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Sunday, December 13, 2009

On a More Serious Note

I usually like to keep things upbeat and bright around here, however I just finished writing one of the most serious emails I have ever written to my son's first grade teacher. I'm frustrated and I am at my wits' end with the little progress my son has made this school year. Basically, my seven year old son is failing the first grade from what I feel is a lack of attention to his basic educational needs compounded by several other factors such as the fact that he has over forty students in his class. Forty students. Somehow that is okay though since there are two teachers.


But not for my son.

This year is not when the problems started though. My son has been in the public school system since he was four through the Early Intervention program for school-age children because of a minimal vision issue, speech and occupational therapy. Currently, my son has made leaps and bounds in his physical, speech, and vision abilities and there are no developmental delays that are keeping him back educationally. My son functions and behaves like any other child his age and I credit that to the many hours of hard work that his therapists and teachers gave him early on.

However, looking back (and I suppose I saw it then as well) it was Kindergarten that threw my son off his educational course. I'm sure his teacher was shocked to hear me say it when I told her last year that she was too nice to my son. She treated him like he had a disability and so she in a way disabled my child. How? She allowed him to sleep under her desk multiple times during class. She took pity on him when he on numerous occasions faked being sick. She allowed him to play by himself when the rest of class was participating in activities such as reading time, sharing time, and learning activities. She passed him to first grade when he didn't know his ABCs. She made that fact seem okay when she told me that "he'll eventually catch up."

Partly, it was my fault for not holding him back.

My son has been in remedial reading classes since the beginning of school this year. He made some progress at the beginning and has since plateaued. I could never understand why he wasn't making further progress until this last Friday when I told him to write his ABCs and he could NOT.

How did this happen? Have I really been that oblivious to the fact that my oldest son is failing that badly?

Then after an hour of listening to my seven year old cry today that he was a failure, I finally wrote my son's first grade teacher an email which in its finality says:

If me pulling my son out of public school and homeschooling him is what it takes to get XXXX back on track I will do it. At this point public school has failed XXXX, and that is sad considering that he is only seven years old. It is not solely one person’s fault, but rather a combination of faults from the principal to his Kindergarten teacher to his parents—including me. I understand that by pulling XXXX out of public school for a semester may guarantee that he repeats first grade, however I feel with the current situation that he will probably repeat it anyway. This is my last opportunity to help XXXX out at home full time...

XXXX cannot do both public school and additional schooling at home right now. He is already overwhelmed and burned out. Either we need a working and successful plan for XXXX at school or I need to take him out of school for a semester. I want XXXX to succeed and I want him to feel confident about himself. I just don’t want to put him into another remedial program at school and discover ten weeks down the road that it didn’t really help him. At least at home I will be able to better gauge his progress.

Tell me what you think.

Signed Me 

I'll tell you how it goes.


NitWit1 said...

I am not the best for advice, but I am impressed with homeschooling. I've seen at least one child homeschooled who started taking college courses before he actually graduated from high school.

About the only disadvantage I see is socialization with peers, but if a child has difficulties, sometimes peers contribute to the problem, especially in the self-esteem areas.

I am sure you will make the wise choice.

Library girl said...

I lived in a smallish town and after an extended period of bullying and trying everything to combat it, we finally changed our youngest child from one school to the other ... and boy, I so wish we had done it sooner. When it comes to our own kids, we always seem to second-guess ourselves. We worry that we're being over-protective; underprotective;too strict or not strict enough. It's enough to do your head in! Go with your gut. For what it's worth, I think you are doing the right thing.

WhosPlayin said...

40 students? Holy cow! I wish I had some advice for you. I'm just another parent learning this as I go too. Hang in there.

Rhea said...

Wow, this has to be so hard on him...and you! I think you're doing the right thing though, asking for a good plan for him or taking him out of school. Good luck, my heart goes out to him! It's tough being a parent and having to make those adult decisions sometimes.

Jennifer said...

