Friday, August 2, 2013

To Homeschool or Not To Homeschool

All summer long I have been in "an inner turmoil"...
What should we do?

Homeschool everyone or send some?

I have some of them accounted for in my current home school while a few others are quite challenging and we are uncertain what is best for them?

We have prayed and prayed about it...
God has not been clear
 have I missed his message?

We started lightly homeschooling for this school year.
With our crew, being all older adoptees(except Anna) we cannot afford to take too much time off.
We usually try to go into June but we didn't last that long and it was obvious we needed a break.
Frustration on the part of the teacher was evident and I just felt like I needed to ENJOY my family especially the new children!
I was trying to teach them and they barely knew English.
It was a good choice and the burden lifted!

Everyone has enjoyed the break!

However, I knew as July approached I needed to start planning and at least get a couple days in.
We had a few question marks and things to tweak before we get going full speed.

So far I like what I am seeing BUT I have a few kiddos that are unaccounted for...
school wise.

Emma will continue with our local school district in September. She enjoyed going to school in May and a few weeks of summer school. It is a good experience for her and it is something special that just she gets to do.

Sarah is in 4th grade this year. She is doing Abeka, it is a good solid program and she is enjoying it. She is also being tutored for reading and comprehension this summer. It just so happens that Kelly of the "Billy and Kelly" duo is a reading specialist and a middle school english teacher! 
During the school days Sarah works on her school work and I am close by to answer questions and supervise her.

My second grade consists of Ava, Anna and Sam. Ellie is in 2nd grade too but I modify the curriculum to fit her needs (she does K-1st reading). 
Mia and Melissa are also in second grade. Those two surprise me! They are quick to catch on with so many things! So far they can keep up with 2nd grade math and cursive handwriting. They will do K/ 1st grade phonics and reading. 

Let's see... 
that takes care of 8 of the children ;-)

But that still leaves us with 3 who need "something"!
That would be Luke, Abby and Madeline
Their table is the one closest in the pic.

Luke will be attending preschool 2-3 afternoons a week! He is excited and we are excited for him!
He also does a ton of preschool things at home.

So... that leaves us with Madeline and Abby.
I have prayed and prayed and thought and thought over this...

We really do not know what to do?
We change our minds daily and it's beginning to drive me a little crazy...

Madeline just came home in February. She has some health issues that need to be resolved. Cataract surgery in late September and a one month recovery. Continued patching after the recovery- which, with a patch on she is almost blind. Another surgery to patch a hole in her ear and possibly take out those ginormous adenoids. And then there is the apraxia issue which makes it near impossible to teach her phonics and reading ...
Our plan for Madeline is to learn at home while she is getting all of these medical issue taken care of.
She has had speech once a week times 20 sessions, that is all our insurance will cover. We are planning to private pay for speech twice a week in our home to help her with the apraxia. We have considered trying to get homebound from the school district for her but it entails so many meetings, emails, phone calls and paperwork that we may not bother. Most likely she would only get it for a month or two...

Truly, all of that takes too much of my time and takes me away from the children at home that I need to teach.

We suspect there may be something going on with Madeline regarding learning but it is hard to tell since she has other medical needs right now. She seems to "get" numbers but not the ABC's. We will be scheduling a Neuro Psych eval in the future for Madeline.

Since she has only been home 6 months we are thinking we will have her work on preschool activities and some early Kindergarten learning.

onto the next child!

Our last kiddo is Abby.
Abby has a learning disability.
She is average in non verbal learning but low in verbal learning(which is everything school related). She has disnomia which means she cannot recall words. Her vocabulary is limited but she is 
s  l  o  w  l  y 
continuing to learn. 
We spent all of last year preparing her for kindergarten and when she was tested they said she was still at a pre K level ;-(
We worked and worked on the ABC's. Each day she would forget 5 of them...
except it was a different 5 each day. 
It's not the type of forgetting where they then say "Oh Ya, that's an H." When she forgets- its GONE, completely gone. I have to then give her a choice - is this letter an A or an H. Then she may get it.

Abby has had OT that will end in August. Her speech will go through September and then we will private pay for speech at home 1-2 times per week. She will also be getting PT every Monday afternoon (through December).

I would like to keep her home but sometimes my confidence wavers and I consider sending her. She is 7.5 yrs old and should be in 2nd grade.
Abby has major health issues(Congenitol Siderblastic Anemia) and is transfused every 3 weeks.

