Happy Versus Educated: Part II


The comments on my last post left me much to think about. Thank you to each person who took the time to share their thoughts. I realized my first post was incomplete. There are children who have special needs and are being educated and are happy. This is not the situation I find myself in. However, I should have stated that this decision is not one that  all parents of children with special needs face.

I have a meeting tomorrow with Hope’s school, but it is not consuming my energy. Hope has been as volatile and hard to contain at school as she has been at home. In true RAD form, she has been trying to triangulate between us and her school. This is one of those periodic check in meetings to try and contain the manipulative behavior.

Wednesday the CSE is for GB. GB’s situation is different. GB is never a problem for the school and always works hard. I expected this to be an easy year. Even though she changed schools, she brought her teacher, aides, and support services from the old school. The new school is the neighborhood school, with all the social opportunities that implies. The only note of warning in the background was GB’s state test scores from last spring. They were as low as they could be. The committee assured me that the tests did not really measure what was learned. Having been in the education field for so many years, I knew the one thing these tests were good for was to predict who would be able to pass the exams in high school and earn a diploma. When I said that out loud, nobody could disagree with me.

This year GB’ teacher  has structured things differently. GB is still in a class with seven other students, two aides, and Mr. Teacher. This year, all eight students are doing Saxon fourth grade math. It replaced the Touch Math GB used the previous two years. Saxon has a spiraling curriculum, which means that they cover a little bit of everything each year, each year going into more detail. At the moment, they are doing two step patterns, place value, fractions and multiplication with regrouping. GB struggles with simple repeating patterns, does not understand that for fractions to work, the pieces have to be the same size, and was working on multiplication facts with Touch Math. Since the class is doing math as a group, GB is lost much of the time. The whole group is working on fourth grade spelling. GB comes home with spelling exercises where she can read less than half the words on the list. Homework is taking eighty minutes a night, when GB is cooperative and focused. GB’s anxiety level is through the roof.

GB is a fourth grader this year, but the aides still require ice cream money and school store money to come in a labeled, sealed envelope- a requirement none of the other fourth grades have and one she doesn’t need.

CSE meetings only go well when I can tell them exactly what I want and why. I have no answers going into this meeting. I only know they better be expecting Mama Bear.

3 thoughts on “Happy Versus Educated: Part II

  1. Ouch!—working on homework in 4th grade for 80 minutes per night. Poor GB! If I was going into the meeting, I think I might say, “My daughter has enough patience to do 20 minutes of HW, then take a 10-minute break, and do another 20 minutes of HW. And that’s it. How can we communicate so that I know which HW is most crucial for her to do since she can’t get it all done in 40 minutes of work each night?”

    I wouldn’t worry about the sealed envelope thing. GB may not need that level of parental control, but you can always tell her that other students may have trouble keeping track of money so the teachers ask everyone in the class to do the same thing, but you know that GB can handle the lunch money herself and you’re very proud of her ability to do so. Or, some version of that. That’s really an administrative thing in the classroom—not related to core learning. And I try to let those kinds of things go during meetings, since there are usually so many other, pressing issues to discuss.

    But I do like to vent about that kind of stuff with my friends—LOL.

    I hope the meeting is productive, and I hope the school will address your concerns about the standardized testing and eventually earning a high school diploma. In Massachusetts, students with disabilities who, because of their disability, will not be able to pass the “high-stakes” testing required for graduation, can have their teachers prepare a portfolio of their work in the tested core curriculum areas.

    Good luck tomorrow!

  2. I think you’re taking the right approach with GB’s education. Setting the bar too high and putting too much pressure on her will just backfire. She may become so frustrated and discouraged that she loses her motivation and I think motivation is crucial for doing a good job in school. Not being able to meet the academic goals set for her may also cause her to get bad self esteem and self confidence and these things are so important with girls her age.

    I hope the meeting goes well and you get exactly what you want.

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