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Education became a personal passion when my 6-year-old son Damon ran into trouble in school. First of all, Damon was a “model child” and I say that not just because I am his mother, but because in his case it happened to be true. At age 6, Damon was able to dress himself, operate the VCR and help me with his younger brothers and sister. I could take him anywhere and he never threw a fit, lost control or acted rude. He was extremely easy to get along with and very cooperative around the house. “Damon, it is time to take a bath.” “Okay Mom.” “Damon it is time to pick up your toys.” “Okay Mom.” Damon had an awesome imagination, a good sense of humor and had many good friends. He was healthy, quite handsome, charming and well mannered; I considered myself very lucky to be a mother to this little boy.
Damon’s positive attitude changed as soon as he started school. He became moody, he seemed nervous and he got upset over minor situations such as not being the first of my children to get served at dinner; something that was never an issue now caused tears. To make matters worse, Damon began to bring home schoolwork marked with “D” or “F”. (Did the grade have to be in red and did it have to be written so big?) Damon was not happy and considered himself stupid. I knew Damon was smart but it is hard to convince a child that they are smart when they have a stack of school papers that indicate otherwise.
I decided to check out his school and I met his teacher. She was very nice but had more than 30 children in her class. Now, I had never gone to college so could not offer a “professional” opinion, but I did have four children of my own under the age of seven and getting all four of them to eat dinner at the same time was a “Mission Impossible” so how could one woman effectively teach 30 children how to read and write at the same time. The answer was easy…she couldn’t. My son was lost and not getting help. And worse, my little boy was now convinced that he could not learn, which just about broke my heart.
I consider myself a very good parent. I am fortunate to be able to provide my children a decent life-style. My daughter attended the best private schools, was enrolled in after school art classes and took dance. However at age 10, Natalie still could not read and hated school. She had gone from private school to private school yet no one was able to teach her to read. The teachers at her last school kept passing her to the next grade, not because she could actually DO the work, she was passed as she was much taller than the other kids in her class so the school wanted to place her with kids her size. I was told she needed to be evaluated so I hired the best psychologist. After thousands of dollars and hours of exhausting evaluations the prognosis was that my daughter had a low I.Q. which left her unable to learn. The professional said, “Your child just isn’t intelligent and will never be intelligent.” At this point I was given the option of medicating her. I asked, “Will the medication teach my daughter to read? Will the medication make her intelligent? Will the medication cure her?” The answer was of course “No” to all of the above. I was told the medication would “slow her down” so that I could deal with her better. My daughter needed help not drugs!
The situation with my daughter was all that I thought about. She was in the 4th grade and miserable. Right before the holidays I was complaining to my dental hygienist during a regular check-up. This woman had a similar story but had sent her teenager to Barbie for home schooling and the girl totally turned around. On her recommendation, I made an appointment to meet Barbie and see if she could help my daughter.