Friday, May 13, 2011

Have I Really Failed Her?

Where do I start?  There is so much going on.  I feel as if I've failed Erin in some way.  Actually in many ways.  Perhaps I've been too pigheaded, stubborn or not wanted to see what was going on.  Now that I see it, all I can do is cry.

Erin has a late summer birthday - July 30th which means that she started VPK not long after she turned 4.   I thought back then that maybe it would be in her best interest to retain her, but her teacher told me not to worry because she would catch up.  When she was in Kindergarten, I noticed that she was having a hard time but again listened to her teacher.  .  Her 1st/2nd grade cluster teachers were really sweet & told me not to pressure Erin.  I didn't.  And each year, right after Winter Break, Erin did catch up

This year, 3rd grade, I have been having conferences with her teachers consistently.  We all agree that Erin is all over the place.  She can come home with A's & B's as easily as she comes home with D's & F's.  Her comprehension & retention don't seem to be catching up this year.  It breaks my heart each time she gets in my car at pickup & tells me "I tried my hardest but all I got was a ---.  I'm sorry mama."

FCAT time was awful.  Absolutely awful.  Each day she would tell me that the test was hard but that she really tried her best.  Not long after this, her teachers were showing some movies in class.  One day she came home so happy to have seen The S*und of Mus!c that she was singing all the songs.  Another day she came  home & told me that she saw a movie again.  This time when I asked her about the movie, she didn't remember anything - the name of the movie, who was in it - not even what it was about.  I was heartbroken.

The key thing here is that Erin's teachers are amazing.  They are totally on board with David & me.  I love that we are working as a team.  They are open to any & all questions & have given me some good advice.  Her homeroom teacher Mrs. W. who is also her reading teacher has been very open with me about her own experiences with her son.  Now how often have you known a teacher to be downright human!?  She has told me that if Erin is retained, it won't be the end of the world for either Erin or us because in the end, Erin will do what Erin will do.  She is all for doing the right thing & not passing her to the next grade just because that is what is expected.  All 3 teachers (Mrs. W., Mrs. C. & Mrs. C) want me to wait until the SAT test scores are in before we make any decisions.

Another area of concern is Erin's vision.  The last time she saw an eye doctor was 2 years ago.  David took her to a very highly recommended pediatric opthomologist.  This doctor was thrilled that Erin had no issues.  Then again, he is a specialist so he sees children who have problems.  At last year's annual doctor appt, Erin's eyes were only "ok."  David is worried that Erin is dyslexic because she writes the wrong letter &/or number sometimes.  It is very common for children to confuse 6/9, b/d, m/n along with some other mistakes.  This is a developmental issue.  However, David thinks there is a real problem.


Next Saturday we have an appointment for Erin to see our eye doctor.  Thankfully, Erin knows this doctor & likes him.  Of course, I'm not sure how much she's going to like him when he goes to dilate her eyes.  I know I don't like him very much when he does that to me.  We plan on asking him to see if he can find any problems which need further exploration.  If she does need glasses, I'm thankful that Erin has friends who wear glasses - not just the adults in her life.  For now she thinks they're cool.  Then again, there are so many styles from which to choose these days.

We've also decided that we are going to ask to have Erin retained in 3rd grade.  It's been so hard on her this year.  Yes.  We discussed it with Erin.  We talked about the people she knows who have repeated a grade & asked if she thought poorly of these people.  Being who she is, she said no & looked as if she wanted to make sure we hadn't lost our minds.  We told her, quite honestly, that  we believe she had a very rough time in school this year & want her to have the chance to do her absolute best before going on to 4th grade which would be even harder.  We emphasized that she had done nothing wrong but that this would be a good opportunity for her to strengthen her skills.  Imagine our shock when Erin told us she thought this was a good idea! She isn't upset in the least.  Maybe that is because somewhere, deep down, she knows she isn't ready to move on.

This coming Monday I will be calling Erin's school.  I am going to set up a conference to discuss having her retained in the 3rd grade.  I want to insure that she is retained but still has the same teachers.  They have been utterly phenomenal to work with.  I also want to speak with the ESE specialist.  David & I want to get Erin tested for learning disabilities. 

It's time.  Maybe there is nothing wrong.  But what if there is something wrong?  Good G-d.  Have I allowed her to go for so long without being aware?  Have I really been so pigheaded that I've put her in harm's way?


Leah Mei said...

Tammie, you feel this way because you are a good mom. As the mother of a child with diagnosed learning disabilities, I can assure you that the human brain is so complex that it is impossible to know for sure. And as a teacher, I can assure you that these days so much emphasis is put on the FCAT that not enough time is spent teaching the important skills. Since not all children learn in the same way, it is easy to overlook these things in the classroom these days. I don't know Erin but from experience I can tell you that it is better to retain earlier than later. I wish I would have retained my son, or not allowed him to start kindergarten early. His biggest issues were social rather than academic, he hated being the youngest in the class and felt awkward always. I am sure we all blame ourselves when we think things have gotten by us and affected our children, but I have learned this time around with Leah to follow my gut. You are doing the right thing, Erin is a lucky girl to have you as a mom.

Michelle said...

You have NOT failed her in any way. You are doing what is right for her. AS my mom tells parents, you want your child to live to be at least 80...this is one year of their life. Do you want them to struggle always or take the extra year of growth...Most cases of retain the child and the child ends up flourishing the remainder of schooling. One of my cousin's has a late birthday and his dad refused to retain him. He struggled through school with tutors and a very regimented schedule. My uncle has now admitted that he should have held him back. Obviously you are being positive with getting eyes checked and will do whatever testing is necessary for her. {{{Hugs}}} to all of you!

Vivian M said...

I think you are doing all the right things. Having her checked for vision issues or learning disabilities is scary, but necessary to ensure there is nothing hampering her learning process. And if there is something, she will get the help she needs.
Kerri loves her glasses, has been wearing them since she was 10 months old. And she also writes her letters and numbers backwards.
Stop feeling guilty or blaming yourself. Erin will be just fine!

Magi said...

Tammie, it's already been said, but it's true. You are an excellent mother. Part of that means that you constantly second guess yourself. You've made the moves to get the appropriate testing done, and it's awesome that Erin is on board with repeating 3rd grade. The early yeas are so important. Getting a strong foundation will really make a big difference.You are on the right track; don't beat yourself up!

Lisa said...

Tam, we've talked about this and you know how I feel. You have NOT let Erin down! You're so on top of what's going on with her, and now there is an apparent issue of some sort. You'll deal with whatever it is. And maybe, possibly, she just needs a little more time. The important thing is that you're taking the steps to find out what's really happening, which will lead to steps to help her. Love to you all, and I'll be here by your sista side through it all. :)