As those of you who know me – well, know – I have three lovely boys. They’re wonderfully average boys. They are neither brilliant nor miserable. They are rambunctious, but empathetic and loving. And, to date, I have not had any idea or reason to think they will become either astronauts nor axe murderers. I’m the type of mom to consider this success.
I did have a lot of worries about them adjusting to school in the UK, but I was also VERY excited to give them the chance to do so. In the U.S., the schools (and their quality) are very much dependent upon the area where you live. Schools have different curriculum standards state by state, and even local communities can adapt or change curriculum standards. There is national testing, but it is not necessarily a good indicator of what one is good at, only what one has memorized. So, comparing this to the UK educational system left me wondering exactly where and how the boys would fit in. The short answer for my younger two: Quite well.
The youngest is top of his class in Math and in Reading. He’s been moved from year 3 to year 4 for spelling. He has issues with sitting still and being as quietly attentive as the other students do. I think that the U.S. teachers are a bit more permissive when it comes to those types of outbursts. The middle child is top of his class in Math and in Science. He is a bit behind in spelling and in writing (they all have miserable penmanship).
DS2 and DS3 before starting the first day of school
My oldest son is the child I was most worried about. For those new to this blog, he has Autism Spectrum Disorder. He has classic Kanner’s autism, which means he’s not a prodigy or secretly brilliant or a miniature Einstein. He has difficulties with dyspraxia, coordination, fine motor skills, social environments, auditory processing, and abstract concepts. Being unfamiliar with how children with special needs are educated in the U.K. (but VERY familiar with the educational battles of the U.S.), I was really concerned. I felt it was a chance to let him grow and experience new environments, but worried that we were making the wrong choice, that it might be too much for him.
I’m happy to report that every.single.one of those fears was unfounded. I’ve had meetings with the educational boards from two different boroughs (counties) and have not experienced a single bit of red tape. They seem concerned most, and foremost, with making sure that DS1 has the right supports to receive the best education possible FOR HIM. Not the least expensive, not the most expensive, not the least they can get away with. The best ones FOR HIM. They also engage him in the process, asking him what is most difficult for him, what is easiest, where his interests lie, etc. He’s thriving in this environment.
His intake was done quickly. His intake testing was done quickly. He’s had all of his reading levels, math levels, science levels, etc. evaluated and mapped. He continues to excel at memorization (spelling win!) and struggle with abstract analysis (reading comprehension). They have such a clear pulse on his strengths and weaknesses, and they work with me as much as I want them to.
The stress of finding a school that was RIGHT for each of them, figuring out a way to get them to and from school, and hoping against hope we were making the right choices for them – suddenly those stressors seem so very much worth it. I’m not saying one is better than the other. But, in this case, one seems better FOR US. I wouldn’t have found this type of school environment anywhere in the U.S., without paying a large portion of our salary in tuition fees.
This blog has languished in recent months. This is because my OWN schooling, the schooling I’ve been doing for the betterment of – whatever that is – is in its last gasping death throes. I have one week – exactly one week – left. I’m hoping to be able to have more time documenting our transitions in the coming months. In the meantime, here are some more pictures of my handsome children on the first day of school, mostly because they are absolutely gorgeous. Said without bias, I swear!