School is in session. Do your kids attend public or private school? Are you a homeschooling family? Does Covid-19 still have a choke hold on your child’s education? For me, the answer is yes to all the above.
My Homeschool History
As a mom of eight kids, presently ranging in ages from 32 to 16, our family has experienced a variety of educational formats. My first-born entered kindergarten at a small Christian school. Over time, three siblings joined him. Then, the Lord led us to something I never anticipated— homeschooling. But once in, we were all in. We home educated our children for sixteen years adding four adopted kids along the way. Six of our children graduated twelfth grade from home.
But throughout the last two years of homeschooling, I felt like a failure. Our youngest boys
were both adopted internationally and diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Due to their special needs, I spent most of my week running to occupational, speech, physical, and vision therapy. Both boys required one-on-one education and neither could focus when the other was in the same room. I was spinning too many plates and dropping dishes. After months of prayer, God directed us to enroll both boys in public school—something else I’d never planned to do. But we stepped out in faith and put them in school. Our district has a pretty good special education program. Our boys thrived there, until they didn’t.
For our family, 2020 ushered in not just the negative impacts Covid-19 had on the school year but the challenges of parenting teenagers with FAS. Our then fifteen year-old struggled with the abrupt school closure, the unknown of if and when school would reopen, and all the changes in routine when school did reopen.
After months of prayer, to avoid a mental health crisis, we took our youngest out of school. We began homeschooling again—something else I had never planned to do, especially since I had given away or sold sixteen years worth of curriculum.
Our older teen weathered the Covid changes well. He returned to school and his vocational welding program for his senior year. In November we discovered two classmates had introduced him to vaping. And by February he’d tried marijuana.
The vocational school experience had a detrimental effect on our vulnerable son. While he had the ability to weld, he lacked the maturity and executive functioning to safely navigate the environment.
We pulled our senior out of the vocational program and informed the school that it would be replaced with a work study—at his father’s construction company. The district agreed and our son graduated in June. But the negative influences he was exposed to continue to be a challenge we’re still navigating.
Based on the above experiences we have prayerfully decided to homeschool our youngest son for the rest of his high school years. We’re only one month into the 2021-2022 school year and he’s already learning and has less stress.
Our ninth grader was not on track for a general education diploma but a vocational certificate like his brother. Therefore, we’re focusing on topics that both interest him and reinforce his strengths while learning life skills and tackling the basics at his own pace. So far, we’re both enjoying this school year.
Homeschooling, however, doesn’t come without sacrifice. While it’s much easier to homeschool one kid as apposed to eight, these days I’m also balancing additional responsibilities. Homeschooling fills my mornings while managing Justice For Orphans, podcasting, and ministry demands occupy my afternoons and evenings. I’m spinning plates again, but my son is worth it.
Educational decisions are challenging, especially for adoptive and foster parents. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. As you navigate the school year, I recommend the following:
• Seek God about what is best for your child
• Become an expert on their special needs
• Maintain their IEP or 504 Plan
• Connect with other adoptive and foster parents
• Seek resources specific to your child’s needs
• Make the necessary sacrifices to help your child succeed
After taking the homeschooling plunge again, I’ve discovered resources that either didn’t exist or I didn’t now existed previously. If you are an adoptive or foster parent (whether you homeschool or not), I recommend the following:
• Blazing New Homeschool Trails, by Natalie Vecchione & Cindy LaJoy
• Guided Growth, by Dr. Ira Chasnoff
• Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner, by Kathy Kuhl
• Homeschooling the FASD Way Facebook Group
• Blue Collar Homeschool Facebook Group
If you have any questions about educating your child, please feel free to reach out to me. I also invite you to check out my Orphans No More podcast. Episode 282 features Natalie Vecchione and Cindy LaJoy talking about their book Blazing New Homeschool Trails and on Episode 292, I share about our homeschooling experience and pray for struggling families. I hope you’ll give a listen.
Thank you for stopping by my blog and podcast. I’m thrilled to have you along for the journey!