Exploring the question of homeschooling Kepler is not something I have considered for more than ten minutes his entire school career, which began two days after he turned three years old. His teams at school have always been filled with loving, experienced, knowledgeable professionals. Why would I even consider this? Because I am, that’s why.
As with most kids with Down syndrome, he is delayed in many ways. The gap between the typical kids and Kepler just gets wider and wider every day. I have great confidence in his team to help him reach his IEP goals, and indeed they are, but there continues to be this nagging question for me of what he and I might accomplish together at home.
First, I think of the field trips we might do. Going to the aquarium time and time again, touching the animals in the touching pool, learning about what we see. Visiting the zoo with books about elephants and giraffes and zebras and penguins and reading the books right in front of those animals. Going to the park and exploring. Climbing, wading, running, walking, examining, looking, learning.
I think of trips to the forty-one branches of the public library, where every branch is chockers with books and puzzles, librarians, time to browse and explore and learn.
I imagine trips to the grocery store, Whole Foods, hardware stores, hat stores, toy stores, antique shops.
Museums. Art museums. The Natural History museum. The Children’s Museum.
Lessons. Art, music, martial arts, drama, dance.
Sports. Swimming, baseball, Special Olympics, tennis, ice skating.
And the academics themselves. Creating collages, reading, spelling, writing, learning to add and subtract, fractions by cooking, games upon games upon games. And no school calendar to work around!
Yet, I imagine that the school system can give him way more than I can. That they are equipped in a way that I am not. That the socialization he gets there outweighs the benefits he might get at home.
Most days, I can’t wait for that school bus to arrive and transport him to school. Yesterday, the bus didn’t come, since it was Presidents Day. Having been sick last week slowed me wa-a-a-a-ay down, enough to be willing to say yes to Kepler when he asked me to play some games with him. The child is delightful. He is hilarious. He is playful. He’s engaging and engaged. I have more educational resources than some third world villages.
I wonder what it would be like to actually dive into parenting him by assuming the role of educating him. What would it be like to take responsibility for that portion of his life? Well, apparently, I have a lot of ideas.
What if he could learn at home, but go to school most days for recess and specials? How would I ever get breaks? What if I’m really equipped to teach him what he needs to know to become independent? What if he never becomes independent? What might the two of us experience together that bonds us even closer? What would he miss? What would he gain? What if I tried it without being attached to a particular outcome? What if I failed? What if I succeeded?
When I homeschooled the big kids, I was doing FOUR grades at once. And I thought I had to do and be everything to and for each kid. Turns out, I gave them some amazing stuff. Turns out, I missed some big things. Although, my experience homeschooling the big kids doesn’t have to really be related much at all to homeschooling Kepler, if I were to try it.
The biggest challenge I imagine is being isolated. I already am pretty isolated, and that suits me pretty well most of the time. But I do get lonely and I would like to be more connected to people. What if homeschooling him actually led to more connection and less isolation?