Saturday, May 30, 2009

This Post Has Been a Long Time Coming

How's that for a title?!

I have not blogged about homeschooling per se in a very long time. I've posted Easter, birthday and strawberry pics, talked about our butterfly garden experience (We have two more caterpillars almost ready to pupate as I type this!), shared our homemade bread recipe, our detox and just about everything else other than the nuts and bolts of homeschooling. What's been missing this year are Weekly Reports, any talk about curriculum, thoughts on the 2009-2010 year (Thatcher's 3rd and Haddon's K4) , planning and the like.

Why? To be honest, I am not really sure. This year has felt like the equivalent of a ship at sea whose lost its rudder. Sure there are still sails to catch the wind when it picks up but there are days and even weeks when the wind is just barely blowing.

Those who have been reading for awhile have followed my journey this year. I know there are new readers so I will quickly recap. Last June we found out we were expecting Baby #4 and a pretty good case of morning sickness and exhaustion set in. September saw Hurricane Ike run right over the top of our house. At the end of October we lost the baby; surgery and a long recovery followed. Holidays, a new roof , a million calls to two insurance companies who both messed up our claims (home and health) and an official diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome finished off 2008.

The new year started, and boy was I was ready for a new beginning. I started researching Charlotte Mason's theories in earnest. I read Volume One of Miss Mason's six volume series and Cathy Levison's books by the end of the month. We started changing our school little by little because I loved and agreed with what I was reading: short lessons; we dropped grammar and logic; starting incorporating nature hikes, quality literature and living books; and made an attempt at masterly inactivity. Then I started Volume Six and realized all I had gotten us into. ;) CM is so much deeper than just good books and nature hikes (What most tend to boil it down to in my experience.) I started feeling a little overwhelmed. Can I really implement this? It just seems really hard and classical feels so much more laid out. CMer's need their own version of The Well Trained Mind!

Through all this, we have been struggling with Thatcher's increasing symptoms and two younger brothers who do everything big brother does. We decided to medicate again (We tried stimulants for a year when he was 4 1/2 - 5 1/2) because we just had to gain some control over the chaos. Then I got a call and life took another detour.

I have attended workshops at our local homeschool conference done by a Neurodevelopmentalist for the last three years. She has really great ideas for how to maximize any kid's potential and friends of mine have been successfully using some of her strategies for a few years now with their "typical" kiddos. But what she shares at her workshops is just the tip of the iceberg. You can take your child to her and she puts a plan together to help reduce and/or eliminate symptoms of many neurological conditions including autism, ADHD, learning disabilities and even Down's Syndrome. The catch though...it's expensive...and time consuming. And did I mention expensive?

Well we have friends who knew we wanted to pursue this therapy and offered to pay for our first evaluation. We went not really knowing what all to expect. We have started on a course of therapy that takes us about 3 1/2 hours a day. And this is not a short term fix. If we decide to continue, we will go back to be re-evaluated every four months. Activities will be added/deleted depending on progress. Most kids continue this type of therapy for one to two years, sometimes longer.

What it all boils down to is that this year academics have been on the back burner. I have two shelves full of books we haven't hardly touched. We are at the end of May and the only thing we've finished is our Spanish program - and that's because it's video based! We have 50 lessons to go in math, over half of SOTW 2, almost all of this year's science because we started the year finishing what was left from last year, and on and on. I have these beautiful plans that pretty much got thrown out the window.

In my head I know that it truly is okay. It's a unique season. But somehow it doesn't stop me from feeling frustrated. The reality is that I never would have been able to pursue some of the things I did this year had we stayed on track academically (butterfly garden, baking bread and making jam...). Those things have been a joy.

Yet the steam is gone. I am at burnout and have been there for awhile now. There I said it. I need the wind to pick up and to start blowing - hard! I want to regain that passion and excitement for educating my kids. The hard thing is, if we continue this therapy then academics will need to stay in the background for a year or more. It will all be worth it if it helps Thatcher reach his potential but there are no guarantees. No answers, just sharing my journey. And if you read this far, thanks! :)

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9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Jennefer,

I haven't read your blog in a long time. First, I was sorry to read about the loss of your baby. (((hugs)))

I just wanted to encourage you to take a few weeks and not think about any of it (academics, therapy, all of it). Give yourself a chance to breath some fresh summer sunshine and just embrace the gift of summer. Make your decisions after stepping out of all of it when you are more clear-headed.

As far as academics......I personally would not use those as my basis for any sort of decision. I think I have shared with you before the best advice I was ever given: It really doesn't matter what he knows if he can't function.

