Friday, February 22, 2013

Happy at Home

I mentioned last week that James was having at tough time at school. Our family took some time to pray about what to do, and we sought wise counsel from several quarters. After a week of dialoguing and pondering, we came to a unanimous decision to pull James out of public school and bring him home for the rest of this school year.

I'm so excited!

I homeschooled both boys for a couple of years a while back, and I massively overcomplicated the process. I love that I have that previous experience to help me approach homeschooling James with tranquility and joy instead of fear and confusion.

The state of Washington clearly delineates the requirements for homeschooling, and I'm so thankful to meet the requirement to teach James without the need for a proctor or certificated representative. I am required to teach several specific subjects to James, and I'm having so much fun figuring out how to present each subject in his unique learning style. I instinctively know what makes him tick, so I can easily draw from his strengths while gently helping him work through his weaknesses.

I'm thankful for the physical and occupational therapy James had last year that showed me how a little bit every day eventually builds a strength in him. For example, he has always hated art because it gives him what he calls a "perfectionist attack." Then last fall, his artist auntie gave him an art lesson to show him that he could be abstract and throw art away... that it was more about the motion and the expression than what was actually transferred to the paper.

So today, we had art, and he got all scared and said he hated it. Worse yet, we used soft pastels, which make a screeching noise in his super sensitive ears. At first he said he couldn't do the assignment because he didn't know what to draw and he was scared of the chalk. I suggested we just draw lines, and I got started. After watching me for a moment, James tentatively drew a very thin line in an effort to keep the chalk from screaming at him. We talked about the sound the chalk made, and I praised him for thinking of a way to get around it. Shortly thereafter, he got into the assignment and started making big strokes across his paper, scribbling and scribbling away. Yay James! At the end, I asked him to tell me what he thought his picture might look like, and he saw something in it. Then, even though I had promised we could throw the project away, he opted to put it on the refrigerator instead. I'm so proud of him.

Art is just one example of my overall plan, which is to accommodate and challenge James at the same time. I have ideas for every subject, and we're already having a great time. :)

Most of all, James has done an emotional about-face. He is more peaceful and calm than any of us have seen him in years. After so much heartache about his misery and suffering, this mama heart is swelling with gratitude and hope. I'm so happy to have James at home.