Sunday, March 4, 2012

Why We Homeschool

My oldest daughter, Olivia, was born after a botched induction that lasted three days.  During that time I was in hard labor for 19 hours and pushed for over 5 hours.   At one point the obstetrician came in and checked me and informed us that she was indeed stuck (you think?).   He said that anything he did at that point, whether c-section or forceps would damage her, so we were going to “wait and let nature take it’s course”.   Had we let nature taken it’s course, I wouldn’t have been induced 2 weeks early, now would I?

Then an interesting thing happened.   My nurse was also the emergency c-section nurse.  They came in and got her to prepare for another mom who was going into surgery unexpectedly.   Instantly, God prompted me to start praying for this other mother and her baby.  So I started praying out loud for this stranger and her child.  The new nurse told me I needed to focus on myself and my child as we were in a bad way ourselves…but I pointed out that if this other woman and child were heading into surgery they needed the prayers right then.

Then an amazing thing happened, Olivia suddenly popped loose from her stuck position.  No medical intervention, just God at work in response to my being obedient to pray for a stranger.   Then the heart monitor went silent, as the cord tightened around her neck and the doctor said “whatever you do don’t push”.   Um, yeah….that’s not what you want to hear, and it’s nearly impossible to obey such a command during the birthing process.

Anyway, she finally was loosed, and her little blue body entered the world.  In a few seconds she was resuscitated and began to breathe and to cry and all was right in the world.   Really this is going to lead into homeschooling, hang with me.

Fast forwarded 2 and a half years later.   Olivia is a happy child, but doesn’t say much, ok seriously she doesn’t say anything, at all.  I mentioned to a couple of family members that although I don’t know much (ok I knew NOTHING) about kids, I’m pretty sure she should be speaking by now.  They assured me she was a late bloomer, I listened, because they had raised kids and I had not (on a side note, God gives moms that intuition for a reason, LISTEN TO IT).

After our second child Lindsey was born, my friend Jolanthe from Homeschool Creations came over to babysit both girls so the husband and I could go out on a date.  (Yes, I really do know Jolanthe in real life….aren’t you jealous!!)   Before becoming a homeschool mom, Jolanthe had been a special education teacher, so I’d mentioned to her about Olivia’s lack of speaking.   When we arrived home from our date she handed me some phone numbers and told me to definitely have Olivia evaluated, something wasn’t clicking.

So I called around, got her evaluated and she was indeed diagnosed as being developmentally behind in her speech.  It seems that crazy birth process and lack of oxygen had caused some issues after all.    We went through the routine assessments and she was scheduled to start speech therapy through our local elementary school.   She was three. They claimed that she didn’t have the cognitive ability to understand spoken words and that she would always be developmentally behind in this area.   They were adamant that she HAD to start public preschool at 4 to help her to develop as normally as possible.

I had some issues with this.  Why  on earth would I put a 4 year old, who can’t speak, on a school bus with kids from grades pre-k through high school, knowing that if something happened she couldn’t tell me, or anyone?   She wouldn’t even be able to tell the driver if he missed her drop off.   My mothers intuition was flashing a big alarm at me this time and I listened.

We chose for her to attend speech lessons twice a week at the school.  I drove her and waited in the hallway, and each week asked for the teacher to give me ideas of how to work with her at home as well, and I prayed, a lot.   By the end of her first few months she was starting to speak and I started doing preschool at home with her.

By the end of  “preschool” she was reading on a 2nd grade level and was speaking almost on age level.  We took the summer off from speech (the school lost their therapist and had to replace her), but not from working together at home.  When school started back up we met with the new therapist.   After about a month she scheduled a parent/teacher meeting and asked me why on earth Olivia was there, she was in normal speaking range and was “exceptionally advanced academically”.    She “suggested” that I request another evaluation, and so I did and within less than a month she was released from speech therapy.

During that time, as I taught her to read and to count and saw the enthusiasm for learning take hold I thought well gee, why not just continue teaching her at home?   And so we did.  As everyone else packed up their 5 year olds for kindergarten, we set out on our homeschooling adventure.   Occasionally, Olivia will have a period where she’ll have a hard time grasping a new concept, but I’ve found that by simply rewording the concept it flips her switch back on and she’s good to go.  Sometimes, you have to reword that concept differently 4 or 5 times before that switch flips over.   That is the beauty of homeschooling, I can help strengthen her weak areas and give flight to her strengths.

Today Olivia is in 3rd grade and speaks fluently in English (thank.you.very.much), speaks Latin (maybe not fluently, but how many adults do you know who speak Latin at all?) and is learning pre-algebraic computations in addition to being an accomplished pianist and ballerina.

Oh, and Lindsey, well…she started speaking in complete sentences at 12 months and has never been silent a day since then. I’m sure some specialist somewhere would say she needs to be quieted down, but I bet they don’t speak Latin either.

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