I'm trying so hard not to be "that" parent. Frustrated.

jaybirdsmommy

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 27, 2008
So, my 8year old DS is not the world's best student. He struggles with language related topics - spelling, grammar, reading, etc. He's already repeated first grade and is, I thought, doing pretty well in second. His math and science grades are always A's, spelling runs 85-95 most weeks, grammar is usually a low B, reading goes back and forth between A and B. School is VERY hard for him, he hates to sit still, so this has taken a lot of effort on his and our parts.

His teacher this year isn't my favorite. I don't dislike her, but she's definitely in the bottom 5 out of all the teachers we've had between him and his older brother (sophomore in high school). With that said, out of those 5, there's only 1 that I actively disliked (not this one). The other's just weren't as great as some we've had but were more than adequate at their jobs.

All year long she's been sending home notes, written in his daily planner where he can see them. They've always felt very nit-picky to me. Little things, like about his socks not matching (uniform, he was wearing long pants and they were both the same, allowed color) or he wrote his assignment with his notebook upside down (it was correct, just tell him to re-do it at home?). Now, we've gotten two notes since school started back in January questioning his readiness for 3rd grade. Why? He has terrible handwriting (they just switched to requiring all assignments in cursive after Christmas break) and apparently yesterday he had some difficulty with his math lesson. How do we jump from a kid that makes A's and B's, with math being his consistently highest grade to not ready for 3rd grade with one lesson?

Anyway, I'm just frustrated with her. We are supposed to talk after school this afternoon and I'm afraid I'll say something rude. It wouldn't be nearly as bad if she'd email me or put them in an envelope or something, but he sees them, they're written directly under his homework assignments in the planner.

Advice (or sympathy) is always appreciated.
 

PrincessShmoo

DIS veteran
Joined
Feb 12, 2009
So, my 8year old DS is not the world's best student. He struggles with language related topics - spelling, grammar, reading, etc. He's already repeated first grade and is, I thought, doing pretty well in second. His math and science grades are always A's, spelling runs 85-95 most weeks, grammar is usually a low B, reading goes back and forth between A and B. School is VERY hard for him, he hates to sit still, so this has taken a lot of effort on his and our parts.

His teacher this year isn't my favorite. I don't dislike her, but she's definitely in the bottom 5 out of all the teachers we've had between him and his older brother (sophomore in high school). With that said, out of those 5, there's only 1 that I actively disliked (not this one). The other's just weren't as great as some we've had but were more than adequate at their jobs.

All year long she's been sending home notes, written in his daily planner where he can see them. They've always felt very nit-picky to me. Little things, like about his socks not matching (uniform, he was wearing long pants and they were both the same, allowed color) or he wrote his assignment with his notebook upside down (it was correct, just tell him to re-do it at home?). Now, we've gotten two notes since school started back in January questioning his readiness for 3rd grade. Why? He has terrible handwriting (they just switched to requiring all assignments in cursive after Christmas break) and apparently yesterday he had some difficulty with his math lesson. How do we jump from a kid that makes A's and B's, with math being his consistently highest grade to not ready for 3rd grade with one lesson?

Anyway, I'm just frustrated with her. We are supposed to talk after school this afternoon and I'm afraid I'll say something rude. It wouldn't be nearly as bad if she'd email me or put them in an envelope or something, but he sees them, they're written directly under his homework assignments in the planner.

Advice (or sympathy) is always appreciated.
While I'm sympathetic (had a couple of teachers in my kid's school life that I felt were just not good) I have to wonder if you (or the teacher) are putting too much emphasis on his grade. I think a student who mostly gets Bs & As is a good student, very good. If you were saying that he gets As in math (statistical type subjects) and D/Fs in literary type subjects, then I'd say there's a problem.

Have you asked the teacher why she feels he's "not ready"? Could it be sociability, not educational levels?
 

FlightlessDuck

Y kant Donald fly?
Joined
Jun 20, 2006
Seriously? Mismatched socks? Either this teacher is a jerk or this school district is too strict on its uniform policy.

