First, I want to tell you that I didn’t have a problem with Kitt’s school. I liked her teachers and felt the staff really cared about the children in their care. They communicated with the parents well. Kitt’s IEP worked well enough within the constraints of the system.
The system, though… oh, I had issues with the system, all right!
Every three weeks or so, my daughter came home upset. It always coincided with the week the school set up ‘practice’ sessions for the state mandated testing. She doesn’t do well confined to one spot for those long stints at a computer. She also struggles with long periods of time answering questions she feels are a waste of time. (I agree!)
Since she is an A/B student, I didn’t worry about her grades, but the stress of these tests made her feel stupid. We tried very hard to find a solution through her IEP, but they wanted her to ask for help (more time/breaks/etc.). Kitt doesn’t like bringing attention to herself, so she soldiered on in silence.
When I removed her from the public school, I didn’t have a plan, a curriculum, or a clue what to teach her. For the first few weeks, I let Kitt detox from the expectations put on our children in the public school system. While she worked on some easy schoolwork, I did my own homework.
I’ll go into more detail in another article, but we basically spent the week reassuring Kitt that we didn’t need hour long tests to make sure she understood the material. Quizzes would be kept to the minimum necessary, and we would take math at her own pace- even if we had to extend just the one subject into next summer a bit to catch up. Her anxiety was so bad, she thought we would be following the same routine as school, just without the state exams.
I understand the need for multiple choice tests. A teacher cannot realistically evaluate thirty children’s comprehension of a given topic without a standard form to mark. I get that. But it took two weeks for my daughter to stop asking if there would be a quiz on the subject matter we were learning.
Don’t get me wrong, she has to exhibit at least a basic understanding of most topics, and a higher understanding of others. We do this through conversation and oral reports. We debate what we think a given topic means, and run through scenarios together so we can discuss the subject matter in another way until she understands.
I ‘grade’ her on participation and general knowledge, then we move on.
Kitt was so hyped on the fear of failing the quiz she knew her teachers would give that she developed a hatred of learning the material in the first place. We have to work past this so we can work together. We need to help Kitt love learning again.