Friday, March 22, 2019

Coming Clean

I will be honest I still have moments where I ask myself if I can do this. I have a 7 year old who says every single day, tomorrow I am going on the bus and going to go to school. I wish she could, I really do. But we tried it, it didn't work out, she wasn't learning anything at school, she learns more at home. Her anxiety went through the roof at school, she just couldn't handle it. Another of our kids is above grade level in reading, but struggles with fine motor and is not potty trained yet at age 7, because of this our local school wanted to bus him to a different school and have him in a class with kids grades k-5. There is no way I am going to allow that. I homeschooled our oldest four kids who have no special needs and loved it, homeschooling our kids with special needs is a love hate relationship. I do it because I know they are learning more at home, I know they are safe, and no one will bully them. I homeschool them because recess at public school is not nearly long enough, especially for two of our kids who have ADHD.  I homeschool them because they need to be with other kids their ages, not stuck in a class with kids grades K-5.  I homeschool them because they need direct guidance and in our school district they dont get it (they wont give them an aid or para) and there is little to no inclusion here. My two girls who are almost 18, adopted at age 13, will retain things for a day or two and then we are back to square one. There are days that I feel like I am beating my head against a rock, because I am teaching the same thing over and over and over and over before it clicks, and sometimes no matter how many times I try, it just doesn't click. I don't like to admit I am failing, I don't believe in giving up, but sometimes I have to accept that some skills just might not be possible for all of our kids.  My oldest four kids learned things easily and each day was fresh and new and fun. I loved learning along with our oldest four. 
I don't get that same joy from teaching our six kids at home. There are many moments of joy, but it is not constant. There is a lot of repetition, a LOT.
One of our older girls has zero executive functioning skills. If the answer to the problem can not be solved with their first try, instead of trying something new, they keep trying the thing that didn't work. We have been working on this since 2014. We have still not progressed. According to the neuropsych eval we had for her, it looks like it is just the way she is, and while we can work with her to remember what to do, the follow through on her part just doesn't happen. We can teach her again and again to ask questions, get help, when she does not know what to do or understand. She can recite that she needs to get help or ask questions. But in the moment, she forgets. 
One of our other older girls has good executive functioning skills but has lower social and emotional skills and is not able advance in school work much more than where we are at (preK-early 1st grade skills). She has come a LONG way since she first came home, has learned SO much! But we are reaching a point where we are nearing her academic limits. 
Our two 7 year olds are doing well. They learn things much easier than our older girls. However they still struggle with fine motor and one of them still struggles with potty training (looking into issues with a tethered cord which could be causing it). There is still more repetition needed than was needed for our oldest four kids, but we are seeing regular gains. 
Our two with FASD and ADHD have different struggles. Reading is a challenge for our 6 year old because her auditory processing skills are too low to be able to sound out words and she has trouble with her memory. With our 8 year old, he struggles with reading for a different reason, he struggles because his ADHD is so severe that he end up guessing at all the words rather than taking time to sound them out. Our 6 year old is doing well in math, however our 8 year old has a hard time, even with the simple problems. One thing we have done is getting an abacus to help him.  
Auditory processing is a big struggle for all six kids, so learning about history, geography, science, etc, is something we have to go over and over. It can sometimes feel mind numbing to have to read the same thing again and again. Sometimes watching a video of what we have read helps, somethings acting it out helps, sometimes making a craft helps. But it is very rare to have something stick the first time.
And then we have moments like this...

There are the fun times when we bake things together and we work on cooking skills. There are fun times when we make crafts and I notice that cutting skills are getting better. There are wonderful moments when handwriting seems to be progressing. Or when we have company over and they proudly show off what they have done and talk about what they have learned. One of our kids who has ADHD never showed they were learning anything until they went with friends to the science museum and ended up talking all about what I had taught them about King Tut, Egypt, the Nile River, and so much more. 
Today we went on a walk and because we had talked about clouds a few months back I was asked what kind of clouds were in the sky, so they are learning, just at their own pace. And that is ok. I just have to remind myself that I am not "failing" because they are not learning faster, or even sometimes not learning what I am trying to teach them. Everyone in the world has limits. And while we have limits we have things that make us uniquely us.  Each one of our kids has their own wonderful skills and personalities and strengths.  They shine in their own way.

This post in no way means that I do not love our children and accept them for who they are. I love them very much and love them no matter what goals they reach. I just wanted to share that I am human too, and it isn't always easy. I get a lot of comments from people saying wow you are doing great, etc. However, I am just as human as the next person and I struggle just as much as everyone else. We have a lot of really good days, and other times we just need to step back and take a break because we are all feeling overwhelmed. I want those reading to know we are real. We have days where things are going well and other days when kids are having meltdowns, or just can not sit still and focus.  I taught my oldest four kids and then I taught school for many many years before we adopted our youngest six kids. 
Now I am having to learn another way of teaching. One that involves a lot more time on the same materials, and I am having to get more creative in how I teach. I am so proud of all that our kids have learned so far. Some days are just harder than others because I end up feeling like I am the one failing them for not being able to teach better so they learn more. Then I have to take a moment and remind myself that I can't compare them to children I have taught before because they just are going to go at their own pace, and that is ok. 
And while sometimes it seems like it would just be easier to send them to public school, then I would miss all this wonder and magic.