In addition to knowing several people have what Miranda described, I have also known what seemed like people with rose-colored glasses on get really burned by fairly minor (and easily anticipated) challenges.
This is where we really need to just check ourselves.
My DC's first elementary had a great reputation and we had had such a great first year of pre-K that I was totally blind-sided by how much and how strongly I disagreed with some of the school's policies. So, yea, it's a balancing act.
I don't think anyone is saying that it's all going to be a bed of roses. What I'm saying, at least, is that you're likely to get a lot more of what you need if you start from a place of optimism and relationship-building rather than by preparing for a fight.
Mountain mama to two great kids and two great grown-ups
I know several posters on this thread have had their children change schools because they were not getting their needs met at the school they were in. This is not a recrimination. Sometime great schools meet needs, and sometimes they don't. Ditto poor and mediocre schools.
The only thing that the OPer has said about her child that I think raises real issues is running away. You really can't do that at school, and the person who needs to really take that to heart is her child. (kids read and do math at different levels, and schools handle that in different ways.)
For the running away, I would let the school know about it, and I would ask if there is a safe, quiet space he can be allowed to go without asking permission. They may or may not go for this option. They may want to wait and see how it plays out.
But her son needs to understand that he can't just take off. It is a huge deal, and many schools respond with in school suspension.
but everything has pros and cons
Helping my DD who is both on the spectrum and gifted get an education has been far from a bed of roses. It is partly because of having so many experiences with just a challenging child that I think it is important to school and home to work as a team. That's the best chance our kids have.
Realism trumps beds of roses or beds of thorns for that matter any day.
There is a battle of two wolves inside us. One is good and the other is evil. The wolf that wins is the one you feed.
Book and herb loving mama to 1 preteen and 2 teens (when did that happen?). We travel, go to school, homeschool, live rurally, eat our veggies, spend too much time...
here is an example -- the public middle school my DD attended for one year bent over backwards to make school work for her. They changed schedules so that she and her neurotypical sister could be in the same lunch period. She was allowed to leave class at any time without asking and she had 2 places she could go. She went to school on a shortened scheduled. Teachers changed from telling kids to pick a partner to tell them who their partner was because picking a partner caused her to panic. I could go on and on, but you get the idea.
One of the problems for her, though, was that she couldn't cope with the sound of all the lockers slamming. They would let her switch classes before all the all the kids, or after all the other kids, or at the same time. But it didn't matter because even in a classroom she could still hear it loudly, and still feel the vibration, and she couldn't cope with it.
Sometimes, it doesn't matter how hard all the adults are working, it just doesn't work.
Starting with the assumption that the ONLY thing you need to worry about in helping a quirky kid adjust to school is WHAT to fight about IMHO implies a belief that if only you can force the school to do the right thing (even though you don't know what that is) then everything will work out fine. Reality is a lot more complicated than that.
And parents who believe that the school is the enemy end up blaming school for problems rather than working toward solutions.
When there is a problem, try to work WITH the school to find a solution rather than jumping to the assumption that they are just idiots who hate children.
Sometimes, solutions are hard to find. Blame is seldom and helpful. Listening to what their constraints legally are helps. (my first proposal for a shortened school was heavily modified because it wouldn't have been in line with state law). Communicating in writing and including letters from doctors and specialist help.
but everything has pros and cons
In my area it would be entirely appropriate to contact the principal and share your concerns. We had our kids in a small crunchy private school that closed unexpectedly the summer after my dd1's 4th grade year and dd2's 1st grade year. We made the surprise transition to public school for 2nd and 5th grade. The school principal was super nice and met with us in person and we were able to tell her about our girls. They had been in mixed age classes in the private school and because of school class size the public school was having to do one mixed 4th/5th grade class. Dd1 was put in that, which was great, and with a really easy going teacher who was just an excellent fit for her. She is borderline on some issues (anxiety, possible NVLD, some organizational challenges) and we talked about those things with the principal. When we met the teacher we knew he would be a good fit and while we were concerned we were optimistic. It was a big jump for her, but overall pretty good.
