I am a teacher by profession so school should not be a painful experience for me or I should have at least built up some immunity to everything teachers endure in schools. My training never prepared me for the part of being a parent with a child in school.
My eldest, 12 years, is experiencing learning barriers which are generally associated with premature birth. As a result she’s had all kinds of therapy and was at one stage on medication. I declined going the medicine route after she reacted badly to it, by breaking out in hives and spending more time on scratching herself than trying to concentrate. Her coping mechanism; I later learned is to scratch herself from her scalp to her exposed arms. This I realised only after discussing her challenges with her first grade teacher.
First grade was a disaster as her teacher left four months into the year. The replacement took over and I guess she didn’t have the passion nor experience to deal with challenged learners. This continued right through to grade 3, which she had to repeat , because she had built up a significant backlog and had difficulty coping with the workload.
When she entered grade 4, I was more anxious about her than I had been when she was a 780grammer. She had to cope with adapting to different teachers and teaching styles, as well as moving from class to class. To crown it all the Math teacher took ill and a substitute(not trained) took care of them and upon his return, he was promoted and moved schools.
Amid all of this was an 11 year old struggling to cope and adapt to all the changes and an anxious mother to boot. The quickest solution was extra tuition which helped in a minuscule way.
Whilst she was struggling I went through the worst kind of school hell I had ever experienced. I didn’t know how to help my own child despite my training. My efforts were fruitless. I knew that she was capable of achieving but the pressure and anxiety which beset her whenever she’s in doubt; robbed her of all confidence.
It’s a new year, new grade and a new group of teachers with their own demands and expectations; but it’s still my baby who has to endure the pain of getting an education.
One thing I know for sure is that there is nothing ordinary about my girl. Neither her birth nor her life will be a boring story, but rather that of an overcomer!