Monday, September 16, 2013

Shine On...

"This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine... this little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine..."

I can't help, but sing that sweet little song to myself, every time I think about our most recent decision to homeschool Charlotte. Just a few weeks ago (we made a whole month before pulling her out), Charlotte attended Kindergarten in public school... but today, I'm proud to say that she's back home... and I'm back to the official role/title as "teacher". Before sending her to school, I struggled... I struggled big time. I wasn't sure if she was ready... I wasn't sure if the decision was made more in a selfish way (so that I'd have more time with Marley during the day and not have to parent both)... I was listening to her desire to "meet friends"... and although a huge part of me wanted to see it work out... it just didn't. We've been praying over the decision to send her for weeks... and finally we have an answer...


Did we need to test the waters? yes. Did she love making friends? yes. Did I have some great one on one time with Marley? yes. Did she struggle? yes.

When we adopted Charlotte, she had NEVER stepped foot out of the orphanage... in her 3.5 almost 4 years of life, she had never, not once, experienced... life. With experiences, comes this maturity... call it social maturity, or social norms. You learn what's appropriate from what's inappropriate... and although we saw all acceptable behavior at home, it was different when Charlotte entered the front doors at school. We're still not certain exactly what happened... but everyday she entered those doors, it's as if she reverted back into "orphanage" mode. She completely zoned out, used unacceptable behavior to receive attention, and ultimately landed herself in the principal's office more times than I can count on one hand.

The first time I received a phone call from her teacher (the second day of school), I was overcome with complete and utter confusion (and to this day, I still am)... she was describing a child that I didn't know, doing behavior that I had NEVER witnessed or hadn't seen since we first met her. After a parent/teacher conference, and sharing "her" story with her teacher, I was certain we came up with solutions to the behavior issues... but we didn't. Every night a behavior chart needed to be signed, and we'd constantly go over the same "do's" and "don'ts" with Charlotte each day. "Do not push your friends..." "Do not throw sand..." "Do not bang your head on the wall..." "Do not roll around on the floor and pinch yourself..." etc. Some behavior we've witnessed before (while walking around and peeking into the orphanage doorways), whereas other behavior was completely new to us. Each time we read out loud what she did, it was as though we were staring at a blank face, a face that couldn't recall each and every incident. It was as if she did it without any recollection... impulsively.

So, before deciding on homeschooling, I decided I needed to see firsthand what the teacher was seeing, and so I sat in and observed a morning. I sat, and watched 21 students, including Charlotte, roll into the classroom... with no aid to help her teacher. All 21... fighting for her teacher's attention...

No one-on-one attention, strike 1. No one there to give specific instruction to Charlotte, who desperately needs guided instruction constantly, strike 2. Vague directions for every assignment, strike 3. Tons of noise and sensory stimulation, strike 4. The list could go on and on... and when asked how I can get Charlotte help, I was told that it could take up to a year to get her evaluated and given an IEP (Individualized Education Plan, which would help get Charlotte the "help" that she needs to succeed or stay afloat). Just watching her in class, I saw a little one who looked completely "lost". A little one who knows her sight words for the month of September already (because we work on those at home each day), but couldn't follow a simple worksheet in class because she wasn't given one-on-one direction. She just looked up into space, and stared so blankly... because no one in the class was helping her.

Each time Charlotte came home from school with the LONG list of terrible behavior... we had to discipline (rightfully so), and that would be all the interaction we'd have most days... because she wouldn't finish her schoolwork, she had tons of homework. So between disciplining her, and homework, we didn't even have time to have fun anymore... no time to play or snuggle. On the weekends, it felt like we got our "old" Charlotte back, only to send her back to school on Monday, and become disappointed in her all over again. It was tedious, and it was time... time to dis-enroll her. Last Wednesday, after my observations were done, I spent a better portion of the afternoon discussing homeschooling with a dear friend and my sister (who homeschools as well)... and that afternoon we said "farewell" to public school... and we haven't looked back.

