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

Sunday, June 7, 2015

A Little More Detail about Homeschooling

I've had a couple of people ask how I'm doing with all the changes we've had going on.

Well, its like this.  I've spent two of the most stressful years of my life as we've tried to navigate the special education and ESL programs in our school system.  I have tried to put into words on this blog more than a few times how stressful it has been and I just don't think words can do it justice.

There are many things I cannot yet talk about publicly because as I've said before, people have spied on my blog and Facebook with the intention of passing info on to the school.  Perhaps one day when the entire truth has come out and everything has been settled, I can blog more openly but for now I cannot.

The main thing is that the decision to home school the children has lifted what felt like an elephant off of my chest.  I didn't realize what a struggle it was to breathe until it was gone.  Home schooling was not our first choice for many reasons.  The children have many learning disabilities and special needs.  On paper, the school system with its programs and therapies looks like the obvious choice.  The reality is much different.  The long and short of it is that the children were not and were not ever going to get what they needed to succeed in life no matter how hard we tried to make it work with the school.

There are those in the school system that would disagree with me, but therein lies the problem.  They are my children, not the school's.  At the end of the day, I am the one who will be standing there when they graduate and are supposed to be ready to enter the workforce or go to college.  For 4 of my kids, the future they were heading towards with the plan in place from the school was never going to contain either of those two things.  Very simply put, I want the same bright future for my kids as the children that do not have learning disabilities.  Given the information that we have from outside evaluations, that is quite possibly, but requires specialized intervention and instruction while the children are still young enough to benefit from it.

The choice not to send the kids back was made after years of fighting for a future that I realized my children were never going to get if we stayed where we were.  At some point I realized that I was fighting for something that was presented as possible as the IEP team sat around the table, but was never going to be reality in the classroom for a multitude of reasons.  There is so much more I could say… but right now I cannot.  Suffice it to say that the system is broken.

Once our choice was made, I notified the school district.  I feel 100% confident that this is the best that we can do by our children right now.  I've been able to focus on moving forward and doing the best I can to get things in place to help them in the best way we can right now.

A weight has been lifted from me.  The peace that comes with knowing that one is doing the right thing is a very contented feeling.  I have recently been having trouble with all of the feelings I had suppressed over the past two years of what I can only describe as IEP hell, just coming out.  I have had to suck it up and deal since we stepped off the airplane with our newest boys and for so long after that I didn't even have time to work through MY feelings.  We lost our church.  I've lost friends.  I've been spied on and slandered.  I couldn't dwell on those things with my children's future at stake.  My feelings were irrelevant while my efforts were put into my children.  Now my feelings are coming out and it is unpleasant.  I was born a very sensitive person.  I feel deeply.  Its hard to feel so sad now that I am finally relieved and happy, but I think its good.  It has become increasingly apparent to me that I could have in no way dealt with the stress of fighting for proper placements, programs, and therapies and then tried to make sure what was supposed to happen was indeed actually happening on a day to day basis for another year.  The stress of having some sort of constant conflict with staff members at my kids' school was painful for me.  I'm a very intuitive person; I know how staff members felt about me.  I am very relieved that I do not have to deal with that sort of personal conflict anymore.        

Having all 6 kids at home for the past two weeks has been surprisingly low key.  We've done a ton of stuff including sorting winter/summer clothes, grocery shopping together, learning how to multiply with a Japanese method, doing crafts, and just hanging out.  My children are not and never were the cause of most of my stress.  I always wanted to be a mom, and I always wanted to love children that didn't have a mom.  I have everything that I wanted.  My greatest mistake was trusting the school when they said that they could help my kids.  There is no way I could have foreseen how things would play out.  I could never have dreamed it because its not in me to treat anyone the way that we have been treated. I deeply regret trusting my most precious gifts to a system that doesn't see value in those that learn differently.  

