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Things not going well

post #1 of 51
Thread Starter 
Well, we met with the principal and he was awesome and very supportive of advancing Olivia. Then he said he had to meet with her teacher. Her teacher does not seem to like her and she has made comments to Olivia about how she isn't as smart as she thinks and that she needs to stay in the proper grade or she won't learn enough. So we had a meeting with her, the grade 3/4 teacher and the principal on Monday and it did not go well. Idiotic arguments used were that because she already knew all her times tables that doesn't mean she still doesn't need grade 2 math because she probably doesn't know what it means, she is just reciting numbers. I told them they were wrong and that she can do word problems and that if you say to her what does 5 X 7 mean she would know that it is 5 groups of 7. But they didn't appear to believe me. Then they said that even though she has learned 166 complex spelling words in just over a month that she still doesn't really know them because she can't use every single one in a sentence. Seriously? I can't even use bhangra in a sentence. And they took out one of her journels to show that she doesn't know little words because she wrote "plaed" instead of "played" in a journal entry. I told them obviously she had just made a mistake because she has known how to spell that since she was 4. But again they acted like I was just being a pushy mom or something. I didn't stand up for myself or my daughter and I am ashamed of that. I was just so dumbfounded and their arguments were so ridiculous that I didn't know what to say. They said if she skipped grade 3 there would be HUGE gaps in her learning and she would have trouble all the way up through college. Yeah, okay. So the current teacher says she will let her do enrichment stuff, like doing higher level computer games for math and language arts when she was done her other work. But the last two days Olivia has said that she asks the teacher when she is done and the teacher says she can't right now. And even so I don't like that solution because it still maintains that she has to sit and do work far below her level before she is allow to do anything that challenges her. March break is this coming week and I am going to formulate my argument properly and go back to the principal and tell him that I am not happy with this at all. They said they will assess her about 2 months into third grade. You mean after she has spent 2 months doing work that is too easy for her? After she is 2 months into the year so you can say to me that she can't switch into the middle of the year. They are worried about gaps in her learning. Fine. I am going to tell the principal that I am going to homeschool her over the summer. I am going to get AOP Lifepacs (I know they aren't the best curriculum but this is just a short term thing) and do the entire 3rd grade curriculum over the summer. It will probably take her about a month. I am going to tell him since they commonly take homeschooled kids that they will have to accept this as proof that she has completed the 3rd grade and that they will need to start her in the 4th grade in September. I will keep all her work and take it to them in mid-August if they insist to show she has completed it. If she had been homeschooling all along they would accept that she was going into 3rd grade based on her work level and not worry about her age so there is no reason this situation should be any different. I think it's unfair that she has to do this but she loves to learn so much that she will find it fun and then at least she will be able to advance to a proper level. Yes, it will put both her and her brother in grade 4 together but he is fine with it and so is she. Any thoughts are appreciated.
post #2 of 51
{{{{Hugs}}}}

It sounds like you're feeling pretty stonewalled. I'm sorry things aren't working out better.

I'm not sure I have any brilliant suggestions, but I do think you should reconsider "homeschooling 3rd grade" during the summer. Reading between the lines, it sounds like the school thinks you are a pushy mom who wants her child to be accelerated at all costs. Helping her work through a homeschooling curriculum in the summer time is really only going to reinforce their beliefs. From the perspective of traditional education, cramming an entire 3rd grade homeschooling curriculum into a child's summer sounds like cruel and unusual punishment, the sort of thing only a very pushy, ambitious parent would subject their child to. They'll think "Oh that poor kid! What a crazy mom ... it's so sad, think of the pressure that kid is under. And how could she possibly have covered the material with the kind of breadth and depth of OUR third grade program? It's simply not possible...."

And you'll be worse off than when you started, because the school will be more convinced of your pushiness, your dd will be more bored than ever in 3rd grade, and she'll have lost what could have been a wonderful summer following her bliss, decompressing from the tedious year she's had in 2nd grade.

