Several of my homeschooling mama friends are blogging about their upcoming school year and a conversation with my mother-in-law coupled with all of their posts on the subject brought to mind a large reason why I am emphatically *NOT* homeschooling Daniel right now: socialization.
Before I go into my reason for saying this, can I get something out of the way first?
I’m fully aware that in most cases, homeschooled children have no issues with socialization and are capable of getting along with other kids and adults.
Mine is the exception. One of the things that Daniel’s preschool did was mainstream him during recess and field trips so that he was able to spend time with neurologically typical kids. The point of this is to show him how to behave in certain situations, to help develop play skills, etc. We could have probably done preschool with him at home except that I really wanted him to have this opportunity. Thankfully, there was a preschool only about a block away that had the exact program we needed and he thrived there.
Living with my in-laws this summer (and dealing with the incompetence that is Special Education in the Claremont Unified School District) showed me that there is a big reason why I do this. When Daniel is around other kids, he behaves better, focuses better, and is starting to take social cues from them. If he were around other kids in places other than at school, we might be able to consider homeschooling. However, my normal for church is this post by Kathleen and the churches Jon has pastored lately do not have any kids that are Daniel’s age. (We haven’t been in a parish with really any kids period since 2010.) As much as I *love* getting the stink eye from people (/sarcasm), it gets really embarrassing to be asked by people why I’m not making my kid try to behave while he is spending storytime at the library running around trying to open/close doors because that’s his autistic stimming behavior of choice. (Well, it’s that as well as opening/slamming drawers and flipping light switches.). It’s also incredibly mentally tiring to still be in “parenting a toddler” mode when your kid is five and to constantly be trying to figure out how to reach your child who is largely locked up in their own head because they can’t talk. (Autistic kids tend to deal with apraxia of speech and Daniel is no exception.) Without being in school, he is around his incredibly introverted and quiet mother (me), his dad, my father-in-law who has cancer, and my mother-in-law who is trying to take care of my father-in-law. We’re not exactly the best people to teach him how to be a 5 year old.
Additionally, Jon/Daniel/me are in transition mode at the moment and school is pretty much the one stable thing right now. Autistic kids tend to do the best with a very set schedule and the easiest thing to do right now is to give him that in the form of a school day. It also gives me a chance to try for some freelance work to help with finances and I tend to be a much more mentally healthy person when I can contribute to the family financially. (OK… getting out of the house by myself also helps.)
I’m not trying to justify my decision to myself or others in the least — it’s one of those nights where my brain won’t shut up so I’m up blogging to get it to calm itself.