Christian Taylor Buchanan

Christian Taylor Buchanan

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Yes, We Are Homeschooling

1st day of school! 
I'm sure many of you have already seen some social media posts about it, but I wanted to take some time to really dive in and address Christian's upcoming school year and what it's looking like so that you guys would all know what's going on. For all of our friends who keep up with Christian and his progress, I figured you would be interested and concerned to know, and I am happy to share. :)  I also wanted to answer some questions about it that I thought you guys might have, because it is something new to us and foreign to most people. The majority of folks do public school, so this isn't the traditional route.

Sooo....

YES! We are homeschooling!

So, the obvious first question is "Why?"

Well, there are a couple of reasons that I chose to homeschool Christian this year. Probably the most compelling reason was how bad Christian's last school year ended up being. We were driving 2 hours each way to get him to school, leaving home at 6am. That itself was exhausting, but we were hopeful that it would be worth the sacrifice.

1st day of school!
Nursing was completely unstable during this time as well. We started having issues where we didn't have nurses some days so Christian couldn't go to school when he was supposed to. He has to have someone who is able to feed him and use his gtube at school or he just can't go. He has to eat.  So because he was dependent on someone else to be able to attend with him, there were times when he just couldn't go. Some days I had to choose between sending Christian to school alone with a nurse I was uncomfortable sending him alone with, or someone who was brand new and didn't know how to care for him yet, or just not having him go to school at all. His school was not always thrilled that I chose not to send him when I wasn't comfortable with who he'd be with, and understandably so, because he was missing instruction time; but I simply couldn't send him if I wasn't confident he as safe and would be well taken care of.

He also lost his kindergarten teacher mid school year and got a new one. Both were very good teachers, but emotionally, it was hard on Christian to suddenly and abruptly say goodbye to a teacher he had grown to trust and love and had already built a relationship with. Making such a huge switch in the middle of the year was really difficult for him. I was often encouraged to make Christian a resident student, which always felt a little abrasive and never sat right on my stomach. It just about wore a sore spot on me, because not many people seemed to realize my hesitation in sending my medically complex five year old off to live away from home with people I didn't know and him be unable to reach me if something went wrong or he needed me because he has no clue how to use a cell phone. What seemed so obvious to me was foreign and strange to others. I wasn't about to give up my child just so he could go to school there. Christian needs an education, but he also needs his family. Not to mention, I have suspicions that some folks (not school personnel) were not being very nice to Christian while he was at school, and he is simply unable to tell me whether or not it actually happened.

Christian didn't do well at school, his progress was minimal, and it simply ended up not being worth the time, effort, money, or stress it was costing us to get him to school. So, I decided that we wouldn't be trying that again in the near future. It isn't out of the realm of possibility that he attend there again in the future, but for now, it just isn't the best choice for him.

So, option number two was our local school system. Here we run into the issue of living in a poor county. Just calling a duck a duck. Our school system simply can't offer him all that he needs as a child with a visual impairment. It's not that they don't want to. The people we have worked with there in the past would have no problem getting every teacher and piece of equipment Christian would need...if they had the resources to get it. But reality is, they don't, and I fear that much of Christian's time, rather than being inclusive, would be spent with him not really understanding or knowing what was going on, because he would be in a classroom designed for kids who can see, and his teachers would be trained to teach kids who can see, with little to no experience about vision impairments or how to make the classroom accessible.

So, option number three, homeschool. It just makes practical sense. I have a graduate professional degree, I have been working with a blind child for six years, I am well equipped to teach Christian the things he needs to know at his age, and I can do this. If this was high school lessons I was having to teach, I might be more worried, but I can teach kindergarten and first grade level things to Christian. I know I can.

"But won't he need socialization? To be around other kids?" Yes! He sure will! We will have so many opportunities to  be around other kids, and not just kids who are blind. Every Sunday, Christian joins other kids at our church for Bible lessons, games, and worship. We have also joined The Honeybee Christian Co-op (https://honeybeechristiancoop.org/) where Christian and Chandler both will attend weekly classes with other kids, all taught by the moms! This semester Christian will be doing a creative writing class, a lego building class, and a United States geography class, just to name a few of the things he will get immersed in. The co-op takes field trips often as well.
The co-op is such an amazing opportunity to break up the monotony of  just doing home instruction, and offers the boys things that I might not think to teach them, or can't teach them. They will need to have some independence from me and be able to listen other adults who are instructing them. They will also need to learn to socialize with lots of other kids of different ages and backgrounds. It's a well organized group and the moms/teachers are fantastic at what they do!