For whatever reason it sounds like the teacher thinks you're saying "my daughter is bored stiff and has nothing to learn from you" and as a result the teacher is feeling hurt and defensive and is looking for ways to prove that your dd doesn't necessarily know everything. Is there any way you can change the teacher's perception and create more of a partnership? I hate to say it but the whole thing sounds very antagonistic ... and I don't think that works very well in favour of getting creative accommodations for your dd's needs.

Miranda
post #3 of 51
Oh, and I just wanted to add that every primary or middle school I'm personally aware of that has accepted homeschooled students simply puts them with their age-grade -- unless there has been extensive third-party evaluation of their skills and ability done which makes a clear case for advanced placement.

I have a 1st grader who has completed a 3rd grade homeschooling curriculum in her weakest areas, and is well into 5th grade in her stronger areas. If I registered her for school next fall they would put her in 2nd grade. A homeschooling parent's say-so isn't normally grounds for advanced placement, not without objective 3rd party testing. After placing the her with her age-mates they then they would adjust the placement if they deemed it necessary after they'd done their own evaluation and observation.


Miranda
post #4 of 51
So is it the receiving teacher (who she would have if she skipped) or her current teacher that was so negative at the meeting? From everyone I've talked to, if the receiving teacher is reluctant, skips don't tend to work out. Obviously a teacher can sabotage even a needed skip, sadly enough.

Is there any possibility of a different receiving teacher? If so, I would try again with the principal. I think you need to go in with the b.s. flowing. Pat them on the head for working with you, compliment anything good you've seen - like the more complex word lists - etc. When they bring up the potential 'gaps', grab onto them enthusiastically, yes! we've been looking for her to have more opportunities to learn. Let them know if she comes across any gaps that are causing her to fall behind or become frustrated you will gladly help remediate at home. Even offer to sign a waiver, stating that you will not hold them responsible for any gaps or problems due to the skip. Say you would like to try the 6-8 week trial next year in the new grade since there would be much less chance of 'gaps' if she moves back to third instead of moving to 4th after school starts.

However, if you don't have a teacher that is at least neutral about the skip, I really don't think it will be a positive experience. I don't think the homeschooling over the summer will help in most places. We'd been homeschooling for a couple of years, had tons of testing data that showed our daughter was extremely advanced, when we talked to the school about potential placement (dd was 8). This was at mid-year and she had a b-day a few days past the cut-off, so it would make her an older 2nd grader. Despite test scores and work samples for all subjects many grades beyond that, they would not consider placement in 3rd. They don't have to use common sense if they don't want to, sigh.

Any other school options? homeschooling?
post #5 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post
Oh, and I just wanted to add that every primary or middle school I'm personally aware of that has accepted homeschooled students simply puts them with their age-grade -- unless there has been extensive third-party evaluation of their skills and ability done which makes a clear case for advanced placement.

Miranda
LOL, we cross-posted! This is true in my area - and in my case even with 3rd party testing it was strictly age-grade. I didn't stay to fight for it though, I might have found a way to get her into 3rd. Of course, that wasn't a good fit either, so we bailed out of school completely!
post #6 of 51
Thread Starter 
It was the teacher she is with now that was being negative but the receiving teacher wasn't that encouraging either. I just don't know what to do. She is bored in school, she isn't being challenged at all. Why should she sit in a classroom for 6.5 hours a day and learn nothing new? What is the point? Homeschooling isn't an option because she doesn't want to homeschool. She is a really social girl and she wants to stay in the school. She is just upset about the work. It is a split class, they all are, because it's a really small school. My DH thinks they should just combine grade 3 and grade 4 when she is in there next year. Have her do the work of both grades (she'd be fine with it) and have her complete 2 grades in one year. Then after that year she would move on to grade 5 with the rest of the grade 4's. We are going to meet with the principal again after March break and tell them that we want them to come up with a solution that challenges Olivia or we won't re-enroll (it is a private school so obviously there is tuition that they would like to keep).
post #7 of 51
Thread Starter 
I wrote an e-mail to the principal. Here it is:

