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Am I being proactive or over reacting?

post #1 of 58
Thread Starter 

Dd, 9 yo, is Gifted with learning differences.  Her grades are reasonable, not as good as they probably should be - mostly Bs, a few As, the odd C.  Her work habits are, by the public school's estimation, in need of improvement.  She works very hard, but gets lost & confused and doesn't know what to do.  We are finding that we are often re-teaching her at home. She goes to a tutor, she has an IEP and gets as much support as we can get her in class.  I advocate for her as much as I can. 

 

The problems here are that her grades do not reflect her knowledge, her anxiety has been sky high (crying about going to school, shutting down and refusing to do homework, incredibly grumpy when she gets home etc.) , and she is not getting her work done.  Her reading is lagging behind and she is getting pressured by other students to skip ahead and copy answers.  The way she is talking about herself is that she's slow, that she can't do it etc. School work has always been tough for her, but she's always been persistent until this year.  It feels like shes giving up. 

 

I have an opportunity to get her into an LD focused school that would be able to address her LD needs and develop her strengths.  I couldn't keep her there for more than a couple years, but maybe that would be enough time to get her work habits on track.  I'm not sure why I'm hesitating, entirely.  Some of me wonders if this is just stuff that all kids have to deal with. I've heard a lot of people saying that school is stressing their kids out and they're under performing.  There are lots of LD kids in the public system that arehaving a much harder time academically.  She's got a great social network there, and I think that generally the staff there is great.  But they seem to be unable to provide the amount of teaching and quiet that my kid seems to need to be happy and learning.  Part of me feels like I'm throwing her under the bus by sending her to an LD specific school, like I'm admitting that she's defective or something. 

 

Does it sound reasonable to go ahead with the private school, despite the cost, or do you think this is just one of those things kids struggle with? 

post #2 of 58
If this is the same kid you describe in today's post (stomachaches and headaches), then yes, I think you should consider something different!

Is an LD specific school the only answer, or are there other private schools in your area?
post #3 of 58
Thread Starter 

It is the same kid, she's been getting phantom stomach aches and stuff for most of the year now.  I told her today that I'm worried, she should be excited and happy to go to school and I'm concerned that she's not.  She said she is happy and excited to go to school, but when she's there her teacher takes the excitement away.  :(  I know she's not the only one struggling in that class, one of her friends (who is also very bright) has had her grades drop a full letter grade almost across the board.  The teacher seems nice, but I think she's in way over her head - she's got a 3/4 split and 6 kids on IEPs.  From what I've seen she's having a hard time keeping her own self sorted never mind teaching the kids how to get through. 

 

That said, there hasn't been a year of school yet where dd hasn't had some kind of anxiety and trouble at school, it's just a matter of degree.

 

My options are go to private school, see if I can get her into the gifted program, or tough it out.  I've researched the private schools fairly thoroughly, and the not LD specific ones are not going to be a good fit - they are too academic & output driven, which will be a bad mix.  The one that is more child focused will not take her because they feel she is too far behind their curriculum.  It only occurred to me that she might qualify for gifted the other day, so I haven't looked into that.  Tough it out seems like a bad plan, it's already disruptive for the whole family and would get worse if there was no hope for change. 

post #4 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jen Muise View Post

It only occurred to me that she might qualify for gifted the other day, so I haven't looked into that.  Tough it out seems like a bad plan, it's already disruptive for the whole family and would get worse if there was no hope for change. 



I have a 2e child as well but it sounds like mine isn't finding school to be as bad of a fit as yours (at least right now).  I don't like the do nothing approach.  The idea of getting her into the gifted program gives me pause as well b/c we've been down this route too.  Do you know what the GT program looks like at her school?  If she's behind academically, I doubt that it is going to be a good fit for her.

 

What we've found, unfortunately, is that GT programs really are geared toward kids who produce quickly, are detail oriented, and who achieve highly (i.e. - high achievers moreso than 2e kids).  We do have our dd in GT programming b/c she is still performing above grade level -- just not on par with where she could be given her IQ scores if there weren't something standing in the way.  What we've had to do is work diligently with dd on ways to overcome her issues such as severe lack of attn to detail, focus, and divergent reading of instructions so she can show at least some of what she can do.

