My oldest daughter just turned four. I was stunned when I realized she is eligible to start kindergarten in September. But my daughter won’t be going to school.
We recently took her for allergy testing and discovered that her dairy allergy has gotten 30 times worse. We know she had anaphylaxis to dairy but we hoped that she would have outgrown this allergy. The headlines in early January confirmed our decision… Ammaria Johnson, 7, of Virginia died of an anaphylaxis reaction while at school.
Before you continue to read this, I ask you not to pass judgment, to put yourself in our shoes and try to understand why we have decided to homeschool our daughter.
First of all, I do not trust very many people with my daughter’s life. Sorry… but I don’t. It may seem strong or harsh but unless someone has first-hand experience with anaphylaxis (like our immediate family or friends with anaphylaxis children) I don’t trust them. It takes one forgetful moment and my daughter could go into anaphylaxis shock. More importantly is the reaction time it would take to respond to an anaphylaxis reaction… unless someone is experienced with anaphylaxis, I just can’t trust them.
Secondly, schools, for the most part, have been diligent with educating families about nut and peanut allergies but my daughter has a dairy allergy. She would be exposed to dairy constantly! It would take one split second for a child to share a treat with my daughter and that would be it. Unfortunately, dairy and dairy by-products are in so many food products. In addition, schools don’t appear to have enough plans and policies in place to protect children with anaphylaxis.
Lastly, my daughter was one when she had her last anaphylaxis reaction… far too young to instill a knowledge/fear of another exposure. She is a spirited child. Hence, as much as we tell her to not accept food from others, she does not heed our warnings (we’ve safely “tested” this a number of times).
So we’re homeschooling. Some people many think we’re being overprotective. Others may judge us and think we’re not giving our child the practical experiences she needs… but this is what we have to do. I think as parents, we are a good judge of what our child(ren) can and can not handle. Our daughter knows her alphabet, counts to 100, recognizes a variety of words, and knows her shapes and her colours. She is mentally ready for school but she does not know how to say no… and this makes her not ready for school.
I have to admit, there is a part of me that grieves that I won’t see my child in Christmas concerts and that I won’t have the opportunity to belong to the PTA or volunteer on field trips. There’s a part of me that gets sad when I talk to people who have their children in playschool. How I wish my daughter could have the opportunity to connect with a large group of peers and get invited to birthday parties! I’m also saddened that we won’t have that teary first day of kindergarten… when I look on and watch my baby walk into her classroom with an over-sized backpack propped up on her shoulders.
However, for peace of mind, for now, this is the route we’re taking. I just hope that others can understand and respect the choice that we’ve made.