Hallelujiah! After years of wondering what was wrong with my daughter and why she wasn't learning, after thousands of dollars in tutoring expenses and buying coffee at coffee shops so I could work while I waited for her sessions, after countless hours of frustration, fear, worry and desperation, after complete exhaustion as a single mother trying to help my daughter, she is coming into her own and learning.
She has been tested for special ed, and will be receiving some help. She has auditory processing delay. She needs things more on her level. The math we struggled with at home, in which I didn't know how to help her and ended in frustrating struggle, is now simple and to her level. She has small group work at school at her level. She is totally in to math now, doing her own homework, asking me to help her with spelling. Before she never wanted to do homework. Every night it was me asking her to do it, and I had to do it with her. It was exhausting, as I had to do everything else too, cooking, cleaning, laundry, my other child's homework and needs, and my own work.
I believe it is her self-esteem. When a child is met at his or her own level, and not pushed to be like all the "grade level" kids, he or she can excel. My daughter was always the youngest, and now in the fourth grade, she is really taking a liking to school. To writing, math. We watched School House Rocks on You Tube. We read books together, something else that was always met with horrible resistance. And me, a storyteller! She loved stories, but not to read. At the spelling bee yesterday, she said she felt embarrassed because the missed the word "bird." She spelled it brid. I told her you just do it again and again and again. And I told her the story of how I missed the world "jewel" in the fifth grade spelling bee. I spelled it jewal. My best friend called me a "Dip." I felt horrible, but I never misspelled jewel again, nor forgot that incident! But we always do our best, I told her, and we all learn differently. She doesn't just learn well sitting at a desk, listening to a teacher. She's visual, kinesthetic.
I hope all kids get a chance to excel, just based on their level. Public schools would be amazing institutions if we just got rid of the fit in one mold formula. But letting every kid feel great about his or her accomplishments and personal interests are allowed to be pursued. So much of it destroys kids' self-esteem. My daughter always has a "strengths" list, so she is reminded of her talents rather than just her shortcomings.
The Cracked Pot in my book The Treasure in Your Heart is a good story to work with kids who may feel inferior in some way, who are not the cookie cutter molded child. There is also a sweet story about a fir tree who doesn't like its branches. It wishes it were of glass, but the wind breaks them off. It wishes its leaves were of leaves rather than prickly needles, but goats eat them off. It wishes it had leaves of gold, but robbers steal them in the night. In the end, the fir tree accepts himself just as it is.