We all want the absolute best for our children, we want them to learn and grown, struggle, but not too much. We want to protect them and guide them into becoming the very best people they can be. Unfortunately babies don't come with a 'how to' manual and with Madison being our oldest, she's been the learning curve for Aiden. I will be the first to admit that when it comes to her education there is so much I didn't understand. I though Kinder was still story and nap time for half the day until I signed her up for school and found out differently.
When she started to get back graded tests in first grade I was a little surprised, then she started to come home with failing tests scores on her math papers. When I asked about them I was told they are just practice grades getting them ready for 2nd grade, preparing them. At her parent teacher conference we were assured that they knew she was struggling a bit, but it was the beginning of the year and they were still working on learning the concepts in class. We saw progress reports from the i-Station testing - which makes absolutely NO sense to me.
The year progressed and still her math tests were coming back with failing grades. I asked around to other parents for advice - some recommended apps for the iPad, other flash cards and workbooks, and others told me not to worry too much she was only in 1st grade. We tried apps, we got her a Math Slam game, we bought work books and practiced in those. I still did not feel she was progressing, so I finally decided to take her to be evaluated by an outside tutoring center.
What I learned in that hour was very upsetting and distressing - Madison was still not comprehending things she should've learned in Kinder. She was struggling with the basics, everything she has been learning this year has been so hard for her because she doesn't get the fundamentals. I'll be completely honest, I cried and felt that I was failing my child. My baby. I wasn't fighting hard enough to get her help she needed, all those failing math tests were a reflection of my parenting.
We live in a small community and we knew going into 1st grade that the school was a failing school, but last summer I called and talked to the director of curriculum for the district and was reassured that they had 'cleaned' house and steps were in place to bring the school back up to passing. As someone who is not familiar with school systems or the teaching world I struggle to know when I should be concerned or if they are indeed taking the right steps. We took a chance and stayed with her local school and now I'm regretting that decision.
I've met with her teacher, who is very sweet and of course wants the best for Madison, but when I learned that she's been getting extra help with math for pretty much the entire year and is still struggling this much I have to ask - WHY hasn't more been done? WHY did it take me going outside the school? WHY has she not been tested further?
I've learned a lot of lessons through this and looking back I wish I had pushed harder for more help for her. I shouldn't have assumed the school would take the necessary steps if she wasn't understanding the material. I wish there had been more communication weekly between her teacher and I on what she wasn't getting.
Right now we are continuing with twice weekly tutoring outside the school and we will be meeting with the principals and diagnostician to see how we can further help her. Oliver and I have even discussed moving sooner rather than later to get her into a better school system, but I guess I need to see what plan of action her school can provide us.
Sharing this was hard for me, but my hope is that other Mom's who are new to school age children and may be going through something similar will not feel so alone. When we go through difficulties in life - getting pregnant, weight loss, parenting - it's hard to not feel like everyone else has their shit together. You see so much of people's lives online, the highlight reel if you will, but I always feel better sharing my struggles and learning from others experiences.