Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Decision to Homeschool

In late November we decided that we would pull Catherine out of public school and begin homeschooling her.  This was a tough decisions for several reasons.  My career may completely disappear as a result of this decision, so financially we would become completely dependent on Robby.  I was not sure if I would have the patience.  Catherine loves her friends and the social aspect of school. 

But, Catherine was missing about a day and a half a week for medical appointments.  Plus, each day that she was there she was missing about an hour to two hours of class time because of her tube feedings and pottying issues.  This has been the case for all of last year and this year.  There has been virtually no improvement. 

Then on Dec. 7 we took Catherine to the hospital to do some extensive testing on her bladder and colon. On Dec. 8 we met with her urologist and learned that she would never be potty trained and would need surgery in January, to create a permanent catheter and a colon irrigation system.  She will be in the hospital for a week and then spend 3-4 weeks at home in recovery.

Then we will have to learn how to catheterize her 4-6 times per day and to irrigate her colon once a day.  We will also have to switch her feedings to the day (before she was fed overnight).  Her body will produce to much urine overnight if we continue the night feedings, and we do not want to wake her up several times a night to catheterize her.

So, we decided to tell Catherine.  We could not ask her what she wanted to do, because we had already made our decision.  We couldn't risk her opposing it and us having to force the issue.  So, we presented it as a fun change.  She immediately said she wanted to do it.  The most logical time to pull her out of school seemed to be during the Christmas break.  When her classmates returned in January, she would be at home. 

We wanted to wait to tell her teachers until we were closer to the Christmas break.  But, the day after we told Catherine she walked in and told her teacher "Starting in January I am going to be homeschooled!"  The cat was out of the bag at that point.  We knew the whole school would know within the hour.  So, we met with her teacher and told them our reasons.   

We really did not have any complaints about the school.  We wanted them to handle more of the medical stuff in the classroom, so she would not miss so much school.  We agreed that the pottying issues had to be held in private.  But the school would not do a tube feeding in the classroom, citing a concern for her safety.

When the surgery and recovery issues were considered, there was no longer any option.  She would miss about a month of school if we left her in traditional school. 

We briefly looked at a few curriculum options, but chose Georgia Cyber Academy for a few reasons.  It is free (she will technically still be a public school student, in the GCA).  She receives physical therapy and occupational therapy from the school per her IEP and that would continue, paid for by the school system.  There are online classes and tons of materials which GCA sends us.

So we applied for GCA and were accepted.  Our start date for this semester is supposed to be January 9th.  But, because she will be out so much in January & February, we decided to start right after Christmas and get a jump start on the semester.  The material arrived before Christmas.  We do not have official access to the online portion of GCA yet, but a friend of ours has given us her password so we can do some of the online lessons that way.

This is a huge leap of faith for us in several ways.  I have no idea if and how this will work, but I feel like it is what is best for Catherine.  It is a huge sacrifice for me, as I will be losing my career (or at least letting it dwindle substantially) and I will have to take on the enormous task of educating my children by myself.

I had been thinking about it for weeks.  I was not sure how Robby would react (he was immediately supportive).  We made the decision before we knew about the January surgery and its aftermath.  That news was a huge confirmation to me that we had made the right decision.  

Only time will tell if this will be a successful decision.  Bu we have lived for years not knowing what the future will hold.  This situation is a little different because we are taking steps that are creating the uncertainty in our future.  With the medical situations, they just kind of happened and we reacted.  Here, we are behind the steering wheel, pulling her out of school and teaching her ourselves.

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