 

Do you know specifically what type of LD you are dealing with?  Is the tutor working with her on strategies to deal with her LD so she can perform better in school?  Would the LD specific school be better able to help her learn those strategies than would the tutor?

 

I guess that I'd be inclined to look a little closer at the LD school to see if it might be a fit to get her back on her feet in terms of compensating for her challenges.  Do they have any other 2e kids?  Would she be eligible to be in GT programming when she re-entered the public school system if a few years at the LD school helped her achievement come up significantly?  Would the LD school be able to offer advanced work to go along with the support for her weaknesses?

 

 

 

post #5 of 58

Are you sure she isn't truly struggling?  I found that I overestimated what my dd could do by quite a bit, especially in math, because she could do the work at home with my explanations and support.  I was giving too much support though and she wasn't able to fully understand the concepts she was learning.  I was very resistant to getting her any help and her school was very lax about pushing for testing but I finally did bring her in to an independent testing center and found out she was seriously behind in math and had some gaps to work on in reading as well (though she could easily read but not always comprehend high level material). 

 

We all want to think our kid is gifted, and really all kids do excel in something.  I really regret letting myself get so stuck on the idea of her being gifted though because I interpreted her struggle to understand and do her work as boredom when it was really frustration because she seriously didn't understand the material. 

 

I don't know that I would go to the extreme of putting her in a school with primarily children with learning disabilities because the pace might be slower to meet their needs rather than faster.  I think you really need to see the classroom she would be in first hand and ask about how differentiation is done.  A lot of times when kids are separated out based on abilities the children who are struggling just get further and further behind their peers.  There will also be labeling that will happen and that may be more damaging to her self-image and cause her to resist more.  I think you really need to get more information about what is going on with her than talk with her about options before going ahead with a decision.

 

If you can afford it tutoring may be a good option for her.  This is the one I chose for my dd and I am very happy with the decision because the center she goes to has been able to help her make fast and long term progress while also building up her confidence so she feels happier with education and with her abilities. 

post #6 of 58

Just a quick note because I read more about this situation on another forum: the OP's dd has had independent IQ testing done and does meet the diagnostic criteria for giftedness. That's not to say she isn't struggling ... gifted kids can really struggle with some things, whether due to anxiety, uneven giftedness, a lack of developmental readiness, an unusual learning style, or dual exceptionalities. But struggling or not, on paper Jen's dd does show clear evidence of intellectual giftedness.

 

Miranda

post #7 of 58
Thread Starter 

Yes, I might be biased for sure, but she has been identified in a psych-ed report as gifted.  To hear her talk, you would think she is very bright, and most people (teachers included) are very surprised that she has any issues with output and reading.  When you get past the overwhelm and ask the right questions, she clearly does understand the material - just not always what she's being asked to do, or how to do it. The LD school I have in mind for her is able to handle her giftedness, the school takes a teach the child not the curiculum approach & so works to advance where the kids are at whether they are ahead or behind of where they 'should' be.   I am far more concerned about her learning to advocate for herself and know how to organize herself and her thoughts than I am about her learning facts - she seems to pick those up easily.  Writing a report about what she knows tho, is hell.

 

It's interesting to hear your experience with Gifted, Christa, that was my gut feeling too.  They say they have supports for 2e kids in class, but my experience with gifted when I was a kid was that they expected self starters who quickly grasped concepts and could easily produce a few pages of writing on just about anything.  I'm concerned she would be lost.  We have tried the tutoring route already, and it seems to keep her afloat but isn't enough to really teach her the skills she needs; maybe if I had her tutored for a few hours more on weekends or something, but she gets so stressed about school and I don't want her whole life to be about school. 

post #8 of 58

Thanks for the further info.  My dd is highly gifted (99.9th percentile composite IQ) and has an ADD and anxiety disorder dx.  I've also wondered about something else going on like dyslexia b/c she has weird reading issues such as very high comprehension but very slow reading speed.  When she was younger she also could read hard words like "conciliatory" while pretty consistently substituting words like "from" in place of "for" b/c the letters were similar.  Her phenome awareness was very high on tests like DIBELS, though, and some of the issues are better with age (she's 11 and in 6th grade now).  Her spelling still isn't stellar and she spells the same word multiple ways on a page at times, but it isn't horrible.  Point being, I know some of what my dd has going on and am still guessing in some ways.  She is also so able that she compensates very well & can still keep up with acceleration but it isn't a cake walk the way it might be without whatever else she has going on.