When we were in the private school they did suggest we have her tested because of her reluctance to read and some of her other quirks (meowing and being a cat through most of 1st and 2nd grade, for example, and severe separation anxiety). We did private testing with an education psychologist (not psychiatrist because we didn't want to jump to meds) and she suggested the NVLD and said that at that time she met the criteria for ADD.
I don't really think she is ADD, but she does have some challenges with executive function and continues to have challenges in math. She can DO math, but it's much harder for her than her other subjects. In other courses (like Science) she can get an A+, but math is a really hard won B-. It is by far the subject she struggles most in and works the hardest in.
We chose NOT to pursue those labels, though, because she can succeed w/o them and because I worried that it would hurt more than it would help. We can always look into getting labels later if we need to. She has several friends in her current school with IEPs and I asked her one time if she wanted me to look into an IEP for her so she could get more time on tests (sometimes she runs out of time, esp on Math), but she was very clear she did not want that and said it would make her feel bad (i.e. dumb, messed up, etc). I really feel like she is right on the edge of being able to qualify and will do okay w/o a label, so I went with her wishes. On the other hand, I have friends who felt such a sense of relief when they finally got a label and felt like it was validation for the way their brain worked. So I think whether labels are good or bad can be really individual.
Your son won't be labeled unless he gets tested. That is unlikely to happen right away and could take most of the school year in some school systems. If you are concerned you might want to pursue private testing. I think it would be appropriate to contact your principal and see what she or he recommends, too. The principal may give you parameters for private testing or suggest that it's more appropriate to go through the school system and tell you how to expedite the process.
My dd2 just finished 4th grade. From your description it does sound like he would be behind in our school system. Going into 4th grade there is an expectation of fluent reading and they should have their multiplication tables down and be able to spit out the facts fairly fast. They will do more multiplying and get to division later on in 4th. They also throw in some algebraic thinking, fractions, percentages, decimals, etc.
If your son is really struggling with math and reading you might consider starting him in 3rd grade instead, just to give him more time to catch up. Redshirting (holding a kid back a year) is common now, especially for boys, in Kindergarten and he would likely have some same age peers. How old is he? 10? Most 4th graders are 10 or 9 turning 10. Most of the kids in my dd1's class this year were 10 or turned 10 in the fall.
"All you fascists are bound to lose" — Woody Guthrie
Last edited by beanma; 06-12-2014 at 08:24 AM.
Another reason to let your son get in there and see what sort of learner he is in a school environment.
I think I'm going to email the teacher and ask if i can drop off some school supplies (GREAT idea btw - totally stealing it!)... before school starts so we can say hello. I'll take ds with me to meet her/him. We'll practice walking to his room so he knows where to go, and maybe ill ask the principal if it would be ok if i walked him to his room the first day (or is that a major no-no socially in 4th grade? ) I'll mention that he has been homeschooled so far, is shy/slow when tested and that if he needs extra help in stuff for her to just send suggestions home and we'll work on it, and maybe bring up his vision issues? Too much to share at once? (side issue: the math curriculum we're using now has a timed piece to it -- complete this sheet in 5 minutes, etc... and i can't use the timer or he melts down unable to answer the first question. Without the timer, he's not far off of the suggested time).
How do I handle the running away stuff? (It reminds me of a story my mom likes to tell of my sister... who we used to walk to school... one day, she was sitting on the steps when mom and I made it back to the house. That is TOTALLY something ds would do!)
And I think we might be doing testing anyway... his OT wants him to be evaluated by a developmental behavioral ped... im working on getting an appt but most ive called so far have year long waits... (is that the same kind?)
Sigh... its always something
We've never seen a developmental behavioral ped, but I would think they would approach things more from a medical perspective and probably offer diagnoses for a wider range of conditions. We saw a child psychologist who specialized specifically in psycho-educational assessments.
"All you fascists are bound to lose" — Woody Guthrie