I'm seriously considering homeschooling Rosie. I posted this on Facebook earlier today asking for resources and of course got lots of opinions. Some of them very supportive and others not so much. As public as people think I am, there's a lot I don't write about to protect my child. So, I'm going to set the record straight so many of the naysayers will understand where I'm coming from and in the hopes that this helps another parent out there as well.
Rosie has serious migraines. Over the past couple of years, we've tried multiple medications and alternative treatments (and as many people know, I'm sick and freaking tired of being sold things on Facebook. She's had health issues for 13 years people, don't you think we've tried it all?). We're currently being treated by a neurologist at our local children's hospital and we've been to multiple chiropractors, physical therapists. We've also been to the pain clinic, tried biofeedback, made dietary changes and we've been on lots of medication (including one that made my child suicidal). We've tried just about everything.
In the past couple of years, her headaches have gotten worse. Part of this is hormonal, but honestly, stress is her major trigger. And, we know that school is her major stressor. This was scientifically proven in the pain clinic when she was hooked up to monitors. When she's asked school-related questions, my child's heart races, she sweats and her facial tension increases dramatically. It's pretty scary.
So what causes the stress? Part of it is social as we've had some bullying issues. But the other part, is created by the migraines themselves.
My child wakes up with a headache at least two days a week. I can usually get them under control with medication, but by then she's missed the first three hours of school. If it's a dull headache and I send her to school, I can count on the nurse calling me early afternoon to inform me that she's had to give Rosie medication. And, then there are days that we can't get the migraines under control and she misses school altogether. In all, my child has missed 35 days of school this year (to be truthful, eight of them were for a virus and bacterial infection from our big cancer scare in the Fall). If you do the math, that's seven full weeks of school.
So, what happens when you miss so much school? You miss math class and fall a little behind. Then you try and get caught up but your parents are too dumb to understand “common core” even though they can solve the problems. You finally get all caught up with the work and have another headache and miss the hour. Struggle a little more. Miss a few more days and need to make up that work so you can't take the test. Next you have two trips to the Emergency Room and a doctor-mandated four days at home on heavy drugs and you're even more behind because the pressure's on- the school year's over in a week and you have to get it all done.
What happens socially? Your friends talk about you when you're not at school because….you're not there (and you see it on social media in the middle of your migraine which makes it worse). Rumors start because you aren't around to stop them. And, then you return to school headache free to hear all kinds of crap that's not true on top of the scholastic pressure that you're under.
Pressure. I'm a big believer that kids need to understand deadlines, responsibility and hard work. Unfortunately, my child has neurological issues that are being compounded by the traditional education system and to be honest, I'm making it worse (For the record, I do want to say that our current middle school has been incredibly understanding and cooperative within the current public school structure).
In the past month, I've taken my child to school with headaches because I've been told that if she “doesn't grasp the material she won't pass the class.” I've withheld medicine that makes her tired (but may help her migraine) in an effort to get her to school. I've woken her up from much-needed naps to force her to do homework when she clearly can't even focus her eyes. I've told her that “bad grades are unacceptable and I'll have to take her phone away, pull her from dance class…. if she can't get it together”. Shame on me.
In the past year, I've taken her to school late many times and kind of slinked out of the office like we've just done something wrong. I've sent hundreds of emails explaining why she's late or missing entirely. I've even apologized to teachers, administrators and coaches because my child's not there or late (which I think is bullshit. I should never feel bad that my child has health issues). And, I've worried non-stop that she'll never get caught up or that she'll be treated differently by teachers and kids. It's been terrible.
So, why am I considering homeschooling? My child's health. We have to get the migraines under control and home schooling may help. Here's how:
- When Rosie wakes up with a migraine and I give her medication and we get it under control by 10:30 in the morning. That's when school can start. No pressure.
- If there's a day when she has a terrible migraine and cannot do any school work, it's okay. It's a long year with no due dates.
- She will be able to learn at her pace, eliminating the stress of feeling like she's falling behind or not as smart as other kids. She will also be able to pick and choose classes that interest her so she may be more engaged.
- The social issues that surround having a chronic health problem will be eliminated. There won't be any trips to the nurse, missing school or having to explain why she's different.
- We will be able to get her the care that she needs (PT, Biofeedback etc.) because we'll have a more flexible schedule and can set appointments during the day.
- She'll actually get back to dancing full-time again since that's what she loves (it seems to be the first thing we cut out and it's the best thing for her physically and mentally).
- Without all the stress and pressure, she may get fewer or less severe migraines. She also will be able to take the time to figure out how to deal with her headaches and make them manageable. But mostly, I hope she has less pain as people that have headaches and stomach issues have all kinds of other pain as well.
So, what about a social life? That's one of the things that's been holding me back and scares her. The cool thing about home schooling is you join groups, so she won't be sitting here with me all day long. You make friends just like regular school and I firmly believe that she'll keep a lot of her friends. I also think it will allow her to have a more vibrant social life because right now she can't go on sleepovers or to other events because of her headaches. If she has fewer, she'll be able to do more things like a normal teen.
So, there you have it. Why I think homeschooling my child may be the best thing for her (and me). It's a big decision we”ll have to make and I'm not taking it lightly. I've actually been toying with it all year long.