Sunday, March 2, 2014

When your kids just do not fit the rigid shape mainstream school demands

Its 4.19am and I should be sleeping.  I have a crazy day ahead starting with a 6.00am swim training session.   But I need to write and I need to share and I need you to share back.
Most of you know I have a 17 year old boy who has ADHD.  He is incredibly clever, impulsive and analytical and mathematical.  He is an entrepreneur and he will do something remarkable with his life one day.  Yes I sound like a biased mother but I have always said it and I speak it over his life.   Although his grades don’t reflect it he had to take an international test to get into the Australian school 2 years ago and he scored 95% for maths and 90% for language.   This is a world wide test for all kids his age.  Daniel is not an average kid but he IS in a mainstream school and forced to fit into a shape he doesn’t naturally possess.  To get him to get through this sausage outdated old factory he needed meds which we started in grade 5.  We only did week days as on weekends and holidays I wanted my real Daniel, crazy as he makes me.   Now he is in grade 12 working his butt off to up his marks so he can go to university.  His maths marks are 6% too low for the course he wants to study.  His school refused him extra time despite his paed's report on his ADHD.  They wanted me to have him reassessed again by a number of people despite him being on meds for 5 years with an expert doc and an assessment by an educational psychologist.  His spelling and writing and lack of time means his intelligence and capability is not reflected in his grades.  

Rebeka is 11, a very artistic, sensitive and compassionate little person.   She is left handed and loves to draw and write.  She is a people pleaser and likes order.  She copes well in the sausage factory although the bullying side stays hard for her.  I have noticed her creativity has decreased somewhat over the years as school forces her to follow the pattern.  Fortunately she does art and drama and music which I intend to encourage.  She loves riding and has a unique bond with horses, another beautiful sensitive animal.

And Sofie, at 9 just diagnosed with ADD and drowning at school.  In real life at home she sings and draws and dances and every night I have to make up a dream for her in a fantasy world.   She has always had anxiety which school just exacerbates.    She is my mermaid child, my dancing ballerina on a horse.   After school she has art and drama and solo singing and guitar and rhythmic gymnastic where she gets to twirl and dance and move.  That’s her stage, where she is confident and Sofieliscious.  

Last night I watched this clip on TED and I watched a few others including one by a 13 year old boy taken out of mainstream school at age 9.  I watched another talk from Ken Robinson about creativity being as important as literacy, Prof Ken is hilarious btw.  While it clearly gave me another sleepless night it did really confirm what I have been thinking lately.   I just don’t know what to do with my Sofie and my gut tells me to take my butterfly and find her a garden to grown in before she either dies in mainstream school or I medicate her until she becomes a moth and copes and fits the correct shape.  She would still be happy, she would enjoy school more and she would cope with the big pressure and workload grade 4 brings.  But would she still stay my Sofie, my Sofia Josephine…destined for great things in a creative and colourful space she presently occupies.   I don’t believe so.  I went to The Waldorf school open day on Saturday as an alternative for her.  I think she would love it but I have many concerns.  Gary more so.  After reading the big anti-Waldorf rants he googalised we are just unsure.  For now she would thrive there but am I doing her a disfavour in the long run?  If I send her to mainstream high school (I want her to go to Rhenish) will she cope?  Will Waldorf equip her for varsity, for a career?  Am I thinking too short term?   I just don’t know.  If anyone has experience with a Waldorf school please mail me or inbox me, good or bad, I need the info.  Add is

I would need to decide now.  I have paid my fees for the whole year at her present school so would hope they would reimburse me.  Waldorf is three times the fees.  I would make my complicated life more so with 3 kids in 3 schools.   I would leave Rebeka all alone at her present school, she has less than 2 years left and is doing so well so would not move her.    I haven’t told Sofia yet so please do not say anything.  Last time I wrote a update about Rebeka on FB I asked the school parents not to say anything to their children and they did anyway and she was embarrassed.  I don’t want to stress Sofia out until Gary and I have both decided and then I will take her to the school so she can see herself.    What the feck am I doing?  It feels like I am at this crucial crossroads with my daughter and I don’t know which way to go.  I am going to pray more, research more, visit the school again and I am going to hope for advice from you lot, especially the ones with unique ADHD and ADD kids and Waldorf experience. 

I am beginning to think that all these ADD and ADHD kids I know, many of them my relatives are simply butterflies caught in the moth system and the only way we can get them to cope is to medicate them so they are able to learn in that forced pattern in an increasingly competitive and demanding world.  Are we helping them, making their lives easier so they cope, love school and keep their self-esteem or are we killing their spirit and their uniqueness in a world where we are forced to conform?  I don't know, I just don't know. 


  1. Hi Mel. Once a friend of mine compared my daughters to two flowers. One is a daisy. An easy-going, cheerful flower, it thrives with sun, water and nothing more. The other one is a rare orchid. So fragile, requires constant attention and adjustments, very hard to care for. She keeps me up at 4 am. But when she blooms, the flower is of unbelievable beauty.
    I don't have any useful feed back on Waldorf for you. I just wanted to say that there are many of us in a same situation out here.

  2. My daughter was in a Waldorf preschool and we loved it--a beautiful environment that considers the whole child. We chose an immersion program for elementary school and my daughter does fairly well in a regular public school setting (except for the bullies, sigh) but if she were a free spirit like your Sofie, I would seriously consider a Waldorf setting for her. The Waldorf grads I have seen tend to be well-rounded creative types and while there is plenty to criticize in Waldorf and Steiner himself, I think it can be an excellent curriculum when well-executed.

  3. Here is a blog you should read.