Homeschooling When a Parent Lives With You

Homeschooling When a Parent Lives WIth You

 

Three years ago (March 2010) my mom came to live with my family of 6 due to a recent diagnosis of dementia. It was very difficult to bring her in, especially when we were living in a 3 bedroom, 1600 square foot home. I was in the middle of homeschooling my three boys, which at the time were 14, 12, and 9 years old.

This wasn’t the first time that my mom had come to live with us. But, this time was a permanent move, since her health had deteriorated to the point where she needed assistance. Within a few months we were scrambling to find a bigger house to move to, so that we could feel less pressured with everyone in the same room all the time! It was quite challenging to homeschool and have an elderly mom sitting and commenting at us 20 feet away all day!

2010 was a difficult year for us. We filed bankruptcy due to my husband’s job loss (and no hope of finding a new job during the recession in 2009). We had to take my mom into our home so we could be caregivers. We were trying to move so we could short-sell our home of 11 years (which ended up in foreclosure). We were living by pure faith as my husband was trying to work from home as a freelance web designer. We were homeschooling the three boys while I was going to college online as a half-time student. Later that year we also took care of my husband’s father, who was diagnosed with stage 2 (almost stage 3) breast cancer. He spent two months with us after recovery from a partial mastectomy. Yes, men can get breast cancer, even at 78 years of age!

It is definitely not an easy road when someone has to walk a path that is unknown by most people. Most of our friends have said at one time or another, “Why don’t you put your kids into school so you can get a break?” Or, “Why don’t you just put your mom into a nursing home?” They don’t understand that we have thought through all of these options, but our family works best when we are all together under one roof.

Fast forward to the present time, and we still have my mom living with us. Her dementia has progressed only slightly since it is not Alzheimers. Yes, we have had to move twice since we left our sweet home. My husband found a full-time job this past February, and for the first time in our marriage we are finally getting caught up with our finances. Still, all the days seem to blend together as we continue to do life together. It is hard to get through some days because we do not get any reprieve from the care-giving. But, the one lesson I have learned through all of this is that God has ordained it from the beginning, and He knows what is best for us. When the time comes for us to stop homeschooling, or to put my mom into an assisted living facility, we will know for sure because we will have full confirmation from God.

Until then, we remain faithful and loyal to each other. We are showing our children to think about others (and not just about self); we are praying with our children that God will continue to bless us as we reach out to our friends; we are hoping that God will use our story to encourage others to stick with Him during the hard time. Both easy and difficult times are temporary; the only constant thing is God’s presence and provision.

 

Jeanne CerroneJeanne Cerrone is a homeschooling advocate and mother to four children (three teenage boys and one girl). She has been married to her sweet husband, Robert, for 17 years, and she currently lives on a 1-acre homestead in Peoria, AZ. Her passion includes teaching, reading, sewing, exercise, and nutrition. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Health from Northern Arizona University. You can follow more of her story at http://millenialhomemaker.wordpress.com.

Homeschooling a Child with Epilepsy

Homeschooling with Epilepsy

(This is her trying vaulting at horse camp last summer)

Our story begins 5.5 years ago.

We were carrying on as a “normal” homeschool family when my 5.5 year old daughter began complaining that her face was feeling funny and moving involuntarily.  I don’t tend to over react, so I looked at it and it seemed to be twitching.  I assured her that it was just a muscle spasm and not a big deal.  That answer seemed to comfort her.

But, the muscle spasm kept happening.  We took her to the doctor and he assured us it was just a muscle spasm, too but we were starting to wonder at that point.  It just seemed to be happening so often.  I remember taking her to Christmas Play practice and she’d have to pause every so often to hold onto her face that was spasming uncontrollably.  After much internet research, we were beginning to suspect seizures.  Then one day, it happened.  She fell over while she was walking and one side of her body began jerking involuntarily for about 20 seconds.

I was scared!

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I knew that a tumor in the brain could cause seizures, but I didn’t know anything else that could.  I let my mommy brain go to the worst possible scenario and worried I was going to lose my little girl.  Because we weren’t insured, after doing even more internet research, we decided to wait to take her in if at all possible until our new insurance kicked in (which was to be January 1st).

We had felt like we were getting the run around from the local doctor, but we were finally able to get some help.  We got her into a pediatric neurologist for an EEG on January 2nd, but they didn’t have any appointments with the actual doctor available for quite a while (in hindsite, we should have just gone to the ER).  While we were in the office getting prepped for the EEG, she had another seizure.  This caused the doctor to make time to see our little girl.  He sent her home with a backpack EEG machine hooked up to her head along with all kinds of wires coming from different spots on her head and there started the beginning of medicine.

By this point she was having multiple grand mal seizures a day.  She couldn’t be left alone in a room.  She couldn’t walk anywhere by herself or she could risk falling and hitting her head.  After having a hard fall on the concrete where she hit her head, we bought her a martial arts helmet to protect it, should she happen to fall again.  We required her to wear it any time she was walking without someone holding on to her.  Any time she would have a seizure, she became incontinent.  She was scared to be away from us and I was scared to have her away from me.

