Wednesday, June 20, 2012

No Child Left Behind?

I remember several years hearing the words “No Child Left Behind” in relation to education, and thought to myself, what a wonderful thing. To give each child and opportunity to grow and learn at a pace that’s proper for them, and not get LOST IN THE SYSTEM.
Perhaps I misunderstood the concept. Or perhaps certain schools simply don’t abide by the concept. To me the concept was clear—every child would get the one-on-one instruction needed to excel in learning. If that was indeed the concept, I can testify it isn’t working. If the concept was simply to pass the children they were tired of dealing with, well then perhaps no child is being left behind in going up the ranks.

We recently had both the joy and pain of taking our grandson who is presently four and will turn five in July. The change occurred right before the end of preschool and we were able to meet with his teachers and talk with them.  The horror stories we heard were disheartening at best, and terrifying at worst. Our grandson was riddled with problems such as possible ADH; perhaps a learning disorder, and maybe even severe health problems.

Our first question was, if it’s that bad then why was he passed on to Kindergarten? Is it mandatory to pass a child from preschool to kindergarten even if they’re not ready for it?  Especially since it isn’t mandatory at his present age for him to attend kindergarten this year.

We went to work.  First a full medical exam including tests for juvenile diabetes. Thank God, he’s healthy. We enrolled him in a structured daycare program that was a reinforcement of preschool learning. We had him monitored for ADH and learning disabilities. He is not ADH, and he has no learning disabilities.

So what happened to our grandson? Truthfully, he got lost in the system.  He had little backup at home for instruction and learning and his preschool was nothing more than a daycare and playground. He could sing his ABC’s – but he couldn’t recognize them or write them. He could count from 1 to 10, but had no idea what the numbers looked like.

Teaching children the ABC song isn’t going to help them read if they have no clue what the letters look like, or how they sound, or that it’s those letters that make the words that help us read.

We’ve had our grandson almost two months now. He came to us unable to recognize more than 1 or 2 letters, with a teacher diagnosis of AHD and learning disabilities.  He can now write his name, sound out most of the alphabet, recognize 12 out of 26 letters and write them, as well as count to 32, working his way up to 100 – sometimes with errors and sometimes without.  He seems to miss his fives, so we’ve been working on that.

Who do I attribute this to?  Well, yes, we work with him at home, but the majority of it I attribute to a wonderful teacher called Ms. Leah. She will also be his preschool teacher in the fall as she recommended and we agreed that he was not ready for public kindergarten and would have a horrible time keeping up with the other children and once again get lost in the system. With the progress we’ve seen in just 3 short weeks of her working with him, we expect that with a full year of preschool instruction he will excel in all areas. His self-esteem is growing. His pride in being able to do what the other four years olds are doing is growing. We enrolled him in basketball, and I truly believe we may be looking at a future UK Wildcat.  The kid is good.  We also enrolled him in swimming classes and after only 2 lessons he can swim half-way across the pool.  SWIM halfway across the pool.  He can go on our computers, find the internet and youtube and Tom and Jerry—without us helping him.  He picks up after himself (most of the time); and has learned to say please; thank you; yes ma’am; no ma’am and he smiles a lot.

This from a child they wanted to diagnose (at school of course, no professional diagnosis) as ADH and learning disabled and start on medication. All he needed was the proper teacher, loving firmness and a little extra work at home. Structure and stability.

No child should be left behind, and if you feel your child is not learning at the appropriate age level, then find out why. For our grandson it was merely a need for a stronger teacher who used loving firmness and positive reinforcement which we reinforced at home. 


  1. Great post, Linda. Your grandson is very, very lucky to have you.

  2. Thank you, Tania. I feel lucky to have him in my life.

  3. Linda,

    I recently had the pleasure of reading your Jacoby Ives series, and wondered when the next book in the series would be available.
    Oh, and, your grandson is indeed a lucky little boy to have someone who obviously loves and cares enough a great deal--the world needs more g-moms like you!

  4. Thank you, Soncee. I'm hoping to put together a new Jacody Ives book later this year. Just finishing up the second Catherine Mans Psychic Suspense.