 

My oldest, on the other hand, is also HG and doesn't have any major 2e issues.  For her, while the GT classes haven't been perfect, they work.  Last year was the first year my youngest joined the subject accelerated math class and it was a struggle.  She was very inconsistent.  She read directions in a way the test designer didn't intend, completely overlooked a page on a test (went right from page 1 to page 3 not noticing that there was a page in btwn and, thus, leaving it totally blank), etc.  She did, however, pass the district tests to continue to subject accelerate in math in middle school this year and it has been less of a challenge this year b/c the work is, again, getting on the easier end for her.  What we've generally found is that she can keep up and get good grades if we place her below her ability.  Sometimes even the GT or subject accelerated classes fit that bill.  She could do more if she didn't have a LD, but she does so she's taking classes that aren't as hard as she otherwise might.

 

It sounds like your dd might have a larger LD issues than my dd, though.  I don't know what GT looks like where you are, but the things that I'd say need to be in place to make it work for a 2e child are:

1) The teacher is #1.  My dd had a GT teacher for reading and math last year who also had a 2e child with ADHD so she understood the difference btwn consistent high achievement and giftedness.  A teacher who can make accommodations for a 2e child is great (extra time, oral testing, reteaching worksheets which explain things in a different way, whatever it is your dd needs.)  Unfortunately, in our case the things that my dd needs aren't that easy.  We tried extra time and it didn't seem to help.

2) Can you work with her at home enough to keep up with the pace in a GT class?  We spent a lot of time working with dd last year on study skills: highlighting the important points in her study notes to make them stand out visually, how to create a study guide for herself, underlining the steps in the test instructions so she didn't forget to do some of the pieces, how to ascertain what the question was asking b/c she is highly divergent and tends to read something into the question that wasn't intended.  She's doing much better with all of these things this year, although it still isn't perfect.

3) How big are the GT classes and how do they differ from the std classroom?  Is it just more of the same faster or do they do work that is better geared toward your child's needs (more abstraction, depth, etc.)?  The later, obviously, is better.

post #9 of 58
Thread Starter 

DD reads with high comprehension, too, altho it is clear if you get her to read out loud she doesn't know all the words, she's just very good at using context to guess.  She'll often give synonyms if she can think of one that starts with the same first letter as the word she's stuck on.  I hear you about extra time and other accomodations not being enough - dd needs to be put back on track quite often, so giving her extra time and leaving her there doesn't do much - she just spends longer trying to figure out what to do next.    For her, the environment seems to be critical - when she's working with a tutor, where the expectations are predictable and the material is slowly building on what she knows, its quiet and has minimal distractions, she works much more quickly and you can see that she's doing better than it seems from her tests and work at school.  The environment at school is pretty bad right now, she's in a split class so there's always someone talking, the teacher is in over her head and not managing the class well, and it's harder than it should be for dd to figure out what she's supposed to do, when to ask a question etc. etc.  I was talking to one of her friends mom's last night, and she is having some of the same struggles even tho she is gifted & has no known LD.  I'm pretty pissed off that dd has been told by the teacher that she's not keeping up because of her "learning problem" (teacher's words) when other kids with no LD are having the same issues. 

 

My gut feel is that she needs some time with someone who really knows how to teach LD kids to get her on track with some good strategies and habits right now, but that at some point GT will probably be a good fit.  Here, the GT program has smaller class sizes, supports like you'd see in a regular class for LD, and typically has the better teachers (altho you get what you get, of course).  Even if a lot of the problems we're having this year are largely because of the class and teacher, tho, there's no way to know that it won't be the same next year and in the meanwhile dd is getting harder on herself, more anxious, and isn't learning how to get organized and advocate for herself.  The school that I'm looking at is very focused on solving those problems.

