I agree he was probably indicating that the old school was too hard on him.
doing the advanced work vs being happy/low stress - Page 2
I think girls are more likely to suck it up and just make it work, but that some of them are still feeling intense stress even though they aren't showing it. When we switched to the alternative school, one of my kids *needed* the switch, but we been equally amazed at the changes in our DD who seemed to excell in a pressured, traditional setting. She's so much happier. She's more comfortable in her skin. She likes her peers more. Dh and I think it will make a difference in how she turns out in life, even though she looked like she was doing fine with all the stress and pressure.
I wonder what kind of later employee these kinds of school are creating, teaching children how to disregard their own legitimate needs, and what kind of bosses...
I was going to suggest going in to observe the cough. Glad you had that idea.
I would be much happier with my kids in the second school than in the first one. I think kids can achieve, (especially when they're young and don't need specialized labs, etc) wherever they are if they are intrinsically motivated and it sounds like the external motivation (work assignments) at the other school were dampening his internal motivation.
On the coughing, gosh, I don't want to sound like all those parents who accuse children of being manipulative, but it does sound to me like he is...um... figuring out the effects his actions have on others and he is playing around with it to see if he can make things happen. I hope that doesn't sound too bad. I think it's probably developmentally appropriate.
I have two dds and the first one doesn't have a sneaky bone in her body, but the second one is a little imp and enjoys being mischievous and trying to pull one over on people or see what she can get away with. She's a very sweet kid, though, and doesn't really want to hurt anyone or really get in trouble she just thinks it's fun to be sneaky. I try not to go overboard with correcting her or catching her, but I do try to not let her get away with it and restate our values (telling the truth is very important) and state what the consequences could be if the action were escalated.
So for example on the coughing thing, if it was my kid I would probably say something like, "Sometimes kids will fake being sick to see if they can get out of school (maybe throw in a reference to a book or movie where this happened), but it's not a good idea. Did you know that if a kid misses too many days of school he has to repeat the second grade and can't go to third grade?"
If you think there's a chance he really might have exercise induced asthma I would explain about the need to go to the doctor and maybe have some tests run. They might have to take blood or go to another doctor for more tests, etc. It's not _really_ a threat, but it's not running down to the school every time he coughs, either, which is what it sounds like he wants you to do. I would explain that if he did have asthma he would have to take medicine, but he'd still have to go to school and that there are a lot of kids and adults (like his teacher) who have to go to school and work with asthma.
I'm really a fan of letting kids work at their own pace with some gentle prodding here and there. The first school wouldn't have been a good fit for me as a parent, much less for my kids! Hope you can continue to get him on track at the second school.
cough - yes, a doctor. It's really hard to fake a hacking cough that goes on for half an hour, much less over an hour.
I had a similar experience with my ds1, also 7, and I was humbled/embarrassed/horrified to find out that he was really unwell after months of complaining. I knew he didn;t really like school, plus he had no recognisable symptons. No headaches, no coughs, nothing. Every morning, he would tell me he couldn't go to school because he's sick. He even went to the teacher a few times to say he felt sick and wanted to go home and his teacher was as skeptical as I was. It went on for two months with him badgering me to take him to a doctor, and explicitly telling me NOT to take him to the usual doctor because he was sure the doctor would not find anything. Instead he wanted me to take him to a specialist (right, like for what??). I finally took him when he readily agreed to do a blood test if necessary because in my limited experience, it's either a put-on, or it may be cancer.
I took him to a new pediatrician with a good reputation who didn't laugh in my face when I said we were not sure why we were there. She said it was unusual for children to complain so insistently and gave him a complete check. It turned out his airways were very inflamed and he was getting limited air. He was put on a course of antihistamine and his items are now included in our antidustmite regime.
Bad mum alert: There were other instances when I did not take him seriously because there were no clear symptons, but when I did finally take him to the doctor, there was always a valid medical concern which was treated. And we don't go back to our old pd anymore.
