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.