I homeschool. Strangers and people closest to me say, don’t. They say, Audric won’t get socialized. He’s already fully dependent on you. You’re going to burn out. You can’t do it alone. He’s doesn’t learn at home.
Then, the questions. Why are you doing this? How are you going to do it? How are you going to live? Are you going to work?
These are understandable questions and concerns. The first time I homeschooled, I did it for two years. Audric was eight and nine. Third and fourth grade. His behaviors were becoming aggressive towards adults, and I wanted to work with him so they wouldn’t get worse. Two behaviors I remember were body dropping and transitions. He actually learned body dropping from watching another student.
Homeschooling the first time was hard. I did it alone. We lived on a fix income and had help with social services for food, rent, and electricity. I got a freelancing job working from home, so I made a little allowance for gas and eating out.
For activities, we went to the museums in DC every weekend. We lived just outside of Washington, DC. We were out of the house every day. There’s a regional park near the house, so we took nature walks there. We took our dog to the dog park too. All these were free.
We cook together, then and now. Audric loves cooking and baking. He uses kitchen utensils, monitors the timer, and stays safe around things that are hot. I did many homeschool activities in the kitchen: reading (directions to make a cake), math (measurement cups, and how many), science (mixing powder to liquid, liquid turns to solid). We practiced fine motor and gross motor skills in the kitchen too. Using spatula to mix batter, utensils to feed self.
Activities are adapted to meet his needs. In homeschool, he gets extended and appropriate wait times. He interacts with others when we’re out. He has opportunity and practice socializing with others in real situations.
I thought he was ready. I wanted to give public school a try. He enrolled in Mrs. Casey’s class. It was a great year. No behavioral concerns and he made progress. I fell under pressure to keep him in public school for two more school years, so he attended middle school and stayed with his father during the school week for sixth and seventh grade. All his classes were self-contained.
Middle school was tough. He started puberty and some behaviors started showing up again. He picked up a behavior of making spit balls on the floor through parallel play. The occupational therapy wanted to stop her services. He made all the progress he was going to make. The speech language pathologist wanted to see him less for the same reason. On top of all that, Audric started getting bruises, scrapes, and mysterious marks on his body. Seventh grade was worse, and that’s when homeschool came back to mind.
I relocated to another city about an hour away. I picked him up every Friday. I’d be in touch with the teacher daily. Asking about Audric. And no matter how much I talked to the teacher, I wasn’t comfortable. Audric wasn’t in a safe and nurturing environment. It was stressful and frustrating. Homeschooling was the only option I felt comfortable and confident doing for his future.
Homeschool for 2018-2019 school year was great! And it’s different. I wasn’t dealing with behaviors like before. I’m working through puberty. We continue to work on socialization, personal space, and the functional academics.
Some other changes this time. I’m not alone. I have a babysitter. We have social services helping us with rent. I work outside the home to pay for the babysitter, car insurance, eating out and horse riding lessons. If you want to homeschool, ignore the chatter. You know in your heart and soul if homeschool is for you. It’s not for everyone.
Having a babysitter helps a lot. Working a job I really like is helpful too. He took weekly horse riding lessons. And I started a special needs homeschool co-op group in the city. We’re looking for families with special needs kids ages 11-17.
Are you thinking of homeschooling? Or do you homeschool? Looking for a special needs homeschool group in Baltimore City? Leave a comment below. Would love to hear from you.