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  1. #1

    Default Help Me Figure Out What to Do?!

    So this is going to be really long and probably jumbled, I apologize. I have been mulling this over for weeks and need to make a decision.

    This is my second year homeschooling DS (8, ASD, has some pretty intense behaviors) and DD (5.5, more or less neurotypical, has a few sensory issues and red flags, but not enough for diagnosis after multiple evaluations). Last year went pretty well, but was mostly teaching DS. DD just played nearby and learned a lot more than I expected.

    This year with both kids officially registered as homeschoolers has been much harder to find a groove. In December DS went from in-clinic therapy (which gave me an afternoon to focus on DD and get errands done), to in-home therapy for six hours on Tuesdays, which gives me no time apart from either child. And it's difficult to work with DD then because she wants to be involved in what DS and his therapist are doing.

    In January I signed DD up for a Christian co-op where my friend is a member, so DD would have her own thing and would be getting some focused instruction with a group of NT kids. I felt like we weren't doing enough with her at home and what we were doing wasn't sinking in. The co-op class is two hours, very hands on, and a lot of group work. The teacher sends pictures and videos and a personal message every week. It's also $300 a semester, plus the registration fee and volunteering hours I have to do. I think DD really enjoys it though and is growing from the experience. She was so happy when I picked her up today after I'd already decided not to send her next year.

    Well, now it's time to pay for the co-op for next year, and I'm wavering about what to do: the co-op and homeschool, homeschool and no co-op, or just send DD to Kindergarten at the local public school for a few reasons:

    1) DD's not getting as many playdate opportunities or social connections as I think she would like to have, even with the co-op. The older kids at the co-op seem very social and friendly with each other, but most of the kids in her class aren't. My friend's child who is in the class is friendly to her, but may not be coming back next year and would be there at a different time than DD anyway. Her neighborhood friend goes to daycare after school and we don't see her often, and her two best friends we play with weekly will also be going to Kindergarten at a different school next year. Also, DS's behavior and sensory issues prevent us from participating in the co-op activities as much as I'd like. DD also has mild sensory issues that contribute to that, but seems to be coming out of her shell a bit now that she's adjusted to co-op. I think the things she likes about co-op are things she would like about public Kindergarten.

    I know the socialization opportunities at public school leave a lot to be desired, but I do think she'd make a few little friends and have chances to socialize. I should add DH and I are both pretty introverted.

    2) DD has developed a speech disfluency and stutter over the past few months. I think she will need speech therapy that I am not sure we can afford to pay for, especially since she doesn't have another diagnosis that insurance would cover. I am not 100% sure, but I doubt she can get services from the school district unless she is enrolled at a school. Also, I think her brother interrupting her all the time might contribute to her stutter, and it certainly doesn't help it. Speech therapy is really the most important reason to send her.

    3) With the in-home therapy most of the day Tuesday and then the co-op Wednesday, plus lunch and usually an afternoon outing to the park or library after, that only leaves Monday, Thursday and Friday for sit-down school work, other field trips and playdates with friends. I feel like it's hard to get a good routine and hard to get enough of anything done: homeschooling, housework, errands, self-care for me.

    4) We live in what would be probably be considered one of the best public school districts in the country, but our school is a Title-I school that ranks very low compared to most of the surrounding schools. I am not sure how much that matters, if at all. But the school does have Music (and string instruments beginning in 4th grade) Art, foreign language, STEM lab, etc... all stuff we would struggle to pay for outside of school.

    Except I don't want to send her, because I love homeschooling when it goes well. I feel like the things I was struggling to teach, she just wasn't ready for yet and I should have waited a year to enroll her as a homeschooler. I would miss DD so much if she was gone all day too. She already feels like her brother gets more attention (and honestly he does, though I try not to let it happen.) She may feel like she is being sent away. She really likes her co-op teacher and class. I feel like she is just settling in there and if we stay she may make more friends, albeit ones who live 40 minutes away and may not be into the fact that we are secular.

