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Introverted kid. Big school problems.

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

I'm feeling very defeated tonight.  I had a conference with my DD's 2nd grade teacher. DD was accelerated last year, and is a young 6 year old in her 2nd grade class.  

 

There are 2 problems.  One is that DD is extremely introverted and uncommunicative in school.  She does not like to speak, bottles up her problems, and gets through the day without demonstrating any joy in anything. I am so very sad about this. :(  We are working hard on it at home--we encourage social skills, role play, take her out specifically to practice.  It has been this way throughout her entire school career, even when she was in the age appropriate class. The teacher clearly attributes this personality to being skipped.  She mentioned over and over again that DD is young.  

 

The other problem is the attitude the teacher took with me today.  Although I mostly just listened, she made several assumptions about me.  She assumed that I had pushed for the grade skip.  I didn't.  The teacher also acted as though I am pushing DD.  When she asked about DD's interests at home, and I gave a list (geography, space, chess), she told me that I was putting too much pressure on DD.  Um...I put no pressure on the kid.  The only thing I ask is that she does her homework and practice the violin.  She is the most underscheduled kid in our entire state. 

 

I'm not really sure what to do about this.  DD's lack of communication seems to mean EVERYTHING to this teacher.  She told me a few times that DD's academic success isn't particularly notable, and that she is EXTREMELY concerned about her socializing. I mentioned that DD socializes just fine in smaller situations, and that large groups have always posed a challenge for her.  With guidance and patience, she will warm up.

 

thoughts?  I just want her to be happy.  And for something, anything, about my kid to be recognized in school.  I don't care what it is.

post #2 of 23

This could have been my eldest two kids. We were able to homeschool until they had the social comfort to do more than endure school, but I sure feel for you, and for your dd!

 

The thing I'm wondering about ... I get that your dd doesn't express joy at school, seems withdrawn and so on, but is she actually unhappy? My kids often looked like they were withdrawn, unengaged or detached but sometimes they were just doing what introverts tend to do in large-group environments: fading into the background so as to be left alone, and to learn by observing and listening. I remember taking my ds to aikido classes for a while, hoping he'd be interested in joining in. I had made a deal with him that he should try to find some group activity to join, and I pitched aikido as a possibility, saying we'd just watch for a few weeks. He just sat there, class after class, brow furrowed, looking like he would rather be anywhere else. I gave up: clearly aikido wasn't piquing his interest, and I would just stop bringing him to watch. But when I told him that, he was indignant: he loved aikido, and he wanted to join the class someday. (He eventually did: it took him about a month to join in.)

 

 

If your dd is not unhappy, then I think it's just the teacher that has the problem. Well, you have a problem too I suppose, since it's annoying as heck to have aspersions cast upon your motives and parenting practices. But perhaps the most important thing at the center of all this, your dd, is doing just fine. What's your read on how she is actually feeling about things? What is her assessment of school? What does she say about it? Does she like going? Does she feel she's getting something valuable out of it?

 

Miranda


Edited by moominmamma - 10/12/13 at 11:41pm
post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 

Thanks, Miranda.  I appreciate the sympathy...I feel very alone in this, and it gives me comfort to know that there are other kids who have this personality. I think DD is quirky and weird and wonderful.

 

That's an interesting possibility--that DD is just perfectly fine watching.  I will try to ask her some sneaky questions tomorrow to see.  She does not particularly like school, and I think she has always found it draining.  But perhaps she is not unhappy, per se.  

 

The teacher definitely has a problem with acceleration, or with quiet/shy/unreadable kids, or both.  And she clearly expressed her problems with me, although i can't see what I did to offend her.  I think I will send DH to the next meeting; maybe he'll have better luck.  In the meantime, I truly hope she actually helps DD and that DD finds a way to warm up to her.  Her shyness will only get worse if this teacher continues to be gruff and demanding.

post #4 of 23
Thread Starter 

She gets nothing out of it academically.  Nothing.  Of course the teacher asked me straight out if I felt DD was being challenged, and I (stupidly) said that she played the violin at home because it was important to us that she learns how to work hard at something.  Obviously that was just me being overbearing and pushy again.  :eyesroll

post #5 of 23

I second Miranda's question about her being "unhappy" and her attitude about school

The teacher's perception is really just a perception. Sorry if your DD's expressiveness does not fit within the realm of what her teacher thinks happiness should look like.

