Homeschooling: Is It Right for Your Family?

Homeschooling is a topic that has been debated for years. Studies have been done to determine how well those who have completed school in this way have functioned in society emotionally and academically.

Parents choose this for a number of reasons- they may have children with special needs that aren’t reasonably accommodated by the school system near them, bullying, religious, not liking the school system near them, along with other reasons.

A Friendly Story

I happen to have a friend that homeschools. Madonna (yes, everyone, that is her real name, but these days she goes by Dawn) has five kids. FIVE. She’s a stay a home mom and homeschools all five of her kids, which has to earn her some sort of medal.

Her kids vary in age from 15 to 4 and even the youngest is in school. She decided to homeschool after she decided that she didn’t like the school system of the county that she lived in (at one point she lived in a different county than me, and now we live in the same county, but she still homeschools).

Her oldest did attend public school for kindergarten but both she and her daughter absolutely hated it. One of her kids had leukemia a few years later, so her oldest was placed in private school while Dawn cared for the son that had leukemia. I’m happy to say that he’s in remission.

Once he was better, everyone went back to homeschool. Her kids are happy and doing well in school. They have been involved in outside activities so that they are able to meet other kids their age- her oldest daughter was heavily involved in cheerleading until ankle injuries stopped her. In fact, our kids get along pretty well. Our boys are very happy playing video games and riding bikes together and Lily loves her younger girls.

The point of this story is that homeschooling can be great if it is done correctly. Dawn is part of a whole community of families that homeschool. Per Kentucky law, she had to write a letter to the county’s board of education stating her intent to homeschool. She then had to create a curriculum, which she goes by very closely.

Benefits and Drawbacks

This information is from Education Corner

There are many benefits to homeschooling. Some of them include:

  • Strengthening the bond between you and your child.
  • Flexible scheduling for education. For example, Dawn and her kids went to Florida to visit a family friend right after my kids went back to school after Winter Break. There isn’t a strict timeline for their education.
  • The ability to streamline their child’s education to their needs- this can come in handy with special needs.
  • Developing special talents- musical, artistic, or other areas.
  • Parents can touch on controversial topics in their own time and in their own way with their children.

Some of the drawbacks include:

  • My personal struggle- the patience factor. Being around your kids all day and trying to educate them? That’s a lot.
  • Explaining your choice to homeschool to people who don’t understand and/or approve
  • The cost of materials, books, etc.
  • The social factor- trying to find other kids for your child to socialize with, especially if you move around a lot or live in a rural area. This can be easier if, like myself and Dawn, you live in a city.
  • Constantly having to adapt to new teaching methods

What Do I Think?

I’m a very open-minded person. Every parent has the right to choose how to educate their kids. If you want to homeschool, go for it. It’s not my thing and my kids are sitting in a public school as I type. I don’t have the patience to teach my kids. I would entirely lose it.

Public schools aren’t perfect, especially not in Kentucky. I live in Louisville, home of the biggest school district in the state. There’s a lot of changes that our school district could make.

As long as you’re homeschooling the way your state designates, then I’m okay with it. Kids need to be educated to be able to make it on their own as adults, and this can be done in various ways.

Education is the key to the future- kids need the tools we give them to succeed.

What are your thoughts on homeschooling? Leave them in the comments!

Looking Back at Older Topics

I’m surprised at the number of topics I have covered on this blog- I still have so much left to discuss.

Here are five interesting posts to ponder:

The Dangers of Ignoring Mental Illness

Suicide and The Media

Should You Emphasize Grades or Mental Health?

Moving Forward: The Last Fifty Years of Psychiatry

Drinking, Drugs and Your Teen

Mental Health and Genetics: The Main Connections

Genetics can lead to interesting things: red hair, extra fingers (it’s called polydactyly, and I was born with it- 6 fingers on each hand), certain health conditions, blue eyes, and other things. Can it contribute to mental illness?

