Dominican Republic native María Cabrera couldn’t stop crying when her son, Jeymel, came home from school last January, and asked: “Mom, how long until they stop beating me up?”
Jeymel is a 12-year-old with ADHD who wanted to make the most out of his interests at school, but bullying by peers who mocked his symptoms crushed his confidence and love of learning.
“They would beat him up, tell him he was no good, and that he would never learn,” María said.
María couldn’t enroll him in a special needs school, because there weren’t any in her family’s area. So, when the elementary years arrived, she enrolled him in a public school. The bullying began in middle school.
“He wanted to be himself and learn, but they wouldn’t let him,” she said. “Our family has suffered a lot because of people labeling him.”
María grew more and more troubled as she noticed Jeymel suffering too much at school. She cried constantly and prayed to God for a solution. As she started researching different options for his education, she came across homeschooling and HSLDA on the internet.
“This is the light the Lord sent me to start homeschooling,” she said.
However, she and her husband didn’t really have any resources to implement this educational alternative at home. They both work full time for their church’s ministry, and they didn’t have any extra money.
So María wrote to HSLDA and asked about the possibility of receiving financial aid to become an HSLDA member and receive support from our educational consultants to start homeschooling Jeymel.
HSLDA is committed to helping homeschoolers living outside the United States by connecting them with legal resources and local networks of support. Any homeschooler living in a different country can become a member of HSLDA and receive the support of our experienced educational consultants throughout their homeschooling journey.
Marilú Herrera, membership representative, and Amy Majors, grant administrator, were happy to help María with her membership financial aid application. Both Marilú and Amy are part of our Spanish Bilingual Team at HSLDA, and they serve Spanish-speaking families with membership and grant guidance, respectively.
“They were able to give me the financial aid I needed,” María said. “I’m very thankful to Marilú and Amy. I’m not great with technology, but I remember Marilú saying, ‘We’ll help you.’”
Flourishing in unexpected ways
María started homeschooling Jeymel by the end of March. And it wasn’t long before she witnessed a profound transformation in his ability and desire to learn.
Jeymel used to struggle to pay attention, because of his ADHD. However, since María started homeschooling him with the help of HSLDA’s educational consultants, Jeymel has been able to focus in an unprecedented way.
Dr. Rochelle Matthews-Somerville, special needs educational consultant, and Marialena Zachariah, bilingual educational consultant, advised María that she could teach Jeymel at a rhythm most beneficial to him, and with an emphasis on his strengths.
And when María told them she was struggling to teach him certain subjects (like math), they sent her resources in Spanish—including curriculum and ADHD resources—that proved to be very helpful to Jeymel’s homeschooling.
“My son has grown more and more passionate about math thanks to the resources Marialena sent us,” María said.
Jeymel’s artistic talents have also flourished in unexpected ways.
He loves painting, crafting, exploring, creating comics, and composing music. He also enjoys learning about the solar system and history—he has read four history books in these past two months!
“My son was like a tiny fish in a fishbowl, and now he’s been released into the sea,” María said.
Jeymel’s exceptional talents have not only surprised María, but his teachers as well. According to María, three of his teachers (including his music and art professors) think he might be twice exceptional. And after completing a neuroeducation course, María thinks so as well.
More than a label
As a mom of a special needs child, María said it’s hard to think there might be a different solution to teaching one’s kid.
“We tend to stick to the medical diagnostic and stop looking for other alternatives,” she said.
Homeschooling has helped her understand that her child is “more than a diagnostic, more than a label,” and that his gifts and talents are placed at the service of God, above all.
María was excited to share that Jeymel will show his works of art and sculpture in an art exhibition next September. And she couldn’t stop smiling while talking about how homeschooling Jeymel has been a blessing in these two months.
“God answered my prayers by guiding me to HSLDA,” she said. “I’m happy, happy, happy.”