"I am writing this down instead of calling so that I am able to make sure I cover everything I want to say. Since the meeting on Monday we have had time to talk and think and we have both come to the conclusion that we are not happy with how the meeting went. We feel that we are not being listened to by the teachers and that Olivia is not being allowed to work at an appropriate level. We love the school and we would like to figure out a way to make this work, but we do not feel just allowing Olivia to stagnate should be an option. During the course of the meeting both Mrs. L and Mrs. K gave examples of things Olivia does not know and has not demonstated knowledge of. Even when we tried to explain she does in fact know a lot of these things we feel we were not listened to. We understand the points that were made for not advancing Olivia but we feel that these issues could be dealt with to the satisfaction of all parties involved. We strongly feel that Mrs. L is not doing enough to allow Olivia to work at a more appropriate level. Olivia was interested when we mentioned what Mrs. L had mentioned about her being allowed to do more complex math when she finished her work but the last 2 days Olivia has finished very quickly and has been told that nothing has been arranged for her. We have talked to Mrs. L multiple times about Olivia not feeling challenged and we don't see anything being done. In regards to skipping her up a grade we were not suggesting that be done at this time. We were hoping that Olivia would finish up grade 2 and then be allowed to start grade 4 in September. We would be willing to work with her over the summer on any things that she is lacking in. If that is not an option we would like for her to complete her grade 3 and grade 4 year in one year combined and then move on to grade 5 in September 2011. We know without a doubt that Olivia would be able to handle two years of work in one year. I hope that after the March Break we can meet again to discuss these issues. We are just not satisfied with Olivia being made to do work that is not challenging to her. We don't feel that this will serve her well for the rest of her educational years. Thank you for taking the time to read this e-mail."
post #8 of 51
i agree with the pp's about attempting to do a grade level of homeschooling during the summer.

personally, if this were my dd i would find a different school. even if they do finally agree to let her skip it doesn't sound like the teachers are very open to it. i wouldn't want my child in a classroom where the teacher doesn't have faith in her capabilites and create a positive environment for her to learn in.
post #9 of 51
I'm sorry you are getting such a foundation-less response to your perfectly reasonably request. I have had a similar reaction this year from my kid's current teacher. Their position has no basis whatsoever in research, and yours does -- it is well-documented that kids who are bored in school can suffer lasting negative consequences (persistent negative views of school, mis-classification as a behavior problems), in addition to the criminal waste of time in can amount to for them to cover ground they already know.

So I'm wondering -- what exactly is it that you DO love about the school? Because the attitude of two of the teachers toward your DD, and the way the school director handled this so far, seems very lacking. Are there other options?
post #10 of 51
I am so very sorry to hear that a grade skip that might work so well is being sabotaged by the school.
I agree that a negative receiving teacher is a very bad thing in a grade skip (in my sad personal experience!). She could make your daughter's life miserable. It appears that the receiving teacher, though, is not quite as negative as her current teacher and the principal. Maybe she feels pressured to go along with the no-skip ethos? It might be good to think a bit about the personalitites involved, maybe the receiving teacher, on noticing that acceleration in her classroom works, can convince the others to back off. Your daughter (if she stays in this school) will be in her classroom anyway, so you might work something out about the 2 years in one-thing with just her, and the principal sort of just grumbling in the background? I understand that it is a very small school with a strong community spirit, so you'd have to have at least grumbling agreement from everyone. It certainly shouldn't matter too much that her current teacher is negative, if she's not going to be in her classroom again, and if she does not have the kind of personality to negatively influence others who then will not meet your daughter with an open mind.

I wonder if you might make a bit more headway if you had more objective documentation like a third party assessment - an IQ test together with an achievement test, maybe. Others have mentioned the IOWA acceleration scale as a means of introducing a more objective viewpoint. Having her assessed sometime in third grade, ie in almost a year is ridiculous - that is stalling tactics. She should be assessed now, because you are talking about this now.

Hugs. If your daughter loves the school, try not to burn any bridges. There seem to be options for next year that do not involve the person who appears to be most negative.
post #11 of 51
First of all let me say that I'm an sorry to hear of your problems. GRRRRR

I would highly recommend that you have your DD tested with a formal Achievement test combined with an IQ test.
The 2 tests together will show your daughters potential and reasoning abilities. The tests should be enough evidence to prove that your DD is not just "reciting numbers".

