While the school year may be half over, for us there will be new beginnings. Ken and I met with the oldest boy's principal this morning to discuss his 504 Plan. Although the plan has been in place since late 2008, we've been very hesitant to put it into action because we really do want the boy to take responsibility for his own actions. However, there are times when ideals pale in the face of reality.
Just before the holiday break we received the boy's progress report card. While most of the grades were reasonable (there was even an A in Geography!), his Language Arts grade was, well, dismal. As reading and writing have always been one of his major obstacles, we're accustomed to mediocre grades, so when I say dismal you must understand that I mean "failing".
I immediately sent an e-mail to teacher. While I was disappointed that she didn't think to try to contact us prior to the progress report card coming home, I really didn't (and still don't) blame her for his predicament. That being said, I'm also not willing to just stand aside and watch my child fall even further behind his classmates. In my mind - and Ken's - that meant it was time to discuss the implementation of the 504 Plan we had signed in May of 2008. This plan outlines accommodations the school is willing to provide in order to help the boy succeed despite his unique challenges.
The principal seemed very intent on making sure the boy's teachers were made aware of those items we felt were most beneficial, most of which were requests to keep us informed of his progress. To let us know when a problem develops. To e-mail us his assignments, to let us know when they notice him struggling. The principal was also willing to add something new to the list: a textbook for home.
I was very happy with the results of our meeting.
While I'm not foolish enough to believe that all our troubles are over, I'm feeling a lot better about the boy's chances of learning the material being presented to him. Not because I expect him to suddenly "get it", but because I know that's not going to be the case. I think he might do better because, now that we know what's happening at school, we can help reinforce what the teachers are working on in the classroom. Repetition helps. But, more importantly, with this particular child alternative explanations can help even more.
Getting him through marking period is our immediate goal. Getting him through the Sixth Grade is just a step or two behind that. But, really, what we'd like to see happen is seeing him finally catch up to his peers. Getting back test results that don't show any significant gap between where he's at and where he should be.
It's a struggle having a kid with these types of issues. It's a struggle for everyone involved, but especially for him. Hopefully by monitoring his assignments now, he'll someday be able to leave these growing pains behind.