Help Me to Focus
Last night was curriculum Night at Jake's (new) school. Other than finding out that they don't teach 5th graders a language (at his old school they started Spanish in Junior Pre-K) I was thrilled with what I learned.
If you've been with me since the very start, you'll know that Jake has ADHD. He is also classified — as many children with this 'disorder' are — as gifted. Parenting this amazing child is a subject for a blog of it's own. We switched his school this year for a program through our district called "Gifted Fragile". UNbelievable. The gist is: small supportive classroom, flexibility in the curriculum and counseling. Are you sitting down? There are six children in his class. And. Three teachers. Yes, you heard me. It's a two to one ratio. There are three fourth graders, an aide, three fifth graders, an aide and one head teacher. The kids are mainstreamed for 'specials' (and Jake for math as well) so they have social opportunities in a larger classroom. When they are in the large classroom, one of the aides is with them so if they can't handle it, there is intervention before things get messy. And it does sometimes get messy.
I imagine that it must be a huge relief for these kids to be understood. Both by the teachers (who are supremely qualified) and by the other kids in the class. If you parent a child with this combination of emotional fragility and exceptional intelligence, you'll know that social interactions are often, well, difficult and that other kids often don't 'get' ours. Here, they are learning about their own abilities and limitations and tolerance for the limitations of others. AND being academically challenged.
The classroom teacher handed out this poem and said that she reads it when stuck in a tough moment (of which I can only assume there are many).
Help Me to Focus
Please teach me through my sense of "touch".
I need "hands-on" and body movement.
"I need to know what comes next"
Please give me a structured environment
where there is a dependable routine.
Give me an advanced warning if there will be
"Wait for me. I'm still thinking"
Please allow me to go at my own pace.
If I rush, I get confused and upset.
"I'm stuck! I can't do it!"
Please offer me options for problem-solving.
I need to know the detours when the road is
"Is it right? I need to know NOW!"
Please give me rich and immediate feedback on
how I'm doing.
"I didn't know I WASN'T in my seat!"
Please remind me to stop, think and act.
"Am I almost done now?"
Please give me short work periods with short-term goals.
Please don't say "I already told you that."
There is nothing here that I didn't already know about how to deal with Jake. What makes me cry each time I read it is the huge sense of relief I experience knowing that someone else understands how to reach him.