We have heard that the schools will put time and effort into her because she is still young enough and "has hope". However will they do better than one hour of private PT and 2 hours of speech per week?

Abby also has to work on her "character building". She had many undesirable characteristics when she first came home. She seemed void of a conscience, she often lied, hit and hurt others, spoke unkindly to her siblings to get her way, constantly whined, refused to do any kind of pre school work, hid things she wanted, and took longer than average to bond. 
Abby has a tendency to act impulsively and put herself and others in danger- crossing streets with out looking, climbing things that are not stable and jumping on railings with a 6 foot drop on the other side, etc  
These characteristics have slowly improved over the last 1 1/2 years since she has been home.
Abby has become delightful, she does not hit the other children, she hasn't lied in ages, and we can converse with her. She is bonded now and she loves her family!  
 She tries to do her school work but if I am not within sight she will get sidetracked in a heartbeat.

I believe that Abby was in the room for the hopeless in China...
She had no knowledge and zero desire to learn.
At 5yr 11 months she acted like a 2-3 yr old and was not the least bit inquisitive.
It was really quite sad...

I feel like we are making progress and I don't know that I want to jeopardize the person she is becoming...
Do I have an educational plan? Not completely but I am working on it and hope to try it out this next week or two...

The Neuro Psychologist said in May that we needed to "get going" and yet it's August and we still haven't received the finished report...
Which is supposed to include the recommendations for Abby's education...

do you have any insights? Any thoughts? What would you do?

Praying for God to make it clear, for the ability to homeschool a large family and for insight through your comments!
Blessings to you!


From the Erben Gang..... said...

I have been looking at a program at home called Fast ForWard. Not sure if we will get it for Kaja but it seems interesting. helps connect some dots that she seems to be missing.

susan nichols said...

What a wonderfully real post. My husband and I take in special needs and medically fragile kids as well. I have been home schooling all different kids with all different abilities for many years. I have found that some kids just need school as a requirement. Like my son Zeke. Do I want him educated? Of course. He learns slow and at his own pace and he progresses no faster if I push him or if I don't. He is 11 and still at the 1st grade level and that is with much hard work and repetition. I don't stress over teaching him anymore. He will get as far as he does in his education and I am grateful for who he is and they way he is. I pray he goes as far as God will help him. This past year I stumbled upon (the Lord led me to) He loves it. (several of my kids learn best on it) It frees me up from doing boring flash cards and repetitive work over and over with him. He does his work and if he gets below a 75 he knows he has to redo it. He loves it. Actually, I have several of my kids on it. Not necessarily as their whole curriculum. But certain ones work on it while I work one on one with others with hand writing or something else. It has really helped me home school. I am not spread to thin anymore. The older kids know not to go onto the next section with out getting at least a 75 on it or they redo it. I don't have to go behind them.Just thought you might want to check it out. It has free sample lessons to view. It helped me go farther with my time and teaching. Blessings.

Emily said...

I hesitate to give advice, but these are some thoughts I have~ with Madeline I would keep her home at the very least until all her medical stuff is completed, as you've said.

And with Abby, since she's making such nice strides behaviorally and with attachment, I would hesitate to upset that. Also, with the transfusing she's be missing quite a bit of school. Plus your extra time in running to the school to check her out and then back to the school to check her in afterwards.

Margy said...

Have you heard of Lindamood-Bell? Check it out. You are in the Twin Cities, right? It is in Edina and may help several of your children who are struggling to read/comprehend. It was suggested by two different child psychologists for our daughter with an auditory processing disorder. It is very expensive but the results should be worth it. My daughter has been doing it this summer but not in MN.

God be with you,


Jessemyn said...

Thoughts....not advice...from another mom of kids with learning disabilities....think about how MANY things Abby has had to learn this year....language, expectations, body language, sibling much! If I had to learn all that AND go to school in China, I'd be a basket case....and Im almost 40! One more year to focus on listening, following directions, and consistent LOVE will fuel her for academic learning. Our son has a huge problem with recalling words and no amount of school programming or resources were able to improve it. homeschooling offered him the chance to learn at his speed, in his way...there were days he got things and days he didnt....but on his off days we just did less and on his better days did more. You can't get these days back and I wonder what putting her back into an Institutional setting would do so soon after leaving one. Hmmm

Susan A said...

would it be possible to hire young students training to be teachers for part time one-on-one with any of your children that is struggling? just to spend fun time together, like reading, chatting about what they are doing, making... sometimes it is just the interaction itself that helps them to click with what is being learnt.