We tried one medicine.  It didn’t work.

We tried another along with the first and that combination FINALLY worked.

I remember the day we showed up for the doctor to inform us what he saw on the CAT Scan.  I was so scared, I was trembling. I was listening intently, wringing my hands, my heart in my throat until he told us what he had found.

NOTHING

Really?  Nothing?  I mean, YAY!  Of course, I don’t want “something” to be causing her seizures, but they’re soooo bad, shouldn’t something be causing them?

I guess seizures sometimes begin for no reason at all (that they know of).  Her diagnosis is called Benign Rolandic Epilepsy.  It’s a kind of epilepsy that most children grow out of around or after puberty.  We pray that this the case for our daughter, who is now nearly 11.

Since that time, we go several times a year to the neurologist to check her.  Overall, her seizures are controlled with medicine, but we do have periods of time that are worse than others.  Recently, we had a trip to the ER because we couldn’t get her seizures to stop with our emergency medicine.  Thankfully, once we were there, they were able to get them to stop.

Homeschooling with Epilepsy

How Does Epilepsy Affect Our Homeschool?

  • She has a little more difficulty learning.
  • She’s more tired from the medicine
  • She’s slow to react and/or process her thoughts (medicine side effect).
  • Sometimes she feels crummy, having auras all day, not feeling like doing school.
  • Sometimes, she gets to have a nap day.
  • She’s been known to use it as a crutch to get out of doing school work, house work, or things she’s scared of.

It can often feel like we’re behind in her schooling due to the days that she’s not feeling well.  Recently, she’s had some complications and we’ve had to travel to her neurologist (2 hours away) more frequently, which is definitely a disruption to our school days.  But all in all, I try to keep it in perspective.  I would NOT want to be sending her away to a school with this condition as it would be much harder for me to manage.  She is learning a lot and anything she may have missed, we can catch up on.  It’s not hard to get an accurate depiction of where she’s at academically.

Behaviorally, as the years have progressed, it’s been interesting to watch her as she matured.  When she was first diagnosed, her behavior began to get out of control.  We felt sorry for her that she would have to endure such hardship at such a young age and spoiled her a little too much!  Once we realized how spoiled she was becoming, we quickly corrected ourselves.  She does tend to say that she feels like she’s about to have a seizure often.  In fact, sometimes I feel like she’s the boy who cried wolf and I have a hard time believing her.  But, I’ve learned to watch her in order to figure out how she’s really feeling.  I watch her hand gestures and her facial expressions.  Usually, I can decode her.  I try to be compassionate, yet firm.  It’s a strange balance to keep.

While having a daughter with epilepsy definitely wasn’t in my plans, it has taught me to rely on the Lord even more!  It has helped us to embrace the time we have with our children and has encouraged us to be thankful for what we do have.  I’m so thankful for that little girl and I can’t wait for the day that she is finally seizure free!

 

SarahSarah is in her 11th year of homeschooling her 6 children.   Though she already has teens, she has toddlers and preschoolers, too.   She blogs about life as a busy, sidetracked homeschool mom at Sidetracked Sarah.  She recently began this site, Homeschool Survival, as a place of encouragement for homeschool families,  and hopes that you’ll consider sharing one of your stories with us!

Homeschooling From The Hospital

Homeschooling From the Hospital 2

I never expected homeschooling to be easy, but this year has been like riding a never ending roller coaster. In the last three years I have been diagnosed with not one, but three separate auto immune disorders, and we found out our middle daughter has bladder and kidney problems. All of these issues leave us running to different specialists and doctor appointments. But this last year it elevated to an entirely new level.

We began the school year late this year so that we could catch a breath after our summer activities were completed. I did my typical school year planning, which includes planning the entire year before it begins. September 1st came and we did our first day of school! I awoke that morning a little tired and shaky, but super excited for a great year.

Fast forward to the end of that week and you see a very sick Mama. Each day I was weaker and sicker. At first, I thought that I must have gotten a stomach bug but then the pain set in. With every breath it felt as if a knife was being thrust into my stomach. After 3 weeks of agonizing pain and constant vomiting, I had been to 2 different hospitals, 4 ER trips, a specialist appointment, 2 CT scans, several x-rays and more blood work than I could count. Finally, I was taken into surgery and my gallbladder was removed.

I eventually made a full recovery but we were behind over a month in school and I had missed several weeks’ income from my childcare business. All the while, my husband had to work full-time, juggle home demands, monitor our daughters’ health and specialist appointments and so much more. He really stepped up and did a great job, but homeschooling fell by the wayside.

