School’s In

special needs education

I have a love-hate relationship with school. On the one hand, the children get to learn and a routine is established. On the other hand, there is the constant chase. You know, the “time to get up,” “are you ready yet,” “what did you learn today,” “did you get your homework done,” and  “time for bed” chase.

Our five children have different school schedules. I guess that’s what happens when you have 5 children, 4 campuses and 3 different schools. For us, we had to pick the schools that would give our children the best chance at learning. The children with special needs have to have the right environment and the right help.

It took some research and some reconnaissance, but we found schools that were good fits for each child.

Take Levi for example. When he graduated from 8th grade we had to make a decision on High School. The district school had over 1,500 students in it. For Levi, that’s a big number. He doesn’t really like big crowds, so we went looking. We visited three charter schools plus the district school. As a team we decided on one of the charter schools and it has proven to be a good choice. The number of students is small. There is more opportunity for better friendships and participating in extracurricular activities such as soccer.

Grace has been a challenge. Her fetal alcohol syndrome and cerebral palsy have led to difficulties in learning. A couple of years ago we had to make the difficult decision to place her in an self-contained classroom. This meant leaving the local elementary school and going to another that is further away. Grace was excited because she gets to ride the bus, the only one of our children who does. It won’t be long before we are faced with another decision about her education once she “graduates” from 6th grade. We may need to home school her at that point.

Two years ago we moved Sam from the local school district to a charter school. We felt it had a better special education department. We found out if we didn’t move him in 6th grade we might not have been able to move him in 7th. However, with his recent diagnosis of CVID and the ramifications of that disorder and medicine, it looks like we will need to home school him. School is not comfortable right now and he tends to miss a lot of days due to his condition.

Ellie moved from the local school district to a charter school in 7th grade. After Levi’s experiences in the school district’s middle school, we felt it would be better for Ellie to move. Also, several of her friends moved to the same charter school. Ellie has done well, even if she has a lot of homework every night.

Lia needed a challenge. She also needed a different environment. When Sam and Ellie moved to the same charter school, we moved Lia also. She has excelled there and we feel like it has been the right move.

All of this organizing of schools and needs can leave things crazy at our house. We have been fortunate enough to get carpools and scheduling so that things run semi-smoothly. Still, with 3 different schools and 3 special needs children, my love-hate relationship with school endures.

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I'm a father of five adopted children, three of whom have special needs. Life is an adventure! Soccer is my pastime when I'm not doing things with my family.

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