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Need opinions

Moms View Message Board: General Discussion: Archive April 2006: Need opinions
By Cat on Monday, April 3, 2006 - 11:02 am:

I need opinions from other parents--especially of "high needs" kids. :) I'm looking at options for school for Robin for next year. He'll be in the 8th grade. I've been homeschooling him this year and it's been great for his emotional health, but his academics have taken a real hit. He's just not motivated and it's very frustrating for me when I can't get him to do his work or he does it, but does it half you know what. He's at the middle school three mornings this week to take the CSAP tests and they will be doing his tri-annual review for his IEP. The problem is I'm already catching flack from the counsilor at the school. First, I was told by the special ed teacher that Robin could take the CSAPs on the make up dates since he had his ear surgery the day before the original dates. Then the counsilor called and left me a message saying he couldn't take the make up tests. So I called and left her a message insisting I was told he could and to please call so we can work out what was obviously a misunderstanding on someone's part. So she finally called last week (last day of a two week spring break--two weeks after I left her the message) and asked me if I was sure I wanted him to take the CSAPs since she's got him scheduled for like 6-8 hours of testing for the IEP. Well, YEAH! He has to take them (state regs for homeschoolers). I realize the school district doesn't have to let us do them at the school, but it does benifit them and it gives the staff there a chance to get to know him before next year when I told them he'd be coming back. You'd think they'd want that. I just didn't get the feeling they wanted to deal with them. So I'm exploring options. Dh showed me a website for COVA (Colorado Virtual Academy). I don't think he's eligable for that though, since he wasn't in public school this year (it's all about being in attendance for "count day" so they get the money). I did call a charter school in our district this morning and will be getting more info about that when the special ed teacher is back (she's in classes until Wed). This is the charter school's website. Any thoughts??? The main problem is they only go through 8th grade so we'd have to explore options again next year. Ugh. This is so frustrating. I could do another year of homeschooling, but he'll be starting high school in another year and if he's going back to public schools he needs to get used to how they upper grades will work before high school. I've come to realize this district is great if your child is a nice round peg that fits nicely into their nice little round holes. Robin's not a round peg. I'm not sure what shape he is! lol He's smart and creative, but he learns very differently from most children and he's very unmotivated. After 8 different public schools, most of which were bad experiences, he hates school and who can blame him? I loved school when I was growing up. I've gotten to the point where I hate public schools. There is SO much now that is politics instead of the best interest of the individual child (it really is an institutional setting!). Maybe it was there when I was in school and I just didn't see it. Anyway, sorry this is so long. What I'm really looking for is opinions, especially on the link to the charter school I posted above. Thanx for reading.

By Vicki on Monday, April 3, 2006 - 11:21 am:

Cat, I am not a parent of a high needs child, but I think this would apply no matter what type of child you have. No matter how much you might like this school, would your child do well with changing again in a year? My dd would not. She is very much a routine child and likes to know what to expect and when. She would have herself a nervous wreck changing schools like that. My first concern would be how he handles change. If he is a "go with the flow" kind of child, than maybe this school would be worth looking into. But if he is not, it might be even harder on him to change schools again in a year.

By Cat on Monday, April 3, 2006 - 11:40 am:

Vicki, he'd be changing for high school, anyway. He'd go to 8th grade at the middle school this year and then hs for 9-12. He does know some of the kids at the middle school since he was in 6th grade with them last year (the 6th grade was at the elementary school). He's never handled change well, but it's usually a very short term problem. Maybe I'll see if there are any other charter schools in the area that do have a high school.

By Mommmie on Monday, April 3, 2006 - 01:42 pm:

That's an interesting charter school. Outward Bound. Interesting. Never seen one like it. I wonder what their track record is?

I have a special needs kiddo and he left the public school after 2nd grade. He attends a private LD school now (5th grade). I so understand your situation!

A red flag to me about the charter school is the emphasize on being self-motivated, willing to learn, show effort, etc. My child hates school. My son's LD school is still working towards my son being a willing learner - 3 years later. When he started there one teacher said it would take him a year just to get with the program, settle in and shake off the public school experience and that was very true! So, for one year, I don't know if it would be worth it. Talk to the school and see what they say.

I heard there was some school in Colorado called Eagles something. It might be a boarding school. I thought they took special needs (not exclusively though).

You could do public 8th at the regular middle school and then do the virtual school after that since you would have made the enrollment count.

I don't remember Robin's dx. My child is ADHD/LD/speech.

