February 21, 2010

Does Sesame Street Count As School? Homeschooling a Chronically Ill Child

 My son Dylan is 8 now. He was born without an immune system. We literally have our very own " boy in the bubble" ( although he is MUCH cuter than John Travolta, or even Jake Gylenhall ). Basically, anything and everything in this world that can make you sick.... Dylan has had it. We visit the doctor weekly. We visit the hospital way more than you should ever have to. He has a team of doctors for every aspect ( I think one in each specialty!) and he goes through more medical stuff then most adults can even dream of.

We await the dreaded appointment that will be this wednesday... the supposed "best" pediatric immunologist is working with an immunology scientist and together, they will tell us what exactly is wrong with our son. Eight years now we have visited countless doctors and all they can tell us is, there is nothing we can do.

We have waited eight months for this appointment. What will they tell us? Who knows. But for now, we continue on, doing everything we can to protect Dylan. He can't have vaccinations, because he ends up getting the disease that they are trying to protect him from. So mommy and daddy get the vaccinations, and
mommy and daddy get flu shots and pneumonia shots and all that, trying to protect him from getting it. So it was quite obvious from the time he was born that we were going to homeschool.

But "school" is different when you have a child that is constantly sick, a child that could be critically ill at any moment, a child who, could even die. You look at things differently. Do you want him to be perfectly caught up with his public school peers, or do you want him to be happy with learning and love it? Do you want to study all of the things he is "supposed" to know at his age, or do you study what fascinates him and makes him happy. Then you deal with the fact that most days, he feels awful and it is very hard to concentrate on math, when you have tubes being shoved down your throat and nose, or you are hooked up to a nebulizer.

So, my question is, does Sesame Street count as school for the day?? In all of my wonderful wisdom, haha, I am going to say absolutely! Here is why. When you are caught up in the day to day tasks of making sure he gets his nineteen daily meds four times a day, making sure that he is not dealing with something worse then daily life, and also trying to make sure that his beautiful sisters are caught up in their schoolwork, etc. you have to make priorities.

My number one priority in my life is to keep my son alive and feeling well. My second priority is to make sure that he is learning the gospel and learning to trust his Father in Heaven. My third priority is his "formal" education. They go in that order and to me, that is what is best. So is teaching my son the gospel a form of education? Yep. Is letting him lounge on the couch and watch sesame street a form of education? Absolutely. Is letting him study a bug a form of education? You guessed it! Finger painting, reading a good book, listening to classical music, laying in bed and having mommy say "whats 5x7?", writing a letter to a penpal, these are all school for us. Learning happens in many different ways. Do we sit down and do formal school work out of textbook? Yes we do. But it doesnt happen every day for eight hours. There is no way it can. My son is not strong enough. But there are so many things he CAN do.

The most important thing about schooling your chronically ill child is this:  When he gets to Heaven, will he be able to look at his Savior and say he loved learning and did the best he could? I think at this point in Dylan's life, he would defintely be able to say that. With a smile on his face. That is the wonderful thing about homeschooling. You can tailor it to your families special needs.That is why I personally feel very strongly about homeschooling your chronically ill child. Especially if that child has a rough life, and is constantly in pain, or could possibly go to be with his Heavenly Father much sooner than any person should. You have to let them live life to the very fullest. That is why I feel that watching Sesame Street defintely counts as school!!!

JL is a mom to three babies- living the crazy life. She is the owner of  LDS ForeverFamilies and is the founder of the LDS penpal program. She recently published her first book on LDS homeschooling.

3 comments - Add a comment below -:

- Dana ♥ said...

I like the way you prioritize Jaelle! ☺

Dawn said...

As a mother with a 15 year old with severe special needs I would like to say: "Amen to that sister!"

Anonymous said...

Well said, thank you!