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Bye, Bye, Bus Part 3

February 1, 2012

Our decision to send Hope to public school did not pop out of nothing. Even while we were homeschooling, we’ve been developing a relationship with our school district since Joy came home.

I want to share a little about that experience because I am certain that if we did not have such an overwhelmingly positive experience sending Joy to special ed. preschool at the same neighborhood elementary Hope is now attending, I’d still be homeschooling Hope.

As challenging as Hope’s early years were behaviorally, she met all her developmental milestones early. She walked at ten months, had the fine motor coordination to open latches and locks by 12 months, and even though she spent her first six months hearing only Korean, picked up English quickly and was speaking in full sentences at 18 months. So Hope did not qualify for Early Intervention, our state’s Birth to Three program administered by our school district.

Joy, however, qualified immediately. She came home at 13 months three and a half years ago as a former 1 lb., 27 week preemie twin, with a diagnosis of cerebral palsy. When the school district evaluated her at 15 months, she tested at about two months old developmentally. That qualified her for in-home therapy, one hour a week on our district’s school year calendar.

While I loved the district therapists who came into our home for two years, I was not as enthusiastic about the district. There was yearly supervisor turn-over and changes in program delivery. They could never project more than six months out what our options would be. When Joy turned three, the only service the district deemed “appropriate” was a preschool class a half hour away from our house. We opted out of district services for the next year and upped private therapy to 5 days a week.

Then after a prolonged struggle  with stranger anxiety in the wake of surgery, late last spring Joy emerged a social butterfly. Suddenly I could imagine her enjoying a classroom. But even though the private preschool Hope and Mercy had attended said they’d be happy to have Joy attend with her PCA, they didn’t have a class that was (in my opinion) a good match developmentally. So I warily looked into opting back into district services in order to send Joy to special-ed. preschool.

Every light was green: neighborhood school; small class size; high staff ratio; developmentally appropriate; morning schedule (Joy still napped). I visited the classroom and loved the teachers. I was also surprised to find that in aging out of Birth to Three, Joy had been promoted into a different part of the district’s organizational structure. I would have been wrong to assume my satisfaction with the district would stay as ambivalent as it had been earlier.

Perhaps most importantly for our decision to transition Hope from home school to public school, our experience with Joy gave us real-life experiences with the culture of that specific school. And I learned that some of the negative assumptions we had made about public education when we were evaluating whether to home school, were in the case of this particular school at this particular time, not accurate.

Can you see God’s hand in this? I can. Philosophically, I think home school is a wonderful educational choice. My early contacts with the district in Joy’s Birth to Three years reinforced my existing assumptions about the likelihood we would not be happy with public school. But God foreknew a time in our family’s future when we’d need to seriously consider sending Hope out for school and He arranged to send Joy out first to remove roadblocks.

Today I’m just observing: God is big enough. Period. His grace is sufficient for home schooling (see Dorothy’s post about what helps it work for her kids with FASD) and His grace is sufficient for public school.

God said, “My grace is sufficient for you. My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9a) That’s a promise worth clinging to.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Heather Johnston permalink
    February 8, 2012 10:16 pm

    WOW Cassie, what you’ve said really speaks and interacts with what my spirit has been screaming lately. God says, “I’VE GOT THIS!!!!” No matter what “This” is … He’s got it and better than just “got it” He’s won it, conquered it, completed it before we ever knew it was an issue. He’s got it. Period. Thanks for the reminder 🙂 And for the endorsement that public education isn’t as bad as it always seems. In fact, there are times when it can be quite heavenly!

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