This week I have to go to a parent-teacher meeting regarding The Spawn. They are concerned he is developmentally behind because he’s four and people have a hard time understanding him. His speech isn’t where it “should be.” And this just puts a knot in my skirt.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I want to honestly and lovingly help my son with any challenges he might face, but sometimes I want to scream. We have handed our kids to the bean-counters and academics and the children are the collateral damage.
This Isn’t Our First Rodeo
When The Spawn was two months old, I took him for his first checkup and vaccinations. They wanted to give him and UNGODLY amount of vaccinations at one time and I said no. I wanted to space them out. He weighed only eight pounds and common sense dictated that a tiny body could not take that kind of bombardment.
The pediatrician shopped short of calling me an abusive mother.
Jerk Doctor: Well, the American Medical Association says—
Me: Okay, stop there. Doctors also thought radiation for everything was AWESOME and once recommended X-Raying children’s feet to fit SHOES properly. They prescribed Thalidomide for morning sickness which caused rampant birth defects. Every drug pulled by the FDA has first been approved by the FDA. So logic is not on your side, Buddy, and forgive me if I don’t worship the APA, AMA, FDA because I think that’s a good way to end up DOA.
He loooooved me.
What was particularly interesting was when I took our dog, Pippa, to be vaccinated, she weighed the same. Eight pounds. The veterinarian made me take her in multiple times because a body that small couldn’t take the onslaught of mass vaccinations. I asked if she could be my son’s pediatrician because she had more sense.
Let’s just say I have a history of being THAT Mom.
College Prep for Infants
So a couple weeks ago I hear a commercial for an on-line education system and I’m sure it’s great. But the commercial ticked me off. It’s a mom’s voiceover with touchy-feely music talking about how her son was born with a health issue and spent his first six months of life in a hospital and she was deeply concerned he’d be behind educationally.
All right. I am from Texas and maybe I’m a dumb redneck, but what’s a kid learning between birth and 6 months that needs help from a computer learning tool? Maybe The Spawn is defective because I remember chewing on toes and rolling across the living room floor to be the big deal.
I’m a bad mother. I was letting him teethe on picture books instead of refining his understanding of fluid dynamics.
Big Trouble in Little Wedgewood Elementary
I was always in trouble in school. Yes, I see your shock face. I didn’t learn linearly. I had to reverse engineer everything and still do. I have the mind of an engineer or a ferret (jury is still out on that one). I have to pull things apart to understand HOW they work.
My mom was great. She didn’t force me to sit at a desk and do things the way “normal” kids were supposed to, likely because she already knew The Normal Ship sailed without me. She didn’t care if I did my homework hanging like a bat at midnight wearing a tutu so long as it got done and I made good grades. School, on the other hand, was not thrilled with me hanging like a bat in a tutu and this is why all memories of third grade involve me sitting in the hall.
I made the best grades but was in the most trouble and not a lot has changed.
I think standardized testing is fine…no, sorry I think it’s boneheaded. It has nothing to do with knowledge and only tests one’s ability to take a test. I scored so low on my SAT I think they had to check me for a pulse. I started out in junior college in Moron Math while I tutored Chemistry and Physics for extra money and read books on Chaos Theory for fun.
The “Test” told them what math class I needed and the
Oracle Test doesn’t lie.
I dropped out of high school twice. It took me five years to graduate by the skin of my teeth and I am the reason for the current truancy laws. But, in my 20s, I spoke four languages and earned a degree in International Relations with a heavy emphasis on Political Economy of the Middle East and North Africa. I was a killer code-breaker and every branch of the military wanted me in Intelligence. So that whole reverse-engineering I received Fs for in school was apparently very useful after all.
Ironically, this skill is what makes me an excellent teacher.
What is Standard Anyway?
Either let our teachers be teachers and do their jobs and their art (which teaching IS) or just be honest and hand them a white lab coat and a clipboard and be done with it. Reward the kids with a Nutri-Log if they can figure out how the hell Common Core Math works.
And this whole notion that “Your kid is this age and should be doing this” would be fine with me if it weren’t worshipped to the point of stupidity. Yes, we need benchmarks. We need to know areas to focus so we can guide and nurture our wee ones. And maybe The Spawn is verbally behind because he loves solving highly advanced puzzles more than talking. He’s like his parents. More like Shawn cuz I never shut up, but dig puzzles.
Our boy is FOUR. For the love of all that is chocolate, let them be BABIES. Let them be LITTLE. It is such a brief and beautiful time and we are forgetting that.
They’re kids not copies. No human is identical. We don’t come off an assembly line. Can someone please tell the bureaucrats and scientists that they will never create a single operating manual that will work on all of us.
Michelangelo was dyslexic. DaVinci nearly lost every commission he was given. No one wanted to work with him because he was a NOTORIOUS flake. He’d start a project then see something shiny and disappear for weeks or months. He was SEVERELY ADD and that’s a good thing because we can thank him for his art, his groundbreaking work in anatomy, his early designs of flying machines and SCUBA gear and on and on.
Einstein likely had Asperger’s. Walt Disney was considered slow. Churchill had a speech impediment and was bad at math. Agatha Christie had dysgraphia (an inability to understand written words) yet grew up to profoundly impact an entire genre with her unique writing style.
What if these geniuses had been in our modern school system? I think they’d have been sitting in the hall, too. Maybe the “experts” would have even medicated the genius right out of them so they could grow up to be something soul-sucking…with dental benefits.
No I’m Not Crazy. My Mother Had Me Tested.
I know I might be overreacting. I’m a writer and we can be dramatic, but often I think it’s because so many of us were chastised for being different. We didn’t fit in. We couldn’t be “measured” as accurately as others. Maybe we even were told we were learning disabled. Because my brain works differently than the fat part of the bell curve, I am disabled? Really.
Yes, I wrote a half a million words in less than a year…I also put the mayo away in the microwave.
And The Spawn is SO funny and clever. He made up the death metal song “Zombies and Babies” at age three. Not long ago he started singing “Zombies and Pears.”
Me: Zombies and pears? Zombies eat brains. What kind of zombie eats pears?
Spawn: *matter-of-factly* Vegan Zombies.
And HOW do you argue with that?
What are your thoughts? And feel free to disagree with me, I only ask that any debate be polite. I’m anti-drone so feel free to offer me another POV. It’s how I learn. Maybe there is a perspective I haven’t considered. The Spawn is my first and only boy, so this is new. Any of you have suggestions? Ways I can prepare for this meeting? I am bringing Hubby so he can hold my leash and make sure my muzzle stays on.
Do you think all this college-prep crap’s gone cray-cray? Maybe SAT instruction for pregnant women to put on their bellies?
Are you frustrated that every year they seem to be putting our teachers in a tighter straight-jacket? Are you one of those kids who sat in the hall, too? Hey, we’re Hall Peeps! Any teachers who can offer some help, advice, anecdotes? Do any of you “suffer” from a learning disability? Has your “learning disability” actually been your greatest asset? I know my ADD presents many challenges, but so does being boring.
How have you overcome your disability? And sorry, that last question still ticks me off. WE need to overcome? Maybe “normal” folks should have a moment in our brains and see what they’re missing…SQUIRREL!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of MAY, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
I will announce April’s winner after waking from the conference coma in a couple days.
If you want more help with plot problems, antagonists, structure, beginnings, then I have a FANTASTIC class coming up to help you!
CLASS COMES WITH HANDOUTS AND FREE RECORDING.
Understanding the Antagonist
If you are struggling with plot or have a book that seems to be in the Never-Ending Hole of Chasing Your Tail or maybe you’d like to learn how to plot a series, I am also teaching my ever-popular Understanding the Antagonist Class on May 10th from NOON to 2:00 P.M. (A SATURDAY). This is a fabulous class for understanding all the different types of antagonists and how to use them to maintain and increase story tension.
Remember, a story is only as strong as its problem 😉 . This is a GREAT class for streamlining a story and making it pitch-ready.
Additionally, why pay thousands for an editor or hundreds for a book doctor? This is a VERY affordable way to make sure your entire story is clear and interesting. Also, it will help you learn to plot far faster and cleaner in the future.
Again, use WANA10 for $10 off.
I’ll be running the First Five Pages again at the end of May, so stay tuned.
And, if you need help building a brand, social media platform, please check out my latest best-selling book, Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World.
#1 by writeknit on May 6, 2014 - 7:39 am
I vote for kids being kids. Whatever happened to just having fun? The Spawn is lucky to have you as his mom. Write on!
#2 by icescreammama on May 6, 2014 - 7:39 am
when my son was 4 the preschool freaked me out and told me to have him tested for speech and for focus issues… i jump through hoops like a clown on crack for them to say, oh, he’s fine. feh!
#3 by Pamela Beckford on May 6, 2014 - 7:39 am
Reblogged this on Year 'Round Thanksgiving Project and commented:
Some excellent thoughts (and I agree with) on some of the testing we are subjecting our children and ourselves to
#4 by Lara McGill on May 6, 2014 - 7:39 am
Kristen, as a math teacher (sitting in my lab waiting for my first students of the semester) I’m totally on your side. I think people learn better – in general – when they’re outside of a classroom. I’d love to have classes outside, weather permitting. But…I’m in Florida, and the heat and critters make me crazy. Plus, the upper-administration drones would consider outlandish and something that would be forbidden by our insurance. So.
BTW, Spawn is brilliant. I absolutely LOVE the Vegan Zombies. You should run with that. It’s a whole new take on the genre.
#5 by darcyflynn on May 6, 2014 - 7:40 am
I so get this! You have articulated what I’ve thought and felt for years! I could tell you stories, but I won’t.
Let me just say, I finally took my son out of traditional school, away from the mentality that they knew what was “best” for my son than his parents, and homeschooled him for eight years.
#6 by Lara McGill on May 6, 2014 - 7:41 am
Now, just another thought – would Vegan Zombies be “developmentally delayed” because of a protein deficiency. Just wonderin’…
#7 by writeknit on May 6, 2014 - 7:41 am
Reblogged this on In My Words and commented:
If you never read Kristen’s blog – pop over there! She is brilliant and funny – and looks like we need to add great mom to that list!
#8 by Kate Sparkes on May 6, 2014 - 7:44 am
I hear you. Our older son (he’s eight now) was a late talker. And a late crawler. And a late walker. Oh, and his adult teeth are coming in late. I think we had him too early.
But you know what? He’s FINE. He’s happy, he’s doing well in school, he has an incredible imagination, and he gives the best hugs. Most of those aren’t things that tests would ever measure, but he’s pretty special.
Don’t get me started on standardized tests. We don’t have to deal with them quite as much as you will, but they have to do a big, serious, province-wide math test in grade three and other subjects in other grades. Simon’s teacher is being amazing about it– very low pressure, just encouraging them to do their best and making sure they’re prepared, but not making it out to be the BIGGEST DEAL EVER. She’s too busy teaching them writing workshops (squeak!) and making sure they’re doing okay socially to let one test take over the classroom. I kind of love her. And I really think that her methods (her art, if you will) will get better results than pressure and focusing only on the testing.
All this is to say I’m with you. I hate the idea that little kids are expected to be preparing for college these days. I’d rather see them playing and exploring the world and making up songs (they tend to be about Minecraft around here these days) than doing flashcards for hours on end. But then, I’m crazy like that. I’ll take extra help if the school ever offers it to my kids, but I won’t let anyone make me or them feel inadequate for any reason.
#9 by newfsull on May 6, 2014 - 7:51 am
I am Never at a lost for words, but none necessary here, other than
#10 by paulaacton on May 6, 2014 - 7:52 am
The monster had speech problems and he has had a few social issues partly as a result of that and partly as being the terrible mum I am I like him to look at books, watch documentaries and know about wildlife rather than sitting on a game console killing things, it seems to times schools really want you to dumb your kids down and stunt their creativity to fit in with the masses rather than pushing others to raise the bar. But one thing to consider checking out relating to speech problems is his adanoids, the monster had his removed around age four and his speech came on loads after that as they were enlarged and blocking the back of the passage between his mouth and nose forcing him to constantly breath through his mouth which made certain noises difficult
#11 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 6, 2014 - 4:39 pm
The Spawn had all four front teeth knocked out when he was 2 and a half. Give him a break! Thanks for the ideas.
#12 by CindySheaNH on May 6, 2014 - 7:56 am
The first week of first grade my son brought home a note with the words “We had a bad day…” pre-printed on the top. Apparently, the teacher had an entire note pad of these…and yes, we received quite a few.
By fifth grade our son was clearly not learning to his ability and he was diagnosed with ADHD. I don’t believe in medication but our doctor suggested a low grade prescription. We talked to our son and decided to give it a try. It was like night and day. Our argumentative, over active, hyper-sensitive son became a normal, happy, fun to be around kid. He did better in school, did his homework and even cleaned his room (sort of). By his sophomore year he asked to stop taking the medicine and we agreed as long as he maintained a B average and didn’t argue with us about every little thing. He held up his end of the bargain.
I agree that all kids learn differently and we really should let our teachers teach instead of forcing them to comply with strict rules. There has got to be a better way. And if they need a little extra help, so be it.
#13 by Romy Sommer on May 6, 2014 - 7:56 am
The universe definitely send you what you need just when you need it!
I have two daughters. The eldest has vision problems, is not reading ‘for her age’ and is currently being assessed for possible ADD or ADHD or learning difficulties. And then this morning the teacher of my younger daughter (the bright as a button, already reading nearly as well as her big sister, daughter) asks for a conference to talk about her work.
Needless to say, I’ve been veering from angry to so depressed I want to cry to guilt (am I not doing enough for them?) … until your blog post popped into my Inbox.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for making me feel so much better and for helping me realise that maybe it’s not me or my kids, but a system that’s rating them on a scale they just don’t fit. They are my daughters, after all.
#14 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 6, 2014 - 8:01 am
I feel you. I spent half of yesterday trying to recall anything I did when he was a baby that might have “damaged” him. Did I drop him on his head and forget? Then I sat down and blogged about it because writing focuses my mind and emotions and it helped me come up with a clear and witty answer. It started out as BITE ME, but then I edited it 😀 . I have no problems with genuine help and guidance. Maybe a kid needs meds. That’s the parent’s call and not the government’s. Anyway, hug your babies and keep perspective. And NOW we know why tyrants shoot the writers first, LOL.
#15 by intimatewriter on May 6, 2014 - 8:02 am
The vegan zombie part made me laugh. There is actually a youtube channel that goes by that name. They posts vegan recipes 🙂
#16 by Lucy Lit on May 6, 2014 - 8:04 am
Listen to your gut. YOU know your child best and may need to provide alternatives for him to thrive in ways best suited to his own learning style. My children are perfectly spaced along the bell curve and we didn’t do that enough. Even though we had special tutors and activities for the kids on each end of the curve, we ended up regretting how our kids were “handled” by the school system. The kids turned out fine but it was traumatic (and unnecessary) for several years. I will carry the guilt to my grave. DON’T DO THAT. This is one instance where being all Mama Bear has its place. And one daughter is a teacher who is so frustrated with Common Core and administrative turmoil, she’s considering a career change.
#17 by Jill - Barefoot Editing on May 6, 2014 - 8:07 am
You make valid points here. Spreading out vaccinations makes complete sense to me; I can’t figure out why they are lumped all together. If your son is happy and thriving I would keep doing what you are doing and maybe add a speech class to help with clarity. Unfortunately teachers hands are tied these days so they can’t be creative and teach the way kids learn (hands on). Let him be a kid and the rest will come eventually.
#18 by pjsandchocolate on May 6, 2014 - 9:01 am
Our doctor said that the reason the vaccinations were lumped together was because most parents aren’t willing or don’t remember to schedule the extra appointments to get the vaccinations on a spread out schedule. It’s a target or opportunity, nothing more. Our doctor was quite willing to spread out the vaccinations if that was what we wanted. Fortunately, my own ADD issues mean that I LIVE with a calendar and multiple daily alarms on my phone, so we never missed an appointment.
#19 by Jill - Barefoot Editing on May 6, 2014 - 9:46 am
I wondered if that was the reason behind lumping them. Thanks for confirming it.
#20 by shawn m on May 6, 2014 - 1:42 pm
Unfortunately, not all Drs play it that way. In fact, we were threatned by the Dr to call CPS if we didn’t do it his way. Needless to say, Dr’s are replaceable..
#21 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 6, 2014 - 1:48 pm
I had blocked that out. See, this is why you need to be in the meeting with me. *head desk*
#22 by Elke Feuer on May 6, 2014 - 8:12 am
Thank you for this post, Kristen! I was one of those kids in the hallway and so is my son. To put it mildly, I hate the current school system. The best analogy I’ve seen is a cartoon with all different animals (land, sea, air) standing in front of a tree and they’re being told to climb it. I think that’s what the school system is trying to do to our kids.
Like, Romy I feel frustrated and guilty that I’m failing him and at times have pushed him to be someone he’s not and hated myself for it. Not anymore! He smart, bright and I know he’ll turn out fine. I did. 🙂
#23 by Carradee on May 6, 2014 - 8:15 am
I just so happened to have a learning style that suited school (most of the time—I naturally think of exceptions to things, which sometimes led to accusations of overthinking things). I also just so happen to be dyslexic.