    Also, we had to argue with the public school for services when DS went there and we didn't get them. We gave up and started homeschooling. And I didn't really like the atmosphere I saw there: special needs students eating alone in the hall, staring at the wall with paras who didn't try to engage them at all, teachers yelling at students, kids running wild and not really learning what was intended during special events in the gym and cafeteria, kids ostracizing my DS at the bus stop with their parents standing right there doing nothing, never really knowing how DS was doing educationally or behaviorally unless I got a disciplinary call from the principal or a bad report card. I also feel like my DD is very sweet and caring, but could easily be influenced into being one of the mean girls in that environment.

    But I just can't help feeling like I am shortchanging DD if I don't send her to the public school, even though I don't like the school after my experience there. And I feel like if I'm going to send her, it should be at the beginning of Kindergarten in August.

    I like the co-op, but it's expensive, has some very Christian elements that I just try to ignore for now, and it adds a lot of stress to my plate each week just getting us there. I also think it's welcoming now, but wouldn't be if my DS let loose with the behaviors we are working to curb. Basically, I don't feel like we can be ourselves there and still be accepted. I could use the co-op tuition toward speech therapy or ASD therapy, whether DD is homeschooled or in public. But $300-600 isn't going to cover that much therapy anyway.

    Help!
    Last edited by Sea-and-Sky; 05-02-2019 at 09:14 AM.

  2. T4L In Forum Aug19
  3. #2

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    Welcome! You seem so distraught! You seem to have a mix of issues, perhaps tackle them one at a time?

    (There is also a problem with your post being stuck in moderation, I will be back after that gets resolved.)
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.

    Atheist.

    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  4. #3

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    One thing I understand is that you had a bad experience getting services from the school district for your son, and your daughter now needs those. My neighborhood school was a PITA about giving services for my youngest. We were able to get them from a local charter homeschool instead (and he gets twice weekly speech and OT). You can request an IEP evaluation, and toss words around like “Fair and Appropriate Education”, “let me call our Advocate”, etc. Do the local research, have an advocate on standby, have talked with them to know what you should expect, and be prepared to go all MamaBear on them. Dont let them bully you!
    It may come down to you paying out of pocket for the therapy (we did that route and it drained our savings and had us eating very simply for a few years). Then again, maybe insurance will cover it.
    Also, public school might not solve your daughter’s social desires. I think as homeschooling parents we expect ourselves to provide a plethora of friends to choose from, and have an illusion that all these friendships happen spontaneously and naturally if our kids are in public school. Your son’s experience shows you this isnt the case. Public school kids might still be unhappy (bully stories, depression, anxiety), but the parents arent out beating the bushes trying to find their kids more friends.

    As far as the co-op, do you like it because it makes the kids happy and gives you a little break? Could you replace it with some other activities that would give you the same benefits, at less cost and spiritual unease?

    You do need to make time for yourself, and for your other responsibilities. Ive found for myself that I lack the mental energy to do a great job homeschooling and cleaning house.... one always suffers.
    This may sound a little creepy, but when your son has his therapy, can you take your daughter to a “special place” and do fun homeschooling? Like carve out a closet into a “I Dream of Jeannie” princess lair, that you only go into when therapy is going on? (Im guessing a parent is expected to be available during the sessions.)

    And try to escape in the evenings! You need time away from the pressures of being the mommy servant at the family’s beck and call.

    We do understand what youre going through! Talk to us, we will help you get through it.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.

    Atheist.

    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  5. #4

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    Hi Alexsmom! Thank you for replying. Yes, I do have a lot going on. Sometimes I need to remember to just breathe!

    I think co-op is not worth it. I like it because it gets us out of the house and DD gets to do fun learning activities with other kids. But it doesn't really give me a break, and getting us all there and doing the volunteer requirements adds stress. I can replace the co-op with something else for DD. I don't think she would care.


