You may have read a few weeks back about my son’s recent diagnosis of ADHD. The joke around the house now is that he puts the “H” in the ADHD. (It’s not a great joke…) We’re feeling confident about how much more we understand about ADHD, and how we can help him here at home. Now the issue is helping him at school…
Late last year we started the process applying to schools in our city. Abraham will be blessed in going to a private school and there are PLENTY to choose from. Little did I know the process of choosing a private school would feel like trying to get my 5-year-old into college…
1. We started with a smaller private school in a wealthy suburb. The school hosted a small open house for parents. I arrived to a fully-gated, entirely fenced, un-enterable school. I really appreciated the safety measure, but it took me 15 minutes to figure out how to get in. Once in, a huge room set the scene for a long and rather ceremonious series of speeches about how wonderful the school was. I sat there thinking about how I could improve their technique and presentation-style. A quick tour of a working classroom revealed…perfectly manicured children…I started checking my zipper. My skin started itching. I couldn’t wait to escape. Which I couldn’t…because as soon as I inconspicuously left the classroom, I hit the never-ending face and had to find an administrator to help me get back out.
2. The next school tour was very personal. And very long. Two hours long. I walked nearly every classroom of this school with the tour guide and while I didn’t have any trouble getting in, I couldn’t get out of the tour unnoticed. There were only 3 of us. Want to know something about the 4th grade science class? I could tell you. Want to know about the K-3 musical instruments closet? I’ll show you where it is…It was a lovely school, but felt a little antiquated. I wasn’t sure it was right.
3. The following week I toured a big, fancy, everybody-wants-in school. I was impressed. The school felt like a mini Country Club sub-division. Classrooms were small houses. Placed on the river, the scenery was stunning. Tennis courts, Swimming pools. Movie stars. And as we entered the classrooms, I felt rather at home! Then I started picturing Abraham in some of the classrooms…and that made me nervous. I imagined him jumping up, being fidgety, grabbing toys or pencils…come to think of it, where are the toys? I wasn’t sure Abe could even get into this school, but I’d come to learn that it would be a long process.
4. Finally, a fourth school. This one felt kind, loving, nurturing, and transparent. I walked in to a little sign in the office that said, “Welcome, Erin!” and a name tag for my tour. It was a short but informative tour, the classrooms that were filled with playful little kids, a playground covered in colorful students.The teachers were kind, but focused on the task at hand, and to top it all off…the musical theatre program was in FULL SWING!!! I loved this school, and we applied right away.
In order to apply for schools 3, Abe had to be privately tested by a school psychologist. Then he had to come on a separate day for a classroom observation. He was put in a classroom with other possible students and given a lesson…for an hour. Abraham can’t focus more than 5 minutes, let alone an hour. I was fairly certain this would be the end of our stay in the fancy school.
Applying for school 4 was easier: one Saturday morning observation while I sat in the library listening to their school strategies. It was comfortable, it was easy, and Abe loved it. I was praying he got into this one!
My guess was that he would likely get into at least one school, and that would help us make our decision. Both good schools.
This week we found out…he got into both schools.
After all that visiting, applying, testing, and observing, we’re now left with a decision! Is it a great place to be? Yes. But lord…now the decision about his future lies in my hands. And frankly I’m so nervous, I’m about to just flip a coin! Or better yet…you pick!