February 2012

The Winding Road of Learning

by Caroline on February 29, 2012

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My daughters, Bubbles and M-bug, both have ADHD.  It makes most areas of life more challenging, but school and learning are probably the most difficult for us right now. This year we are homeschooling through a public virtual charter school. The curriculum is primarily online, and we do it from home about 3½ days a week. The other day and a half they are at the school’s computer lab, where they can go to clubs, be with other kids, and get help from their teachers.

Studying

How do you learn?

The road we’ve traveled to get to get to this point has been full of twists and turns.

I grew up in a small town. There was one elementary school, one junior high, and one high school. If you lived there all through your school years, like I did, you spent your entire K-12 experience with the same group of kids. Kids came and went, but the core group was the same. I naively assumed that things would be the same for my own kids.

The town we live in now is about 15 times larger than the one where I grew up. There are 15 elementary schools, three middle schools, and three high schools. Even so, Decoder Man and I decided to enroll both girls in a private school, primarily because of its quality of education, Christian emphasis, and the small-town feel. The kids there have an experience much closer to what I did. The class size is smaller, and the students attend school with the same kids all the way through.

The thing about most private schools, however, is that they can’t help students that don’t fit the mold. They don’t have the resources needed to teach special needs kids. I’ve heard stories of private schools that flat out refuse to take kids with learning differences, and that’s not at all what happened here. We couldn’t have been happier with the efforts that the teachers and staff made for M-bug, but it was obvious that she needed more.

The problem was, she couldn’t get more. Often times, children with learning disabilities show progress that is inconsistent. Sometimes they’re up. Sometimes they’re down. Sometimes they’re all over the place. And so it was with M-bug. It was obvious to everybody that she needed special help, but she wasn’t eligible for an IEP based on the newer federal eligibility standards.

So what’s a parent to do? The public school can’t do anything more than the public school was doing. So, we decided to move both girls to a brand new charter school using a multi-sensory approach to learning. Our experience there was in some ways good, some ways bad, and I’m still not ready to dissect it all. But ultimately we decided that even if the charter school made it to a second year (which it did not), we probably wouldn’t be re-enrolling our kids there.

So now what?

Through a friend, we learned about an online public virtual charter school that, while it was open to all students, somewhat specialized in children with special needs. The schoolwork is done on the computer, with added projects and assignments that make it a more rounded experience. The school has a lab where students can work by themselves, with friends, or with their teachers. There are regular field trips and weekly clubs for many different interests.

There are definitely some drawbacks (the amount of time in front of a screen, for one), but we are doing our best to make it a good experience, and so far it has been: M-bug is learning.  We also finally got M-bug on an IEP, after she was formally diagnosed with ADHD last summer. And once we had both girls at home, I realized that Bubbles had ADHD as well. But she doesn’t seem to have the other learning difficulties, so it wasn’t as obvious. ADHD in girls can be so tricky.

So, the path continues to wind. I don’t know if this choice will work for us through high school. However, the more I learn, and the more time I spend with my kids, the happier we are with the forks in the road we’ve taken.

 

Welcome to My World

by Caroline February 27, 2012
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Hi.  My name is Caroline.  I am a fairly Type-A, organized, focused person. As such, I enjoy an uncluttered house, checking things off my to-do list, and The Container Store. My husband (Decoder Man), my daughter Bubbles (11.5 yrs.), and my daughter M-bug (9.5 yrs.) all have ADHD. See the problem? Life for an inherently […]

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