One of the most difficult things to communicate to co-parents, friends and especially the local education authority is that home-schooling is not a 9 to 3 job. It is a life-style. And for many families like ours with special needs, it simply does not work.
My daughter in particular had a difficult time managing the strict time regime of school because of her medical condition. She has epilepsy and often has a seizure or clusters of them in her sleep. Even though she was getting more than the recommended ten hours of sleep for a child her age, she was tired. Her sleep quality was poor and there was little we could do about that.
When my daughter went to school, our lives were dictated by the clock, the school schedule. Whether she had had a good night or a bad one, I was forced to get her up at 7:30 or 8:00 at the latest. She would whine and fight me every step of the way. By the time I stood in line to drop her at the school door at 9:00 we were both exhausted…already.
But it only got worse. There was hardly a day went by that come 3:30 I did not pick up a tired, irritable little monster. It was virtually impossible to make the small walk or bus ride home without a temper tantrum. The remainder of the day was one battle after another. What we would have for dinner. How many books we would read that night. Which dolly would grace our bed for the night. The battles never ended.
Home-schooling changed all of that. It is 9:00 AM. Emily is still asleep. Am I worried? Rushing about the house trying to get everything ready for her schooling? No! I am sitting on the couch with a cup of coffee, writing my weekly blog and patiently waiting because I know we have all day, a lifetime in fact to learn.
As a result, our whole day will take on a vastly different pale. It will not be the battle of wills that it once was (at least not to that degree anyway). We will allow our natural curiosity to lead us. We will get our hands messy with art and gardening projects. We will answer questions as they arise…like what is the difference between a crocodile and an alligator. We will read and add and all the rest.
And we will do it all in the natural ebb and flow of our day. We will not stop learning until we fall asleep tonight. She will help me in the kitchen to make our meals, measuring, pouring and stirring. Even her television and computer times will reinforce our lessons because of the careful choices I make. Every book we read. Every conversation we have. Every art project we make is learning.
The greatest lesson of all just may be…that we have choices about how we utilize this thing we call time. That even when we have things we must do there are creative ways in which we can do them. Ways that will nurture our physical and emotional needs for rest, attention and knowledge. Ways that traditional school cannot…not even for the ‘normal’ child.
That is why home-schooling is the right choice for our family. Might it also be for yours?