Thursday, June 5, 2014


I truly love homeschooling the children and being with them throughout the day!
It is a blessing to have that time together and to be able to teach them.
I love watching them learn and grow.
For some of the children it happens rapidly with very little effort while others need to work hard and repeat, repeat, repeat what they are learning. It can sometimes feel like it is happening at a snails pace BUT it is happening and it's still very exciting and rewarding!

A couple of our children have hit learning snags.
Maybe they have reached their potential or maybe it's time to learn in a new environment.

Homeschooling 13 children ages 14 - 5 is challenging and wonderful but we are feeling like it is time to change it up a bit. 

Emma had been in school for this last fall semester but once we moved she wanted to stay home.
With all the changes that were happening in our lives it felt like a good choice.
(moved homes, new school district, 2 new boys from China joining our family, and our first grandchild on the way)

But now, we are settled and have acclimated to our new home, schedule and family.

I am learning more and more every day about having a child with a severe cognitive disability.
There are days that are so rewarding and heartwarming where I can see God at work.
And their are days that are heartbreaking and exhausting. 

The truth is 
I simply need a break...
I need someone who is trained in educating severely cognitively disabled children.
And the good news is we happen to live in the perfect state for that!
Minnesota excels when it comes to special ed!
Thank you Jesus!

 I have seen Emma light up when a kind teacher greats her with a smile at the beginning of the school day!
I have also had the pleasure of meeting her at the end of the school day and feeling excited to see her.
I need that feeling back.

She has regressed lately and the constant stares that come my way are wearing on me.
Emma is unable to entertain herself. She is back to standing in one place or aimlessly roaming around unless I consistently give her something to do.
She has not spoken for weeks unless we insist that she answer us with her voice.
She is content but she is not blossoming.

Just so you understand Emma's cognitive disability is severe and she needs constant supervision.
She is able to be in our home without me in the room but she cannot leave our home without an constant adult supervision.
She will always be unable to live independently.

We feel that Emma needs interactions outside of our family in order to learn appropriate responses.

Along with Emma we have enrolled Ellie in school for the fall too.

It has not been an easy decision and has come with much prayer.
I have been determined to keep Ellie at home because I was seeing slow BUT positive growth in her academics and personal character.
But adolescents has changed that and she is now self conscious and becoming more insecure as her younger sibs quickly pass her by... in every area.
She no longer desires to please her parents and continue to try her hardest but instead will shut down and not risk being outdone by someone else. 
Sometimes she realizes that she is doing this but she is unable to react differently.

Our neuro psych Dr and OB/GYN said this may happen.
She is more aware of her disability and it saddens and frustrates her,whereas Emma is not aware of it.
Ellie is prone to suffer from depression. 
She wants the life that everyone else has but can never quite seem to get there…

We have tried many different activities, educational plans and home remedies but it is not helping and she needs to feel the joy of a special ed teacher greeting her Monday-Friday with a smile on her face and a daily learning plan specialy designed for her!

It actually has been hard on this Momma's heart to see the changes and I have tried to pray and wish them away but they are what they are and we need to help her with where she is at…

As a parent of these two dear children, I need to not do what I want but do what we feel is in their best interest.
I would prefer that we are all homeschooled but
I can't meet all their needs right now.

Remember at the beginning of this post I said some of the children need to repeat, repeat, repeat what they are learning. We will need to figure out where they are at and if they will need additional services in our home. If are unable to provide these additional services than we will need to seek outside help for them, too.

I do see a possibility of both girls coming home at some point in the future. It would most likely be for a short period of time but here I go... planning to far ahead… again...
I need to be peaceful and let God decide!
It just works better that way.

We love our children and we are thankful to have options when it comes to their education!


Kirstin said...

I admire your willingness to look beyond your desire to be able to have all the children homeschooled and look to other options that can help meet their needs. We homeschoolers can be hard on ourselves and very independent, and sometimes we need the support and community that we can find in others. Tonight I pray blessings on your summer and the coming school year for you and all your students... those studying at home and at school. Thank you for sharing your journey so that I can learn from your family and your experiences.

Karen said...

I understand the frustration of having your child stand and stare at you waiting for some instruction or direction on what to do every moment of their day. Our 13 year old is so much the same. There is nothing she can think of to do on her own. Schoolwork is still only at preschool tracing ability. I think we too might have to consider help from the public schools, but I'm sad that the schools in our area don't have the ability to work with such an extremely delayed child. Still not sure where to go for help.

Shelia Jacoby said...