My son, for one... the more interested he is in something, the more stoic he gets. Never big on a show of emotions, prefers to be playing by himself most times.

Yet, very happy to be at school.

post #6 of 23

My sympathies. What an annoying teacher. I suppose she feels offended by the idea of a grade skip per se, because, to her, it calls her profession into question - if your DD did just fine with lacking a whole grade's teaching, what would be the point of being a grade school teacher? Not allowed! At least that is the vibe that, in retrospect, I (and my mom, of course) got from my teachers after my grade skip (and I was NOT uncommunicative in school, and no one could call into question my academic success). It's probably not so uncommon. And for whatever accelerated development that she has to concede your DD does show, of course she has to convince herself you must be pushing her at home to explain it because clearly she hasn't gotten it from school.

 

While the two of course are interconnected, and most obviously are to this teacher, who isn't professional enough to separate her feelings about you from her concerns about your DD, I agree with what the PPs have inferred if not spelled out so clearly: try to separate the teacher's presumptive attitude towards you from her attitude towards your child.. Maybe you can get her to work with you on the social aspect, because the one thing you can agree on is that it IS a problem, one that you both feel she needs to work on and one that school can be helpful with, since there is so much opportunity to practice with other kids. So if (I assume) you are not considering homeschooling, you could brainstorm together on how your DD could get the most out of school socially.

 

Get the teacher to be your ally in this. She's concerned. You are concerned. the teacher says "she's young". So she is. But since you can neither sped up time for her or retain her to correct her grade, ask the teacher to look towards the future with you and create a plan to support her with social learning (mentioning that as, of course, there are no concerns that she cannot keep up academically, this could be an area you could focus on). And ask the teacher for her advice on what you could do at home, and nod, smiling through gritted teeth, and say: "your right, pressure is harmful for kids so young, I'm all for childled learning bla bla bla...". Beyond homework, you're not accountable to her for what you do at home after all. Maybe when you meet up next, yhe'll tell you with a big smile "ever since you stopped pushing her at my advice, she has made SO much progress" and you get to roll your eyes and to carefully probe about academics again.

 

it is hard to always play pretend in these conferences. But I think there is no way around it.

post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 

Thanks, grumpybear and Tigerle.  I have been playing this conference in my mind endlessly, and I appreciate the comments.

 

Grumpybear, I need very much to remember that a perception is just that.  We were with friends yesterday, and DD was chatting her head off with them--my DH actually told her to stop talking at some point so the adults could get a word in edgewise.  Also, she spoke politely and appropriately to her violin teacher this morning.  She barely knows him, and the few questions and comments she managed to utter were somewhat difficult for her, but she did it.  To me, that does not look like a severely socially withdrawn child. She's only 6.

 

Tigerle, you speak exactly to the point I am wrestling with:  to what extent should I suck all of this up, and move forward?  And to what extent should I go back to this teacher and say, "You made assumptions about me that were not fair--I do not need your parenting advice about dropping music lessons and relaxing the pressure--and I DID NOT ASK FOR THE GRADE SKIP."  The teacher does seem willing to work with DD on social skills, which is necessary (but, and I wouldn't add this, only in the extremely contrived situation in public school of 22 kids of the identical age working on the same thing at the same time).

 

At this point, I will not be saying anything more about academics because I do not trust this teacher to give DD more challenging work, instead of just more work.  Next year I will be going directly to the principal and asking for the teacher I want for third grade.  I should have done that this year, but I was trying to play their game.  i filled out the "personality" form, hoping to be matched with a particular sweet, low-key teacher.  Apparently they think that this high strung, high intensity, high level of challenge teacher was right for my kid, because OBVIOUSLY I am pushing her like crazy.  :(

 

Homeschooling is not an option, nor do I think it would be the best choice for my DD.  However, if I could find a different type of school that was close enough, I would consider enrolling her.  It would be a fairly extreme financial hardship for us, but it would be worth it.  But there is nothing far enough outside of the box.  There are plenty of pressure-cooker schools, and a Montessori that only goes to 5th grade. 

post #8 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by TinyMama View Post
 

That's an interesting possibility--that DD is just perfectly fine watching.  I will try to ask her some sneaky questions tomorrow to see.  She does not particularly like school, and I think she has always found it draining.  But perhaps she is not unhappy, per se. 

