It almost seems feast or famine with blog topics. This just seems to be a 'feast week' for this outspoken mom. I am struggling with my children and their schools and frankly, really struggling with my son and his schooling and it is affecting our whole family.
My husband and I never set out to have 3 of our children at 3 different schools. We had visions of our 3 older children playing together and growing up together having the same teachers, being friends with the same families for 9+ years while our children all attended school together. We started out KNOWING our children would go to private school as we live in Richfield and the school district is set up(currently, but all will be changing next year) for children to switch schools every 3 years. See, Richfield has their Elementary schools K-2, then an Intermediate school 3-5, then Middle school 6-8, then high school for 9-12. We knew our son had issues with transitions so, we chose a school we thought he would be able to be at from K-8 and his sisters would join him there once they started school too.
Life didn't work out the way we planned. Our son ended up not doing very well at the private school. Not because he isn't smart, actually my son is quite smart, I think it is safe to say he will out smart me in a few short years. But, my son is on the Spectrum and even though he is so high functioning many people don't even notice for some reason in school, ALL of his Asperger's traits and some other traits we can't even classify come out in him.
So, long story short, our son left the private school at the end of 1st grade and we sent him to Richfield public schools. Meanwhile, our 2nd child heard about a new Spanish school opening up and was bound and determined to go there for Kindergarten because she was sad she couldn't play with the Spanish speaking children in our neighborhood and desperately wanted to learn Spanish to be their friend. So, the same year my son started at our local Elementary school for 2nd Grade, our oldest daughter started at the Richfield Spanish school. Which by the way, our son wouldn't be able to attend even if he wanted to because it was a brand new school and started a year after he started school. Then, when it came time for our 3rd child to start Kindergarten this past fall, we were torn. We would have loved for her to go to the Spanish school but, her sister is pretty outspoken and friends are much more important to her than family. Plus, our 3rd child tends to be a bit more timid and tends to be tender-hearted. So, we thought and prayed hard and were led back to the private school our son first started at 3 years ago.
So, here we are, 3 children, 3 different schools. We didn't plan it, we didn't expect this is how the educating of our children would go but, this is how it is going so we are making the best of it. However, after my son having a great year of school last year, he had to switch schools again and head off to the Intermediate school in Richfield. It wasn't a smooth transition by any stretch of the imagination in fact, it has been a huge struggle and we have been torn as to what to do. We don't want our son to transfer schools again because of how hard transitions are for him but, we fear he isn't getting educated the way he needs.
Now, listen I do put my children first, absolutely it is MY job. I don't work outside of the home so, yes my children are my job so they do come first. But, I am not raising entitled children, I am trying to raise children that feel strong and secure in their family life and in themselves. But, here as I type I am struggling with how to best educate my oldest, my first baby, my son. The traditional school setting just doesn't seem to be the best for him. So, not only as a mom but, as a person who went to college to be a teacher because of the hard struggles I had in school and I wanted to change that....it upsets me to no end to watch my son having the exact same struggles I had in school. It pains me to see him doing in-school suspension, it pains me to see how few friends he has, it pains me to see someone so incredibly smart, being seemingly pushed aside and lost in the shuffle of school because he 'isn't doing it right'.
This is the pain of having a child on the Spectrum. There are so many different points on the spectrum that no two children on it are alike. Because, every child is different, every year will be a different situation because you have a different classroom, different teachers and different friends in the room. Add to that my son and his situation of being in 3 different schools in 4 years and yet again as Richfield changes its schools around for next school year making their elementary schools K-5 again, we struggle, I struggle with knowing the right course to put my son on.
Am I supposed to home school him? Is that the reason I went to college to be a teacher, to educate my own son? Are we supposed to transfer him yet again back to the school he did so well at last year but, in all intensive purposes will be a completely different school from what it was since it was K-2 when he went there and now will be K-5. Do we keep him at the school he is at now hoping it will be a better fit for him next year because it is becoming a STEM school. Which for those of you that don't know is SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, and MATHEMATICS. Meaning that next year he won't have to try and sit still in a desk for 4, 5, 6 hours a day. He will have the opportunity to be more hands on in his learning and do labs, experiments and such. Or do we home school him until 6th grade? UGH. I really don't want to do that but, this isn't about me, I can't be selfish. If I choose not to home school my son only because of my own fears of no free time for me, my own insecurities as a teacher, or whatever else, that isn't fair to my son.
So, here I sit, praying, begging, pleading for answers and yet I feel like I am only getting more questions. It is so hard to see my 'perfectly normal' to me and my husband son being able to live in the 'world' but, yet seemingly be so incapable of functioning in school. It is hard to hear my son is in adaptive phys Ed class because he can't function in regular phys Ed class yet, he is on the local freestyle ski team and he is 8 and doing 180's, jumps, skies backwards and is trying to master the rails. It is hard to hear that my son needs special education because he isn't able to sit still and is antsy 'almost like he has ADD' yet, at our cabin in the summer I watch him sit on the dock for hours fishing or driving his own little row boat around the lake. It is hard to hear my son only wants to read at school and not much else but, at home, he wants to be outside, sledding, playing with friends, hanging with mom and dad or creating some new toy or something.
Yes, outside of school my husband and I have an almost perfectly 'normal' son it is mostly in school our son seems to be 'odd', 'unable to fit in', and most scary to us, sometimes violent towards others. My husband and I believe it is often due to all the 'extra attention' he gets from special educators, adaptive programs and such he feels like a caged animal and is plain panicking because he just wants to be treated like everyone else...even though he isn't like everyone else.
Yes, I have 4 perfect children they are four perfect gifts from God. I truly believe how they are is how God intended them to be. It is my job to raise them according to their individual needs. So, if that makes me seem like a mom that expects the world to revolve around my children then so be it. I am doing the best I know how, that is all I can do and frankly right now and many other times, I truly don't have ONE clue if what I am doing is right or not. Unfortunately I feel sometimes my children are guinea pigs and I am experimenting on them all. Life is really hard having 4 children and it is really hard that they are all seemingly SO different! But, I truly love my job and I love that I have these 4 incredible children. I welcome all they bring to my life, I have gained much more of an education I ever received in any college.
Being a parent is a constant learning process and I feel like many times I am only at the Kindergarten level of parenting. I have no idea what the future may hold for my children's education from year to year. I have given up trying to force that issue as it seems to change yearly not only for my son but, my daughter's too. Who knows, my 4th child may end up at Boarding School for all I know! (Insert a BIG laugh there).
What does the future hold for my son? Right now that is what my husband and I are focusing on the most. We don't know, we may never know until the future gets here but, for now, we sit back, pray and try to help him and the educators as best as we know how. So, for this post...instead of ripping me apart with all of my mistakes and so thought imperfections as not only a mother but, a blogger, it would be nice if you could post some helpful advice or similar stories to help us make it through this extremely rough time. I feel I have learned the most through other parents of other children on the Spectrum, I think we all can learn a lot from each other if we just listen. Not ALL parts of the story may apply to ALL people but, bits and pieces may just save one of us/you some turmoil. Isn't that what a true 'Community' is all about?
I will never apologize for writing a so called 'mom blog' because frankly, that is what I am, a mom and that is my job. Hence why I am called the Outspoken Mom.