“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” – Shel Silverstein
Too many of our children hear these words every day. “You mustn’t talk. He won’t do his work. We have never done it that way before. Don’t run around. That’s impossible.” And much to our despair, they start believing it. Soon we hear, “I can’t.”
One of my students is a brilliant child. A sixth grader, he can’t spell, he reads on a second grade level, he’s not capable of sitting in a chair for 45 minutes. But he has one of the most original and clever minds I’ve ever seen in a student. If he is allowed to show what he knows by telling it or doing it, his brilliance shines through. But if you ask him to write it or read it, he shuts down and no spark of intelligence shows.
This is one of the students that Just Right Academy was made for. Even a good school plays to his weaknesses and overlooks his gifts. I couldn’t stop thinking about an environment in which he could shine. So I asked him and other kids who were unsuccessful in school what would help them be successful. I asked teachers what they would do if they didn’t have to worry about end of grade tests. I looked at a lot of different schools and took good ideas home with me. And what I came up with didn’t look like any other school I found.
So what DO you do with a student like that? Well first, you accept him as he is. He’s not wrong, he is just different. Obviously he needs to be helped to gain skills to function in our world. You let him stand to do his work and you keep a pile of Legos on his desk. You give him intense remediation in reading, and extra challenge in math, which is one of his strengths. You make sure he gets plenty of time to move and you don’t bother with homework because he is fried at the end of a long day. You teach him how to advocate for himself and the social skills he needs to be successful. You recognize all the things he does right and give him opportunities to be the star he is.
And then you get out of his way, because anything can happen. Anything can be.
Welcome to Just Right Academy.