Linda I know what you mean. The parents we know who have both sons and daughters say things are SO much easier with their daughter, even if the teacher/school/system hasn't changed. And I hope my son comes around fully like your dd. I can tell he still misses his old school; but overall he is WAY calmer and easygoing about things. He even came home with a B+ on a math test (his first ever!) and he wasn't that upset. To most parents maybe that would seem bothersome, we want our kids doing well, but for me I'm so happy he wasn't melting down completely since he didn't get them all right! My dh and I want our kids to know that failure is a great way to learn new things. To not be afraid of it. This school may not end up being a rock star academically, but as my husband says, we'd rather have a happy working at grade level kid than a miserable GT one.
Speaking of rock-star academics though...the principle told me once the kids at this school are in 4th/5th grade, they are testing 2 grade levels ahead on the private school standardized test. I had a couple questions (since its break now and I'm not able to ask the principle himself)...do any of you know the differences between the public state tests and the private school ones? Also--I know my son is working at grade level in 2nd grade, and at this point I don't know how far ahead the grades ahead of him get with curriculum. Say they really are testing 2 grade levels ahead; any chance that by having very, very small class sizes (my son is 1 of 7), and working at grade level with enrichment, they are able to gain a more comprehensive understanding, such that they can apply their knowledge to curriculum material not yet covered? Which would result in the advanced testing levels. I do know that the majority of the kids from this school when they leave for middle school (it only goes up to 5th grade) are qualifying for the public school GT. I guess now that I've seen what the public school was doing--working grade levels ahead very quickly, I'm wondering if that is the best way to go about learning at all. Meaning--my son was learning 4th grade spelling words in 2nd grade, and acing the tests. However--when he'd be tasked with writing a paragraph about something, he'd misspell tons of words, even easy ones. As in he's memorizing to pass the test, not to gain the knowledge.
Or possibly, that happens to all kids regardless of the level they are working at to some degree?
And thanks everyone for your advice about the cough. It has gone away, and I do think he had one ligitimately but at some point started greatly exaggerating it. I remember faking sick when I was young to get out of school too, and I actually loved school.
Beanma--we did stress the importance of being honest and we did tell him the story of the little boy who cried wolf.
deminc--I have not given enough attention to illnesses too. I think we all do both at some point, either feed into something or not pay enough attention to it. We're human after all ;)
You have a translation problem here. Your principal may or may not understand it either:
Generally when testing tells you that the kid places at, say the level of 6th grade in math, that means that your child did as well as the average 6th grader on that test. That doesn't mean that your child knows what's taught in the 6th grade, just that the average 6th grader -- who is likely to make some mistakes, not be super solid on some older stuff -- would do the same as your kid given the exact same test, even if given the test designed for 4th graders. My guess based on what you say is that, yes, the close attention and enrichment does allow the kids to do very well on these tests through mastery of the material.
Grade level equivalents are tricky things.
There's another effect here with effective instruction: In my family, we have also noticed that math curricula, through their spiraling nature, will allow a kid who intuitively understands the material to naturally extend beyond the instructed material without even realizing it. Both my kids learned single digit addition, for instance, and really saw no difference when they got to double digit addition, whereas other kids needed direct instruction on how to deal with the extra digits. Both my kids look at it and just see more addition.
Private school standardized tests could mean anything. Some private schools use dozens of tests, and all quite different. They probably aren't very comparable to state tests (and that will vary by state as well). There are a few that give you a clearer sense of how far a child has extended themselves, but generally percentiles, scores scaled (100 as the average by age/grade and st dev of 15 -- equivalent to an IQ) are most useful and comparable.
Which leaves you where?
Our mantra in our house is: Is the child engaged? Learning? Content with school? We change things up or intervene at the school when the answer is no to one of those criteria.