But because of my learning style and because of the coping mechanisms my undiagnosed dyslexic mother taught me before I even started kindergarten (at which point I was already reading and doing basic algebra—the latter skill I later lost from disuse), everyone told me I couldn’t be dyslexic. It was impossible.
So in college calculus, I decided to drop my coping mechanisms, because everyone was telling me I didn’t need them.
Teacher: Do you have some sort of math disability? Because I have no other way to explain what you did on this test.
I flunked so badly that I had to drop out of calculus before the drop-out date.
Before college, for several schools I attended, I ended up tutoring others. In one, I even ended up teaching elementary math. A second grader asked me how to solve 2 – 6, so I showed her. The teacher was gobsmacked, especially after I pointed out that if the girl was asking about it, she was ready to get an answer. (I also got in trouble for teaching a girl dimensional analysis when she couldn’t understand the confusing elementary school method for converting units. I ended up having to explain dimensional analysis to the teacher.)
If a 4-year-old asks me how electricity works, I’ll give a basic but technical explanation—not because I expect them to remember my answer later, but so it’ll sound familiar the next time they hear it.
I read my mother’s psychology textbooks at 8. To this day, I find myself recognizing or voicing psychology concepts that I have no conscious knowledge of. (It also shows up a fair bit in my writing, as some of my readers point out to me.)
As someone whose attended 9 different schools before graduation, my perception of the education system is that it assumes too much. First off, kids are smarter than they’re usually given credit for—and even the things they are ready/willing to learn are often presented in ways that don’t naturally make sense to them. They’re taught the what without the why—and even the “what” that they’re taught isn’t necessarily relevant to them.
Case in point: An 8-year-old reading her mother’s psychology textbooks. And understanding them well enough that bullies promptly started leaving her alone. Psychology was interesting and useful to me at that age. Most 8-year-olds? Not so much.
Your son’s “Vegan zombies” line demonstrates plenty of intelligence, to me. So maybe he isn’t learning what the school wants him to, when it wants him to. Your son’s learning ability is only one part of the equation, there. His interest in the topic and his teacher’s presentation of it matter just as much or more than any kind of learning issue.
#24 by Yummers914 on May 6, 2014 - 8:15 am
I couldn’t agree more I wish in my childhood they woulda let me be a child instead of shoving pills down my throat for adhd and “teaching” in special ed classes .. Btw you learn nothing in those! Avoid them like the plague .
The doctors and the “normal” way of doing things is not always right!
#25 by MeglyMc on May 6, 2014 - 8:15 am
As the behavior management teacher for my district (and believe me…be managing someone else’s behavior is HIGHLY ironic), most of the time the kids that get placed with me…just need minimal intervention to be successful. They need room…they need movement…they need love. Granted, I have the luxury of a smaller room so they can have that, and the other teachers are sitting at 32 kids in a tiny room, so one kid running around isn’t working for them, but maybe (GASP!) it’s not working for ANYBODY. When we started overloading classes, we took away teachers ability to REALLY differentiate instruction and give the kids room who really needed it. Granted, there are those teachers who would bitch even if their class size sat at 15 kids. *sigh*
Fight the good fight, Momma. He has a good advocate…make shit happen. 🙂
#26 by K.B. Owen on May 6, 2014 - 8:16 am
Fab post, Kristen! I’ve had conversations with TEACHERS who complain about this over-assessment craziness.
As for our family, we describe our two oldest boys (gifted, but with attention-deficit…watch out) as “the square pegs in the round holes of public education.” Wish we could afford private schools…
#27 by Yummers914 on May 6, 2014 - 8:19 am
Reblogged this on Yummers914.
#28 by Diana Beebe on May 6, 2014 - 8:23 am
When our older daughter was in kindergarten, we were told at the first parent-teacher conference two months after school started that she was behind in reading. WTH?
She was behind because we sent her to a preschool where they had fun and learned stuff (obviously not reading) by doing and playing and interacting.
We increased the number of minutes we read to her everyday and had fun with it. We never forced her to read. Two months later, she was reading independently and off the charts by the end of the school year. She never knew she was “behind.” (No one should be surprised that I birthed readers. LOL)
I agree with you. I have teacher friends who aren’t allowed any room for creativity in their classrooms. Somewhere the “powers that be” lost sight of what teaching is supposed to do for our kids. Teach them to love learning, teach them to solve problems, and teach them to cope with life.
#29 by moxeyns on May 6, 2014 - 8:24 am
My two are Mensa-level bright. The elder also had endless ear infections; and the younger turns out to be severely dyslexic. I spent thir early childhoods grinding my teeth against the stupidity of a system that tried to put them in “average” boxes; eventually I learned that school is for their emotional development, and home is where they get educated.
#30 by lonestarjake88 on May 6, 2014 - 8:24 am
My parents homeschooled me. I did awesome on the SAT and great on the COMPASS test. I am now a youth pastor and from what I observe, kids are given to much work at school. It’s like the schools are keeping the students busy SO they won’t get into trouble. I agree with you, kids need to be kids and not bogged down with homework all the time. I am considering becoming a teacher, but I know I will be fired cuz I will give them as little homework as possible.
#31 by Lanette Kauten on May 6, 2014 - 8:26 am
This is why I tout the advantages of home school. Every child is different, so when you put twenty kids with various learning styles and strengths and weaknesses into a classroom, it’s impossible for the teacher to meet every student at each individual level. My 9yo is on a 7th grade reading level, but he has dysgraphia and his comprehension skills are way below normal. Unless there’s one-on-one, how can any teacher deal with a five year discrepancy between comprehension and reading level? I understand not every parent can have the flexibility to home school their children, but I urge those who can to do it.
As to your question about our own disabilities: If I was born twenty years later, I would have been labeled with Asperger’s. I had all the obvious symptoms growing up, plus a few no one thought of before. I was the weird kid who peeled the paint off the school walls during lectures because of an obsessive need to pick. Until I was twenty-three, whenever someone tried to engage me in a debate or argument, I would tell that person to wait while I wrote down my response and read it back to them. I usually won simply because no one had that much patience. I’ve overcome most of my symptoms through stubborn will, but social situations still scare me, and I have to have someone with normal speech patterns go through my writing looking for stilted and awkward sentences because it all looks natural to me. Despite all this, I’m glad Asperger’s wasn’t known of in this country when I was growing up because if I was told that I do such and such because of it, it would have given me an excuse not to work against it. I don’t think I would have worked as hard to overcome my oddities.
As to the Spawn, he’s four. I wouldn’t worry about it too much at this point, but definitely continue to keep an eye on his development. If you need peace of mind, get him a speech therapist. I would say that whatever you do, do not let the school railroad you, but I already know you won’t.
#32 by Master of Something Yet on May 6, 2014 - 8:31 am
Thank you for this post. I know so many families affected in this way, including mine.
When my eldest was five, his teacher decided he was autistic. Mainly because she said he wouldn’t make eye contact. She was an intimidating person who had no concept of personal space. Heck, I didn’t like making eye contact with her. But just to be sure, we took him to a paediatrician. He said he was just a sensitive, socially awkward little boy. Definitely not autistic.
When he was 11, they tried again, claiming he had to be on the autistic spectrum because he had trouble socialising with his peers. He’s very, very smart and his peers were mostly interested in reality television and football. Can’t for the life of me imagine WHY he couldn’t relate to them. We didn’t bother getting him tested.
He’s now nearly 18. He is thriving at his school and has an extensive friendship circle. He just needed to find his ‘people’.
#33 by Intrepid Explorer on May 6, 2014 - 8:32 am
Kristen–thank you for saying what needs to be said. I’m an educator, 8th grade through college graduate, and I speak from the heart when I say that classes are too large, teachers have been forced to ‘teach to the test’, and the kids are getting lost. When my own child was a first grader I was called in for the dreaded parent teacher conference. Her behavioral issue? She refused to ‘pay attention’ and sat in the back of the room reading books! Needless to say we yanked her as soon as possible and put her in a small private school where she could teach the kindergarteners how to swim, wander by the principal’s office for an afternoon chat with him, and get personally tutored in algebra, because that’s what interested her. You go girl! Be nice and polite to the teacher, but in the end do what’s best for your child. And remember to breathe! L.
#34 by emmaburcart on May 6, 2014 - 8:36 am
As a teacher, I could not agree more. We are professionals who have degrees in child development. We know how to reach individual children and give them what they need in order to learn. Teaching is an art. The problem is when all the “experts” with no background or knowledge in education are given the power to make decisions. And, unfortunately, it’s the children who suffer. Teaching isn’t reading a script or handing out a book, it’s about knowing each kid in your class, where they are, where they need to be, and how to get them there according to their learning style.
#35 by Kathryn McClatchy on May 6, 2014 - 2:27 pm
Exactly!! The “experts” drove me from teaching. I took my kids with me and now homeschool. There are a number of school districts around me that are now teaching by script. And lets not forget the “wisdom” of having politicians with no education experience set the laws and requirements to govern our schools. Teaching is the only profession not governed by its own.
#36 by jeff markowitz on May 6, 2014 - 8:37 am
Yes, we live in a society that is much to quick to label kids (and adults too). Yes, standardized testing is totally out of control. And yes, much of what you say is true. But none of it has anything to do with whether or not your son would benefit from some additional services. I don’t pretend to know if he does. But what I I do know is that if he does, it is a good thing to start those services earlier rather than later. It’s okay to hold onto a healthy dose of skepticism. Feel free to challenge the professionals. Make them make their case. But don’t let that stop you from accessing services that may, in fact, be beneficial for your son.
#37 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 6, 2014 - 8:46 am
Oh, I agree. I want to be honest and that’s why Hubby’s going with me.
#38 by J. D. Hager on May 6, 2014 - 8:47 am
Great Post! Hilarious as usual. I was that ADD kid that spent a lot of time in the hallway and it never helped me focus any better. As a teacher now (how the Hell did that happen?) I have a special place in my heart for those ADD and ADHD kids that spend so much time out of the classroom and hardly ever send them outside myself (unless of course it is for their own safety when I begin considering strangulation as reasonable punishment). I teach middle school, which is arguably the lowest point in human development, and behavior is generally bad whether kids have an identified *disability* or not. In some ways being a middle schooler is a disability. The problem is there are so many different ways for students to learn, but the ways we measure learning are so limited.
I personally believe that life is not supposed to be measured on a bell curve. I also believe that video games and access to instant information on smart phones and other electronic devices are destroying students ability to interact socially and think critically. I love it when a student tells me obsidian is harder than diamond because it is the hardest substance in Minecraft. I love that my Environmental Science students will literally beg me to go out to the school garden, and then spend the majority of their time trying to play video games on their phones, or even better, watching videos of someone else playing video games. And btw, by love I mean the opposite of love.
But I’ll save that ranting for the post I am currently writing about how smartphones are dumb and making us dumber. Thanks for the post. It’s given me a lot to think about.
#39 by J. D. Hager on May 6, 2014 - 8:53 am
And I almost forgot. Vegan Zombies? Brilliant!
#40 by Daven Anderson on May 6, 2014 - 8:52 am
Reading all of this makes me very happy I grew up when I did. I am glad The Spawn has you on his side, Kristen. 🙂
#41 by Keith Channing on May 6, 2014 - 8:57 am
I think you have one smart spawn there. That apart, there’s nothing I can add to what a lot of other people have already said.
#42 by Ruth Hartman Berge on May 6, 2014 - 9:01 am
You hit it right on the head, Kristen. Terrific post!
My kids are both adults now, but I definitely remember the day my daughter brought home a practice FCAT (Florida’s version of insanity-based testing) writing exercise. I was horrified. It was totally formulaic: “First, I…. Second, we…., Third…. and finally…” I blew up (almost literally). What’s wrong with creativity? What’s wrong with not fitting inside someone else’s narrow parameters?
Heck, my mom was letting my brother wear plaids and stripes together when he was about three. When I asked her why (with typical teenage angst), she told me that it didn’t hurt anything and he thought he looked great. Who was she to interfere?
There are ways to address educational issues without stifling creativity, but its much harder to do and often, no one but a parent can take the time. God bless the teachers who, while swamped, manage to encourage the differences.
#43 by Burns the Fire on May 6, 2014 - 9:03 am
Your gorgeous post is reminding me of a ‘children’s’ book I found as a teenager that made me weep with recognition and filled me with hope. It’s called ‘The Geranium on the Window Sill just died but Teacher you went right on’ by Robert Cullum. Never stop speaking up and out, Kristen. We are listening.
#44 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 6, 2014 - 5:48 pm
Sounds fabulous, THANKS!
#45 by Burns the Fire on May 6, 2014 - 9:05 am
Here’s a link to the book: http://www.vintagechildrensbooksmykidloves.com/2011/03/geranium-on-window-sill-just-died-but.html
#46 by Mark Young on May 6, 2014 - 9:10 am
Best of luck on your ‘visit.” Too many kids are forced to stay inside the box to learn. That is why I carry a box cutter…to give my kids an opportunity to learn in a way that fits them. Great article.
#47 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 6, 2014 - 5:49 pm
Box-cutter. i dig it :D.
#48 by Heather on May 6, 2014 - 9:10 am
Great post, and interesting from my point of view. My mom is an educator, having taught kindergarten, gifted, special education, and music, and is now a principal. She absolutely loves kids, and because of her background she’s been amazing at getting the help some kids actually need.
I find education is difficult if you’re not average. My best friend (dyslexic and ADD) had the same grueling experience and feeling out of place that I did (I was ‘gifted’ in math). We were both pulled out of class for special education, and ostracized because of it. It isn’t fair.
Now that I’m pregnant and looking at it from a parent’s perspective, I try to balance my views because I’ll be the crazy “don’t mess with my kids” mom, but I also know how restricted teachers are as educators.
One book that was around a decade ago, that you might find absolutely wonderful, is the multiple intelligences theory book by Howard Gardner. Look at the original one, the 7 he’s proved work because he’s found people who only have one of each.
#49 by heidiannehood on May 6, 2014 - 9:15 am
I am a hundred million percent on board with letting kiddos be kiddos. I have a three-year-old son who sounds like he would just get along famously with your four-year-old (he slams away on his dad’s drum set singing about Batman and Spiderman) and we are just now starting to face the education system.
I was a journalist covering public school systems for some time, so I know intimately the flow and ebb of politics and policies that inform the public school education, so my thought was to look at other avenues of education. But, I found as I looked at preschools for my little man that those praised to the skies and back again were those that were recommending FULL DAY preschool, 5 days a week… um, what?!?! I thought that did not happen until first grade, as in three years from now!?
Then I found out that if I did not put my child in these programs that I would be severely limiting his abilities in the future, he would be behind by the time he got to kindergarten, that he would be one of THOSE boys… you know, the ones making up the statistics about how boys are so terrible in school and the WORLD IS ENDING.
What to do? Then I discovered that there is an actual backlash among moms I have talked to who are now pulling their kiddos out of school and homeschooling them because it is just too much. I am not the kind of person who could homeschool (losing my mind = bad education for my son), but I can absolutely agree on why these moms are staying home.
Unfortunately, through all of my research, a solution has not magically appeared. My sweetly rambunctious son is going to be the kiddo that gets in trouble for talking too much, for performing in front of audience, for not settling down. He will get through because he has a mom and dad committed to making it so (just as you are, bravo!!)… but that doesn’t make the years ahead any easier to face…
Long comment… but, I love that you have shared and done so honestly. Stay strong in the face of a system seemingly set out to steal childhood from the children. 🙂
#50 by Gry Ranfelt on May 6, 2014 - 9:18 am
The three most important things for a child to grow into an intelligent adult are:
The willingness to learn
The expectations to do your best and to excel from parents. (Really, it all boils down to parental expectations. it’s what almost all achievers have in common. parents who taught them about hard work.)
The last thing:
An institution/teacher willing to give knowledge and reward the hard work.
But all that’s going to hell.
A lot of people don’t encourage their kids to learn or do hard work and simultaneously the schools are, as you say, become drone-builders.
#51 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 6, 2014 - 5:49 pm
Meat grinders. Blech.
#52 by tucsonmike on May 6, 2014 - 9:19 am
ROFL! Kristin, this is you all over, but you’re right. Bean counters get involved and watch out! As someone, who marches to the beat of a different drummer, thank you for the article.
#53 by Liz Crowe on May 6, 2014 - 9:22 am
thoughtful post as usual Kristen. We returned home from living in 3 different countries overseas where 2 of my children were “force-fed” reading by the British system which, in essence, declares that ANY child NOT reading by 5 (I kid you not) is “likely delayed for life.” Well let me tell ya that my middle kid came back to US schools and was such a dreadful SPELLER because of having to memorize words in order to “prove she could read” at seven years old (this after 2 years in an I.B. system preschool in Istanbul) they thought we required an I.E.P (Individual Educational Assessment)–i.e. they thought the girl was mentally retarded and required Special Services–the short bus, if you will. That kid now studies Environmental Science at the University of Michigan and plans to go into Geological engineering–yeah, she’s a numbers person, Crazy 4th grade teacher who gave her a total complex. She still can’t spell worth a you-know-what.
The private English school teachers were NUTS about making my kids pretend to be able to read which was devastating. My youngest to this day breaks out in hives when she “has to read a book” thanks to the terror she experienced in front of her “classmates” (at 4 years old) over “reading out loud” every flipping morning.
