homeschool · Parenting · public school

One Size Fits All: Individual Choices for Individual Children

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In high school, I was far from the thinnest girl in any of my classes, and quickly learned I never would be. What drove it home even more were four little words that were on the tags of lots of night shirts, robes, swimsuit covers, and more…

One Size Fits All

 One Size Fits All

In life, one size never fits all. It might make life easier if everything were clear cut, black and white. We could all fit inside a perfect little box, all wrapped up with a perfect little bow on top. Never any questions, judgement of others, second guessing ourselves because everyone would be the same.

Oh, how boring! Life may or may not be easier, and without a doubt, it would be boring with everyone fitting the same set of standards, doing the same things.

Just like those one size fits all clothes, there is no one size fits all education. Even in the same family, there is not necessarily a one size fits all education. That’s why sometimes parents make different choices for different kids.

One Size Fits Most

Over the past several years, I have seen more of the one size fits most tags, and never a one size fits all. Sadly, those sizes don’t fit me either. I think, it probably is for most sizes, since they are usually about an extra large and probably, most people do wear an XL or smaller.

I think it is probably similar to a brick and mortar school. A public/private education with actual classrooms, desks, chairs, and 2 dozen other kids in the same room. I think that is the one size fits most choice for education in America.

And truly, barring extenuating circumstances, I think that setting does work for most children in our country. However, it does not fit all children. There is no such thing as a one size fits all education. Since most does not equal all, there are other education choices to be made for some children.

In fact, that most can even be taken from America to one home in America. Since each child is different, it is possible to make a different choice for each child, even for education purposes.

Just like I would not make all 4 of my children wear only green skinny jeans, because one or more may not fit well in skinny jeans…I would not assume that each of my children would benefit from the same choices in education.

And so …

This is why we have made a different choice for one of our children.

As you know, D has high functioning autism. His autism manifests itself primarily as overwhelming, unfathomable anxiety. His anxiety is debilitating in many, many situations.

His anxiety was, at one point, so intense that we were unable to leave the house. He was unable to eat in a restaurant, make a trip to the store, or even go to church. His anxiety was so severe that the idea of school would send him flying into a rage, he would react in such a way that I was unable to drive him to school. Trying to get him onto a bus was a physical fight, so difficult that the bus driver even told me one morning, even if we get him on this bus, I refuse to drive him. What if he attacks me like that? Yeah, it was anxiety, not bad behavior.

When D came home from residential treatment, he was thrown from one wild and crazy situation into another one. To make matters worse, we had to move while he was in residential, so not only was he thrown into a new situation, his whole world had turned upside down. Therefore, his anxiety was out of sight. He was unable to make it to school, so we ended up finally moving him from a school building to a homebound level of services with the school system. Essentially, since the services were not consistent, we did his education for most of that year.

As things progressed and his anxiety was better controlled, we did a lot of praying, a lot of soul searching, and a lot of working with many professionals. Ultimately, as a team, we decided that D really needed to be in public school.

It was not an easy decision, in fact it was excruciating. However, based on the level of anxiety, we were afraid that keeping him home would only serve to increase it. By keeping him home, allowing the social aspects of his anxiety to increase, we were afraid that he would become a total recluse. We were afraid that our choices to keep him home would create a more difficult lifelong situation for him.

In addition, his brain compartmentalizes parts of his life. He has separate compartments for school and home. They are so separate in his brain that even the easiest homework is crossing a boundary that he cannot really handle. So, trying to teach him at home was not an easy task, not even when a teacher from outside came in for the homebound services.

Getting him to public school is still a challenge. He is still experiencing a lot of school/social anxiety. He uses every bit of energy in his body to survive a school day both socially and emotionally. However, his anxiety is slowly reducing with the help of a marvelous school based team, a psychiatrist who is on the ball, and a lot of prayer.

So, while the days are not always easy, we are seeing a great deal of growth and improvement. We are seeing him mature, make better decisions in uncomfortable social situations, and better decisions overall.

I assure you, I would like to have him home. I would love the opportunity to spend the day with him in a learning environment, especially teaching him about the love of God. I would love to have the happy little homeschool that I read about on so many other blogs, but that doesn’t fit all in our family.

That’s not real life, though … real life is making a different decision for each child, whether it is the popular decision or not.

What difficult, and different choices have you had to make for your children?

4 thoughts on “One Size Fits All: Individual Choices for Individual Children

  1. Amen! I only have one child, and you know the decision we made for her. It’s just as hard with one child – believe me. The hubris of other people telling us we’re doing it wrong amazes me.

    You are an amazing mother and one I find much to admire.

  2. I have 4 kids and they all learn differently. Our oldest had issues in public school, so we had to pull him out. He was the whole reason we stated homeschooling. Of my other 3 kids, I only think that 2 would do half way decent in the public school system, our youngest son, I know would struggle. I am thankful and blessed that we have the choice and the freedom to homeschool and be able to teach them the way they learn. I always tell people that every family has to do what is best for them and their family. Right now, having our children home with us, is for the best. I am praying for you and your family, especially D and him going to school!

  3. I love to encourage others in the journey in homeschooling, talking about all the various ways to make it work! however, you are so right when you say that you had t make the decision that was best for YOUR family! We are not all created the same. We each have different needs, and as parents it is our job to work to meet the needs of each of our children. Good job to you, mama, for making the tough decision despite your desire to have him home, because you felt it was the right one!

  4. I have just discovered your blog while searching the web for HFA and public school. My 6-year-old son has no formal diagnosis, but we just met with his school to find out if he qualifies for an IEP (he does). It is all blanketed under “developmental delay” at this age, but my husband and I believe he has HFA.The things that I have read in your blog so far really resonate with me. I ache for you and the decisions you and your husband have had to make. Thank you for sharing your journey – I am eager to read and learn more. God bless you.

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