stuff hanging out there.  I really can't just shove it all right now.

Homeschooling children with the vast array of learning disabilities that mine have would be a large undertaking.  Do I think I could do it?  Absolutely.  After the amount of time and effort that I've put into fighting the school system, I know without a doubt that I could handle teaching my 6 kids at home.  

The other thing I've realized (that isn't actually a deciding factor)  is that I will never have a circle of friends if I don't homeschool.  Public school moms do not really want to hang out with *that mom* who is constantly struggling with the school and is always frustrated.  They can't relate.  Home school moms don't want to hear about the issues either because they already think I should be homeschooling anyways.  And besides that my kids are in school while theirs are at home.  Its kind of a lonely island I'm on right now.  Our county definitely has "the homeschoolers" and "the public schoolers."  I'm on my own island of "That mom of the adopted kids with special needs who thinks the schools are inadequate but won't homeschool."

Adoptive parents often feel isolated.
Special needs parents often feel isolated.
I'm stuck in a very special place of isolation right now.
Fun right?
No actually.  Just so much no.

As always, I do want to say that there are indeed a few ladies that are still friends with me and I appreciate that they still talk to me, which is kind of a big deal right now -hah!   I don't want to sell them short.  What I am trying to get across here is that *I* just don't fit anywhere right now.

All I can say about the next school year is that we aren't sharing any decisions about it yet,

but I'm excited.


Just keep reading...

    


5 comments:

Milena said...

I am sorry that you have to struggle so much to get what your children need! And I am deeply impressed that you feel that you could teach them yourself. What a relief that you have that option. In my country, homeschooling is illegal, so anyone struggling is stuck struggling.....
I am happy to read that you seem so positive and excited about the coming year! May it be a good one for all of you!

The Bell Family said...

Erin,

Thanks for being the change. I look forward to following your journey! If I lived there I would be your friend. : ) Ok, so that didn't come out right because I am your friend now, but if I lived there I would be there for you.

Tina

Blessed said...

You did not owe an explanation to anyone, esp. a stranger who happens to read your blog, but thank you so much for taking the time to share this. And you did it with such grace! I'm sorry if in any way my questions seemed critical or judgmental. You are such a clear and detailed and impassioned writer that you have already sucked me into your family's story (and I cared even before that, since I was one little contributor to their adoptions. : ) and so I felt like I was not quite getting the whole picture. So thank you for explaining. It helps me see your situation more fully & understand better, and so maybe it helps other readers too!

It sounds like you did exactly what seemed right at the time. I did not realize your homegrown kid(s) had received special ed services but your adopted kids did not--that is just sick. Or that the schools had lured you into a false sense of security by telling you they were going to take care of things that they had no intention of doing. Grrrr. Clearly God knew you were going to find yourself in this battle, and clearly He planned to equip you.

There are also homeschool moms who aren't just pro-homeschool, but who support and encourage moms who are schooling in any way outside of the norm. I sincerely hope you find such a community. I think you are right, that the homeschool moms are your best bet for fellowship. I'm so glad for your dedicated women friends who you keep mentioning in little letters. : )

This blog is all I know of you, but I care about you, so please consider me one of your supporters. I'll be praying for God's direction in your lives, for His clear leading, for your and your husband's continued ability to hear Him. That you would be able to let go of the people that are not able to see your situation clearly, and be free from them. That God would draw you to people that will help shore you up. People who better reflect the heart of Christ and His Kingdom Come.

much love,
Blessed

Mom to Mine said...

Blessed,
I appreciate the question. I have been asked it many times and I think that others like you just do not realize the reasoning behind my decisions. I know I don't have to explain, but everyone wants to be understood. My kids are complex and I really thought I was doing my best by them to fight for services in the school system. Now I realize that is probably not the case.
Erin

Blessed said...

Tf you believe that God was leading you to public school--for all the very logical and legitimate reasons you outline in this post--then you and your husband were doing right to follow. No one should criticize you for that! Or for trying to do your best for your kids! Or for holding the school system to be accountable for what it is already supposed to be doing by law. So I'm sorry you have gotten flak from anyone about those things. I look forward to reading more in the future about the changes you are making for your family and how God leads you from here!



We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life; but those who make their journey home across time and miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them,are carried on the wings of destiny; and placed among us by God's very own hands. --Kristi Larson

 

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