 

Thx for sharing & listening!  It really helps to hear other ppl's stories, and just to work out my thoughts outloud too :)

post #10 of 58
I've been staying out of this because I don't have a lot of specific experience (and other posters do), however, this - "dd has been told by the teacher that she's not keeping up because of her "learning problem" (teacher's words)" - really catches my attention. That is wrong in so many ways! Have you spoken with the teacher? With administrators? Even if other kids weren't having the same problems, to say that to a kid is the ultimate cop-out. If that's what she believes, then it's up to her, as a trained educator, to find an alternate strategy.

Does make the school you describe seem a good choice. With a little time there, she could come back into the public school in MIddle School or Junior High--and if it were a different campus, the "stigma" would be minimized (nothing like a fresh start).

My older daughter is in an alternative program within the public schools. K-6 in three classrooms (K-1, 2-3, 4-6). There are two things that have to happen to make multi-age classes work (and I think the "pre-requisite" is perhaps to think of it as "multi-age" rather than "split"). The first is that the teacher needs to have done some work--study--to understand the different strategies involved, to embrace the positive aspects of multi-age education as well as understanding some of the pitfalls. The second is having classroom aides--so essential that when the budgets were being slashed last year, the three teachers in the program met with the district superintendent to make sure we would retain at least a minimum number of hours. For the rest, parents are required to volunteer 2 hours a week in the classroom for each child enrolled in the school. In practice, you wind up with 1-3 additional adults in the classroom at any given point in the day, doing anything from xeroxing (less time on admin = more time for class planning) to running a station in the morning rotation.
post #11 of 58

Jen Muise says:

 

***

it is clear if you get her to read out loud she doesn't know all the words, she's just very good at using context to guess.  She'll often give synonyms if she can think of one that starts with the same first letter as the word she's stuck on.

***

 

This is a very bad sign.  Your daughter needs serious phonics, STAT!  Guessing words is not the same thing as reading, and when the reading gets more difficult she'll be in big trouble.  I have my daughter read out loud to me every day, and I don't let her misread a single word. If she doesn't know the word, she has to try sounding it out FIRST.  Kids need to understand that words are made of letters that are read in order from left to right.  Schools don't teach this -- you'll have to do it at home.

post #12 of 58
Thread Starter 

Yeah, I was not happy with that wording either - I've gone to great lengths to let dd know that she's smart, being different doesn't mean not as good as, that everyone has learning differences and challenges, etc.  It's disheartening to think that a teacher is changing all that positive self talk.  I've had so many other issues that seem like bigger more easily solved problems (that aren't getting solved)  that I haven't discussed that specific thing with her.  The teacher generally has a completely different view of what's going on in class than dd does so it's been hard to figure out what's what.  Having another kid corroborate what's going on helps because now I've got more than her word against the teacher.  Not that dd would be untruthful about what's going on, but she misinterprets people's intentions and actions sometimes.  I do plan on speaking to an administrator about this, regardless - it's not right to have concerns and not air them IMHO.  If nothing else, it might help other parents to know what's going on.  

 

It's interesting that you mention volunteering. I've offered to volunteer in class several times and take on a regular time slot, but got a lukewarm response because ' that's not really appropriate for gr4".  Weird.  If I was struggling with a split class and 6 kids on IEPs I'd take what I could get. 

post #13 of 58
While it's true that the 4-6 class gets the most aide hours (meaning the fully trained help), parents are utilized fully, including, in some cases, lending their expertise in teaching (there are some science and engineering professors among the parents). But--and it's a big but--this is a school offering a lot more freedom to the teachers in terms of how things are taught. The curriculum is explicitly child-centered (with an emphasis on creative expression, independent thinking, and cooperative social skills).
post #14 of 58
Thread Starter 

FedUpMom - actually, our school does teach phonics, and dd has had tutoring specifically on reading for a few years now. She can tell you what all the individual sounds in the words are, but can't blend them together to make a word.  Her sight word reading is very good, but reading unfamiliar or nonsense words is very difficult for her.  Basic rules like reading left to right are well understood, but she says her eyes play tricks on her and the letters move around when she doesn't know a word.  She's so persistent, tho, she still likes to read and tries so hard to get it.  Unfortunately dd#2 is catching up fast, in spite of a 3 year gap between them and dd2 being in french immersion so not being taught english at all right now.  I'm afraid it's going to be an emotional hit when she loses her place as the better reader of the 2.

