Monday, 24 February 2020

Forced to home-school…

 Let me just start off this post by saying that if you have been here for a while you will know my stance on schooling and how I feel that every child is different and that schooling is definitely not a one size fits all thing- none of my kiddos mainstream but that doesn’t mean that I think mainstream schooling is the devil, many of my friends kids excel and get by amazingly in the mainstream environment it just hasn’t worked or hadn’t worked for 2 of my 3 boys and thus when it came time to place J for grade 1 we decided to put him with his brother in a cottage school and see how it went, so far he is incredibly happy and if I can pay what I would for a government schooling for an environment filled with understanding and classes of less than 10, individualised attention and schooling that caters to a child’s individual needs well then it isn’t really a hard choice for me.

If one day my kids decide that they would like to go into mainstream then we will definitely not hold them back but for now this decision works for our family. Physically home-schooling your child though is something that I both support and tilt my head against, in the right environment if the child is given the time and support I truly believe it can be the most wonderful thing, having had to home-school Lo several times now over the past few years I can tell you there are times where I adore the experience; walking the journey of experience with my child, learning with him and through him is an amazing thing however it can be equally frustrating and incredibly time consuming particularly when you work a full time job, your hubby works late and travels via public transport and you have other kids to look after as well.

So when it came to Loghan; home-schooling was not the choice I advocated for, maybe at first but once we had tried it I believed that there were better routes to follow. As a parent I did not feel that my child could navigate through his education and self-learning without the aid of a tutor/parent and I believed that the lack of social interaction would only hinder his progress even further but hey I am just the parent right who am I to give my opinion on my own child I have only raised him for 12 years…

The problem that we face is that even after a panel was held that included 25 professionals from all different fields and departments not one can tell us exactly what diagnosis we are dealing with or where to go to from here, he cannot function in mainstream and the department doesn’t want to foot the bill for a facilitator, one has been applied for but we have already been told not to hold our breath and they will not cover a tutor even though we are not home-schooling by choice.

Anyhoo, so last week we were told by the education department that we may as well register our son with a local curriculum because they do not feel they can help us, we went to the family court on Thursday and whilst the magistrate ordered feedback from the department and said that they need to help us he also said that we may as well get educated on home-schooling because that is the direction we will have to follow in the end, over the yaers we have met many professionals some I have taken to and some I haven’t it is the ones that get to the point, the ones that go out of their way to help us but don’t beat around the bush, theses gems and we have had but a few are simply amazing I know that our case is one that most choose to ignore or walk away from because it is a headache of note but for those who have given their time I am incredibly grateful, the magistrates words were blunt but his genuine empathy was something that I felt to the core and I am grateful that he is trying to help us by telling the departments who aren’t helping to get their acts together, fighting alone is hard, having to follow up with every department day after day on your own is difficult and time consuming and frustrating, it takes a toll I won’t lie and lately there have been times where as much as I am trying to just put on that smile and push forward my soul says NO, enough now and just wants to crumble into the foetal position and disappear.

The department is saying they cannot help; we asked for a special needs school entry with a facilitator but they are forcing us into a position with no benefit and cannot offer any help by way of a subsidy, facilitator or tutor and we cannot afford a minimum of 8k a month for a facilitator or full time tutor so I am having to try and provide my son with an education whilst I work full time, the department will not or has not provided me with answers surrounding home-schooling i.e. how are marks captured, how is your child assessed, we are doing the work I have gone out of my way to piece together the curriculum on my own and we are working through it, every night I put the next day’s work together and just hope that when I get home it is done and I don’t have to put 2 hours in before bed because that is a meltdown waiting to happen on its own, I have to push time in over the weekends for the subjects that he simply cannot navigate on his own like Afrikaans, he is a very bright child but there are areas he just needs help, I feel as though I am completing my own schooling all over again which would be fine if I didn’t need to work but I do.

I have also had trouble finding an extra mural for socialisation and just to get him out of the house, most extra murals start late afternoon and when you work until 5 it just isn’t possible to get him there, thankfully it seems like I have found something we are attending a trial class this evening so at least that covers some form of social interaction… when your child turns to you after hearing this and remarks that maybe just maybe he can make a friend by his 13th birthday…

I came to the realisation this weekend that Lo may never get to experience simple adolescent milestones like a matric dance…

I am frustrated beyond the point of comprehension and as a mother I am just heartbroken and overwhelmed.

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Changing my perspective

At the beginning of the year I decided to instill change within myself and my life, I have not only amped up my activity level and changed my eating habits but I have also set aside non-negotiable time for myself and become more introspective and mindful of my approach particularly when it comes to stressful situations.

Has this worked?

I have to say that without a doubt yes; for example last week my son neglected to do his work properly normally I would have flipped my lid both internally and externally and I would have spent the rest of the evening doing his work with him and negated my evening walk nit this time, I told my son to get started and left for my walk whilst my hubby made supper, when I got back I sat down with him to complete the work and although we went to bed a bit later than usual we got through it in a calm and constructive manner, I got my half an hour or so walk and time to calm down and regroup and could approach the situation when I got home in a much better space, my son also had the opportunity to think through the fact that he now had to sit and lose technology time because he had not completed his work properly and the work that he produced that evening was of a much better standard because he wanted to actually complete it and do it properly.

I feel so much better, our household is so much calmer, I am feeling better, sleeping better and am actually enjoying being a parent instead of constantly running damage control and being on edge and miserable all the time.

My advice to anyone going through a hard time or anyone who feels like they have lost the joy of parenting:

Take time out for yourself, for self care and to process your day, your decisions and your stressors

Find an activity that you enjoy and take time to do it even if it means a 15 minute walk or a 10 minute yoga session something that allows you to release endorphins and release stress with increased activity and focus while also allowing you to step away or outside of the situations that are weighing you down.

Block out some time every week for tech free family time- whether you take a walk down to the local park or play board games

Find someone that is unbiased and that you trust and can talk to- if you cannot afford a therapist there are resources available within Cape Town and other areas that offer reduced cost therapy sessions or if you just find someone who you can talk to do it, talk it out no matter how silly it is; I cannot explain what an hour session a week has done for me, just being able to talk about my day, my week, what is going on or not going on.

Finally I know I am going to get a few eye rolls with this one but optimize your health; drink water, eat good food and enjoy your food.  Often as mothers or even just as parents we tend to lose our love for food and our enjoyment in it, it becomes something we simply have to do, something we simply have to make and something that we shovel down so fast because the next thing has to be done and  we hardly even get the chance to taste what we are taking in. Be mindful of what you take into your body and enjoy it, our bodies keep us going and if we don't protect and provide it with "high grade oil" and rather just keep shoving in "low quality oil" just because eventually it is going to shut down... 

Speaking of oil, my car broke down last week, it is fixed now thank goodness but it was a very expensive experience I will just leave it at that.

A lot has gone down the past few weeks… A LOT

Our therapeutic team organised a mass meeting whereby numerous professionals and person involved and not involved in our case were invited to attend, to put their heads together to try and help our family, which is just amazing guys, to know that around 20 people got together to help us and brainstorm/share ideas is just mind boggling and I feel incredibly lucky that our psychologist has worked so hard to help us get somewhere.  The road is long but much was gained from the meeting and I am hoping we can now move forward and can help our son get both his education and therapeutic help.

In the meantime he is home-schooling which has its pros and cons, its good and bad days, a lot that I won’t get to on this space but we are moving along. We had to give him a cellphone which a whole other kettle of fish, my dad gave me his old cell…. OLD so there isn’t anything to be done on there besides message and call but it is scary none the less.