When Two Siblings Learn Differently

Last year I told you about our struggle with educating two very different learning styles. One twin, LM: extroverted, independent, a leader and social butterfly from the day she was born, vs the other, LH: Insightful, dependent, and wears his heart on his sleeve.

If she can’t find a way, she’ll make one.

If he can’t find a way, he’ll doubt that 1) there is a way and 2) that he is smart enough to find it.

We chose to take the kids out of public school last year and homeschool to let LH have a chance to excel. He wasn’t doing as well in public school as she was and we knew she would be okay academically if we tried it for a year. It didn’t quite work out how we’d planned as it left LM with a void in her own need for community, even though she did well with grades. We moved at the end of the school year and with the move came a new environment – one not so encouraging when it comes to homeschooling, so we enrolled them in public school. LM is soaring to new heights. It took her about two months to adjust, but she’s made new friends, and is flourishing at school. I cannot stress how much she loves school and learning. She has tested into the “gifted and talented” curriculum at school, and brought this home today to confirm it, along with her all-high-90’s report card:

She has to take three tests, and the first one she scored so high on that she didn’t even have to take the second test. The third test is being scheduled. She has a heart for the greater community at large, and she is the one who came up with the plan to start Club Defend.

LH brought home his report card as well. He got an A in Gym! Annnnd… 50’s and low 60’s in everything else. We have always stressed that grades are not important if you try your best. A “B” that you worked hard to get is just as important as an A. But if we don’t have a turnaround, he’ll be repeating this grade of school. And if you thought his self confidence was bad before…

Here’s what’s important to know about LH: He’s smart. Bright. He can master Bible Drills like nobody’s business – better than just about anybody in his class. He masters karate like nobody’s business. This same boy will come home with a paper that has 100% incorrect. He loses focus in school, gets bored with worksheets, and gets distracted easily in large group settings. He and I will sit down on the couch, and I’ll reexplain how to do it, or explain an easier way than what’s taught, he understands, redoes the homework and gets them all right. The problem is how to do that in school. He is capable of understanding if he can ask questions and the “whys and hows” can permeate his brain before you go onto a new subject. He meets all but two of the “20 things to remember if you love a person with ADD.” We’ve looked at natural remedies, but to be honest, I’m afraid to have him tested because that means drugs (as worded so eloquently on this site – just drug them so they’ll behave) or different treatment at school. The hubs and I have both said “no drugs.” That’s important to us.

See, we like who LH is He’s funny. Oh my gosh, so funny. He’s endearing, and he cares for others (I have often wondered if church leadership isn’t in his future down the road) and he is passionate. I don’t want to change any of that. I don’t want to change his personality, I just need a better learning environment for school that empowers him to WANT to learn.

We’re thinking about private school. Homeschooling one and public schooling the other. Moving to a different school system. Private school for one and public school for the other. The biggest question? What if we make the wrong decision? What if something happens to him at a different school? What is he’s molested or bullied because he’s new and different? What if she’s attacked or bullied because her brother is pulled out of school and there’s no one there to protect her?  What if she has to go to school every day and explain where her brother went and it hurts her own progress and self confidence? I don’t just worry about him. I worry about both of them.

As a mama, I’m at a loss. I have prayed for a good answer, and I honestly feel like the teacher he has is wonderful. In fact, I prayed before the school year even started that they would have the right teacher for them, even if it meant they weren’t in the same class. I KNOW his teacher is wonderful for him. But is the school right? Is the curriculum right? And will she feel like she failed if we pulled him out of her class?

Let’s pretend they aren’t twins for a minute. Let’s say you just have two children. You want to encourage each child to be their best. In our case, LM’s love language is words of affirmation, followed by quality time.

That’s tough.

Tough to praise one child which is HER love language, knowing that it will discourage the other should they overhear. Tough to ask LH to be proud of her as well, knowing it makes him feel even less like he can’t make that impossible high jump from his position on the ground. Tough to ask her to sacrifice attention each night (her second love language) while we spend time just getting LH to understand the concepts that were taught that day.  Tough to get inside his head every single night to understand how he sees it so you can unexplain it. It’s like pulling a Rubik’s Cube out of a box every night that someone else has already jumbled up. You’re left trying to discover the patterns and put everything back in place, knowing full well that tomorrow? You’re getting another jumbled Rubik’s at 3:30.

I know what you’re thinking. “Suck it up, all kids are different.  If you have more than one kid, they’re going to be different. That’s just parenting.” 

Is it?

The question is what can I do for him to give him to instill a love of learning? What can I do that is best for HIM? What can I do to ensure HE gets to go on to the career of his choosing, not one that is chosen for him once he’s pidgeonholed. He doesn’t need to be held back so he can learn the grade again – it’s not going to rewire his brain to better grasp the concepts.

What can I do for BOTH of them to give them BOTH what they need – give her the social community she needs, the words of affirmation and quality time she needs, and give him the support he needs to become a better student, even if that means they aren’t together in the same school?

That’s parenting. 

I let you know when I figure it out.


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