By Guest Blogger Emily Ball, First Grade Assistant Teacher at Triad Academy at Summit School
Gardening requires a plan. You identify which plants will thrive in the garden that’s available and go to the store to buy those specific plants so you’re assured of success. However, having kids is like meeting a kid behind the greenhouse as he dumps a handful of unlabeled seeds in your hand and tells you “Like, water and sun should probably work.” Shockingly, the seeds grow but then you realize you’ve got a cactus in a water garden and a pumpkin vine growing on a trellis.
From the moment our daughter arrived, we realized she would grow her own way, taking rules as suggestions and making late-night cuddles her favorite activity. Our older son followed the book, even sleeping through the night at five weeks. How can these children that we created be so different?!
Our daughter is independent, creative and empathetic; but she can also be impulsive, unfocused and overly emotional. It seemed she wouldn’t fit just anywhere.
We initially chose schools that encouraged her to shine socially and emotionally; however, by first grade, she still struggled to recite the days of the week, count past 20 and spell her name. After we decoded her writing, her stories were imaginative and adventurous. When her teacher and the principal waived off our concerns about her reading and then described her as “shy” during our conference, it occurred to us that this beautiful person wasn’t thriving.
We decided to have a psychoeducational evaluation completed and I prayed for clarity. We got it. Our daughter is dyslexic and her delays were supercharged by ADHD.
The doctor recommended a radical replanting plan, which included intensive remediation using Orton-Gillingham, a multisensory approach to learning paired with medication. My husband and I were fine with tutoring and hesitantly decided we’d try the medication. We did not want her to lose that independence and empathy and sighed with relief when she followed a simple chore list and was still herself.
The doctor also recommended private school for second grade since she didn’t qualify for services at her public school (i.e., she hadn’t fallen behind enough yet). As it turns out, we live two miles away from one of only thirteen AOGPE-Accredited schools in the nation. I thought we moved here for my husband’s job, but fate tells a different story. We decided we would make it work.
I couldn’t help but think though that maybe the teacher and principal were right. Maybe with some more time and patience, our beautiful little cactus would blossom in the koi pond. But how long should we wait? How behind should she be before we try something different? We decided that if this school was a good fit, then the time is now.
The students at Triad Academy at Summit School receive academic instruction using a multisensory approach alongside their dyslexic peers and daily OG tutoring. Because they are a division of Summit School, they mingle with grade level peers for lunch, recess and studio classes (like Art, PE, Tinkering/Engineering and Drama, etc). Essentially she gets the creative outlets she loves with the curriculum she needs in an inclusive and progressive environment.
At open house, I remember her teacher proclaiming, “We go as fast as we can, but as slow as we must.” To foster that, my daughter would be one of three students in her OG tutoring class and one of eight in her academic classes. Her words and the school’s philosophy eased any lingering concerns. Just two weeks into 2nd grade, our daughter wondered, “Mom, how can I make sure MY children get to go to Summit?” My heart was full because we had found her garden.
She’s now in 4th grade in the Triad division and thriving. She’s reading just above grade level, writes creatively in cursive and advocates for herself. This whole odyssey taught us to trust our instincts and that each child has unique needs and requires an individualized plan to grow. When you can’t choose the seed, find the right garden.
If your story sounds like mine and you are checking out local resources be sure to explore Summit School and the Triad Academy division.
*Sponsored by Summit School