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Advocating for your kid when you plan to leave the school

MaudQ profile image
13 Replies

Would love to hear any thoughts on this issue. We have decided that our kid’s school isn’t a good fit for our family. They really can’t/won’t wrap their heads around the fact that she has ADHD and it’s just not worth trying to make it work any more. I’m trying to figure out how the balance the fact that we still need to advocate for her with needing recommendations from the teachers for school applications in the next few months. Our goal is to have her go to a public school next year, but we are applying to some private schools in addition - so would need the recommendations. All I want is for our kid to be out of her current school with minimal stress and suffering for her. Any thoughts?

13 Replies
Jgirlie123 profile image
Jgirlie123

We just pulled our second grader from public. We have him in a small private school and it’s not going well. I’m worried they are setting the stage to kick him out. Please make sure you interview the schools approach to dealing with ADHD kids and their willingness to work with you. Our school knew he had ADHD but every day I get a report. I think we now have to do medication to avoid being kicked out.

Onthemove1971 profile image
Onthemove1971 in reply to Jgirlie123

I am sorry that you are having these experiences.

We quickly learned when our son was in middle school that ( as much as it was hard to admit) we had to change our son. It was important to us that he be able to function in all environments,.home, sports and school.

Some parents change schools and have success, we took a different approach. We of course had teachers that he didn't click with, but we knew he was with them short term and we tried to get these changed, but were never successful.

Jgirlie123 profile image
Jgirlie123 in reply to Onthemove1971

Did you do medication?

Onthemove1971 profile image
Onthemove1971 in reply to Jgirlie123

Yes, we use medication to help our son with impulse control, focus and to help him control his anger. He takes both a stimulant ( Ritlin) and non stimulant Guanfacine.

We tried a single medication and we were not as successful. He still had issues with focus.

If you are considering medication, please understand that it may take a while to try different types, doses and timing. But once you get everything correct, it's like a light switches turns on.

We also have him in therapy and he has a 504 educational plan.

All of these tools help him, but it takes a while to get things in place. Medication is our number one thing.

Please let us know if there is anything we can support you with.

waltercomms profile image
waltercomms in reply to Jgirlie123

I hope you will consider medication. There is so much stigma around medicating our kids, but seeing them struggle when there is something that can help them is hard, too.

We tried for about a year to manage my son's symptoms with consistent parenting, diet and systems; but when these weren't enough, we started him on medication. Four years later, we have tried several prescriptions as he grows and not all of them have been good fits. The process of finding the right medication is not easy, but when we have found one that supports him, he is more focused, less emotionally reactive and happier. This makes him more successful in school, and as a result, his self esteem improves. We only medicate him on school days since he is so skinny and the medicine does dampen his appetite. On the days that he has forgotten the medicine he tells me how hard it was for him. He describes his thoughts going so fast that he can't slow them down enough to understand them, but that the medicine slows the flow of ideas and he is able to examine each one and think more deeply.

We also moved him from public school to private this year. During our application process I met with his public school teachers and was very transparent. I made every effort to not blame them (even though there was a good bit of frustration on my part). His teachers had 29 kids in their class and they didn't have the resources to help my son they way he needed. They couldn't say it, but I felt they understood/agreed that he would benefit from a smaller class size. This transparency allowed them to feel that they were helping him by writing their letters for his application. I believe teachers want to see their students succeed.

This was coupled with transparency toward the schools we applied to. I was upfront about why we wanted to get him into a smaller school, what challenges he has as well as his potential, and I focused my efforts on schools that had a learning specialist on staff or services geared toward kids who needed more support. While he didn't get accepted to every school we applied, this paid off.

His new school has higher expectations of him, but can be more supportive if he shows interest in their help. It still requires a significant effort as his advocate, but he is no longer invisible--i.e. his teachers have less students so they can directly support him and hold him accountable. The learning specialist is incredibly knowledgeable and has offered great advice, resources and ideas. This is very hard work for my son and he still makes plenty of mistakes, but he is learning how to be more comfortable talking to his teachers, how to put in full effort and how to do his work completely.

Good luck to you! This is hard work as a parent, but your kid will be a better adult because of your unwillingness to give up.

Jgirlie123 profile image
Jgirlie123 in reply to waltercomms

So we left public and are now in private. In theory I think it is perfect for him. Small classes, lots of hard work, and a family like atmosphere. However, we’ve had more negative emails about his behavior this year than in kinder and first grade combined and it’s only October. The teacher is great but I have a hunch she’s a perfectionist and is struggling with maintaining a normal structure in a covid atmosphere. She had to teach in person with kids zooming in simultaneously. In addition, he’s the new kid at school and he isn’t making friends. I now have my son in therapy. This coming Friday he has his 8 year old well check up and I’m going to discuss medication. My husband thinks we are moving too fast, as we just started therapy, behaviors may be related to some low level bullying. I’m so worried the school will ask us to leave next year and I really like the school. I know my son is not severe case of ADHD and if they just had some patience with him we can get through this.