By Cat on Monday, April 3, 2006 - 02:17 pm:

Mommie, I'd love for Robin to be self-motivated! I think if it's something he's interested in, he would be. Everything else can just go away as far as he's concerned. The other thing I saw was in the parent/student handbook. It said 25% of their grade is based off homework. I think that's a lot. I know they're trying to get them ready for hs and college, but still. That's another one of those "may as well homeschool" things. Robin is ADHD and bipolar (possibaly ODD, AS and a couple other things, but no formal dx of anything other than bp and ADHD). I haven't heard of any Eagles school or the like. I wouldn't send Robin to boarding school anyway (although the thought has crossed my mind! lol). I've been searching for online schools. Doing ps for 8th and then the virtual academy is an option. He wants me to continue hs'ing him. We'll see. We've got a couple months to decide. In the meantime I'll make sure his IEP is up to date so if he does return to the district he'll be good to go. If not, they'll just have to get over it. I'm sure they'll be upset and feel they've wasted their time with us, but oh well.

By Yjja123 on Monday, April 3, 2006 - 02:27 pm:

Online schools or virtual schools (at least the ones in my area) require a child to be self motivated. You must keep up and go at a pace similar to public school. It can be hard for a child that needs to be prodded along since there isn't a real teacher telling him face to face what the consequences will be. You would likely have to do that so homeschooling might be easier for you. Homeschooling allows you to work at your childs pace.
Are there any schools in your area that specialize in his learning disabilities?

By Mommmie on Monday, April 3, 2006 - 02:31 pm:

I noticed that 25% homework thing too. I don't know about that. I would want to know how flexible they are as far as misunderstanding assignments and forgetting to turn it in and second chances.

Besides ADHD and dyslexia, my son's school will take kids with Aspergers, Tourettes and ODD (my son calls them the temper management kids), but not bi-polar. There are a couple of other LD schools that will take a child with a bi-polar dx though. Most of the kids I know with bi-polar are muddling their way through public school.

It's a tough call. I just keep telling myself if this school doesn't work out there are more to try. Sometimes though I think he would be better off sitting at home playing video games all day than going back to public school. At least that way he'd avoid all the negativity, unorganization and misunderstandings that happen. (I think the public school was way more unorganized than my son ever was!! I mean talk about the pot calling the kettle black!)

By Cat on Monday, April 3, 2006 - 04:29 pm:

Robin doesn't technically have any learning disabilities. His problems are behavioral. There aren't any LD schools here that I know of anyway. IF we do homeschool again next year (he wants to, btw) I really want a program that has all the lesson plans ready for me. I am a pretty organized person, but that was really a struggle this year. It seemed once we got behind it was too overwhelming to catch up, let alone plan beyond. There was also a lot going on this year (he never would have passed in ps this year with all the absencesses he would have had). I just don't know. We'll see.

By Cocoabutter on Monday, April 3, 2006 - 04:50 pm:

Is there a Sylvan Learning Center in your area? Or is that just here in Grand Rapids? The commercials seem to say that what underachieving kids need is self-esteem, and getting specialized tutoring that boosts the skills they are lacking helps their confidence and in turn their motivation. I don't know if they deal with kids with special issues, but if there is one in your area, or something similar, it may be worth checking into.

By Cocoabutter on Monday, April 3, 2006 - 04:51 pm:

There are some in Colorado!

http://www.educate.com/centerfinder/getcenters.cfm?mapsection=-1&mapstate=CO

By Colette on Monday, April 3, 2006 - 05:41 pm:

I'd check into the outward bound program. I have 2 friends who taught at one and if they are any indication of the type of people who work in thes types of programs it would probably be great for him.

Also a book I am reading now for my own son, called overcoming underachieving, offers some tips. Some I like, some I don't. But it gives some alternative ideas.

By Cat on Tuesday, April 4, 2006 - 08:48 am:

There is a Sylvan here, Lisa. Like I said, though, his problems are behavioral, not LD. I do think there were many factor in the public school that contributed to his problems. Distractibility, defiance, a hearing problem we didn't know about until last fall (after years of problems--may have been a big factor). He learns differently. He's a very tactical/hands on kind of kid. The academics were never the problem at public school.

Colette, dh and I talked about the charter school with the outward program. We're really concerned about the self-motivated aspect, as well as the homework being so much of his grade. I plan to talk to the special ed teacher there, along with the principle and I'd like to tour the school and observe the classroom. I just wonder with everything else they offer if it really would be a good choice for him.

