When I wrote about “the call of God” back in December, I had no idea that He was going to call our family to a new adventure quite so soon. Funny, how He softens our hearts so specifically sometimes.
This particular call didn’t come in the form of a burning bush. No blinding light from the heavens dropped us to our knees and took away our sight. Rather, it was more like a thousand tiny flickers, guiding our path over the past few years. This call came in the form of innumerable consultations and meetings, therapy sessions and observations. Lots of trial and error. Regular reading and research, and plenty of prayer. All culminating in one life-changing conversation in the kitchen.
One evening in mid-January I was washing the dinner dishes and Peter was putting them away when I, once again, expressed my concern about the status quo.
“This isn’t working. Something has to change. Something big.”
Peter knew exactly what “this” was.
For almost four years we have been working with occupational therapists to address our seven-year-old son’s sensory needs. These therapists have created a special sensory diet just for Daryl. We have worked on his sleep habits and eating choices. We have purchased weighted blankets and fidget toys and squishy seats and chewy necklaces and noise-canceling headphones. We have tried so many tricks and techniques that I often wonder—are we doing more harm than good? But such is the way with Sensory Processing Disorder.
For all of those four years, Daryl has been attending a wonderful Christian school in a nearby town. The faculty and staff at the school have bent over backwards to help us and to help him. But despite their hard work and gracious accommodations, it was becoming increasingly clear that the traditional classroom setting just isn’t a place where Daryl can learn well right now.
Peter’s response to me that January night betrayed his own feelings of frustration. He looked at me and said, “All right then. We’ll spend spring break getting our house ready to sell. We’ll move into the city and find a little apartment near Moody (where we both teach). And we’ll homeschool.”
As drastic as these ideas sound, they weren’t new. We’d talked hypothetically about them many times. But in that moment Peter was finally ready to make a move. I was too.
(I’ll write more about the decision to sell our house and move into Chicago in a future post. That part is complicated, and we’re still working it out.)
But the decision to homeschool was surprisingly simple in the end. It came down to one word really.
Both sensory and Biblical.
At home we can provide Daryl with the sensory input he needs throughout the day. We can activate his core with pushing and pulling before we sit down to work. We can eliminate visual stimulus when it seems to distract him and take him off task. Or we can find a field and hunt for grasshoppers in our suspenders and bow tie if we feel so inclined. We can go at his pace—which varies from day to day. When he’s regulated, we can soar through the subjects. When he’s dysregulated, we can stop and start again.
At home we can also help Daryl construct a Biblical worldview through every subject we teach. When we teach science, we can examine God’s incredible creation. When we study math, we can marvel at the God of order. When we read and write, we can worship our communicative Lord. And so on. We believe that this sort of foundation is one of the most important gifts we can give our kids, so it had to be a priority.
As of today, we’ve been a homeschooling family for one whole month.
Certainly, we have a lot to learn. We have good days and difficult days, but—by the grace of God, so far—absolutely no regrets.