I’ll admit I’m a “got a shot for it? give it to my kids” kind of mom as far as that goes but none of my kids got a bunch of them at once time. It took a lot of trips back and forth in their first 10 years or so (which was fun, considering 2 of them were overseas while were in the middle of all the vacation years–you should see the list of things my youngest had to take after she was born in Japan!).
Hold your ground Mama Bear.Those are your cubs.
The antagonist class sounds awesome but I have a beer event—too bad too because I am getting my arse kicked by one of those (not a beer event, an “antagonist” who won’t coalesce for me the way my editor wants him to).
#54 by Ellen Seltz on May 6, 2014 - 9:25 am
Kristen, I totally get where you’re coming from big-picture, but just wanted to advise you as a mom who’s a little farther down the road (kids are 7 and 5) – leave the philosophy and the chip at home when you go to the meeting.
99% of the teachers I have dealt with are very levelheaded and sincerely have my child’s best interest at heart, they are just seeing things from a different perspective than me. And the other 1% are doing their best and just overwhelmed. I can sympathize with all that, can’t you?
You may walk into this meeting and the teacher will say “Spawn has an amazing vocabulary, he’s trying to discuss things way above the level we expect, but we’re concerned because he gets so very frustrated when we can’t understand what he’s saying. Here’s some tips for you to work on at home, that will reinforce his pronunciation without making him feel selfconscious.”
I’ve walked into situations all pre-mad and walked out feeling pretty foolish – and relieved. Expect the good so you don’t miss it when you see it!
#55 by Ian on May 6, 2014 - 9:25 am
Mega-dittos from someone who spent many days at a desk in the hall watching the traffic go by. Thankfully, my father had the good sense to pull me out after a knock-down-drag-out battle with my fifth grade math teacher who was certain I was the dumbest kid in a generation.
I’m still not great at math, I have a GED instead of a high school diploma, and have started and quit college twice, but I operate (and own) three small businesses and can make up a smoking political thriller. I have the Amazon reviews to back up that statement (and I only know about 10% of the reviewers in any way, shape, or form that could be considered personal. 🙂 )
#56 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 6, 2014 - 5:50 pm
#57 by Robin on May 6, 2014 - 9:30 am
Kristen, I feel for you, big time. I have a son who is 9 now, but remember being blind-sided when my “perfect”, super-smart, talkative, funny child, at 4, had that meeting where suddenly 8 or 9 educators were in the room telling me he either had behavioral issues, sensory issues, or some sort of spacing-out problem (focus), or something regarding a spectrum, and at the time I had no clue what they were talking about. In Pre-K, they were able to give him services (OT, PT, Speech/Language) without having to label, so we just kind of went with it, because if they thought he needed something, all power to them to teach him. When in 1st grade though, I was horrified that IEP was to be taken away, unless he was properly “labeled” and even now, he has a 504 instead. Anyway, we don’t use labels with him, or anyone at this point although officially signed those papers, but are starting to see Anxiety as the biggest issue. This is so hard –I remember being awake at night forever, so upset by this. But do remember, you have an awesome kid and with great, smart parents, he will do great…that’s what I keep telling myself. And just to mention about your hubby–I am going to recommend he be a part of this 100%, all the time, with the school. Not just to keep you from going overboard, but because he will learn a ton about your sons learning style and who knows, it might ring a bell with him too. My husband has learned so much about his behavior growing up, because my son is similar and he provides perspective sometimes that I just don’t get (the anxiety element specifically…), and that has come in handy lately with anxiety and homework specifically.. Anyway, hugs to you, I know these meetings are so tough. Please keep us posted.
#58 by Christina on May 6, 2014 - 9:34 am
Supposedly, I have a genius IQ. I graduated with a 2.1 GPA from high school, I fall asleep if you hand me classic lit, I’ve never been able to make any headway with college and last night I stabbed my mouth in two places while eating an almond. Clearly, testing does not tell the whole story.
I was an excellent test taker but a crappy student. When I was in middle school, I scored so high on the MEAP in math and reading that they sent me to some sort of Odyssey of the Mind type event. Like Quiz Bowl, but for math problems. I was hopelessly outclassed because frankly, I guessed on nearly all of my MEAP answers. The next year, I had to take some other kind of math placement test and scored so poorly they put me in a special class for the mathematically challenged. Not a single teacher, counselor or bureaucratic ninny questioned this. I was in gifted classes in elementary school, special classes in middle and I slept through my high school classes so we’ll never know what I would have done there.
I was really good at writing, reading and comprehension, so no one was prepared for me in high school. Most of the good teachers didn’t have a curriculum that challenged me and they became uncomfortable when I asked questions they couldn’t answer. So they let me coast. I never finished a single book I was assigned in school. I’d read the beginning and the end, fail the homework and ace the test. I learned at a very early age, if you SEEM smart, people assume you are, and leave you the hell alone. I rolled with that. So I rarely did homework, barely paid attention, never took a single note and everyone just let me scrape by, squandering whatever neurons I might have rubbed together for the greater good. So I graduated in the bottom five of my class. Despite my love of reading I had no basic grasp of punctuation and grammar and I still can’t take notes or do homework.
School and assessment tests are not designed for the creative or the intellectual. They are there only there to reward and encourage conformity and the people who will make the best worker bees. The person at the top of their class is rarely the smartest, but they are almost always the hardest worker. Schools don’t know what to do with the brilliant, the unusual, the creative or the unruly.
I don’t have kids but if I did, I’d be pissed too. Instead of valuing all the wonderful things your Spawn can do, they focus on the one thing that they can quantify. We are nothing but numbers on the page and making someone a number chokes out their fire, their magic.
When I think of school, I think of this Robert Mccammon quote from Boy’s Life:
“You know, I do believe in magic. I was born and raised in a magic time, in a magic town, among magicians. Oh, most everybody else didn’t realize we lived in that web of magic, connected by silver filaments of chance and circumstance. But I knew it all along. When I was twelve years old, the world was my magic lantern, and by its green spirit glow I saw the past, the present and into the future. You probably did too; you just don’t recall it. See, this is my opinion: we all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age. Told to grow up, for God’s sake. And you know why we were told that? Because the people doing the telling were afraid of our wildness and youth, and because the magic we knew made them ashamed and sad of what they’d allowed to wither in themselves.”
#59 by mjpullen on May 6, 2014 - 9:36 am
Love, love, love this post! So many of my own thoughts articulated. Vegan Zombies! Brilliant. The reassurance I offer myself about my own unique kids (and me – I was a hallway nerd myself) is that the often-ridiculous stuff they will get from school gives them something to work against, which every genius needs. Without obstacles to work against (and *sometimes* the school system or a particular class or teacher becomes the obstacle), we can’t build our awesomely huge muscles.
Maybe being stuck out in the hallway made us more fiery and passionate about the things we love, made us fight for what our brains could do. If I’m honest, I probably learned as much from teachers and experiences I hated as those I loved…
#60 by beccapuglisi on May 6, 2014 - 9:40 am
You’ve already had plenty of good feedback, but you can never get enough encouragement, so I’ll add my two cents. I taught elementary school for ten years before having kids of my own. My class was one of those where the kids were often wearing tutus and hanging like bats. My administrators were wonderful, embracing my desire to embrace kids’ differences, and getting on board. As a result, I always had a boy-heavy class. They rarely left my class behind grade level. I’m not saying this to pat myself on the back, but to agree with you that YES, PLEASE take the leash off our teachers and let them do their jobs the way it needs to be done.
As for your conference, I would say that you’re right on about The Spawn. He’s FOUR YEARS OLD. So definitely stick to your guns there. But obviously, be cool. My advice would be to go into it with the attitude of just having a healthy conversation about your son. Try to check defensiveness at the door. And prayer, of course. Lots of prayer :).
#61 by Kait Nolan on May 6, 2014 - 9:42 am
For me I used to get in trouble in math. I tended to be a very intuitive kind of thinker and I didn’t NEED all the steps they showed to get from point A to point Z (and indeed, usually drew horses in the margins of my worksheets). So I got accused of cheating, until my teachers started giving me math problems on the spot and literally watched me work them out with no paper and still give them the right answer. Then there was that time I was caught doing 7th grade algebra in the 3rd grade. Now, I was lucky in that MOSTLY I had fabulous teachers who recognized that I was smart and ergo easily bored. And some of them gave me other work to challenge me (aka keep me quiet) while everybody else was off doing long division, so I didn’t spend a lot of time in the hall.
This whole one size fits all education trend we’ve had going on the last decade or so drives me insane and is another strike against having kids for me. I don’t understand why they won’t let teachers TEACH. Thank God I still have more or less free rein teaching at the college level.
#62 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 6, 2014 - 6:01 pm
Thanks. This is why I am bringing Hubby. I know my inner pit bull can come out. Praise GOD for great teachers. I would have never loved learning and kept pressing without them believing in me.
#63 by doovinator on May 6, 2014 - 9:57 am
I was the last kid in my school system to be promoted; I was therefore the youngest, smartest and most miserable kid in every class. My achievement test scores were the best any kid in the state had ever scored (even though I was a year younger), but I had to go to summer school to get enough credits to graduate. School was a prison for me. Now, it’s a prison for every kid. Teachers are guards and principals are wardens.
That’s why my kids are HOME schooled.
#64 by Jessica on May 6, 2014 - 10:00 am
The Spawn. I love it. More people need to call their kids this, haha.
I don’t have a learning disability, but I am I am in a wheelchair, so sign me up for the physical disability list. My bones are fragile, so that’s why. Anyway, I completely understand the not fitting in thing. On top of people apparently not being able to process “tiny girl sits in chair = perfectly not weird,” I was your class A dork who loved dragons. I was actually ahead of the bell curve (in other words, the annoying kid in school who never has to study), but, ironically, that is just as hard to do as being behind the bell curve. Everyone hated me because of my wacky brain that critically thought about things, looked for out of the box solutions, etc., and how dare I be smarter when I’m *gasp* different because of the chair?
That was the attitude I got anyway. I never really cared, because I just assumed they were idiots for thinking that, and I tend not to take advice from idiots. 😀
My mom was the best and never played the pity party. She popped me on the mouth for being sarcastic just like the rest of the kids. 😉
My brother, on the other hand, was dyslexic, so my family has been through the hoop jumping thing. It really damaged his self-esteem, and to this day, I don’t think he’s gotten over it. He was a little slower, but if the school had understood that, I bet he would believe in himself a lot more than he does. It’s sad when you think about it. My disability has always been way worse than his (I have to be careful giving someone a high-five because I might break my arm), but he’s the one who’s had to struggle solely because of the school system. “You’re not developing fast enough. Look at your sister.” I was horrified. Someone actually said that to him. Not in so many words, but it was implied. He really loved me after that. *sigh*
Sorry you have to deal with this. The Spawn looks happy, and if he’s smart enough to make that Vegan Zombie joke (so hilarious I had to stop reading for a second), then he sounds like he’ll be fine. Wit takes you pretty far in life, as does nerves of steel, and a report card really isn’t the diamond of the world. Hope you get through your “parent teacher conference.” You could maybe take the muzzle off a little bit just to watch the teacher’s face, teehee.
#65 by alicamckennajohnson on May 6, 2014 - 10:00 am
This is why I home schooled my kids, they got to be free range and study whatever and however they wanted. At 10 my son could read a flight school text book, yet not read story books (no idea what that was about). At the end of the month he’ll graduate from a private college prep school- he wanted to go there for high school.
My daughter goes to a hippie charter school, and is so fierce.
I love the fact that they got to figure out who they are and how they learn without people shoving labels on them.
And with you fighting for him, the Spawn will be just fine- well okay you will keep him safe as nothing from you could be as ordinary as fine 🙂
#66 by swiveltam on May 6, 2014 - 10:07 am
As a substitute teaching with experience in grades pre-K through 12th I agree in part. It’s easy to just throw out all standardized testing and say, boo hiss, it’s not teaching them anything. WRONG. It’s not teaching them EVERYTHING, but it is teaching them how to memorize and regurgitate information and that is PART of learning. Most of us remember learning our times table by rote and can still recite them. There’s something to be said for memorization. I can still recite the preamble to the constitution. How useful is that, not sure, but my times table have come in might handy.
That said, what we’re NOT doing in education is teaching problem solving and think-out-side-the-box analysis.
Is there a place for the “box” we put kids and teachers in. Yes, but only if it supplemented with other learning.
When I talk to home-schoolers they are horrified that I would send my kids to public school especially in our socio-economic depressed district. But what their kids are getting in FREE thinking, they are missing, how to handle a routine, how to budget their time, how to push on and through subjects that are not a natural fit. Hmmmm, sounds like real life and real jobs, doesn’t it.
So, I take a hybrid approach. I do not expect my public education (which is over-burdened)to be the end all of my child’s education. I supplement with theatre, music, reading at home, gardening, crafts, museum visits, etc.
That’s my take on it. Take responsibility for your children. Be a partner with your teacher, not a judge and jury.
But, Kristin, at this point, I wouldn’t worry too much yet, but I’m sorry you are going through struggles and fears. Being a parent is hard. Stay strong.
#67 by alyssabethancourt on May 6, 2014 - 10:12 am
I lovelovelove this post. My spawn is just finishing up his junior year of high school, and has come to the point of being just so very done with the absurd academic demands at school that he can’t stand the idea of even *thinking* about reading for pleasure anymore — and this is a child who until not too long ago used to spend his own meager earnings on books whenever allowed. It makes me so sad to see his fatigue; he’s only seventeen. Is killing the joy of words and reading in our children really what we should aim to accomplish with education?
#68 by Robert on May 6, 2014 - 10:13 am
I laughed till I almost cried!
#69 by Robin Kaye on May 6, 2014 - 10:18 am
Your spawn reminds me so much of mine. So intelligent, so gifted, with delayed speech….
I’m dyslexic and a little dysgraphic, my three kids are all dyslexic, and two are also dysgraphic, one has physical disabilities. The first two were delayed learning wise but their gross motor skills were off the charts. The third child was just the opposite. By the time my youngest graduates, I will have spent 15 years dealing with Individual Education Plans and 504s. Unfortunately, everyone (including many special ed teachers) think that learning disabilities equals a lack of intelligence. I think it’s just the opposite.
My son is terribly dysgraphic, dyslexic, and incredibly intelligent. When I asked his special ed teacher if he could use his accommodations during the AP tests, she told me she didn’t know. She’d never had a special ed student in an AP Class. Tony was the first kid in his high school with an I.E.P. to ever take advanced placement classes. My daughter was the second.
I asked the special ed teachers what they were doing wrong? So many of these kids are so intelligent, most of them should be in AP classes–unfortunately, the special ed teachers are sent to lower level classes, and all the special ed kids are stuck in those classes to get the required hours of special ed teaching regardless of whether that class is the right class level for the student.
When Anna was in the 3rd grade, I requested testing because I saw the dyslexia and dysgraphia (after all, Tony had been diagnosed the year before, and her sister had been diagnosed with dyslexia a few years before that) There were nine teachers and administrators in the meeting meant to bully me. They told me that Anna had average intelligence and was doing average work. Needless to say, I’m not easily bullied. I asked if they’d broken the law and given her an IQ test without my permission. They swore they hadn’t so I asked how they knew her intelligence level. They told me that they just knew. That wasn’t a good enough answer for me. I very nicely asked if they had things to do that day. They explained that they were very busy. I told them that I wasn’t busy, and I was prepared to sit there all day until they agreed to test my child. And guess what, I wasn’t busy the next day either. Then I referenced the law giving them 90 days to test her and report the results to me. Ninety days later, they called and said they’d discovered my child had learning disabilities. I said, “Well, aren’t you smart.”
Anna tests in the 99 percentile in intelligence but the 20th in processing speed, she’s dyslexic and dysgraphic and spends her life in a state of frustration. After her testing, the teachers asked her to explain how she came upon the answers to several of the questions they’d never been able to figure out. It might take her longer to get the answers to a question, or to absorb information, but when it’s there, it’s set in stone and it’s right. This year, her senior year, she’s taking five AP classes and her lowest grade is a 98. Latin last semester killed her because of her inability to spell without the aid of a computer–she still got a B.
The four of us have always been square pegs being forced into round holes, and pumpernickel rye swirl in a world of wonder bread. I’ve had to fight a constant battle with the school system to not let my children coast through. I demanded the education they deserved, and the one time they refused to allow one to have it, I pulled Anna out of school and home schooled her for 2 years. I fought constantly to make sure my youngest, Isabelle, wouldn’t receive more special treatment than she needed because of her physical disabilities. Give her more time to do the work, sure, but don’t demand less work. That’s not going to help her. Oh, and if she does 50% of the work, give her a 50% which is an F. You’ll only have to do it once. The teachers couldn’t believe I wanted them to give my child a failing grade even though she deserved one. My kids are smart–they will play teachers and administrators like a fiddle and the result comes out sounding like Bach. Seriously, Izzy’s been doing it since 2nd grade. My kids are smarter than the teachers and administrators–they’re IQs prove that point. Just because they might see things differently or learn in a different way, doesn’t make them any more or less deserving of a great education.
#70 by mickie turk on May 6, 2014 - 10:18 am
It’s heartening to hear so much advocacy for a child. In the end, that is what really counts. A parent’s unconditional love, understanding, and attention is what makes spawns thrive.