I truly hope that with our children at home, we can finally make academic progress with them.  My kids all have "average" intellectual abilities.  They have definitely weaknesses, but each child has strengths.  I have spent my time researching not so much what "wrong" with each kid, but what's right.  I feel that if we can focus on how they do learn and not on how they DO NOT then we will make light years worth of progress.  Right now I have a very bright 10 year old that has been reading on a level A since we brought him home from Ukraine, despite reading intervention.  This child is smart.  Two days ago, I showed him how to multiply two digit numbers using a very visual method I found on Pinterest.  I showed him ONE TIME and he got it then proceeded to make up his own problems and do them for 30 more minutes, using only the iPad calculator to check them.  This morning he was showing his 9 year old brother how to do it.  For reference, I showed my husband what we were doing and it took me going through several problems, showing him the steps for him to "get it." This child should in no way be stuck academically anywhere!  Given the proper help, he should be soaring.  I also showed my 12 year old how to multiply using this method.  He spent the entire year in math intervention in 5th grade and still couldn't multiply.  His goals are to be at a second grade level by February of next year!  After 20 minutes of working with him, he also got it and began making up his own problems because he was so thrilled to finally be able to do this skill.  These kids want to learn and they are capable of learning.  What I've seen my kids do just in the two weeks they've been at home with me gives me such hope.

I've been researching the programs and methods that were recommended in my kids' neuropsychological evals.  I've researched their disabilities, their strengths and weaknesses.  I've researched both conventional and non-conventional therapy and educational programs.  I've looked at programs for specific issues like Dyslexia or Central Auditory Processing Disorder and I feel very confident that I can do this.  I rely heavily on my God given intuition and deduction skills.  God gave them to me for a reason!  I'm a determined person.  I will figure out what each child needs and I will find a way to give it to them one way or another.  Our homeschooling approach is definitely an evolving thing.  We will have to make adjustments as we go, but finally we have something positive to focus on moving forward.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading my ramblings.  I find it somewhat catatonic to write it all out.  I can finally put it to rest once its written down somewhere.  I quit blogging so much of what we were dealing with when I realized that what I was saying was being read by those who did not care about our struggles.  I feel sorry for those people because I cannot imagine what a miserable existence it is to lack empathy.  I'd rather feel.




Milena said...

If you were close I would give you a great big hug (despite not actually knowing you :-) )! I am so sorry that you have had to go through so much and even more sorry for your children. But they will succeed now! You are a great mother!

Kathy said...

I don't know you personally but have been reading your blog forever!! I am sooo happy to hear you are homeschooling your children, love teaches so much better than any book ever could. And love helps them grow so much stronger than a teacher that is only working for a paycheck and not wanting to do anything extra or hard to get that check will. Your children will be so much happier, mommy will be so much happier and I'm sure daddy too. And there may be days that you will want to sit and cry at the end of the day but it will be far fewer days than you would want to sit and cry at the end of the day while they are attending a school that are not caring for and helping your precious children as they should. Congrats on your big decision and good luck to you. Enjoy!!!

SammE said...

As a retired teacher, I've written before how angry this all makes me feel. I taught "special education" and at no time in my career were children not successful to the best of their abilities. Your boys will be just fine. You're approaching their learning the correct way. Build on their strengths and present new concepts several ways if necessary, because kids learn in different ways. Children need to feel successful in order to want to learn more. You're on the right track and I so admire how you have stood up for your children and fought for them. Big hugs for you. You are a great mum.

Sabrina Caines said...

I have 3 kids I homeschool. One of my children has severe dyslexia and auditory/ language processing disorder along with more learning issues. I have been using all about reading and all about spelling with her and she is starting to make process. It is hard work but well worth it. I know you don't know me but if there is anything I can help you with please e-mail me.


Emily said...

It gives me a surge of excitement to think of what those boys are going to accomplish with you at the helm!!!

Dawn said...

Good for you. :) Your love for your kiddos is so obvious. They are going to do just fine. God bless! :)

Blessed said...

I am so glad to hear all this. I was the one who asked you earlier this year why you were not homeschooling, and I appreciated your patient response. I totally get why you wanted to go through the school system--or at least try. It just seemed like you and your kids were made for homeschooling, and I am so happy for you, that your first few weeks schooling your own way is already bringing out your kids abilities, bringing you all more peace, and strengthening your bonds. That is everything I hoped homeschooling would bring you all. You are clearly a GOOD and insightful mom, and you might try public schooling again at some point, because you are clearly not complacent and will always be striving for the best for your family. My prayer is that you would continue to feel all this peace and that God would continue to nudge you and your husband through the Holy Spirit and guide you as He has been already been doing. : )

On a school note, have you heard of the "Life of Fred" math books? The first one is called "Apples" I believe, and it sounds like something your kids might really enjoy!

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