Posted by: Hannah | 11/05/2013

school daze

For the first time in several years I’m not blogging every day in November. I just don’t have time this year! So many other things grabbing for my attention that I didn’t even really realize it was November until we were a couple of days in.

Lately my brain is full up with Harry and my continuing worries about his time in school. He is so bright, guys. Like, I know he’s got more inborn intelligence than Michael and I do, and you’ll just have to trust me when I say we’re smarter than the average bears. But he doesn’t fit the box that is the public school system, and it’s starting to show. I’ve been doing some reading – guided by a friend of mine who is an educator, bless her – and I’m pretty sure we’ve identified the likely issue… but if I’m right, we’re going to be on our own because as far as I can determine, there are no programs in place in Nova Scotia to address twice-exceptional learners.

This chart made me yell “YES! ALL OF THAT!” in excited recognition, before the whole thing started to feel overwhelming:

Strengths

Deficits

Superior vocabulary Poor social skills
Advanced ideas & opinions High sensitivity to criticism
High levels of creativity & problem-solving ability Lack of organizational & study skills
Extremely curious, imaginative, & questioning Discrepant verbal & performance skills
Wide range of interests not related to school Poor performance in one or more academic areas
Penetrating insight into complex issues Difficulty with written expression
Specific talent or consuming interest area Stubborn, opinionated demeanor
Sophisticated sense of humour High impulsivity

The really depressing thing is that many of the resources I found recommend homeschooling or schools that have a particular focus on twice-exceptional learners. Since those are both financially-impossible options, we have to try and work within the schizophrenic can’t-decide-what-it-is public school system.

So there’s that, and I’m spending a lot of time thinking about it. I want his teachers to acknowledge that this could be a possibility. I don’t want them to think that he’s disrespectful, or lazy, or willfully disobedient because he doesn’t like writing time. I don’t want them to write him off. I can accept that I myself am not going to be able to change the school system overnight, or magically make resources appear to help him – we’ve known all along that we would need to do things outside of school time to keep him challenged and “enriched” (a word I am growing to detest). What I can’t accept is him getting an undeserved reputation as a problem kid when maybe they just need to approach him differently, and so we’ll be bringing all of this to his teachers next week.

I’m also worried because he never talks about his friends anymore. It’s never “so-and-so and I played hobbits today!” or “we all had a mega-battle on the soccer field!” In fact he never really mentions the playground at all, since the first couple of weeks in September when he was getting picked on by the requisite Big Dumb Jock in his class.

He never used to have a problem making friends. I’m worried that he’s getting isolated from his peers, and I need to ask the teachers about that, too.

The whole thing feels very sad, and makes me want to just hug him for a while, because I know he’s not as enthusiastic a guy as he always used to be, and I can’t tell if that’s just because he’s getting older and is less apt to bounce through life, or if he’s actually unhappy.

This parenting thing… it really is like watching your heart walking around outside your body. It’s so very hard, sometimes.

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Responses

  1. I don’t have any super awesome solutions. The whole thing kinda sucks. I do know that you guys are doing lots of things right, (advocating for him, providing him with challenging reading materials etc) but I also know that it doesn’t FEEL like enough.
    In time it may be financially possible to homeschool him, (as you work from home and he can use an online curriculum) but for right now all I can offer is a listening ear.

    • Thank you. A listening ear and the reassurance are appreciated, for sure.

  2. Aww. It must be hard. I don’t know what the answer is. Homeschooling – well, that’s not really going to work with the day home, right? And also I’m not sure if that’s exactly the right fit given the social situation. I wish I could help.

    • No, it wouldn’t work with the dayhome; there’s just no way I could adequately focus on him. And I think the socialization aspect of school is so very important, especially in a small community like this one. What I really need is $12,000 a year to send him to a local private school that emphasizes teaching to each student’s learning style… *buys lottery ticket, sacrifices chicken*

  3. I have heard of people homeschooling while running a day home – I don’t know how it would work legally where you are (are you allowed to have your own school-aged child home while you work?) but it isn’t impossible. That doesn’t, of course, mean it’s possible for you – but I’ll see if I can find the blog I’m thinking of and send you the link if you like.

    It’s really sad that schools let bright children slip through the net because they’re focusing on the children who are struggling academically. I haven’t really got any advice there, just sympathy.

    • Sympathy is appreciated. And yes – I was warned by a teacher friend of mine back when Harry was only three that he would almost certainly *not* get the support he’d probably need… I guess I was hoping things would change.

  4. Ugh. I’ve never had to deal with a child that just doesn’t fit into the school system – what a frigging nightmare. Some kind of tutoring, maybe? I don’t know. How about I just believe you wholeheartedly and hug you online a lot?

    • It is rough. Thank you for the hug.

  5. So sorry to hear it – we’re also chained to the public school system for financial reasons and learning quickly that they just can’t accommodate everyone. We have two that fit the structure and one outlier who is struggling. Hope you find some solutions soon.

    • And that’s just it – they *can’t* accommodate everyone, and now with mainstreaming I think it’s even worse. I remember being in grades primary & one, and spending three afternoons a week in the resource centre, doing extra & more difficult work… even that made a difference. I’d be happy with something like that for now, honestly.

  6. This is exactly what we’re going through with Colin. He was identified as autistic until last year, when his identification switched to “gifted” – so now he’s participating in the gifted program (which he loves), but in the regular classroom there are all kinds of behaviour problems that I think are linked to his difficulties with auditory processing. He has been tested for that, and he’s above the threshold for a diagnosis of a learning disability – but I think it’s still important for his teacher to recognize that comprehending auditory information is a difficult and exhausting process for him, one that is impairing his ability to function (in that after 20 minutes or so of lecture-style teaching, he’s completely depleted of energy and then refuses to complete his work).

    We’ve got the social worries as well, and it’s a moving target … he has gone through months of the year when he seems to have no friends, and then suddenly he’ll start playing games at recess again and having playdates … What I’ve found is that no one in the school system cares at all about whether children have friends. Classroom behaviour and violent bullying make it onto the radar, but loneliness and ostracism do not.

    • I had no idea Colin’s diagnosis had changed. What a mental adjustment for all of you. I’m glad he’s enjoying the gifted program, though.

      As far as the social thing – YES, exactly. Right after I wrote this post, I asked Harry gently again how things were going on the playground, and he seemed pretty perky… I just can’t tell from day to day what exactly is going on. In fairness to our school, most of the teachers we’ve encountered so far have been quite clued-in to the social end of things. Harry had a BFF who was really more of a frenemy – so much drama, my god – and the teachers quite deliberately put them in different classes in grade 2, also making sure that another kid Harry played with sometimes has been in his class for the last two years… so that’s something.

  7. I’m gutted to hear of yet another bright kid who might get damaged by the standard school system. I really wish I could offer advice or help in some way. I hope he has teachers who will listen to you and I hope that you are able to find some sort of solution that will at least allow him to not be completely miserable because of school.

    And, seriously, if there’s anything I can do to be helpful, let me know.

    • I hope so, too. I have hope, because I have to. 🙂

  8. I have a childcare and I homeschool. The public school just wasn’t working. It’s not easy, but it can be done. I try to picture myself as one of those giant homeschooling families with 8 kids instead of homeschooling with a daycare. Good parenting is hard. Just by working through this you are being a great parent!

  9. […] to Harry’s meeting was more of a challenge. We both wanted to be there, because of the concerns we’re having. In advance of the meeting, we wrote a long email to his teachers explaining in greater detail our […]


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