This past Friday we received news that we had long been waiting for.
For the past couple of years, as we've discussed education for our children, one of the unknowns was whether or not K would receive adequate funding to safely and meaningfully attending school. In Manitoba, children that have learning difficulties and disabilities are eligible for funding from the government so that they can attend school with the support of an educational assistant (now called inclusion workers). Funding is available in three levels -
Level 1 being resource hours/support (think 20-30 minutes outside of the classroom, receiving one-on-one help);
Level 2 being 3 hours (out of a 6.5 hour day) that is assisted with an inclusion worker (safety first, meaning first lunch and/or recess is covered, then any other time that might be a hazard, like gym class, and then any remaining minutes are used as support in the classroom - likely 30-60 minutes out of 5ish hours of direct "learning time");
Level 3 considered "full time funding" (6 hours out of a 6.5 hour day) that is supervised. This is ideal, especially for K, particularly in the early years. Covers both inside and outside classroom time.
Based on what we knew of the system, we suspected it was not very likely that K would receive full-time funding (usually reserved for students with behavioral issues and/or medical needs that require more attentive care). We thought, at best, K would receive Level 2 funding, possibly for a year, maybe two, at which point we would have to reapply, and possibly not receive any funding at all. We knew we would not be comfortable with part-time funding in the long run, and were seriously considering the learn-at-home lifestyle. I've been busy researching options and ideas, consulting with our various therapists (who, aside from whatever personal opinion they might have, are actually very supportive, which is surprising to me!) and setting up a possible "game plan" that might help us navigate this particular situation.
Then the phone call came.
"And the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry."
The teacher from the school's resource department called to share the news that K was granted full-time funding for the FIRST THREE YEARS of her education!
I was totally stunned. What? I thought to myself, trying to mentally calculate this. The resource teacher informed me that this covers her until the end of grade two. For three years we have an idea of what the "game plan" will be; for three years we don't have to go through those funding meetings that are hard on your head and heart.
I am EXCITED for K and all she will learn and adapt to in the coming years.
I am THRILLED that we don't have to navigate those funding meetings again for quite a while (and a lot can change in that while too!).
I am THANKFUL for this provision that God has given to us. It is a gift.
Except.... except.... except........ this "game plan" was different from the one I'd been envisioning. I can still keenly recall the moment I prayed, "Lord, it would be an honor to teach my children at home. If you think that this is what is best, I pray that you would make it so." Oh the sense of relief I felt after months of wrestling! And though I did my thorough research and homework, never once did I feel the pressure to convince anyone (aka Jon or M!) - I simply trusted that if this is what was best, they soon would share the same convictions I did. It was such a great learning opportunity.
As we began to look toward this coming year, as we navigated our way through the first year of learning at home, with all it's ups and downs, as we waited for funding, I began to believe that while we would send K to kindergarten part time, and M to grade 2 full time, in a year or so we'd be back into learning at home. And it was an idea that really resonated positively with me! I was very excited about the direction I thought the LORD might be taking us in.
But sometimes, when God opens one door, He closes another.
M really wants to go to public school too, and unless there is a dramatic change of heart, we see no reason why she shouldn't. K will be able to attend school safely for three years, unless we really determine that this is not best at all.
It has taken me some time to absorb this. And though I am grateful for God's timing and provision, I am grieving in a way, sad that this journey will be taking a different direction than I'd envisioned. I was reminded of Paul's journeys - and times when he was clearly prevented from going in a direction in which he'd set out. For example, Acts 16:6-10. I can't remember where I'd read it, but it talked about Paul's passion for heading out to Asia --- instead, God had different plans. It's not that Paul's passion was misdirected or mistaken in any way, but God was going to redirect it, at least for the time being.
Sometimes I wonder - God, this is such a good thing! Teaching our children at home has many benefits. Are we moving in the right direction by moving away from it? And then there is a gentle reassurance --- This funding has been a provisional gift (and very unexpected!). We are free to embrace it. When God opens one door, He does sometimes close another ---- only to open yet another. My understanding is that God may choose to invest my time and energies elsewhere, knowing that my children are well cared for, and my responsibility for them shifts a little, at least for the time being.
Would I love to come back to this!? Yes. At the moment :), I could see us embracing this lifestyle again down the line. And who knows where God will lead next!!?
We can only hold this journey with open hands, doing our part to learn and listen and obey, and watching Him do the rest!