Our son had just turned 13 years old and we had been struggling with a variety of schools over many years that would just remotely touch on the services that he required to get through the school day. Academics were initially not the problem but his emotional limitations ended up affecting all aspects of his school experience.
A brilliant, creative boy was quickly getting lost in a broken system. His self-esteem was plummeting, his frustration had grown increasingly worrisome and soon, our home environment grew hostile, unpredictable and completely unmanageable following each school day.
We needed help.
As a parent we know it’s our responsibility to raise our child to the best ability possible. My husband and I struggled with this. We were tormented. We had this belief that we alone would find another “side” program that could help us get a handle on our situation, another therapy, another doctor. We were in a race that we could not win and in a financial downward spiral as most of these supplemental programs were not covered by insurance or able to work with all of our son’s complications.
I am not disregarding those that tried to help, as some had told us outright that our son’s issues required extensive therapy, but most of all, “consistency.”
“Consistency” was possible to some extent at home, however all was lost during the school day. Our son required more than what a regular or private school could offer and although some accommodations were made with an IEP, most accommodations could never fully be expedited and the IEP would constantly change every six weeks.
What made things worse is our son was intelligent and he knew that no one had a handle on his needs. Manipulation became his forerunner. Educators had little patience. Self-esteem was lost. Failure occurred every time.
We looked at schools out of state and in state- nothing was close. We kept trying to make it work but the struggles never subsided and things became increasingly difficult.
A doctor that took a special interest in our son had recommended Little Keswick. This doctor was convinced that this was the exact school that could help our son be successful. We trusted this doctor’s opinion and knew in our hearts that he was right.
So, let’s go back to what a parent “knows.”
We know it’s our responsibility to raise, nurture and help their child succeed to the best of their ability. So how does one surrender that responsibility to someone else, much less strangers? There is so much anguish, guilt and shame that accompanies the decision to place your child in a school far away from home. We wanted to be with our son every day, see the milestones, share his accomplishments. We just couldn’t imagine sending him away.
The reality was, there were no accomplishments for our son, he was not flourishing, he was not living his life. He was stuck. There was no going forward and all the love we had in our hearts could not give him what he needed. He needed help; we needed help.
When we visited Little Keswick School there was an immediate sense of goodness; the beautiful grounds, the horses, the dogs, the wood shop, the boys and the incredible staff. It felt comfortable.
When I asked questions from my extensive list, all were answered with warmth and understanding not in a condescending way, but with compassion. I knew that we found the people that could help our son and help our family.
These people knew what we were up against. They knew they could help him and they had all the time in the world to work with him patiently. They work to see boys like our son succeed. Integrity is high on the list and building self-esteem is a huge focus.
In February we placed our son at Little Keswick School.
All of the right therapies were here; everything he needed. I was amazed at the incredible patience that the support counselors displayed. The way each and every person spoke to my son was that of respect allowing him to keep his integrity. When our son struggles, they allow him to process and give him the opportunity and time to work through his barriers that, in the past, had brought him shame.
The Office staff communicates with us to keep us well informed of any changes or upcoming events, workshops etc. I never have to go seeking answers to my questions, as they are always a step ahead of anything I need to know.
The therapists are miracle workers in my opinion, as I can see our son able to cope with many things he could not before he attended LKS.
The teachers and the academic coordinator keep us well informed on our son’s school progress and have worked so patiently to get him back on an academic routine.
The residential coordinator and support counselors are heavily involved throughout our son’s day and all are nothing short of well trained and amazing. They are good role models and everything you would want your child to live by example. The residential coordinator keeps us well informed with progress reports, emails and telephone conversations. If I need to talk to someone, he is easily available.
I have never once felt as though my son was unsafe.
Conversations with our son’s doctor is much like catching up with an old friend. He is extremely easy to talk to and completely understands our son’s struggles and has built a strong and trusting relationship with our son, helping him and our family extensively.
The headmaster is more than just a head of school but rather “a man on a mission.” You can immediately understand that our son and each boy attending Little Keswick is important to him. He works diligently to see them succeed and when he speaks about the school, his teachers, his staff and the boys, he speaks with passion and conviction in the Little Keswick school program.
Little Keswick School works with the parents. We are a huge part of a team. A wonderful team. One of our many fears was that our son would feel as though we gave up on him and passed his life off to someone else. It’s just one of those unpleasant things we think about. It’s important to know and I can assure anyone that our son knows how much we love him, he knows he is there because we love him and LKS reinforces this because LKS focuses highly on the family and the importance of the relationship with family. Our relationship with our son has grown stronger, deeper and more precious than ever.
Parent’s Weekend was a pivotal time for my husband and I and it was there that we learned to relax, let the grief subside and completely trust our decision. There is so much comfort with being in the company of those who have shared our struggles. And it becomes another part of the Little Keswick family. We so enjoyed meeting the many families that were parents of our son’s new friends and, the boys do become friends. These weekends are just another reason to believe that Little Keswick School has a greater understanding of what is important for both the parents and the boys. Community is key and this school knows it.
We have seen our son succeed again. We have witnessed his growing self-esteem, independence and pride. We see him often, very often. We are involved. We did the right thing. No more doubts; no shame, no guilt, no anguish.
Yes- It is our responsibility to raise, nurture and help our son succeed to the best of his ability and we are doing exactly that but with the support of our extended family at Little Keswick School. There is no shame in reaching out for help when your child is struggling.
There are no flaws with this school that I can find and the fact that our son wants to return without complaint after a home break speaks volumes. It’s hard to say goodbye initially when we leave but our son knows it’s helping him, he has a community of friends, he’s important there and he takes pride in being helpful to those that may need his help. We are giving him that opportunity to succeed.
I can’t say that, as a parent, approaching the decision to place their son at little Keswick school will be an easy one. My husband and I cried for 200 miles of our 500 mile journey home the day we left our son at Little Keswick. The days to follow were at times extremely emotional. And there are still emotional times.
Little Keswick works with us, they help us through it and they do understand the struggles we face.
I can say that it will be okay. The tears will subside and be replaced by tears of joy when you witness your son participating in horseback riding or wood shop, becoming socially comfortable, see the stress and tension fade away or hear the pride in their voice when they talk about their accomplishments.
My husband and I have seen our boy beginning to find his strengths and believe in himself again. His strength has always been there, it’s just that the world had to slow down for just a little while for him to be able to find his way back in it. It’s a delicate process and one we couldn’t provide at home. We are extremely thankful for Little Keswick School.