OK. So. We may need to ask our tutor if she can increase her hours and spend more time with our Jay Boogie.
If you ask him, he will say that school is going “pretty great“.
It is, if you only consider the social aspect of it. He likes his teachers. He and his classmates are getting along well. He says his best friend is Abby. He has joined the art club (which I’m very excited about for him) and he’s happy with his before and after care program.
The problem is that school isn’t only about your social life. There is that pesky little aspect of it that involves academics. Jay has always been the sort of person who learns things at his own pace and when he is ready to learn them. For the most part, that’s been totally fine by me. I didn’t stress out about when he’d be potty trained. Then one day, he just was. I tried for a hot minute to teach him to tie his shoe laces when he was 5. Traditionally it would have been the appropriate time for him to learn it but he was not interested and for years we let it go and bought him slip-ons or velcro shoes. I figured that when he was ready, he’d learn. This past summer he did. He was 9 years old. For the past couple of summers I gently nudged him to learn how to ride a 2-wheeler. It didn’t go well. Again, I left it alone. Lately though, he’s been outside on his scooter and he’s doing a fantastic job of balancing on one foot and steering the scooter down the entire length of the curb; even making turns. I had never seen him do that before. I think a 2 wheeler is not far away at this point.
For so many life skills, I can follow his lead and bring it up when he seems ready. That doesn’t work with multiplication and division though. He needs to know how to do 4th grade math and he needs to do it now, if he’s going to stay in the program he’s in. The tests are going to come on his teachers schedule – Not his. Now, don’t get me wrong, I know it’s not appropriate for all kids to be in a general ed setting with general ed expectations. It may not be the right setting for him and we may be pushing him too hard and too fast, but my gut doesn’t tell me so. I think he can do it. He just needs to put in the work and maybe a little more effort than other students.
I know, as a kid, it sucks when other students seem to be learning things quickly and you are struggling. It does nothing for your self-esteem. But I cannot let him move to a different class (a special ed class) just because it would be an easier road.
I also know that homework isn’t fun. It’s never been fun for anyone. Still gotta do it. Complaining and whining will not make it better. Leaving your agenda book (with the assignment in it) at school will not make it go away. Saying “I don’t know” to everything we ask, will not make us do it for you.
We, (Shaunie especially), really do try to help him with his homework and his studying. Shaunie finds videos that explain things in fun ways and we give him rewards for completing tasks. We give him breaks and try to cut things into small chunks and we don’t leave things for the last-minute. (We’ve been studying for his social studies test since last week. The test is this coming Friday.) When he finally has a breakthrough we make a big deal about how proud we are of him and the pride he feels is evident.
I talk to him and I stress the importance of practice and studying and doing your best. I tell him that nobody figures out everything the first time they try it and nobody gets all the questions right on all their tests. I want him to know that getting 3 questions wrong on his “Fact or Fiction” quiz does not mean he is not smart or that he is not a good student.
I tell him that we will do whatever we can to help him. I remind him that his teachers are there to help, even during a test, so if there is a question he doesn’t understand he can raise his hand and ask them to explain it.
What I will not tell him is that I spoke to his Aunty Juddles and she told me that she has Advanced Placement Science students in high school who do not know their time tables and who use a calculator for everything so even though I should still encourage him to learn them, it’s not the end of the world if he doesn’t learn them all this year.
It’s not the easiest job getting this kid through school. Shaunie has a couple more gray hairs and our pockets are about to be a little lighter thanks to extra tutoring, but with some (or a lot of) help, I know he can do it. And even with all his protestations, I am so dang proud of him for the effort he does exert and all the topics he has already mastered.
Send wine or beer.