Google The Unplanned Homeschooler: August 2020

Monday, August 31, 2020

Raising up resilience

It has been a while since I've written anything for my blog. The stories I wanted to write didn't seem like all mine to tell. Such is often the case when you are writing about the lives and experiences of your children, especially if your childen have disabilities. Although the things my kids were going through affected me as well, it still didn't feel right to talk about publicly unless and until they seemed ready to share. But like many homeschooling moms, I've discovered that in spite of challenges, I have been raising amazing, resilient young people and they are excited to pursue their goals in whatever manner they can.

I have three children. My twins, 18, and their little sister, who will be 13 this month. Yes, I am about to be a mom of three teens! This is an exciting time in our lives. The twins are seniors this year. They started concurrent enrollment classes at the local university last semester, and are taking more classes there this fall as we concentrate on applying for admission and scholarships for their freshman year. My son is leaning toward a career in the medical field, and my daughter is interested in finding her niche in the entertainment industry. My youngest is entering middle school and has interests as varied as any you might imagine. 

Dealing with the pandemic

This year has not been too difficult for us, as far as dealing with the pandemic is concerned. Homeschooling had already prepared us well for learning successfully at home, and although we all missed some of the social aspects of our routine, at least the educational components of our lives weren't thrown suddenly into chaos. 

Actually, taking the extra precautions we've needed to take, primarily due to my younger daughter's heart condition, has given us something of a season of rest. You see, before Covid-19 arrived on the scene, we were exceedingly busy. We had appointments scheduled multiple days each week, many of which were more than an hour away because we live in a small town. Some appointments took us hours away from home, and all had to be scheduled around the twins' college classes. 

Facing tough diagnoses

The last couple of years were spent in what seemed like a rolling snowball of of doctors and tests. My kids, all three of them, were preemies and had been dealing with mysterious issues since they were born. The twins qualified for speech, occupational and physical therapy in preschool, but we didn't know the underlying reason for their challenges. I've spent their whole lives looking for answers, but it wasn't until they were in their teens that things started to come together. Without going too much into their diagnoses, I will simply say after seeing two geneticists and multiple other specialists, we finally had definitive answers, and they were discouraging. 

It is not easy to receive life-altering diagnoses, not as the patient and not as their parent. I think having an imposed break in all the appointments, due to the pandemic, gave us all time to catch our breath. The kids' medical conditions aren't going to go away, and whatever poking and prodding and physical therapy and other work needs to be done will still be waiting when we're ready to resume. But for now, it is good to have time to focus on other things, like their college applications and dreams for the future.

Still chasing their dreams

Homeschooling has helped me to raise overcomers. My older daughter has spent a lot of time researching different jobs in the film industry, and various paths to the type of career she wants. She's spent time thinking about the limitations she might face, whether due to her mobility or tolerance of heat or cold, for instance. The flexibility she has experienced as a homeschooler has given her the ability to envision different ways to accomplish her goals.

My son's diagnoses seemed to light a fire under him. I'd done my best to open as many doors as possible throughout his education, making sure that he learned the basics and had plenty of opportunities to study subjects of interest, but he'd been pretty committed to "Undeclared" as his major until this year. Recently he has started to take a hard look at the type of career he really wants, and what sort of labor he will be able to physically do over the long haul, and he's working hard to make a plan and go for it.

My little one, who was born with a heart defect and has dealt with overcoming disability her entire life, is watching her older siblings as they deal with the challenges they face now and those that will come. She won't be tested for the same disorder until she is older and can consent on her own. Part of me just wants to know now, but I understand that it needs to be her decision. Whatever happens, she's one of the most resilient people I have ever known, and I have no doubt she will find her way.

Homeschooling made a difference

I'm not sure if my kids would have been as ready to face their challenges if I had left them in public school. By the time they finished kindergarten, the twins were already dealing with setbacks. My daughter felt like a failure on the playground, and was going hungry from the limited time she had to eat lunch. My son was drowning in a classroom that was so mismatched to his learning style he seemed doomed to fall through the cracks. Homeschooling allowed them to learn in ways that suited them, and to succeed in ways that they might never have discovered in an overcrowded school.

If you are reading this, you are probably already considering homeschooling. I encourage you to give it some serious thought, especially if you are dealing with a medically complex child. Every child has dreams, even if some of them may come with limitations. Homeschooling may be just the thing to help your child build a legacy of success and gain the courage to explore all the possibilities that await them.