Tuesday, July 12, 2011

End of an era

I don't think I've ever written about popular culture before, but this is different. Harry Potter started at a scholastic school book sale for us about ten years ago, so it starts with a school tie-in.

I plunked down the cash for the first two books of the series (all there were at the time) and brought them home. I knew my 7/8 year old could read the books, but they were too much for the 6 year old. Besides, it had been a while since I had read books aloud to them. At this point they were enjoying reading series of smaller books voraciously and on their own.

So, that night, I started by reading a chapter (or two) to them. Then it became something we had to do, every night. I didn't realize the committment I was making at that point. It turned out to be seven books. And each one got longer and darker. But the tradition was set.

As time went on they were more than capable of reading the books themselves, and they did read them on their own, but the first read was always me, out loud.

Not much later we started another tradition. We watch all the movies at the Senator. This Friday at 9:45 we have tickets for the last movie.

Across the years the little girls have turned to teens almost ready for college. My hair has turned grey and I now wear bi-focals to read.

It's hard not to get a little choked up at the end of such long term commitments. I did when I finished reading the last book. I probably will at the end of the last movie.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Maybe not all bad...

It doesn't take a lot of surfing around the web to find hatred of "high stakes testing" - look at some of the comments here or poke around here or here. I admit to being fairly ambivalent over the time period when my "neuro-typical" kids were taking MSAs (or whatever they were called over the years). It seemed like a big chunk of time pulled away from standard learning and I really hated the simple minded writing strategies they were learning. On the other hand my kids love a test and it was kind of nice to have evidence of "advanced" standing when a not-too-talented teacher tried to say poor performance was based on a kid's intelligence as opposed to the constant bullying that was going on.... but that's another story for a different post. It was also nice to have an objective data point when looking at schools and I enjoyed working the graphs and analysis tools they had on the state website.

The other day I got msk's first MSA (of the alt variety) report. It puts all this discussion in a totally different light. When you have a significantly disabled kid, education is always a source of contention. I've read more than a few articles decrying the "waste" of money that is required to educate "those" kids. Before IDEA you were pretty well screwed. Now, there are legal obligations, but if you don't fight, fight, fight for your kid... well, bad things have been known to happen.

But we fight, and negotiate, and politic, and work real hard, and pick the right school... and good things happen. We live in a society were verbal skills are seen to equal intelligence. Msk doesn't do well in that light, having very limited verbal abilities. Now though, I can point to his MSA math score as being on the border between "proficient" and "advanced". Admittedly his reading was in the basic level, but I'd argue that might be related to test-taking motivation/anxiety and having a not too thrilling year in English.

This from a kid that spent two years in a school that was all about behavior and totally not about academics. From a kid that spent two years after that doing mod-MSAs because of the level of his disability. He's worked so hard for these results and he makes me very proud.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Retour d'un voyage en toute sécurité *

So, day before yesterday, we returned home. I'm a worrier, but I think all my worries were unfounded:
  • msk might have stressed a little, but he made it through the week unscathed
  • even though my husband and I have had little time together as a couple we do have things to talk about and share a common sense of what is enjoyable to do on an adult vacation
  • French engineers (at least the ones I met) are more interested in getting things to work than making me prove my "Subject Matter Expert" standing
  • I can enjoy myself thoroughly without worrying about what's happening at home with just a few skype contacts
I'm sure there more posts I can make from this experience, but right now I'll just post this to let you know we're all OK.

* My French is horrendous, but babblefish tells me this is how you say "return from a safe journey"