 

clara's mom - unfortunately the nearest alternative school is pretty far from us, altho it sounds like it would've been a good solution.  Rural living has it's disadvantages. 

post #15 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jen Muise View Post

I've offered to volunteer in class several times and take on a regular time slot, but got a lukewarm response because ' that's not really appropriate for gr4".  Weird.  If I was struggling with a split class and 6 kids on IEPs I'd take what I could get. 



That's totally silly.  I volunteered weekly in dd13's 4th grade class.  I pulled her and a few  other kids out and worked with them on different math.  The teacher was happy for the assistance.

 

I'm wondering if you have something like Kumon near you.  I'm generally not a fan of programs like that b/c they are so drill based and feel a bit like hothousing to me.  However, after dealing with a 2e kid myself, I've had to rethink some things.  Dd13 went totally insane with drill of sight words, for instance, in 1st grade.  She didn't need it and the teaching style made her miserable to the point that we took her out and homeschooled for a while.

 

Even though most gifted kids don't need or want drill, 2e kids may need it.  I'm not totally familiar with their approach for kids of your dd's age, but I think that they do short workbook pages that review things over and over until the child gets it without help.  If she could do something like that which reviews phonics blends, I might give it a try.  Maybe you could get her workbooks yourself of that sort if a place like Kumon isn't around you.

 

post #16 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by FedUpMom View Post

Jen Muise says:

 

***

it is clear if you get her to read out loud she doesn't know all the words, she's just very good at using context to guess.  She'll often give synonyms if she can think of one that starts with the same first letter as the word she's stuck on.

***

 

This is a very bad sign.  Your daughter needs serious phonics, STAT!  Guessing words is not the same thing as reading, and when the reading gets more difficult she'll be in big trouble.  I have my daughter read out loud to me every day, and I don't let her misread a single word. If she doesn't know the word, she has to try sounding it out FIRST.  Kids need to understand that words are made of letters that are read in order from left to right.  Schools don't teach this -- you'll have to do it at home.

 

Actually, experienced readers guess from context all the time. I'm an experienced reader with very high comprehension and I don't stop and sound out every word. I  can if I really have to, but I don't. I was reading a book chapter yesterday on anomia that used a term phonological paraSOMETHING (ok I looked it up, paraphasia). Honestly, I didn't need to stop and sound it out. If and when I need that word again (and I probably will because I'm going to need to lecture on anomia on Tuesday), I'll sound it out. It took me years to learn to pronounce acuate fasiculus without stumbling (and I still want to say articulate fasiculus!). It's just how I read. It's how my daughter reads too. We're both highly skilled readers for our age.

 

At some point in time it becomes counterproductive to stop your child on every single word. The reading research I know demonstrates that one of the most important things is for a child to enjoy reading. Yes, they need to decode, but if you focus so much on decoding that they lose meaning or they are dreading reading, it's time to stop.

 

What the OP describes is more than not being taught phonics -- her daughter has a hard time applying the phonics that she already knows. She's got some good compensatory strategies, but something is holding her back.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Jen Muise View Post

FedUpMom - actually, our school does teach phonics, and dd has had tutoring specifically on reading for a few years now. She can tell you what all the individual sounds in the words are, but can't blend them together to make a word.  Her sight word reading is very good, but reading unfamiliar or nonsense words is very difficult for her.  Basic rules like reading left to right are well understood, but she says her eyes play tricks on her and the letters move around when she doesn't know a word.  She's so persistent, tho, she still likes to read and tries so hard to get it.  Unfortunately dd#2 is catching up fast, in spite of a 3 year gap between them and dd2 being in french immersion so not being taught english at all right now.  I'm afraid it's going to be an emotional hit when she loses her place as the better reader of the 2.


