In the Best Interest of the Child . . .

Regarding a child’s education, I don’t pretend to understand why or how schools determine what actions should be taken.

Over the past two years plus, I have been closely involved with two children and their parents as they have tried to navigate the waters of education. Had these two been in the same school system, I could easily pass the issue off to the nebulous policies of the system. That, however, was not the case.

In one situation the kindergartener was dyslexic and needed specialized instruction to meet her educational needs. The other, which I shared in my last post, was a matter of just not seeing a child’s potential. The common denominator was that neither school/teacher could “see” what was happening with the child.

Public education has become a “one size fits all” program. Although Indiana has dumped Common Core, I’m not sure the new standards and the implementation are that much different. By definition, this type of program only fits those in the middle. Advanced students are bored; struggling students still struggle. Is this in the best interest of the child?

Children do not mature, nor do they learn at the same rate. Children do not even learn the same things at the same rate. One child may be great with numbers, but not with reading. Another may be able to read above grade level, but cannot add one and one. Yet the gods of education think that by establishing what children should know at each grade level will magically make it all better.

Once upon a time tests were given to find out what a child knew and what still needed to be taught or reinforced. Now tests determine whether or not the teacher has done a good job! Jobs and raises are based on test scores! So what is the focus? It’s not the kids; it’s the teachers! Is this in the best interest of the child?

I have learned that schools do not want to test children to find out whether or not they may have learning challenges. They do not want to “label” a child. Yet all the studies regarding children with any type of learning disability say that the earlier a problem is identified and addressed, the better chance the student has for success. Is this in the best interest of the child?

I currently have a kindergartener who I suspect may have dyslexia. I reached out to his teacher and asked if she had noticed some specific behaviors. Although she told me what they were working on, she did not respond to my question. Is this in the best interest of the child?

The message with which I would like to leave you is that if you suspect your child is not progressing, do not automatically assume that 1) s/he is not doing what is expected; 2) the teacher is not doing the job; 3) that just repeating the same things over and over is going to fix the problem.

All parents need to note what their children are doing – and not doing. Speak up if you do not understand. Seek out other professionals for second opinions. The only person – or persons – who have the best interests of your child is you!




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