I’m looking to the amazing knowledge of the Dopers. Sorry this is long and rambling.
My son, who will be six in a week, is currently in Grade 1. He started school young, obviously because he is a “December Baby”. He is bright though, loves computers, “How it’s made” has very strong skills in making connections, or finding similarities/differences between things. He loves books, or used to, and story time has always been a favourite. He likes to play office, and build desks, computers out of whatever he finds… a shoe box, a piece of rope, some lego for the keyboard, etc. In a word, he is bright.
He had a speech delay as a child, that was mainly due to problems with hearing. i noted it around 18 months but he finally got resolution about a year later. The day he had tubes put in his ears he commented on hearing the radio on the way from the hospital (Mommy Car Singing!) and by the end of the weekend he was regularly speaking in full sentences. He has an extensive vocabulary and talks like a little adult. He is also an only child, and a bit “slow to warm up” with his peer group although very gregarious and out going with adults. I have had reports to this effect all through his schooling days starting with a very good licensed daycare.
Fast forward, my little man is in Grade One, and he is in French Immersion, which he started last year in Kindergarten. (He had a year of Junior Kindergarten in English the previous year). It is full time teaching of French Language usuing the same ciriculum as the English stream but all teaching is in French. This is public school and no extra charge for me. He is having problems with reading, which I had noted earlier but tried not to over think it, and hoped “he will learn when he is ready”. Now it is becoming a problem, out of 24 words he “should know” by this point (mostly two letter and three letter words) he was successful at only 7 of them. His teacher has put him in some extra help on Mondays and Fridays but the remedial or special education (whatever they call it these days) is only available in English. I completely agreed to any help I could get him. I have also been working with him in English and in French with flash cards to get his words and phonics down.
I also asked if he could be tested because none of his work reflects his knowledge base. I know he has a before/after confusion, a tendency to read letters out of order, some confusion about the lower case letters b and d, and other things that make me wonder about dyslexia or other learning problems. This is quite independant of language.
His verbal French and his comprehension is coming along. He gets reinforcement at home,as my partner is fully bilingual with French as his first language. (No accent, and although primary and secondary school was in French, his college was in Engish and he has worked in both languages as an adult) We speak English at home, although I try to improve my French which is functional but not quite fluent, and I simply have not used it much in the last 20 years.
Anyhow, today I get an email reply from his teacher. I asked that my son be tested and they say he cannot because he has not had schooling in English the results would not be valid. (Specifically the WIATT), and they would prefer to wait a year to test him.
I am obviously concerned. The knee jerk reaction is of course, pull him out of French Immersion, and focus on the English. However, I don’t think its the language, its the actually decoding what is on the page, and thats regardless of what language he is in.
Any suggestions? Should I push for him to be tested anyway? Go to private edcational systems like Scholars or Sylvan for testing/extra help? Continue to work with him and have him tested next year? Disrupt his world and his friendships by taking him out of FI and putting him into the English stream?
Of course Im not going to make life altering changes by doing something “because a stranger on a message board told me to do that” and you are not my son’s teacher, yada yada… but any thoughts? Advice? Anyone in similar circumstances? Any special education teachers on the board with their thoughts?