The testing will also help you see any gaps that need to be filled in before moving forward.
post #12 of 51
I agree that if the receiving teacher is not openly negative there is hope. If you can even get her to informally agree to allow your daughter to work more with the 4th graders in the split class, perhaps she can be an ally for moving onto 5th the next year. At the very least perhaps she won't try to sabotage your efforts.
post #13 of 51
Since next year she is going to the same classroom/teacher whether she is a 3rd grader or a 4th grader, what would seem most important is that she be properly challenged in that room. Since the 3rd and 4th grades are combined, it should be very possible for your DD to complete both the 3rd and 4th grade curriculums simutaneaously.

If you could avoid having the 2nd grade teacher involved, that would probably help. Possibly the principal is suggesting putting off the evaluation till next year to get the negative 2nd grade teacher out of the picture.

I would say; base you decisions on your feel about whether the 3rd/4th grade teacher seems like she is going to accommodate your DD, not what her official grade level is going to be. If the teacher is flexible, she will give your DD appropriate level work even if that means 3rd grade work in one subject, 4th grade work in most subjects and 5th grade work in others, even if DD is officially a 3rd grader. However, if the teacher is rigid, it won't make an iota of difference what your DD's official GL is. The teacher will give her whatever the teacher wants to and ignore DD's needs.
post #14 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by eepster View Post
Since next year she is going to the same classroom/teacher whether she is a 3rd grader or a 4th grader, what would seem most important is that she be properly challenged in that room.
I agree. I didn't realize this. Is this indeed the case? If so, then the nominal grade placement for next year can really be immaterial. What is important is that the grade 3/4 teacher be creative and open-minded in challenging your girl within the context of a classroom that is teaching at the 4th grade level already. If you've got that, your real issue will be placement after next year -- moving her to 5th as appropriate.

My elementary school was mostly in split classes like this, and the fluidity of grade levels was such that I often didn't really know what grade level I was in. I remember being confused when I showed up for 3rd grade on the first day of school and being told to go stand in the 4th grade line, that I had completed 3rd grade last year in a 2/3 classroom. I'd had no idea.

Miranda
post #15 of 51
Heavenly,

I don't have any particularly good wisdom or insight, just some empathy and understanding. I am sorry you are going through this. This happens so often, all I can think of is that it is no wonder that so many of our brightest and gifted children go "underground." Your daughter sounds like a wonderful kid who enjoys learning and has a real drive for it as well. ((HUGS)). I do think your solution for a combo 3rd/4th grade year sounds like a winner. And I wouldn't be too concerned myself about gaps. I homeschooled my dd last year for third grade (she is now in 4th) and because she had "gaps" in second grade, I spent most of the year going over the 2nd grade curriculum. She got maybe a third of the way through the 3rd grade curriculum, mostly due to me slowing her down, not her abilities. But, while she is not excelling in math, she is doing okay in her GATE class (which accelerates the pace of learning, doesn't change the math taught), even without the full third grade curriculum and without being particularly gifted in math.

-Sky
post #16 of 51
My thoughts:

First, I'd look up research on grade acceleration and its benefits and bring it in for them. Then I'd ask them to back up their ideas with research showing that grade acceleration would be harmful for your daughter. Many teachers hold firmly held preconceived notions about how kids learn, notions that aren't backed up by the research.

Second, I'd do everything I could to get a full educational evaluation for your dd. She needs an achievement test (standardized) and an IQ test. They're raising some specious arguments, and you can sidestep those if you say "but her achievement test puts her at this level." (For example, our third grader looked at something he'd written about 3 weeks ago, and said "Hey, I spelled "playing" as "paying"." Third graders make spelling mistakes too. So do 4th graders. So do Ph.D.s.)

When they tell you there are gaps in her knowledge or that "she doesn't really know multiplication, she just can recite things" ask them how they know this. Have you assessed her on this? Do third graders demonstrate this knowledge?

