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My daughter thinks she is not smart enough.

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I have an 8 year daughter who is now a 3rd grader and she is my only child. She is not a fast learner as I would hope she’d be, nevertheless; she is very smart, incredibly creative, and funny. She started daycare at a Christian school and went up to kindergarten and she was doing great.

 

Her first and second year at a public school were not excellent, but her report card were good and never had any issues with her teachers. I volunteered often in her class room and she really enjoyed having me there. Now, 3rd grade is different! I’ve been getting this “missing or late assignments” from her teacher and after 5 she gets a citation. After bringing it up to my daughter’s attention she started say she was not smart enough. I asked her what was going on at school that she is getting the missing/late assignments. I know she turns in her homework, but then I found out that when the teacher gives the class some type of assignment she is not completing it. I emailed her teacher to see what I could do to help my daughter. Since my daughter is from a different district, my concern is that her “interdistrict” transfer would be denied the following academic year to give priority to the district children.

 

I meet with the teacher who told me everything that was wrong with my daughter, she was short of calling her “stupid.” I was speechless and felt I had failed my daughter as her parent. After telling me that most of the time my daughter is in “lala land” she suggested I get her tested for ADD. I was shocked, speechless, and angry, but I remained quiet as I don't want to harm my child. I then made an appointment with her pediatrician who was observing her and told me she seemed like a normal child, but her school Psychologist would need to assess her. The other day without warning I got a letter from the school Psychologist stating she went to my daughter’s class to observe her behavior and sent me a letter with her observations. Her observations did not seem out of the ordinary and she didn’t say she needed some type of intervention. She only suggested that I show the letter to her pediatrician.

 

I consulted a friend of mine who has a Masters in Child Development and is working as a teacher’s aide at a public school and I think I felt even worst after what she told me. She said that teachers don’t care and all they care is to bring up the numbers for their district and that my daughter was probably not making her look good. She said my daughter V is just a number to her and means nothing to her so, yes she wants to make sure your daughter gets tested so she can be on medication. She also told me that my wanting to know what was going on with my daughter at school might have put the teacher on check or she felt questioned by me and that she might take it out on my daughter. I am disheartened and I don’t want to label my daughter and have that follow her the rest of her life, and I refuse to medicate her.

 

Every morning I tell her how much I lover, how proud I am of her and that I love her just the way she is. She always give me a big smile and tells me that same words to me. Not sure what to do at this point, but to keep positively reinforcing my daughter making sure she completes her work.

post #2 of 7

Unless you have very strong reasons to believe so, I would not assume that your dd's teacher doesn't care, that the school will want to get rid of her, or that she's nothing but a number to the administration. Teaching is hard work that doesn't pay very well, so the people who are doing it usually have more than just numbers driving their motivation: they usually care for the children, and want to make a difference. Having said that, teachers are often caught in a funny position in the middle: directly relating to the children, but accountable to both the school administration and the parents, wanting to do what's best for individual kids, but bound by the constraints of funding, curriculum and the needs of the larger group. Your friend (with the MA in Child Development) is correct that teachers are under a lot of pressure, but I think that she's wrong to imply that most of them don't care. Despite the challenges, teachers are almost always on the child's side.

 

All of which is to say that I would keep working very hard figure out how to help your dd, but I would assume that everyone has the best of intentions and that there are likely just few obstacles to work through. Ongoing pro-active communication in a collaborative way will help overcome those.

 

I would think that there are three or four possible sources for your dd's difficulties. More than likely it's a combination of things, but one may be primary.

 

She may have ADD-inattentive. Not the hyperactive form, which is commoner in boys and easier to recognize because behavioural issues tend to be really obvious. This is the dreamy, la-la land kind of kid. These children are often late for everything unless they're guided step by step, can't get themselves dressed and out the door, forget deadlines, lose track of time, get caught up in their own inner world of imagination. Cursory observations do not necessarily pick up this problem.

 

She may have problems with anxiety and self-esteem that are affecting her ability to use her problem-solving skills to learn at school. Even the smartest kid in the world can totally lose access to her cleverness when overwhelmed by anxiety and negative self-talk.

 

She may have some subtle learning problems that have made it difficult to master the foundational academic skills upon which the 3rd-grade work is now building. Up until third grade the focus is on 'learning to read,' and on basic number sense (place value, eg.), and many kids with learning disabilities are smart enough to make good guesses from context or use mistaken strategies very effectively, so that they seem like they're doing okay, without really getting it. From 3rd grade on it is assumed that this foundation is firm, and the focus shifts to "reading to learn," and to more complex mathematical operations and concepts. If something got in the way of her foundational skills being firmly mastered, she won't be able to build more complex learning on that foundation.

