I never imagined, before I had children, that I would be a “homeschooler.” I don’t wear jean jumpers, don’t have a “quiverfull” of children and don’t have any real desire to shelter my children from the diverse viewpoints in the world around us. I’m not even a republican. (Not that there is anything wrong with any of those things. They just don’t describe me.)
Of course, I never imagined that I would have children that didn’t talk until they were four, or that I would put a trampoline and a ball pit in my living room to address my children’s sensory needs or that I would dedicate so much time, energy and money to therapy and therapeutic play and clean poop off walls and carpets as many times as I have. Children have a way of surprising you.
When my oldest was a year old and had therapists coming in and out of the house almost every day, we started DIR/Floortime. More than a therapy, it was a way of life, where you are constantly trying to engage your child and evoke a response – a smile, a word, eventually more. We did it all the time, six 15 to 20 minute sessions a day, but constantly in our interaction between sessions also, and it worked. D became more engaged and learned to talk and learned to relate and learned to enjoy interaction. I was so used to helping him, that I moved on from there to add in educational activities, sensory activities and others. We both had fun and he learned a lot, and I knew where he needed the most help. After he started kindergarten I realized that since he had different needs than some of the other children, we could do better at home, so that’s what we did. We worked intensively on his weakest areas and then tried school again. In the end, homeschool just seemed to work better for him.
P’s journey was similar, but different in some ways, because he did not have such severe delays as a toddler, but his delays later were much more extreme. To this day (at six years old), he cannot have a real “conversation.” Please don’t feel sorry for us. His challenges are great, but he is greater and God is greater still. It is “work” in some ways to be his friend, but there is a fun, happy boy inside! When I think of P, I don’t think of the smeared poop (so glad he doesn’t do that anymore!) or the struggles to get him in the car, I think of him laughing and making one of his “jokes” or running happily through the yard. He is just about the happiest boy I know.
P has had three years of Early Childhood Education and going on one year of Kindergarten, but that the greatest progress that he has made has been working with me. I know him better than anyone; I know what he knows already and what motivates him. I know when he needs a break and when he needs to be pushed and I know that he has the capability to do anything he really wants to do, but in his own timing and in his own way. I celebrate his uniqueness and laugh and learn right along with him.
I love and celebrate teachers and I don’t see school as the enemy or a dangerous place. Teachers have to teach many children that they do not know in ways that may or may not suit them. They have learned to do just that and that is really amazing. Almost all of the teachers that my children have had have been great, but homeschool suited them better. I don’t judge others’ decision to put their kids in traditional school and mine have gone to school part time also, but this is best for us, for now. I still not wearing a jean jumper though.