Middle School Quandary...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by gcvmom, Apr 2, 2009.

  1. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    difficult child 2 starts middle school in the Fall. Problem I'm stuck on is where to send him. He has the choice of staying at our neighborhood school (where difficult child 1 has been) or transferring to the GATE magnet school.

    I wanted him to go to the GATE magnet because it would give him a fresh start with students who have no knowledge of him and therefore no bias or prejudice. His behavior history at his current school has made him a social outcast. Kids don't understand him, they think he's weird AND his impulse control has gotten him into trouble many times.

    HOWEVER, because we still don't have his attention and focus under control he is struggling in a couple of academic areas. And apparently all the classes he would have to be in at the magnet school are honors classes. So there's risk that he could fail miserably in some areas.

    At the neighborhood school, he'd be in classes with many of the same kids, although there would be a lot of new kids too who don't know him (lots of elementary schools feed into this middle school). But he wouldn't have to be in all honors classes. He could be in some general ed classes and some honors, depending on how he's doing.

    My concern is that WHAT IF we actually get his medications right between now and September and he is able to focus, stay on task, etc.? I don't want to give up the opportunity for him to go to the more advanced school.

    Should I reserve the spot for him at the more academically challenging and socially new school, and then assess things over the summer for a final decision late August? Or should I automatically take the easier academic route, but potentially harder social environment? :confused:
  2. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Middle school is the 3rd ring of hell in my book. I dont know what to tell you here. Its almost like you are in a no win situation. What does difficult child say? This is his life you are talking about. Where does he want to go.

    I know some GATE schools are focused on special things. Art, Tech, etc. Would this make him jump for joy and want to leap out of bed every morning? I know my oldest loved computers and had one year when he went to something called The Academy which was all a bunch of techy kids who took classes in the afternoons. He loved it. I bet this group grew up to be the Geek squad...lol.

    Whichever way you go will work out. I have no doubt.
  3. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    Do you have to pay to reserve a spot in the GATE school? If not or if it isn't much, I would reserve the spot and hope for the best. You can always enroll at the neighborhood school, right?

    Will they make accommodations at the new school for attention issues?

    I'm facing a similar situation about whether to enroll my daughter in school next fall. I don't really think she could go tomorrow but we might enroll her and hope for the best. I think it will cost about $800 though so that is why we are hesitant.
  4. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Janet, depending on what day you ask him difficult child 2 will answer differently. If he's getting picked on at school that day, he'll tell you he wants to go to the GATE school where no one will know him. If it's a tough homework day, he'll say he doesn't want to be in GATE classes.

    FOP, the GATE school is public, so no money involved. He has an IEP, so they HAVE to make accommodations for him, and he would likely also need to be in a social skills class like he has now (which means he gets one less elective class).

    The more I ponder this, the more I think I should just sign him up for the spot and then revisit this in August to see how the summer goes. And I might also make an appointment with the GATE school's counselor to get their take on things.
  5. eekysign

    eekysign New Member

    I always found honors classes far "easier" than regular classes. My friends that came along into the program later said the same. Less worksheets, less brainless memorization = easier for me. I was never great at the "normal" class stuff. I often wonder how many kids would get great grades in "honors" classes that moved a little slower, maybe.

    Worksheets always killed me, too. Crushing boredom + lots of chances to make a small mistake + no real purpose = so-so grades. I was never a difficult child, but the closest I ever got was late elementary through middle school, 'cause I was soooo restlessly BORED and under-stimulated. How I made it through those years without tackling someone, I don't know. I just remember sitting in class, seething, 'cause there were still umpty-billion minutes on the clock, I wasn't learning anything, and there was nothing to do. One of the few reasons I can understand Sis's explosions when she was bored when younger. I remember that simmering freak-out feeling. ;)
  6. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    We are in a similiar predictament. The difference for us is that one school is not more difficult than the other. Our alternative school is very small, and less transitions, and way more interactive. difficult child does NOT want to go there, but psychiatrist, therapist, current teacher, husband and I all think it would be great for him. We should find out some time this month if he gets in . If he does, I will have such mixed feelings. I don't know how I will tell him as he is going to be so mad. I think it will be like many things with difficult child, once I drag him there he has a good time and enjoys it, but getting him there the first few times will be rough.
  7. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    CM, we had to make a similar decision for easy child about next year. She was very much against the idea of going to a new school, but I've been working on her a lot to point out all the great things about her going there. (Didn't tell her I'd already signed the form and it's a done deal). A lot of the protesting is just her natural anxieties coming out. She can really dig in her heels if she feels it's too much of a change or potentially scary to her. She's slowly warming up to the idea now because I'm constantly harping on the positives, especially when she comes home from school frustrated about something that I KNOW she won't have to deal with at the new school.

