Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hard school year

This school year has been a tough one for Rebecca and I. A tremendous amount of effort from many sources went into her education after she was finally evaluated and it was agreed she has some learning disabilities. She spent the entire year being pulled out of class for 1/2 hr of math and 1/2 hr of reading every day designed for kids with learning problems. Sometimes that meant she missed things she wanted to do. It was a lot of work. Then she entered a program on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school for an additional hour of math.
This from last year where she was excelling at math. Very frustrating. Turns out when math moves from counting to memorizing Rebecca is lost. The numbers seem to be coming from nowhere.
Here's the thing. I feel that 6 hrs. of school is enough. Then to have even more in the form of an additional class after school is pushing it. But then homework on top of it? Are you kidding?
Rebecca did catch up in her reading but the math is a project for the summer in the form of 3 different home programs, multiplication to music, and tutoring.
So this brings me to my point: I lost it with her teacher last Friday. Completely. Rebecca got into the car devastated again. Feeling like she can't meet the expectation. Again.
Gripping my steering wheel and clenching my jaw I dropped off the carpool of kids with a friendly, "Hurry up and get out!" and then tore off back to the school.
In my mind I made a choice. Either I waited until I calmed down and probably would never say anything, or I just went in now and lay it all out on the table. Obviously I chose the first.

Though I said a lot of things there were some key issues I had--

1) No one can expect every child to be able to accomplish the same thing as every other child. This no child left behind thing is crap. Incentives and prizes were great for my first two children who did their assignments with little brain effort. I never thought about the poor unfortunates who worked their butts off and still couldn't meet the expectation--until now, when it is my daughter. And it is not fair. I don't care that life is not fair. She is my daughter and until you are a mother who has watched your child's happy image of herself slowly be chipped away by every failed attempt to meet an expectation she cannot possibly understand. DO NOT TELL ME ABOUT LIFE BEING UNFAIR. I get it.

2)What is the point,exactly, of learning about how many liters is in four gallons? What about an isosceles triangle? Does this really apply to everyday life? Before she can properly read is it important that she know what a synonym, antonym, prefix and suffix is? Why does she need to know this in 3rd grade? Why am I having to rack my brain or search the internet to help my child do her 3rd grade homework? Did I mention I got all A's in my English classes I took last year at BYU? Who came up with these requirements? Does the public system know there is no such thing a well-rounded curriculum? That in California you build missions from sugar cubes, the same way that Texan children build the Alamo, or Alaskan children build igloos? Is is really important for cognitive development to build something from sugar cubes?

3) This is the most important thing. If nothing else. If no change whatsoever occurs and the halls of Art City Elementary are filled with the whispers about that ranting, crying, mess of a mother who came in and flipped out the other day knowing there were only 3 1/2 days of school left. Just remember that my daughter knows I thought she was shortchanged and I fought for her. And in the end that is really all that is going to make a difference for Rebecca. Not that I believe in fighting all of the battles my kids are going to face. I've never done anything like this before. Ever. But everyone has their limits and Rebecca needed to know it was not ok with me and I thought she worked really hard.

After I came home the kids just looked at me with wide eyes.
Then Peter, who was loading the car up for Fathers and Sons camp-out came up to pat my shoulder and walked away. Smart man.
Sarah had a friend over for a sleepover and Rebecca and I left to celebrate her school year. I gave her the brand new baby doll I bought at a yard sale where the lady finally threw in one of her homemade outfits to sweeten the deal and Rebecca was thrilled.
Then we went to Red Lobster, her favorite restaurant. The manager set her baby doll up in a high chair while we ate lobster/artichoke dip and ordered the biggest platter of seafood with the lobster tail, crab legs, and two types of shrimp. Then we ate it all. Rebecca said she wished she would never get full. We talked about how dad and I met and how he asked me to marry him. We talked about when she was a baby and about how hard she was as a toddler and how great she is now.
I did not send her to the two hour long awards ceremony on Monday where she would not receive an award. We stayed home instead. I cleaned while she watched movies and played outside. Safe from a damaging day of wondering where she messed up.
Am I sheltering my child?
You bet.


Sally said...

What an awesome MOM!! I love that you stand up for your children and totally understand what they need! I have worked with so many kids who have parents that don't care and the poor kids know it! Let me know if I can help in any way. I have a few things that have helped some of the kids that I work with when learning multiplication. So, let me know!

Meg said...

April you really are an awesome mom! Rebecca will do so well in life - learning from your example of strength, courage, and love! All much more important than facts learned at school! It is heartbreaking to work hard and have it not "pay off" by some peoples standards. I hope Rebecca has a fantastic summer vacation (and you too, of course)!

k. double-u. said...

This made me cry. Especially #3. Right on.