As a parent, I have always had an instinct to protect my cubs. Protect them from harm, keep them warm, safe, and well fed. We chose the neighborhood we live in because of our kids. We chose the apartment, because of the kids. We chose the school they would go to because of the reputation.
The girls went to a great neighborhood elementary school in downtown Manhattan. We made wonderful friends, and the kids were very happy. We had tremendous faith in the school and accepted each years assessment of our girls to be sound. When my younger daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia, was when I started to question the system.
Dyslexia is a broad expression for a learning disorder that includes difficulties in learning to read or understand words, letter, and other symbols, but is not correlated with overall intelligence.
There is really no perfect school for any child. As I have mentioned before, in New York City there is an abundance of schools to chose from that should fit your child's personality and learning style. But, when you have to deal with a curve ball thrown at you, and your child is a square peg trying to fit into a school's round hole, that's when Mama Bear should kick in.
A little to late, I would say that I started questioning the ability of the school to support my child. I really put my faith in the system, when they told me that they"got it." They were taking care of her. When my daughter was in 4th grade, I was in full panic mode about her ability to do her work, and what was going to happen to her when school got more difficult and challenging. I wish someone told me to always question the people that are caring for your child. Because the truth is, they don't care as much as you do. If you believe your child has a learning issue you should leap to action.
- You have the right to question the performance of your child. Don't be afraid to go to the guidance counselor, school psychologist, or even the principal. Make some noise about your kid!
- Have a psycho-educational evaluation done on your child. The school can provide for one, but they don't always agree to. The cost can be high, and there are opportunities to have insurance pay for it. It was very expensive for us, but it was the best money we every spent on our daughter. I suggest forgoing that trip to Cancun and do this for your child. It unlocks information about your child that helps decide the course of action needed to aid in any disabilities in education they might have.
- Keep a close eye on your child's homework. Ask them lots of questions. What home work do you have? When is it due? Can I read your work? Do you need help? My daughter's teacher said she was doing "just fine," but the work that was being produced by my child was in fact not at all just fine. I actually had copies of all of her homework to present at school evaluation meetings, to prove my points that she wasn't progressing under the current support she was receiving.
- Teachers are for the most part overwhelmed and are not capable of keeping track of every issue that may arise. They may have good intentions, but not the band-with to be supportive.
We made a great deal of noise about our daughter, and it paid off tremendously. My husband even roared like a grizzly bear a few times, really! With a new school and new support, she is doing really well and has progressed dramatically. It was not easy, but as far as I'm concerned I am the Mama Bear, and no one is messing with my Cubs!