In general, I respect the philosophy behind our public school system, the standards that exist, and the curriculum and methods that have grown out of those standards. It's pretty impressive, really, and works very well for a huge number of kids. Unfortunately, it did not work well for mine. They greatly struggled to go with the flow of a typical classroom. Their stress and my stress were both increased by constant contact from teachers and administrators and pressure to somehow make them "do better," i.e. to override their natural way of functioning in order to fit into the classroom mold. As if that was something we could force to happen! Finally, after trying to make them fit the mold for several years, I gave in to the reality that it wasn't necessary.
Now, I'm relieved that they aren't being made to feel less-than their classmates who learn and live life differently. The way that people with ADHD view and approach the world is certainly different from the average person, but that doesn't mean it can't be a valid or beneficial way to live and see the world. Many adults learn to channel the positive aspects of their ADHD-brains and reduce or compensate for areas of weakness, and they choose occupation and hobbies that build on their strengths. However, in the traditional school setting, it is constantly reinforced that the behavior patterns most challenging to ADHD kids are the most important to master, and conversely, that the strengths common to ADHD kids aren't very important or valuable. It is hard to feel anything other than inadequate when receiving continual negative feedback and unavoidable, unflattering comparison to peers who seem to have mastered the highly-valued classroom behavior expectations so effortlessly.
One result of the pressure from teachers and administrators to "fix" our kids was that we frequently changed or added medications and increased dosages. As a result, Ethan was on appetite-reducing medicines for so much of the time that he didn't gain any weight for two years. He gained height but no weight. I didn't realize how skinny he was looking by the end of last school year until I came across this picture from May of 2014, at the Derby kite festival:
and this one from earlier the same month:
And this one from April of 2015 (in which he was exhausted after another day of flying kites, coincidentally):
So, I believe this year has been better for my kids' mental and emotional health as well as their physical health. I hope that at minimum, they have ended the school year with the knowledge and skills they would have netted from this year of public school. Ideally, they will have ended the school year with additional exposure to and appreciation for good literature than they might have gotten in public school and additional time spent pursuing their particular interests, especially in science and history. Further discussion of those specifics can wait for another post. :-)