Even as we are gearing up TLE for her speech therapy through the school district, I can’t help but have more than a few reservations about the possibility of her being in a traditional classroom in another year or so.
During her evaluation with the speech therapist the other day, I could not help but notice the brusque tone that she took with TLE. Much of the assessment was done using pictures or toys, with TLE having to name the picture/object, tell what belongs or doesn’t belong, tell a story based on the pictures or otherwise show that she comprehended the meaning of a story told to her. TLE is a natural and vivacious storyteller and she did these tasks when asked of her.
But TLE often wanted to ask for more details, tell more of the story/give more details, or otherwise engage the therapist in playing with her about the stories she was making up. We’ve always tried to encourage her story telling, her creativity. But the therapist kept steering her toward that task at hand in her brusque manner, ignoring her questions and demanding that TLE listen. Watching TLE — whose eyes were mostly on the therapist — I could see her confusion and then her frustration at not being able stories and not having her questions answered. By the end of the session, I could tell that she was downtrodden by this adult who wanted none of her stories.
In one hour, she went from being happy, creative and energetic to being sullen and cranky by the end of the assessment. I understand that the therapist was under a time constraint which was part of why she was moving so quickly. But my heart absolutely broke for TLE who has always been in an environment where teachers took time to talk to her, to answer her questions. She is not used to someone who relentlessly pushes her from task to task, not giving her time to adjust or ask questions, all the while reminding her to sit still.
And while I’m thankful for the opportunity for speech therapy, I can’t help but wonder if this is what we have to look forward to in public school. Teachers on time constraints, having to deal with so many kids, all at differing skill levels. I know that it is unlikely that any student will much one-on-one time with their teachers. And while we’ve always said that we’ll supplement her school with learning at home, I can’t help but wonder if it’s enough to compensate for the frustration I’m sure she’ll feel while she’s at school.
I remember being a very active kid with focus issues, unable to get the teacher’s attention when I wanted/needed it or getting the teacher’s attention for the wrong reasons. I remember what it was like being told I wasn’t working to my fullest ability because I could not focus. (Got that every. effing. year. of. school.) I certainly did not love school though I loved learning and eventually learned how to get good grades.
The more I think about it, the less I think that the traditional public school setup is an ideal place for TLE to love learning. And as much as I hope for her to get into the charter school which offers far smaller classes and a learner-centered environment that’s more in line with how her nursery school and preschool are set up, I know that I have little control over that.
The homeschool option is still on the table but one that I do really worry about. I’ve explained to TLE what homeschool is and she loves the idea of “Mommy-teacher” as she calls it. But in our semi-structured lessons at home, it is difficult to get her to concentrate and that’s what makes me nervous. I’ve told her that we can do “Mommy-teacher” at home if she listens to me. I give her a lot of leeway but it feels like I’m torturing her when I have to push her to finish a task.
For example, the other day we were working on numbers. She can count up to 14 and she recognizes the numbers 0 through 3. She had pointed to 0, 1, and 2 when asked and to finish off, I wanted her to point to the number “3″. I knew that she knew it but she did not want to comply! She finally did it but not without a lot of struggle.
Of course, the homeschool option has its critics. The Hubs ™ supports the homeschool idea, since we know better than anyone that TLE thrives off of one-on-one attention. He agrees that putting TLE in a traditional classroom environment, where she’s expected to sit still for hours on end, is pretty much setting her up for failure. Meanwhile, our housemate RD — who is pretty much an aunt-by-proxy — thinks that TLE would be better off in a school to get more socialization. She’s also pointed out that in the real world, TLE won’t always get her way and needs to learn how to get along with other kids.
And this is where I get confused. Is taking the homeschool option really giving TLE “her way”? As her parent, shouldn’t I be doing everything that I can to define and achieve her own successes, even if that definition may not coincide with my own? Is socialization through school really that important?
I don’t have answers yet. All I really have are my doubts.