School Woes

As I write this I am trying to reign in my obvious anger at S’s current school. Logically I know that there are many kids, many needs to meet, but that doesn’t mean my daughter’s needs are not important.

So here is the issue. If you have any advice I would greatly appreciate it! When S lived with her bio family she missed half of kindergarten and half of first grade. As a result she does not have a lot of that foundational or base knowledge to help her solve higher level problems. She is currently in 3rd grade in a mainstream class at our local public school. She gets pulled out (according to her IEP) for 1 hour of reading and 30 mins of math special education services. The goal of those services are to help teach the grade level information again and in an easier way, NOT to reteach the foundational or base knowledge.

The academics are getting harder and the school professionals are noticing that she is acting out behaviorally (being silly, making fun of others, ect) and have instituted a behavior chart where she has to walk to the front of the classroom to move her marker thing (talk about shaming). She is noticing that others are further along than she is. She is hearing the other kids say that they don’t want to be a reading partner with her bc she takes so long to read. She is hearing kids call her an idiot.

She is starting to feel defeated and not try, as of things are too hard for her and will always be. She is missing a significant amount of base learning and they are trying to teach her new things. Like building a house with only half the foundation done, a pointless idea.

She has repeatedly been asking for me to homeschool her or to repeat 3rd grade. She is saying that things are too hard and she feeling overwhelmed. That too many people are working in too many things (her class does many small groups where each group does a different activity. My daughter is has super high anxiety and is always on alert for danger and too many people doing too many things makes that worse and makes it even harder to focus on the academic work.

This morning we met with her teacher and special ed case manager in addition to myself, her, and the social worker. We asked them about a smaller classroom, not an option they said. We asked about getting taken out for more time to work on basics, she is out as much as she can be they said. We asked about being held back a grade, they only do that when there is no progress made and she is making some progress.

The school’s suggestion was to hire a tutor to work with her individually so he can go back to what she needed to learn. A tutor in the summer and AFTER 8 hours of school that we would pay for.

Call me stubborn but that is a shitty option. I told them about her anxiety and fears of safety and lack of social skills (and how she first can’t try and handle the situation herself like her developmentally peers). They said we need to focus on S and helping her focus on her work and ignore others. That simply will not happen until she feels safe which may be YEARS!!!! I’m not ok letting her fall through the cracks and learn that she is at fault for how far behind she is. Learn the social skills of becoming a bully to prevent others from bullying her. To act silly and distracting to prevent people from seeing how behind she is.

Tips or ideas?

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14 thoughts on “School Woes

  1. Oh I’m so sorry this happening to your poor S.

    Firstly, can I say well done to her for being so enthusiastic and wanting to catch up so much that she’d be willing to drop back a grade, and we’ll done to your brave girl for being able to talk to you about how difficult she’s finding school.

    As for school, well, I’m not sure how things work over there but here in the UK i’d be suggesting some training for them on attachment and trauma. If they weren’t willing or it wasn’t effective i’d be looking to move her to a different school, perhaps a smaller school or a school that specialises in children with learning difficulties, but really, that’s what she has, her trauma and anxiety makes it difficult for her to learn. Another suggestion, if you stay put, for the busy classroom is to request that she’s sat with her back against a wall so she isn’t distracted by what’s going on behind her, close to the teacher would be ideal.

    Alternatively, is there a chance of home schooling?

    Hope things get better and someone comes along with some better advice x

    • The school says THEY (the teachers( are aware of the trauma stuff but we can’t expect the kids to be. They “get it” if that makes sense.

      Homeschooling is an option but were not sure if it is the best and how her siblings would take it and all. Just super frustrated. It seems like if kids don’t fit the model then they are not afforded the same education. Since none of my kids fit the model I have a feeling that this is going to be a LONG battle

  2. I always felt behind during my entire education, but really there were just ‘gaps’ in my education from moving so much. One of my foster parents (the only good one actually) ended up hiring a private tutor who came over after school for math and science stuff. (My sisters and I started reading very early, so I was never far behind in that category).

      • I think the tutor helped, but its going to depend on the kid. I took a thirty minute nap after school and then did tutoring for two hours and then went outside the play.

        Homeschooling might have worked, but like your little one I was in need of the social interactions at school to counter some poor social cues that my early childhood abuse created.

        DA

  3. I am not sure how this will sound and please understand I am not lawyer happy but have you thought about hiring a lawyer as the school is clearly not meeting her needs effectively? I know some of my friends here in NY had to do it to meet the needs of their son and it was very effective.

  4. I’m a teacher, and this is what I’d suggest. I’m assuming that S has documented PTSD due to the issues she had with her bio family. If it’s not documented, get it documented. Then, call your district office – NOT your school – and ask to set up a meeting with their special education coordinator to talk about getting S a 504 plan. A 504 is a plan instituted under the ADA and puts a plan into place for things that aren’t learning disabilities, but can still impair a child’s ability to learn. Most people think of blindness or deafness when they think of a 504, but S can DEFINITELY have a 504 for PTSD. (I have a student who has a 504 because she is in recovery for anorexia. It allows her to do things like snack in class.)

    The biggest piece of advice I can give is to NOT let them push you around. If you need to, call your adoption agency and see if they can help you find a disabilities advocate to attend school meetings with you. Be vocal, and be tough! If it comes to it, let them know that you will not hesitate to retain legal counsel to get what is needed for your daughter. You are NOT being a bitch – you are being an advocate for your child!

    Keep us posted.

  5. It’s sad that you are having to battle for what your child so obviously needs. Your instincts of course are right and obviously S needs to have a solid knowledge of the basics before she will ever make secure progress. It seems ridiculous that the school don’t see that and provide what she needs. Excellent advice above about finding an advocate to attend meetings with you. Despite being an experienced teacher I still find I am not listened to by my girls’ school and I resort to taking other professionals with me to back me up. Good luck! x

  6. My encouragement is to homeschool her. You clearly know what she needs help in and as her mom you are going to want to see her succeed more than anyone else. Why not try homeschooling for a year and then see how you and she do? There are a ton of resources out there! I homeschooled my son this past year and will take it one year at a time but it was amazing how efficient we could be and am able to cater to his educational needs.

  7. I agree with Mamaperpetua. Hiring a lawyer, or even a special education advocate, would help. As a parent you have the final say in your child’s education. Get documentation for S’s PTSD and any other diagnosis that she has and institute a 504 Plan. To help S get “caught up” make sure you read to her every night to build up her phonemic awareness. Play games where she generates rhymes, and see if you could start a phonics regiment with her. Talk to local kindergarten and first grade teachers and see what they would recommend. Ideally her repeating the grade would be best. Talk with the school district- go up as high as you can- and do not back down. Think about what kind of accommodations S needs in the classroom and have her therapist write out a note so it can be included in the 504 Plan.

    Third grade is the hardest grade because the student transition from learning to read to reading to learn. Third grade is the year that exposes the kids who do not know their stuff because it is nearly impossible to fake it in 3rd grade.

    ~Taya (special education major and substitute teacher)

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