Saturday, January 30, 2010

We had a meeting to update Marielle's 504 this week. I think it went pretty well. The school psychologist began so upbeat, "Marielle has improved in all areas, isn't that great?!. Yes, she did improve, but her improvement was much less than her peers. She has fallen from "low average" to "below average". I knew this would happen, I could see it happening, but they won't give services until a child is really far behind. It's very frustrating.

Now, let me say, that I've been working with Marielle at home every day over the last 4 months. This kid works. I mean she works so hard, so much harder than a "normal" kid. Her processing speed is very slow. That means it takes her brain longer to figure out things, then make the plan to write it on the paper, then actually execute what she is going to do...write it down.

To give you an idea....Rico gets a packet of homework for the week. He can complete the entire week's homework in the time it takes Marielle to do one day of homework and that's reduced homework because that was already in place on her last 504.

I have to be very supportive and patient or she will become frustrated with herself.

The good news is that she is more confident and has stopped saying things like "I'm stupid" and "I'm dumb". That's a huge step forward.

Her teacher made the comment that she would not have fallen behind her peers, had she done the homework like them. I mustered all the politeness I could and said, "Marielle is doing an hour of homework a day. She spends 40 minutes doing math and spelling and another 20 minutes reading to me. That's already too much for a second grader, I will not add more burden to her". I think the teacher was taken aback. Good. She really does not realize the homework burden Marielle is carrying.

Ralph and I have talked about getting tutor but honestly, this kid would burn out so quick, adding more home work to the mix. So we'll wait until summer and have her tutored over the summer.

Anyway, back to the meeting. They wanted to put her in Headsprout, a computer learning session. The kids sit at the computer and what's on the computer for 45 minutes. It's a 1 adult to 10 children ratio. I said absolutely not. First off, I've volunteered in Rico's class and know how it goes. It's great for Rico, he loves to read and he sits and read and reads and reads. But for the kids who aren't into reading, well, they look around, get up, talk to other kids, etc. When I volunteered, one of the things I did was constantly say, "Turn around and read your screen, please", "Sit down and read, please".

In a situation like this, Marielle would sit and look at the screen, do nothing and at the end of 45 minutes, have gotten nothing out of it. See, she's not disruptive. She just sits and looks like she's doing her work. Then, when you ask her to turn in her paper, she's done 2 math problems in a half an hour. She won't ask for help, she doesn't look around or get up, she just sits quietly and does nothing. In Headsprout, she'd just get overlooked.

So I asked them what alternatives were available. There is another program called "Early Success" where the ratio is 2 to 1 and they use this specific reading program. It was decided that Marielle would participate 4 days a week, 30 minutes a day. The other good thing about this is that Marielle will be in her classroom for their regular reading session. (With Headsprout, she would have been pulled out at the time the regular classroom reading would occur.) So she'll get a double dose of reading.

I think this is really important, because part of her math problems stem from the fact that they are doing word problems...can't read the words, can't get the answer correctly.

We also put into place accommodations for Marielle for the state tests that are coming up. She will be tested in a small group, may have as many breaks as she needs or asks for, she will have extended time for taking tests and will have repetition of directions.

All in all, I think it was a good meeting. I still don't think that the team realizes that Marielle is sweet, gets along, doesn't disrupt the class, but often sits confused and does nothing. Her teacher did say that she noticed this happening...but what is being done so that this doesn't happen??? Nothing. Marielle won't ask for help, she needs to be prodded. She's shy by nature, add to that the slow processing speed and by the time she realizes she needs help, things have moved on and there is a big, blank void.

It's very frustrating. I wish I had the skills to help her but I don't. We are doing all we can do at home, with reading, math, talking about tricks with math, etc. but it's so hard to see her falling behind still.

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