I saw an article this week that reminded me of something I learned through the whole testing process, “Study shows squirming may help some kids with ADHD learn” (https://www.understood.org/en/community-events/blogs/in-the-news/2015/05/28/news-study-suggests-squirming-may-help-some-kids-with-adhd-learn). As you can imagine, going through the whole testing and evaluation process with our daughter was eye-opening. We learned a lot about how she learns and what challenges she faces. We were given tips, strategies and advice on how to help reach her fullest potential. We even had to face those wonderfully intentioned but misguided opinions from evaluators, teachers, and family and friends.
However, this process taught and gave us more than that. For me, and maybe the fact that I am former teacher influenced this, it was a glimpse into our educational system and just how truly opposite it is from what it is expected from adults in the workplace.
On a general level, picture this. You are assigned a project at work. After weeks of studying, writing and editing, you go to your boss and you say, “Great news, I finished my project! And aren’t you proud of me…I sat quietly at my desk and completed the whole project with no input!” Your boss would look at you like you were crazy and tell you to do it again. So, why do we expect our students to study independently, complete projects on their own and take tests while sitting quietly at their desks? I know that we have made strides in including group work in curriculums but the vast majority of assessment is done individually.
Now let’s think more specifically about kids with learning challenges. When our daughter was evaluated, she was diagnosed as having anxiety and mild ADHD. One of the suggested accommodations was that she could have a “fidget” toy, something she could have in her hands that would give her a focus that would then in turn help her focus on the lesson. Terrific! Let’s get that into her assistance plan.
Wait, what? Let me get this straight…we just spent thousands of dollars and hours putting our child through the emotional wringer to get permission for her to have a “fidget.” Again, let’s put this in context of the work place. Next time you are in a meeting, take a look at the adults around you. Are they sitting completely still and focused on the speaker? Are their hands placed calmly on their lap or in front of them? No! They are doodling, flipping through Facebook on their phones or taking a bathroom break. In other words, we expect more of our children in school than we do of adults in every board room across the country!
This is one of the largest reasons we switched schools. We are very blessed to have a public school that understands that children need to move and that learning is not a static, isolated activity. I only hope that more schools will adopt this model so that all students, especially the ones with learning challenges, can thrive!