I read this article on aish.com, and it really broke my heart. Admittedly, it does not deal with matters of life and death, but it talks of an unanswered plea for understanding of so many children and parents who have to deal with the school system.
It tells about the anguish of a mother who was told by her son's school that her five-year-old needs to be "evaluated" for suspected behavioral problems. Now, I'm still a very new mother and have not yet been blessed with having a boy. Also, it's impossible to assess the situation from reading a brief article and without seeing the child, but from what this mother tells, it sounds to me as though her son is a perfectly normal little boy, with the traits of being exceedingly active, curious and outgoing.
It is no secret that little boys are more active and boisterous than little girls. It is also no secret that little boys are diagnosed with behavioral problems such as hyperactivity and put on medications to "control" them, such as Ritalin, far more often than little girls. Those little boys with "ants in their pants" who are unable to sit straight for a whole lesson are the ones who later become our great adventurers, explorers, discoverers and inventors.
So what happens when such a boy's natural, active desire to explore and touch everything doesn't get an appropriate outlet and he's scolded for "misbehaving"? I see two possible outcomes: either his curiosity is eventually dulled and he loses interest in learning, or his constantly stifled "ants in the pants" really get out of control and he acquires a genuine behavioral problem.
The school system is aimed at the average child, and it would be unreasonable to expect something else when there are 35-40 (as is typical in
), or you know what, even 25 students in a class. Many fall through the cracks: the very active, the dreamers, the slow, the fast… and anyone that might be labeled as "weird". Israel
When I first started school, I arrived at 1-st grade mid-year. We were newcomers in
Israel, and in Ukraine, my country of birth, I still attended kindergarten because school starts at 7 years old there, and not 6 years old like in . On top of the cultural shock, I was not used to school. I didn't speak Hebrew, though I was constantly soaking it up, and since there was only one other Russian-speaking child in class, I didn't really talk much. I used to sit at the back of the class and draw, completely withdrawn from my surroundings, as it appeared. The teacher, without much pondering, decided I must be either mentally deficient or have a severe form of ADD, and suggested the option of "special education". Israel
My mother took me to a psychologist to be evaluated, and was told to say to my teacher that she's dealing with a perfectly normal and intelligent child who is simply taking some time to adjust. To everybody's surprise, by the time I started second grade my Hebrew was already very good – turns out that "silent" period was not such a "waste of time in class" after all.
So evaluation is not necessarily a bad thing; however there is a risk that a child will be unjustly labeled as someone who has a behavioral problem. But even if that doesn't happen, a child who doesn't fit in might easily fall through the cracks of a system that is not exactly friendly, especially to little boys.
The mother in the article goes on to say,
Crazy thoughts race through my head. I will protect my child from being labeled. I will home-school. I will give up my career, a career that is more calling than work.
If I may voice my opinion, I don't think the thought of homeschooling is at all crazy. I'm not saying everyone should homeschool; I'm not saying everyone who starts homeschooling a kindergartener must stick to this path until the child is finished with highschool program. However, in the case of a little child who seems too creative for organized schooling, it might just do to pull him out of school for a year or two. It's a long period of time for a child, and after that, his behavior may well naturally change to what is considered more "normal" in school, with no outside pressure. Some of the "antsiness" may be outgrown. Children start formal education when they are still so very young these days. Sometimes, one more year at home is all that is needed.