Onthemove1971 profile image
Onthemove1971 in reply to Jgirlie123

We have all been there with the amount of time we spend worrying about our kids. It sounds like you have taken a great step. I agree with waltercomms that the choice to medicate our children is challenging for everyone. But once the medication is the "right fit", most of our children express how much better life is for them.

We also had the experience of having our son stable to taking medication and forgot one day and wow it was life changing, the e-mails started from the teachers and our was very upset because he lost a day and was not able to control himself. We are so happy with him when he is stable and taking the correct type, dose and timing.

We are here to support you when you start medication. I also feel it is important to act quickly before children get a "bad label" from peers and teachers. Of course no one wants to talk about this because we all know they are not suppose to act this way, but they do. So we feel it is the best for everyone when our son is stable.

Good luck!

waltercomms profile image
waltercomms in reply to Jgirlie123

It's so heartbreaking to see our kids struggle. Have you reached out the the school administrators? Even though it's private, they may have support systems/offer accommodations or can help the teacher learn ways to better respond to your son. (I just checked my file and in second grade, my son's teacher gave him front row seating, helped scribe for him, gave him more time on math assessments, sent home weekly behavior notes and created a signal between she and him to bring his attention back.) Hopefully the school will practice extra patience during COVID, this is so hard on everyone.

My son was bullied last year as well. I hope the school can help put an end to that. The social component is crucial to our kids' enthusiasm for school--I know it was for mine. I'm sending you caring vibes. Your son is so lucky to have you on his side.

MaudQ profile image
MaudQ

OP here. We do medication and our kid has accommodations but the school is a bit of mess. They are very disorganized which is just huge problem with ADHD for obvious reasons. Thanks for the great reminder to really interview new schools about ADHD. And also, I completely agree with on the move: by middle school, the ball really is in your court and it’s up to the family to change. Not because it should be that way, but because it’s the way school works unfortunately.

Jgirlie123 profile image
Jgirlie123

MaudQ Im really struggling as well. Our 7 year old’s therapist was supposed to have an appt with his teacher today and the teacher missed it. No email from her that she missed it due to being busy and will reconnect. Nothing. I feel that she doesn’t like my son for some reason and he’s the most lovable, sweetest kid ever. She sends negative reports at least twice weekly and even took a picture of him putting mulch on a slide. To me, putting mulch on the slide isn’t ADHD at all, but normal behavior for any 7 year old. Why would she stand there and take a picture in front of everyone and send it to me? I don’t know what to do. I withdrew my son from public school (magnet so we can’t get back in) and it seems that the private school teacher just hates my kiddo. He got straight A’s on his report card and mostly needs improvements on all behavior categories ( except she gave him an excellent for following the rules and respect). I’m so confused and stressed out. I’m too scared to talk to the assist principal about it because the school is so tiny I know they will just side with the teacher. This is seriously so stressful.

Onthemove1971 profile image
Onthemove1971 in reply to Jgirlie123

I am so sorry you are dealing with this. I remember those days. Pre-medication there were many bad experiences.

Finding the right teachers and then having our son "connect" with them felt impossible. I asked to write in his 504 plan that I had the option to move him to another teacher if it wasn't working.

I wonder if you could get the school psychologist involved if that would be better? They work in the same system and so it might help. Or ask for a special education Specialist to advocate for him.

Honestly, between 6-8 grades were the worse for us. High school is so much better for us.

Hope you figure things out so he can be successful.

Jgirlie123 profile image
Jgirlie123 in reply to Onthemove1971

We moved him to private so no 504 option. I tried to get the teacher to talk to his therapist but the teacher missed the appt. I’ll keep trying. She probably got busy and forgot. She said she was doing all the typical 504 accommodations but the therapist said that’s the problem. She said nobody can do all of them and normally the teacher just does a few consistently. She can’t possibly do it all so that’s why nothing is working.

MaudQ profile image
MaudQ

Something else right now is that, with Covid, the teachers are super overwhelmed and many are breaking down all together. Our school has the teachers teaching remote and in person simultaneously - so it’s really impossible for them to keep up with our child. We had been planning to leave the school even before Covid so our goal is really just to get her through the year in one piece. It’s just hard to advocate for the smallest things because we are labeled as “that family” and the teachers are such wrecks. We had to send 10 emails to get a teacher conference because they wouldn’t believe us that the link to the sign up wasn’t live. I know that a lot of families are going through this right now, but I’m really baffled by how to manage it.

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