#71 by Paula Palmer on May 6, 2014 - 10:20 am
My son, now 55, is a perfect-score test taker. Disorganized and slow to speak, bouncing around with part-time jobs, we’ve diagnosed him with probable Aspergers. in 3rd grade for fun, he’d multiply 3-digit #sin his head. His teacher told us he he was failing reading. After school he’d open the Britannica and read up on vultures. Noted doctors told us, “He just seems to have some little screw loose in his brain,but he’s so smart he’ll compensate for it.” So it has gone all his life. Eventually, the only positive comment teachers could make was, “Gordon has made great strides.”
Our 5 kids raised us—each one so different I claim no knowledge about kids except that we’re cheating them out of their childhoods.
New topic: me. i’m now 80. Had a hysterectomy at 50 and took estrogen for 22 years until they decided it would kill me. Had miserable hot flashed for a year, but still going strong.
I’m a winter writer. Having persevered, I found an agent for my family history at the PNWA conference last summer. A publisher may be in sight. I focus on my noted Seattle pioneer contractor father, Hans Pederson, who died when I was a month old. No one told me about him. I have my next book in mind too, if I live long enough, God knows when I’ll ever get to it. I’m slogging into social media—your Machines book is much the best. I’ve thought up most of the website, have drafted 60 blogs as I figure my focus. Have only set up other sites as I want to understand them better before I jump in and make mistakes.
I’ve tried WANA but had no response, probably haven’t done enough. Much of it seems now to be on Twitter—haven’t done anything there yet. Tech surgeons looks like the place for my WordPress.org website, but haven’t seen his discount on WANA Int., I may be doing WANA wrong. Have misplaced your blog where you mentioned some upcoming web designers?
Anyway, I’m hooked on your writing. What a talent. Thanks for reading this tome and helping me so much already.
#72 by A Writer With Something To Say on May 6, 2014 - 10:22 am
First of all, good for you for not letting them ” experiment” on your child. I’m not a mother yet, but I wouldn’t allow that either. It’s a shame that doctors think they are God when certainly they aren’t. Great post, Kristen.
#73 by Jon Chaisson on May 6, 2014 - 10:30 am
Hell, we all have our own unique ways of learning. Some of us want a set list of directions, others like a FAQ or a how-to. Others pick it up instinctively. Some are fast, some are slow. From my own history, I was categorized as exceptionally intelligent kids early on, probably around 3rd or 4th grade or so, and got to do some nifty extracurricular things. Come 7th grade, though, my grades started getting wonky, I wasn’t finishing homework in time, etc. I even flunked one semester of English. English! My bread and butter nowadays!! And it didn’t really stop, either–my grades could have easily been A’s, but I was firmly ensconced in B-minus up until I graduated college.
Sure, I could say it’s ADD/ADHD/whatever else you want to categorize it as, but after a couple decades of thinking about this, I’ve come to the conclusion that it wasn’t any chemical or mental imbalance at all. I was BORED, plain and simple. I should have been put in a grade ahead, which would have forced me to apply myself better.
My point being–the Spawn is the Spawn. He’s not Kristen, he’s not me, he’s not the teacher, he’s not someone else. He learns in his own way, and it’s obvious that the kid’s intelligent and eager to learn more. Sounds like he’ll turn out just fine. 🙂
#74 by Ron Estrada on May 6, 2014 - 10:33 am
Now you got me started. Our elected powers-that-be seem to be determined to find a one size fits all strategy for the brainwashing…I mean educating of our youth. Today is my son’s last day in high school. We’re done with the public school system forever. And thank God. If we had to start today, I would find a way to home school if it required l work three jobs. We’ve allowed our kids to be kids and now have a 20 year old daughter and 18 year old son who are very bright, have never drank, tried drugs, and, as far as I can tell, have avoided sex. Where were all those horrible teenage years? Could it be we just raised them according to our Christian beliefs and–gasp!–they turned out to be outstanding young adults? We must have done something wrong. I’d better check the common core recommendations for child raising.
#75 by Shea Ford on May 6, 2014 - 10:35 am
Testing drove me nuts when I taught high school English. Once a week I was hauling my classes down to the computer lab so they could take some test or other. And of course, they never clued ME into what was being tested. Probably because I didn’t matter. I was only the teacher. My job was to try to teach the standards to teenagers, most of whom had already given up because they were shoved through to classes they weren’t ready for.
I learned the hard truth that teacher don’t check for accuracy anymore. They don’t have the time. That’s, I think, why kids aren’t learning properly and no amount of testing is going to make them learn.
Kids can’t be put in a box. You can’t just give them the material and expect them to absorb it without help. If you don’t tell them they got an answer wrong and help them to get the right one, they’ll assume they got it right. Isn’t that what teaching is? Showing a student how to get the right answer?
I wonder if the people who come up with these tests have ever been inside a classroom as anything other than a student themselves.
#76 by wendykarasin on May 6, 2014 - 10:37 am
This is one of the first posts of yours I truly relate to (sorry). I wasn’t a good test taker but had an A average, I thought out of the box (but still get stomach aches at the thought of it, as it wasn’t much admired), and I have 4 kids, one labeled LD (ugh!). I’m also an educator who left the business quick, as I couldn’t be myself nor could I let the kids be themselves. I wish I had some answers for the way education is going (Common Core – give me a break!) but maybe the straight jacket, narrow-hall, small minded, way we are proceeding is already in our rear view mirror. One can hope! Great post.
#77 by MonaKarel on May 6, 2014 - 10:39 am
Vegan Zombies…why the heck not? My husband was a high school teacher, more than 30 years in the LA County school system. He inspired students to do better, to dream beyond what they’d thought was possible, and he wasn’t the only teacher to feel that way. But that older crowd is gone now and most of the good teachers left in that school are gone, or they’re counting the hours to when they can retire. They’ve had their initiative tested right out of them.
Vegan zombies…why the heck not! Spawn is a lucky, lucky little boy.
#78 by Linda Penn on May 6, 2014 - 10:40 am
Not sure from the tone of your article if you are for or against teachers. Please explain what you mean about handing over the kids to the bean counters and kids are the collateral damage. As a retired teacher, I know how hard teachers work and try their very best to give each child the best education possible. Would appreciate positives about teachers, especially since this is Teacher Appreciation Week.
#79 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 6, 2014 - 11:58 am
If you read the entire post I am VERY PRO TEACHER. I HATE the “theorists” and politicians who are keeping teachers from what they do—TEACH! We have people with a PhD who’ve never really taught coming up with ridiculous methods that burden and hobble teachers and hurt the kids.
And the teachers whole loved me and understood I was different were my greatest heroes. The ones who sent me to the hall were the ones who probably were too overworked by bureaucracy and too many kids in a classroom to give me what I needed.
Also many of my teachers were hobbled by the idiot tests. I blew the test, ended up in a remedial class that my teachers KNEW was wrong for me. But, the TEST can’t lie.
#80 by char on May 6, 2014 - 10:43 am
Great post, Kristen. I’m a former elementary teacher and HATE, HATE, HATE standardized testing and all the dumb bureaucracy that ties teachers’ hands and hearts to keep them from truly teaching kids and not tests. I’m reading Readicide by Kelly Gallagher right now and it makes me so sad, because schools are killing the love of reading and learning in general because of how focused they’ve become on teaching to stupid narrow-minded tests. And that is scary for the future as more and more students graduate and are aliterate (meaning, they don’t WANT to read because school has taught them to hate it). Keep being THAT kind of mom you were with the doctor. Parents that care can beat the system, although it takes constant work.
#81 by Susan Lower on May 6, 2014 - 10:51 am
I’m THAT mom, too, Kristen. I have a child with ADD/ODD and for many years people thought I was being an overprotective/ over reactive mom and waved me off. I was told many times by many professionals that I had a “extremely head strong child” that would grow out of it. I was head strong, too. Bless my mom for putting up with me through those growing years.
I’m a visual learner and it took until high school to figure out I needed pictures instead of words to follow instructions. Even now, my husband, who is a teacher, will grin because I’ll ask him to interrupter directions because there is no pictures. We’re the perfect fit in that sense.
I’m just entering the tween years with this child and I’ve got two other younger children who make the rough days better.
Your post is right on. Thank you for always being real. I appreciate those who share life rather than hide it as if imperfection is wrong. As you said, it’s what makes each of us individuals. We were created to be such.
#82 by netraptor001 on May 6, 2014 - 10:54 am
So many good comments already! I have one son and three daughters. While my girls were all speaking in articulate sentences by 18 months, my son spoke caveman until almost age 4. He just turned 7, is smart as a whip and very articulate, and still has a bit of a baby accent. Boys are just different from girls. Don’t let them medicate him. My entire family is OCD and they are all geniuses. Meds would have killed that.
#83 by martinbeks on May 6, 2014 - 10:54 am
I was one of the few kids in my class who could sit still for whatever reason. Before I even entered preschool, the teacher (who was my daycare provider) told my parents I was smart enough to start school, but lacked the social skills. Isn’t that what preschool is FOR? To be around other kids? My parents didn’t tell me that until I was in third grade, and then I started to think something was wrong with me. I’d always been a faster reader and worker than my classmates.
I’m all for letting kids be kids, and putting them in school when you think they’re ready, but kids start preschool to much earlier now, it seems. I don’t have kids yet, but I plan to homeschool. I’m not a fan of the way the education system is heading, despite having several teachers for relatives.
#84 by Tamara LeBlanc on May 6, 2014 - 10:55 am
I LOVE your sense of humor, I think you sound like the BEST mom a kid could ask for and I’m in awe of your accomplishments!!! A code breaker, huh? Amazing!!!
After reading this I have some hope for my 20 year old son (who took a hardship withdrawal from college to be with Dusty before he passed, but is now dragging his feet about applying for jobs before classes start again in August…IF he even goes back) 😦
Thank you for letting me know that we’re not all perfect and we ALL have our own way of getting things done.
#85 by estyree on May 6, 2014 - 10:58 am
1) They started vaccines on the Monkey at birth. One barrage then (I think two vaccines in three shots over a four hour period) and then more at 2 weeks, 3 months, etc. Perhaps someone finally changed the rules.
2) The states…at least the Midwestern and Southern states (I’m from Texas/Oklahoma) are looking at retaking their educational reins fully. Common Core was one of the ways they discussed transitioning so I’m hoping that it moves on through fairly quickly.
3) Perhaps you should, NICELY, suggest that your son learns differently Look up Brain Based Learning and make sure that you have the facts about the (I believe) 12 different learning styles. Creative types are often misunderstood, quiet (while working at least), and eccentric…and that doesn’t have an age range. My 20 month old can give us full clear sentences….and usually uses the word ‘Bell’ to tell my parents and I everything. (Bell Bell Be Bell…pointing. Bell is short for TinkerBell who apparently has all the answers!)
4) Take a video of the puzzle solving or take the Spawn and sit him in the corner with something supposedly too advanced for him and just let him go while in the meeting. Perhaps he’s showing a regressed state because they are not challenging him. I used to do that. I would et bored and begin mockingly acting like the kids around me. I would be unintelligible because they were ‘babies’.
Hope I helped!!
#86 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 6, 2014 - 12:06 pm
You DID. THANK YOU. I am new at this and I know my both my husband and I had “learning disabilities” and school was very hard on us. We are hoping to remain honest and open-minded, but preparation—GOOD/SOLID preparation is key. So thanks for giving me ideas and taking the time. MUCH appreciated.
#87 by estyree on May 6, 2014 - 1:34 pm
Not a problem! A lot of the ‘learning disabled’ kids (and adults) that I have met aren’t actually ‘slow’…they just learn a different way and the schools aren’t prepared for that.
#88 by Cheryel Hutton on May 6, 2014 - 10:58 am
Kristen, I’m the opposite of you. I’m VERY linear. I have to follow every single step of a math problem through. I struggled through math in high school, only to lean in college that it was okay to do every single step. And got through calculus. Loved physics too. Gee. Guess I wasn’t so dumb after all, LOL.
Thanks for yet another compelling blog post. 🙂
#89 by Sarah Brentyn on May 6, 2014 - 11:35 am
I think we really do need benchmarks. Both of my children were way off where they should have been and I’m glad someone had those handy since I had no idea what the heck they were “supposed” to be doing. I’m glad I know because now I can help both my kids with their special needs. Standardized testing was later part of helping us figure out what was going on with my kids. It was gold. Especially since all signs pointed to a diagnosis my child did not have–testing saved him from being misdiagnosed.
Ironically, I detest a lot of the Common Core and standardized testing and, especially, the everyone-will-do-exactly-the-same-thing-in-the-classroom crap. Neither of my kids is “normal” (average, neurotypical, whatever) and neither can function well in that environment. And it’s awful for good teachers to be restrained from being creative in their classroom.
#90 by twocandobooks on May 6, 2014 - 11:36 am
As a retired principal and a mom with a son who has learning differences, I have had loads of experience with what you are writing about. As a principal, I took great pride in implementing the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program where children were taught through inquiry methodology. You, Kristen, would have excelled as a learner in our public school, as the students are inspired to delve into a unit of inquiry to the depth of which they are capable. They are motivated to actively engage in their learning. Quirky learners have teachers who have learned techniques to support their students by differentiating the curriculum.
I know how frustrating and upsetting as a parent it can be when the educational community appears to want to label a child( at a much too early stage) and this can have serious ramifications where a student becomes viewed in a particular way that can perhaps erode the child’s confidence in themselves as a capable learner. You sound like you have great common sense and no one knows your child like you do. Follow your gut, it is usually the right approach. It is early days and just remember, no one is saying your son isn’t intelligent, they are just questioning why his verbal skills are not yet developing. Good luck with your meeting. I have a feeling that you will leave them knowing your son better and admiring your positive and pro-active approach to raising your boy.
#91 by Diana on May 6, 2014 - 11:46 am
Love the post.
My didn’t talk clearly and when he did talk he was a boy of very few words.He was tested by the school district at the age of 3 three. The doctor told me some kids don’t talk until they can hear the words correctly in their minds. But we also had to rule out a hearing problem. Which I was 110% sure he didn’t have.
The speech pathologist did some tests. His tongue just didn’t move -it couldn’t move- in the correct way. He was in speech classes from elementary to middle school. He is in high school now. Most of his speech has been corrected from the practice from those classes. People understand him just fine now. They think he has a cool accent. He has a problem with the rl combination sound like in world. He speech has nothing to do with his intelligence, he is a very smart young man.
It was all about practicing words correctly and using the techniques by the pathologist to help make the tongue and lips and whatever make the right movements.
It has all worked out well. I am greatly appreciative of the speech pathologist that he has had. They helped him more than I could have on my own.
#92 by Shan Jeniah Burton on May 6, 2014 - 11:46 am
You are my Hero of the Day – maybe the year!
And my only questions would be, if I couldn’t already see the answer in every picture and word you’ve written about the Spawn…”Is he confident and happy? Do his parents understand him well enough to meet his needs?”
When my now-big blonde boy was little, we couldn’t. Even me, and I’d spent years working and playing with little kids. When he started to feel stupid and frustrated, we got speech therapy through the school district (same one I attended from kindergarten to graduation, so I had no illusions.) When they wanted us to bring him to the school twice a week, I refused. We were already planning to homeschool, and he wasn’t in preschool, so why introduce him to that dynamic?
For months, there was little progress, but he loved his therapist, and my daughter could say ‘speech therapy’ perfectly before she was one (of course, she could also tell you what DNA stood for, and quote Shakespeare at 2, so it may have had more to do with who she is and my own early-talker genetics than anything else).
The change came shortly after he was four. Within two months, he went from being hard for most everyone to understand, to someone referring to him as ‘well-spoken’.
I wonder, now, if it was the speech therapy, or just growing up .
For your meeting, I would say go armed with your confidence – you know, the one you used with that doctor. Preschool is not essential to a happy and productive adult life. I know a whole collection of happy, creative, productive adults who never attended school at all. What I’ve learned from living with my own unschoolers is overflowing two blogs, my Facebook page, and leaches into my fiction.
The Spawn clearly has a loving, nourishing, enriching home where who he is is valued. My guess is that he’s getting a lot more from that than he will in a place where they don’t understand him and measure him, not by joy and confidence, but by a rigid set of “shoulds”.
We’ve been radically unschooling for over five years now. No, my kids don’t know everything they’d learn in school – but they know a LOT they couldn’t learn there, and they know it because they want to. The depth and breadth of what they know and how they know it amazes me every day (hint: The Simpsons and Family Guy are very educational, whatever school thinks of them!). They own and use what they know, not to pass tests, but to achieve their own goals.
And they have the Internet, so they can find all those facts the schoolkids cram into their schools long enough to vomit up on a test, then forget again…
This is more like a letter than a comment. I have a deep well of passion for the freedom of children to be exactly who they are!
By the way, my 9 year old LOVED the Vegan Zombies, and it led to a fascinating discussion of what T’Pol would eat if she were a zombie, and she calls our dog a pear, despite the fact that he has no obviously pear-like characteristics…
#93 by Carradee on May 6, 2014 - 12:16 pm
The T’Pol as a zombie thing has me sniggering. ^_^
#94 by shanjeniah on May 6, 2014 - 11:51 am
Reblogged this on shanjeniah and commented:
I love this. Make that LOVE, in great big letters! =D
#95 by Kay McGriff (@kaymcgriff) on May 6, 2014 - 11:56 am
Amen and thank you! As a language arts teacher, I am at the end of my rope. I’m currently debating whether or not to go out quietly by handing in my letter of resignation over the summer or come back for one more year where I absolutely refuse to cooperate with any of the testing/standardization nonsense and get myself fired. I just can’t see the sense of playing by the “rules” when the rules constantly shift and do much more harm than good.
