I've made the decision that come June, when school ends and I'm laid off I will not be returning to work. It's six months and it seems too long to wait, but I don't want to screw anyone over in the middle of the school year so I'm going to tough it out as best I can. The plan is for Chuck to get a full time job and I'll work part time in the evenings here and there so I don't lose my mind from being at home all the time.
We've also decided to homeschool. I know he's only one, but we've been thinking about it since before he was born and with his special needs and my passion for learning and sharing knowledge it seems like the best possible option. I'd rather be the one making sure he is learning and getting all the supports he needs than trust some person I barely know with his education, medication and his future. When he's old enough he can make the decision for himself if he wants to go to public school or continue to be homeschooled.
Honestly I am still not happy about going back to work on Monday, but I think it will make it easier knowing that I have some idea of what we want to do and having a date on the calendar for my last day will make things easier. I guess it just came down to the decision that my child is what is most important to me. We've been surviving so far on one full time and one barely part-time income so I'm confident we'll be able to manage with the two of us switched around, and Chuck would have no problem getting a job as an EA or a CCA in a school.
I can't wait to be able to spend so much time with Skyler, teaching him, helping him learn about the world around him and letting him explore it in his own way, seeing things the way that only he can see them. Perhaps I am just nostalgic about the time I spent with N, teaching her one on one and watching her grow and discover the world around her. I want to share those experiences with my son.
Another reason I want to be the one to teach him is I have had instruction in the way that blind kids learn, and the best ways to encourage them to explore the world around them. Honestly working in the school system and being acquaintances with people who work as EA's I have seen and heard things I utterly dislike and I worry about my child being subjected to them. In December I was passing by the room next to our kindergarten room (which is a special needs resource room) and I saw an EA yelling at a special needs child. She was extremely angry that the girl had run ahead of her in the hallway. She was frustrated, and I understand human emotions and human flaws but honestly the way she was treating this child (who was screaming and clearly upset and scared by the anger of her EA) just sickened me. I wanted to say something, to do something, but I felt powerless. I made the decision to inform my supervisor and to keep an eye on it and see if it happens again. (The school and the daycare basically have nothing to do with each other, we're separate entities even though we share a building, so it was out of our hands, except to let someone in the school know.)
I also have spoken to an old acquaintance of mine I went to university with who now works as an EA in an elementary school, and her special needs student is a blind child. This woman has no training regarding blindness, does not know how to read Braille, and basically informed me that she spends most of her time photocopying things and making the print huge and that she thinks it's annoying. She was also judgemental about the child's family and how they handled his visual impairments.
One of the people I work with is also an inclusion worker, and while she is a wonderful person and very intelligent and is amazing when working with a large group of children, had the title of inclusion worker thrust upon her without her knowledge (Basically was hired and told after the fact that "oh by the way you're going to be an inclusion worker"). She had no prior training or knowledge about special needs of any kind and was not enthusiastic about being an inclusion worker. She has since obtained training and is now comfortable working with the child, but I fear this type of situation happening in my son's case where perhaps it won't end as well.
I think in our case homeschooling is the best option, and I am going to start as soon as I finish work in June. How do you homeschool a toddler? By giving him every opportunity to play and explore the world around him of course! Read him stories, sing him songs, show him pictures, and let him feel the words in his books with his fingers. I think he will learn by experiencing things more than by just being told to memorize things and repeat what's told to him. Plus that's so boring. Who wouldn't want to follow their own interests and learn by hands on activities and experiences?
Now if only I could get him back on some semblance of a schedule.. I hate the holidays for that. Everyone wants you to stay out late, they wonder why we leave at 9:30pm and we tell them the baby needs his sleep and they look at us like we're idiots. And as a result of him staying up until 10pm for several nights he refuses to go to sleep. We put him to bed tonight at 8pm (after yet another family dinner which we left early) and he has been awake in his crib, talking and yelling this entire time, it is now midnight and he has yet to sleep for even 10 minutes.. Oh it's going to be a long long week..