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Friday, February 3, 2012

I'd do anything for her, and I'm willing to prove it

There are few times when you feel as helpless as you do when you know your child is doing all that she/he can do and is still struggling so hard in school. They are embarrassed and ashamed. They see their friends and peers “getting it”, yet it just doesn’t click for them.  It can be even harder if there are other children in the household who excel academically. The emotional pain they feel is excruciating.
This is what we are going through with our oldest daughter Hannah.
She is a wonderful little girl. She lights up the room with her smile. She is goofy, funny, silly.

She is amazing. But she struggles so much with her schooling.
There are drawbacks to both public and private schools. In the public sector she was getting lost in the classroom. But in the private school there are only a couple other kids in the class, so every one knows everything about every one. The competition is horrendous. And just because it's a christian school doesn't mean there isn't bullying going on. Believe me, I've gotten pretty vocal about their need to whoop some kids' butts!!!
When we had her in a public school she was able to get into special education classes. She was given an IEP (Individualized Education Program). But in this private school that option is not available for her. I'm not asking for a pity party "Oh, poor kids for going to a private school". Not at all, we are fortunate to have all three kids going to Central Baptist. But we aren't so sure if we will keep the kids in Central next year, even if we do stay in Mississippi.
In public school we have been able to get her a lot of testing, and a lot of help. When we lived in Texas the Public School System even did a determination of disability for her.  She underwent so many tests it made my head spin. What the counselors told me was nothing short of disturbing:
Let me assure that I’m not in denial. I just know that my daughter is not mentally retarded. And if she was I would love her just the same and offer her the same help I am now.
Last school year she struggled. We got her in with a tutor and it helped but not like we were hoping for. This year has been extremely difficult, it's beyond frustrating for her father and I so I can't imagine what she's going through.
I finally bit the bullet and called The Tutoring Club. Hannah and I met with Mr. Wade, who runs the office here in Hattiesburg yesterday. We brought in all her classwork and tests for the past couple weeks and we looked over everything. He let Hannah know that The Tutoring Club was a 100% honesty club. That she would never get into trouble for being completely honest with him, no matter what was said.
He asked Hannah a few questions, asked her if she liked school. She said “Yes.” He asked her if she had a hard time in school, “Yes”. He asked her if she wanted to find a way to make learning easier, "YES!!!" He asked her if she would hang out in the study room while he and I talked.
He said “It almost seems like she doesn’t understand what is being asked of her in any of these tests. I’m going to suggest we go ahead and do a skills assessment for everything, then we’ll see if what I’m suspecting is right.” I agreed.
The test took an hour and then we went over it. Her vocabulary skills were at a 3.0 level which means she is placing like she should be just entering the third grade, not nearly through with the third grade. But then came the startling discovery. Her comprehensive skills placed her at 2.1 like she was just entering the second grade. She doesn’t understand (comprehend) the work, so of course she’s failing.
He called Hannah back in and laid out some of her work from school, “Hannah, quick question, why did you answer these questions like these?”
“Because I didn’t know what else to put down, I didn’t understand it but I can’t turn in a blank test, so I just put down anything.” She paused then shrugged her shoulders, “I just don’t understand why I’m dumb.”
My heart died right there.
“Oh, you aren’t dumb, not at all. Your brain just works differently and we’re here to figure that out. Are you willing to work with me so we can get you back on track?”
“Yes!” She was beaming that beautiful smile now.
Then Mr. Wade turned to me, "Just like with what I said to Hannah, what I say to you will be 100% honest. If I cannot help a child I will let the parent know that I cannot help them, that it is beyond the realm of my expertise. I can help Hannah!" We start on Monday, going twice a week. But he’s guaranteed that he’ll have her ready for the fourth grade on time. There is hope, even if that hope comes with a hefty price tag!
p.s. I'd give up my Starbucks, my Wen haircare, going out to eat, my Yellow Box flip flops addiction, even cable if it meant affording tutoring for my Hannah - or any of my kids, for that matter. Fortunately The Tutoring Club is very affordable, so if your child is struggling I urge you to give them a call!