September 27, 2016
Homeschooled Heroes: Determined Not to Fail
“He will never make it academically, get used to it,” the principal and teachers declared to Josh and Susan (not their real names). After two years in a special needs preschool program and one year of public school, education professionals explained that putting their son, Nathan, in a specific class for behavioural children was the only option. This class did not offer the education that his parents desperately longed for him to have.
Looking back at her own experience in the public education system, Susan realized she did not want to put her children in that situation. She had struggled academically in high school and was informed she was not good enough and was going to fail. When Susan began to progress, she was unfairly suspected of cheating and confronted by the school principal. She was given the option of staying or leaving. If she dropped out, the school would give her a passing grade, but if she chose to continue with her classes, they would have her fail. Susan left school early, with a Grade 10 level of education. She was not going to give up on her son.
When he was born, Nathan was like any other infant. During toddler hood, his parents discovered that, unlike other children his age, Nathan could not speak. At age three, his parents took him to the children’s hospital in Calgary and scheduled appointments with physio and speech therapists. Little progress was made. As he reached school age, his parents struggled with the local school system. Nathan longed to read and write for himself, and would sit in the library for hours looking at picture books. His parents faced giving up or striving to find a better option for educating their son. When he was seven years old, his father proposed the idea of homeschooling to Nathan’s mother and Nathan was brought home to learn. Nathan was diagnosed with an expressive and receptive language disorder at age eight, meaning he could not speak coherently and had difficulties expressing himself. Later, it was determined that his younger siblings, along with the mother, all had a mild case of this disability. However, the family largely outgrew this learning challenge due to homeschooling.
Starting off was extremely difficult. Susan spent the first few months ill and expecting twins, but that did not hinder her confidence in Nathan or her faith in God. No matter how long it took, she would support her son, encourage him, and learn new approaches to help him understand. Within two months of being at home, Nathan could read and write words as long as eight letters.
The journey was challenging, but rewarding as Nathan progressed steadily. Susan chose a program that allowed all of her children to work at their own individual paces. Nathan is now 20 years old and working at a Grade 10 level, enjoying history and politics, consuming literature, and gaining excellent writing and artistic skills. He will spend numerous amounts of time engaging in political conversations with his father, and even more time on the Internet or reading books acquiring information on historical events. Among other interests, Nathan studies Algebra, Social Studies, English, and Biology, which is his favourite. Nathan continues to excel and hopes to graduate in two or three years. Looking back, his mother explains that anything is possible. All you need is love, determination, good character, and the willingness to ask God for guidance daily. After all, his parents were told that Nathan would not make it past Grade 1.
Galatians 6:9 (NIV) “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Printed in Court Report & Communiqué Summer 2011
Written by Leanna Getty