Rebecca said...

Do you have a UCP near you? It's a charter school for kids with special needs. We just put Abby in a summer VPK program there to test it out and she has really blossomed... Starting to show an interest in talking. They also have the tools to help us tap into areas that we are not educated in. I feel like she's better off there than homeschooling for now and she loves it. She starts kindergarten in a couple of weeks there too. We don't leave her for the full day. We miss her being at home with us, so we pick her up before naps. If you do have this option, I highly suggest looking into it... Also, it's free!

Sue said...

Education decisions are so hard to make. You have made very good points on it. Could you do a split school with one or two of them? Like they go to school for some of the day and home some of the day:? Erin is going to two different schools this year. Just a thought

ourchinagirls said...

I think that the structure of school along with the schedule helps the kids catch up in itself. WE have had two daughters come home one at age 5 and one at age 6. We were going to start the 6 year old in Kindergarten but after visiting with the school district and them evaluating her we started her in first grade and she is doing fantastic. The five year old start in Kindergarten and is now a straight A student who starts 5th grade this year.

The school district will also do an IQ test on your child if you ask them too. The daughter we brought home from China with mental deficits was just evaluated and she has an IQ of less than 40. One of the many reasons that we could not keep her. She was such a handful with no attention span. She is doing so much better in the new home.

The Taylor family said...

This is a tough call, and a very personal one. But having 2 kiddos with Beta Thalassemia major, who are chronically transfused, I can tell you that school has been great for them. They do miss because of transfusions and sick days, but they gain so much from doing the same things all other children do. They have no medical restrictions, and their teachers have been wonderful with treating them as the normal, amazing kids they are. Some times we want to shelter our kids because of their medical issues, but it isnt what is best. Praying that you get some clear answers.

Stephanie M said...

I do not feel worthy of giving any advice, but want to say thank you for this detailed post! Really helps to read details like these as we are in our journey to China. Thank you! And from one homeschool Mom to another - I love your school room set up!!

Jerry and Christy said...

Have you read "Home Schooling Children with Special Needs" by Sharon C. Hensley, MA? This book has helped me so much with my daughter who has some learning disabilities. I read the comment about Linda-Mood Bell. It does not work for everyone and is over the top expensive. I have someone through NILD who has evaluated my daughter and will be helping me choose curriculum. I'm just trying to give you some things to help if you do feel led to continue to teach Abby at home.
Blessings, Christy

kimjax said...

Jean - we have done both public school and homeschooling for several years. We have a fabulous public school system - but I homeschool (like you) primarily because I want to give the kids a Christian education and spend more time with them. We have put kiddos in school when I've needed help with specific resources - like beginning readers and ESOL - and also when I just needed more time at home with certain children and I was spread too thin with new arrivals... Unlike most folks, I put new children in school to be immersed in English as I really can't teach them anything academic until they have enough language to receive instruction. :) The school teaches them art, computer, and all the other non-verbal things that work for a non-English speaker. I teach them family and cultural stuff after school - and they get ESOL, resource, etc. during the day. While everyone's situation is different, this has worked well for us. Best wishes figuring out the balance in your home for this year!!

kimjax said...

ps...we use video learning in the morning so I have time to work individually with kids (BJU Press) and we do history and science together in the afternoon. I read history aloud, and they all do a scrapbook page about what they learned afterward. Works for a large age spread.

Cheri said...

I'm more in agreement wit Emily. I don't have the answers, but I know some kids learn at certain ages. My son just didn't seem to get certain things at the level he was supposed to (bio). Some of the things were just common sense issues. I would teach him a rule for math, and he would forget it immediately. Only after repeating it 200 days, did it finally click. (seriously..many times over). I had thought he had aspergers. One test even showed some sever learning disabilities. But, with time and consistency, he is doing much better. It is like his adolescent brain just had not kicked it at the same time as others. It was very concerning. Praying things go well.

Sarah said...

If you find a really good school, they may have many resources that most homeschool moms just don't have. I would lean towards sending them to school, now, while they are younger, to help them with the basics if they are struggling. Also, schooling (kindergarten, pre-school) at this point, could be half days, which might be helpful. I think that a full day can be really hard for little ones.

You could try it, and if it's not working, take them out. You could consider a 3 month trial period, or something like that.

Of course, all of my kiddos will be home this year, which I think is best for us for now. So, every situation is different, and you know your children best!

Susie said...