The research and debate continue, even as this post is being written. There has been so much research and movement forward in this field- it’s pretty fascinating. To learn more about this, please read Moving Forward: The Last Fifty Years of Psychiatry

Parent and child

My Thoughts

I don’t think genetics is the only thing that causes mental illness- if other events happen, say, any kind of abuse, neglect or other ACEs (Adverse Childhood Events) occur, then it increases the chances of a mental illness or at least signs of one, occurring. Any other theory just doesn’t make sense to me.

I also agree with the theory that if you have a parent with a mental illness, there’s a pretty good chance that you may have some traits of said illness. You also may not. I think there’s also something said for personality traits. That’s also a factor.

For example, my oldest niece and nephew’s father has SMI (Severe Mental Illness). He wasn’t able to raise them because of this (and other issues), and my niece struggles with depression. She has also had some very negative events happen in her life and had difficulties dealing with them.

My family has a history of mental illness on both sides, and my dad is a suicide attempt survivor. I lost an uncle to suicide when I was nine years old. I deal with anxiety and depression daily. I’m hoping that none of my kids ever have to deal with this issue. I’ve seen this happen in other families, with tragic results.

DNA pic

What Do The Really Smart People Say?

According to some very intelligent people at The Scientist, there are 10 mental illnesses that have genetic variants that contribute to their development. If these scientists can figure out the variants, they can discover what causes these illnesses, leading to better treatment. This would be an amazing discovery. Millions would benefit.

Some of those listed include:

  • bipolar disorder
  • schizophrenia
  • ADHD
  • autism
  • OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder)

This doesn’t necessarily mean a cure, but this means more of an idea on how to help diagnose and treat. These same studies are studying neurological issues like epilepsy, migraines and Alzheimer’s. It was intriguing to read about this research. It’s almost like the researchers are connecting the dots to learn about what is going on inside our brains.

Putting It All Together

According to a study found on NAMI there has been a gene on Chromosome 6 found to be associated with the cause of schizophrenia. This can be a source of relief, I think, to know that it truly isn’t your fault that you have a mental illness.

Those who don’t understand tend to think that you can just “get over it” or that “it’s all in your head”, not stopping to think that it’s out of your control, something that you would never wish for.

As someone with anxiety and depression- I’d never wish this on someone I didn’t like. I know a lot of people with mental illness, and none of us enjoy it. To put it plainly, it sucks.

We take meds, go to therapy, are sometimes hospitalized. We have lost those we love to suicide, have attempted, hate ourselves for the smallest things. It’s a struggle we wish we didn’t have. If there’s research out there that can help us out, I am all for it.

Sticking together

In the cases of autism, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder, there has been a finding of brain cell communication changes in all three conditions. This isn’t saying there are similarities between the three, but that there are bases to the three in the brain.

There is a lot of work being done to find out more about the roots of autism. I’m pretty sure this started some time ago, thanks to the fraudulent study done that stated vaccines cause autism. People want to learn more about autism, mainly about what causes it.

If you want to know my thoughts on that topic, please see The Autism/Vaccine Debate 

The future looks interesting. It looks potentially brighter for millions. I couldn’t begin to know how to do this kind of research, but cheers to these people for dedicating their lives to doing it.

What do you think about this sort of research? Would you benefit from genetic research? 

Pictures courtesy of Pixabay

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don't allow your child to be left out of family activities

Helping Your Family Understand Your Child’s Special Needs

Family can be supportive in the best circumstances, but in the worst, can be standoffish and even cruel. When your child receives a special needs diagnosis, it’s hard on everyone. It’s life changing and you will need plenty of support.

Many people, myself included, turn to their family for this support. Some get extremely lucky and their families do everything they can to help out, but some families aren’t as lucky for a few different reasons- distance, lack of family closeness, or just not wanting to get involved because they don’t understand the diagnosis. This can be deliberate.

Storytime!

Julian was diagnosed at five years old and most of Matthew’s family, including his mother, would not listen to anything either of us had to say about ADHD or autism. They thought he was just “hyper” or we just needed to discipline him more.

Okay, then.

He’s been on medication since shortly after his diagnosis, and on sleepovers, my mother in law wouldn’t take those meds with her, even though we explained how to give them. It’s not that hard. One morning, she complained for about the 900th time that Julian barely slept.

Really? I wonder why. He didn’t get his meds.

