Summer School Success

While Natalie raved about her experience, I’m already working on next year’s IEP.

Summer school ended last Thursday, and this year–as opposed to last–Natalie had an excellent experience.

“I LOVED summer school!” she told relatives who asked over the 4th of July weekend. And from what I observed, this really was a “new and improved” summer school program.

A big thank you to Teresa McCune, our school district’s Accelerated Learning Program/At Risk Coordinator and Natalie’s teachers for doing such a great job. Even the bus driver played a part in making Natalie feel welcome!

As good as things were, there was still one little thing that bothered me. The format of a math facts worksheet that Natalie brought home a couple of times seemed learning disabilities-unfriendly to me. Take a look:

I don’t know precisely how this tool was used, and it looks like Natalie was successful with it. But it seems an illogical choice to use with a child with ADHD or any learning problems, because the boxes all run together rather than being separated visually. Wouldn’t it be more logical to leave white space between each problem?

Various teachers that Natalie has worked with in the past have talked about how, if a paper is visually “busy”, they cover up all but the applicable area on a page with another piece of paper, in order to help Natalie focus. I think that would be hard to do with this example.

If Natalie brought this worksheet home during the regular school year, I’d shoot off an email to check in with her teacher about it, but since the summer school session was only 12 half-days long, and I hadn’t established any communication with her teacher, I just let this one go.

As I thought about whether or not to address this, one of my first thoughts was, as usual: Here’s another thing that needs to go in Natalie’s IEP. That seems to always my first impulse: add more details to the IEP! Which is really an impulse to: Protect! Protect! Protect! But where do you draw the line with how much to include in an IEP?

Isn’t it up to the teacher to know and employ the typical tricks of the teaching trade? And wouldn’t the strategy of helping a kid with ADHD focus by isolating each problem on a crowded page be a fairly universal strategy?

If I learned a summer school lesson, it’s this: as Natalie’s mom, I’ll always have more to learn! My next lesson? Finding out how much is spelled out in a typical IEP.