Friday, August 17, 2012

Forever in Grade 1?

There are only 10 more sleeps until Bear goes back to school, and I'm not impressed. In fact, I'm actually dreading summer being over, which is funny since the thought of Bear being home every day for two months nearly had me in tears back in June. Summer has been a real problem for us in the past because Bear stayed home with me while all his friends participated in summer programs. Bear could have done that too, but his anxiety always got the better of him. This year, however, none of the kids on the street went to camp, so he's had lots of friends to play with. Not only was he not bored and driving me nuts, but he wasn't even in the house. Bonus!

But now school is about to start, and I find I'm dreading that even more than I was dreading summer. Bear should be going into grade 2, but instead he's repeating grade 1. In many ways, it's my fault that he's having to repeat his year, although I'm trying not to allow myself to feel guilty about it. Bear missed a total of 60 days of school last year, which is absolutely insane. Each one of those missed days required a decision by me to keep him home, which is why I say it's mainly my fault. In that 60 days were two weeks where he didn't fall asleep until 4 a.m. or 5 a.m., so I kept him home. Then there was the week I kept him home to "home school" him (or was that two weeks?). Then there were the days when he was so angry and aggressive that I felt it was better for everyone if I simply kept him at home. Then there were the days where his anxiety was so intense that I couldn't bear the thought of forcing him to go to school. After all, what could one more day hurt?

It makes me sound terribly negligent, doesn't it? Keep in mind that there were also many, many, many days where I pinned him down to get him dressed, or took him to school half dressed, or carried him out to the van kicking and screaming, or carried him into the school kicking and screaming, or took Stitch into the school for safekeeping and then returned to the van with two or three teachers as back-up.

School, apparently, isn't our thing.

So when all was said and done, Bear had missed so much school that he simply wasn't ready to move on to grade 2. So what to do then? We could move him into grade 2 anyway so as not to crush his self-confidence, but then he would flounder and his self-confidence would be crushed anyway. Not exactly a great option. Or we could keep him in grade 1, which may crush his self-confidence, but the work he struggled with last year would now be easier, so that might build his self-confidence. There was really no easy answer, but TheODDDad and I went with the latter option.

The school, bless them, has put Bear in a split grade 1/2 class, where he'll be with some of his grade 2 friends but will be doing grade 1 work. My hope is that he won't even realize that he and his friends are doing different work. If all goes well, he'll end up doing grade 2 work too.

If all goes well...that's the catch. I'm not trying to be defeatist or negative, but I don't think things are going to go well. I had the opportunity to observe Bear at a occupational therapy appointment the other day (more on that another day), where he had to sit at a table and do some very simple drawing and colouring exercises for about five minutes, and it just about killed him. He managed about two minutes, but after that he left the table pretty much every minute, rolled on the floor, wandered around, and complained about how boring and stupid it was. I can pretty much predict that reading, writing, and math are going to be a lot more boring that what the OT had him do, so I'm not holding out much hope for a sudden academic breakthrough.

I wonder if there's a limit to how many times a child can repeat grade 1...


  1. I can sooo totally relate! I was dreading the new school year. And after a week ... we've had our first really bad day.

    It should NOT be this hard! Unfortunately, I don't have the option to homeschool him or even keep him home when things are bad.

    My goal is to stay positive to my son. Believe in him. Hang in there, mom!


    1. Dear HynesMom. Thanks for the encouraging words. It's a tough go, isn't it? I sometimes look at parents who have it easy and, do you ever have it easy. lol Wouldn't that be nice? I love that your goal is to stay positive and believe in him. In my opinion, that is the best thing we can possibly do for our kids. The world is a hard place for them, so we need to be their soft place to land. I'll hang in there if you do too!

  2. We had first day 4th grade yesterday . Not fun ! He was so overly excited in the morning that he was unable to get dressed for 30 min. My son squeaks. , squeals, twirls around room and too elevated on his excitement to function without having to be constantly redirected!!! Medication takes 1-1-1/2hrs to kick in ,so luckily he has control the majority of school day! Just sad that I can't be excited and happy for my son on his first day ! No one has a clue the chaos that goes on in my house and the frustration for us all! He came home excited and 'high on life' apparently a great first day but he was so excited that he could not stop talking , hyper focusing and needing constant attention. I gave him a melatonin 30 min before bedtime and thank goodness he was able to finally calm down and sleep ! Almost time to wake him for day two and I'm dreading it! Mornings stink!
    Thanks for vent !

    1. You can feel free to vent here anytime! I dread mornings as well, especially since my toddler feeds off his big brother's energy. One child bouncing off the walls was bad enough, but two is enough to drive me insane. I should mention that I'm not a morning person, so it's particularly painful for me.

  3. Little Man has FASD - he functions at about a 4 year old level although he is 6 so we kept him back in Kindergarten another year. Since FASD kids are not just behind - they mature at a slower rate he will always be 2 OR MORE years behind his peers. I'm wondering if he can do each grade twice (or more). that blended class room sounds great - wish they did that in our district!!