As for writing in his notebook upside down, ask him if he's doing it on purpose?

The handwriting issue could be a concern and a sign of a larger issue, or it could be he's just a messy writer.
 
  • jaybirdsmommy

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 27, 2008
    While I'm sympathetic (had a couple of teachers in my kid's school life that I felt were just not good) I have to wonder if you (or the teacher) are putting too much emphasis on his grade. I think a student who mostly gets Bs & As is a good student, very good. If you were saying that he gets As in math (statistical type subjects) and D/Fs in literary type subjects, then I'd say there's a problem.

    Have you asked the teacher why she feels he's "not ready"? Could it be sociability, not educational levels?
    I'm going to talk to her this afternoon and see what she says. She was specifically talking about math and grade level performance in this note. He's already repeated a grade so he's a year older than the other students already.

    You may be right about her emphasis on grade. When I said not a good student, I meant that he works very hard to get these grades, it doesn't come naturally to him and he doesn't enjoy school. He's definitely not dumb, he can do the work, it's just not as effortless for him as it is for other kids in the class.

    He got a 70 on his first grammar test last fall. I was thinking "yay, he passed!!!", she called and scheduled a conference and was legitimately concerned that I'd be angry with her about the grade.

    She was also the teacher that evaluated him last year and said he needed to re-do first. I think if she continues to talk about him not being at second grade level I'm going to request that a different teacher evaluate him.
     
    Last edited:

    PrincessShmoo

    DIS veteran
    Joined
    Feb 12, 2009
    When I said not a good student, I meant that he works very hard to get these grades, it doesn't come naturally to him
    That's a good student - one who works hard.

    There are people who never have to crack a book and get As & Bs all the time. There are people who have to study 2-3 hours a night to get those As & Bs. The second group are really the ones learning things. They're learning how to learn. I have children in both groups. The ones who worked for their grades are much more accomplished in their "after education" life, than the ones who didn't have to work for it.
     

    jaybirdsmommy

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 27, 2008
    Seriously? Mismatched socks? Either this teacher is a jerk or this school district is too strict on its uniform policy.

    As for writing in his notebook upside down, ask him if he's doing it on purpose?

    The handwriting issue could be a concern and a sign of a larger issue, or it could be he's just a messy writer.
    It's a private school, they are VERY strict on the uniform. I'm just picturing her having them hold up their pants legs so she can check their socks. Seemed like a waste of time to me. Both socks met the official requirements, I thought we'd skate by since he was wearing long pants.



    That's a good student - one who works hard.

    There are people who never have to crack a book and get As & Bs all the time. There are people who have to study 2-3 hours a night to get those As & Bs. The second group are really the ones learning things. They're learning how to learn. I have children in both groups. The ones who worked for their grades are much more accomplished in their "after education" life, than the ones who didn't have to work for it.
    You're right, I should probably phrase it differently.
     

    DopeyDame

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 8, 2010
    The other stuff is annoying, but to me falls into the "suffer through it" category.
    But there is ABSOLUTELY no way a teacher should be writing in a 2nd graders notebook that they may not be ready for third grade. That's all kinds of whacked out. Even before your meeting, I'd email her and ask that she contact you via email from now on with any academic concerns she may have.
    And I might be tempted to mention it to the Principal too.
    Also... given all you've written... it might be time to reconsider the private school tuition.
     
  • GreatLakes

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 6, 2015
    Does the school not have a portal of some sort to communicate with parents? The note about the socks and the notebook aren't a big deal since I would hope they addressed that with the student as well as send a note home but the part about not being ready for 3rd grade should be communicated in a way that the student doesn't see it.

    In 2019 there is no technological reason there isn't a private mechanism to speak with a parent electronically.
     

    RUDisney

    Mom to Ivan & Kristina
    Joined
    Apr 8, 2002
    Nah, not the private school tuition. If you lived in our area, it's definitely worth the money to have the kids challenged in school.

