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May 04

Deschooling, stealth schooling, unschooling, oh my…

I’m a homeschooler.  So to speak.  I’m homeschooling in theory – in reality, I’m reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban out loud and strongly suggesting that he watch documentaries.

We’re in a weird place right now.  Not just with his physical and emotional recovery, but also with his academic recovery.

He’s physically recovering, a little bit, slowly, slowly.  There is progress, but he’s still seriously compromised in a lot of ways.  Physical activity is non-existent, his appetite is totally shot, he still gets headaches and can’t see at all in the dark.  His eyes are tracking better, I don’t think he’s technically legally blind any more.  But I don’t think he can see well enough to read anything serious, and he gets pretty intense headaches when he concentrates for a long time.

Emotionally, he’s hanging in.  The anxiety isn’t overwhelming, but it’s only because we don’t do anything.  He can’t do anything, so it’s not like I’m asking him to go anywhere or do anything that would incite the anxiety.  Unless it’s going to the doctor’s – in which case the anxiety goes thru the damn roof.   His whole idea of safety is wrapped up in me – he gets really tense when I’m not home.   The few times I’ve left the house (other than to run and do pick up and drop off for the girls), he calls me, crying and begging me to come home.  The idea of getting a sitter to stay with him other than one of his sisters freaks him out altogether.

And academically – I’ve got nothing.  He can’t physically do anything and has absolutely no desire to do anything academic.  Watching “educational” videos cause meltdowns (God help Julianna who LOVES the schoolhouse rock DVDs I got for him).  I read out loud to him.  From a book he’s read before (Marc read it to him years ago).  He’ll watch news with him, documentaries and science shows.

So I’m researching – there’s little I like more than a little research.  Stealth schooling is my new favorite term – I trick him into learning.  A little bit.   I hope that we’re making the right decisions with him, I pray that by decreasing the pressure, by stepping back, by giving him space to heal, space to thrive, he’ll come into it on his own.  I deflect the questions, I smile sadly when people tell me that he’s falling so far behind.  I know he is – I’m just hoping that we can stop looking at it as he’s falling behind, and more like he’s just where he is, and go from there.  If I’m homeschooling, maybe I don’t need to worry about grade level.  He’s learning, he’s just not learning in a traditional manner right now.

My hope, please God, my hope is that he’ll continue to heal physically so that we can work on everything else.  We can work on the anxiety – maybe the anxiety won’t be anywhere near as intense if we aren’t doing public school.  I wouldn’t have described him as an anxious kid prior to sending him to school.  Maybe pulling him out of school will be the best thing we’ve ever done for him.  Maybe this is will give him the opportunity to thrive, to grow and learn and be exactly who he wants to be.

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