    I do try to "do school" in another room with DD when the therapist is working with DS. She has been very resistant, but has been more cooperative the past couple of weeks. I think she is more ready to do academic work now.

    DS's ABA therapy is expensive even with our insurance, so we are already eating simply and not saving as much as we'd like! That's one reason the public school is so tempting with its therapy services and music, foreign language and Art classes. But I think you are right about
    it not being an automatic way for DD to find friends, just like co-op isn't.

    Regarding the school services, I think DD's stutter will be harder for the school to ignore than DS's behavior issues. He is 2E and they said he wasn't eligible because he did well on their tests.

    Thank you for the advice about the advocate! We were naive when we initiated the IEP process for DS in Kindergarten. I really felt like the school did shady things that I later found out weren't allowed, like giving us less than 24 hours to review their test results before the eligibility meeting. We probably didn't fight hard enough, but DS was so miserable there I really don't think an IEP or 504 would have fixed it.

    I will start researching advocates and get DD set up for an evaluation with the school system and go from there.

  6. #5

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    I totally understand the distraction factor. Getting one kid to attend to “boring” school when brother is having fun with a therapist is pretty difficult. Making a special place that is only visited at that time might help. Hence a closet, or maybe a tent or picnic blanket in the backyard. And use that time for the most fun homeschooling activities - a poetry tea, story blocks, a math skills game, gardening and biology studies. (My oldest gained addition fluency by playing blackjack with me.)

    You could also give up on her doing schoolwork, and think about what you could do that would be most productive in its place. Would she engage with you in the kitchen, for a week’s worth of meal prep and some baking? Folding laundry and helping with housekeeping for a little pocket money? If you create scarcity for a favorite activity or screen time, she may be more motivated to indulge if its offered then.
    Im not familiar with the parts of ABA, but is it possible to include her for an activity or two each session? It might make her feel included, and satisfy her longing to participate with her brother.
    That is all Im brainstorming to redirect her attention. And if homeschooling then is a lost cause, “know when to walk away, know when to run.” Its not the end of the world if bookwork doesnt get done then.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.

    Atheist.

    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  7. #6

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    Hello Sea-and-Sky,

    I'm sorry you are dealing with so many what-ifs. I'm a first year homeschooler but I do understand. We enrolled my son in public school preschool at age 3 just for speech therapy services, did public school for 3 years, and then decided to pull him out for homeschool as a first grader. I definitely noticed his speech getting worse after a few months of not frequently being around other children and adults.

    Where I live (Colorado), many public schools have a "Homeschool Enrichment Academy," where you can send your child to a full-day of school once a week where they are among their homeschool and public school peers and doing electives (PE, music, art) as well as a little bit of school (science experiments, testing if you want it). We've only been doing it for a couple months here, but I was able to get my son speech services as a part-time student. They tried to lean on me to come in 2x/week but I said no to that. Not sure if it matters but it was labeled an RTI, or Response to Intervention, rather than an IEP Individualized Education Plan which might be where the request for 2x/week came in. I'm honestly not crazy about doing the Enrichment program but it's meeting my son's needs so I keep my mouth mostly shut

    We also went back to his private speech therapist associated with the Children's Hospital. While our insurance covers speech, the Scottish Rite Foundation gives scholarships to families with children who need speech services. I don't know a lot about that organization's locations, but I do believe they are nationwide. Here it's called RiteCare.

  8. #7

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    Sorry to hear of your struggles. They are in some ways similar to ours. I have an older child (DD almost 11) who is 2E with anxiety and slow processing and maybe more (have not been able to get her fully assessed for the challenges side of it due to a lack of suitable professionals and finances), and a younger one (DD almost 6) who seems gifted with no challenges, but I have not had her assessed at all yet.

