The Value of Fellowship
By Heather Laurie
My children were tucked into bed. In the silence I stared at the books and workbooks spread across the table in front of me. Two and a half years of trying various reading curricula; workbooks; the newest, best books on the market; and older books I had used as a child were piled in front of me. None of them were working. I cried. I felt so alone and inadequate.
My daughter Isabella still could not read. I was upset that my son’s speech therapist had pointed out that Isabella could not rhyme. She continually flipped letters, numbers, and words. I knew she was smart. Her math and science work were outstanding, but her reading was lagging behind. Where had I gone wrong? Was it my fault she was having so much trouble?
That night sitting there alone and feeling depressed was the only time I truly considered sending my children to public school. I became consumed with all the wrong things. I let the words of others, who were not homeschool friendly, fill my head: “Public schools have teachers that can fix problems like this” or “One month in school and she’ll be reading like a champ!” These comments swirled in my head, feeding my self-doubt.
I shared my concerns with a Christian sister. She, too, homeschooled, and she asked me a simple question: “Why do you homeschool?” That simple question brought me back to my senses. As parents the Lord has placed the responsibility of teaching them upon my husband and me. We are asked to teach our children in a manner that exalts the Lord. The Lord made no exceptions for special needs; He called us to teach all His children.
In talking with my friend, I realized that I was missing a vital component to my homeschooling: fellowship. I needed others to talk to who were walking the same path that I was walking. I decided to look for Godly support. I needed to search for fellow Christians that I could share and pray with, refreshing and renewing our commitment to homeschool.
I started with my husband. I had not told him about the fear in my heart. My husband, Chris, told me he had faith in our ability to homeschool our children regardless of their strengths or weaknesses. Chris reminded me that there were no easy fixes for most learning problems. He encouraged me to maintain the persistent, steady pace we had set. He formed the base of my support.
Then I looked to my church. I formed several friendships that I could turn to for Godly support. I looked to the local support group and the state groups in my area to make more connections. I found a Christian co-op that was starting near my home. These sources were good for me in a general sense. However, most of the ladies involved didn’t understand the problems we were having. By this time I had learned that my daughter had dyslexia. It was hard for some to understand that Isabella couldn’t just work harder and make her problems disappear, but I was never made to feel that my daughter or I was wrong. The problem was a lack of support because of a lack of experience in the area of special needs.
My children have a genetic disorder, and as the year passed this became more evident. Three of my children were diagnosed with forms of autism. Consequently, the co-op and many play groups were no longer options for us. My support systems shook again. I asked the Lord to provide the fellowship I needed.
Then I received the summer edition of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine. I loved the articles and wished I could sit and chat with the writers. I noticed that most of the writers had www.HomeschoolBlogger.com (HSB) accounts. The Lord had provided the support I was seeking! Here was a community of homeschoolers of all experience levels with a wide variety of styles and needs. I had found fellowship at last.
I have found the HSB community to be a balm to my soul. Homeschooling my special needs children has been one the most rewarding things I have ever done. It can also be uncomfortable. I have received more criticism for homeschooling my children since finding out about their medical and learning problems.
My journey to find fellowship and support has left me with a fire in my heart to reach out to other special needs homeschoolers. I have found HSB to be a place to stop in for encouragement at any time of the day. When the children are sick and I need support or have a prayer request, I know right where to go. I have my own blog now to reach out and share our homeschooling experience, www.HomeschoolBlogger.com/gfcfmomofmany/. I also host the Special Words for Special Needs blog on the Company Porch at HSB, www.HomeschoolBlogger.com/HSBCompanyBlog/specialneeds/.
When I found out I was hosting the Special Words for Special Needs blog, I praised the Lord. My husband and I have prayed that the storms in our lives would lead to sharing God’s grace with others. I believe this is a wonderful opportunity to support, encourage, and inform the special needs homeschooling community.
There is no reason to travel this journey alone. You can homeschool your child—with all of his strengths and all of his weaknesses. I pray I can help you reach beyond merely “existing” to helping your children thrive!
Heather Laurie is the host for Special Words for Special Needs—On the Company Porch at www.HomeschoolBlogger.com. She and her husband homeschool their five children, who have a genetic disorder that has left them with many special needs. Heather is also learning to live with lupus. To find out more about Heather, visit her blog at www.HomeschoolBlogger.com/gfcfmomofmany/.
Copyright 2009. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Summer 2009.
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