Jean, I applaud your ability to look outside what you feel you are capable of, as we can't be all things at all times to everyone. Doing what is best for the child is what God wants us to do and sometimes that means seeking out other resources. When we brought our daughter home at almost 14 we went from homeschooling, to private school to now public high school, where she thrives. Academically she does well, but socially I'm not sure when or if she will ever catch up. I guess in time. Emma and Ellie will thrive I'm sure with those who are dedicated and trained to deal with their particular disabilities. Take care & hugs from Florida.

Craig and Joan said...

Although our 16 year old daughter is not home schooled, we recently determined that was suffering from depression and decided to try an SSRI for her. Because I was raised with a more "natural" approach to health, this was MY difficult decision. Our daughter had made wonderful but slow progress going the natural route, but at some point, as you say about teaching, Jean, you just know there needs to be more help. I often have to remind myself that I am here to be the hands of God, and sometimes that means letting go of whatever I am holding onto to reach out for something more. I admire you and feel the depth of love you have for your children. Truly, they become our teachers….Blessings to you and your beautiful daughters - I know you will be rewarded by their growth and joy with this decision.

Rebecca said...

You know how I love the concept of homeschooling, but I've never been die hard about it and I certainly don't believe that HS'ing is the best thing for every child. All that you mentioned in the above makes perfect sense and allowing someone else to be the expert in her life in that area will free you up emotionally to be the mom that you want to be for her. You can not be all things to everyone all the time. We take things one step at a time around here. What's working one month may fall apart the next... Such is the ebb and flow of life. Just trust in Him who has said that He gives wisdom to ALL who ask; generously and without reproach. XO!

Sarah said...

You have such wisdom, Jean. I love homeschooling, as well, but sometimes, for certain seasons, other sorts of schooling are best. I've seen that in my children, as well. Next year, they're all doing a homeschool co-op once (for the younger two) or twice (for the older ones) each week, and possibly full-time school for one of our kiddos. We'll see how God leads.

Emily said...

Though my Kate's cognitive issues aren't as severe as Emma and Ellie's, they are enough that I can no longer meet her needs at home. I recently enrolled her in public school again. We do what is best for the kiddos we love so much.

Tesseraemum said...

Every child and season is different. Being able to switch up the plan is always good. I have struggled with that too. We had Isaac at home to start, public school, home for middle school and the 1st 2 yrs of H.S. next year he will be going to tech school (awesome criminal justice program!) Knowing what is best for each individual child and not being afraid to change direction is the key!

Difference2This1 said...

My big girl sounds much like Ellie; she also is aware of her disabilities and is frustrated she can't live the same sort of life as her sisters. It hurts her to watch her younger sisters pass her by with life and social skills and academics. She started public school this past Feb and was placed in Special Education small group classes...and she is thriving there. We will keep here there next year. My prayers are that Emma and Ellie experience similar positive experiences. You are doing a great job evaluating the needs of each child and seeking solutions for them to continue to move forward. Blessings, Jennifer

Judy Deaton said...

Bless you! I know those were not easy decisions! I love catching up on your family through your blog. May the Lord continue to bless and guide you as you work for Him. Your children are all so precious...Bigs, and littles :)

K said...

I reached the same conclusion about two months ago with my 13 yr. old. If I don't try her in an IEP public school program, I'll never know if she'd do better there than at home. I look at it this way: When they first come home there needs to be a time with the family, just like bringing home a newborn baby. The bonding gets as good a chance as possible, the child learns what a family is, learns English, we get to know our child, then we see how far they can come with that. Once we reach a wall, it's time to get more help, then more, if needed, until the child's needs are being met and the family functioning optimally. I know I over-simplified it, but I can only type so much this late at night!

I appreciate your honesty and openness on your blog. We are living similar lives with our kids right now.

I have figured out how it looks like we'll get through our summer and do well: We are schooling. I have many games requiring fine motor skills like Connect Four, Jacks, Pick Up Sticks, an old game called Numbers Up, dice with letters so they get 15 and roll them and have to make words (they did surprisingly well at this!), they have one scripture a week they have to memorize and recite to me on Sunday, then there is fun time like playing outside, exercise time (PT), trips to the zoo, the doctor, etc... So, when I see a child standing around, I say, "Go work on your scripture." If I see two kids standing around I say, "Go play Connect Four." And so on. They also have chores. Clearly, this works with older kids who function at a certain level, but it's settled my 13 yr. old right done because now I can tell her exactly what she needs to do and it keeps her occupied and learning.