Our guest author today is Shawna Wingert from Not The Former Things. Shawna openly and honestly shares her story of how they have learned to homeschool in the midst of one diagnosis after another.
We made the decision to homeschool more than eight years ago.
We did it because school was not working out – like at all – for my oldest. Simple, everyday things like getting shoes on and having to do PE were so stressful for my little guy that he literally fought us every single day of his second grade school year.
At first, I thought homeschooling would “fix” any concerns we had. And at first, it did.
Removing the constant sensory input of a school environment, allowing him to learn at his own pace and in a way that best suited his strengths calmed our entire family down for a while.
But the thing about a child headed for a diagnosis is eventually, the need for help, the desire for information and the desperate nature of the unknown take over.
A year after we began homeschooling, my oldest son received autism and generalized anxiety disorder diagnoses. Two years later, his younger brother received several learning disorder diagnoses followed by ADHD and a mood disorder. A year after that, my oldest was diagnosed with two very serious auto-immune disorders. And last year, my youngest was also diagnosed with a serious gastrointestinal disease.
Every single time we have received a new diagnosis, it’s like the first time. Honestly, it never gets easier as a mom.
There are some things I have learned however, that have helped me to continue homeschooling in the midst of my sons’ receiving their diagnoses.
How To Keep Homeschooling When Your Child Receives A Diagnosis
Although it has been difficult, every single time we have received a new diagnosis, it has ultimately had a profound effect on how and why we homeschool – all for the better and all what I want to share with you today.
Here are my four best tips to encourage you as you homeschool in the haze of a new diagnosis:
It’s OK To Take Some Time For You
Really, it is OK to just take a little time off from teaching. It can feel overwhelming and even devastating to hear the words from your doctor or therapist. Please know, taking some time to process and breathe is wise. Ultimately, you will be a much better homeschool teacher if you give yourself a chance to be a mom first and come to terms with the reality of your child’s diagnosis.
Your Child May Need Some Time Too
As much as you may find yourself reeling, your child may also feel the same way. Whether you choose to share all the details with him or not, your child has been through an evaluation and appointments. He knows something is going on. (This is an entirely different post, but I want to encourage you if you are feeling stressed about telling your child. Your child will likely take the news much, much better than you are worried they will. Every single child I know in this scenario, without exception, was either not interested at all in their diagnosis or felt a significant relief upon learning there was a reason for their symptoms and/or differences.)
Sometimes, the best way to help your child ease back into life post-diagnosis is to give yourself both a ton of grace and take a little time to focus on things other than homeschooling.
Experts May Disagree With Homeschooling
Consider this a bit of a warning – you will likely encounter some professionals who are not necessarily informed about or supportive of homeschooling. In fact, when we first learned my son was on the autism spectrum, one professional assumed that we would discontinue homeschooling and put him back into the public school system for services and interventions.
One of the reasons why I began writing about homeschooling children with learning differences and special needs is because of that assumption. Homeschooling is not only a viable option; often times it is a perfect fit for a child dealing with chronic illness or behavioral differences. The best way to homeschool in the midst of receiving a diagnosis is to focus on what you know to be true – you are your child’s mom. You know her better than anyone else. A diagnosis doesn’t change any of the reasons you decided to homeschool in the first place!
Use The Diagnosis To Guide Your Learning
Perhaps the greatest gift in getting a diagnosis is finally having an understanding of what is going on with your child. This increased knowledge can and will become a wonderful tool in your homeschool. For example, once I knew that my son’s autoimmune condition seasonally flares in the late spring, I was able to plan to wind down our learning a bit earlier in the year. And when I learned how severe my son’s dyslexia really is, I was able to stop beating myself up for not teaching him to read well and instead, focus on the more intensive approach he needs.
If you are a mom in the midst of homeschooling as your child receives a diagnosis, please know, you are not alone. Although it isn’t easy, it is 100% doable. Please, let me repeat myself one more time – you are your child’s mom. You know him better than anyone else.
A diagnosis could never, ever change this.
How to Homeschool in the Midst of the Hard Things Giveaway
This is day 7 of the Homeschooling in the Midst of Hard Things Blog Series. We are so glad you are here! Come back each day to see what practical tips you can learn from veteran homeschool moms who have been in the trenches with you. If you missed day 6 of our series click here —> How to Homeschool in the Midst of Uncertainty. Oh and don’t forget to enter the HUGE giveaways and join the exclusive Facebook group to chat it up with our bloggers, ask questions and just be a part of our amazing and growing community!
Shawna Wingert is the creator of Not The Former Things, a blog dedicated to homeschooling children with learning differences and special needs. She loves finding out-of-the-box ways for out-of-the-box learners to thrive. She is the author of three books, Special Education at Home, Everyday Autism and Parenting Chaos.