Apologies to the younger kids out there. My brain is thinking about middle school again. Whirling, endlessly, around middle school…
Many middle school issues that scared us – and looked like serious problems – are turning out to be positives.
For example, increased independence and individual responsibility. Yikes, right? I mean, our Asperger kids often have difficulty remembering things like turning in work, and organization is almost always a problem. I’m not sure why this is. I think it’s probably related to steps.
Anyway, these are areas that get hit pretty hard when “increased responsibility” comes up.
However, we’re finding that increased freedom means a little more flexibility in setting schedules. For example, book quizzes (labeled AR for Accelerated Reading – all kids read books and then take an AR test on that book. Goals can be set, prizes awarded for most points, etc.). These AR tests have been a serious pain for us in the past, because the teachers have counted on the kids choosing a free moment and then asking to take the test.
There’s no routine involved in this method. It’s all about the whenever factor. And that has never worked for us. It involves too much social judgment (can I talk to the teacher now? Is now appropriate? Will I have time to finish a test? And so forth).
However, this year the library/media center is available before school opens. This means we can set our own routine, and our son can just plan on taking his AR test before school.
It sounds silly, I know. But hooray! These little things matter.
Just today, he was excitedly telling me about his plan to earn lots of AR points. He was so pleased that he could finally shine in this area. Already he’s gained more points in a week and a half than he did all last year.
Increased individual responsibility and freedom… good?
We saw this phenomenon last year, too. In fifth grade, the kids didn’t have one teacher for the entire day. They rotated from class to class.
The very idea was terrifying. How would he do it? How could he remember to bring supplies as he moved around?
People were worried about our son. We were worried about him.
But rotation turned out to be a positive. He got a break from teachers who didn’t quite understand him, and they got a break from him. He wasn’t chained all day to an exhausted teacher who had had enough… and vice versa.
Plus, just getting up and moving around can be therapeutic. It’s hard to sit and sit all day long. Especially for children.
Don’t get me wrong. There are downsides to all of these things, as well. They’re pretty obvious, and we fully expected them.
But to see a silver lining makes such a difference. To see that yes, we can make this work and then see everything fall into place… it’s a wonderful thing.