Fast forward two years. Conner was four and would turn five in November. I started school at four and thought he would be fine. I learned the very first day of kindergarten that he wasn’t really ready. I pushed forward for a few months and finally stopped in January. I felt like a failure until I learned that most boys aren’t ready for learning until the age of 6 or even older.
The next year we started again–this time armed with lots of advice and a new homeschooling group. I am thankful for the homeschool moms who paved the way ahead of me and listened to many teary conversations in my early years of homeschooling. I was a mess at times; I felt like a failure. Friends and family thought that maybe I was the cause of Conner’s struggles and I wasn’t teaching him correctly.
Our son was articulate, imaginative and curious. We never saw the diagnosis of severe learning disabilities coming our way. When we finally learned that it wasn’t our fault, it was a relief yet a huge burden. What would happen? How could we best teach him? What would his future be like? A diagnosis often brings you to a point of crisis. In a way, it is the death of an “ideal” or dream standard we have for our child and time to face reality. It can be saddening at first, hard to get past or make sense of. I spent many teary nights crying worrying about Conner’s future.
I picked myself up off the floor, set my mind to the task at hand, and became a research machine. I talked with other moms, prayed, gave it to God, read articles, searched forums, and discovered Conner’s learning abilities and strengths. I took the “standards” out of homeschooling and formulated a new plan. Guess what? School became fun for everyone.
By this time, our daughter Elizabeth was five and starting school. This is when I learned that I wasn’t a failure and that I was teaching correctly. She started catching up to her brother, and then another challenge arose. She started passing him. I never said a word and didn’t acknowledge that it was happening. Conner went through a period of his own grief when he realized this was happening. He never knew anything was different until then. Lots of love, prayer, and focusing on their individual strengths helped us through.
Here we are ten years later. I always tell people that homeschooling is like being on a fast-moving train. Once you get on, you just hang on and enjoy the ride. You don’t jump off, and you just keep going until your reach your destination. Sometimes the destination may look different from the dream trip you planned. It doesn’t mean the trip won’t be great, that you won’t enjoy it, or that it won’t be fun. Be flexible, look for the good, and enjoy the journey. It goes all too fast, and soon you will be four years from graduation and wondering where the time went. We have overcome learning disabilities, the serious illness of my husband, and the naysayers. I am happy to report that Conner is right where he needs to be, and that he is headed toward a bright future.
My advice to you is hang in there, be encouraged, and don’t waste away the years fretting or worrying. Time goes fast, and you will overcome!
Julie is the mom of two great kids and the wife to one very patient husband. A modern day Pollyana with a knack for finding zany adventures. Jesus is the center of her life and she strives to give him all the glory with everything she does. She rambles on about life on her blog Just Jules