Last school year, each day was a battle, ultimately won by anxiety and the attempt to squeeze my round peg of a daughter into a square box. Each day, I saw a little more of my daughter wilt under the pressure to conform, even when her mind begged her to accept her for who she is.
My child, whose incredible compassion for others reminds me of good in the world, doesn’t fit in with her peers. She asks too many questions, she lives in the moment, she doesn’t make decisions based on the current fad. My child, whose sense of humor is top notch, doesn’t fit into the traditional school environment. She struggles to focus when too much information is thrown at her, struggles to read text with auditory assistance, struggles to keep pace with her classmates. My child, whose attention to detail and innate curiosity can change our perspective on life, doesn’t fit into the rapid pace of our day to day life. She has difficulty switching tasks, planning long term, rushing from one thing to the next. Every time I look into her sweet face, I see the beauty and mind of a person who makes this world a better place. I am certain that if more people were wired like her, our world would be a happier, more relaxed place to live.
She does not “fit the mold”, “fit in the box”, she is” unconventional”. Everyone of those mentioned phrases brings a negative connotation to mind, yet she is exceptional. There is nothing negative about her…she is kind, honest, driven, supportive, respectful, intelligent, and loving. Everyone of these phrases is an advantage to her, to our society, to our family. Why then, does her “unconventionality” get met with a million roadblocks when it comes to her success? Public school, while trying to meet the needs of all learners, fail those children who simply are wired differently. If schools were created to fit those who see the world in a different way, every child would succeed. Exploration while learning would be encouraged. Task and assignments based on interest would be the norm. In depth learning with freedom of time would be available. Every child’s confidence would increase. Every child would experience the value of creativity, individuality, perusing personal interest over rote learning.
School starts in nearly 6 weeks. I have 6 weeks to miraculously find a school option where my child can be engaged with peers and teachers to feed her social relationships, a place where she can learn at her pace, given that she is academically below grade level due to her anxiety and dyslexia, an environment where her emotional needs are nurtured and she is positively supported in times of need. Add to this that my husband and I both work full time, out of financial necessity, ruling out home schooling with social extracurriculars, ruling out online schools since we are not available to be at home with her, ruling out private schools due to cost, ruling out schools located across town due to transportation issues. Where does that leave us…public schools ruled by state standards and testing who out of created necessity force my child to slowly lose pieces of who she is meant to be.