Thursday, May 6, 2010

When You Do All You Can-Then What?

This post originally appeared February 2010.


A new semester has begun. All is quiet so far. Both boys have transitioned into their respective classes without issue. The village that I hired for collegeman seems to be working out really nicely. The three of them appear to be very diligent and very serious about helping him. That is all I can ask for. Collegeman is already driving himself crazy over working as usual, but that is how he deals with the workload in front of him. He sees that syllabus, the amount of work to come and he is off to the races. I really shouldn’t expect anything else; as I used to have the entire semester’s work done before the first month of the new school semester was over. I am not a procrastinator. I hate things hanging over my head. Unfinished business makes me feel like I am under the sword of Damocles. So I do understand collegeman.

Highschoolboy on the other hand is very laid back. No issues with over work here. He is the procrastinator; much like his father. They seem to wait to the last minute and allow the stress to push them over the top to the finish line. Unfortunately for HSB this does not help him reach his goal because he simply shuts down rather than face the pressure he has put himself under. We are working on this issue. Trying to help him organize his life and prepare for the inevitable test slowly a little at a time. The College Boards are coming up and he needs to start preparing for those as well. Ten minutes a day. It shouldn’t be that bad. Now to just convince him of that.

Another issue seems to have raised it ugly head. Well, it’s not new to my readers, but my revelation is new. HSB is having a miserable year in algebra 2. Chemistry is also an issue, but that is a post for a different time. HSB did pull it out on the midterm and ended up with a C. (YEAH HSB) considering at one point in the first marking period he was failing I say good job. We have hired two tutors, one for Tuesday and one for Saturday. Plus we found this online site called Tutor.com which he can access anytime on any given day to answer his questions. So if he has problems on a Sunday afternoon while doing homework, he can go online to his account and request a tutor. He has never had to wait more than ten minutes. They have every subject covered, so I think we are going to start using them for chemistry as well. (The site was recommended on the NY Regents Preparation website.

Now when HSB took the algebra 2 midterm even though he is entitled to 100% extra time, he completed it in the regulation two hours (he was entitled to four). I knew that this was not going to be the A he wanted. The extended time is there for his to go slow and check his work. He claimed he did. The interesting thing is that I think he really did. I think the problem is that he forgets what formula answers what question and gets confused. It’s also the little things that get him. Forgetting to change the positive and negative; forgetting to invert a fraction or to reduce a square root. He seems to not be able to take a problem and transfer the concept from one equation to the next. It’s like he gets stuck. It’s like he is caught in the event horizon of a black hole and can’t seem to get past the gravitational pull to escape and save himself.

So here is my question. When do you say that this is how it is? I do not think it’s giving up on him to admit that he has a math processing issue. I do not think that it is giving up on him to accept that he may never get good grades in math. The fact is, is that it is the math issues that are daunting him in chemistry. Does it make you a bad parent to accept your child’s limitations and to acknowledge that these limitations may have an effect on their future choices? When do you know you have done enough?

I think that is the issue I am asking myself today. Hubby is very upset. He insists there is something we are not doing and something the school is not doing. He remembers that the high school failed collegeman when it came to social skills and that the English special education teacher did not prepare HSB for the English regent’s exam properly. He feels they are just going thru the motions to get him out of school so he is no longer their problem. This I don’t know. They have worked hard with HSB this year. The algebra teacher is in contact with us constantly as is the new case manager. Everyone seems to work at HSB paying attention in class and finding ways to engage him. Unfortunately hubby’s opinion is colored very much by the past.

We decided that it had become necessary for me to start looking for a solution in addition to the tons of support HSB already was receiving. Is there something out there for him other than what we have already done? I went to the public library looking for math literacy books. Interestingly the only books that were available are for elementary school children and had more to do with math fluency. This was never HSB’s problem. He knows how math works,. He always knew his list of math facts. In fact, knowing lists of math facts was the reason the district tried to declassify him in second grade until I opened a legal can of whoop ass on them.

I then went on line and tried to find information from disability information websites. Again the only information I found had to do with identifying the disability, and quite frankly explaining what a math disability was. There was no practical information available at all; nothing to tell you how to teach the student how to transfer concepts from one problem to the next. There was nothing other than “memorize, memorize” as far as how to get them to remember how to even recognize what is being asked. This is all ineffectual for HSB. He can’t transfer concepts; he doesn’t even remember how to recognize what formula to use to solve an equation. Then even if he does remember the basic formula he forgets a step or two or three.

Now I refuse to give up that there is an answer on how to help him. I think that society just hasn’t figured out how to help students like HSB yet. I guess it’s very similar to when a child with autism can’t transfer social skills from one situation to the next. They need it written out for each and every activity. Sort of like a rolodex for math applications and formulas. I think that is what I am going to try now. Maybe I can enlist the tutors to help me. Maybe the case manager can keep it up with HSB. He shouldn’t have to accept that he is average at something.He should not have to accept that his future choices are limited, unless he wants to limit them. No one ever should have to. There has to be a solution. There always is. I just haven’t found it yet.

I’ll keep you posted.



Until next time,



Elise