Ken and I were pleasantly surprised at the conference yesterday. The speech therapist was great, she really listened to us and explained anything that was unclear. In attendance were also Sarah's teacher, Mrs S and a state legal representative, to explain our rights.
We got to see the evaluation they did on Sarah last semester, and there are very few areas that needed some improvement, and we agree she still have a hard time with those areas.
What really surprised me was the IQ test they had also done. This is conducted as a standard to see if a student's speech impediment is more deeply rooted or just a superficial issue. Sarah had scored in the upper 99 percentile, with a very high IQ. So she is bright, but just need a little help to realize the potential that she has.
We talked for over 1½ hours and they really apologized about the 20 page paperwork they had sent us. It is a standard "umbrella" statement used by the state, and it covers everything from slight problems to severe mental disabilities, so the term disabled is something they all cringe a bit at, since many parents apparently react to the wording in the document, just like I did. But it is a state document, and it is not in the budget right now to have individual documents for each type of issue, therefore everything is piled under the same label.
At least we don't have to worry about this being something that sticks with her. She will get speech therapy (along with 2 other kids in her class, so she doesn't have to feel singled out) twice a week, could be for a few months or a few years, whatever she needs.
All in all we were made VERY confident we have nothing to worry about. She starts her fist session today, and we will get continuous updates. When they feel she has reach the goal that we set for her, she will be dismissed from speech therapy and should have no problem in the future.
After the conference I feel so much better. I am pretty impressed by the free services they offer for students that might need something extra. If anything, the school system is very good in this country, and from people who have experience with having their kids in both Swedish and American schools, the US schools win, hands down.
My impression is that everyone here takes school very serious. Parent involvement is a must, and there are lots of demands early on for both kids and their parents. But this also means the kids LEARN. In Sweden it feels a little more like parents put a lot of the responsibility on the school. They drop their kids off and pick them up, show up to teacher parents conferences now and then, but that is it.
Here they stress the importance about volunteering in school, being a big part of your kid's school life. Of course, it feels a bit tough with all the requirements already starting in Kindergarten, the amount of home work they get and so on. If the child does not have support from home, it could be easy to fall behind quickly.
But by being strict and not tolerating any disruptive behavior the kids who need the concentration get sit. I remember countless days when a few unruly kids in my class would disrupt everything, and the teachers were to weak to say or do anything...
Here school is serious business, and they seem to really take it upon them as their duty to ensure the kids get what they came there for, an education.
What are you other Swedish mom's living in the US thoughts on American schools?