Everyone's asking how Mr. T's doing. Mr. B glad-hands his way through life, happy to return to school, excited to learn, pleased to be around all of his buddies again. Mr. G started all-day Kindergarten, but he's a hyperactive little monster of a boy so the challenge to be there all day with his friends doesn't put a hitch in his step. No one asks how the younger two are doing, they're just fine, thankyouverymuch. But, our Mr. T. Different story.
Backing the truck up for the benefit of new readers, Mr. T missed the equivalent of 2 years of elementary school. He was in school all the time, but during 2nd and 3rd grades we were diagnosing a seizure disorder, finding the proper treatment and then discovering his dyslexia. Mr. T is a great reader, poor reading skills are the main red flag alerting teachers to learning disabilities. Mr. T's dyslexia is more on the output end of his brain processing, making his processing speeds slow and his ability to spell and write horrific. I believe the proper term for this is dysphasia.
Because of all these factors, Mr. T has been a half-step behind his peers. The gaps in his learning are profound, his self-confidence pretty shattered and he really detests school. I've tried to make up for this by working with him over the summer months, and he gained considerable progress in math, but he's still not "in the game." We've spent the last two years exploring options and praying and discussing what course to follow. We applied to a Montessori charter school. Denied. We tried our darndest to work with the public elementary school. Frustrating. I've spent the last year attending and researching the local parochial school. Meanwhile, Mr. T's problems festered and grew.
You know how something too good to be true probably is?
That's what I thought. I posed this question to parents sending their kids to this parochial school, hereafter referred to as PS (for "Parochial School," clever, eh?): What do you hate about PS?
Their answers sounded like this: "Sometimes the principal makes a decision, but doesn't stick to it." Really? That's your biggest gripe?
We've moved Mr. T to PS--but more than that, we moved him to PS to repeat a grade and then continue there through middle school. We wrote the tuition check (and buy-out fee for not doing any fundraising), bought appropriate clothing (uniforms!) and braced our boy for the new school year. We held our breath.
At the end of the day my son greets me with a smile on his face. He's relaxed and happy. The class sizes are small, the students well-behaved and polite. Everyone knows each other, they don't even put locks on the lockers. He plays football at recess with his new friends. He hasn't missed an assignment yet, he adores his new teachers and is excited about what he's learning. Instead of assigning problems 1-25, his teachers assign 1-25 the odd numbers. He looks pretty snazzy in his uniform and we never argue in the morning about what he's wearing when he leaves the house. He's taken the repeat year in stride, understanding that when he begins high school he'll be a year ahead of his public school peers in math and quite advanced in the other subject areas.
He doesn't get homework on weekends (the school/church policy views weekends as Quality Family Time). He brings home weekly newsletters that informs us of things like "6th grade social studies test on Unit 2 next Thursday" so I am 100% on top of what's happening at school. His new teachers and classmates have welcomed him with enthusiasm and open arms.
My kid even left his lunch box at school last week because he was in a hurry to get out to that football game at recess. My kid, who since 3rd grade, hasn't participated in that kind of recess game. Accepted. One of the guys. Because if you're a warm body, there's room for you to play the game at a small school.
Mr.T has to sit through a morning religion class every day and attend church once a week, but his exposure to the Catholic faith is a good thing, opening up healthy discussion about what our church preaches compared to this one. I bet 90% of the doctrine is the same, and we're not going to quibble over 10%. Besides, Mr. T's father comes from a long line of Catholics, so it's good for him to learn their heritage.
The third day of school Mr. T came home reporting that he'd done the wrong math assignment. "But it's okay, Mom. They're Catholic so they had to forgive me!"
Maybe PS isn't too good to be true.
We only wonder why we didn't move him over sooner--and whether we should follow suit with the rest of Team Testosterone.