#96 by Carolyn Dekat on May 6, 2014 - 11:57 am
I was too chicken to turn my kids over to a system that put my husband in a dark closet with a piano–routinely–when he was in kindergarten. He was simply bored and looking for something to do. No dark closets for my kids! Older son would have been labeled because he could do math in his head but not on paper till he was older than average. He started reading quite early though. The baby got the math early, but struggled with reading until he was around nine, when he found a James Patterson series he loved and was suddenly reading fluently and for pleasure. That wouldn’t have happened in school–he’d have been made to feel behind and dumb and would have learned to hate reading. I feel so very thankful that we were able to teach them at home. They are both professionals now.
#97 by dodgepoe on May 6, 2014 - 12:08 pm
My son is four and I fought tooth and nail with the school not to have him labelled as a ‘behaviour kid’ this fall. He is the sweetest, most sensitive little boy I have seen in a long time, and he is so bright. He also loves puzzles and has a great imagination. His ‘problem’? Hitting other kids in class! So how can he be an angel everywhere else (including afterschool care) and a monster at school? The trigger is clearly at school (after very little investigating I was able to pinpoint precisely what was wrong at the school, and now the problem is solved). My suggestion to you (although your situation is different) is to really understand the environments your kid is experiencing. See the classroom when it is full of kids…see what your son sees, how he is treated, what is on the walls, is he stimulated, where does he sit, what are the rules and consequences in the classroom, how does the teacher talk to him vs. the other children, what are the other children like…all parents should do this, but especially a parent who may/may not need special attention for their child. I have also worked with children and adults with special needs for a long time, so I know the benefits and downside to a ‘diagnosis’ on record…I highly recommend avoiding a label (unless your child really needs extra funding and personnel) as it can be very, very damaging.
#98 by Emily Reese on May 6, 2014 - 12:09 pm
Since I know we live in the same general area of North Texas, I just wanted to offer a recommendation. Hopefully, you’ve found a pediatrician for The Spawn you like, but Practical Pediatrics in Grapevine is the bees’ knees. To the point I’ll drive from Roanoke instead of switching. Even if she has to get shots, my kid is still excited to go see everyone, likes it’s a flippin’ field trip. Anyway, I thought of them when you were writing about not giving your kiddo all the shots at once. Not only did they give them over time, they actually let her skip some since she wasn’t in daycare and this didn’t need them. Okay, gushing done. 🙂
#99 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 6, 2014 - 1:17 pm
Thanks for the recommendation. THANK GOD, Spawn is very healthy. I’ve fired four pediatricians but the last one seemed all right. We will see and at least now I have another option. Sounds like a fab doctor!
#100 by pattynicnac on May 6, 2014 - 12:09 pm
Hilarious! And so true. We are so quick to label children, especially little boys. P.S. – looking for the facebook button so I can share. Do I get credit for that?
#101 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 6, 2014 - 12:11 pm
Now that you told me? YES. Thank you!
#102 by Yvonne Hertzberger on May 6, 2014 - 12:22 pm
Recent research supports the theory that we are going about education all wrong. Kids learn kinetically for the first five years. Until then they ought to have only very limited access to electronics, including TV. And until age ten they ought not to use electronic devises in school. They have actually coined the term .digital dementia’ referring the the gaps in normal brain development in kids who have too much access to electronic devices instead of moving their bodies and learning to solve problems with their own minds.
On top of that, we are over-scheduling and over directing our kids to the point that they have no opportunity for creative play or even for learning social skills. They are taught to be task driven and this leaves little room for learning compassion and sensitivity or how to be good world citizens.
I fear for the upcoming generation. They are being grossly short-changed in both their schools and their homes.
#103 by Elizabeth Anne Mitchell on May 6, 2014 - 12:30 pm
We are definitely hall peeps, Kristen. My sons were just as big misfits in school as I was, so the genes run true. I was constantly dismayed by the school system, but my sons were lucky to have the stellar teacher from time to time who made up for the stupid tests and misunderstanding of square pegs.
I spent a lot of time interacting with my kids, as it is clear you do with the Spawn–it is that interaction that will serve him well. My sons are now 21 and 22, still proud as hell square pegs.
#104 by tracikenworth on May 6, 2014 - 12:40 pm
My son was diagnosed with ADD but a few years ago he stopped taking meds for it. He does have a learning disability and yes, he didn’t start talking till age 5/6. He’s in speech therapy at school. Just in the last few months, I’ve seen him start bringing his homework home to do his self (before he had IEP teachers helping him) and his speech is almost normal. He still has a few problems but he’s really started to turn things around. I, personally, don’t think he had ADD. He is on meds for another condition and it’s made such a profound difference in his life of late. He’s more respectful, courteous, helpful. He has his days, we all have those. I guess what I’m saying is: be sure. Back then, he had been kicked out of different pre-schools for not minding/mood swings. Today, he has the help he needs, but it was a LONG road.
#105 by mrsbongle on May 6, 2014 - 12:45 pm
Sorry Kristen, but the nerd in me has to point out that it was Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel and not Leonardo da Vinci. Great post apart from that!
#106 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 6, 2014 - 12:51 pm
Sorry. Was ticked when I wrote this. Will correct. THANK YOU!
#107 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 6, 2014 - 12:55 pm
But another good point is that Michelangelo was actually dyslexic. I mushed them together. My bad 😀 .
#108 by lccooper on May 6, 2014 - 1:00 pm
Common core should have been named common crap for what it is. The Internet is littered with YouTube videos blog posts about the damage common core is doing to our children of today… The future leaders of tomorrow. It’s a gigantic Charlie foxtrot that had no business evolving from a bunch of drunks at a Governors Association meeting junket. I have four kids, all school age, who are being beaten over the head with common core; hence, two of them are now homeschooled and the other two will be homeschooled beginning this next year. If you can do it, homeschool your kid until this common core nonsense blows over. Remember the story of the emperors clothing?
#109 by Kassandra Lamb on May 6, 2014 - 1:08 pm
There are a gazillion things in this post I want to say amen to. I’ll settle for, let’s get rid of the required standardized tests, for God’s sake (and the teachers’ and children’s)! WORST IDEA EVER.
I learned to read really well in second grade (and I later discovered that I have a staggering 80% retention level). There was just one problem. I didn’t read “silently.” I moved my lips and whispered the words under my breath.
My second grade teacher felt this indicated that I was a “slow” reader, so she put me in the slowest group (i.e., the one still using the boring 1st grade readers…See Dick. See Jane. See Dick chase Jane.) What really grated was that the stupidest kid in the class sat next to me, and he was in the group that had the fascinating reader about some kid living out west during the pioneer days.
Can you guess what’s coming? I got caught reading over his shoulder, because I was whispering the words out loud. Did the teacher wise up? No, I sat in the hall for the rest of the day (*waves to my Hall Peeps*) and then she moved my desk to be with the other sloooow readers.
I had some fab teachers through the years, most of them were fab, really, but the 2nd grade one… not so much!
#110 by Lori Robinett on May 6, 2014 - 1:12 pm
What a great post. I feel your pain. And be warned – the teachers may not like you. My kiddo was a micro preemie, had health issues & developmental delays, but all in all, did pretty well (she’s now 18). My kiddo’s 4th grade year was horrible. We were told that she couldn’t sit still & focus during the lectures (yup, you read that right. Lectures. 4th grade.). School told us they wouldn’t do anything for her as far as an IEP until she was medicated. Her pediatric neuropsychologist (yeah, we had one, because of my kiddo’s brain injury – and the school wouldn’t accept her diagnoses) came up with a solution – give the kiddo a pill. A teeny-tiny pill that would have no recognizable effect. Essentially a placebo for the school. It worked. But the teacher refused to ever talk to me again, and I was assigned a “liaison” that I had to go through. But that was OK. I didn’t like that teacher anyway.
OK – this rant got longer than I intended. So glad the Spawn has you. Be strong.
And for Common Core, check out Jami Gold’s rant on F/B yesterday. EXCELLENT read.
#111 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 6, 2014 - 1:15 pm
I’d already seen it and when I was blogging was trying to figure out how to put it in the post, LOL. Jami ROCKS!
#112 by shawn m on May 6, 2014 - 2:00 pm
Don’t worry folks, while Kristen is Momma Bear, Pappa Bear will be attending as well.
And Pappa Bear has had his share of learning difficulties because the system wasn’t designed for my kenesthitic learning style. While I was scarred for life that the school told me Id never graduate school because I was low functioning. yeaI … it took me every summer from kindergarten to senior in hs to graduate. I promise iwas laughing at all those teachers when I got to fluid dynamics class and I had a proffessor that taught it very differently, and I got an A in it, made the dean’s list, and who’s who. I can think circles around most folks. Later in life I was tested by MENSA.. Now what I see is a chip off the ol block and nothing to worry about. The problem is this, is the glass half full or half empty? Neither, you have the wrong size glass…
#113 by tomwisk on May 6, 2014 - 2:08 pm
Thanks Kristen. I’m 64 going on 65 and my grasp of linear time has deteriorated lately. I’ve always had it but now it has become more apparent. Like you I was “slow” at school. Until the nun interrupted my staring out the window with “What did I just say Thomas?” I told her word for word’ The classroom was monochromatic penguins the outside had color. I liked color. The “Spawn” (I don’t like that term, maybe “Future World Ruler” is better) is a normal kid. He’ll catch up to his brain when the time is right. He’ll be scary smart, like his mom. You’re a loving mother and you’re smart enough to see that we all develop at different rates. You are a reason for home schooling because the square pegs that don’t fit into the round holes get worn on the sides. You’ll make sure that he doesn’t get to worn down by the bean counters.
#114 by sharonhughson on May 6, 2014 - 2:31 pm
Since you have tons of perspective here, I’m going for the lighthearted angle with my comment.
If you drop your child on their head it’s detrimental to their development? That explains my youngest son. He literally rolled down the church aisle as a two-month old and I nearly fell on top of him. He had both speech and occupational therapy in kindergarten through 2nd grade and he didn’t really learn to read until the end of 2nd grade.
All because I dropped him on his head! Thanks for clearing that up for me.
(PS I cried through a meeting where we discussed holding him back to repeat first grade. Most teachers care about the child and know you understand your kid better than they do. You will do fine.)
(PPS Don’t get me started on the standardized testing or Common Core rant.)
#115 by Eli on May 6, 2014 - 2:45 pm
I completely agree. I’ve been home schooled and unschooled for most of my life. My grandmother was a retired teacher and for awhile she was teaching me, except she taught me her way. I’m not sure what it was but I didn’t understand things, even though looking back her words were in plain English and they make sense. It was too restricting and I couldn’t learn what I wanted to learn, which was history.
I’ve developed a bit of uncertainty and doubt when it comes to my education. But through experience I know I can learn anything I want quickly. I learn best when I’m the only one doing the teaching. That’s why I love the internet.
#116 by Karen Lynne Klink on May 6, 2014 - 2:50 pm
I couldn’t help myself. I nominated you for a Sunshine Award. But I know you are the busiest person on the planet and already have more followers than you know what to do with. But if anyone deserves an award, you do. So Happy Sunshine! Here’s what it is, if you are curious: http://twenty1619.wordpress.com/
#117 by Jami Gold on May 6, 2014 - 2:58 pm
Kristen asked me to share my Common Core rant. 🙂 She might add this to the post itself, but just in case, here you go. I posted this on Facebook yesterday: (https://www.facebook.com/jamigold.author/posts/855464781135402)
My Common Core Rant
(Note: This isn’t going to be the post you’d expect. )
Most people who argue against Common Core come from a non-governmental-interference perspective or from a Common-Core-test-questions-are-stupid perspective. My frustration comes from a different place.
I actually support the Common Core STANDARDS. The CC problems–and they are MAJOR–are 100% with IMPLEMENTATION.
The CC Standards simply say “A 2nd grader should know place value up to 1000.” That makes sense, and there’s no politics in that. Good.
But there are also no implementation instructions. There are no standards on “HOW to teach place value.” And while that lessens the government-interference worry, this is also where we get into trouble.
Far too many teachers, school administrators, school districts, curriculum publishers, etc. have taken the opportunity of the switch to CC to implement their pet project theory:
“Let’s try New Math again!”
“Let’s outlaw all auditory instructions, even for auditory learners!”
“Let’s assume Kindergartners already know how to read!”
(Yes, I know of schools doing all those. Grr.)
There’s no certification process for calling these “methods” compliant with CC, so they’re ALL claiming, “You have to do it MY way–this is Common Core!”
Um, no, No, NO. Every crazy *ss problem you see out there labeled “This is what the Common Core is teaching my kid, and this sucks” is really just the schools using kids as guinea pigs for their theories and claiming CC to justify their experiments. Still NO.
The implementation of CC is NOT standardized and does NOT require certain teaching methods, so…:
* Push back on the teachers, schools, school districts when you see stupid teaching methods.
* Educate yourself on what the CC STANDARDS say–and what they DON’T say.
(This post–with quotes from the lead writers of the CC Standards and links to the standards themselves–is a good start: http://www.tucsonsentinel.com/nationworld/report/041514_cc_math/why-this-common-core-math-problem-so-hard-supporters-respond-quiz-that-went-viral/)
* Call out the stupid IMPLEMENTATION theories.
* Do NOT let them tell you that their implementation theories are part of Common Core. They are lyin– *ahem* severely mistaken.
* If necessary, throw a temper tantrum until your child’s school completes an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for your child that exempts them from the experimental teaching methodologies and REQUIRES THEM ONLY TO PROVE MASTERY OF THE STANDARDS THEMSELVES. <– This is how CC *should* be implemented.
Common Core isn't the problem. Using kids as guinea pigs for their pet theories on HOW to IMPLEMENT Common Core is.
*drops mike* *steps off soapbox*
#118 by martrae on May 6, 2014 - 3:54 pm
First, you’d be an AMAZING homeschool mom.
And my son had a ‘verbal delay’ also. I made him crawl (all the kids in the neighborhood loved this…they’d be out there playing follow the leader while doing crawling laps around my house), do crossover toe touches and jumping jacks for a month. After that no more delay. It had something to do with right/left brain connections not being laid down properly when he was a baby. I guess he didn’t crawl enough then.
#119 by Catana on May 6, 2014 - 3:57 pm
Okay, so I’m late to the party, and I don’t have the time to read 100+ comments, but I have to ask (without expecting an answer). When everything you say makes perfect sense to me, how come your four-year-old is in school, for pete’s sake? Why is he being exposed to being judged, at that early age, for proper development by people who are setting arbitrary standards for what is normal and what isn’t?
#120 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 6, 2014 - 4:06 pm
It is a preschool/nursery school. He doesn’t even go to Kindergarden for another 16 months. WTH? I thought he was there to play, socialize, be a kid and have fun with paint and glitter. I guess I was mistaken. And I see the newest comments first, so no worries :D. Thanks for commenting anyway.
#121 by Jackie Vick on May 6, 2014 - 4:39 pm
Right on the nose, as usual. Unfortunately, the teachers I know don’t have time to teach because they have to A. babysit without the freedom to deal with the troublemakers B. try to keep up with a ridiculous amount on a plate that keeps getting fuller. They need to simplify. Give them the time to teach the basics and make certain that kids have a chance to absorb, question, and grow. And children who require additional stimulation and increased challenges should be allowed to pick up the pace so they don’t tear their hair out. I know. Not enough teachers and tutors to go around, but if it was marketed as a Profession and an Art, (and treated as such) then it might attract more of the gifted teachers out there.
#122 by KaylaJT on May 6, 2014 - 4:39 pm
I could say SOOOOOO much on this topic.
I did well in school. I was usually near the top of my class, 3.5 or higher GPA, did well on tests, etc. However, I hate standardized tests! They teach absolutely nothing. The only thing you learn from doing standardized test after standardized test and test prep all year is how to memorize long enough to get through the test!
My old brother who passed away several years ago dropped out of high school his freshman year. He was 18. He had failed and been held back enough that he was 18 and restarting his FRESHMAN year of High School. He took an ACT prep one year- 98 percentile. His math skills and spatial awareness (or whatever it’s called. He could look at a cube, then look at a space and tell you how many cubes would fit in the space with no measurements at all) were crazy off the charts. But he was going to be a repeat freshman at 18 years old. And he worked three jobs and was starting his own business by 20, just before he died. Yeah, failure was just written all over him! *eyeroll* He was practically a genius, but barely got his GED.
