Monday, May 02, 2011

So frustrated

As you have read here, Matt and I are working pretty hard on helping the girls, especially Iris, improve their behavior. Also as I have written, we've had pretty good success with everything we are doing. Annoyingly (or rather, not surprisingly) the improvements in behavior are directly related to how much Matt and I are working on it. Which is to say, not working on it = sliding back to the same ol' same ol'. But still, over all, we're on a fantastic upward trend.

Of course, there is always a catch. Ever since we have started the parenting class and the therapy with Iris we haven't received any positive feedback from Iris's teachers. In fact, the only feedback we receive is negative in nature. This part is frustrating for two reasons, the first of which being that OHMYGOD WE ARE WORKING SO HARD! and the second of which being that we know her behavior isn't 100% bad at school, but that is all we are hearing about.

Today a teacher approached me about a situation and wanted my feedback on ways to deal with it. Of course, I very much appreciated being asked, but unfortunately my response was: I have no idea what to do.

All of the work we have been doing at home, for some reason or another, doesn't sound like it is translating to what Iris is doing at school. Or maybe it is, but I'm not hearing about it. Who knows. I don't really know what to do about it. At home we talk about situations that might come up with her friends, we brainstorm how to offer compliments and how to deal with difficult situations (for example), but brainstorming isn't really "the real deal". Once she is at school she is out of my direct influence. I'm basically all but banned from being in the classroom, which is extremely frustrating in itself, so I can't go in and observe or shadow Iris or help work on her behaviors from that angle.

The other thing that is difficult is that Iris has basically no playdates. I used to work hard at setting these up for her, with little success in getting something worked out and, when I did, pretty much zero reciprocation, so the process got old and, well frustrating for me. But that is really MY issue, and one I will have to work on once again when we start homeschooling. What this means, however, is that I have extremely limited opportunities to work with Iris and her peers. I am seriously considering signing her up for a group that is strictly for kids with social issues so they can be guided through "playdates" by trained professionals and all work on their social skills together. The one I am looking at is crazy expensive (only $56 an hour!) but if it helped, it would be worth it.

I believe I have written about it here in the past, but my biggest concern with Iris homeschooling used to be that she wouldn't have that daily interaction with the same kids to work on some of these things. I have zero concern for her ability to get the proper education outside of a traditional school setting, but a heavy concern for getting the right kinds of opportunities to work on social skills. I have to say, though, that as this year has moved on, I think that the best thing for Iris is to have a great deal of direct supervision on some of this stuff. There is no classroom in the world that will give her that kind of attention, so hopefully homeschool will be the answer to that. I guess we'll see, right?


  1. Perhaps if you talked with the teachers about exactly what strategies you're using at home. They may actually be doing counter-productive things. (I'm sure it would be easy to talk negative in front of Iris and/or not praise her for small things.)

    As for homeschooling, I hope you'll find a group in your area that suits you. In most areas there are groups that meet for play dates and the like. "Socialization" is always the #1 concern brought up by people not homeschooling. Honestly, I think that school just gets kids accustomed to dealing with kids only in their own age group. Homeschooling provides more opportunity to socialize with a larger variety of people... just not for so much time every friggin' day. I think all of that learning can take place at home anyway, among the family. THEN branch out.

  2. Obviously I don't homeschool but it seems like all of her socialization next year will be with you right there! That sounds like just what you're looking for. I really admire your dedication to your kids. It sounds obvious but it's not and I know the stuff you're doing is NOT EASY. Being a slacker parent is so easy. Being a good one is not. Kudos to you.

  3. i'm with stephanie... i think you guys have gone above and beyond trying to help her and it will pan out. i am not a homeschooler either, but it sounds like your plan for next year is going in the right direction. it sounds crazy expensive, but i do wonder about the "playdates" with "professionals" and wonder if it might be worth it? does her therapist have any input on that? it sounds like the best of both worlds for you think she needs: you with her at home but still an social outlet with somewho can really direct and help with in those play situations. hang in there sybil!

  4. The opportunities for social ventures while homeschooling are endless and then YOU get to choose the interaction. We choose GirlScouts and Children's Church because they are both positive settings. They will still deal with the negatives of dealing with people, but in an environment where positive attitudes are reinforced. I think you will see her thrive next year..just read lots of books about how people deal with things. I have really enjoyed "Follow My Leader" this year with her...talking about the little boy's frustration with not being able to control things. (albeit due to a disability, but the feelings are similar)

    I have lots of other book reccommendations that open up dialogue like that if you're intersted.

  5. Thank you all!
    Jorje, I recently sent the main teacher an email. I know that she was going to be in contact with Iris's therapist, too. I know they *want* to do the best they can, it's just hard to figure out what that is.
    Tara, I would love to hear any/all book recommendations you have! I am gobbling up information like crazy right now.


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