"Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we're curious... and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."
- Walt Disney
Many times the past few weeks, I've been frustrated, confused, upset, and unsure.
To see my son struggle with first grade has broken my heart. I know that Wilkin is a smart boy. He loves to build, create, draw and craft inventions. His mind is always at work, but not always on the task his teacher had for him. He was labeled with ADHD and told he was easily distracted. We arranged for Wil to be evaluated for learning issues. He tested low on a variety of things, primarily because he lacked basic confidence to complete tasks and "show off" what he knows. While his scores were low, he did not show any indications of dyslexia, hyperactivity, or attention deficit disorder. His evaluation confirmed what we had started to believe - that our son needed a new path.
When talking to Wilkin, I described him as an octagon, and the class as a square. Nothing wrong with being a square. Nothing wrong with being an octagon. They're just not good fits for each other. He kept trying to jam himself into the square, and, as he said, "my edges kept getting banged up." He said he even tried to shrink himself to the size of the square, but doing that made him feel bad about himself.
Yesterday, I formally withdrew him from school and started to homeschool him, with the help of my wonderful and gifted mother-in-law, Judy. She holds a masters in education, with a specialty in learning disabilities. She will tutor him and guide me as I teach him. He will have times each day of concentrated teaching, and he will have the rest of the day to build, create, draw, dream and craft inventions.
We're starting with the absolute basics. Today we finger-painted letters and made a train out of them. One thing that broke my heart was how he repeatedly said:
"This is hard"
"I don't know how to do this."
"I'm not good at this."
Every time he said something bad about himself, I made him "fix" the statement and say it to me seven times.
"This isn't hard if I keep trying."
"I can do this."
"I'm good at this."
We then read "The Little Engine That Could." Wilkin said he used to feel like the tired engine that couldn't pull the train, but now he feels like the little blue engine - small and slow at first, but going faster and faster as he says "I think I can, I think I can."
We used boxes and toys to add, subtract and multiply.
We watched "Meet the Robinsons" while we ate lunch. If you haven't seen the movie, I highly recommend it. It will inspire you to "keep moving forward" in whatever struggle you may be facing, and even celebrate your failures as just a step on the path toward greatness.
Yeah, it wasn't a big first day of homeschool. It wasn't even challenging. But, while we wait for curriculum, I'm going to lay the foundation for confidence. The work we're doing is intentionally easy. We'll build on what he knows as he grows in knowledge and confidence. Wilkin will get through this hard time. He will thrive. He may return to a traditional school situation, but he may not. Whatever we do, we will keep moving forward and encourage him to be himself - the perfect little octagon God has made him to be.