    Sometimes we have to bite the bullet and do what we know will be best for our kids, and have faith that they will adapt eventually.
  8. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    I will bite the bullet and be the concrete wall he bounces off of. I have already decided that. I can't really point out any positives, as he will not listen and will find some way to turn it negative. He gets completely unreasonable. Last time we started talking about it alot, and went to an open house and the alternative school did a presentation at his school, he wet the bed several times. He has not done that in 3 or 4 years. I think he got himself so wound up that he wet the bed. Oy, sometimes I wish he came with an instruction manual.
  9. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Poor kid. Sounds like his anxiety is an issue as well. I so wish there were an instruction manual too! I think by now, all of us here are qualified to write one. Trouble is it won't work for anyone else's kid but our own!
  10. BestICan

    BestICan This community rocks.

    Here in LA, the neighborhood school has to take you if you decide to drop out of your GATE magnet. We chose to send difficult child to the GATE magnet knowing if he hated it, he could go to the neighborhood school, and that it wouldn't be possible to approach it in the opposite direction.

    Our difficult child started the GATE magnet not knowing anybody. His behavior was a real issue, and it made it difficult for him socially. However, a lot of the kids in that magnet had some issue or another, so he wasn't the only one getting into trouble frequently. (Small comfort, I know, but I do have a hunch that parents of the "odd kid out" are more likely to take that magnet spot than the perfectly happy-go-lucky kids.)

    He seems to have the social thing figured out now, but it took most of the school year and a good dose of Concerta. He's fine with the schoolwork, but the level of organization required of him is very, very challenging. Even with medications. It got steadily better throughout the year and it got drastically better when we started him on medications. But it's still very challenging.

    I think, now that you've seen a glimmer of what the right medication can do for your difficult child's ability to organize and focus, you may as well try to give him a fresh start at the GATE.
  11. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    We have only one middle school and it is the third ring, the 7th circle and every other point and part of hell that exists in this world. They offer NO honors classes except for math in 7th and 8th and science in 8th. In grade 6, we were told to place difficult child in a school with padded walls. He complained of boredom and was getting either 100s or failing with nothing in between.

    For my difficult child, finally getting into honors/accelerated classes changed him completely. We told him he had to do the work to stay in. I actually had to threaten to sue to get him into honors science.

    He is now in grade 9. He is excelling in honors math and science and is getting top grades in history, English and his electives. He even got an A+ in GYM! and this is the kid who did the 20 minute quarter mile last year in gym! On his own, he tried out for and has been accepted into AP history for next year as well as a very selective and prestigious research class (it takes 10 out of 400 freshmen). Next week, we will have a CSE to remove him from resource room. I attribute the improvements in his attitude, behavior and academics to his happiness at being in honors classes with smart kids where the work is fast paced and challenging. He never wants to take a regular class again but our SD doesn't even offer honors english!

    I would recommend trying the GATE program (gosh, I wish we had something like that). Sometimes, just being not bored in school is enough to influence behavioral changes.

    Good luck.
  12. ML

    ML Guest

    "Sometimes we have to bite the bullet and do what we know will be best for our kids, and have faith that they will adapt eventually. "

    Amen gcvmom! Exactly what it's come down to for me with mine.
  13. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Yeah, I think I'm just going to go ahead with the GATE middle school placement and hope for the best. At least I'll never have regrets wondering "what if?"...