Max just got 10 out of 10 for a spelling test. Pretty pleasing to any parent, right? But I’ll tell you why his teacher wrote “Incredible” on the top of that test: because it is. You see, at the beginning of September when Max started 2nd grade here in California, he could barely read and hardly write. And I’m not exaggerating. In the first week of school his teacher took me aside and asked if he had actually done 1st grade. We then were invited to an intervention meeting with his teacher, literacy support staff and the sub-superintendent of the district. It was suggested that perhaps he be dropped down to 1st grade because he apparently had none of the 1st grade knowledge required for 2nd grade and they were concerned that perhaps something was wrong. But the literacy teacher stepped in and said that she had assessed Max and she was pretty convinced that he was simply lacking tuition. That he had all the skills, and is in fact pretty bright, but just hadn’t been taught to read or write properly.
And that’s the part that eats away at me. That we put our kid in a school, where for two years he was supposed to be receiving a superior, gifted, private school education, but ended 1st grade not reading or writing. A school that should have exceeded the national average but instead was woefully behind it. We bought into the concept thinking that in addition to learning the basics, our kids would benefit from something fantastic: the ability to become self-guided learners who would choose their course of study and become competent, intellectually capable little people. Perhaps, but not if they can’t read or write! Granted Mia’s 2nd grade teacher picked up on a processing speed issue because Mia wasn’t reading at that stage either. But we then had to spend many thousands of dollars getting her up to speed, outside of the school. Mia’s current 4th grade teacher says that Mia seems to be missing the entire 3rd grade math syllabus, so now Mia is in extra math to teach her 3rd grade math while she’s learning 4th grade math. Do you know how much hard work that is for a 9 year old?
And poor, sweet Max is suffering through what I hope will be his only hard year at school. He spent the first two months at extra lessons for 1.5 hours 4 times a week and is now down to twice each week, plus an online program. He receives intervention from the school for 30 minutes 4 x each week, and he’s working harder than most college kids I know. He has felt stupid and shamed and we have spent countless hours encouraging this bright, brilliant boy that he was merely done a disservice by his previous school and he’s simply catching up. He’s not behind. They were. And I’m so angry for every minute that he is having to spend learning to read instead of playing outside.
10/10 is such an immense achievement for this little man. Which gives our old school an astounding grade of 0/10 in my book.