Monday, September 10, 2012


Last week was.

There are several factors at play: an old school teacher, much more rigorous academics than I had anticipated (or think is developmentally appropriate), and then there is the OCD factor.

Any one of those things could create too much homework... all of them?... well it's created a nightmare.

Kid wants to go to school, she just likes to be in that setting around large groups of kids.

I think it makes it easier for her to socialize when it's A) consistent, as in every day and B) organized activities so you don't have to work as hard to interact.

Homeschooling went very well for us.  It was a great fit for us as a family.  It had amazing academic results for Kid, since her OCD doesn't flare up as much when she isn't anxious.  But homeschooling has never been the perfect social fit for her.

While there are numerous (more than numerous... overwhelming even) social opportunities and extracurricular classes for homeschoolers where we live.... if you have social anxiety seeing people once a week doesn't break that down.  Even if you went to one every single day (and we did) you don't get the constant presence of the same kids in your everyday life.  It's just different.  Kid knows that about herself.  If she is in school full time she has the best chance of having a GOOD time when she is with her classmates.  If the activity is once a week she doesn't have time to break through her anxiety and she isn't as comfortable and doesn't have as much fun.

Kid is amazing, in that at 9 years of age she completely understands herself.

So, last week she had 2.75 hours of homework on Tuesday, 1.5 hours on Wednesday, and 2.36 hours on Thursday (that's with me foraging one assignment and dictating another.... which I don't take lightly but I also think things had entered into a level of torture that was inappropriate).

Kid wants to go to school so badly that she'll do this.  She'll torture herself and sacrifice all down time, play dates, extracurriculars, and family time.

It's heartbreaking how badly she wants this.

This thing that is such a bad match for her learning style.

At some point we have to make a decision about what is in her best interest as a whole being.

It feels ironic that we want to say "You can't go to school, it's not a healthy choice"... about school... not eating junk food or riding your bike without a helmet or watching TV all day.

It's hard to hold your sobbing daughter on the couch while she accepts that this is too hard for her... not everyone else.... but her.

That she isn't like the other kids.

She can't have the one thing that she really wants.

"I can't learn that way."  Kid whispers out between sobs.

To make everything more convoluted is that she is still getting all As and Bs.  The work is NOT too hard for her. Which is partly why the teacher is not willing to make any long lasting accommodations for her. Even the Bs were 100% correct just not completed in the way the teacher expects (but had not issued clear directions for... trust me... I can't figure out the expectations)... which adds another layer of frustration when you spend 2 hours on your homework get all of the answers correct and still get your work marked down!  The problem is the amount of work being assigned and the level of independence expected of the students to manage that workload.  Kid just can't keep track of that much work and manage her time during her day... and I don't think it's even developmentally appropriate to expect that.

This week we're allowed to have her print all of her work at school and at home and see if this allows her to get more work accomplished at school.  The cursive has been a real OCD trigger and she'll often erase a word 3 times until it's all perfect and she's obsessed with writing it as small as she can (smaller than typed font) and she said she just can't let it go.  We've also been given a 1 hour homework time limit.  After an hour whatever she hasn't finished should be exempt from grading (I think).  So, we'll see how this week goes.  If it helps hopefully the teacher will be more open to letting us keep these changes.


trifitmom said...

does she have an IEP ? they need to make accomodations it is by law !!!

Julie said...

Mrs F, I feel for you. And for Kid. You know I get it. I cried a bit because I know how heartbreaking it is for you. And for Kid.

The amount of homework & time it takes is just unacceptable. It is not developmentally appropriate. I also can NOT believe she is graded on homework.

Rough is an understatement. I really hope & pray that you can find a good fit for Kid.

Also, on another note, I don't know whether you would ever consider this, but there are some very beneficial SSRIs that have children tremendously with anxiety/OCD (OCD as you know is a type of anxiety disorder.) I was apprehensive about messing with a young, growing brain, but was told that the damage taking place for my little guy far outweighed my concerns. And it is certainly not a quick or complete "fix". It just helps give the child a little bit of clarity, helps them with 'being a kid'. This info came from the world class neurologist & developmental pediatricians at Boston Children's Hospital.

