Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Letting Go and Moving Forward

When Amber was young I had expectations and hopes for her future that looked a lot like my own life: parochial school through high school (except I went to a highly rated public school), interests in science, piano lessons, and attendance at a highly respected science university.

Slowly over time I've come to realize that we've tried to raise Amber to be her own person and give her the opportunities to do this, but that philosophy did not match my mental path for her life. In order to allow Amber to be the person she wants to be, I've had to let go of my plans and allow her to guide us.

As you might expect, some of the expectations were easier to give up than others. After all, it was Fred and my decision to homeschool Amber when parochial school clearly became a less than ideal choice. She was more than happy when we presented the option, but we willingly made the change. Adjusting to Amber playing the flute after six years of piano lessons took a little more effort on my part, but I can't begrudge her that change.



Then a little over a year ago Amber announced her desire to work towards an English degree instead of science. She had tried to find a science field to suit her interests and abilities, but the truth of it is that science does not fit her personality while she adores all things language. Again, I felt I did pretty well in accepting and embracing this choice. It had been fairly clear for a while that science was merely a topic she found intriguing in a vaguely superficial way. After making her decision to not pursue a science degree, she was free to be interested in select topics without feeling the need to learn more for the future. 

Unless Amber can be healed of her dysautonomia she will need to go to a local university, however this wasn't a real issue for me. We live in a large metro area with a wide array of private and state universities, most of which are highly respected and rigorous. I was confident Amber could attend one of these universities even if she had to go as a part-time student due to the nature of her dysautonomia (and Ehlers Danlos).

As the time for the ACT and other preparatory testing has begun to approach, Amber is getting more stressed about her future. Timed tests are difficult for her and she will not be able to sit the length without pain. She will need to take medication during the test as it lasts longer than her medication. And she can't concentrate for that long even on a good day since the mental strain fatigues her whole body. This all means we will need to seek testing accommodations, which is not an easy process. Still, I've been researching those options.

Even testing at home is difficult.
Anxiety over college entrance exams has been weighing heavily on Amber and putting her body under additional stress. She can't even think about high school without worry. I had to find a way out of this for her, or she wasn't going to survive eighth grade, much less high school. 

After some searching, I found one local private university that no longer requires either the ACT or SAT. Amber was overjoyed to hear this, but its English program is geared toward those seeking to continue into an advanced education degree. There is an even closer private university in our county that has the perfect English program for Amber, but unfortunately still requires the ACT for incoming first time college students while not for transfer students. 

The answer to our dilemma turned out to be easy if I could let go of my preconceived plan for Amber and chart a path for the amazing child I have, not for a carbon copy of myself. 

Her own path: Crash Course Government
The university with the program better suited to Amber also has a great relationship with our county's community college. They work cooperatively to allow students to take their first two years at the community college and still transfer all credits to the university. There is even a program already in place between the two schools mapping the courses for the degree Amber wants to seek. Best of all, the ACT is optional for the community college which instead provides an alternate un-timed test that can be taken by topic sections in the campus testing facility any day the school is open - no appointments needed. These alternative tests are also not entrance exams, but merely placement tests for a few key subjects to ensure the student is college ready. 

Her own path: Project based high school (sometimes).
For the first time Amber is getting excited about going to college some day. We have a plan that suits her physical abilities instead of mimicking my educational choices. It also gives us more freedom in how we complete her high school credits. IF Amber feels up to the ACT in the coming few years, she may still take the test to ensure doors are not closed that she regrets later. However we aren't going to force the issue if her body can't handle the anxiety. 

This process of letting go has not only allowed Amber to envision her own future, but brought me to a greater appreciation for Amber's many talents and to see how uniquely gifted she truly is.


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Please visit our Blogging Through the Alphabet hosts to read more interesting A to Z topics!
Cristi @ Through the Calm and Through the Storm & Meg @ Adventures with Jude 


Unexpected Homeschool: Middle School Reading List Addendum

4 comments:

  1. I am so glad you found the answer and that it is making Amber more comfortable. I was very sick in my early high school years and then became a mother in my senior year ~ so I missed all of the ACT and SAT tests. Even though I graduated valedictorian, it made since to go the community college route into a university. There are lots of reasons why people end up taking that route.
    Blessings, Dawn

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  2. It's wonderful that you have done so much research to find many options for her. It sounds like you've landed on a good goal and one that she can embrace. Way to go mama!

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  3. I think it's great that you started researching early and you are aware of all the options that not only meet her needs, but fit her desires too! I also think it's great that she has such clear goals already!

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  4. Sounds like a plan, and a very good one at that :)

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