Ezra,  Homeschooling,  Personal and Spiritual Ramblings,  Special Needs Parenting

Homeschooling special needs: a story of transformation

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This morning, I walked into Ezra’s school and informed his principal we will be homeschooling next year.

Talk about one of the most terrifying moments of my life…

If this seems very “out of the blue” to you as a friend, family member, or follower – well, you’re right.

I could sit here and write 2000+ words about the steps that rapidly led up to this decision, the multitude of reasons as to why we feel like homeschooling is the best choice, the curriculum we are looking at, and the plans that we have. But none of that really matters, nor is it really anyone’s business.

That said, I feel that what I MUST chronicle is the transformation that has taken place in my heart and mind over the last week that I can only attribute to a miraculous act of God.

A mere two weeks ago, I sat on my friend’s couch and laughed about how I could never homeschool. NO WAY!

I suppose that if anything set the stage for this decision, it was the first three appointments that we’ve had with our new Christian counselor. I set our first appointment with her all the way back in February. There was a four-month wait list. She was worth every moment of that wait.

We’ve had good counselors and therapists before. We’ve had Christian counselors and therapists before. But we’ve never before had a counselor who has smacked us in the face with Scriptural truth (in the gentlest way possible) while somehow building up and affirming our own right and authority to parent in the way we see fit. Particularly regarding my husband – who himself struggles with mental health challenges – so many therapists have approached our family as though Russ is the problem…if Russ would just do this…if Russ could just change the way he did this or that… We’ve even had two therapist drop us because they were unwilling to work with my husband any longer.

This tug-and-pull has started to crumble the very foundations of our marriage: Me, so desperate to see my family healed and changed that I was grasping at anything and everything to make it happen. Him, so desperate to be loved, understood, and respected as husband and father.

She told us that she could see the intense love that we share and that we have for our kids. She told us that our son was amazing, talented, smart, and wonderful.

She also told us that Satan was trying to destroy our family and that we needed to take up the spiritual fight in our marriage and in our parenting.

So when we were sitting there in the front seats of our van on the way back from a family reunion and my husband said, “I really want to pull him from public school and homeschool him,” instead of mocking and resisting, I felt like God hit me in the head with a 2×4 and did a hard reset on my brain.

From that moment on, the rewiring started. The first spark was the phrase, “Why not?” that went through my head when we pulled off the exit. A few minutes later, when we were passing Ezra’s school on our way to our home, the phrase had turned into, “Now really is the time.”

That afternoon, we swam in our neighborhood pool and I felt like I was seeing Ezra with new eyes. Instead of How can we fix this problem…that behavior” or How can we help him with this…that, I was filled with wonder. What does he know? What are his true capabilities?

That evening, we sat down and did a pros and cons list. Because we are geeky like that. Every con on the list had to do with me, my lifestyle, my stamina, and my alone time. Every pro had to do with what Ezra needs out of life and education.

As I spent the better part of the last week pouring over curriculum, special needs homeschooling blogs, Pinterest boards, and booklists – I have been struck with just how many opportunities we are missing on a DAILY basis to pour love, character, and faith into our son’s life.

I have realized that no Individualized Education Plan can be as individualized as the homeschooling curriculum and schedule we create for him as his involved, educated parents.

I began culling resources that we already own…papers sent home from school he never completed, downloads from Teachers Pay Teachers I printed for him to do “someday,” and workbooks I had picked up at Dollar Tree. I made him binders and notebooks and ordered books from the library. June 1st I sat him down and told him we were starting homeschooling. Like an excited sponge, he excitedly began reading, writing, and coloring.

Homeschooling special needs: the big announcement and a story of transformation

Homeschooling special needs: a story of transformation

Homeschooling special needs: a story of transformation

Everyone I’ve talked to – even those I expected to be resistant to the idea or think I was crazy – has been wholeheartedly supportive.

I am under no illusion that homeschooling will be easy. Rather, it will be a completely upending and transforming of the way we live.

I have fears – tons of fears – but no doubts. This is the right decision.

When I told Russ that, per state requirements, we have to select a name for our school, he told me without any hesitation, “Donaldson School of Excellence.”

I went to church yesterday where we read the following Scriptures:

In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
Colossians 1:14-18

Having spent the last few days pouring over Christian curriculum, I realized that these verses embodied how I want our lives to be from now on. I told Russ that I want this to be our theme verse.

Donaldson School for Excellence

…that in all things he might have the preeminence.

If you are thinking that this doesn’t sound like me, well, you are right. I feel like God has completely transformed me and our entire family over the span of less than a week. It’s terrifyingly wonderful. There is no logic or reason to explain this other than that God is working.

As if I needed any more confirmation, this song popped up on Pandora this morning:

Everybody falls sometimes
Gotta find the strength to rise
From the ashes and make a new beginning
Anyone can feel the ache
You think it’s more than you can take
But you’re stronger, stronger than you know
Don’t you give up now
The sun will soon be shining
You gotta face the clouds
To find the silver lining

It doesn’t matter what you’ve heard
Impossible is not a word
It’s just a reason for someone not to try
Everybody’s scared to death
When they decide to take that step
Out on the water
It’ll be alright
Life is so much more
Than what your eyes are seeing
You will find your way
If you keep believing

I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
I’ve seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That’s what faith can do


Your questions about us homeschooling, answered…

  • Yes, this is sudden. Yes, I’m terrified. But yes, I’m sure.
  • Yes, Russ is on board and committed to helping – he’s been wanting to homeschool for a LONG time.
  • I’m on curriculum overload, so please don’t send me any more suggestions!
  • Yes, I still plan on working part-time at my marketing job.
  • Yes, I still plan on finishing the last four courses of my associates degree, because two are already in progress and the last two I’m already registered for. It’s gonna be brutal. Then I will be taking a break from my schooling indefinitely.
  • Both boys are still attending summer camp (4 weeks, full-day for Ezra and 2 weeks, part-day for LB).
  • Little Brother is still going to preschool in the fall and will be in preschool four days a week. I don’t see how I could do this otherwise!
  • Ezra will still be attending his after school program 2 days a week, possibly 3 if we can afford it – for social skills training!
  • All of my other endeavors (my personal blog and my Triad Special Needs Group and website) will remain active, but I am suspending working on these on a regular basis. Homeschooling is going to take top priority. This might be the last blog post you read for a while!
  • Yes, I’m still an introvert. No, I have no idea how I’m going to do this.
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  • Leeann

    I wish you and your family the best of luck in your new endeavor. I think you’ve struck a good balance with LB still going to preschool and Ezra still having some of his activities as well.

    I’ve been reading your blog a long time and I’m sad that you may not be writing in it much anymore. I understand why but I’m still sad about it.

    I’ll look forward to your updates!

  • Elizabeth

    Bless you for sacrificing, and putting so much love into your decision process! I also homeschooled a special needs child for a few years, and it was CHALLENGING, but also full of daily grace. If you haven’t discovered it already, The Well Trained Mind is a wonderful online community (perfect for introverts!) and they have a special needs board with a wealth of information and support from tens of people following the same path. It helped me so much on my journey.

    Wishing you much joy and fun learning!

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