    This teacher sounds like a whack-a-doodle. I'd wait to see what she says, but I'd definitely be prepared to speak to the principal and even, perhaps the pastor if this is a catholic school. The diocese will have a school administrator if you have to bring that person into this, too.

    He can work on his cursive. If he has only been forced to use it since January, he may need some time before it's legible. Heck, some people never write legibly. I still have to ask my DH to translate his handwriting for me if he was in a rush. Some of my former bosses had terrible writing, too. Others would come to me for translation since I could usually figure it out.

    I'd love to know what her expectations are for everyone in the class. Classes have a mix of straight As and straight average or below average students. Does she expect them all to be superstars?

    Don't worry about being rude. I told one of my DS's former teachers that I believed that her definition of no child left behind was to not bother to teach in class, offer 3-hours of homework per night (in 3rd grade) and then confuse them with the test questions. She told me that she was insulted by that. I told her that it was good that she understood what I was saying. She was a first year teacher that knew everything about everything. I made sure my DD didn't have her for 3rd grade.
     

    Lilacs4Me

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 31, 2015
    Our elementary/middle school district switched over to real-time, objective standard grading, which really means there are no grades anymore, or report cards - all we get is a 10 page printout that makes zero sense and can change from day to day depending on the last assignment or test score. So, we don't have anything to base progress on except a loose series of ever-changing standards, we have to rely on what the teachers say at conferences and when we reach out and ask.

    It's really hard to ask a 12 year old (or younger!) what their level of grasping the concepts in class is, or if they feel they are keeping up.

    OK, rant over.

    In your shoes, I would be direct with the teacher:

    First and foremost:
    "Here is my email and phone # - if you have any concerns at all going forward, please reach out to me directly so we can partner together on a plan to help DS, and THEN we can decide together when to bring him into the conversation since he is still so young."


    Other questions:
    "Can you please walk me through the objectives/standards he SHOULD be reaching at this point, and where he is falling short, so that we can come up with a plan to get him up to grade level by the end of the year?"
    "What additional insight do you have on DS?
    How is his behavior...interaction with students...where would you rank his maturity level...etc?"
    "Do you see any other issues that might be hindering his academics?"
    "What can I do at home to partner with you to ensure we meet the goals set for DS?"
    "Do you recommend an IEP, or will the school provide extra help without one?" (or whatever the equivalent in private school would be, if they are not bound by law to provide one)

    I agree with PP - don't worry about being perceived as rude. Worry about being perceived as a PARTNER, not an adversary. your job is to advocate for your child, and to objectively listen to the issues being presented without being defensive, and work out a solution.

    ETA: When DS12 (my youngest) was in K and 1st grade, his classroom was chaotic and his teachers were scattered. The school would perform timed-test sight word evaluations every few weeks and DS kept failing them. They put him in Reading Advisory until 3rd grade (they don't really hold kids back here for academics, barring very specific cases, because our district has the funding to level kids out in the same grade based on their needs).

    One night, I noticed that DS was reading a Chapter Book! It wasn't an assignment...he just wanted to read. I asked him a few questions and his comprehension was perfect. So I set up a meeting with his teachers and reading advisory aide to talk about where he was at. The RA teacher was adamant that because he kept failing the timed tests, he wasn't ready to leave RA. So, I did a little research at home - I would ask DS to read a chapter of the book to me and then tell me about what he read. He would do great. Then I would have him read a list of words while I timed him, and he would fail it every time. Turned out, he would panic at the timer and lose all sense of what he knew. He tried to go so fast that he would stumble over a word, freak out about it, and then would never recover. The minute would be up and he would only have read 12 words instead of the 50 or whatever he was supposed to read.

    Once we knew this was the issue, the RA teacher started testing him differently (she did fight me since this was her "Standard") - but he was released from RA back into regular reading and writing for 3rd grade, and by the time he was in 5th grade, he was in Advanced Reading and Writing. I could kick myself for not realizing what was going on at first, but I am glad I "fought the system" and advocated for my kid. He is in 7th grade now, and will be taking his HS placement test next year to qualify for HS honors classes - he works hard at getting good grades and it doesn't come as easy as other kids, but he is persistent. He remembers feeling "stupid" in early elementary and it really affected him for a while...while the whole time, there was a smart kid hiding in there, who just needed to be tested differently.
     
