Saturday, January 1, 2011

....and i was half right....

so, what is actually going on with us?
i have been reading friends blogs and i am impressed by how much they are willing to share of what is personally going on for them. i'm going to give it a try.

We have been on winter break for a while, we have one more week to go. It has been a refreshing break; which seems weird to say, even to me. What has changed? no running the kids to drama and dance. nowhere we've had to be. no weekly reports to write and send in to the school. we were ready for a break. but that is not what made the break needed. there is mor to it than that.

you see, for a while now i have known that our daughter was going to need some extra help in learning to read and write. just before the break, it was suggested by the school that she could benefit from having a formal learning assessment to try and identify the reason for some of the challenges she has been having. our daughter agreed that she would like to do this.

so why wait until now? very simply, she wants some extra help now. i have known that she was having some difficulties in this area for a while; i have known that most school would regard her as "behind" her grade level. however, until very recently, the skills of reading and writing didn't matter very much to her. She was satisfied with what she was able to do (and she is gifted at so many things); and i felt confident that one day these skills would be important to her, and that she would have the ability to get "caught up" to where she would like to be; I felt confident that i would be able to help her to learn these skills.
..... and i was half right...
these skills have become important to her; she would like to i.m. chat with her friends, send letters to people, read books and magazines, look stuff up on the net....
but alas, i am not the person to help her learn these skills right now...
i am the person who is driving her to various appointments, to have various tests and assessments done, which is helping, i guess.... but not quite in the same way as i had imagined. i am her soft place to fall.

and i am sharing this for a whole bunch of reasons; (with my daughter's permission, of course.)
i have known for a while, we would be needing this, but when we finally got to this point in time, it felt weird, scary, and unknown....
....i suppose that there are probably other parents out there who maybe, like i knew, know that at some point they will be crossing this bridge.... i wanted to share that it can still feel icky, it did at first for me anyways.

i also want to put out there that it is okay to wait to cross this bridge until it is the right time for the child... i have heard the philosophy, so many times, that the earlier you can get the help- the better. but, from our experience, so far, i think i disagree.

my girl is almost 10. she has the maturity to be involved in this process in a powerful way. she is the driving force behind this process. she WANTS the help. she WANTS to learn how she learns best. she WANTS to learn what her strengths and weaknesses are. she WANTS access to the help of a teacher, trained to teach how she learns best. and what she wants is of great value and importance to me. the knowledge that there is a reason she hasn't learned these skills yet, has taken the pressure off of her. which leads me to my next thought,

can we please stop putting kids on the spot to read and do math?! to prove they have these skills to us?!
i'm not sure what the motivation is of an adult who does this to a child. i'm not sure i care either. usually, i'm pretty good at giving good motives to people, even if their actions look bunk; but in this case, i can't do it.

what is a person like this trying to achieve? it can go one of a few ways...

the child might have the desired skill, and perform the skill as asked, and the child might feel good about getting to show-off something they are good at. this is the best outcome. not one i have seen or experienced though.

the child might have the desired skill mastered, but not feel like performing it; or might feel puzzled about why this adult is asking them to do it; which at worst, leaves the child feeling conflicted about whether to listen or not, and probably feeling alienated from the adult who did the asking.

take it a step further, suppose the child doesn't have the skills required. now what?
what does the child do? and how do they feel? and what if, they have had difficulty learning whatever the skill is? now, they are on the spot, feeling bad for not being able to do whatever it is. it is simply not fair or kind.

so can we stop expecting that everyone of a certain age will be at the same place in their learning? it's not a reasonable expectation.

and also, just putting this out there, as a parent i felt afraid that i would be blamed for her being "behind".... that people would think that our unschooling lifestyle was at "fault". and that has been implied by people. but here is what I want people to know, what my daughter is facing is a real thing. it has nothing to do with curriculum; or being forced or not forced to do workbooks. it is as real as being born with brown eyes. it is a part of her make up. one doesn't get to choose the color eyes nature gives them. just as our unschooling did not create this challenge. our unschooling has allowed for my daughter to be in control of this challenge; to wait until the time was right for her to face it; and i wouldn't go back and change that. it has been the right decision for her. for us.

she has used the extra time and energy, to develop some amazing skills and abilities. i think perhaps, she may not have been able to do that if we had been busy wrestling with her brain, trying to force it to do something it was not ready for yet. she has also developed some pretty solid confidence and communication skills, empathy, grace, and social skills.

she amazes me everyday, by the kind of person she is.

this week she started her own blog. one which she dictates and i type up for her. it is an amazing blog, and i am looking forward to seeing all the cool things she will share with the world through her blog.

SO, i put all this out there because someone has to. there are plenty of families and children who are facing these challenges. there are plenty of friends and extended families of the families facing these challenges. i wanted to share what it looks like for us. not to gain approval or acceptance. but to inform. and hopefully to give people a better idea of how this feels for us; and maybe how to support ones going through this.

1 comment:

  1. Yup yup and yup! As you know, I waited until Big Boy indicated to me he wanted some sort of intervention. In retrospect, I wish I had listened previously to other ways he was indicating he wanted intervention. But at the time, I never recognised it as such. I'm talking about those 'behaviours'. You know the ones. The ones that drive other people to describe him as "bad" or me as needing to discipline (ie spank) him. People blamed unschooling, my parenting, extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping, anything and everything they could think of rather than call it what it is - a brain difference, disability actually, in a culture with such a narrow definition of 'typical'. I never could really share our process when we were deep in it. By that time we were sufficiently traumatised. And, we're still recovering in fact. So I commend you for blogging your way though. The assessments are tools for you to use, and nevermind those hard core unschoolers who take a different view (the most harsh critics in our journey, unfortunately). Despite the prevailing view in that world, some kids do not "come to it naturally" and some parents aren't the best "teachers" at every given moment. You're brave for saying "yes" to your daughter, despite your "icky" feelings. Keep going!