School is (Almost) Here

“Did you know there are more decimal numbers between zero and one than there are positive whole numbers?”

Our 11-year-old son D. walked into our bedroom this morning sharing this very-interesting-fact – likely something he learned through a  YouTube video or a sub-Reddit. Since the pandemic began – when all our kids received their own personal laptop to be able to engage with remote schooling and survive many hours in isolation – he’s been exploring various nooks of what my geeky husband refers to as the “interwebs”.

Of course, there’s plenty Out There that we’re not happy about – at all. We quickly realized last year that we would have to pivot to teaching our kids media literacy skills sooner than we wanted to, to help them make sense of the onslaught of stimuli they would be exposed to on the internet. Like covid (sigh), none of that is going away anytime soon.

So, when D. came in wanting to share this interesting fact about numbers – just one among many he’s been contemplating – I felt a sense of gratitude and relief that he’s self-selecting complex learning in between playing plenty of Dragon Mania Legends, Minecraft, Dungeons and Dragons, and Adopt Me.

This happens to all be online, but when I pause to do “old school” activities with D. – like Marcy Cook Tile Math or word puzzles – he gets super caught up in those as well. (He is absolutely astonished how many words start with “con” – really and truly.)

Reading? Not so much. My husband has just now been realizing how D. “can’t sit still” and clearly struggles with settling down long enough to get deeply immersed in a book. We’re not sure what’s next on the ADHD-Inattentive front for him…

However, in my months (now years!) of exploring the world of giftedness, twice-exceptionality, and parenting 2e kids, I’ve learned that D.’s “profile” is oh-so-common – and, that’s helpful. I feel less alone, and grateful to know that thousands of other parents are also seeking (and crafting) solutions and guidance for how to help our quirky kids thrive in a school system not yet designed for them.

Speaking of school – it’s about to start, and options abound (well, sort of). But, as usual, none of them are perfect, and all of them involve compromises. The heady brew of a once-again-virulent pandemic (my two younger kids are still ineligible for a vaccination), social discord over best practices for surviving said-pandemic, and the fact that my neurodiverse son – about to start middle school – hasn’t engaged with in-person schooling for 17+ months mean I’m facing a set of challenges I can’t quite wrap my head around.

How do I strike the “right” balance of pushing my kid forward into slightly uncomfortable situations while scaffolding his very-real need for accommodations, both social and academic? Do we cough up money for an alternative (private) school – assuming one is available – that will better align with his learning style? Do we keep him home, studying remotely and at his own pace through our district’s “alternative learning experience”, at least until he’s vaccinated?  And if so, won’t that just make transitioning into “live” middle school even harder?

When will he have a chance to meet new kids and practice making some friends?

I sincerely don’t know.

Meanwhile, as I’ve reiterated many times on this blog, D. is just one of my three kids needing specialized support.  My older daughter, C., is about to turn 13 and will be continuing her weekly work with an executive functioning coach, which I hope (fingers crossed!!!) will make a significant difference for her sense of personal efficacy around schooling and “getting things done”. She’s most concerned right now with finding “her group”, transitioning back into some semblance of social normalcy as she navigates young teenagehood.

My younger daughter, I. (age 8),  will return to in-person schooling unvaccinated but masked; for her, this is a risk we need to take as we balance all considerations, most especially her critical need for live interaction with others. I. has resisted all attempts to practice her multiplication facts over the summer (strongly recommended by her 2nd grade teacher), and I take solace in the fact that my brilliant husband was the last in his class to memorize his, yet knows and understands far more about math then the majority of folks. I. is a cracker-jack trader on Adopt Me, and has shown us that when she’s passionate about something, she is truly all-in! It’s about finding and nurturing that passion.

I have many more topics to share and discuss on this blog, and am hoping to get back into a more regular routine once again after several months off.

In the meantime,  I’m sending plenty of positive vibes out to all of us parents as we navigate yet another new and interesting school year together.