Taking the C out of C

January 5, 2009 at 9:27 pm 7 comments

     In our yearly struggle for the appropriate educational placement for C (which is part of why he went to two preschools in two different states, two kindergartens in the same town followed by a move to another state for 1st, and now 2nd, grades), I often fight the impulse to just yank him right back out of line and take him back home in the mornings. Most of the time I want to avoid for him the meanness from some of the other kids, but sometimes it has everything to do with his education.

     I have to say, we’ve been mostly pleased with his education so far. Yet I can’t help but wonder sometimes if we’re educating the very essence of C right out of him. As he struggles to carry and borrow in his math homework, I realize he’s taking far longer to do the same problem on paper that he used to be able to do in his head in mere seconds. I have no problem with him doing the math in his head – however it is that he does it –  but will he be able to do it when it’s 10,322 minus 9,999 instead of 56 minus 48? Are we wrong to try and teach him the “right” way in the hopes of well-serving him down his educational road?

     As I continue to evaluate how he’s doing on a yearly, monthly, and even daily basis, I hope I’ll recognize the signs if and when it becomes clear he needs something beyond what traditional public education offers. There’s no doubt he’s a square peg; what’s not clear to me yet is if all the holes in school are perfectly round or if there’s a few that might accommodate his somewhat different shape.

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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. hopeauthority  |  January 6, 2009 at 8:20 am

    You raise a powerful question. How do we know if the path we put (or allow the schools to put) our special kids on is the right one for them?

    Here, we are lucky that we have many programs. Some are traditional academic paths, with special accommodations for testing if needed. There are various sized classes as small as 8 kids, or 12, 15, or regular sized. Some are mainstream with inclusion (part “typical” part special needs).

    We also have “life skills” programs in our schools for the children who don’t meet the criteria for the academic programs. In those classes, children focus more on learning skills they need to live an independent life. They do math, but more like money and checkbook style, not algebra. When they are older they go to the supermarket and shop. They get jobs at Target or the supermarket. They do a lot of social trips, take buses, etc. There are also placements out of district for children and adults who don’t meet the criteria for school district placement, or who may need a residential setting.

    The hardest thing here to me is trying to honestly figure out which track is right for your child. And when to veer off your dream of the academic education for your child and admit that the life skills path is the best one for your child. As a parent member who volunteers at the annual meetings for other parents in my district, I see many parents struggle with that dilemma.

    Wanna move here?!

    It does sound like there are some good choices! I just wish I understood more about how C’s brain works so I could feel more comfortable with how he learns (and doesn’t). Where’s THAT program??? LOL!

  • 2. therocchronicles  |  January 6, 2009 at 10:44 am

    I’ve been having insomnia issues the past few weeks and it’s all because of these school decisions. I feel you!

    The Roc has an Aug birthday so he is supposed to go to kindergarten next year and it terrifies me. He will be one of the youngest and have Autism and the delays that come along with his Autism to contend with. The school isn’t telling me that I HAVE to send him on but that no one repeats preschool, it would be better to have him go on, blah blah…but I think it’s because of his birthday, not him. What does that say about the school he’s in? That we need to get out of here! And husband and I fight about where to move! the stress is overwhelming me!

    Don’t mean to dump on you–just wanted to say I understand the stress, I’m feeling it too, only I’m a bit behind you!

    Ugh, that K time was tough – we went through the send him through, hold him back thing too. C is academically ahead or on par, but socially and maturity-wise, he is very much behind. But someone with a similar child told me something that really helped – that he will always be socially different and will likely always lag in maturity behind his peers, and holding him back isn’t going to change all that. Whereas academically, he would get bored if we held him back. So off he went to K, and it was bumpy because of a terrible school choice on our part, but once we got him in the right school, he did great. He still relates better to kids 2-3 years younger than he is, but that’s just him.

    Anyway, I wish you the best in figuring that one out. It’s definitely a challenging decision to make. But you’ll make the right one, I’m sure of it!

  • 3. Lois  |  January 6, 2009 at 10:50 am

    There should be modifications in C’s IEP which allow for the use of lots of manipulatives and a calculator – which is the tool he will be using later in life so, he should be learning to use it correctly now. Let’s talk.

  • 4. pixiemama  |  January 6, 2009 at 11:49 am

    I have this simple concept I often think of when I think of my kids at school. They’re being taught by a generation of people who
    (generally) wear watches and don’t know the first thing about iPods. They are being taught by OUR generation – and we are something of a gap. There was no Internet when we were in school.

    These kids will likely not wear watches – why would they when they have the time displayed on their cell phones, laptops and other gadgets?

    I’m beating my head against this very same wall in discussing Reilly’s use of a laptop in the classroom. We’re not arguing about the expense. For heaven’s sake, we could go to WalMart and buy a $300 laptop that would meet his needs for many years to come. We’re arguing about whether the learning emphasis should be on the antiquated art of handwriting versus a skill he will truly need to master – the qwerty keyboard.

    I need to know – when are schools going to get with the program and teach these kids what they really need to know to succeed? When are we going to relent on the “no child left behind” and try to meet the individual needs of the individual child?

    I’ve been thinking about that too – I was just talking to C’s computer teacher about cursive writing and how ridiculous that is that it’s still in the curriculum. I feel very, very lucky at the moment, because C is in a school where everyone is willing to try new things, change what they’re doing, and do what needs to be done for C. But that’s all about to change next year when he goes to upper elementary – totally different school, new staff, and I’m nervous!

    I’m with you on no child left behind. I think it was well-intentioned but bombed in reality. I don’t know what the answer is, which probably explains why we keep trying different things. Now I’m at the point where I wish C could stay in 2nd grade forever because he’s in such a great class.


  • 5. robinaltman  |  January 6, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    That is such a hard question. I like Lois’ suggestion. I also think it’s helpful for C to learn how to manipulate written numbers, because a lot of math in the future will build on that. I’m not sure how important it is, as in could it be taught but at his own speed and not graded, and he could use the calculator for most graded stuff. I think it takes an educational expert to give those answers. If the school doesn’t provide one, is there an appropriate consultant in your area?

    I have been thinking about starting down the road of taking C to see someone who could help me sort through what the best way to teach him is. I’m just not sure there’s really anyone who knows the best way to teach these kids – they’re all so different and it feels like hit or miss! I just don’t want his brain to be so “re-trained” that he loses the way his brain just IS. I don’t even know if that’s possible, really….and now I’m just rambling….

  • 6. BQkimmy  |  January 6, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    I hadn’t really thought of anything like this before. But you bring up a good point. Is the “right” way really the better way? Or in the end does it destroy what’s already there? Deep thoughts.

    Hope you manage to find a squarish hole somehow.

    Yup, deep thoughts, for sure. I just wish I had some answers instead of just thoughts! LOL! I feel so clueless sometimes. Heck, most times.

  • 7. clairelouise82  |  January 12, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    I love your blog you have a wonderful family.
    Good luck to you all.x

    Thank you so much.


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