 

 

Sorry if I keep referring to my DS but your DD sounds a bit like him. The first 2 years of school for DS (Kindergarten and 1st grade) were particularly draining for him as well. I barely can get anything from him when I ask him what he did at school. I think it was both physically and emotionally draining for him. The sheer number of kids is confusing. I am always shell shocked at dismissal and can't wait to get away from the throngs of kids and he has a fairly small school  (student pop- 250). Recess for him was more of a timeout from all the other kids which is why he played alone a lot.

While your DD is in 2nd grade, she is essentially in her 2nd year of schooling still. Maybe she's just adjusting still?

 

Now that DS is in his 3rd year of school, he is getting more out of his comfort zone, trying to play with others (not just his one best friend). He's still calm and quiet. His teacher told me that she's learned that DS is one of those kids who, when he talks, you know you better listen because it's most likely something very important.

 

The one thing that helped DS tremendously was that while they sensed in kindergarten that he was one of the less social kids, they really didn't push him to be more social outside of what goes on at school. Instead, for the next 2 years, they placed him with the one kid that he made a connection with. The kid is possibly gifted as well so intellectually they are able to relate to each other but this kid also has the added bonus of being more social with a lot more typical interests (star wars, etc) so he is able to be a conduit for DS to explore those things as well. I think when they did class placements last year, his 1st grade teacher was adamant about keeping the boys together. So I mention that because your DD doesn't really need to be social with everyone at this point. Maybe the teacher can focus instead on observing who she has a connection with and tries to nurture that.

post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 

Okay, here's the update.  I spoke to DD's teacher again yesterday.

 

Basically, she stated that DD's work is strong.  She also reiterated again that pressure at home is not a good idea, and that we should stop the music lessons.  I spoke up loudly and clearly and said AGAIN that DD is NOT under pressure at home--and she is not!  A weekly music lesson and occasional short practices are not what I would consider pressure.  The teacher said that DD had seemed a little more comfortable this week, and asked if we noticed a difference at home.  I spoke up and said no, we haven't seen any changes, because DD is always a happy and comfortable child at home.  Grrrrrr....

 

Want to know something funny?  This weekend, the teacher sent home all of the worksheets DD didn't complete in class this week for her to do and return on Monday.  And she thinks I'm pressuring DD?!?  

 

Deep breath.  I'm going to try to let this go now.  The teacher seems to think DD is making progress, and if she would like to take the credit, I can let her do that.  Whatever.  As long as she backs off my little girl, and lets her sit quietly and watch, and stops acting like DD has a major social problem. I think she has a personal problem with acceleration, and that she doesn't want to make any modifications for a young student. DH is planning on attending the conference in November, so we'll let him at this teacher at that time.  :)

post #10 of 23

Yikes. Seems like this teacher is overstepping her bounds a bit with the suggestion of stopping music lessons. Plus, she may not be up to date on research regarding the importance of music in child development.

So what exactly is her issue with your DD? If your DD is academically strong still despite being grade skipped and your DD is not a disruption in class... what's the deal? Sorry I'm a bit confused on what she expects to get out of your DD

post #11 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by grumpybear View Post
 

Yikes. Seems like this teacher is overstepping her bounds a bit with the suggestion of stopping music lessons. Plus, she may not be up to date on research regarding the importance of music in child development.

So what exactly is her issue with your DD? If your DD is academically strong still despite being grade skipped and your DD is not a disruption in class... what's the deal? Sorry I'm a bit confused on what she expects to get out of your DD

I'd say TinyMama is spot on, and the issue is with the grade skip, pure and simple.

 

This teacher appears to have fixated on some paradigm that grade skipped kids get skipped because they have pushy moms and must be unhappy due to academic pressure at home and social problems in school. Accepting any evidence to the contrary would put her into cognitive dissonance. i know it's hard not to explode into her face telling her just what kind of business it is of hers if your DD takes music lessons in her spare time, but if the two of you have to stick out the year with this teacher, I reiterate my suggestion to just lie and prevaricate. "You're so right, we shall re-evaluate about her music lessons." Bright fake smile. And come vent to us afterwards.

