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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Why We Decided to Also Homeschool Our Neuro-Typical Daughter

There is one reason and one reason only: 

Because I can


Now, of course, that is a loaded answer, but it is the truth at the core of our whole debate in regards to Caroline's 5th grade year.  After we unexpectedly pulled Jackson out of the public middle school's autism program last fall, we scrambled to put together an academic program to meet all his needs.  Thankfully, it was a tremendously smooth transition considering the circumstances.  Over the course of the following few months, I spent a lot of time continuing my research into middle grade academics and discovered a huge body of work on educational reform for this age group.  What I came across time and time again, as the only solution to our nation's growing educational crisis, was the call for more individualized education.

The concept of individualized education is very familiar to me for obvious reasons - autism education is based around the IEP (Individualized Education Plan), so I have seen first hand the power of this model.  However, I had never considered it to be necessary for Caroline, as she has always done quite well in school, so the need never crossed my mind.  But after stumbling across Sir Ken Robinson's talks on educational reform, "Are Schools Killing Creativity" and his follow-up message, "Bring on the Learning Revolution", I was hooked on the concept of rethinking Caroline's education as well.

At this point, I simply wanted to augment her public school education with some of these concepts.  I came up with projects and lessons that could be taught outside the classroom, with the hopes of stimulating her academic creativity in regards to her natural learning style and interests.  However, as many of you can attest, there are just not enough hours in the day to add that kind of endeavor onto an already super busy tween girl's packed schedule.  So I shelved my ideas for a latter, more convenient time.

Then, in January, Caroline approached us and asked to be home schooled.  We immediately said no and that was that.  She persisted, and even gave us an oral presentation with visual aids, outlining her case.  We told her we'd discuss it, pray about it and let her know.  Months went by and she never relented...and for those of you with negotiators in your family, you can guess that she never gave up hope, and continued her campaign to be home schooled.

Sometime in April, Paul and I began to seriously discuss her options for 5th grade.  She could go back to her current elementary school, which we loved and had absolutely no issues with or she could go to another area public school where she was accepted into the county-wide gifted program, but we are not big supporters of separate gifted education, so that seemed off the table easily.  We considered private schools, but at this age, the financial investment seemed silly because her public educational options we so strong.

So unlike Jackson, the idea of homeschooling came about not so much as an option against the public schools, but as an augmentation to them.  We decided, after much prayer, to pull Caroline out of school, for 1 year, and 1 year only, to invest in her individualized education.  All the necessary pieces to the puzzle aligned since I was already home with Jackson, and I have the time, experience and interest in exploring her learning needs and potential...or simply put, because I can.  God has blessed our lives with the right season for all these moving parts to fall into place, so we felt called to move forward with our decision to homeschool both our children.

On top of that, Caroline is just a really neat kid with so many interests and abilities that every teacher, coach or trainer she has ever had has enjoyed her so much!  She is a veritable sponge who can learn so rapidly and efficiently, that the boundaries to her capability are forever being stretched. And if I'm honest with myself, I simply want to be a part of that too.  I want to foster her intellectual growth just as much as Paul fosters her athletic growth.  I want to watch her brain move swiftly from one concept to the other making connections and discoveries that only strangers got to witness before.  She is God's gift to me and I want to take this small window of opportunity to be a part of her learning journey before she jumps back into the chaos of adolescence.

And I hope and pray that the bond we build over the next year can help keep us close during the tumultuous teenage years that already have me shaking in my boots!!!


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4 comments:

  1. Great post... Seems like it will be an awesome year!

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  2. wow! you continue to amaze and challenge me! Thank you!

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  3. That is so awesome!! What inspiration :) Enjoy!

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  4. What I find amazing about this...is that your daughter was the one who was advocating for herself in this whole process. Very interesting. Hope to follow how things turn out. I would also love to follow up with you about your son and your decision to home-school him as well. Would you consider doing a guest post for Think Inclusive? http://thinkinclusive.us

    Thanks for sharing your journey.

    Tim

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