Friday, December 17, 2010

mama bear says, “grrrrrr”

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I feel good. I feel elated. I feel like a load has been lifted. I feel so much better. I feel hopeful. I feel excited.

I advocated.


That’s right. I played the mama bear and I found a way to let my kid be a kid a little longer. I found a way to make sure she is taken care of by contract. In an official capacity. By state mandate.

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You see, I have a very smart 6th grader. But producing proof of learning can be challenging when you have ADD and processing issues and you attend public school where everything is done with the whole in mind; with the bell curve as your guide. Because not everyone fits into the same mold. (I don’t think we’re supposed to.)

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Homework and school assignments that are supposed to take 20 minutes have been taking 1-2 hours and sometimes more, with me at her side aiding and helping and nudging and coaching and re-teaching. She was catching the bus before 7 am and still doing homework at 8pm. Her lunches were spent in the class rooms with teachers making up work that she hadn’t been able to complete, or finishing tests that the rest of the class could finish during class time.

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Well, not any more, folks.

Now we have an official contract. A 504. People tried to fight against it or tell me it wasn’t necessary. I was told to hold off and try other things. But here’s the deal: every day that nothing was changed for her was a day that she struggled. A whole day that she had to work so hard to maintain, just to feel like a failure if she couldn’t finish. How many days does it take of feeling like that before a child will give up? I don’t ever want to find out the answer to that.

Today is the first day that there are new expectations. Today is the first day that three parties will have a duty to fulfill. The school, the parent, and the student. We were all trying to work together to begin with, but there is a “system” in the middle of it. There is the “They” that always gets in the way.

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Do you know that they can’t/won’t do the testing (that already exists and is standing by) that would help us understand her processing issues because she is on the honor roll? That’s right; she would have to FAIL in order to qualify for the testing. She is on the honor roll because the girl cares. She has worked endless hours and put so much worry into her work hoping that her teachers would not think she was a slacker or that she didn’t care. It is incredible to me that someone has to fail in order to be helped. That seems backwards to me. Shouldn’t we be preventative? We should be helpful and hopeful and passing those good qualities on to our youth. We should be giving our children the tools they need to succeed. Instead they are failing in order to receive help. We are teaching our children to fail.

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So now, the school’s job is to modify her assignments and they are required to give her more “kid time” by letting her go to lunch with her friends at least 3 days a week. My contract requires me to make her stop working on any given assignment after 20 minutes! I can’t fathom. She is required to advocate for herself by asking the teachers more questions (she hasn’t been asking).*

When she got home from school yesterday, I read her the contract and we both cheered and jumped up and down around the kitchen.

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My kid can have time to be a kid! My intelligent child can prove that she is learning in a way that will not make her feel like she is a failure! It’s just the start, but it feels like a good one.

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*There are a couple other details and I am paraphrasing some of it because I want to respect her privacy (not everyone is an open book like me;).

ps--for your information: she is not on ADD medication at this time.  She has taken them in the past and last year she felt like she wasn't getting enough out of them considering the side effects that she was dealing with. 

pss--go ahead, ask me questions.  That's the only I way I figured out how I could help my girlie.  I am happy to answer any questions you may have...

14 comments:

Leigh said...

good for you and good for her! It's maddening to think that a child has to full out fail to get help, seems to make a lot more sense to help NOW. You're a great mom for taking the time and making the effort and for being the voice that needed to be heard.

Makes a lot of sense to me that she needs KID time, too. Excellent that it's part of the contract.

I think your story is very inspiring and loving, and exciting.

Thanks for sharing it.

Clairissa said...

You are a great mom in so many ways. I love that you are standing up for your child and not letting "the system" tell you what to do, bully you into anything or make you feel less than. You are taking charge of your life and helping your daughter take charge of her own. Excellent, excellent, excellent!! If only we could plant this idea into so many other parents' minds. Inception, anyone? :)

FeLog said...

That post made me cry. I get so frustrated with the lack of caring the public schools have. They have a process for everything, as if every child and issue can be found in the books. Good for you! You're a good mom for sitting by her side and fighting for her. I am an advocate for no more homework - just because kids need to be kids after being in school ALL DAY (maybe in H.S). But, making a child fail before you can solve a problem is so sad.

I wish I could change the public school system.. but I wouldn't even know where to start. I've been teaching in private schools, and although they are SO MUCH BETTER for our kids, they are expensive.

Charter Schools are a good start... but we'll see as they develop. Good luck to you and her.

Miss Mary said...

Hello! I hardly ever comment, but I just love your blog and visit everytime you make a post :) I am a friend of Krista's from the Stonegate/ Rancho/ SV/ MV days.

I just have to say--this post is amazing. You are an incredible woman and mother, and I love how you advocated for your child. I think so many people can get bullied by the system, and it is so refreshing to see a mother standnig up for what is best, and making sure that her child gets what is owed to her. You are very inspiring! I am so proud of you and so excited for your daughter!

ANG said...

I am proud of you. And her. I think it's great that there is a way for her to be who she is - and unmedicated too.

Steve Finnell said...

you are invited to follow my blog

Merrilee said...

As a public school teacher, I am frustrated with the process also. I would love to have services provided for more of my kids in the gray area. Good for you for pushing for a 504. Make sure it is honored. I am a believer in public schools. I hope we can make changes so they work better for our kids.

Candice said...

YOU SO TOTALLY ROCK! Love you

Candice

Rachie said...

WOOOHOOOO Yay! I'm so happy for you & my darling niece! She is such a Smart and Dedicated Girl! I'm so Proud of you both! I wished I was there in the kitchen dancing too! I can just picture it! Love you both!

Emma Jo said...

You (and your daughter) are truly amazing and inspiring and beautiful. I am so so happy that something wonderful and positive has happened! Well done Momma Bear!

Paige said...

Grrrrrrr is right! I've been pushing for a 504 for years but she's too "smart" to qualify for an iep? WTF? Mine is in 3rd grade and the meds help but there's nothing more frustrating then studying with her for hours for a spelling test and getting a 70% every time! And then when your twin doesn't look at the words beforehand and gets 100% on the test talk about a horror-

Love your blog Britt!

the wrath of khandrea said...

it's so hard when you feel like the school is not on your side. way to handle it!!

Catherine said...

My sister shared this with me and it made me so frustrated! Bless your daughter's heart for working so hard and caring and being an honor roll student! I'm amazed by her! I hope things are easier now and that she's having fun being a kid!

Darlene Young said...

I just found this, and I'm so glad. We're just starting the process of evaluating my son, who is just like this: honors student (straight A's) but taking three and four times longer to do any assignment than anyone else. So no play time, ever. Poor kid! He's very low-energy, so no one thinks he has ADHD. But dreamy and easily distracted. Sounds like it could be ADD.

I don't even know where to start. What kind of testing did you have done? Who did it? What kind of side effects does the medication have? Do you know how people with ADD cope in jr. high, high school and college?

I sure could use some help. If it's easier, please e-mail me at youngbookshelf@ gmail.com. Thanks!