Nolan will be 18 in 8 months. All visions of 4 yr university, big career, completely normally "functioning" life are gone. We are currently thinking more along the lines of an AA and technician type work living semi-independently in an apartment close to us.

All we can do is the best that we can. Every dr/psy/therapist has told us something different. Even they don't have a clue. It is blurry territory and we have to pray and hope that our decisions are the right ones and can't beat ourselves up when it doesn't work. There aren't clear cut answers with definitive outcomes.

Their lives are going to be a future of grey. We just can't know.

((((hugs)))) as you struggle through. Prayers you can have some weeks of peace and recovery.

Blessings,
Karen (momof7, but going to be 8)

mom24 said...

So glad that you felt you could be so honest here. I hope that some of your bloggy friends can be of some encouragement when you need it so much!
I was wondering about the change to CM this year for you. I myself only looked into it a bit and was overwhelmed (I get that way easily though). But from what you've written, it seems to be something worth pursuing - once you can get back on track academically (if and when your therapy works). It's good to have a plan but no to let it rule you or own you. It's OKAY not to have met your goals for the year! God had other things in mind and you have made huge strides in figuring out your dear oldest boy! So do NOT be dismayed (especially since there are plenty of us out here with less on our plate but not having met out goals either).
Rest and enjoy your boys. Pray and pray some more. The Lord will not dissapoint and you will soon have clear direction, finances provided, and a strong wind in yours sails once again!
Blessings,
Andrea

Jennifer said...

Jennefer,

You have had such an emotional year! I think baking homemade bread, watching God transform life, and tasting His sweet creation were the perfect homeschool lessons for your family in this unique season. Be encouraged! SOTW will be there for you another day. : )

Thanks for being honest here. You are a blessing to so many.

Jennifer

argsmommy said...

Jennefer,

I think we homeschool moms can be especially hard on ourselves. We're finishing up our second full school year, and for the first time I feel like we did fairly well at achieving our academic goals. And yet I've felt like we've been missing so much. I've really been inspired by your blog this year to seek out more opportunities to do things like nature walks, gardening, and such. When you posted your parenting goals earlier this year, you put so beautifully what really matters in raising our children. You are fulfilling those goals with what you are doing now. The rest will fall into place when the time is right.

Blessings (and hugs),
Kellie

Alycia in Va. said...

Continue to have faith and GOD will work everything out. You've had such a full year, all things in HIS time.

Amy said...

Sending prayers that God gives you peace and wisdom about what is the best course of action for your son. I would say that last year you covered enough academically with your son to count for two years. Your list of accomplishments was very impressive. I love the Charlotte Mason approach but like any approach I think it is best to take what works for your family and leave the rest. Thanks for being so honest with your challenges this year.

Anonymous said...

Blessings to you. Do not spend another minute fretting over what could have been accomplished academically this year. I have so many friends with kids in public and private school that have told me their kids learned next to nothing over a particular year (mostly due to a teacher or a bad curriculum). One of the beauties of home schooling is that you can always make up for lost time the following year. I would spend some time resting, relaxing, and enjoying the simple day to day events. Give yourself a summer to regroup and recharge. God will bless everything you do -- I know he will bless your efforts as an educator b/c you are educating out of love. Sometimes I get caught up in my own overly ambitious efforts and forget it is through His grace that our children flourish -- not ours. Those are just my humble pieces of advice from one home schooling mom to another. My God bless you and your family -- have a wonderful summer!

Tracie said...

I agree with the other commenter. You've got a lot on your plate and I'm positive things will get back to normal for you and everything will balance.

PS: One of the other blogs I visit just posted that her son has asperger's syndrome too (he's 16). You might visit and compare notes. http://www.skiptomylou.org/

Blessings

Niffercoo said...

Hi, Jennefer! It's "Niffercoo" from the WTM boards (well, I don't really post there much anymore). Anyway, I wanted to comment on putting the academics on the backburner for therapy. We did this the school year before last (2007-2008) while we began implementing our RDI autism remediation program. It was absolutely terrifying. About the same time, I also learned about CM and started implementing those techniques (though I get sidetracked in a WTM panic now and then).

This year I had to test per our state regulations. It was the first time to test Austin (my oldest with Aspergers) since he had started therapy. I don't usually hold too much stock in test scores, but his progress was amazing!! And Reece (my little one with autism) is reading and understanding what she's reading!

The results aren't just merely academic, either. Their growth socially and developmentally has been incredible! It was a hard decision but one that has yielded a HUGE payoff! I encourage you to embrace this time of therapy. No, there are no guarantees, but you'll never know if you don't try. And if there IS progress developmentally, it will make the academics EASIER!

Hang in there... it sounds like you've had quite a year! I hope you have a wonderful summer!