One of the changes I’ve had to get adjusted to as my oldest has entered tweendom is letting him go it alone. Not doing everything for him or fighting all his battles for him, but having him take the responsibility for what should be on his plate.
I still give advice when he asks (or sometimes even when he doesn’t) and there have been times when I’ve helped him practice what he should say when it comes to asking his teacher certain things (when he’s nervous about it), but if he can handle it, I let him.
I’m still working on it. Just yesterday, I typed out a whole email after checking the parent portal and noting that a big project I knew he had completed was listed as missing. And then I trashed that email, asked my son about it after school, and he said he’d talk to his teacher about it today.
It’s a process and a balancing out, figuring out where to help and where to let go. And maybe even especially with my middle son, whom I’m so used to advocating for.
In his case, due to having special needs, I’ve been even more “mama bear” than with my other two because I’ve had to, in order to make sure he was getting any assistance that he needed to help him be successful in school.
Thankfully, our elementary school has been amazingly helpful and receptive. I’ve heard horror stories about other schools that aren’t so helpful and only begrudgingly offer assistance.
Whenever we have our annual review IEP(Individualized Education Plan) meeting where we go over my son’s goals and what accommodations and modifications he will receive, I think about what I want for him beforehand so that nothing is missing.
At this point, the only modifications he really needs have to do with a continuing fine motor problem, so he is able to type various assignments instead of handwriting them. Plus, for various testing days, he gets to test in a smaller setting and take more frequent breaks.
Though from last year’s meeting, I remember the team talking about possibly giving him “read aloud” as a testing accommodation, meaning a testing proctor would read the questions to him (though only in math- the reading part cannot be read aloud). And I remember thinking no, I don’t want that for him. He’s just fine in math and I feel like that would actually be a distraction for him, especially since that would most likely mean he’d been in with a group of kids who all got that modification and the proctor wouldn’t move on to the next question until everyone had finished one. I could see my son getting frustrated and wanting to move along.
Wanting to make sure that a child has everything they possibly can to help them, the team had talked about maybe writing that into his IEP just in case he needed it. That math test is rapidly approaching and my only big concern going into the meeting was making sure he didn’t have that written into his plan.
But then it hit me.
I think he doesn’t need it.
I think it would be a distraction.
I think he’d do better without it.
But what does my son want? He’s old enough and capable of telling me if he really wanted that accommodation or not.
So, I asked him instead of just assuming I knew what he needs. In as neutral of a way as I could come up with, I asked him if he’d like someone to read the math questions to him or if he’d want to read them to himself.
The look he gave me and his answer confirmed that I was right in my thinking.
But I’m glad I asked him.
I have to start to let go.