That sounds like a gross oversight made by the county school board and the administration of that school... I'm so sorry your son has fallen victim to their laziness...

Here, homeschool programs aren't the best, but I know that isn't everywhere... Our public schools aren't that bad--at least, I got lucky with the ones I went to.

Maybe you can help shake things up and turn things around. :)

Good luck to you!

Drew said...

We home school our oldest and we love it. Our second will start homeschooling next year (she was too excited to pull her from Kindergarten) and then the third on down will not know what a public school is until they start taking college courses. I think parents are the best gauge of where a kid is and it creates opportunities to build relationships in other areas. As for the social. Which is a more natural socialization, a kid is stuck with only kids his age and by being segregated in age taught that older kids are cool etc. or a kid has friends of all ages including his family that he learns social behavior from? I like the later. If you get serious about homeschooling you and Sarah should talk. She could help you out.

Shana Banana said...

I completely understand your frustration. I just finished my teaching certificate and it's sad because I don't believe in public education right now. Their theories and approaches ARE failing our children. 40 kids in a class is TOO many...I don't know whose idea that was but it was RIDICULOUS. I have considered home schooling...I haven't ruled it out...just waiting for God to make that crystal clear. *HUGS* I know how awful it is to see your child cry...just know that you are a good mom and this WILL get turned around because of that!!!

Mindee@ourfrontdoor said...

Bummer. That is so discouraging. You're taking the right approach in dealing with the teacher first, but make sure you cc the principal on everything. Every school system is different so what works here might be different there so no advice from me. Just hugs.

jmberrygirl said...

No advice. Just admiration and well wishes!

the nightingale said...

Wishing you the best on your new future venture. :) I really think you can do it! u go girl!

Siggy Spice said...

Last year, we were having issues with our school. The BEST school in the BEST district. My daughter is very advanced and instead of pushing her and teaching her at her level, they would just stick her in a corner and have her do independant work...or help the kiddos who were struggeling. God forbid should the teachers or the district take extra precautions for the kiddos who need help, let's have higher achiveing students do it OR older students. GRRR!!! At the end of last year, I started to get concerned about my youngest daughter, who has some speech issues, being lost and being helped by other or older kids. So, as I opened myself up to ideas, homeschooling kept coming up. Which I SO resisted...I swore I would NEVER homeschool my kids. I thought it would be detrimental to their socialization, etc. When I started looking into it, to find reasons NOT to do it, I began learning what is really there. So, after a LOT if research, we are in our first year homeschooling. Not only are both girls moving at their own pace, we are able to cover more material, we are able make sure they understand before we move on, they are getting a more in-depth education in the extra stuff that has been dramatically cut from public schools (art, 2nd language, music, etc), they have met great friends through homeschool groups and various other activities, we have TONS of flexibility in our schedule, and a bonus I didn't think school cooties to deal with!
I think when we were younger, we had teachers on a more and more people get into teaching that you look at and say "seriously?! do I really want my child to have more awake time per day with you than with me". Ok, that's my rant and I totally empathize with you...I just went through it!

Emily and Tom said...

As a teacher and mother of three I completely understand and sympathize with your situation. I really hope that you and the teacher can come up with a plan you and your son can be happy with. If not, maybe homeschool is the best option. I worry about my kids all the time (second grader and kindergarten) and try to stay as involved in their school as possible. Good for you for standing up for your child. You are his very best advocate! Don't be afraid to fight for what is best for him!

JoAnn said...

I've been in your shoes and walked quite a few miles with school teachers and admins. I did eventually pull both of my kids out of school and homeschooled them. I would give you one warning: use curriculum that is appropriate for YOUR child's level. My son was behind due to poor teaching skills iin 1st & 2nd grades. I pulled him out mid-2nd and placed him in 2nd grade level work. He couldn't do it! The frustration level soared and our home became a battleground. If I could do it over, I would have started him in first grade level and worked up from there! JoAnn
PS:I eventually found Sonlight curriculum which is amazing!

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