Homeschooling From the Hospital

I tell you all that not for pity, but so that I can share about God’s sufficient grace:

2 Cor. 12:9-10 says, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

I struggle daily with pain, weakness and hardship. I have prayed many times for God to take my illnesses away from me and my daughter. Each time His answer has been the same, “No, but my grace is sufficient.” I had several more visits to the hospital this spring. I finally took the planner and ran it through the shredder. We are 5 weeks behind in school and I have made peace with that. My girls have learned much more than “book work” can teach them this year. They have learned independence, compassion, love and responsibility. They have learned to be Christ-like and put others before themselves. They have learned to love like Christ loves.

I have learned “Faith”… true faith.

I have learned to trust God and not rely on my own strength or understanding. I have learned to boast about my weakness so that God’s glory may be revealed. When we let go of our weaknesses—physical, financial, emotional, etc.—we allow God to take control and direct us. We get out of His way! His strength carries us through, even in the middle of our distress. It changes our attitude and outlook from “look what I have done” to “look what God can do, even through me.” I know that someday God will allow this affliction to leave me, even if it is when I step foot in His holy city. I also know that when that time comes, it will be for His glory.

There will be days of “breakdowns” and I will lose it sometimes, but I now see the big picture. I know that God is with me, that he is the defender of the weak and that he comforts those in need. Regardless of trials or tribulations, know that God is bigger. He is the Divine Creator and has power over all!

“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Emmalee Hoggatt - CopyAbout The Author:  Emmalee is a mother of three beautiful girls, ages 6, 5 & 2. She also works full time operating a childcare from her home. She and her family live in rural Southeast Kansas and enjoy the country life on their growing “Triple-A-Farm.” She enjoys the outdoors, being in the kitchen and diving into God’s word. Emmalee also has a passion for children and family kingdom ministries. She blogs at www.thehoggatthomeschool.com, where she shares a hodgepodge of recipes, craft ideas, homeschooling tips, resources and devotions.

Special Needs Homeschooling: an Adjustment in Expectations

SpecialNeedsHomeschooling

 

I never expected to be a special needs mom, and I never expected to be a homeschooler. Obviously, God had other plans and decided special needs homeschooling was where he wanted me. My seven-year-old son, known on my blog as Dr. J, is on the autism spectrum. Some consider him PDD-NOS or high-functioning autism. We label it Asperger’s syndrome because that’s what seems to fit best.

If you’re not familiar with Asperger’s syndrome, that means Dr. J lacks social skills. Focus, self-control, and self-regulating also require a great deal of effort and practice. Among other things, sensory issues frustrate him. That’s the short version.

Consider a traditional classroom, and you will quickly realize Dr. J would drive a regular classroom teacher crazy. He is very bright but also immature. I started my homeschool journey after he had recovered from a horrible preschool experience and excelled in a developmental delay preschool class in the district. I am a Type A personality, and put a lot of pressure on myself. I did well not to expect having a traditional classroom at home, but I have still had to adjust my expectations, pretty much on a daily basis.

Here are ways I’ve had to adjust my expectations:

  • I no longer expect to get an entire lesson done in one sitting. Dr. J needs shorter lessons. I often divide them in half in the same day, or even more.
  • We school all over the apartment—at the table, on my bed, on the floor, on an exercise ball, outside, etc.
  • I let go of the expectation of traditional subjects. I make sure we do Bible, math, and reading. With a seven-year-old boy who needs lots of movement and lacks attention, as well as a working mom, that’s a big accomplishment! We also do some unit studies based on library books and do read alouds when Mommy remembers.
  • I decided not to stop worrying about a grade level. He’s either at pace or ahead of his peers in reading and math, but definitely behind in something like handwriting and emotional growth. For now we just use the grade he’d be in if he were in a traditional school.
  • I still struggle with this, but I am learning to release the expectation of time. Almost every day I run into the need for patience as my son takes agonizingly long on something that I KNOW he knows how to do. He just has a hard time focusing and gets distracted, either externally or internally. I get really frustrated and have to calm myself, take deep breaths, and help him focus or take a break if I’m about to go crazy.
  • Slowly but surely I am letting go of the desire for perfection. Yes, I said s.l.o.w.l.y.  Homeschool perfection doesn’t exist, and it only frustrates both my son and me if I expect it.

Whether or not you are a special needs homeschooler I want to encourage you—don’t be afraid to adjust your expectations! Homeschooling offers you the freedom to change with your child. What worked one year may not work the next. Most of the time what works for one child doesn’t work for all. Frankly, what works one DAY may not work the next! IT’S OK! Take a deep breath, relax your stressed-out muscles, and tweak. You, and your children, will be thankful you did.

 

Jenny HermanJenny enjoys interacting with homeschoolers as the Social Media Manager for Home Educating Family. She is also excited to bring special needs homeschooling to a mainstream company with a regular column in Home Educating Family Magazine. She and her husband Greg are learning to view life through the eyes of their sons–one with an Autism Spectrum Disorder and one with a propensity for pretending. You’ll find lots of interesting stories about finding grace in autism over at her blog,ManyHatsMommy.com. Find her reviews at Home Educating Family Reviews.