When it comes to school and my son, the reaction is a bit like oil and water. The two simply don't mix unless you put them in a blender and pulse it really well. You can see why that wouldn't really work, right? First, I can't really put my son into a bl .... oh, you get it? Great! I was using the analogy to show how tough it has been, not just on my son, but on the rest of the family, to get him through school. As with any parent, the goal isn't to just get him through it, but to help him do his best. This year we start high school, and I have to admit to some trepidation. If previous years are anything to go by, it's not going to be fun. Why? Well, my son has ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and Dyslexia. The combination of these two things make traditional school a bit of a challenge for him. Add in hormones and teen angst, and you have a wonderful little concoction guaranteed to bring all manner of fun and games for the school year.
I need to make it clear that my son is not a dull boy. He is really smart. However, keeping track of worksheets and paper is a SERIOUS challenge for him. We once did a Social Studies assignment THREE times. Exasperated, I eventually emailed his teacher and begged him to come up with some plan for my son to get credit for this work. He was doing it, but getting it from home to school and then from school to the teacher's desk, was presenting a really HUGE problem. We managed to come up with something that worked.
The longer my son has been in school, the more I have realized that traditional schooling just doesn't work for kids who are borderline. They're smart and can do the work, but they face other challenges that aren't addressed within the school system as it is now. Dyslexia is no longer recognized as a learning disability. I'm sure there is benefit to that, but I think there does still need to be some kind of provision made for children who do have dyslexia. As someone who has a touch of it myself, I can testify to how miserable it can make your life. How difficult it can make learning, understanding maths, or try to do something like accounting (try doing that when you keep swapping your numbers around). Yet research has shown that these kids are often the creative ones. The original thinkers who invent useful things or birth new ideas. If you can stop them from falling through the cracks, that is.
The previous school year was a tough one for us. It was touch and go as to whether our son would make it through. We had received a couple of notes from the school indicating that he might not qualify to be promoted. He surprised us all by passing based almost entirely on his TCAP (State standardized tests) results, which he totally ACED. Proof again, the boy isn't dumb. It also proved to us, that maybe we need to start looking at other ways to educate our son. It doesn't seem right to keep him in a system that seems to undermine his confidence and play primarily to his weaknesses all the time. Who of us would like that? Then again, there aren't that many options out there for families who don't want a "religious" based education (not that I have anything against it, it's just not for us) and can't afford private schooling (who seem to think that adding workload is the way to go). With a fair amount of digging, I was able to find some online options, which look really promising. One is totally covered by the State, so tuition is free, but all the work (which follows the same curriculum the schools in our state follow) can be done at home, online. There's plenty of support for parents as far as planning and instruction is concerned, which is something this mom needs, and the student can work at their own pace. The only downer? They don't have approval for High School in our State yet. Translation: we'll have to fork out some money. Not as much as we would for private school, but still a substantial amount. Our only solution: to send him to "regular" school for the first two semesters, and then school him at home for the remainder of the year. That way we can see if he can cope in "regular" school and it helps us with cash flow a little.
There really is a need for our education system to accommodate kids with ADD/ADHD and dyslexia. Especially seeing as most of our kids are on some kind of medication for ADD/ADHD. They're not in the minority anymore, and I suspect that it wouldn't take BIG, expensive changes to make school and learning enjoyable for these, often, talented and super intelligent, children. Maybe just a new way at looking at education and how to go about it.