1.07.2010

"Extra" Services at School

We're about to find out about the number and quality of "extra" services at our school (fingers crossed).

I guess I never considered that my children would need extra services but then, that was me, not thinking outside of the box. I'm fairly impressed that the school identified that our kids might benefit from them before we did.

My youngest child was flagged for possible speech therapy. She doesn't lisp, stutter or otherwise struggle with speech. But she does sometimes speak quietly when she's nervous. And despite the fact that she was born here, she has this odd Boston accent. In Philly, I could see how that might be considered a speech problem.

At any rate, she was evaluated by a speech therapist and the determination was made that no further services were necessary. She just may grow up sounding like Madeleine Kahn.

My oldest child was recommended by her teacher last year as a candidate for the gifted program at her school. I wasn't sure how I felt about this (having grown up labeled as a "gifted" student myself) until this month. She's been struggling a bit in class this year because, quite frankly, I think she's both a bit bored and intimidated (this is not a commentary on the school, rather an observation of the differences in teaching styles between her teacher this year and last). I am now hopeful that she is accepted into the program because I think that something "extra" would be good for her. She's learning to do her work more quickly and to read easier books to blend in with her friends. I don't want that to be a long term response to being a bit ahead of some of her friends. Dumbing down is never the answer - but then, that's hard to understand at her age.

We've been asked to attend a meeting with the Gifted Teacher at the school to discuss her test scores and the next steps. I'll let you know how it goes.

It's interesting to me that my kids have had these experiences so early in their educational careers. One of the biggest criticisms that I've heard about the Philadelphia School District is the failure to address special needs of students - on both ends of the spectrum. I have to wonder where that criticism is really coming from, as it has not been my experience. In fact, I've been very impressed by the proactive nature of the teachers and the support staff with respect to these services. I'd be lying if I didn't say that it was quite unexpected.

There are a number of special services available to Philly school children from all walks of life. The District has a special department dedicated to these services: The Office of Specialized Instructional Services. If your child isn't receiving a service for which you believe he or she is eligible, don't just sit back and gossip on the playground with the other parents, ask the district to be heard.

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