I think instead of trying to prove to them that Olivia does know these things, your job is to make them demonstrate with more than random examples that she doesn't. (Hence my suggestion for testing.) Does the school do standardized testing? Can the principal declare that she should be allowed to take the 3rd grade test this year and see how she does? It's easy to argue with parent anecdotes. It's hard to argue with a test score. (Even though a test score isn't going to capture everything.)

Finally, in your next e-mail to the principal, I'd make sure to divide things up into paragraphs a bit more. Make sure the topic sentence of each paragraph is your major point for that paragraph. It's just much easier to read. I like that you made specific requests at the end of the e-mail, and I would continue to do that.
post #17 of 51
Could you possibly be too hung up on the grade skip thing? It seems like you might be obsessed with a grade skip and not hearing or accepting any alternatives.

Skipping a grade is kind of a last resort thing and should not be taken lightly. It could be disasterous for a child. You should not have to argue and bully your way into grade skipping your child. It just seems odd that you would even have to prove anything to the school administrators let alone her teacher. Her advanced abilities are obviously not that dramatic in the classroom.

Olivia sounds wonderful and she seems happy at school. She sounds super smart. But, honestly, many children are bored to tears in second grade at times. I know I was. But, this year is almost over, and in third they will be doing more. It is not all about your reading level and multiplication tables. And, it sounds like fourth is in the same room, so what's the difference? It also sounds like she will have a different teacher which may help.

Now, my advise- get her IQ tested if you think their are real problems. And, she might benifit more from a school change rather than a grade skip. Could it be possible that this small private school is just not equipped to handle a child like Olivia? Their are gifted magnet schools and even publics have some excellent pull out programs. Is she interested in art?

IMO the best case scenario is when the child can excel in their own age/grade level.
post #18 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Heavenly View Post
So the current teacher says she will let her do enrichment stuff, like doing higher level computer games for math and language arts when she was done her other work. But the last two days Olivia has said that she asks the teacher when she is done and the teacher says she can't right now.
Some thoughts:

In an IEP or 504 Plan for public school, everything must be VERY specific and have dates and measurable outcomes. So my advice is to nail down exactly what is "enrichment stuff": when it will start, what it will include, and how you will all know whether or not it is working. How will you know if your child is being enriched? Enriched enough? Enriched in the right way? What is objective enough that you and the school can use to gage how things are going?

I would also ask for specific subjects to be replaced rather than a grade skip. Rathering than skipping all of 3rd grade, she could be just be placed with 4th grade for math, for example.

I'm not a fan of grade skipping, but I wouldn't leave my child in a school that was so clearly out of line with my own thinking about what was appropriate for my child. I don't know what the public schools are like where you are, but they really seem worth a try. Could it be worse?
post #19 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post
I agree. I didn't realize this. Is this indeed the case? If so, then the nominal grade placement for next year can really be immaterial. What is important is that the grade 3/4 teacher be creative and open-minded in challenging your girl within the context of a classroom that is teaching at the 4th grade level already. If you've got that, your real issue will be placement after next year -- moving her to 5th as appropriate.

My elementary school was mostly in split classes like this, and the fluidity of grade levels was such that I often didn't really know what grade level I was in. I remember being confused when I showed up for 3rd grade on the first day of school and being told to go stand in the 4th grade line, that I had completed 3rd grade last year in a 2/3 classroom. I'd had no idea.

Miranda

Would you keep her in the same school for 5th? I could see the 3rd moving into 4th thing working if you plan to be in same school for 5th. We tried to do something similar with k/1 class moving into a 2nd last year and it didn't work - I think because we also switched private schools. It was a learning experience for us... Happy now so okay for us but hoping this works out for you.
post #20 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by minkin03 View Post
i agree with the pp's about attempting to do a grade level of homeschooling during the summer.

personally, if this were my dd i would find a different school. even if they do finally agree to let her skip it doesn't sound like the teachers are very open to it. i wouldn't want my child in a classroom where the teacher doesn't have faith in her capabilites and create a positive environment for her to learn in.



I'm just curious, what would be a reason for teachers to do this [if there honestly is no gap or problem w/ the child's education]. It never occurred to me that teachers could be against skipping. Sorry to butt in...
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