As far as little ones being ‘behind’ I totally know how you feel. My 3 year old was recently diagnosed with a sensory processing disorder and fine motor skills delay. We got home from his appointment and, once the kids were bed, I looked at my husband and just started to cry. I wracked my brains trying to figure out if I’d done something wrong. Honestly, the only thing I did was have a child because I have sensory troubles, too. His is just more pronounced and he has more actual issues related to his SPD. His brain literally doesn’t process sensory input the way it’s supposed to. I explain it just like that and immediately correct anyone who says his brain doesn’t process things “normally.” What the heck is ‘normal’ and how would that even be measured!? I actually came home from a get together once and told my husband that I almost punched someone during our little dinner thing. This man had actually had the nerve to look at me and say, “I’m so sorry about G! That’s really rough. I’m just so sorry.” Um, your sorry about my freaking amazing little boy who has an incredible imagination and is so crazy intelligent and intuitive and special? He’s not dying! I was so mad! And then, of course, he followed up with “He seems normal to me.” Sigh. That’s our other fun one. It originally made me angry, but now I wonder about all the stupid things I’ve said that were unintentionally hurtful to someone going through a hard time or weird circumstance. My response to that one is, “It’s not that he’s ‘not normal.’ It’s just the way his brain processes things.” I go all mama bear at the idea of labeling him with a ‘delay’ or as ‘special needs.’ Ugh. He’s 3. His goals right now are to pick on his little brother, build ‘the tallest tower in the world’ out of Legos, and avoid nap time at all costs. If he were 15 and still screaming when I forget to warn him to cover his ears so the food processor doesn’t freak him out, I’d be much more concerned. But for now, he’s little and I will do whatever I need to do to help him overcome the sensory issues while keeping him little and encouraging his awesome little-boy-ness for as long as I can ❤
You are doing awesome with Spawn, Kristen! Don't think it's something you did. And don't kill anyone at your meeting. 😉
#123 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 6, 2014 - 6:39 pm
Very interesting story. THANK YOU for sharing. He seems “normal” to me? Is that an insult? Please don’t ever call my child normal. How dull, LOL.
#124 by KaylaJT on May 6, 2014 - 10:17 pm
I know, right?! I think it’s supposed to be reassuring, but it gets under my skin every time. They seem to be saying, “He seems normal” as in “I don’t notice anything wrong with him.” I want to respond, “He’s not normal; he’s extraordinary.” It seems like a very biased answer since I am his mother, but my goodness. He’s a three year old, very active boy who’s brain doesn’t process sound, specifically speech, the way it’s supposed to, but he still speaks well. He has trouble focusing on more than one form of sensory input at once, but he tries so hard. And his ability to zone in on one thing and just put so much concentration and energy into it amazes me. Yes, my son has this ‘disorder,’ but it doesn’t make him any less of an awesome kid.
Sorry, I get a little passionate (minor understatement) about the labels they slap on kids and the stigmas that come with them. They can standardize tests all they want to. They can’s standardize kids or the rates at which they learn or reach certain achievements.
#125 by lesliestarrohara on May 6, 2014 - 4:40 pm
I am totally with you of this, Kristen! Learning is best accomplished when the student is having fun and interested in the lesson. Intelligence, skills and talents are nurtured through excitement, not standardization. Our education system is seriously backwards on this. I recommend up schooling, by the way. And it seems like you might just be crazy/gutsy enough to try it!
#126 by lesliestarrohara on May 6, 2014 - 4:41 pm
Correction: unschooling, not up schooling.
#127 by Laura Lis Scott on May 6, 2014 - 4:52 pm
Wonderful post. Vegan Zombies!! The name of my new punk band.
I take it you’re not shopping universities yet? How on earth do you expect to get him into med school!
#128 by symplysilent on May 6, 2014 - 5:19 pm
And…don’t forget about diagnosing Myers Briggs ENTJs as ADHD. I’m a big believer in Myers Briggs. What we are seeing is the SJ’s running the world, and they are terrified of the NT’s, because we don’t think like they do, and don’t need to go through every step to get the answer. At some point, we just know.
#129 by Deb Atwood on May 6, 2014 - 5:53 pm
I sent your post to my niece and nephew-in-law who are teachers (and new parents). I’ll be interested to hear what they say. Very thought-provoking piece! You are never boring!
#130 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 6, 2014 - 6:03 pm
#131 by Donna Edwards on May 6, 2014 - 5:57 pm
Both my kid (girl anf boy) were considered ADD and dyslexic. I did medicate but as little as possible. Keep up the good fight. Both mine have graduated high school and are happy. My daughter is a step-mom of 2 little girls with one on the way. My son graduated with a degree in Industrial Machine Tool Technology. Everything will be fine.
#132 by Deborah Makarios on May 6, 2014 - 6:46 pm
It seems like your school system thinks standards are there for the purpose of standardization – what Madeleine L’Engle called “making muffins of us, muffins all like every other muffin in the muffin tin.” I refuse to be a muffin. I’d rather be a crumpet.
Good luck with your meeting, and remember the words of Mushu: “listen to your teacher and no fightin’, play nice with the other kids, unless, of course, one of the other kids wanna fight, then you have to kick the other kid’s butt.”
#133 by carbozombie on May 6, 2014 - 7:10 pm
I actually wrote out a long comment spanning several paragraphs, but decided I could not add any more than what has already been said. I also considered that my comments, while commensurate with some of the others, are a little absurd because I am, in fact, not a parent. I am just an observer of many successes and failures I have witnessed over the years. If it counts for anything, you have the right attitude and spirit. You are doing just fine.
#134 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 6, 2014 - 8:30 pm
Hey, non-parents have a unique perspective. I used to give dang good parenting advice to my sister-in-law before becoming a mother myself. Thanks for contributing your thoughts anyway. I’ve loved reading all these beautiful and encouraging stories. You guys are so loving and generous to me.
#135 by Shireen Burki on May 6, 2014 - 7:56 pm
I’ve enjoyed reading your from-the -heart blog with its generous advice and insight but never commented. I’m a lurker. But this post hit a raw nerve and I wanted to commend you for going with your maternal intuition vis-a-vis the vaccinations. Dumb trusting me… I didn’t follow my intuition twice (with 2 of my boys and the military loves to vaccinate as early as possible with 16 vaccines in four stabs in ONE visit). My husband said its ok and he held the child as I couldn’t bear to be in the room. Well….its a long story but the short of it is my boys ended up w/autism. One’s intestines were damaged but over time recovered. They both are “case studies” or “post boys” of how early intervention DOES WORK. They did “recover” not cured (docs don’t use that term). It was a bloody long and painful process/road. But now I trust few. If the medical establishment can be so superficial and unconcerned about using vaccines (with thimerosal i.e. mercury) than how the hell can we trust much of anything or anyone. These are HEALERS for crying out loud.
Anyhow, now that I’ve vented, and again kudos for not being bullied to do what your intuition told you NOT to do…onto the issue with the school telling you your 4 yr old has problems with speech. In defense of the schools (ours have been fabulous and helped in our boys recovery along with the army of therapists for ABA etc etc), they do have the expertise to recognize potential areas of concern. No harm in getting your son checked out by a speech therapist. However, LOTS of boys have delayed speech…wired differently. As my son Josef loves to remind me, his hero Einstein didn’t begin to talk till he was four. Josef and Vernie (who we thought would never talk) now have beautiful speech. Yes, it did take years of daily work. It’s natural for a mom to be defensive. Again, no harm in getting him properly evaluated (and possibly even a 2nd opinion) and if need be to get speech therapy. It can’t hurt.
The one gripe I do have w/schools regarding boys these days is that they want compliant zombies in the class when boys aren’t wired that way. Early on due to their autism related symptoms, the neurologist wanted both to be on prozac. I said no. After the vaccines, I no longer trusted the system and had done my research. Took the hard behavioral intervention/applied behavior analysis road and they responded. None of my boys are on meds. And they are happy, well functioning gifted kids.
So deep breaths. Don’t be alarmed (ha) I know easy for me to say. But most importantly follow your maternal intuition and listen to that voice within. It will guide you to give your son what he needs and not what others think he should have.
Warm wishes and thoughts your way.
#136 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 6, 2014 - 8:29 pm
Thank you Shireen ((HUGS))
#137 by Anthony Lee Collins on May 6, 2014 - 8:29 pm
You could have included in your rant that doctors used to advertise cigarettes. 🙂
As for “normal” and “should be,” until recently being gay was officially classified as a mental illness. People with Asperger’s are sometimes treated as if they have a disorder (an opinion which many aspies dispute). I’ve seen vehement disagreements between people with multiple personalities as to whether that’s something which needs a “cure,” or whether it’s a perfectly fine way to be.
Wait, you mean the mayo _doesn’t_ go in the microwave…
Anyway, my current story winds up with a fairly low-key ending — two women on a roof, seeing each other and talking for the first time in years. They are, in very different ways, decidedly abnormal and definitely not as they “should be,” but at this point in their lives they’re okay with that.
#138 by Kelly Byrne on May 6, 2014 - 8:32 pm
Well, this is clearly a hot topic looking at all the posts here and the ones on FB earlier. And it should be a hot topic – it’s your kid. I don’t have children, but I get so irritated just hearing about all the bullshit my friends who do have them go through. I’m sure I’m not going to add to anything here that hasn’t already been said except you and I looked remarkably similar as children. 😉
Beyond that, hang in there, Kristen. Stand your ground.
#139 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 6, 2014 - 8:46 pm
I still enjoy the comments. Reminds me I am NOT alone ;).
#140 by Joanna Aislinn on May 6, 2014 - 8:36 pm
You are speaking to my heart, Kristen. By day, I am a school-based occupational therapist. I provide direct services (as in, treatment sessions) to kids who are classified with “special needs.” Many of these li’l guys and girls are just taking a bit more time to get to that next developmental stage. Unfortunately, “no child left behind” makes life VERY hard for that child who might be at the later end of ” normal”. Makes. Me. Crazy.
My older son was “itchy,” as his seasoned and wonderful first grade teacher once said, relative to his mildly active behaviors. Pre-k teacher suggested I have him evaluated when he was five. Deep down I knew better and let go the idea once his first grade teacher assured me he would be fine. He is now a junior, a great student; a ridiculously and inherently smart young man who is making his way on his own terms. He’s considering studying law.
Glad I didn’t listen to the pre-k teacher.
WONDERFUL POST. Give Spawn time to outgrow the boy busyness and into who God intends him to be. He’s already got a phenomenal example in his mamma.
#141 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 6, 2014 - 8:46 pm
I’ve REALLY appreciated the encouragement, especially from my education/teacher peeps. ((HUGS))
#142 by Joanna Aislinn on May 7, 2014 - 6:21 am
This parenting gig is WORK, and all the uncertainty and STUFF coming at parent(s) from all sides doesn’t help. Besides encouragement–which I found very hard to accept along the way despite appreciating it very much–hindsight was the thing. Hard thing is, it takes a LONG time to gain it. Hang in there, Mamma. It’s a process and a journey.
#143 by Kevin on May 6, 2014 - 9:18 pm
Homeschooling for the win. For all the reasons mentioned above. 😉
#144 by dcdear on May 6, 2014 - 9:23 pm
I am not sure if it is a good post. It certainly is a controversial post, generating lots of comments. Many of these comments make good common sense, some seem to blanket white-wash all schools everywhere in the known universe. (Too Dramatic I know, I am trying to be a writer)
But what I think you are all missing is the silent majority of children, parents and teachers. The children that don’t have advocates as parents. The teachers that take home bruises from a Grade 3 students (my wife, a music teacher). For everyone one of you who posted there are 10 children who come to school underfed, in fear, unloved. For every teacher or administrator that you single out there more that aren’t. If it was a bad as it is portrayed, there wouldn’t be a school system at all in any country in the world, it would be a war zone everywhere.
One school near our house can’t get a child evaluated because that would mean the child would be removed from the house and the parents would lose the support money they get. Nothing that the teachers or administrators can do.(Believe me they have tried)
One child at this school still lives in a house with the man that abused his mother and will have to testify in court about what he saw the man do to mommy.
On the other hand It is excellent that many of you found a way for your child to get a better education and a better deal out of society. I would just ask that you remember the silent majority who weren’t lucky/blessed enough to have you as a parent or teacher or administrator or blogger.
Kristen – I love your blogs and don’t read them enough, please keep up the good work, I always learn something from them, today I learned something about myself. Be Well.
#145 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 6, 2014 - 9:37 pm
I wish they would spend more time focusing on those kids WHO NEED intervention instead of manufacturing crap and spending time on kids in good homes who might be a little different. Focus on helping kids who are in REAL NEED. Not those who are a slight deviation off the bell curve. And I feel you. I volunteered in after-school programs for urban kids for YEARS and I wanted to take all of them home with me.
#146 by ontyrepassages on May 6, 2014 - 9:46 pm
Well, my eldest spoke fluent gibberish going into her third year. Her younger sister spoke at an early age as she sought to compete with big sister. The two together fed off each other after that and learning for them both accelerated. My little gibberish talker set a 5th grade record for most books read. Each child is different. Sure, it’s good to monitor progress, but don’t pigeonhole kids and restrain teachers. Our schools are becoming a place where test administrators (formally teachers) overlook test takers (formally students). Original, dynamic teachers are an endangered species. Go to your meeting with an open mind, but go armed (figuratively, of course).
#147 by Sue Shanahan on May 6, 2014 - 9:59 pm
I love your post but I’m a little confused about the Leonardo da Vinci thing. I know Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel but maybe there is some story about Leonardo that I’m not aware of. Can you explain? Either way I totally love you and the post. I think you’re absolutely right about how kids are taught today. Your son will be thanking his lucky stars he had a mom like you when he looks back on all this.
#148 by LillianC on May 6, 2014 - 11:20 pm
I want to make you President. Right now. My son is autistic. He’s 15 and can’t deal with the diploma track workload, so we’ve had to move him to the certificate track. His teachers are great but I can’t stand his principal. “Reward the kids with a Nutri-Log if they can figure out how the hell Common Core Math works.” THIS! OMG, YES!
#149 by karenmcfarland on May 7, 2014 - 12:06 am
I am standing up and applauding you Kristen!!!! Yes! You nailed it!
“For the love of all that is chocolate, let them be BABIES. Let them be LITTLE. It is such a brief and beautiful time and we are forgetting that.” Amen!! Thank you for saying this. I have been preaching this for years. What is the rush?
I was a rebellious mother. When our kids were born, we held off letting them put the drops in their eyes until we had a chance to bond with our sons. I did not let them give my children all the shots they felt were required. And this was in the early eighties. Your example of your son verses your dog was brilliant.
And when they grew older, we took them out of public school and taught them ourselves. With the help of a fully accredited school. Teaching and learning is not a one size fits all situation. Every child is going to learn at their own rate regardless of their capabilities.
Keep standing up for what is in the best interest of YOUR child!
You are not alone!!! 🙂
#150 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 7, 2014 - 9:11 am
We need WANA schools around the world for the weird kids of writers, LOL.
#151 by Lisa F on May 7, 2014 - 12:07 am
I feel like I finally met my long lost twin sister…except I’m 20 to 30 years older. Oh well, I completely agree with your perspective and even though I didn’t spend as much time in the hall, I definitely spent a lot in the high school library…helping build, catalog and run it. I’ve had the same opinion about standardized testing for the last 25 years. My children are very much like The Spawn, one or two in particular. Conferences could be difficult but mostly I listened to the teacher, told her I would work with my child on Handwriting, oral fixations, long winded explanations or whatever the perceived problem was. Then go home and read the amazing (poorly handwritten) stories and listen to an ever expanding vocabulary (way ahead of the class) and decide we would take it one day/ one complaint at a time.
Be strong. Do what you feel is right. And know you are not alone…I love the vegan zombies 🙂
#152 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 7, 2014 - 3:26 am
Thank you. I have read ALL the comments and relished all the stories and support. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
#153 by Kathleen Azevedo on May 7, 2014 - 2:16 am
We are of similar mindsets.
Have you read the books by Dr. Robert S. Mendelsohn, MD:
How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor and
Confessions of a Medical Heretic
When my daughter started college, I gave her these books to take with her.
Both parents are left-handed. I am told it is hereditary.
Mom would give my sister and me things by holding them at midline, so we could choose which hand to use. We used both hands equally.
Trouble for me began in kindergarten. I was having a hell of a time with the right-handed scissors, so I asked to try the left-handed scissors. Teacher said, “Don’t ask to use the left-handed scissors unless you know you are left-handed.” I was intimidated by that.
It is harder for boys. My little brother, who was left-handed by birth, was so bright that he taught himself to read before kindergarten.
He was punished into using his right hand. He not only lost his ability to read; he became dyslexic! Girls have a bigger corpus callosum, so they can cross from one side of the brain to the other more easily.
For boys it is harder- all of his reading skills were on the wrong side of the brain, and he could no longer access them. His teachers were cruel, scolding him in class for his stupidity. Then he was put into the mentally retarded class until high school. The problem was that his interests and intelligence was at a very high level, but he couldn’t read at the level of his interests.
It is getting harder and harder for students to qualify for college.
Asian children take special classes to prepare them for college on Saturdays in Japan.
Chinese children and East Indian children are also pushed into a very academic lifestyle.
I believe that this puts Caucasian children at a disadvantage even in the US.
I used to work for the Birth-to Three program testing babies for developmental delays.
One mother was very concerned about her son. He kept taking everything in the house apart, including the stove. She thought he was abnormal.
He tried to take apart the window blinds while I was testing him. He had a very high energy level.
My advice to her was, “What you have is a baby scientist. When he gets a little bit older, give him things like legos and erector sets, and electronic kits to play with.”
You see, my ex was like that. When he played war with the other kids, he went into the garage and, using an old-fashioned DDT canister, he created a flame thrower. His side won. He used to terrorize his baby sitters.