I don't know about the cough, except for one thing: when my DD1 was younger (maybe six or so- like your DS), she had coughing that was a symptom of strep throat. While the strep throat went away eventually, the coughing became more of a tic that lasted for a year. I don't know if that's what happened to your DS, but that's what happened with mine. And by the way, I don't know how you can exaggerate coughing- it's not that easy to create a realistic-sounding, hacking cough like your DS's- usually you know when it's fake by the way it sounds. And I don't think you would want to cough all the time, every few seconds, every day like my DD1's was. Believe me, you get really tired of it eventually, but you can't do anything about it. You HAVE to cough. Maybe ask your DS how he feels, ask him about his throat or cough and see what happens. If his throat aches or something, ask him if it hurts when he swallows only, that kind of thing. Just ask about it, that's all.
Geofizz, I am in agreement with what you wrote; I understand the percentile grading. Sorry in my previous post I didn't explain exactly what the principle told me--yes, they are scoring on the standardized test what the average 6th grader scores when they are in 4th grade. I think thats pretty good, considering it doesn't seem like they are moving that far beyond grade level (that I can tell yet for 2nd grade), though I do know they have pretty cool and fun enrichment activities for the kids who finish the assigned classwork early.
"Which leaves you where?
Our mantra in our house is: Is the child engaged? Learning? Content with school? We change things up or intervene at the school when the answer is no to one of those criteria."
Yes, and this is what we chose to do when we switched him from the public school. Hopefully we won't have to go this route again, that is if he seems to be challenged enough at this school great, if not that they are willing to work with us to see that he can be.
In second grade, my son transitioned from a challenging Montessori school to a good public school where the work was much easier for him. We supplemented with extra-curricular learning to make up for the easier work and we also made sure he was fully responsible for his homework, and doing as through a job as possible for each assignment.
In middle school, the curriculum stepped up -- many more opportunities for gifted kids -- and that is where we've really seen the benefits: he is not burned out from grade school, has always felt confident to actively participate in class, and has long been in the habit of being responsible for managing his work. So, what we learned is that a happy, confidence-building school experience in the early grades can really set the stage for future academic achievements.
Also, regarding the cough, two questions:
1) Are there any animals in your son's classroom? If so, there might be an allergy trigger.
2) Does he ever cough at night (while sleeping?) If he coughs at night that is a strong sign of asthma, and if so, will likely need something other than an inhaler for long term management.
"So, what we learned is that a happy, confidence-building school experience in the early grades can really set the stage for future academic achievements."
Elcie, that is exactly what we are praying will happen with ds too. Did you move your son because of the harder curriculum at the first school? What sort of extra-curricular supplementing did you do? Ds came to me upset last night, worried that the work at his new school is too easy for him. I as a mom am learning a very valuable lesson from this, that ds takes a lot of his cues about himself from me. Lately I had said to him, "do me a favor and let me know if the work gets too easy and you are bored." I really just need to let the situation unfold on its own without trying to micromanage it.
I am supposed to be working so I only skimmed the posts . . .
RE: cough-- my DD had one, too, to the point where she was on asthma meds. They did nothing. I did my own research, and found that it was probably a habit cough (like a tic). Mentioned this to the doctor, and he agreed with me. Once I explained what it was to DD, it went away! She was not doing it for attention, but it was just "habit" so it kind of made her cough more since she'd irritate her throat.
Anyway, I would say that my DD is not being challenged at school right now. She had skipped a grade, but I pulled her out to homeschool the past three years, and now she is back . . .but not skipped. HOWEVER, she is happy. She does sometimes groan that certain topics are taught only in high school when she wants them now, and asks if there will ever be a time where she is not ahead because she is tired of waiting for her level. (And yes, I think that time will come!) Overall, though, she likes her friends, likes the school "extras," likes her teachers, etc. so she gets something out of school. They don't get a lot of homework and she isn't involved in many after-school activities, so she has some time for her own interests.
Since we'd homeschooled, I gave the teachers samples of what she can do/what she can read, and her gifted teacher is going to work one-on-one with her now, so it did help. But again, DD finally likes school, so that is good enough for me!