I have 2 children, T and T. T1 is a boy, 11, and T2 is a girl, 9. They are wonderful children, I love them dearly. T2 – she is smart, funny, eager to please, a good girl all around, loves school, everyone loves her, has more friends than she can handle, plays the violin, dances jazz and ballet, is an awesome Brownie. She wants to learn to play the piano, wants to be a teacher when she grows up, and she loves her family. I’ll tell you more about her later.
T1 – he is smart, funny,a good boy, loves to skateboard, plays baseball and has a hankering for cars. T1 doesn’t have many friends, has hated school since 1st grade, has ADHD. We’ve been in denial about his ADHD, believing he was just a boy, more so than most boys (that doesn’t even make sense!). In his first pre-school when he was 4 we were told he couldn’t stay in that school because he was too much too handle, and they were afraid for his safety as well as the other children. His next school, in Jr. Kindergarten, we were invited to a seminar about ADHD, which quickly evolved into a discussion about medications. We were not willing to medicate a 4 year old boy.
Every year since, 2 weeks into school we were summoned to meet with his teachers and asked “What can we do to get through to this boy?”. Of course we didn’t have many answers, expecting the teachers to be the experts. And he hated school, acted out, and every friend he would make he would lose, because of his inability to control himself or his emotions. He became alienated at school because children didn’t want to be around a bad boy. He was being teased, but he was always louder and was always the one who got caught. He was a marked boy.
Since the second grade we’ve been telling his teachers that he is really struggling with math, that he can’t add – we were always told he was on level or just a bit below and needed to work harded, that they just didn’t see a problem. Finally, in 4th grade his teacher and the LD support teacher agreed, T1 couldn’t add. They agreed to have him tested for learning disabilities. Guess what? He has a math learning disorder. At the end of 4th he received and IEP. Hopefully some relief.
T1 started 5th grade this year. It’s an exciting year for 5th graders, the last one in elementary school, big man on campus, all the fun stuff and field trips. 2 weeks into the year he was removed from lunch and recess for teasing (bullying is the hot topic this year in our county) and had to dine with the only male teacher there. It was supposed to be a consequence, and a learning opportunity, the teacher would be coaching him on appropriate behavior. Coaching turned out to be watching Sponge Bob and surfing on the computer for shoes and skateboards. A week later brought a conference with his teachers, asking, “What can we do?” I left crying, as I usually do after conferences, even TnT Dad was tearing up.
We have found a local private school that specializes in helping children with ADHD, Dyslexia and other learning differences (disabilities). We were able to enroll him because he had received an IEP after 4 years of asking. He was enrolled the very next day.
Let me tell you about this school! The classes are never more than 12 children (at the public school sometimes he was in a class with more than 30). The parents, students and teachers all sign a homework contract. Conferences are held quarterly, meetings with the head of the school, the principal, vice principal are regular occurrences. The teachers return emails and phone calls straight away. The teachers give one-on-one support as needed. They have tutoring on site, homeworkclub, occupational and speech therapy, if needed. They have a special program for students with dyslexia. The principal is a working principal, he is in touch with the students, not caught up in overwhelming adminstrative duties. He knows each students by name, and greats each student every morning.
And here is the most amazing thing – T1 likes school! I can’t say that he loves it, but he likes it. He tries his hardest now, he is getting As in reading, language arts, social studies. And he is getting C+s in math – it could be higher but he has a lot of catching up to do. I picked him up from school last week and he got in the car and asked how many sides does a pentagon have. I told him, and he was disappointed because he realized he got a question wrong on his test. He had NEVER EVER cared about a test he has taken in his life. This school is amazing what they can do with these children.
But this school is expensive, more expensive than any other private school in the area. T1 is so smart, and he is really able to shine now, and succeed. His self esteem is sky rocketing! I said earlier that he plays baseball, but what I didn’t say is that he was always the worst on the team (just ask him, he’ll tell you, after a bit of bravado). His self-confidence has improved so much that he has become a much better player and has become “The Encourager” for the team. I don’t know how we are going to afford it much longer.
Maybe contributions could help. A dollar here, a dollar there.