Matthew had run out of patience at this point, and he’s a very patient man. He looked his mother in the eye and told her that he did not want to hear another word about this if she wasn’t going to give him his meds. She was well aware of how to give him his meds, she just didn’t want to deal with it. She didn’t see the issue- remember, ADHD and autism aren’t a thing.

Julian has not left for a sleepover without his meds since.

The message behind this story? When you decide not to learn about a child’s medication because you don’t see the need for them, it will backfire. Just because you don’t think it’s real, doesn’t mean it isn’t. *gets off soapbox.. storytime over*

Talking to your family about your child's disability

Educate, Educate and Educate Some More

This begins with you, the parent. As soon as your child has a diagnosis, it’s time to do a lot of reading. Depending on the diagnosis, there are books out there you can read, maybe even a podcast or two if you are a fan of those. Learn how to use equipment, read up on sensory bottles, whatever it takes. If you need to, ask for help from your child’s pediatrician, specialists, etc. They are there to be a resource for you.

The more you know, the more you can help your child. They can’t always speak up for themselves, especially around a family that doesn’t understand. Don’t be afraid to challenge these family members- I’m not and they know it. I’m not saying to be rude in this challenge, but definitely come prepared with answers and don’t let anyone walk all over you. Have someone with you as backup if you’re not big on confrontation.

Some people are simply afraid. If they don’t know how to care for a child that needs medical equipment, has a severe food allergy, or is non-verbal, they stay away. If they are interested, have them come to a medical or therapy appointment. This can help them adjust a bit easier to your child’s world and get some questions answered.

The hardest explanation, I believe, is when your child has an “invisible” diagnosis. Julian is one of these kids, and it can be somewhat draining to explain that just because you can’t “see” ADHD and autism, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have it. I don’t think they really want to see him in the middle of a meltdown, because they would have no idea on how to deal.

They do not see the years of therapy, meds, money spent on both, my tears, the fights I had with Matthew to even get him diagnosed, the time I have spent in IEP meetings (or time I spent getting him one) and the sheer energy I have put into making sure he is the adorably funny kid he is.

Create Some Space

Some parents just aren’t able to make things work with their families even after trying to educate, and this may be the result of or part of other issues. This isn’t great, but it happens. It may be time to take a step back from these family members until things improve. This may be painful but the best option for you and your child. It may be stressful for everyone involved to continue to try to make things work when it’s obvious it won’t.

Don't allow your child to be left out of family activities

Build Your Own Circle of Support

Luckily, my mom and sisters are a great support. My mom and Julian are very close. I’ve also been able to create a circle of friends who get what I deal with on a daily basis- their kids are also on the spectrum. I know I can text or call them and they’re available. That is a wonderful feeling. I know that even on a crappy day, I’m not alone and one of them is probably having a day like mine. In fact, one has two kids on the spectrum, so his house is never dull.

Outside of that group, I’ve also joined a few Facebook groups, and they have been a good source of support for questions about ADHD. I’ve also joined some subreddits on the same topics. Internet groups can be a wonderful source of support, especially if you are in a rural area. This can give you a sense of community even if you’re not near an urban area.

If you are in a larger city, I recommend checking out parent groups that center around your child’s diagnosis. I participate in a walk every year with a local autism organization and love it. This year, Julian joined me- I was surprised because he hates being awake before 9 AM on a Saturday, but I was happy to get in the solo time with him. You can find these groups by Googling your city + diagnosis + organization, or a similar search.

I do have friends that either don’t have kids or have kids that aren’t on the spectrum or don’t have ADHD. This is also good. It’s refreshing and they keep me laughing. They cheer us on and cheer me up on the bad days. Everyone should have this. I highly advise finding friends like these.

It’s Fine if Not Everyone Gets It

Your family is meant to be there for you no matter what, but sadly, this doesn’t always work out. Do what you can to educate and include, but don’t stress about the rest. You have much bigger things to worry about- taking care of yourself and your child. Your family will be the ones missing out if they don’t want to come along for the ride.

Recommended Reading: Adjusting to a New World

Twin Mummy and Daddy

My Random Musings