    Last edited:
  • smiths02

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 13, 2009
    So, my 8year old DS is not the world's best student. He struggles with language related topics - spelling, grammar, reading, etc. He's already repeated first grade and is, I thought, doing pretty well in second. His math and science grades are always A's, spelling runs 85-95 most weeks, grammar is usually a low B, reading goes back and forth between A and B. School is VERY hard for him, he hates to sit still, so this has taken a lot of effort on his and our parts.

    His teacher this year isn't my favorite. I don't dislike her, but she's definitely in the bottom 5 out of all the teachers we've had between him and his older brother (sophomore in high school). With that said, out of those 5, there's only 1 that I actively disliked (not this one). The other's just weren't as great as some we've had but were more than adequate at their jobs.

    All year long she's been sending home notes, written in his daily planner where he can see them. They've always felt very nit-picky to me. Little things, like about his socks not matching (uniform, he was wearing long pants and they were both the same, allowed color) or he wrote his assignment with his notebook upside down (it was correct, just tell him to re-do it at home?). Now, we've gotten two notes since school started back in January questioning his readiness for 3rd grade. Why? He has terrible handwriting (they just switched to requiring all assignments in cursive after Christmas break) and apparently yesterday he had some difficulty with his math lesson. How do we jump from a kid that makes A's and B's, with math being his consistently highest grade to not ready for 3rd grade with one lesson?

    Anyway, I'm just frustrated with her. We are supposed to talk after school this afternoon and I'm afraid I'll say something rude. It wouldn't be nearly as bad if she'd email me or put them in an envelope or something, but he sees them, they're written directly under his homework assignments in the planner.

    Advice (or sympathy) is always appreciated.
    I don't necessarily have advice, but I'd be VERY concerned about the suggestion that a student who has already repeated 1st grade also repeat 2nd grade.
    I don't agree with a blame the teacher/school mentality in general, but why hasn't the school been able to get him ready for 3rd grade? That is literally what you are paying them to do. Is there a disability suspected that is causing academic difficulties? Even if there is, retention is generally NOT effective as an intervention. Granted, every case is different, but I certainly would not advocate for retention twice.

    I am also upset about that communication not being private. Why are schools and teachers making average (or even low average) kids feel less than?
     

    PrincessShmoo

    DIS veteran
    Joined
    Feb 12, 2009
    In 2019 there is no technological reason there isn't a private mechanism to speak with a parent electronically.
    True. But some teachers don't use such systems. Our high school has had direct communication link via online for years. And at least half of my kid's teachers didn't want to/like to/wouldn't use it.
     

    Monykalyn

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 11, 2014
    Hugs to you mama! Sounds like a good kid-one who is willing to work to get passing grades (and a parent who cares enough to provide the environment to do so).
    Why? He has terrible handwriting (they just switched to requiring all assignments in cursive after Christmas break)
    Ok-my son had difficulties as well with this-he is a lefty. I worked in an outpatient clinic at the time-an Occupational therapist overheard me talking and gave me some tips and recommended some things to strengthen his hands! She believed many kids messy writing was related to hand strength-especially if they were early walkers. the kids didn't develop the arm/hand strength by crawling for longer. My kiddo also pressed very hard down on the paper, further fatiguing him. Simple things like pushing pennies into clay with each finger one at a time (harder than you think!!) and using those squeeze balls trying to touch each finger to the thumb through the ball.

    I think if she continues to talk about him not being at second grade level I'm going to request that a different teacher evaluate him.
    Always a good idea-a more objective evaluation may lead to different conclusions.

