Made of Gray

Teaching Her

Holly D Gray9 Comments
I've been Caleigh's official teacher for almost two weeks now. I almost feel like this is the beginning, but really I've been teaching her for years now. The only difference is a more intense curriculum, record keeping and an official title for me.
Homeschool mom.
Let me talk about that title. It scared me to death. Mainly because I feel like I do not fit into this category. I wasn't one to grow up wanting to be my child's teacher. I didn't know the moment I got pregnant that homeschooling was for me. The only plan that I had was to stay home with my child until she/he started school. As in, out the door at a school...learning.

From my reading and research there are three different kinds of homeschool parents (my opinion here.) The ones that always knew they would teach their children even before their birth. The ones that started teaching their toddler, loved it and continued on. And the ones that had their child in a school system, didn't like the situation, for one reason or another, and decided to withdraw their child. Disabled child or not, that is what I have found.
With our case we fall in-between. Maybe that is the disability route? We kept Caleigh at home with a central line during her first year of would be starting PPCD. Her health was our concern. I started a day by day casual pre-k unit program. Then we were full steam ahead when she turned 4. She was central line free and at a point that we felt she could handle the exposures. We yo-yo'd if you will. We attended meeting after meeting. We attended preschool with Caleigh for over two weeks. Health concerns and teaching concerns just didn't fit. It wasn't right for our daughter. So here I am, homeschool mom.

Basically, I fought what I knew was right all along. I fought, what is still to this day socially "different." Maybe I wanted to fit in with the normal path that parents take. Maybe I was concerned that the professionals that work with Caleigh would think we were bucking the system. Maybe this was my last holdout of "My Plan" as a parent. Maybe I wanted Caleigh to have the school experience that Eric and I had. The stereotypes in my mind were pretty ingrained as well. The long hair and skirts, the large families, the evangelical christian co-op groups. It was hard for me to see myself in those stereotypes, but that's just what they are, stereotypes. They aren't always the truth, and so what if they are, differences make the world go round.

After I got over my issues and started focusing on Caleigh, all of my worries disappeared. I let go. At this point I wish that I hadn't put Caleigh through starting and stopping school. Although, hindsight is always 20/20; our experience by no means leaves us with "what if" questions. We already know the answers.
Today I attended our last ARD meeting. This meeting was set to go over the fact that our school district was denying Caleigh home bound education. They feel that their schools can accommodate "Caleigh's chronic diarrhea." Obviously we disagree with this. Mostly that "chronic diarrhea" is not really the issue here. They had missed the mark....again. It was a very short meeting. The home bound coordinator and teacher failed to show up....again. The coordinator participated over the phone after being called. This meeting was easier for me than the others because I was resolved to homeschool my child. I wasn't expecting anything from these people and I wasn't having to fight for anything. I felt no need to hash everything out. We're done. D-O-N-E.

Now on to the fun stuff, teaching her.

These past few weeks have been a lot of fun for both Caleigh and I. Our curriculum consists of just about every subject. Caleigh is doing 3rd grade math and actually gets a little annoyed with me sometimes because it is still pretty easy for her. I thought the mathematics load would be too much for her just because of fine motor skills, but she has proved me wrong. I've also started with the basics as far as phonics goes just so that I know that we have covered everything. She is doing some easy readers by herself while we are reviewing blending and letter sounds. I feel like I've been reading non-stop. Caleigh asks to read her library books and school books all the time. We've read through chapter books and re-read favorites. She has always loved to be read to, but it has really picked up since starting.

For holidays and special events we will do a unit study. Monday we talked about Martin Luther King JR a lot. We did a brown and white egg comparison. Caleigh spelled out on her iPad what was the same and what was different between the two eggs. We watched MLK's famous "I Have a Dream" speech on YouTube, and Caleigh watched the full 17 minutes of it intently. Having a child with a disability makes Mr. King's speech take on a whole new meaning for me personally. We also read a really good library book on the subject.
Our schedule is so flexible with teaching this way. Caleigh took a 3 hour nap the other day. She needed it and I was able to let her do that. A full day at a school couldn't offer such rest. It works perfectly with Caleigh's therapy schedule and doctors appointments. We also start art class back up tomorrow morning. By the time Caleigh is ready to go to bed we have completed everything that I had scheduled. So far so good.

You know that feeling of complete and total acceptance in your decisions? Confidence. The feeling deep down in your gut? I now have it. It's a good place to be.
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