I would send Abby for a trial period. If it isn't working out, definitely pull her out. But, it seems kids really do have a window where learning is easier for certain things, and if she is already going to struggle, letting her get this in her "window" may be the best for her.

I would keep Madeline home until some more of her medical issues are resolved. UNLESS your school district has some strategies for low vision/vision impared kids that you can utilize through school. But, you may be able to utilize them anyway. For example, your kids can take speech through the public schools whether they are enrolled or not. At least they can in our state! We had a great experience with pre-k speech in the public school.

Orton-Gillingham works really well for struggling readers-maybe you could find a tutor? It's phonics based works great for kids who are typical and have learning issues.

Good luck! You know your kids best-and you can ALWAYS change if something isn't working!

Mama Ds Dozen said...

Cannot WAIT to chat about this when we SEE you all!!!

I have homeschooled for 22 years . . . with 12 children . . . with internationally adopted children . . . with educationally challenged children . . . and we have gone round and round and round with this question MANY times . . . and the answer changes every time.


Laurel :)

Klynn said...

Hi Jean,
I'm a public school teacher that hopes to adopt and homeschool someday. :) I've followed your blog since you brought Abby and Luke home. After reading your post and all the advice you've already been given, I don't feel the need to add more advice. .... Just a thought though... Maybe the reason you don't feel any clear direction is because there isn't a right or a wrong. Either path is good. They will have different outcomes. Both with benefits and challenges. Both with God's blessings along the way and mountains to scale. I pray that you find peace in your decision.

Joy said...

It sounds as if Abby could possibly benefit from an evaluation for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) which can be easily helped with the proper medication.

anyabar1987 said...

A good reading program that they use where I work, I am an aide at a school for children with severe behavioral problems and special needs. But we use a program called Fundations for some of the reading programs.

Jillian said...

I agree with the trial period idea. Sometimes a change of pace makes all the difference. I've seen it both ways...struggling homeschooled children who thrive in a traditional school environment and children who are taken out of a traditional classroom and absolutely blossom with the parent as teacher.
I think you have nothing to lose by enrolling her in school, setting a date (ex. Christmas) and re-evaluating the situation in regards to her academics and behavior at that point. You can always bring her back home if there's regression or lack of improvement.

Maureen said...

I 'only' have 2 bio boys. Both have educational issues, 1 has medical issues as well. I struggle with this question.

I live in a 'good' school district. I still have issues with their schools. Both of my boys respond well to being around peers (and since they have no attachment issues, this is not an issue). They are motivated to do what their peers are doing. My one child in particular, when I'm working with something that he struggles with (which is anything written), it erodes our relationship in general (my other son is better about me being teacher and me being mom). I find myself struggling more with social/moral lessons that I'm trying to instill in him if I'm also struggling to teach him academics.

I also look at what I want to get out of the school year. Do I want them to learn more academics (particularly my older one I could make more progress at home)? Do they need to learn how to function in a group of peers (my oldest struggles with this, he is fine with familiar adults in a familiar setting, and very close peers but struggles mightily in a group)? What about morals? (And what setting will give me the most opportunity to guide them in decisions when I can still influence them and teach them)? I waiver. There are pros and cons to both. While I have my boys slated to go to school, I also have homeschool cirriculums chosen if I change my mind...

adoption journey said...

You will, ultimately, make the right choice for your children. Every child is unique, and only you can see how (or if) school is helping or hurting your child. Trust your instincts. That inner voice is God speaking quietly. We've recently (8 weeks ago) accepted three foster children into our home. After only three weeks here, I withdrew the one child from her special education summer program, against everyone's advice. After staying home full-time for one week, she was so very much happier and better behaved. The change was amazing. She absolutely needed to be home with us, so that she could bond. The rest of the kids were home, and she was "sent off" to a "special program" all day and hated me for (what she perceived) as rejection of her. You'll know what is the right thing to do, even if you have to try out school first to decide.

Momma Ruthies said...

One of our sons has learning delays. I would recommend looking at The Mislabeled Child book by the Eides---great ideas! We are doing music therapy---our son is learning phonological awareness through a program called Literacy Link (in music therapy).

One thing that has helped our son tremendously is to increase his working memory---info on that in the above mentioned book. Also look at the Well Trained Mind forums--tons of info there.

Praying He will show you what is best for each child!

Shay Ankerich said...

I have no advice but just wanted to say how amazing you are and I'm thankful you are so honest with us. Thanks for being willing to share. I believe God will give you a peace as you make the right decisions for your awesome kids. Blessings and love!!! XOXO