    Do you recommend an IEP, or will the school provide extra help without one?" (or whatever the equivalent in private school would be, if they are not bound by law to provide one)
    Also good
    Lilacs4me has some great questions. Went through many of them myself when my son was struggling in early grades (social anxiety lead to issues in the classroom learning.) While we didn't have to have a formal IEP the teachers had some great ideas that my son loved, and helped ease him into school (that and the school counselor who got a very nice gift when he retired!!)

    I also heartily 2nd/3rd/4th the suggestion that she communicate privately with you on the academic "suggestions" as well.

    Good luck-please update :)
     

    jaybirdsmommy

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 27, 2008
    I just got off the phone with her.
    True. But some teachers don't use such systems. Our high school has had direct communication link via online for years. And at least half of my kid's teachers didn't want to/like to/wouldn't use it.
    No, this is a technology free school. She does email and will text me but nothing is done on-line like the public schools do.
     

    jaybirdsmommy

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 27, 2008
    Hugs to you mama! Sounds like a good kid-one who is willing to work to get passing grades (and a parent who cares enough to provide the environment to do so).

    Ok-my son had difficulties as well with this-he is a lefty. I worked in an outpatient clinic at the time-an Occupational therapist overheard me talking and gave me some tips and recommended some things to strengthen his hands! She believed many kids messy writing was related to hand strength-especially if they were early walkers. the kids didn't develop the arm/hand strength by crawling for longer. My kiddo also pressed very hard down on the paper, further fatiguing him. Simple things like pushing pennies into clay with each finger one at a time (harder than you think!!) and using those squeeze balls trying to touch each finger to the thumb through the ball.

    Always a good idea-a more objective evaluation may lead to different conclusions.

    Also good
    Lilacs4me has some great questions. Went through many of them myself when my son was struggling in early grades (social anxiety lead to issues in the classroom learning.) While we didn't have to have a formal IEP the teachers had some great ideas that my son loved, and helped ease him into school (that and the school counselor who got a very nice gift when he retired!!)

    I also heartily 2nd/3rd/4th the suggestion that she communicate privately with you on the academic "suggestions" as well.

    Good luck-please update :)
    You may be on to something with the hand-strength thing. This kid was a very late walker (almost 2 years old) but he didn't crawl either. He was a tummy scooter until 18 months (yes, he had physical therapy to address this). I also wonder if he isn't left handed, he does everything else left handed except writing. So much so that his sports coaches play him as a left-hander. He is being worked for on his hand grip, he holds his pencil funny.
     

    Monykalyn

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 11, 2014
    . He is being worked for on his hand grip, he holds his pencil funny.
    Was he "encouraged" to use his write hand for writing? or not really given choice? My son kinda switched back n forth deciding his dominant hand while my oldest has shown strong preference for left hand from the womb! (ultrasound picture of her sucking left thumb).
    The hand exercises really help!
     

    Princessclab

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jun 1, 2007
    This is a bunch of nonsense. I would go over her head immediately. It has been going on too long at the expense of your son.
    Bring all of your questions and concerns, written down to someone who will help you.
    Ask the principal who can help you with this. Go over their head if necessary.

    Best of luck.
     

    jaybirdsmommy

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 27, 2008
    Was he "encouraged" to use his write hand for writing? or not really given choice? My son kinda switched back n forth deciding his dominant hand while my oldest has shown strong preference for left hand from the womb! (ultrasound picture of her sucking left thumb).
    The hand exercises really help!
    Not that I'm aware of, I would have put a stop to it if I was. I was surprised when he started using his right hand since he seemed so left-handed. Sucked his left thumb, ate with his left hand. My dad and grandfather were both lefties. That's actually what made me think he could be using the wrong hand. My Grandfather was forced to be right-handed and my son's handwriting looks very much like his chicken scratches.
     

    SG131

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 3, 2017
    I can’t believe she had to send you a note about his socks, there’s adult males that wouldn’t pass that test! Maybe if you do decide to re-evaluate your son for readiness and overall learning issues it might be worth getting someone outside of the school involved. It sounds like a pretty strict school that requires more from their students than others and have set ideas of how to do things. Maybe someone outside that system could have more suggestions of how best to help your son overall with school.
     



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