I announced on my personal blog yesterday that—after two and a half years of various arrangements for homeschooling through middle school—my son is going to start attending public high school, next month. My readers were unflaggingly supportive in response, mostly because my readers are awesome.
I am a lot of things (not all of them good, either), but I’m not dumb. I know that, in many ways, the decision to return a young autistic teenager to a crowded, diverse public school mid-year after years of homeschooling might appear… a little crazy. Heck, I’m willing to admit that it might be a little crazy. We have our reasons, though. And hopefully when all is said and done, it will work. Here’s what I’ve learned in the last few years of our flexible schooling that made it all possible:
There’s no such thing as the “wrong choice”
Please don’t take that as a blanket proclamation; I’m talking about when it comes to schooling and using our best resources to make those decisions, obviously. I don’t regret a single one of the schooling choices we’ve made for my son over the last three years, from keeping him in public school when things were rough to pulling him out to going to an almost-entirely-online curriculum. Each decision was made after weighing the available options and my son’s readiness at the time. None of them were perfect, but all of them brought him along to where he is now. When something stopped being the best fit, we made a different choice. Being able to adapt and not being married to any one choice as The Single Perfect Answer (don’t laugh; I totally would’ve believed that existed, years ago) has allowed us to give my son both a variety of experiences and render him a lot more flexible than he was when we started down this path. That’s huge for anyone, but especially a kid on the spectrum.
Do what works, not what “should” work
While the reactions to starting him back in public school mid-year have varied, some have clucked their tongues and suggested that’s a really tough way to transition back, and are we sure we don’t want to wait until next August? We’re sure. We’re sure in part because he’s ready now, and making him wait an entire additional semester has no benefit I can see. Mostly we’re sure because transitions are brutal for my son no matter when they happen, and to let him get the lay of the high school land and find his way mid-year is actually going to be easier, for him. He will feel like he sticks out no matter what; that’s just how it’s going to be, at first. But knowing that he only has to make it until May vs. “well, good luck for the next ten months” will be for him a much more manageable proposition. Read More