Sunday, February 19, 2012

Would My Son Be Ruined in School?

I've been thinking on this one for several years. I have an 11 year old son, Bonobo, who is a riot. He is clever. He is very bright. He is energetic. He makes friends easily. He is optimistic and generous. He is a delight to be around. He gets frustrated. He has a difficult time focusing and staying on task. He struggles with reading and writing. And did I mention he can't sit still?

I know, I just know that this child would be referred to medications for his activity level if he was in school.

His mind does run and run and run. He thinks and thinks and thinks. I love his thoughts! He is often thinking about how, next, to make me laugh, smile, or feel happy. He is thinking about what to do next on his projects. He is remembering things we've read, seen, done on the past and trying to understand them better. He is reviewing conversations and clarifying language he doesn't understand. He is imagining scenarios and plays and stories and songs and dances and anything else. He is aware of the feelings of everyone around him and he responds to them.

He is talking and thinking as he falls asleep and wakes up with a thought and a question!

His brain chemistry is one of the things that I love about him! It makes him who he is.

I know that his teachers would not find him quite as charming as I do. He would be talking. Laughing. Trying to make others laugh. Connecting with people. Aware of their feelings and wanting to intervene. Simply needing to move.

In order to focus, he figured out that it helps to keep toys in his pockets and in his hands. He has learned that having an action figure in his hand and running games through his head can help him to keep a track of his brain open to learning. He HAS to keep one track in his mind busy so that the other one can listen and pay attention. He has to be moving. Sometimes breaking in to what someone else is saying in order clarify or to make connections.

I honestly don't know how he would be treated in one of today's schools. Possibly he would be treated well. But the kids that I remember from elementary school who are like this were considered "trouble", "bad kids", or just "intolerable". I wonder about those kids and how they are doing...

Today, I hand him an action figure and a vehicle and start's great!
We are currently reading a very extensive collection of Sherlock Holmes stories. Bonobo is loving them!

His favorite part of our reading:

I am always learning new words!  
Also, I think I am alot like Sherlock Holmes!


  1. Oh Karen I SO love reading your entries! Sadly, in the public school system, your child would be labeled, like you said, as a high-risk student. You would be probably next be told he needs medication. And then, depending on where you live, he may even be subjected to having his privacy violated at school because of being "high-risk", and too, because of his label, would most likely be cast an outsider. How fortunate he is to have a Momma that embraces him for who he is!

    1. And furthermore, he is SO sensitive, just like his momma. All of that would DESTROY his self-esteem.
      I wouldn't risk this child (or any child of mine!) for all of the world!
      Ame', you are fast becoming one of my favorite people!


  2. Karen, you just described me.

    I too had to occupy [literally I have used these same words] one part of my brain so that the rest could focus on the tasks at hand.

    I could sit still, but my retention rate for information was incredibly low if I were expected to try and focus wholly on one thing, instead of occupying that noisy side of the brain with something silly--like drawing or fidgeting.

    And no one--and I mean no one got that at all. I am in my 40s and I am still to this day, like that. Coffee helps a bit. But it will only go so far.

    Instead of listening to me and what I had to say on the matter, teachers and instructors would become angry at me, as if I were challenging their authority. They could not comprehend that I was trying to comply with their request the best way I knew how. And that if allowed to participate in my own way--that it made the difference of 10+ points at any given time.

    1. I'm thrilled to have your feedback.
      I am so sorry for the limitations of the teachers in those days...they didn't know!
      (I know you know this!)
      But it still hurts to think of it...I honestly think of some of the kids from my classes way back then. I just know they were trying to hard. Once you get a "rep" as the bad kid, man, that stuck.

      So, can you offer me any other sage advice for my lovely boy? He is actually such a happy child! On the way home this evening he was laughing, smiling, just being BONOBO.
      Honestly, this child makes my heart sing! LOL
      But any advice or suggestions are welcome!

  3. Your child would be just fine Karen-with you as his mom he could be successful in any environment. :) And you are right the public schools are big on sitting still. I have heard that letting kids hold things in their hands to occupy and focus a racing mind is a good strategy. Would they allow this in school?-it would depend on the school. Lisa Paredes

  4. For me it was drawing as I took notes or after I was finished with my work. But I don't know what magic thing your child needs to do. The problem is, that if it is a noisy thing that he needs to do, that can be very annoying for the adult and even distracting for the other children.

    If he wants to attend class, try it out part time or for a probationary period and see what happens. See if he is willing to make changes in his behavior in order to *be in a classroom.

    It is a trade off in that respect. When you want to be part of something bigger than yourself, you do sublimate *some of your own desires and habits for the good of the group to maintain harmony.

    Because if this is just about a desire to be with other kids, without the desire to learn/be educated in that setting, perhaps an organized sports or hobby club would be more appropriate.

    However some kids do benefit from being in a group-learning environment. I cannot say if that is your Bonobo or not--I am not there to observe. And even if I were, ultimately it would still be a choice that you would make with him.

    Also--I would be looking at the quality of the school too. What are it's policies regarding tracking? How does it rate it's own success and how does it measure up to other schools? What are the weaknesses of this school? And what are your impressions of the faculty and staff?
    Those are very important.
    If there have been any controversies in that school or district--how did those scenarios play out? Were the reactions and actions of the people in charge professional? Equitable to all parties involved or in the very least just?

    How often does this school have controversies?

    And since you are Atheists, I would be looking at archives in the library to see if there have been any cases of religiously motivated bullying at that school.

    Does the school allow religious people to come there and speak in that capacity or send kids on Church Field Trips? Or fight over opening prayers or creationism material in the science classes?

    Rather than taking a chance, I would look into these issues and make as informed a decision as possible with regard to your lifestyle choices and personal moral and ethical codes.


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