I was a sophomore in high school when my parents and I agreed to home-school me during the winter months. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision, but a necessary one nevertheless.
In January of that year, I had been hospitalized with double pneumonia for the first time in almost a decade. The fight was ugly. In some way, I was grateful for not having been admitted to a hospital in such a long time. After all, in the world of SMA, that is a major milestone.
At the same time though, my body took a huge beating from an illness with a serious vengeance. I was in the intensive care unit for two weeks fighting for every breath. It took me weeks to recover. And I even experienced irreversible muscle weakness due to being bedridden for such a long period.
With my resistance being so low for the first time in years, home schooling seemed like the best approach for me to continue my education while nursing my body back to health. After some trial and error, my family and I decided to continue this practice during each cold and flu season for the remainder of my high school career.
From then on, I hunkered down from January to April, had someone bring my schoolwork home to me, and taught myself to the best of my abilities. The school system provided me with a tutor once a week, but taking five honors courses meant I had to be my own teacher if I wanted to keep up.
So, while I studied Western civilization, I also learned discipline. I hit the books for six hours a day, if not more. I turned to my brother with complex calculus problems and asked friends for class notes. I stuck to the syllabus I was provided and made sure not to fall behind. I handed in my assignments to my tutor as she handed me an even bigger pile of work each time. Begrudgingly and without a choice, I did this for more than three months each school year.
In hindsight, I don’t regret this decision. Not only did it ensure I stayed healthy, but it also built character. While academics were my main focus, learning to stay disciplined, work smarter, and become self-sufficient were other rewards I received from home schooling. I then applied these tools in college and beyond.
During my high school years, Zoom didn’t exist. My school didn’t provide laptops to students, and online learning was a novel concept to many (although I did suggest it frequently). Those times were much different than they are today. And with virtual learning playing an integral role in our new normal, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share my relatable, albeit different, experiences with home schooling.
I will always favor in-person learning over home schooling without question. And it is with great hope that all students are able to return to school safely in the near future. But as someone who attended school from her dining room table to avoid getting sick, I’ve witnessed firsthand that it is possible to earn an education from the safety of a person’s own home.
Despite the challenges, it is possible to persevere in the name of education during these trying times.
Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.
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