I would love to read that homeschooling post. I had a great public school experience, we live in a good district, I see a lot of perks to homeschooling, and I??m very drawn to the nearest parochial school. The way I see it, there??s someone waiting to guilt me no matter what decision I make for my kids?? education, which is especially difficult because there are great benefits for all three of my choices and the negatives all are of about the same weight.
I think it would be cool if we could kind of crowdsource an answer for Bonnie. If you are so inclined, please email me (jen at grace-filled dot net) and in less than 75 words, tell me which one you picked (public/private/parochial/homeschool) and why you made that decision or why you would make that decision if you either don’t have kids or haven’t had to decide yet. I’ll run all the submissions fit to print next Wednesday. Sound like a plan?
Onto *MY* decision and my reasons for making it.
If you didn’t already know, Daniel was a preemie and has global developmental delays as a result. In November of 2011, our Regional Center worker was doing her 6 month check-in with us and asked us if it had been suggested that he was autistic. I said “no” and she suggested that we get him tested, saying that the Regional Center would pay for the test. Fast forward to January 3, 2012 at a developmental pediatrics consult with the MIND Institute and the team came in and told me that Daniel was very clearly autistic and if we didn’t already have a test scheduled, they’d be having us come back so they could administer the ADOS. A week later, a psychologist contracting with the Regional Center administered the ADOS and formally diagnosed Daniel as being mild to moderately autistic. (For those whose kids are suspected of being autistic, I just want to warn you that the test takes around 4-5 hours and they don’t want you to interact with your kid so bring a book or two.)
In California, per the Lanterman Act, the school district assumes responsibility of any child receiving services at the Regional Center once they hit their third birthday. I met with one of the school psychologists in early January 2012 and we talked through what the process would be. They did their own evaluations and I signed a bunch of releases for Daniel’s pediatrician, the Regional Center, and Easter Seals to give reports. We met for Daniel’s IEP (individualized education plan) meeting in late March and were given three options: the autism class at the preschool, the special needs class at the preschool, or just receiving speech and possibly occupational therapy through the school district while either homeschooling or putting him in a private preschool.
Our decision: The autism class at the preschool.
Why did we decide this?
[+] I am not patient enough to homeschool Daniel. Usually, people just laugh when I say that and say something about how I must be kidding because they’ve seen me with Daniel. Yeah, the patience I have with Daniel is an acquired skill. It is not my nature, to which my husband Jon and anyone who has ever had to live with me can attest. When I want something, I want it NOW. Not in five minutes. NOW. Kids like him tend to take their time with milestones and because he isn’t verbal yet, I would have a really hard time in figuring out if he actually understood a concept like the color green and it would drive me crazy not to be able to figure this out. Also, take your worst day with your kids throwing a tantrum and that’s a normal day of summer vacation/Spring Break/Christmas vacation for us because Daniel has communication tantrums. Last week, I had a number of days where I was curled up in a fetal position by 3:00 p.m. with “Winnie the Pooh” playing on the DVD player because I had been screamed at for so many hours straight. The tantrums have gotten better as I’ve taken him by the hand and gently led him over to his PECS book, asking him to please point to what he needs and then cheerfully offering to get it for him. (This is taking every ounce of self-control I have.)
[+] I hate being a housewife and stay-at-home mom. Note: I do not hate being a mom. What I hate is not being able to work outside the home and contribute to the finances. I loved my job in Montana so much that I went back as soon as they could medically clear me after I had Daniel. (I was supposed to be off for 6 weeks minimum and I think I went back after 5 1/2.) When my maternity leave was up, Jon and I worked our schedules so one of us could be home with him while the other was working and we had back-up people if that couldn’t happen. When we moved up here, my plan was to go back to school to be a respiratory therapist or a nurse once Daniel was in school. (That plan has been altered by the circumstances.) I would be horribly depressed (or even more horribly depressed than usual) if I was always home doing school with Daniel and he would likely be miserable because he’d be around a mom who was not her best self. Yes, there would be field trips and all that but that wouldn’t be every day. It’s necessary for me to be home right now just with everything that has to be juggled for Daniel’s care but it isn’t my preference.
[+] I don’t have the education or skills necessary to give Daniel the best education. My mother-in-law homeschooled my husband and his sister 30 years ago when it was the weird hippie thing to do. She had to pretty much invent her own curriculum and patch together whatever she could find. Today, there are hundreds of resources, curricula, and even online charter schools so I could pretty much buy something pre-packaged and use it. That isn’t my issue. I don’t have a bachelor’s degree in human development or early childhood education, a master’s degree in Occupational Therapy/Speech Language Pathology/Behavioral Sciences or a Doctorate in Physical Therapy. I would need all those things to adequately teach Daniel because his learning processes are completely different than they would be for a typically-developing child. While I’ve had a little bit of training in Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA for short — it’s the methodology used in Daniel’s autism preschool class), it’s only enough to reinforce what he’s learning from school or his one-on-one therapies that start next week. His preschool teacher is beyond wonderful and all the aides in his class are ABA-trained. He has access to speech during his school day instead of separately and I seriously don’t miss being there for speech therapy — it was the most aggravating hour of my week!
[+] It isn’t a necessity for us to homeschool him. If we lived in a place where the schools were abysmal or we morally objected to what Daniel was being taught, it would be a consideration. Our public schools are fairly good, the local preschool with Daniel’s class is on the next block, Daniel is thriving in his class, and I have no moral objections to the curriculum being taught. (Yes, I do live in California where they actually do mention great historical figures who were gay but I really couldn’t care less about that.) With preschool, they aren’t learning anything incredibly controversial and once he gets into grade school, we’ll keep tabs on what is going on in his classroom. I’m married to a pastor and Daniel has one of the largest collections of Bible story books known to man — I think we can manage to pass on our faith and our values. If there’s something morally objectionable being taught in one of his classes, we’ll deal with it at that point.
So anyway, that’s why I don’t homeschool Daniel. This post didn’t come totally out of feeling judged or anything — it was a random post seed that came into being with last week being really difficult.