Have you had her seen by a developmental optometrist? Has she been tested for dyslexia? About 4th grade is a time when kids with dyslexia (but who have good compensatory strategies) often start to slip. They can't rely on good sight memory anymore. The "letters move around" could be issues with decoding that are associated with dyslexia or it could be an issue with eye tracking.  I know several people who had to do some sort of eye training with their kids and it made a huge difference in how they could read.

 

Back to your original question: What's keeping you from the LD school? It sounds like she needs more help than a regular classroom teacher can give her. I had a cousin who did something similar in about 2nd or 3rd grade. He spent a couple of years at school for kids with learning issues and gained both skills and confidence. I'm all for a specialized education, if you can swing it for a bit.

 

post #17 of 58

First, I obviously don't know the OP's child, but not having achieved reading "fluency" by age 9 isn't necessarily indicative of a problem, although it is generally presented this way in mainstream education.  I strongly recommend Frank Smith's book Reading Without Nonsense which is a really, really, good presentation of how people learn to read, and how overemphasis on phonics can actually cause reading problems to develop.  As Lynn pointed out, and as Smith emphasizes, most of us don't sound out everything in our heads.  Phonics is usually most useful to children AFTER they've reached a certain level of fluency.  I will warn that Smith is skeptical of the dyslexia diagnosis.  May I suggest you search these forums on the subject of late readers, and read some of those threads?  I believe there are some stories you might find useful, not to mention encouraging.

 

P.S. My husband was a "late reader" and is now an attorney.  His IQ scores are also in the gifted range.  One of our children just turned seven and isn't a fluent reader yet, and while I haven't had her tested, I suspect she also has a high IQ. 

 

 

post #18 of 58
Thread Starter 

We have seen an optometrist, not a child specific one, but she did check both focusing ability and regular vision and found that she had no eye troubles.  She was tested for dyslexia a couple years ago, and found to be not dyslexic, but was borderline-normal  for dysphonesia and borderline for dyseidesia.  Those tests were done when she was still in french immersion tho (bad fit for an LD kid!)  so I suspect that some of the reason she may have scored low was because she had relatively little english exposure for her grade.  The descriptions of those 2 forms of dyslexia don't ring true to me, but other descriptions of dyslexia do ring true. She does have some hallmarks of dyslexia, reversals and such, so I'll be interested to see if a little maturity has changed that as we're in the process of getting another psych-ed report now.

 

The things that are holding me back from going with the LD school are that I'm concerned that she'll have a label or a stigma attached to her; I'm concerned that I'm trying to fix an anxiety + mediocre teacher problem with going to LD school;   I'm concerned that I haven't done enough to make it work at public school.  Private school is prohibitively expensive for us, and the only way we can do it is to let my mom and dad cover it.  I don't want to cost them that much if I can help it.  I think it's the middle one that's bugging me the most, I can't tell if her anxiety & poor fit with her teacher is making her dig in her heels and look less competent than she is, or if the anxiety is caused by not being able to find her way.  Probably some combination of the 2.  Good question! 

 

Luckie- I'll check that out!  Thx for the tip!

post #19 of 58

Jen Muise

 

I am curious how you were able to get psych-ed testing done.  


My 2nd grader sounds very much like your daughter -- great comprehension but poor reading fluency -- and advanced in terms of subject matter (absorbing content via audio books that are probably a 4th - 8th grade level).

 

But I keep wondering if she has dyslexia because of her hesitancy to read, her poor spelling, her tripping up with the most basic words.

 

Is the testing something your school district did?

 

Thanks~

post #20 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by claras_mom View Post

While it's true that the 4-6 class gets the most aide hours (meaning the fully trained help), parents are utilized fully, including, in some cases, lending their expertise in teaching (there are some science and engineering professors among the parents). But--and it's a big but--this is a school offering a lot more freedom to the teachers in terms of how things are taught. The curriculum is explicitly child-centered (with an emphasis on creative expression, independent thinking, and cooperative social skills).


We have similar multi-age classrooms at our school (k-1, 2/3/4, 5/6/7, 8/9/10 etc.) yet without the aides and parent assistance. It still works very well. I very much agree with the comment about the importance of the freedom the teachers have in how and when and what things are taught. That's key. 

 

Miranda

 

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