Looking at the whole student can make a difference...

As an educator, it’s not unusual to meet with a parent who is panic-stricken because his/her child has issues because he/she may have ADHD, be on medication for one reason or another, have a broken finger nail or may have just broken up with a significant other – as significant as others can be to high school kids.

In addition to going through the litany of paperwork, I often smile and tell the parent or guardian that I know a young man who has gone through some of the same issues.  I tell them that it took a while to identify his ADHD, but working with health care professionals and educators, he managed to get on track.

A key, I tell them, is to let the student find his or her own way.  Medications, counseling and Individual Education Programs (IEPs) are just part of the overall program.  Letting kids succeed on their own may be one the best treatments a student can have.  I have found that some parents are so obsessed with student success that they become the ones who are in need of help.

True story: I had a parent tell me once that had she known there were going to be some standardized tests administered, she would have adjusted her student’s medication.  Whoa, Nellie, let’s get Trigger back in the stable.

Parental obsession with wanting our kids to succeed may be “normal” (as normal as parenting can be) – but we need to look at what’s behind it and how we approach it.

Many education administrators are obsessed with student success – for their own purposes.  The more AP classes, AP tests and higher ACT scores we can post, then, by golly, the better the front office looks.   And, by gosh, when U.S. News and World Reports puts out it list, and the school is listed – celebrate – the school has done its job.

But has it?

The student that I tell parents about never took an AP test and while he did really well on the ACT, it was no big deal to him.  The school didn’t push him too much because he worked with the special education staff and that just isn’t “cool.”

At least it wasn’t until the student was selected to National Honor Society – as a sophomore.  And, oh yes, he was an Illinois State Scholar.  And, oh yes, not that it’s important to the school, but he also had a double-digit scholarship for each year of college.

What the school doesn’t know is that the student performed extremely well in a rigid engineering program.

But see, education has become so quantitative that it has lost focus on the qualitative aspects of education.

So I tell parents to relax because their student will mature and, with support and letting their student prove to him or herself that they can succeed – they will.

I let them know because the student I’ve been telling them about graduated on Saturday and I know his parents are proud of him.

Believe me, we are.

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