He had taken his toy train transformer apart, and when he put it back together again, blue flames shot up whenever he plugged it in. It was under the dining table.
When the sitter said, “Bed time!” He would say, “No, it’s snack time.” His mom couldn’t figure out why she couldn’t keep a sitter.
One of his adult friends had had a very tolerant father. He told his son that he had permission to take anything in the house apart, as long as he put it back together again correctly (this means toasters, radios, TVs, etc- anything!)
That guy grew up to be the best tool and die maker I have ever seen. He could invent anything!
My ex worked for Lawrence Livermore Lab- and all of the guys there were the same kinds of children- all very scientific minded, mechanical and inventive from a very early age.
Have you considered an Alternative School for your son? They are much more appreciative of individual differences among children, I am told.
More power to you!
#154 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 7, 2014 - 3:27 am
Wonderful story! Sounds like my little brother and we had the same rule. “You can take anything apart as long as you put it back together!” Often he did. And fixed things. He repaired our dishwasher when he was 6. Now, he’s a successful CEO of his own company despite the schools shoving him in classes for the mentally retarded.
#155 by Lora D on May 7, 2014 - 2:23 am
Kristen, I read ALL of your blogs, and I just want to say you are AWESOME!
Always. Every post. 🙂
I could rant about my confusing years as a child in school (I’m a genius! I’m a failure! This teacher adores me! This teacher vehemently hates me!), but it would take too long. Plus, it doesn’t matter: I’m the only ME that God created. And I’m exactly right as ME. I can’t be anyone else. Period.
Every child–even identical twins–are completely and utterly unique. There are no “normal” fingerprints. Or people. “Normal” does not exist in reality. Thank God for such amazing, incredible variety!
I love to listen and learn from every fascinating (even frustrating) person/child what their world is like. Everyone wants to be loved and appreciated for who they are. I try to give everyone that gift as much as possible (as a teacher and with everyone in my life.) Every little effort of love, listening, and responding/adjusting to someone’s uniqueness makes a difference…
#156 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 7, 2014 - 3:23 am
Keep doing it. We need it ((HUGS))
#157 by Icy Sedgwick on May 7, 2014 - 4:33 am
I work in education (I teach graphic design) and what irritates me is the number of hoops we have to jump through to ‘hit targets’. Surely helping kids find their talent and their style is more important than numbers but that’s what happens when education becomes a business. Interestingly, while I was doing my teacher training, I discovered Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, and while I’m very much in the Linguistic Intelligence camp (and I’m a writer, who’d have thought it?) I know my students cover all of the groups, so I have to find ways to teach that hit all bases so they’re not left out. I do that because I want them to do well for their own sake, not to help The Numbers, but sadly not all teachers have the opportunity to teach in a more flexible fashion to suit their learners. Then again, when I was at school, I was the kid who had to sit on her own and do the year 11 work when I was only in year 8 to stop me getting bored…
#158 by Joelle Wilson on May 7, 2014 - 7:46 am
I’m certainly not normal – I can relate to sitting the hall a lot in school. I was the kid that asked questions and when the teacher couldn’t answer it, it was out in the hall. Which I didn’t mind because it gave me the space I needed to learn. I always brought a book with me. The amount of vaccinations forced on children is scary and the way that society tries to bully parents of the kids that don’t vaccinate is even scarier. Kids need to be free to be kids and experience life without seeing it through the haze of medications. Not all active kids are ADD, ADHD, or mentally challenged, they are just being KIDS. I read an article recently that stated that day dreaming is now considered a sign of mental illness. I don’t remember where I saw the article but I thought it was ridiculous. It’s as if some adults are jealous of children for being creative so they are doing their best to beat them down for it. My perspective anyway. Love the post as always. Vegan Zombie – so cool.
#159 by conniecockrell on May 7, 2014 - 9:19 am
I was one of the kids who did well in school. Paid attention, sat still, did well on tests. That’s because when I was 8, in the third grade, I had decided that my father was too strict and I was going to leave as soon as possible. I created a plan to do my best in school so I could go to college and leave home as soon as I graduated high school. There were some flaws in the plan, I was only 8 after all, but overall it worked. I stayed tightly focused all through school but without parental support or knowledge, wasn’t able to go to college right away. I signed up for the AF, spent 20 years in and went to college while on active duty. Married, raised a daughter, now I’m retired and have started writing. I don’t have to be tightly focused any more. Those stories I told myself on winter walks to school about the ice castles for tiny people in the snowbanks, and other stories I daydreamed as a teen and adult, I can now put down on paper. I agree, it seems that government is straight-jacketing teachers, parents are told their kids need medication. Something needs to stop. Go into the meeting ready to disagree but politely. Parents need to take back their schools.
#160 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 7, 2014 - 3:40 pm
#161 by Gerri on May 7, 2014 - 10:16 am
I say AMEN!! The world has gone crazy! My grandson had his own language until he was five. Everyone worried he was autistic, but you could see he was clearly intelligent. His problem was his overly helpful sister who was running his show. He’s nine now and he’s the one who talks for an hour to us on the phone. My daughter-in-law is a teacher. I’ll step in and say Amen for her, too.
#162 by kristin nador on May 7, 2014 - 12:15 pm
Kristen, thanks for being so transparent to share your parenting struggles. I like all your blog posts but the ones you write from your gut and your heart really touch us and help us all share and encourage one another.
I can relate to your suspicion and shock that a preschool wants to shove standards down your throats at Spawn’s young age. For a country that espouses ‘rugged individualism’ as one of our values, we sure are addicted to making cookie-cutter citizens. The system is structured to produce worker bees, not beautiful butterflies. No matter how ‘cool’ being yourself is promoted, in reality our culture is always uncomfortable with difference, which to me is just the most bizarre thing in the world.
My own experience, in a nutshell: moved a lot, misfit in school, many uncaring teachers (example: my first day of class in a third grade ‘team-teaching’ school, I didn’t know when to switch from the math teacher to the reading teacher, math teacher stood me up in front of the class, screamed for 5 minutes and called me ‘stupid’. Any wonder why I am math-phobic now?) but I was smart and learned to ‘game’ the system and get good grades, though I was bored stiff. Happy to be done when I graduated.
Then I married and had children. I never really thought about school issues until Daughter #1 taught herself to read at age 3. I became fearful that the joy of learning and discovery she had would be quashed in the educational system, so we decided to homeschool. Son came along, a left-hander who didn’t learn to read until age 9. Once he started, though, he was voracious, reading classic boy adventure novels at approximately two per week. Daughter #2’s speech skills were very low according to standardization charts. I took her to a wise speech pathologist, who said we could do a few exercises, but that mainly we just needed to let her have a lush life, full of activity and books and music. That, and some braces to adjust a bit of a crooked jaw, and we couldn’t get her to stop talking. Each year we re-examined our homeschooling decision, as we weren’t militant about homeschooling, only about doing what was best for each child. We ended up homeschooling all three from preschool through high school, with a stint at a high school co-op for Daughter #2. The results: all three are college graduates, two have double degrees, all three are involved in the arts as a career, all are very well-adjusted, and they are each other’s best friend. What more could a mother ask for.
Now all these issues are coming back to the forefront again as my 3 year old grandson makes his way. (Wow, time flies!) They said his speech was delayed, incorrect. He’s gotten a couple of “today we had a bad day” notes at preschool. He’s energetic. My daughter will now have to grapple with the issues of the educational system, and I’ll try to give her as unbiased advice as I can.
I think the bottom line is that you need to gather all the information you can, and you and hubby make the best educational decisions for YOUR Spawn and YOUR family. Also, I would encourage you to try to not let your own history color how you will approach teacher and administration. Even though you had a bad experience, you may have some great educators who only want to work with you to give Spawn the best experience he can have. But never feel bad for being your son’s advocate. That’s called being a good parent. Hugs.
#163 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 7, 2014 - 3:41 pm
Thank you for sharing your story! I have loved reading all these beautiful and thoughtful comments. I am VERY loved ((HUGS)).
#164 by forgotten13 on May 7, 2014 - 1:17 pm
My sister is on here, as I (Nicole Sheets) am not but I have to reply. As you first caught my eye, I was interested. Then I read on and fell in love! My children, as well as myself, are dyslexic. They do not learn the same way that other children learned. In my son’s 4th grade, they had him tested because the teacher thought he was ‘slow’. Her exact words, ‘He is slow isn’t he? He also has a bad memory.” Wait! What?! Ummm NO! My son has a better memory than anyone I know! So his IQ was tested and the conclusion of the tests stated that he was above average intelligence but was a slow reader due to his dyslexia. Go figure! I have struggled with teachers, trying to get them to understand how my children learn. Thank you for your words. For being a parent that gets it!
#165 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 7, 2014 - 3:38 pm
Well, happy to have you here. I think creative kids are simply something the schools are unprepared to “get.”
#166 by slupinsa on May 7, 2014 - 3:29 pm
The Italian and Spanish school systems are worse, at elementary level anyway.
#167 by Kathleen Azevedo on May 8, 2014 - 3:39 am
I used to have a Day Care license. I tried to teach the kids, not just babysit them.
One darling little one year old had her mom very worried. Mom said she couldn’t talk. So I agreed to work with her on that.
A couple of days later, the little girl came up to me when I was washing dishes she said,
“Oy want a glass a wa-ter.”
Well, I was very glad to give it to her.
And I told her Mom, you were looking for a word or two. Well, she’s doing sentences now!
#168 by staceywilk on May 8, 2014 - 10:17 am
Oh, how I hear you! I have two children. One who can learn from any teacher, in any environment. God bless. And then I have my daughter, who is a lot like me. She’s my creative thinker. She’s visual and hands on. She doesn’t think linear, she doesn’t do well on standardized tests and I am constantly having to say to the public school, “I don’t care about your standardized tests. They don’t measure her intelligence, creativity, intuitiveness,” I could go on and on.
And let me add my own dumb pediatrician comment. When my son was five, I took him for his annual checkup. This was probably in July, his birthday. The doc says, “are you sending him to kindergarten?” Me: “Of course. He can read already.” He was reading at four and our kindergarten was half day. There was no way I was going to keep him home. he already knew everything he needed to know to “pass” kindergarten. Dumb Doc: “Well, just because he’s bright doesn’t mean he’s ready for kindergarten?” WHAT?!!!! My son went, on time, and did just fine. Did he have immature moments? Sure. He still does and he’s 13. He’s a kid. I know 40 year olds who aren’t mature enough for kindergarten.
We are our children’s advocates. We must trust our instincts. If we think something is wrong, we’re probably right and we’ll seek out how to best help our children be the best they can. That’s our jobs as moms. But when we disagree with the “experts”, that’s okay too!
#169 by Elen Grey | Deep in B-ville Writing Over the Garage on May 8, 2014 - 1:02 pm
I went to a parent/teacher conference when the super techlet was in kindergarten where the teacher expressed concern over whether or not she would be moved on to first grade because…. she only drew stick figures in her pictures and a first grade prerequisite tooth hadn’t appeared. First, I blinked. And then I laughed. Sorry. Not really. I said she drew stick figures because she liked stick figures and all things tiny, and the tooth would come when it was ready just like the super techlet did. It will be hard to remain calm, and I am sympathetic with your plight. Oh, and two years later they wanted to skip her two grades.
#170 by M T McGuire on May 8, 2014 - 2:16 pm
If this helps… McMini is going to be six in a month. He loves school and has a great time. He has a book to read each night (and if he forgets to read it he has to read it in school the next day to a ‘big year old’) but that’s it. Some of his friends at other schools are getting homework. The reason I love McMini’s school so much is because he doesn’t. For frick’s sake he’s FIVE!
Furthermore, the kids who do best in school in the world are the ones in the baltic countries where they don’t have homework until they’re in they’re teens. But obviously we’re barking in Britain, too and we have to copy the Chinese model, where kids are hothoused and end up with stress and mental issues.
So yeh. I agree with you.
#171 by Andi at Bringing the Sunshine on May 8, 2014 - 6:21 pm
My 11 yo daughter has been out of school since the beginning of April and will be through the end of the school year because of major orthopedic surgery (bilateral bone procedures). She’s a straight A student and in the gifted program so my assumption was that her homebound services would be pretty straightforward – her teacher told me before she left that there was only one week remaining of new instruction. We have yet to hear from the homebound teacher (after more than a month) so I checked in with the guidance counselor this week. She indicated that the homebound teacher would be contacting me soon – my daughter might need to do testing. As in, the standardized test that she missed. NO WAY am I going to say okay to that – homebound instruction should be actual instruction, not taking some test to help the school’s stats.
And then there’s my 4 yo son with Down syndrome. I get to sit down twice a year with a “team” of people to discuss all the ways he’s deficient relative to his peers – because that’s the way the system works. The casual comments that my son’s teacher, speech therapist, and para make routinely about how smart he is aren’t part of that system, because do you know how they test cognitive ability in preschoolers? Using SPEECH. He can’t talk worth a crap, so guess what? He doesn’t test “smart” – and he’s stuck with that label. It’s incredibly depressing – so much so that I’m seriously considering homeschooling which means piglets are stretching their wings for the flight over that frozen lake at Lucifer’s house.
#172 by authorssmith on May 9, 2014 - 9:39 am
Hi Kristen, I’ve never commented before, but enjoy your blog. Just had to write as you touch so many issues I feel strongly about. I am a former teacher who did feel totally abused in the system; the straight-jacket analogy being perfect and adding a gag to it. I left before they could totally strip me of my dignity. Now I am happily writing books for the same age-group I left. Just finished a tour in Texas…
As for your precious four-year-old: I didn’t let my kids near the educational institutions until they were ready to be there. Neither I nor either of my kids even attended kindergarten. We are all okay. The kids both are in college and did I.B. in high school. People did not understand everything my son said when he was four. I translated. We pulled him out of second grade at Christmas one year because of reports he was bringing home of ugly stuff that was going on. For third grade we found another school and popped him back in. No harm done.
There were always people who would criticize something. People who would yank a bottle out of our daughter’s mouth saying it was bad for her teeth. People who would say you shouldn’t let them sleep in the same bed with you. But then there would be doctors or strangers who would kindly say, “How many fifteen-year-olds do you see sucking their thumbs?” or “They are only kids for a short time, enjoy the time.”
When my daughter was 7 she tried to check Harry Potter out of the school library and the librarian wouldn’t let her. Told her it wasn’t her reading level. We had to route it through her second grade teacher. Same thing happened in third grade. On my recent book tour we met a child who had just experienced the very same thing with her librarian.
YOU, I, OUR KIDS, WE ARE NOT STATISTICS, WE ARE INDIVIDUALS.
Okay, well maybe that’s a little overboard, but that’s what I think. Enjoy your son, and let love rule.
#173 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 9, 2014 - 9:54 am
#174 by melorajohnson on May 9, 2014 - 10:23 am
I think you’re spot on. I have a degree to teach English in grades 7 – 12 and a degree to teach research skills as a school librarian. When I was taking my English degree, it was all about portfolio assessment which would allow students to learn individually and be assessed that way. Then national testing came in and we went in the opposite direction. WTH? I agree that having a national set of skills to be taught in each discipline at each grade level can be very useful to help with transfers and all of that. But we’ve taken the individuality of the student and given the teachers very little lee-way to teach to that. (And my pediatrician was just fine with me breaking up the shots for my munchkin. There was no way I was subjecting her little body to all of them at once.)
#175 by pd workman on May 9, 2014 - 9:58 pm
Okay, I read the comments about halfway down, and I need to offer a few comments.
I’m all for letting kids be kids, for allowing alternative methods of learning, letting kids hang upside-down like bats if they needs to, and letting them find their passions and helping them find their own path to success. We have homeschooled from day one, and kiddo is turning sixteen next month. I have read hundreds of books, websites, etc. on ways to teach those with different learning preferences, unschooling/child led learning, etc. We have pursued all sorts of alternative approaches, dealt with allergies and food-related behavioral issues, and so much else.
I have heard from many people that there is no such thing as ADD, no such thing as learning disabilities, no such thing as disabilities. You just need to let kids run around and they’ll succeed.
If my kiddo was in a horrible accident and had an iron bar pierce his frontal lobe, you would acknowledge that he had a brain injury. You wouldn’t tell me to just wait a few years to see if he could overcome it on his own. Children have elastic brains, so maybe his brain would rewire itself enough by itself, and we should just ignore any learning or behavioral or motor issues that resulted from that brain injury.
But we know that the brain is most elastic and malleable early on. The earlier you can start therapies for issues that are easily identifiable, the better your chances at success.
Putting a child into speech therapy does not mean that you are not giving them time to be a child. It doesn’t mean that you are pathalogizing their quirks or not allowing them to be themselves. They go to visit with the nice speech path lady. They talk and look at pictures and play some games. The speech path lady shows them where they need to put their tongue and how they need to move their mouth and throat to produce the elusive sounds. You play some games at home. You can make it as fun or as un-fun as you choose. The child can jump on the bed or trampoline chanting limericks for skittles instead of sitting at the table with a timer. You choose. But the earlier you address speech issues, the easier it will be for them to overcome it. It is very frustrating for a child to not be able to communicate with others because of an easily remedied speech issue.