First Day of  HoneyBee Christian Co-op! 



Homeschooling also frees up some time for us as opposed to the schedule we had last year driving four hours a day, so we have already been meeting up with some of Christian's friends! Really, Christian will get a more realistic socialization by being around lots of peers of different ages and abilities rather than a class room of only typical six year olds or only blind six year olds. I'm pretty excited about it!

So, what will homeschooing look like? For us, we will attend co-op every week, and we will continue Christian's private therapies at Special Kids. We will also be picking up therapies at our local school for drop in services. Christian will go in to do therapy and then leave. Finally, we will have instructional time at home, field trips that I plan, and as much intentional play time as I can squeeze in! I have several Braille curriculum to get Christian started on reading and literature. I have a Braille math curriculum as well. Other things that we do will be unit lessons that I adapt so that both boys can enjoy the lessons together.

I already have a science unit study planned out about outer space, and am working on one on bees and another on the human body. All things the boys have shown interest in and want to learn more about, so I am adapting lessons to things they want to learn about to spark their creativity and desire to learn.

Christian's creation from his lego class at co-op!
He was learning to follow instructions and listen! 
The reading lessons are Braille specific, so right now Christian is learning to read each letter of the alphabet and is honing in on his skills of "same and different" so that he can more easily and proficiently read once he starts reading more.

The math lessons are building on sorting, counting, and simple addition and subtraction right now. Christian really has a math oriented mind (which he did NOT get from me, by the way) and it's amazing to see how easily he understands the concepts and how quickly they make sense. He is a smart cookie and it's fun to watch him learn and grow!

So, we will spend our days filled with lots of activities, and hopefully, fun! I want this year to really ignite a passion for learning in the boys and to teach them to apply themselves and work hard. I also want them to enjoy it. I want them to have fun. I want the pursuit of knowledge to be enjoyable, invited, welcomed, longed for. I hope to establish that with them this year! I am optimistic that we can make it happen!




***Side note! I am still on my social media hiatus, so I won't be reading any comments or responding to questions about this blog until I return. I'm not sure when that will be, but when I return, I will try to get caught up! Thanks for your patience!

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11 comments:

  1. I know you won't be reading this but I'm just at the same place with my child. I've been homeschooling for 3 months+ and yes, it is working out great for him, I think... It just tends to be a bit lonely for me, I find. If you'd like to get in touch with a fellow mum, please do.
    My son is on the assessment pathway for autism.

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  2. I think it's wonderful that you are homeschooling! It makes me said that they wanted you to just send Christian away to school. I can't even imagine how traumatic that would have been for him. I don't think every mom or even most moms would be good at homeschooling, but you are definitely the exception. You are an amazing educated mom who always has your sons best interests at heart. I can't wait to hear how amazing I know both of your sweet boys will do!

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  3. You are such an inspiration to me!! I'm glad you found an option you are comfortable with. There are times I wish I could home school my son, but, I'm a single Mom, and I'm NOT a teacher!! And there is nothing wrong with that, as you said, just calling a duck a duck, LOL. I hope you're enjoying your break from social media, and look forward to when you come back!!

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  4. Good for you, choosing what is best for Christian & your family! We did not homeschool, but know many homeschool families as we were involved in a youth theatre program originally started for homeschoolers, & my daughter-in-law was homeschooled until she went to college. Homeschoolers are very well socialized & busy. The idea that they sit alone at home doing their work may have been true once, but is a myth with the wY t s done now. Enjoy being your boys' teacher in every way!

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  5. You are making a wonderful choice for both of your boys. This is my fifteenth year homeschooling this year; I have four children, and I am homeschooling my youngest two boys. My oldest daughter is special needs, and I began homeschooling because of her.

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  6. I am happy that you are doing this! To be honest, your planned curriculum sounds more stimulating and attention holding than many actual schools.
    And learning together will be enjoyable for the boys.

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  7. Welcome to the wonderful world of homeschooling ... we just started our 4h year. I'm so glad to see you finding something that's fits your families needs.

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  8. I was homeschooled all my school years. There are so many benefits for some! I'm sure Christian is going to be happy to be home with you. That's probably my favorite part was always being with my mom.

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