 

However, talking about having to stick it out, I am beginninig to wonder what the school administration was thinking when they placed your DD with this teacher. I assume you have posted about the backstory to this skip but am afraid i do not recall it - how recent was this grade skip again? Did she skip directly into second? And why aren't they taking the grade skip seriously enough to honor your request for a receiving teacher you felt was right for your DD, or at least tried to place her with any teacher who showed a positive attitude to the concept of acceleration? It is rare enough for a school to skip a child for them to put a bit of thought into it and take the trouble to make sure the receiving teacher is on board.

post #12 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tigerle View Post
 

This teacher appears to have fixated on some paradigm that grade skipped kids get skipped because they have pushy moms and must be unhappy due to academic pressure at home and social problems in school. Accepting any evidence to the contrary would put her into cognitive dissonance. i know it's hard not to explode into her face telling her just what kind of business it is of hers if your DD takes music lessons in her spare time, but if the two of you have to stick out the year with this teacher, I reiterate my suggestion to just lie and prevaricate. "You're so right, we shall re-evaluate about her music lessons." Bright fake smile. And come vent to us afterwards.

 

I am planning on simply not giving this teacher any information about our home life anymore.  I thought I was being friendly and sharing things that DD enjoys, but now I think everything I say just adds fuel to her fire.  I'm done now.  I will smile and nod, and say things like, "And what would you suggest?" when she says there is a problem. If DD tells her something (and she could have said that she doesn't like violin lessons--she loves sympathy), then I can't do anything about that.  But I can control what info she gets from me.

 

However, talking about having to stick it out, I am beginninig to wonder what the school administration was thinking when they placed your DD with this teacher. I assume you have posted about the backstory to this skip but am afraid i do not recall it - how recent was this grade skip again? Did she skip directly into second? And why aren't they taking the grade skip seriously enough to honor your request for a receiving teacher you felt was right for your DD, or at least tried to place her with any teacher who showed a positive attitude to the concept of acceleration? It is rare enough for a school to skip a child for them to put a bit of thought into it and take the trouble to make sure the receiving teacher is on board.

I have absolutely no idea what they were thinking.  DD was skipped last year, right around this time.  She did a few weeks of kindergarten, and then the school placed her in 1st.  We could have said no, but they phrased it as, "We cannot provide her an appropriate education in her current grade."  All of the teachers and administrators who were involved agreed.  We decided not to go against their recommendation.  She did quite well in 1st, and her teacher was very conscientious.  She supported DD's social development, and acknowledged that her academic abilities were at the top of the 1st grade class.

 

This year's teacher is not who I wanted for DD.  I wanted a particular teacher who has a reputation for being kind and patient and particularly good with shy kids.  The school solicited letters, and I wrote a direct request for that teacher.  DD was put into her current class, with this teacher, instead.  Current teacher had a reputation as being tough, but excellent.  I was willing to give her a try with that reputation.  DD is not a discipline problem and enjoys structure, so I didn't necessarily think it would be a bad fit.  It never, ever occurred to me that they would place her with someone who didn't want her.  :(

 

DD has read HP at home (she started the 1st one last December) and is reading Junie B. Jones in school.  The teacher claims that DD's level of comprehension is far below HP.  Whatever, lady.  No one in their right mind would spend as many hours reading HP as DD does without understanding it.  I'm waiting until March/April, then I'll meet with the principal.  I don't want to burn DD's bridges too soon.

post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 

Okay, ladies.  We got the report card today, and tomorrow is the conference.  

 

DD's report card was mixed.  She is not "failing" anything except for any category that has to do with communication.  Every single paper and test that has come home has had a 100% on it, so I think that her lack of communication in school is really what is sinking her right now.  Luckily it's only second grade, and we're not really interested in the grades (besides what it says about the persona she is displaying in the classroom).

 

We are both going to the conference, and we have agreed to smile and nod for the sake of DD's relationship with the teacher.  However, DH's inner Papa Bear has been known to appear at parent/teacher conferences, so there's a bit of a wild card there.  :)

 

Wish us luck!

post #14 of 23
I have this hunch that kids dont get resented by teachers for how their fathers act...only for how their mothers act. Have fun (at least afterwards having a good groan) and keep us posted.
post #15 of 23

I agree.  Time to send another parent to the PTC.  Just don't go if you can stand it.

