School testing is going to ruin my kid

posted by Jeff | Thursday, March 28, 2024, 8:23 PM | comments: 0

Simon has the state writing test next week, and it's gonna be bad. They're at the point now that they expect substantial free form writing, and he... won't produce what they're looking for. It's complicated.

We do a writing drill regularly, where we ask him to write a few sentences about stuff, whatever topic Diana comes up with. This seems like a good idea, because it allows him to write without it being a real academic pressure situation. Unfortunately, it creates just as much anxiety, angst and dread as a school assignment. He can't start. When he makes a mistake, he flips out. It's not where he should be in 8th grade, so what's going on?

First off, he's not illiterate. He can read fine, and even seemed to enjoy a recent book he had to read for school. He stayed up late one night on his own accord and read a bunch of chapters, and could verbally tell you what it was about, more or less. He can also tell you all kinds of things about things that he's interested in, able to recall the most minor of details. He notices the most insignificant things about theme park attractions, but he's the opposite of detail oriented for anything he doesn't care about, like folding laundry.

But writing is an entirely different problem, and I don't know how to solve it. I couldn't even help him with recent stuff around parts of speech, because I didn't get it in school either. Writing, and structure for writing, has always come naturally to me. I can't explain how it works, I just "know." Even then, you'd think that if he can verbally tell you something, why can't he write it? We don't have an answer for this question. My interactions with him deteriorate quickly, and I am non-helpful, because I can't not react emotionally with frustration.

He hasn't been formally diagnosed with dysgraphia, but he exhibits all of the markers for it. We're going to ask if the school district can evaluate him for that, and if not, we'll go the private route. I don't know what else to do other than throw money at experts at this point. Homework is stressful for everyone, and I hate it. He needs to be able to write to enjoy a decent quality of life, and that's where my head goes to. My frustration is out of fear for his future.

For a kid who has probably more than his share of self-esteem issues, going into that test unable to get any significant traction is going to be bad. We're already anticipating a meltdown. It's not going to be a good week.


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