I am thinking of you guys & hope that things go better this week.

Julie said...

I believe private schools do not have to adhere to to the IEP & accommodations...only public schools.

That's why I know a few kids who were told 'it wasn't working out' when their child needed something more than the norm. These were at regular private schools, not parochial.

My indirect experience with religious based schools is that they are rigid academically & not flexible or accommodating to kids who may have different needs.

I live in Massachusetts so this could be just in our state.

Kristina said...

Would you be able to do a 504 plan?

Mrs Furious said...

No she doesn't have an IEP. She was at a private school in NC that didn't perform them and was more willing to accommodate kids' needs. Here she only went to PS for 3 months and they were of zero help. Obviously, I didn't need one to homeschool. Julie is correct that the private school doesn't have to accommodate or follow IEPs. They do have a special support teacher for helping kids with special needs but I'm not sure how they are identified. We are on 90 days probation to see if we're a "good fit" as Julie suggested. Which is a win-win since we have no contract and we can pull her out as well.
One major problem for us is that her classroom behavior and school performance will never get her flagged by a school it is always going to be based on my word that she is underperforming or too stressed. You know? At this school I'd need to search out and pay for a private evaluation and then see if they'd follow it. I wish Kid would be willing to try the PS again, especially now that she's proven she can handle the academic level of this school... but she was really turned off by her 2nd grade experience. And one reason we chose this school is that there is a zero bully/meanness policy (and I don't just mean policy... I mean for real there is ZERO... Jesus doesn't abide that shit) And that had been a problem at PS and I know it is a problem. She also does well with the smaller school/classroom/setting which is much less overwhelming to her. I wish I had known what we were getting into with the homework but we visited and tested in at the end of last year with the 3rd grade class... and they have no homework... so we had no idea what a big jump would happen. I've talked to several parents and the old timers knew this happened at 4th but they all say it's a lot for their kids... but they all made this choice for the religious element and so it's a price they are either willing to pay or believe is appropriate. People seem to chose this school for the religion or the rigor or both. We are the only ones who chose it for the 2x a day recess, awesome playground, and every day gym... oops ;)

Mrs Furious said...

I don't think they have to follow (or create) 504 plans because they don't use federal funding.

I'm going to see how this week goes, if the accommodations help at all. If they do then I'll ask the teacher how we can work to continue to accommodate her and see if they will work with a 504 plan or similar (however they do it). I got for the teacher's tone that they probably won't do that, that it would be temporary until Kid could get a handle on things. I'm also very concerned that 5th grade and up are only going to be worse and am not sure (well I am sure that it's NOT) that this is a sustainable situation for her long term.

While all teachers have known and noticed on their own that Ruby seems lost sometimes, won't ask directions, etc... her excellent behavior combined with above average academic performance just don't make her a concern for them. The fact that she spends hours on homework, doesn't get any work done in the day, has a big grade disparity between homework and tests (especially timed), and never knows what she is supposed to be doing doesn't register with them as an issue. I don't get it. These are all patterns that I'm sure they've seen before but almost every teacher has said that she needs to "learn how to manage her time better" as the solution.

katieo said...

"and I don't just mean policy... I mean for real there is ZERO... Jesus doesn't abide that shit)'

just laughed out loud.

Are there no other (more understanding) teachers in her grade? Is it the whole school that is unrealistically rigid?

It may be on a smaller scale - but I do understand your frustrations. Luke and Sam have their own set of challenges but because they are well behaved they ALWAYS fly under the radar /not taken seriously. It takes some serious advocating.

Mrs Furious said...

unfortunately there is only one class (therefore teacher) per grade. This was, of course, the appeal to Kid since you don't have to make new friends every single year.

I'm not sure if her teacher is particularly rigid or not. I think the 3rd grade might have been particularly loose. The K teacher is amazing. Ruby would have done really well in kindergarten ;)

Are you still on bed rest?
Have you seen the Forsythe Saga on Netflix yet? There are 10 hour long episodes and it's good. It took me an episode or so to really get into it, but like all good shows once you do you can't stop.

