I see that hand at the front of the class….yes….you, Sally.
Sally asks, “Theresa, you sure do a lot of bitching about the educational system. What do you suggest we do with our kids who have learning differences? And what makes you such a freakin’ expert?”
Yes, I am a critic of our education systems. I have been ruined through the teachings of people like John Taylor Gatto, Seth Godin or Sir Ken Robinson and will never view a government school in the same light. (And a tip of the hat to Chris Davis who was the first person to first send us on the wonderful journey of Identity Directed Education. I credit him with saving my sanity back in the early days of home educating our kids.)
But for me, the opposition to the systematic process of schooling got personal when I realized that to insist Daniel, now 15, fit into a Scope and Sequence at the age of 6 would end in disaster. Especially since by then he was diagnosed with ADHD, Sensory Integration Dysfunction and other garden variety delays.
I immersed myself in educating myself about these matters. I found it especially curious that much of the diagnostic criteria for ADHD is centered on a classroom. (“Has trouble waiting for turns…Will blurt out answers without permission….Homework is often missed, etc, etc…”)
And I also began to question the “pathology” behind Daniel’s unique differences. The occupational therapy evaluation stated he had a fine motor dysfunction. But yet when he was two, he removed all the outlet switch covers in the living room. That’s a task I have trouble doing….those dumb screws are so small.
And the developmental delay? This kid who, at age four, knew more about plumbing than many grown men? This kid who was dismantling things and creating new inventions by age 6? (Okay….so maybe the “rodent shredder” wasn’t such a good idea but I digress.)
My wake-up call was when the developmental pediatrician snapped, “This child needs to be in school and on medication!” And this is when I was challenged—Who was the expert on my child? This doctor who just spent 15 minutes evaluating him? Or Jay and I?
It was intimidating.
I hope this illustrates that I am, indeed, a freakin’ expert. At least when it comes to my opinion and the knowledge of my children.
And that first brilliant question, Sally. (Because we all know that education often begins with a question.) What do you do? How do you educate a child who is bouncing off the walls?
A caveat: I love what my friend Wayne Jacobsen says. He is very leery of questions that begin with “How do you…” or “What do you….” Why? Because underneath the surface, it is saying “Give me a roadmap so I can repeat the process and the resultant success I see in your life.” (Those are my words by the way…with apologies to Wayne.) It just doesn’t work that way, people. That’s an approach that works on an assembly line….not on humans.
REMEMBER: Every child, every parent is different and your journey is going to be unique. Seth Godin reminds us regularly that there is no map.
So with that in mind: First thing I recommend is to WAIT. Take time sort out your questions. This is especially important if you’re bringing your child home from school environment.
A few questions worth asking:
What is my child’s learning style?
What are they curious about?
What is my learning style as a parent? (This is important to know because if you are geared toward book learning like I am, you can unintentionally create a bias against your child’s learning style if they learn best through a hands-on approach.)
What are my child’s personality tendencies? Are they sensitive follower or a take charge leader?
It’s important to consider these things regularly with your kids, learning differences or not. But I will say that if you do have ADHD in the home, the fallout from NOT considering these things can be more significant.
There are great resources to help you sort this stuff out. Hop over to my friend Deb Ingino’s website at www.mywiredstyle.com and consider purchasing the personality profile kits for your children. She is a WEALTH of information and helpfulness.
Look on Amazon and plug in “learning differences” and peruse the books.
Talk with other parents who’ve walked this out and have older kids. My first homeschool mentor was Kathy and I will be forever grateful for her heartfelt insight from raising her handful. (Who, btw, is well into adulthood and doing very well.)
And it is from here that you develop your own course of action. Set aside the map and reach for a compass.
Filed under: ADD/ADHD, education, homeschooling, Individuality, Labels are for Soup Cans, PDD-NOS, Public schooling, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »