Thoughts About School and Achievement

Wednesday was my son’s last day of first grade. It was the last day of a year of transition from half days at school (4 years worth) to a full day. The academic bar was raised again and again, during the year. We know that he has developmental delays with his fine motor planning, and that makes writing more difficult than for the average child. He wants to be able to write a smooth line, and cut out all sorts of complicated shapes with scissors, but the signal between his brain and his muscles doesn’t work as well as it should. His Sensory Processing Disorder also makes life in school more difficult. He has to work much harder and longer on certain tasks to reach goals set by his school. When it comes to reading and writing, there again, he has to work 3-4 times harder than the average child his age, to meet the goals. But the fortunate thing for him, is that with hard work and a variety of therapies that he has received and is currently receiving, he can meet the goals. There are some kids who may never meet the goals.

How do I explain to my son that in order for him to do average on his school work, he’ll have to work much harder than a lot of his classmates? We go over his spelling words again and again, and he gets 5 out of 10 correct- and this is in addition to his working on them during school. On an exceptionally busy week when we don’t go over his spelling words enough at home, he’ll get 2 or 3 out of 10 correct. At this point, he doesn’t really understand the concept of trying to spell all the words correctly to achieve a good grade. Whether he spells 2 words or 7 words correctly, makes little difference to him.

I guess this is one of those life lessons, where I have to adjust my assumptions on how school life for my son will be. For me, school wasn’t too difficult. At times I was pretty bored because some subjects weren’t challenging enough. My parent’s didn’t sit down with me to help me with homework. If I had a question, I’d ask them. For my son, he’ll be at the end of his rope, frustrated, tired, worn out, in tears as I put him to bed, telling me that he needs a break and that it’s all too hard. I hold him and tell him that yes, it’s hard right now. And that it will get easier one day.

When that time is, I have no idea. Will things turn around once reading and writing aren’t such a struggle. Or will the new challenges that the higher grades bring, also leave him in tears? Only time will tell. So, for now, my goal with my son is for him to accomplish as much as he can. I push him, helping him up the steep hills. And one days he’ll be capable and able to do it on his own. Will he become an honor student, earning those coveted good grades? Will he barely scrape by? Only time will tell.

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About mariner2mother

I'm a mother of a very spirited 14 year old son, and a former merchant ship's deck officer. To feed my creative side I take photos and make a very occasional batch of soap. I am also Reiki attuned and am a student of Energy Healing, having used several healing modalities to work on myself and my family.
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5 Responses to Thoughts About School and Achievement

  1. MamaZuzi says:

    I know the feeling although we’ve been lucky that our son has been very verbal and ahead on things like reading while behind on the fine motor skill tasks and writing for what seems like forever. He finally in 4th grade has come into his own a bit in terms of writing… no longer needing the fine motor help although being left handed has added to the challenge. Hang in there and just keep supporting him. Yes he is going to have to work a bit harder but also… does he have an IEP? He may need the school to give him supports.

    • Zuzi- thanks for the encouragement. Yes, he’s on an IEP; since he was 2. He receives PT through the school. I want to keep up on what he needs so he doesn’t come off the IEP while he still needs help. They tried to take him off it right after kindergarten, but he had such a tough time in first grade. We’ll just take it one year at a time.

  2. Heligirl says:

    He’s so lucky he has such a strong and supportive mother who is so dedicated to his growth and development. You’re doing an amazing job and one day, he’ll look back and tell stories about how his mom never gave up. Have you seen the movie “Temple Grandin,” the true story of a woman with Autism in the 60s and how her mother never gave up on her? She’s a very well respected animal hunbandry expert and professor now. The movie is a very moving tribute to her Temple’s mother’s dedication.

  3. Thanks a lot. As for Dr. Grandin’s movie, I have not seen it. Would like too, though. She wrote the introduction to the new edition of Raising a Sensory Smart Child.

  4. MamaZuzi says:

    Yes you have to continually keep on top of where they are at and what they need. They took our son off his IEP for kindergarten but his teacher that year asked that he be checked for speech and handwriting and then he requalified. This is the first year he’s been not needing the handwriting help. So for now just more intense speech. That is one of the couple things that really bothers him… not being understood and the SPD. We do the best we can with what we know and just keep learning. He is lucky to have you!

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