I want Robin to like school (don't think he'll ever love it! lol). He's SO smart, but SO unmotivated. In my heart I think home schooling him another year would be the best thing for him emotionally. But academically we're really struggling to get things done. One huge plus would be that with only taking kindergarten kids next year I would have about 2 1/2 hours free every morning to work one on one with him with no distractions of other kids (huge problem this past year). I asked him yesterday what he wants. He wants to stay at home. I told him that's not an option if he's not going to do the work. He promised he would--but I've heard that before. I'm so torn at what to do! I guess we could send him for 8th grade and then he'd be eligble for the virtual academy for 9th, BUT COVA only goes to the 9th grade here in Colorado. Then we'd have to figure out where to go next! UGH!!! I plan on doing everything with the public school for now (IEP review, etc) so if he does go back it's all set. I'm not going to tell them I'm still considering hs'ing him again next year. I don't want them biased against us/him with all the testing we've got to do. I wonder if the district would consider a duel enrollment for him. *sigh*

Colette, I'll have to check out that book. Thanx--to everyone for your thoughts and opinions.

By Vicki on Tuesday, April 4, 2006 - 08:59 am:

Cat, please don't take offense to anything I might say that is wrong as I have ZERO experience in dealing with special or high needs children. Anything wrong I might say is out of ignorance on the subject, but I am going to say it anyway. If nothing else, tell me that I am wrong and I can learn! LOL

I have a great concern over this:

I've been homeschooling him this year and it's been great for his emotional health, but his academics have taken a real hit. He's just not motivated and it's very frustrating for me when I can't get him to do his work or he does it, but does it half you know what.

Do you really think that homeschooling another year is the best idea? If he is already behind in his academics, will another year be a good idea? I understand that HE wants to homeschool again, but do you think that might be because it is "easier"? Again, don't take this wrong, but are you some what of a push over when it comes to making him do his school work and give it his BEST effort? Does he know that he can get out of it if he whines enough about it or drags his feet? Has it been easier to just let it go rather than force the issue? I would just hate for him to fall even further behind in his academics and these are questions I think I would be asking myself if I were in your shoes. It might be easier for him to be homeschooled, but is it the best thing for his future??

By Colette on Tuesday, April 4, 2006 - 09:00 am:

Cat, here is the link for the book. Like I said, some of it I thought was a little over the top, but there is some really good advice/ideas in it.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0767904583/sr=8-1/qid=1144155506/ref=pd_bbs_1/102-9886066-2494507?%5Fencoding=UTF8

By Cat on Tuesday, April 4, 2006 - 09:31 am:

Vicki, I'm not offending at all. That's one of my biggest concerns. Robin's capable of the work. I know that! He's just so unmotivated. That's a problem whether he's in ps or at home. That's one of the things we have to work on either place. I just wonder if it's worth sacrificing his emotional well being because I'm sure it will suffer if he goes back. We've made a lot of progress this year. I don't want to lose that.

By Debbie on Tuesday, April 4, 2006 - 11:35 am:

Cat, I didn't respond before because I don't have a high needs child. But, I thought I would jump in and offer a suggestion. I know you really struggled with the decision to homeschool, and I know you have had problems with school. If you really feel that homeschooling has been beneficial for him emotionally, and you are up to doing it next year. How about sitting down with him and setting up new ground rules. He has to follow these rules, or you will no longer homeschool. There is no reason why you can't do a trial now until the end of the school year. Tell him that how he does, will determine whether or not you continue to homeschool next year. He is old enough for you to sit down and explain how you are worried about his academics, so he has to agree to do the work for you two to continue this. This puts the ball in his court, he either needs to do the work to continue or go back to some type of school. I just thought I would throw that out there. I do agree with someone that putting him somewhere new next year and then moving him again, seems like it would be hard.

{{{hugs}}} I know what a hard decisiion this is for you.

By Cat on Tuesday, April 4, 2006 - 02:50 pm:

Debbie, that's a good idea--doing a trial period if he wants to stay home again next year. As far as he knows he is going back. I don't want him to say anything to the staff at the middle school. He was supposed to have his health assesment this morning but no one told the nurse so she didn't have all her equipment with her (she travels between like 5 schools so she's only there on Tuesdays). She did what she could and she'll do the rest when we have the rest of the IEP testing. So far the only one that's really not seeming like she wants to work with us is the counsilor. The office staff is great and the nurse was cool. I haven't dealt with any of the teachers yet. I'll have to talk it over with dh some more and see what he thinks. Robin did run into another kid he knows while we were there this morning. He'll probably know a lot of the kids because he's been to three different elementary schools! lol

Thanx again for everyone's input. It's great having you all to bounce ideas off of. :)


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