Friday, September 30, 2011

Time to get back to school (and this blog!)

I can't believe it's been so long since my last blog entry! Between swim team, soccer, music camp and all the other activities of summer,  I didn't have much time to post in July and August. Then September rolled around and we went full swing into school, dance class, birthdays, soccer, drama club and so much more!  But it's time to get back to it and I have 'lots to share!

Decisions and big changes
In late August we made a big change. We decided to transfer our sixth grade son from the small Catholic school he has attended since kindergarten to a larger Catholic school.  It was one of the hardest decisions we have ever made!  Have any of you ever made to make a tough decision to leave a school you really liked?

We like the school and love our parish, but I think the fit wasn't right, although we tried to deny that for at least the last two years. I spent many hours praying for guidance! Our son wasn't happy; he wanted to go to a larger school (for a variety of reasons).

The school couldn't really help our daughter, either. She had attended first grade there, but quit working mid-year because she was so overwhelmed. The school suggested we hold her back a year, but this didn't feel right to us. Although she's behind in academics like reading and math, she excels in anything that is physical. For example, her handwriting and drawing are probably at 4th grade level, she is a strong soccer player who was invited to play on a travel soccer team this year, and she won an 8th place ribbon at a regional conference for her breast stroke this summer (after only swimming that stroke for about 3 months).  But getting her to do reading and math is another story.

So I was hoping that a year or two of individualized attention at home would help her catch up with her peers.

Although my goal was to get her back into the small Catholic school with her brother, over the summer I realized that she would probably never fit into that environment. She needs multi-level learning opportunities, where she can work more quickly on the areas she's good at, yet slow down on the pace on the areas where she struggles.

Although I don't mind homeschooling her, I know that she is one of those kids who will work harder and perform better for others. When she's with me, her main focus is to battle for control over her life.  Her past experience (in the orphanage and before that) taught her that she can't trust adults and therefore must take care of herself.  I understand that it may take a long time before she can really give up control and trust me.

As a result, our school days drag on as she battles with me over who is in charge. It's not even a matter of "choosing my battles" and letting her "win" the little things. Doing that only makes matters worse!  It usually results in a major temper tantrum because she feels like I've let her down, since I let her make a decision. 

Anyway, we started looking for another school for my son and discovered that one of the Catholic schools in the area could also meet my daughter's needs.  It is a bigger school and has a full time special education teacher, plus several reading and math aides, plus teaching assistants in every kindergarten through fourth grade classroom.

It felt like a load was lifted from my shoulders!  Maybe there were some solutions to my schooling problems!

Fast forward to today: my son has been in the school a little over a month and loves it. My daughter has been tested by the school's special education teacher and we are working toward enrolling her in the school.  Unfortunately, she is still very behind, but the testing made us realize that we needed to look further into her overly high level of energy and her inability to focus. Our pediatrician tested her for ADHD and we learned that she is far more active and far less able to focus than a typical nine year old. So we have decided to try medication. I've resisted medication for so long, saying we could work with her behavior and would just take things slower. But over the last month I realized that behavior therapy would not work and unless we try the medication, she may just keep falling farther and farther behind.  So she will begin taking Strattera soon, and I'll keep praying that things improve and she can focus better. She's a smart little girl, but so easily distracted!

I would love to hear from any of you who have children with attention deficit issues.  Do you use any medication?  What other things have you done to help the child learn?  You can email me at caswrite at if you prefer not to put your advice in the comments section.

Please keep us in your prayers as we try to figure out the best way for her to learn.

In the meantime, I'll continue to homeschool her.  Will be writing another post about the curriculum we're using this year and how it is working so far.

I also volunteered to teach her CCD class at our parish.  They usually rely on workbooks, but I'll be incorporating alot of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) materials into our sessions.  So over the next few months I'll share ideas on how to make "workbook religion" more relevant and real to kids.

Now it's time to pick some tomatoes and enjoy the beauty of fall!



  1. So glad that you are back! And blessings on transitioning schools with your kids!

  2. Will pray for grace and wisdom for your daughter's needs, too!

  3. Thank you, Sheila. I can use the prayers, grace and wisdom!

  4. This is super late and you may not even need a strangers advice any more! We have three kids adopted from different countries and we homeschool all three of them. Our oldest has serious attention issues and is not the workbook and pencil kind of guy. He would not do good in any other setting but a homeschool setting. Our middle child is a whiz and is grades ahead and then our most recent addition is 4 but the size of a 2 year old. She is very active and will probably be similar to our oldest child. If you want to talk more about an active curriculum feel free to email me!