I watched a video this week that my employer put together about a service project 25 employees embarked on to celebrate the company’s 25th anniversary in November. They went into the poorest zip code in the United States, Hunts Point in the Bronx, and built a space where families with children ages 3-5 could come and partake in a literacy program and just have a generally nice space to learn and play.  In the video, the managing director of the Hunts Point Alliance for Children talked about the importance of breaking the cycle of “failing forward”. She stated that something like only 6% of children entering Kindergarten in that area have the school readiness skills to succeed. She said that even though they are just entering Kindergarten, they are already on their way toward failure, hence “failing forward”.

That phrase really stuck with me. It put words to the fear that I have for Max when he enters Kindergarten next year. I know it might sound superficial given what the children of Hunts Point have to deal with versus Max, growing up in the suburbs, but I’m being honest here. I worry that public school is not the right setting for him. I worry that teachers are not going to understand him and his curiosity, his love of learning is going to be squashed by the fact that he’s expected to sit still and learn at the same pace as all the other kids in the class. I worry that by choosing the wrong setting now, the wrong school or the wrong philosophy that I’m setting him up to fail forward, to be unsuccessful in school forever.

To answer Sarah’s question from Wednesday, I think a school’s goal should be to reach every child in the way he/she learns best; to encourage children to want to learn and to be curious and not worry so much about measuring up to other students, towns, even countries. We’re moving soon and I’m terrified we’ll pick the wrong town, meaning the wrong school system– that we’ll make the wrong choice. On top of all that, this article has me wondering if Montessori is the way to go

I’m interested to hear from other parents of kids with ADHD, or other parents of kids who just have special educational needs. How did your children fare in public school? How did the teachers treat them? How or did their personalities continue to flourish in public school…or did you choose private? Any advice or suggestions appreciated.

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