This week we have a guest post by Shannon Stoltz. Shannon homeschools her four children, and she’s got great insight about homeschooling, especially homeschooling kids with learning challenges. She almost (but not quite!) makes me want to go back and homeschool my boys!
“You should just put them in school. It’s a lot less work for you,” a well meaning friend told me years ago, after I shared a few of the challenges I was trying to work through with my older two children, who at the time were 7 and 5.
I just looked at her like she was crazy. I still shake my head when I think about it.
You see, we made the choice to homeschool before we even have kids, but as our four kids have grown, I am so glad we made that decision. Every time, I even start getting tired and weary, I think of all the work that would be involved advocating and seeing to their needs in a school setting and know that we made the right choice.
And if you have kids in school right now, you know what I mean. I get a glimpse of it every year when I go in with my younger son for his ARD meetings for the after school speech therapy services he recieves. The meetings, the paperwork, the continual communication with all the individuals involved to make sure he has the right services and adaptations – oh my.
When I interviewed Kayla in September, I had to smile when she said she was her boys’ teachers’ “new best friend” – communicating daily and staying involved, advocating for her boys.
As a homeschooler I’m freed up from all that time and energy spent advocating for my kids in the school system, and can simply focus on parenting and educating my kids to adulthood.
Don’t get me wrong. Homeschooling is not a magic bullet. It doesn’t lessen the coaching, facilitating, or parenting responsibility involved with raising kids. And it certainly doesn’t take away ADHD and other special needs.
Homeschooling just allows us to bypass the bureaucracy, and work with the kids at their pace, and coach them through the situation and equip them for the situations that they encounter in daily life.
My older son, J is now eleven and just as distractible as he was when he was five. But, he now knows that if he can’t concentrate to go seek out an environment where he can. In fact just before I was writing this, I found him at the top of the stairs writing. When I asked why he was sitting there, he said it was a comfortable quiet spot where he could concentrate. Okay, that works for me.
J is also the one who can and will lose just about anything. Don’t even get me started on shoes… So I am thankful that we don’t have to worry about getting homework to and from school, much less done. Instead we have created a system that he uses to keep track of his materials – most of the time.
Homeschooling allows him to finish up the work of school, and focus on things he wants to focus on. We’ve found that given the time and freedom, he is able to focus for long periods of time, on things that interest him. And that we want to encourage, as it will help him find his place in the adult world when the time comes.
And that’s just J.
Z, my 9 year old son is so active that while doing speech impairment testing at the local public school, the school officials just handed me a handful of information on ADHD. But because we can incorporate movement into his learning and give him huge amounts of time outdoors, we don’t have “classroom” issues with him needing to move and be active. Instead we just incorporate it into his day.
Now I know there’s an argument that children need to learn to sit still. And yes, there is a time and a place for that. But the reality is that not all jobs are desk jobs, and more than likely my boys in particular aren’t going to be attracted or be the best for desk jobs. They like being outdoors and active. So, encouraging them to find their gifts and skills within that works for me. They are still learning and growing, and becoming functional people.
I admire those of you who are navigating the school system, and advocating for your children. But if you are considering homeschooling, please know it is not only a viable educational option, it is also one that is an amazing journey and one that lets you get to know your kids on a level that’s just not possible when they are gone for hours each day.