I plan to homeschool my child who has Down Syndrome
I have been one of those “weird” homeschooling moms now for just over 6 years. I have graduated one child who is enrolled in college now, and I have preschoolers coming up the ranks. When I first learned of my newest child’s Down Syndrome diagnosis I feared that I would have to put him in some type of school setting to receive services.
There were so many irrational fears at first, not the least of which was our family’s educational choices.
As time went on and the dust settled the fear was still nagging me. I knew how to teach gifted kids, visual learners, auditory learners, and my hyper undiagnosed ADD kiddo, but Down Syndrome?
Then God allowed me to have a chance encounter with another mother of a child with Down Syndrome. This mom had a middle-school-aged child who was sweet, bright and engaging. He was fascinated with my Cedar which gave me the time and opportunity to ask some questions of this mama who was further along the path than I am.
I began by asking about this child’s school and whether he was in an inclusion classroom where he was mainstreamed or whether he was in a segmented or pull out resource type class. She explained that he was doing well in the inclusionary classroom for some time until middle school but then things began to change. What she described next was not quite what I expected. She shared the ugly side of inclusion with me.
This mama shared with me that the favorite activity of the typical children at this point was to teach the child with Down Syndrome, inappropriate words, phrases and physical gestures. (your minds can elaborate here). While this young man thought he was making friends, often times the boys were exploiting his eagerness to please and when they laughed at him, he thought they were laughing with him.
Now, before you say, that’s just part of life and someone should tell the teacher, let me say that this wasn’t the tipping point for me. I know that the world is not kind. I know that there are mean people who find a thrill in mistreating those with special needs, but that wasn’t what did it.
As I talked further with her and she described her son’s aide as helping him and several other children with special needs she explained that there was not a one-to-one ratio and that her son was learning as much good as he was not so good.
This was my, “AHA,” moment. You see, there were many reasons we chose to homeschool our children, some of those included meeting our children where they are academically (at either end of the spectrum of gifted to special needs), pushing them to accomplish what they were capable of, shielding them from some of the ugly of this world, providing them a Christian learning environment, overseeing the influences in their young lives, and encouraging them to learn in the style that fit them best.
What that meant in real life was, my eldest who is academically gifted could go at her own pace and not be tethered by what her classmates were working on (she took her first college class at 14). That meant that my child who has undiagnosed hyperactivity and attention issues could break from lessons and jump on the trampoline to refocus and then resume his math lesson. That meant that I could teach sex education when I was ready to, not when the 3rd grader who was exposed to way too much at home felt it appropriate to tell my children about it.
In essence, it meant I could educate my children and be their biggest advocate. It is a lot of work, don’t get me wrong, but for us, it is what we felt led to do and God has blessed it.
So, why am I already deciding about Cedar’s future? Because homeschooling is a great fit for our family I know it will be for him too. I am aware that not every family can make this decision but far too often I think it isn’t even considered.
I know my children better than anyone does. I know their strengths and their weaknesses. I know what they are capable of and when they are feigning inabilty for laziness. There will also be no teacher in this world who will want to see my children succeed in life as much as I do.
That is why the decsion seems pretty easy, I fully intend to homeschool my child who has Down Syndrome.
Want to start now? Why not work on some colors with your child by printing this free 7 page color matching game that you can use at home.