When we first came to Landmark School our son was starting fifth grade. We were told by Karl Pulkkinen* that it’s never too early to start thinking about transition. Our son is now finishing seventh grade and, with just one academic year left before high school, these words ring all too true.
For parents of typical learners, the path is fairly clear: one can be reasonably sure that at the end of each grade level their child will be ready to move on to the next grade, the next school, the next step. For parents of children with learning differences the path is rarely clear, progress is not predictable or even. Our children work hard while we hope, cajole, encourage, worry, and occasionally despair.
We have no doubt that Landmark School saved our son’s life and gave him a chance for a decent future. We also have no doubt that Landmark is the only place he wants to be and it is where he needs to be for high school, but the choice is not so simple. Finances may dictate our situation. We have looked at the other options. At Landmark we would be excited about his growth and development, his academic and personal progress. Looking at other schools, we find ourselves desperately seeking the least damaging environment, someplace where he can “survive”.
Then we take a step back, we try to breathe. We rejoice at his gains and the foundation he is building. We are hopeful about the time remaining this year and all of eighth grade next year. We step back again and see the person he is already becoming: a capable reader, mathematician, creative writer and this year for the first time, he is participating in sports.
We will do everything in our power to keep him at Landmark, but at the end of the proverbial day, if it is necessary to transition him elsewhere, we will keep the big picture in mind and hope that the foundation he has just begun to build will be substantial enough to support the cathedral of his future hopes and dreams.
* Karl Pulkkinen, Public School Liaison and Guidance and Transition Counselor, Landmark School