“If you are willing, I will be there.”
Thus, the gracious, tender voice of the Holy Spirit came. It was May 2013, and I was at a homeschool convention. I went for one reason: to research math curricula. However, twenty-four hours later, I found myself on the threshold of the most significant parenting decision I had ever made: should I take my five-year-old daughter with Down syndrome out of public school to homeschool her?
Why I Decided to Homeschool My Special Needs Child
Colette had been in kindergarten for eight months at that point. Almost since birth, she had been traveling on what I call “the special needs conveyor belt”: the carrying medium of the educational system for a special needs child.
As with any conveyor belt, there is a drive pulley providing the mode of force for the belt. On this conveyor belt, the drive pulley is the established committee of experts on the care and development of special needs children. Suddenly, you find yourself facing a committee of ten to fifteen strangers, all telling you what their individual goals are for your child. They are the experts, so you mostly trust them.
After a series of divine appointments, I left that convention armed with a new hope that, regardless of what the experts were saying, I could take my little girl off of the conveyor belt and provide for her the environment that she needed in order to thrive. The Holy Spirit had told me that if I was willing, He would be there.
Just as Jesus bade Peter to come out of the boat, He bade me to take Colette out of the system that was failing her.
Classical Education Was the Solution
I had already attempted one year of classical education with my older daughter. I believed in it with all my heart but never imagined in my wildest dreams that such a rigorous education would be attainable for a child with significant cognitive delays.
Imagine my surprise when God began to lead me in that direction. In fact, it was my research for Colette that led me to Classical Conversations. I visited a community in mid-October of 2013. At the end of three hours, the little girl that had been spending the bulk of her day in a time-out chair in kindergarten was reciting Latin conjugations, could point to three different locations on the map, and could tell me about the Age of Absolute Monarchs.
Needless to say, we joined that community, and I spent the remainder of the school year in awe of what Colette was accomplishing.
Is Classical Conversations Suitable for All Special Needs Children?
Well, I barely know where to begin to answer that question, but for now all I will say is that Colette is no longer the school’s mascot for a superficial expression of inclusion. She is, instead, a valued member of her class and a desired Jeopardy review partner.
To find a Classical Conversations community near you, click here.
This post was originally written by Silvana Herbert, a homeschool mom and Classical Conversations Area Representative.