Mrs Furious said...

Forsyte Saga not Forsythe!

katieo said...

off bed rest. just added it to my Netflix Queue, thanks!

Brenda said...

Everything Julie said. Our public/private schools are set up the same too.

I always feel guilty about all those years of K struggling and feeling like less, because I don't think I knew how to advocate for him properly. I honestly feel like the elementary years are by far the hardest in that regard for everyone; when they're just little kids who want to have friends and fit in, and your a parent who hasn't been through it before.

Meds, therapy and a legal plan of action all helped us tremendously, once I finally figured out how the system really works. And believe it, I was very reluctant to try meds, but the dent they makes in K's anxiety and attention is invaluable, as is his improved self-confidence.

So proud of Kid for knowing herself so well. It took us a longer time to get there. Hugs to all of you.

Julie said...

It took us a longer time to get there Brenda, I am still working on this one. Go Kid!!

Believe it or not from all I say about Murph, he is really well behaved in school, too. For years, I felt like the teachers thought I was making stuff up. I mean, they all would just say that he is 'unique', 'intriguing' or just so "Murphy." It was long road to get to this point, but it is so amazing when you get to the "right" people. Not that it makes it all better, but to feel understood...nothing like it. Oh, right, that is not the school, it is the specialists at Childrens. All the doctor needed to hear was Murphy's way of speaking & she nailed it. She referred to his British sounding articulation as Prosody--a sign of the spectrum--as opposed to the douche bag who told me he had "Foreign Accent Syndrome". The speech therapist at the school never even noticed it & she knew him. Eh, what did I know? I absolutely love his voice. I wouldn't change it for anything. I'm telling you, if there ever was a way to make the "F" word sound cute, it's Murphy.

It makes me so annoyed to hear teachers tell you that Kid 'needs to manage her time better.' Clueless.

We are the only ones who chose it for the 2x a day recess, awesome playground, and every day gym... oops ;) Well, the school has that right. My kids only get gym for half the year. God, I just think of the whole thing with the cursive. How old school. M's 3rd grade teacher taught it for like a day. I have never seen either of my kids write in cursive. I just assume it was taught. I never saw the evidence.

Btw, today was a really good day over in my camp. M went to school happily and came home happy. His homework did not cause me to cry in the back stairs or have him swear at anyone. Day by day, man. I take it day by day.

trifitmom said...

ahh i so know how you guys feel. as you know my NOW 8 year old has ocd, i am very lucky b/c i was got her an IEP for kindergarten. she does excellent in school, has friends and is social, does her school work, follows the rules. preschool teachers thought i was a nut, friends and family thought i was a nut. i went once to meet with child study team and they were like "send her to prschool one more year" she is right around cut off. next time i went to meeting with a video of her fits at HOME since she would never have them in front of people. they saw that video and were quick to give me iep. i have the homework problem as well. it is HELL. pure HELL. i dread when it starts up again. she is on 25mg of zoloft and that has helped a ton. it is a journey and wip. i am so sorry for you and the school setting ...sounds like you need a teacher who really understands, maybe video tape her doing her homework and that might help the teacher understand.

Brenda said...

Hope this week went better, Mrs. F.

Mrs Furious said...

I'm not sure how it went to be honest. Printing is clearly making a huge difference in how much she can get done (and how quickly) at school. Her homework load was vastly reduced. She also remembered all her work this week... but there are still serious concerns about what is going on in the classroom. She definitely doesn't understand what she's supposed to do on a fair amount of her assignments. I'm extremely conflicted. I guess we're just taking it one week at a time. But it's exhausting.

Julie said...

I am checking in, too, Mrs. F. God, it sounds so similar to what is going on for Murphy. Except he willingly 'gives up'. It is very exhausting, huh. Hang in there.

Brenda said...

One week at a time, one day at a time...nothing wrong with that. Whatever works.

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