I haven't completely picked out a curriculum yet... but that's on the agenda for this week. We are for now working out of old educational workbooks that I purchased "just for fun" awhile back, and I have her journaling everyday. She LOVES being home... it means time with Mommy, Marley, and the attention that she so rightfully deserves. When you think about it... we've only had her for 2 years... that's only 2 years of experiences, of learning social norms... etc. This is her struggle... socially maturity takes time... and with Charlotte... I know we'll get there. The girl is unstoppable... there is no mountain she cannot climb...

In this post, I spoke about her being a beacon in school... that my prayer was that she'd be an amazing light for God in school... and while for some it works... it wasn't for us... it was diminishing Charlotte's light. These last few days (2 days last week, and today) of homeschooling, have brought back her light... and I couldn't be more excited for this new journey. Shine on little girl... shine on.

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  1. Yay for insight. SHINE by the Newsboys comes to my mind... as usual you've got me excited to see what God is going to do in the life of the Davis family :D *hugs*

  2. you are such wonderful parents to her....sounds like you made a perfect decision. You'll be a great homeschool mom!

  3. You tried public school and like you said, it just wasn't for her. Honestly, well adjusted kids have a hard enough time in public school (I was bullied throughout most of my elementary school days and some middle school). I can't even begin to imagine how hard it was for Charlotte. She is so clearly an extraordinary person and I am so glad that you are doing homeschooling. It seems like the right decision for her and you definitely don't want that light of hers to extinguish!

  4. This post brought tears to my eyes for Charlotte and for you. What a tough position to find yourself in, but it sounds like you made the best decision for all of you! I hope that things go really well with homeschool. I was homeschooled through second grade and looking back on it, I wouldn't trade it for anything. Good luck, Karen!

  5. Yay for finding what is best for her! I am homeschooling one of my sons for the first time this year. I have tried for YEARS to get him the right help through public schools. This year I just knew that homeschooling him would be the best thing for him and our family. Not every day is perfect but he is doing so much better than he has been.

  6. You go girl!! My heart was breaking for C thinking what it might have brought back for her. You and your hubs are such good parents for recognizing what your girl needs and doing it! It will be a great year! Our homeschool program is a hybrid program where kids can attend some classes if they want and also be taught at home. It's helpful since only one of our three is currently being homeschooled.

  7. Karen, this brought tears to my eyes. You are such an amazing parent and I am so thankful that Charlotte chose you or you chose Charlotte, or however that worked out. It breaks my heart that school must have brought back memories of her time before you, but I'm sure she'll get comfortable enough some day. She's obviously thriving in your environment right now though and it's hard to believe how far she's in only 2 years! Good luck in your homeschooling journey! I can't wait to hear how it goes!

  8. We're homeschooling this year. In some ways I wish I had let him go to kindergarten, experienced it- and shown both of us that this (homeschooling) is probably the best choice for us. Right now I'm dealing with the "what if"s, I'd love to pick your brain on curriculum and all that sometime. Darn that you aren't closer for a coffee/photography/homeschooling/mama play date! Oh and PS! Charlotte looks SO much older in these pictures, like she's grown a foot!

  9. we homeschool as well (this is our 2nd year). i love the confirmation that i get each day that we are doing what is right for our family for this particular season. this post resonated with me! thank you for sharing! i am just super excited to hear how it goes with you all! keep these homeschool posts coming! oh & what gorgeous pictures of little charlotte! :)

  10. I would agree that you made a wise and right decision! I am a huge fan of homeschooling, but know that it isn't for everyone. In Charlotte's case, I agree with you, it is. I laugh when people say that homeschool kids don't get enough social interaction, blah blah blah. I think they can have MORE social interaction AND you can be more in control of who they interact with and how. Does that make sense?
    As for curriculum, may I just say to don't be afraid to pick and choose? Mix and match? You don't have to go full on A Beka, or Bob Jones, or any of the other programs. Every curriculum has it's strengths and weaknesses.