    I homeschooled the younger one between 5 and 5.5, and then she wanted to go to school because she was missing specific friends she had met in her 3 day/week play-based preschool. So she went and literally the only thing she went to school for was those specific friends. Then they moved, and she has made one other good friend that is 2 years older than her, and she is the only one she plays with. DD seems very outgoing and social (compared with myself and my other daughter), but she still seems happy with only a limited number of friends at a time. So, while it appears on the outer that she would have these high social needs, in reality, they are easily met.

    Which brings me to something that might help reframe your thinking and make things seem less of an issue. I have been recently listening to these talks on the Bright and Quirky IdeaLab, and one talk (can't remember exactly who it was by, but a child psychologist) said that most kids really only need to know (not necessarily see every day like in a school environment) that they have two friends. A friend and a 'spare' in case one moves away. And then most are happy with only about one play date a fortnight.

    So if you reframe your younger one's social needs/issues into a friend and a spare and one play date a fortnight, that may make it easier.

    Then on the side of that, rather than going to the co-op, as I think AM suggested, can you use that money to pay for an after school activity with some public schoolers that are a better fit for you? Then she would get some busy group time as well. If money is tight, are then any community run classes that are cheaper.

    The other thing that comes to mind from the Bright and Quirky IdeaLab, is that they talk a lot about focusing on small steps or 1% gains. What can you do to make their life 1% better or make them 1% happier? Rather than thinking large scale and oh my gosh I need to make all these drastic changes to our life, just focus on little things, and then over time they add up.

    But I do know how hard it is. I miss my youngest one so much, and she would prefer to be at home now she has tried school. However, it is not possible at the moment because of my oldest's behavior issues. We live in NZ (and are NZ'ers) and there is absolutely no assistance from the public system here for my daughter's level of issues either in or out of the school system. So we would have to pay privately, which we cannot afford right now. She has a lot of sensory sensitivities, and with DD5 home (who is super loud and exuberant), DD10 gets triggered into meltdowns a lot and it is not fair for DD5 to bear the brunt of that 5-days/week. So until we can get a handle on DD10's meltdown's, DD5 has to be at school. I think I could possible manage it better if I could dedicate 100% of my time each day to them, but I also work part-time and need time for myself.

    So overall, I would try changing your focus to smaller gains/changes, seeing if 'less' for friends keeps your daughter happy, and investigate to see if there are any afterschool activities that you could replace co-op busy/group time with. Then if that does not work, you can move on to bigger changes like school. I don't think you should worry about starting her right on the regular starting age/time. If you spend a year seeing if you can make homeschool work for you with little changes, she would still fit in. My daughter did not start school until 6 months after when she should have, and she only started 3 weeks before the end of the school year, and she has fit in just fine.

    Sorry I have no advice on the speech therapy. The only thing I would try is to get some free advice from your son's therapist. Like "oh I have been noticing DD is having this issue, do you have any resources or activities you would recommend that we could try with her at home to work on it?".

    Edited to add: the main motivator for us going with the big change (school) for DD5 was that we had a balloted place that was only available for that school year, and if we did not use it, it would be very unlikely she would get into that school later on as their roll is usually full for the post-entrance year grades. The behavior issues with DD10 at home, and DD5 wanting to see her friends were things we took into consideration. But we would have worked on homeschool for longer if we did not have to take the ballot place before it expired.
    Last edited by NZ_Mama; 05-02-2019 at 06:55 PM.
    New Zealand-based. DD 11 (year 6 [NZ system]) homeschooled, and DD 6 (year 1 [NZ system]) who is currently trying out public school.

    Freelance copyeditor, specializing in scientific text, who will make mistakes in my posts (I don't self-edit).

    That's a kea (NZ parrot) in my avatar. You can learn about them on Beak & Brain - Genius Birds from Down Under on Netflix.

  9. #8

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    I wrote a reply to everyone last night, but it's either awaiting moderation or has disappeared. I wanted to let you all know I did read your responses and you all gave me some great ideas I can use! Thank you all!

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Help Me Figure Out What to Do?!