 

In another week, though, I'd recommend you circle back to which ever administrator acted as the point person in the original grade skip.  Ask for a meeting and outline how everything went last year and what you're seeing this year.  Skip anything judgmental (do unto others....), and just report the feedback you're getting on the contrast between last year and this year, and ask if this administrator can facilitate some continuity in the long-term management on your DD's needs post-skip.

post #16 of 23

geeze, I hope you can advocate for your child. Why does the world hate introverts? It isn't a disease... it is just different. Hope you are able to shake the bad vibes of this teacher!

post #17 of 23
Thread Starter 

Here's the update.

Things look a little better now.  It's mostly thanks to DH, who was very very good with this teacher.  He was calm and thoughtful, and didn't wear his emotions on his face like I do.  :)

 

Basically the teacher acknowledged that DD can easily do every skill she is asked to do, but that the lack of communication is creating a barrier in several areas.  Not socially, b/c DD has friends and does talk to them, but between DD and the teacher.  When the teacher describes talking to DD in order to draw her out, it is in exactly the way that we know doesn't work with DD--we always tell people to think of her like a cat, and to back away until she steps towards you.  The teacher is not interested in this approach, and seems to think that saying, "DD, you must speak to me" is the way to go.  She also said several really offensive things--like, "DD must stop thinking of herself as the center of the universe" and "I have worked with gifted children, and they are not quiet."  DH and I held back.  

 

I realize that none of that sounds very rosy. The good part is that I think what we did for DD was to present her as being a part of a loving family that does not pressure her (DH explained that the teacher had a misconception about our family, and that we do not put any pressure on DD).  We were friendly and chatted as fellow teachers.  We made nice.  

 

And DD seems slightly more positive about going to school.  I realize how pathetic that statement is, and that my child has a right to love learning and to have a glowingly positive experience in school.  But I'm trying to be hopeful that it will come eventually.

post #18 of 23

She sure sounds like a peach. rolleyes.gif

Glad you kept your cool and hopefully this will soften her stance a bit. I'm not sure where she got her gifted children are not quiet idea. A lot of gifted kids are introverts who take a long, long while to warm up.

post #19 of 23
Great job with the meeting. That can go a long way.

Yeah, I suspect that a fair number of gifted kids have passed through her class without her notice if that's how she categorizes them.

Two points: First, your daughter needs to learn to speak up. This is a basic life skill when it comes to self-advocacy. Take a long view, and start to work with her on this. Role playing helps, getting into a smaller environment with just girls (scouts, athletics) also helps a lot. Find activities that tend to draw out gifted kids (we've made good use of summers -history camp, astronomy camp, etc).

Second, figure out what kind of system the school has for classroom placement for next year. In our school, we can't request a teacher by name, but we can write to the principal about what our kid needs in a teacher and classroom environment. This helps get a teacher that both meets your kid's needs, but it also puts that teacher and the principal what your goals are for your child. "Learn to advocate for herself in a supportive environment...", "honors her strengths and weaknesses and can differentiate on both..." sort of wording can help a lot.
post #20 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geofizz View Post

First, your daughter needs to learn to speak up. This is a basic life skill when it comes to self-advocacy. Take a long view, and start to work with her on this. Role playing helps, getting into a smaller environment with just girls (scouts, athletics) also helps a lot. Find activities that tend to draw out gifted kids (we've made good use of summers -history camp, astronomy camp, etc).

 

It sounds like they're prioritizing this, and there is progress, and she's speaking up in many other environments: just not in this classroom with a teacher who takes exactly the approach that they've found to be counter-productive with this child (and which would have been completely counter-productive with my introverts too). If this teacher believes that the girl is not speaking because she "believes she's the center of the universe" I'd be willing to bet that the child senses that negative judgement and is responding to it by shutting down, and since she's only six years old I certainly don't blame her!  

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Geofizz View Post

figure out what kind of system the school has for classroom placement for next year. 

 

Pretty sure TinyMama did exactly this last spring, following protocol, requesting another teacher, explaining her reasons why, etc. 

 

Miranda

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