A few years ago I was talking to a fellow member of our local mom support group about a few upcoming seminars that we could attend.
“You homeschool, don’t you?” she said.
Before I even thought about it I replied, “No. I just help her with her lessons.”
And then I got to thinking. I had been teaching my daughter, who was about 18 months at the time, everything I thought she could absorb. I started with signing at 7 months. By the time she was 1 she could tell me any food, especially snacks, that she wanted to eat and that she had had ‘enough’. That progressed to ABC’s and nursery rhymes. That progressed to action songs (think Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes…). The next thing you know I was printing worksheets and scrutinizing “learning” TV shows and had put together a lesson pack of school prep items that we worked on daily. That was 4 years ago.
There is a desk, chair and two-sided chalk/dry erase board that have taken permanent residence in my living room. The cute compartmentalized space-saving furniture I had gotten from Ikea is crammed full of books and markers, worksheets and crayons, flash cards and DVDs, chalk and progress reports. I had white glue, colored glue, glue sticks, paper clips, construction paper, clothes pins, ice trays (I’ll explain that later)….You name it and it’s probably in there. We are up by 6:30 am and in full swing around 7:15 am. We work for an hour before I get breakfast started. And then it hit me…..
I had become a full fledged MOM-SCHOOLER.
We work almost daily now. Our schedule has gotten so hectic that there is some activity at least 6 of 7 days of the week and twice on Thursdays. No joke. In addition my DD (dear daughter) is in a half-day program at the neighborhood elementary school’s Pre-K program. I never thought that I was a homeschooler because she actually goes to school. I was just teaching her what I thought she should know. No more, no less. I wasn’t registered with the state. I didn’t have an approved textbook. I just did what I thought I needed to. It’s exhausting, but we manage because this is just what we do. We’re movin’ and shakin’…and sometimes more shakin’ than movin’. However, there is one minor detail that I neglected to share at the onset…
My DD has Down syndrome.
The extra that she needs is absolutely necessary so that she can be mainstreamed in an inclusive classroom come this August. We work on anything under the sun. People are surprised that she does as much as she can (I’ll get to that in a minute). She gets a real world, old school education and she has taught me more in these short 5 years than I have learned in my whole life. I parent in the present, listening to her needs and responding accordingly. Anything for my DD.
I guess I must be doing something right because her teacher texted me yesterday and wrote, “…most of my 4 year olds can’t write their name. So proud of her. I love when she writes her I and says dot dot dot! What will I do when she goes to kg? She’s the whole reason I got into this teaching position!!!!…”
It takes a village to raise a child and when that child has a disability it’s not unforeseeable that you may need the village, the next 3 towns over, 12 states and a continent other than that you live on. No exaggeration nor pun intended. This is a hard row to hoe, as my grandmother would say, but the benefits that are reaped far outweigh the arduous labor it takes to sow.
The harvest comes in 7 months. We are on a countdown to K. 10, 9, 8…..LET’S GO!!!
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