By Guest Blogger Christina Holder
It’s that time of the year again, back to school. We made it through the anxiety-inducing trip to Walmart for school supplies, the dreaded over-crowded open house night, and the two weeks before school started where we “practiced” going to bed early for the upcoming school year!
In my house I had the extra challenge of giving myself the back-to-school pep talk as I homeschool my two younger children who have special needs. My older step daughter goes to traditional public school, but my two younger kids (one is autistic and the other has sensory processing disorder) are homeschooled.
I want to take the time to raise awareness on the positives of both homeschooling and traditional school and how it differs from child to child. For our oldest daughter who has no issues other than the teenage attitude epidemic, traditional public school is where she thrives and is a perfect match. We’ve tried homeschooling with her when she was younger and while it worked back then, once she hit middle school we put her back in public school. She has done extremely well with the switch and has turned out to be a well-rounded young woman.
For my middle child who has autism, homeschooling is what works best for her right now. I get a lot of backlash and unsolicited opinions from people, who as far as I know haven’t lived in my home, although with the amount of laundry I do on a daily basis I would not be surprised if more people live in my house than I thought.
My middle child, Zoe has a lot of great qualities. She is smart, funny, caring, creative and an athletic six-year-old. She also struggles with anxiety, social awkwardness, outbursts that are often physical, and inability to focus or sit still for longer than an hour. With the freedom that homeschooling offers, we can break the day up so that she gets in all of her learning, but gets the breaks she needs to refocus, calm down, or whatever she needs to do. She has also skipped a grade and isn’t as socially mature as peers in her grade, partly due to her age as well as her autism.
My youngest daughter who has a diagnosis of sensory processing disorder and is in the process of being evaluated for autism is also homeschooled. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t put her in public school due to her age, as she is two, but as smart as a five-year-old.
I can hear you through the internet, “Why not preschool?” Well, Debra, preschool isn’t a fit for Nova because she also suffers from extreme anxiety, repetitive behavior, a special required diet, and meltdowns that often lead to her hyperventilating. Not to mention she functions academically on a five-year-old level and needs to be challenged or her behavior becomes worse.
Every IEP plan in the world wouldn’t be able to offer my kids what I give them by homeschooling them. I am by no means knocking the public school system or their special needs classes, as they are great for the children and families that choose to go that route.
I also want to point out that even though my children do not go to public school like their sister, they still go to birthday parties, play dates, museums and parks. They get social interaction with peers, it’s just able to be controlled if they get overwhelmed and need a safe place to calm down and refocus.
I think that it is important to have a better understanding and accepting attitude towards homeschool families rather than passing judgement and thinking their kid will turn out “less than” or socially unequipped for life. In my opinion, for my younger children, homeschooling is what’s best right now. Especially because bullying is very prevalent in our schools and they seem to target those who are considered different, which is a whole other blog I could write!
So whatever you decide is the best for your child this school year, know that you are not alone. Whether it be homeschool or public school, you are doing what is right for your child.
After all, children are our future. Don’t we want to do what is best for them to help them grow and learn and be their authentic selves?
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I love your dedication to your children. Homeschooling sounds perfect for your youngest two. Autism is hard. Our fifth child has both autism and Down Syndrome. He is 16 and goes to Carter HS. His autism makes learning difficult so he needs a place with small classes and constant supervision. As parents of special needs kids we have to be flexible with their education. Thank you for your example of that with your three kids.
Thanks for your comment. I agree, flexibility is key when raising kids. Especially children with special needs. I’m not opposed to traditional school and my younger children probably will transition at some point, but right now homeschooling them is what works. How does your sons school do with accommodating his needs? That’s one thing I worry about when the time comes to transition them into public school if we go that route.