Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Eye-opening

In our state, we are required to test our children every 3 years, beginning at the end of 3rd grade. Since Riley is a 6th grader this year, that means it's her turn to test. I have always tested my children at home using the ITBS. Since I have a college degree, I am able to be an official tester through Bob Jones University. However, the last time I tested Riley (which was in 4th grade since I was testing Austin already and figured I would do them both at the same time), we had a really difficult time of it. She argued with me and questioned every instruction that came out of my mouth. Since she has only gotten more argumentative with age, I decided that this year we would take advantage of the many group testing opportunities available in our area. Besides, I think it's a good idea to have experience testing in a group, since the higher stakes high school tests (PSAT/SAT/ACT) are all done in group settings.

When Riley learned of my intention, she was extremely upset and resistant. I knew that she would be fine once she got through the first day, or even the first section. It was the fear of the unknown that was getting to her. Also, she has been very upset about our lack of following a "traditional curriculum" and she feels she is behind because of this. It's been a source of strife between the two of us for the entire school year. I purchased a test prep book for her to use for the first time, in the hopes that having familiarity with the test procedures would reduce her anxiety. Instead, it made it worse, especially with science and social studies because we don't follow the public school scope and sequence. Oh well, I tried, right?

Today was the first day of testing. I decided to volunteer to be a test helper, in case Riley's anxiety was overwhelming. I thought my presence in the building (even though I wouldn't be in the same room) could be reassuring. Thankfully, she didn't seem at all nervous this morning, like I was afraid she was going to be. I saw her at the first outdoor break and she had made a friend and they sat as far away from me as possible while still staying on the property. On the way home I asked how it was going and she said that the test was "not easy, but not too hard" so I think that's a good sign. I asked if she thought testing in a group was more fun than testing alone at home and she said, "NO!" but I honestly don't think she would admit that to me after all of the drama she made of it before! ;)

OK, can you believe I haven't even come to the eye-opening part?? I'm going to get to that right now!

The testing lady put me in with the 3rd graders. She had the kids divided into 3 groups: 3rd graders (the youngest age that she offers testing for), 4th-8th, and high school. Since I have a child working in the 4th-8th grade room, she placed me with the group of five 3rd graders. They are all very sweet, and as the day went on, they grew very talkative! All I did was keep track of the time for each section, and answered any questions the kids had. I did not administer this test - that was the testing lady's job. Mostly I sat and read.

And I watched. Reece is a 3rd grader this year, and her testing will come next month. I watched these kids and I tried to picture Reece in this same situation. Unfortunately, I came to the conclusion that she wouldn't be able to handle it. Even playing games out on the grass during our break times would have been overwhelming for her.

Academically, the test is way too hard, but I know that already. She's very behind, but she is making progress on her own schedule. That's one reason I despise the requirement for standardized testing. It's not going to tell me anything I don't already know. She's behind for her age/grade. DUH! The testing itself is going to be stressful because it's going to be full of stuff that she doesn't know how to do! And she's smart enough to know THAT! And smart enough to be upset when she's faced with a test that is determined to find out how much she doesn't know. Lots of wonderfully negative episodic memories! @@

I am trying to remember my determination to trust in God, and not let what I experienced today get the better of me. It's so hard, though. Every single time we leave the house these days, Reece has a meltdown. Her last soccer game was on Sunday, and her helper wasn't there, and she sobbed bitterly the whole time. "Soccer isn't worth playing if Sara isn't here!!" After 45 minutes, we decided to call it a day and go home. She didn't want to leave, so she calmed down. Just in time for it to end early so they could give out end of the season awards. Yesterday at Riley's ballet class, I took math games to keep us busy, and she had a meltdown because the game didn't go the way she wanted it to go. I took her out to the car until she could get control over herself. It might not be the best way to handle it, or the "RDI" way to handle it, but she has simply got to learn that she can't scream and cry when she doesn't like what is happening around her. If she's developmentally around 3-4, then that's what I would do with a 3-4 year old who was having a temper tantrum. We would leave the place until she got control of herself.

It's just so hard. I don't think it's been this hard since she was actually 3-4 years old. I never used to take her out of the house back then. And that's how I feel about things right now. I'd just rather stay home (or leave her home) than deal with the meltdowns. I don't remember it being this bad with Austin. But then again, that was a long time ago so maybe I'm just not remembering. And they are different kids. She's had a lot further to go than he did.

So I will write all of this out, and then I will make myself forget about it. I will push it aside and remember that God works all things for the good of those who love Him. And He has a plan for her life. And I will pray yet again that the meltdowns will cease because I honestly just need a break from it! :)




1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Do you have to test Reece on level? Could you give her the 2nd grade test and say she's in 3rd grade? That way the test will be easier (and in an easier format as it is mostly untimed and read aloud to her by you) but the percentiles will be comparing her to 3rd graders.