This week Nigel received his mid-term progress report for his first term back at regular school after over a year of homeschooling. He is receiving an F in math, and I am not surprised. What’s that you say? How am I not surprised? Because a few weeks ago we discovered that the entire time I was homeschooling him, I was teaching him out of the wrong book.
It all started at his IEP last September, when I requested the school-issued math book so that I could teach him exactly what his peers were learning so that he would be up-to-date when he transitioned back into regular school. I also knew that at the end of eighth grade, this year, this month, actually, there would be benchmark testing for his entire grade, including him, whether he was still homeschooled or not. I wanted him to know what he needed to know. The school’s sped coordinator spoke to Nigel’s previous math teacher at the school, and then he, the sped coordinator, went to pick up the math book and brought it back to the meeting to give to me. I thanked him and was very appreciative that the school complied with my request for the book, since they are not obligated to do so.
And since last September, Nigel and I diligently worked through that book every single day, along with working on the other school subjects. I felt certain that we kept up very well, since we made it two-thirds of the way through the book by March, two-thirds of the way through the school year. When he started back at the middle school that month, initially I was more concerned with how he was doing socially and behaviorally than academically. Things seemed to be going well for the most part, and then it was time for Spring Break. After that, I started asking him how things were going in class, and how he was doing in math. I asked him where they were in the math book, if it was near where we had left off with homeschooling. That’s when he told me. “Mom, I found out that was a seventh grade math book we did homeschool with.”
I wanted to scream. “Are you serious?! Are you sure? It didn’t say seventh grade on it!”
He confirmed that was indeed the case. And had I not been so busy with Aidan’s health issues at the time, I would have marched straight into the sped coordinator’s office and let him have it. Or the math teacher who recommended the book. I was angry. I felt like I had wasted Nigel’s and my time and effort and had put him at a great disadvantage for returning to regular school and taking the required benchmark testing. My heart raced and I clenched my fists. I took a deep breath and vowed I would deal with it when I had time. I went home and trundled Aidan off to whatever doctor’s appointment he had.
A few days later, maybe that weekend, I remembered what I had read around the blogosphere about there being no accidents. Carrie mentioned it, and Jess and Pixie expanded on it. I started to calm down when I thought about that. And then Nigel wanted to rent Kung Fu Panda that weekend, which we hadn’t seen yet, and guess what the theme of that movie is? That’s right – there are no accidents. The wise old tortoise master says it several times. And I started thinking that maybe I was meant to receive the wrong math book. Maybe I received it because that was what Nigel needed me to teach him, and what he needed to learn. I realized that no one had intentionally given me the wrong book, it was just a mistake, and I was glad I hadn’t stormed into someone’s office threatening to bestow one of Mama Mara’s Ieppie Awards in the Worst Great Idea category.
And so the benchmark tests are in two weeks. It is what is and what will be, will be. I’m not going to get stressed out over it, and I certainly don’t want Nigel to be. His transitional IEP will be coming up soon, and I’ll be sure to diplomatically let everyone know the reason behind his (very) low math grade, without pointing fingers. And if anyone apologizes for giving me the wrong math book, I’ll surprise them by thanking them. Because I learned a lot from this experience. And not just how to divide fractions again.