Wednesday, May 22, 2019

My child’s mental health is more important than a test





As we are in the final days of second grade, my son is gearing up for third grade. He has no idea what’s in store for him. He has no idea that next year, his little brain will be forced to take in an overload of testing information and not naturally absorb it. Next year, school will become less fun and more overwhelming. He will sit in a desk and test prep from the moment he walks through that door. He will get headaches and stomachaches, not because he’s sick, but because of the anxiety producing environment. This is no fault of our amazing teachers. It’s the lawmakers who aren’t sitting in these classrooms every single day. They aren’t trying to teach with their jobs on the line. They aren’t the one’s who have 30 precious beings’ grade promotions riding on one single test. They have no idea what they are doing to our teachers and students.

Please know that I am not speaking on this subject blindly. I’ve been in the middle of the testing hurricane with these babies. What I saw made my stomach cringe from January thru May of each year. Students being told they won’t promote to 4th grade if they don’t pass one test, even if they made straight A’s in every single subject. Parents who complain that their children are so stressed, they can’t eat or sleep. Some who refuse to simply just be a child on the weekends because their minds are consumed with studying and passing. Eight and nine year olds crying themselves to sleep at night or refusing to go to school. All of this for one test. I understand that lawmakers want our children to be pushed towards greatness. I get that statistically if a child is on grade level by grade four, the dropout rates significantly decrease. At what costs are these tests really worth it? 

Children are more than a number on a computer screen. What these children need to know is that they are more than this ridiculous test. They need to know that a test doesn’t measure what an amazing artist they may be or that they’ve started coding computer programs. They can’t possibly measure how beautiful it sounds when they sing or what an amazing athlete they are turning out to be. Yet these children are made to feel that if they don’t pass a test, they are not worthy. They are made to feel unworthy by people they’ve never met before. Made to feel this way by a test that doesn’t take into account that they might suffer from anxiety or that their mother was arrested last week.  It’s heartbreaking you guys!!

MY CHILD’S MENTAL HEALTH IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN SOME TEST.

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I fear that sending my child to 3rd grade will negatively impact his mental health. 

Please do not take this the wrong way. If there is anyone in this world who could get my son to pass that test, it’s the 3rd grade teachers at his school. I know many of them on a professional and personal level and they are some of the most kind, loving people I’ve ever met. They are EXACTLY the kind of teachers I want for my child. 

If you don’t know already, my (mostly 😜) sweet 8 year old was diagnosed with SEVERAL anxiety disorders last year. We have been on a long and extremely bumpy road regarding his mental health. At what point do I say “enough is enough” as a parent? At what lengths should I go to preserve the wellness of my child? 

My child is extremely bright. He would have no problem passing that test on his own. The problem is, his anxiety will cause him to fail. It will cause him to fail over and over again. He will sit at that computer screen with a headache. He will tell his teacher several times he feels like he might throw up. His heart will beat out of his chest, making him feel like he will die and then he will begin to panic. Anxiety doesn’t always come in the form of panic attacks. In fact, anxiety often manifests and presents as behavioral problems like it does for my child. So, as he sits at that computer screen, negative self-talk filling his precious little mind, he will become overwhelmed. In a moment of panic, he will start clicking answers to get it over with. Even worse, he might run out the classroom or begin to bang his head on a wall. Anyone who tells me that one test is worth this right here can kindly bite me. My child is a work in progress and coping skills are being worked on a daily basis but in that moment, he will feel like his life depends on that test and my friends.... IT’S NOT WORTH IT. 

I am my child’s voice. I am my child’s advocate. I will stick up for my child when he desperately needs me. I will always have his back. 

With that being said, my family and I have decided that as his advocates, we HAVE to step in here. We are pulling our child from public school to focus on academics and mental health at home. I can’t possibly subject my child to that mental torture that I know he just can’t handle right now. I can’t sit back and watch as his love for school is sucked out of him. THAT my friend, will most certainly increase your dropout rates. 

My son will start 3rd grade at home. He and I will work together to keep learning fun and interesting. He had such a wonderful teacher this year who despite my child’s anxiety, was able to keep his love for learning alive. As his mother, I have to keep that momentum going. We will run an academic schedule to mimic our district and work around his anxiety until he is able to better cope with it on his own. 

This is so very bittersweet for us but deep down I know that it’s just simply not worth watching my child suffer. We will miss our teachers and friends at school. They have been such a huge blessing to our family for the last 5 years and for that, we thank you PPE!! 

Mac and I are ready for our new journey. I’ve been prepping him for this transition for a month now. He seems very excited to learn in a way that meets his mental health needs. Maybe this works. Maybe it doesn’t. I’m willing to take our chances here because my child’s mental health is more important than a test. 


-Sara

2 comments:

  1. Love it!!! Im happy you are doing this for him. And im sure he is too. I wish you tons of luck. I am a horrible test taker because of my anxiety of passing as well. All thru school i had same issues and due to test grades always being the major grades in the books i didmt make good ending grades i only had a 2.5 graduating hs. I barely passed. Not due to knowing the material. But due to my testing scores. So i understand. And my son as well hates tests and tho he has improved i to worry about him. He will be going into 2nd grade next year

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  2. Go you! I’ve been wishing to be able to home school for a few years now...You’ve got to do what is best for your child!

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