But because my kiddo does not have an iron bar through his frontal lobe, but instead was damaged in utero by alcohol, or the chemical and biological stew that his bmom worked in without prenatal care for the entirety of her pregnancy, or the genes inherited from one of his birth parents, or just a freak chance, people tell me that there is no such thing as a disability, and that I should not try to remedy what modern society perceives as delays or inadequacies.
But when you hold a child in your arms who sobs that you should just throw him in the garbage because he is so stupid and useless, or who screams at the top of his lungs that his brain won’t work like everyone else’s and tries to tear out his hair or hurt you, or who kneels and prays that God will change his brain to make him like everyone else, how can you say there is no such thing as disability or you should just let him play with Lego until everything magically connects one day?
Even earlier than that… those first few weeks and months after birth when you discover you have a child who will not sleep, whose body will not properly process his food, and who could not ‘turn off’ or self-regulate, is hyper-vigilant of everything that goes on around him…
We ended up with a vaccine injury from the MMR as well…
It has been many years of difficult struggles. We had helped him to pursue his interests and talents. We have adapted every lesson every day to his unique learning style. We have adapted diets, sleep schedules, energy needs, and have accommodated and assisted him in every way possible. But we have also spent plenty of time, energy, and money in fighting for the services and therapies that he needed.
He has come a long, long way. I’d love to be able to say that he has overcome all of those difficulties and can do anything that he puts his mind to. I’d love to say that he is up to grade level in all areas and is prepared to start college. Unfortunately, none of that is true. He is able to read and do basic math. He has no speech impediments, but still has some receptive language issues. In updating his psychoeducational assessment this month, so that he can get accommodations for the PSAT and SAT’s, since he has decided he wants to go to university, he is realizing just how far he has yet to go. He is very discouraged and wants to improve his skills, but it is a different story when it’s time to get down to work. Then it is a fight to get the minimum done so that he can get back on the computer to play with his friends.
I can’t imagine how frustrated and depressed he would be if we had not done everything we could to help him. We will continue to do everything we can to help him to find his way, to develop the skills that will help him to succeed, to get every advantage that we can possibly give him… all while still letting him be a kid who loves to play with his friends online and in real life, who loves to listen to epic fantasies even if he can’t read them, who loves to watch hockey and argue about it with his dad, and yes, who cheats on his diet and makes himself sick with regularity, because he still can’t quite grasp abstractions like cause and effect.
So sure, let your little guy be a kid, play, make up songs, and think deep thoughts. But if he is missing milestones and there is help available, don’t just turn it down. Consider his needs. Do your research, find all the information you can and then act on that knowledge. You may still decide that the time is not right, that there is not a problem, that it is not the right therapy or therapist. You’re the mom, and it’s up to you. But make it an informed decision, not a knee-jerk reaction.
Well, that was quite the epic soapbox rant. I don’t think you’re wrong. But you might want to go into it with an open mind.
#176 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 9, 2014 - 11:15 pm
We did go into it with an open mind. And I hate the noting of ADD or whatever being labeled as a “disability” because it could just be the kid processes information differently. Thus far, The Spawn has been friendly, gregarious and well-adjusted. We are putting him in additionally learning for the summer to keep him progressing. My beef is when you turn a kid over to the schools for help and that kid gets a “label” they can never escape. I WANT all the help I can get, but I do need to remain vigilant that he isn’t pidgin-holed because he is simply creative or introversive. We DO have a system biased against introverts.
BLESS YOU for being an awesome parent. At the end of the day, we simply need to be open but at the same time, WISE. We are our kids’ advocates, the voice they may not have. (((HUGS))) And thank you for the soapbox. This is why I blogged about this. I WANT discussion. I WANT other ideas, stories, suggestions. The last thing any kid needs is an emotional myopic parent applying their baggage to a new situation.
#177 by brinkling on May 10, 2014 - 12:32 am
My high school counselor said that I “wasn’t cut out for college.”
I graduated, thank you very much. It took me awhile because I didn’t find a college that could keep its Japanese program, but I did graduate.
Normalcy is all relative anyway, and everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. You’re right, kids should be allowed to be kids.
#178 by Sara Lewis on May 10, 2014 - 8:16 pm
I know you asked for constructive criticism, but I can’t give you any because I agree with pretty much every point you made.The school system as it is is so backward, I really don’t know what can be done about it except to scrap the whole thing and start over. You’re right; there is FAR too much focus on test prep, college prep, and meeting criteria set by people who know nothing about the children they will be teaching, or for that matter, human nature. Because if they did know anything about human nature, they would know that one-size-fits-all really fits none. To me, education is about finding what you excel at and sharpening those skills. It should be one of the most personalized experiences in the world, but instead, it is reduced to a lot of prepackaged homogenized nonsense.
Also, kudos to you for talking back to your son’s doctor. I am sick to death of doctors who think they know everything when in reality, they would start using leeches again if the FDA endorsed that treatment. You’re doing a great job of looking out for your “Spawn.” 🙂
#179 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 11, 2014 - 2:12 am
Hey, even saying, “Kristen you are NOT crazy, the system is” helps a lot.
#180 by sao on May 11, 2014 - 4:30 am
My son was unintelligible until he’d had a good year of speech therapy. He was smart, understood language and clearly happy to have lessons on how to make the sounds he couldn’t figure out how to make. He had about 6 syllables and was so far off on saying “Papa” that he called my husband “Ma” like he called me (He couldn’t say “Mom”). Was my husband happy the day that my son managed something closer to “Pa” than “Ma!” It took a while, because the first lessons were on more vowel sounds, so Son started calling me “Mo” and my husband “Ma” because “Mo” is closer to “Mom” and “Ma” is closer to “Papa”. He only learned a few sounds at a time, so it took a long, long time to get to syllables with more than one consonant (Mom or Fork), or multisyllabic words, (Papa or Grandma).
Not being understood is a burden for a kid. Yesterday, I watched a tourist struggle to order coffee at a cafe and figure out how to pay for it because she didn’t speak the language, a reminder of how frustrating it is for anyone to not be understood.
I’d recommend trying speech therapy. If Spawn hates it, then reevaluate or try another teacher. Reevaluate in another year if you don’t do speech therapy and you’re still hearing that he’s hard to understand. My son liked it because it helped him communicate. Unlike ADD or some other diagnoses, people assume that speech therapy will correct a problem, which then goes away for good. You aren’t risking a lifetime label.
#181 by Raani York on May 12, 2014 - 6:19 pm
Kids should be kids as long as possible. As soon as I went to school I had to start helping in the household – and my sister did that about a year later. From that day on it was either homework or work at home. We were able to play the weekends, but Mom for sure was never one to think reading is a good thing. We had to hide we were reading. (which, by the way, was the best thing she could have done to guarantee we’d love books. LOL)
#182 by shad0wrav3n2014 on May 14, 2014 - 5:21 pm
I am a huge supporter of NOT following common core or government/corporate controlled and/or funded ANYTHING. I hate common core, i hate government sanctioned tests and I hate how corporate america and the modern medical FDA twats (pardon my queen’s English) have medicated the creativity and intellect right out of most people. Its a crime to be “Different” and actually my book series, Remnants the Corporate Chronicles, actually touches base with a lot of that, and the main character, Raven, was probably given birth to by my mind’s unyielding rage for all that is common core.
Anyway, I feel you Kristen truly. I try to keep my son out of the common core crap too, but i’m a poor writer so i have to make due with what i can. Considered the internet school too, but like you i’m skeptical about anything the tv spews out at me and tries to claim as science fact. I’m a fiction writer I KNOW BULL Squash when i hear it.
#183 by shad0wrav3n2014 on May 14, 2014 - 5:21 pm
Reblogged this on remnantscc.
#184 by Debi on May 16, 2014 - 10:59 am
Love this! As a kindergarten teacher, a mom of an Aspie and ADD myself I can so relate! I wasn’t the kid in the hall (too shy to act out!) but I was the kid who was always living in a fantasy world or hiding a novel behind my math book. I have the reputation at my school of being good with the “quirky” kids. For years I have gone to all the workshops teaching me how to raise my test scores. Then I go back to my classroom, close the door and teach my kindergartners the way I know they need to learn! I make sure my kids develop a love of good books and keep their sense of wonder. Life is not about a good test score!
#185 by Dottie on May 16, 2014 - 1:38 pm
I love your article. I am a retired teacher. I retired out of frustraton and stress. I had students in my 3rd grade class who weren’t receiving the help they needed. My last year I had a boy who even the principal said was autistic. The mom didn’t seem to understand, so nothing was done. In his case, something should have been done. My former teammates tell me he is going into 6th grade and still nothing is being done to help him. He is being pushed through. Everything I read says the sooner autistic children get help, the better. He is just one example. I always worked in Title I schools. I saw many more examples of kids with various problems. They received little or no help. I did all that I could to help them in the classroom. Sometimes it was difficult when there were so many children that needed more than I could give them. I do believe that our public schools need to provide more choices for our students. In AZ, there are some public schools that are now offering Montessori classes as a choice. I think this is a good idea. I think anything that will assist our children to learn and have fun learning is a good thing. I believe over-testing has created problems for all children–not just those with learning difficulties. I think charters should not be able to “cherry pick” (only pick students without learning or emotional/behavioral problems) so their test scores are better. Charters are creating segregation against children with disabilities and color. Charters are taking funding away from public schools, so public schools can’t provide a better environment for our students, especially in Title I schools. I am happy that you are an advocate for your child. It sounds like you will ask good questions and be open-minded, as well. I hope your readers understand that not all parents speak up–not because they don’t care, but because many don’t understand the system, are too busy with the problems of poverty, or for many other reasons.
#186 by Dave Withe on June 20, 2014 - 12:26 pm
You go Sis!!!
I was ADD before it was Medically identified, to say anything of becoming the fad of the decade. I probably knew the principal of my elementary school better than anyone else in the school, I spent moire time in his office than he did. By the time I got to High School the staff and my fellow students were firmly convinced that I was either retarded or a genius. (well I mouthed off a-lot. Got that from my dad I think.)
Finally one of my dad’s friends tested me. Lo and behold I coulda’ joined NEMSHA; If I’d thought it was worth $135 to join a bunch of intellectual snobs who mostly didn’t do much but feel superior (Once again my dad’s influence, we looked down on the upper crust of every persuasion.)
My kids and grand kids take after me/us (it ran in our family from way back).
So naturally, I became an Engineer and a Statistician (After I invented Algebra in Physics class, after I solidly flunked two years of it in Math class).
Personally, I agree with one Pediatrician who wrote, “One good grandmother is worth more than a whole Medical Society full of Pediatricians.” (Sounds like one of us, doesn’t he?)
One thing I learned in my Masters level Stat courses it there “ain’t no Normal”. Average doesn’t exist as a discrete unit, it’s just a mathematical construct in the hard sciences. In Sociological studies it is more of a wild guess, a prejudice or a totally fictitious construct cum ideological lash-up. (Now you see why I was always visiting the principal.)
So tell “the Spawn” (Have to remember that one for the next time I see the grandkids.) welcome to the club of extraordinary human beings. 66 years has taught me that God loves the Noise as much as He loves the Signal, He loves the outliers as much as He loves the +/- 1.5 Sima(oids, ists,…whatever). Actually I fear that He has to invest a lot more effort in us, and that makes us special.
Write on Sis
#187 by Author Kristen Lamb on June 20, 2014 - 8:17 pm
I think I love you….*sniff*
#188 by Random comentator 52 on July 1, 2014 - 6:44 pm
Really like your blog! I also like how you said licensing to the APA, AMA, and FDA would soon lead to being DOA. I wanted to give you a standing ovation for that! (But if I did I would have dropped my computer) And I totally agree. I’m very creative and my opinion of school goes back and forth between it’s grate! and I hate this!! I do pretty well in school but I have a lot of struggles. Smart people and creative people don’t have a chance in a regular school. School in general just stinks! For ever one! (But that’s something for another day) Thanks very much!
#189 by thepaperbutterfly on July 2, 2014 - 4:33 pm
When I was a baby my mom took me to daycare while she worked and supposedly I just laid on the floor and made animal sounds. They told my mother they thought I was mentally retarded and to get tested. She never took me back to that daycare. I ended up as valedictorian of my high school, got a BS in Chemistry from UC Berkely, and I went on to get my graduate degree and graduated with honors. So I’m glad you are such a great advocate for your son. He sounds very intelligent 🙂 We all learn and process information and emotions in a different way, but public school only caters to one way of learning, unfortunately.
#190 by Victoria Carter on July 17, 2014 - 6:52 pm
I’ve gotten behind on reading your posts, so when I finally read this one I couldn’t help but crack up laughing, and root you on at the same time! Seriously needed that laugh. Yes I was constantly getting into trouble, usually because I wouldn’t do my work but would help others with theirs (this started way back in kindergarten), I understood the work, I just didn’t want to do it.
I was lazy through school, once I learned that I could still get As and Bs with minimal effort, i coasted. I did well in biology, loved chemistry, understood but was bored in math, and enjoyed english, I dreaded history (mostly american history and don’t you dare ask me to do a research paper, never could give the teachers what they wanted). I also never managed to get passed my first semester of college, yup again because I was bored and thought the ‘work’ was pointless.
I will try again soon, now that I understand myself and learning style better.
#191 by Karen on January 4, 2015 - 7:17 pm
Been there, done some of this. The school had it ALL wrong for my son. My advice? Trust *your* gut, not theirs. Don’t volunteer too much at this first meeting. Try to mostly listen and observe. Take lots of notes (there might be teacher speak that you’ll need to Google). Take time to listen to what they think and to what they want to do. (They may seem on your side, but there’s a good chance they just want to do what they want to do – most of them mean well, but they’re not as invested as you in your child.) Sign nothing on the spot – look it all up, think it all over. For several days. And never, NEVER allow the school to speak or email directly to a physician/health care professional of any kind that you have hired to evaluate him in any way. BE the middle man. We let someone from the school talk directly to a doc and she completely manipulated the doc into agreeing with her and… well, bad stuff happened. If I had seen what was being written down for communication, I would have stopped things immediately.
My son was in first grade when this went down. Not being the cooperative type, I homeschooled for a year (2nd grade), ferreted out the problems (an inability to learn via the ‘sight word’ approach, some serious eye issues, gluten issues, speech issues, and an extreme and quirky intelligence). I sent him back for third grade already a 1/2 year ahead of his peers. A little work on social skills and now, at age 10 and in 5th grade, he’s “a pleasure” and “doing nothing the other boys aren’t up to”.
I guess my overall advice is to move very, very slowly on their suggestions. Listen and observe for a while. Sometimes the kids do need the help offered, but so, so many times too much intervention at such a young age is just not necessary.
#192 by Author Kristen Lamb on January 4, 2015 - 9:16 pm
Thanks, Karen. This is a blog from May. You are correct. They had ZERO interest in helping Spawn. We agreed to put him in Montessori over the summer to help him with his final year of PRE-SCHOOL. They ambushed us at the end of the school year, then held it against us that we didn’t contact the ISD for help. Um, it was CLOSED? I went to pick him up his last day after they were telling me how much they loved him and how much he was improving…and handed me my deposit for the next year back and a letter basically firing him from preschool.
We now unschool.
#193 by R. A. Meenan on January 4, 2015 - 11:43 pm
Oh. My. Gosh, Kristen. I love you even more now. I’m in that EXACT BOAT. Also, I’m a teacher, from a line of teachers. Every word of this blog speaks to me. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU.
It’s funny that you mention your SAT scores. I didn’t actually take the SAT until I was taking one as a prerequisite to tutor others in learning how to pass the SAT. By that time, I was a college professor, with two years under my belt.
And I failed the essay portion. I teach how to write essays FOR A LIVING. This is my CAREER. And I FAILED. Wanna know why?
I didn’t follow the “format.” Apparently I can write as horribly as I want, but if I follow the format, I have a passing grade.
This is why I hate standards.
This is also why I teach essays where we write about TV shows like Top Gear and movies like Frozen and play video games in class to practice evaluation. This is why I integrate fun critical thinking and creative writing skills in my classes and try to meet individual student needs.
This is why I have dozens of students that enter my class hating writing and English and leave it saying they LOVE it and can’t wait for the next level.
This is why I love the line you put up there. Let teachers be teachers. Let us teach. Everyone will benefit from it.
#194 by artdogjan on January 5, 2015 - 3:28 am
As the Mom of an ADD household and an art teacher/child of teachers, this post had me laughing out loud more than once. By all means PLEASE explore unschooling. Both you and Spawn seem built for it. And hang in there!
#195 by heatherrose23 on July 12, 2015 - 9:27 am
I was one of those kids in the hall. I was fidgety and disruptive. I was fidgety because I wad bored, and I was disruptive because I was being told things that didn’t make sense. I also wanted to know EVERYTHING.
I still do. But before I could start asking some really good questions, I needed to learn to speak better. NOT because something was wrong with me. Rather, I needed it to get the thing I craved: knowledge.
So, if someone offers ways to help your child with a “speach impediment”, take it. Then ask for more. Once you’ve gotten as much as you can from them, go home and give some of it a try.
If something doesn’t work, toss it out. But, if you find something that does help … you’ve provided something pretty special for your kid.
For me, learning to communicate more effectively definitely affected my ability to get more of what I so much wanted. I went from just being annoying to my teachers, to completely upending their lesson plans for the day. 😉