When my children entered the traditional Public Education System, my world changed drastically. Everyday, it was as though I was being told that my life's greatest work, my children, were not good enough. This was a deeply personal attack and I wasn't entirely sure how to respond appropriately. My children could not fit into a traditional classroom and most educators concluded with finality, that they were unable to be educated or simply bad. I was once told that providing accommodations for my child with autism to be successful in a school setting was putting a band-aid over a more serious problem. Yet, that school's only solution was to kick him out and place the responsibility of educating him on me. Unfortunately, this is the solution of many schools who don't know how to work with children who have special needs.
Being told that my children could not be educated was hard to swallow, especially since I knew better. While at home, they would actively seek out education in a way that they could learn. My oldest son would spend hours a day for weeks on end researching a subject matter until he knew everything about it. Most of this research was watching online documentaries, because he is a strong visual learner. My middle child, however, is very tactile. He would take everything apart to see how it worked and then put it back together. This was particularly helpful when things broke and he provided an alternative to my solution of throwing the object away. My daughter is both visual and kinesthetic. She would choose to mold clay into numbers or color from an educational coloring book while reading on the subject matter. It is important to her to be able to use all of her senses while learning.
So, it was obvious to me that the problem was not that my children could not be educated. The problem was that they were not being educated in a way they could learn. In a traditional education model, children are required to sit still for nearly 6 hours a day, where they receive auditory instruction and then must complete assigned task with little to no additional help. This works okay for most kids, but this model does not engage the active mind of the non-traditional learner. They get bored. Soon, their minds wonder off, they get behind in their school work, and they are counted as worthless or learning disabled. What if the real problem was not that our children are learning disabled, but that our instruction models are teaching disabled? Now, that is a problem that can be fixed!
"The self-help book “The Rhythm of Life: Living Every Day with Passion and Purpose” by Matthew Kelly contained a chapter titled “Everybody is a Genius” which began:
Albert Einstein wrote, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” The question I have for you at this point of our journey together is, “What is your genius?”
This quotation really hits the nail on the head when working with non-traditional learners in a traditional public education system. Since no two children are the same, in the spirit of this allegory, I will liken my own children to a fish, a dog, and an elephant. While none of them can climb a tree, they possess great skills in many areas. It's obvious that sending them to a tree climbing school would be fruitless, and yet, traditional schools would grade them on tree climbing. So isn't it also obvious that if there isn't a school that can teach an elephant to blow water the farthest, and a dog to bark the loudest, and fish to swim the fastest, then one should be created. With this in mind, thus began my journey to create schools for non-traditional learners.
How do you know if you child is a non-traditional learner? Has he/she every come home and said of school, "I'm bored." That's your first clue. For more information on The Village Academy and what it can do for your child, please contact Calyn Holdaway at 253-353-4230.