Homeschooling first occurred to me when my firstborn, "H", was in kindergarten. We became pregnant and had our first child earlier than we expected (I was in college). When the time came, we felt the need to enroll him in a reputable preschool, where he might be prepared for his school career and have a bit of fun with the other children, while providing me with time to attend classes. We sent him to a very nice, small, private prep school, the same prep school from which I graduated, once upon a time. This particular school, by the way, is considered to be one of the best in our area.
H attended preschool and most of first grade at this school before it became clear to everyone involved that H was not to be able to learn in a classroom setting. Soon after, I brought him home to teach, leaving behind a fresh career in physical therapy, and also pregnant with my second son. This was to become one of the best decisions I have ever made.
With subsequent research and testing, we were to find that our oldest son had severe learning disabilities, problems with short term and long term memory, and dysgraphia. In short, in order to learn, he requires one-on-one teaching methods, and the flexibility provided us by homeschooling. We can repeat a lesson whenever and however many times needed for it to "stick." I do not believe this level of individualized learning could have ever been reached in our public school special education classes. He is now 15 years of age, and I am proud to say that he is ready for high school. Really ready. Not just in a loving mother's opinion; he is at grade level in every subject.
It may not seem like a very big accomplishment to have a 15 year old son ready to enter high school, but I am willing to open my heart to you and tell you that it is my proudest and dearest achievement. Every tiny step of his education has been purchased with hard work, frustration and tears, both his and mine. Tears fall onto my desk as I share with you my life's work. And my heart breaks a little as I consider that he will never be able to express himself in such a manner, that he will struggle every day of his life to write out the grocery list, to fill out the check to pay his power bill, to, perhaps, write a love letter to his beloved.
If we are able to stay on the track I have planned out for us, H will graduate from high school just shy of his 19th birthday, with a regular diploma, with achievements equal to all of those to whom it comes easily. And I will know in my heart that I have done the right thing. I will have saved him from being labeled "special." I will have given him the chance to just be.