 

The particular school program and style of instruction may be a poor fit for her learning style. Some kids, for instance, learn really well from visual information but have trouble processing verbal stuff ... or the opposite. Some kids need a holistic approach that shows them the big picture first, rather than taking them step-by-step through small pieces of the puzzle. Some kids need more challenge to engage them, or a large component of social learning, or a more hands-on approach. Some kids need a much less distracting environment than is a typical 3rd-grade classroom. 

 

It may take some time to figure out exactly which of these factors (or others) are playing into your dd's difficulties. The good news is that you've got some dialog going already, and some appropriate people are already involved: yourself, the teacher, your pediatrician, and the school psychologist. Everyone is probably really busy, so even if the first steps have been taken, you will probably find that it falls to you to keep the dialog going, to keep looking for whatever is the next step. 

 

If I were you I would do a couple of things. First I'd work with the teacher to come up with some strategies and systems for providing your dd with a little more scaffolding around assignments and deadlines. A daily communication book that both you and the teacher sign off on might be helpful. The teacher could devise a non-verbal signal (a discreet and gentle tap on the top of her head, eg.) to help redirect her back on task when she is day-dreaming. 

 

Second, I would start pushing for more comprehensive evaluation by the school psychologist to help rule in or out the possibilities of ADD or learning disabilities. Schools are often motivated to pursue such evaluations because diagnoses often come with options that can remedy the situation: for example extra funding for special education services.

 

Good luck! You sound like a very caring mom. I'm sure you'll find a way to help.

 

Miranda

post #3 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalifornia View Post
 

I consulted a friend of mine who has a Masters in Child Development and is working as a teacher’s aide at a public school and I think I felt even worst after what she told me. She said that teachers don’t care and all they care is to bring up the numbers for their district and that my daughter was probably not making her look good. She said my daughter V is just a number to her and means nothing to her so, yes she wants to make sure your daughter gets tested so she can be on medication. She also told me that my wanting to know what was going on with my daughter at school might have put the teacher on check or she felt questioned by me and that she might take it out on my daughter. I am disheartened and I don’t want to label my daughter and have that follow her the rest of her life, and I refuse to medicate her.

 

This doesn't sound like much of a friend to me.  This sounds like a cynical burned out person with a bone to pick. Unless you find a bunch of other people who share the same opinion (and I don't think you will), I would give this person's opinion very little weight.

 

If you read your own post again, you will notice that no one is telling you that your child has ADD.  No one is telling you to medicate your child.  But in order to figure out what is going on, you have to explore a lot of different avenues first, including the possibility of ADD, if only just to eliminate it from consideration. Now, the teacher is not trained to figure out exactly what is the problem, which is probably why she used the word 'la-la land'. The fact that the teacher recognizes that this is an issue that needs to be explored is worth taking seriously, and I think you are a wonderful mother for getting on top of things so quickly. 

 

I actually think that the teacher was very responsible.  The teacher didn't say that you child has ADD (and the teacher is not qualified to make such a diagnosis), and the teacher didn't say that your child should be medicated (and no one but you can make that call anyway).  The teacher simply said that something is going on that is preventing your child from doing the best to her ability and that someone trained to figure it out should look into it.  It's the teacher's job to recognize when something is not right, and bring it to the parent's attention so that the parent can have trained people figure it out. 

 

You are a wonderful mother to work so lovingly hard for your daughter's well being.  It's scary to hear these things, but they are clues, and it sounds like you will get to the bottom of this once you have the right people helping you figure out what is going on.

post #4 of 7

Have you told your daughter that you've heard she's been having a hard time completing in-class assignments and asked her what makes them difficult to complete?  Or why she seems to be daydreaming?  It could be that the culture of the classroom is too loud for her to concentrate on in-class assignments.  My daughter has the same challenge with completing in-class assignments.  She was starting to feel "stupid" as well, until she finally verbalized this to us.  We had a good talk and found out that doing good work is important to her.  She will not write fast because she does not want to turn in sloppy writing.  On top of that, she is seated next to a few students who constantly talk while they are working.  This is very distracting to DD.  

It could be that the teacher's style is not a good fit for your daughter and therefore she spends time in "lala land".  I've sat in on classes and observed children who do just this.  It's not that the teacher was bad or the student was stupid, just a very bad fit between the two. 

There are so many things that could be going on.  I would not jump to conclusions quickly.  I would meet with the teacher on a regular basis to establish a good working relationship.  Does she seem open to you and supportive of your daughter?  I would meet with your daughter's past teachers and tell them what you've just heard and ask if they have any insights on your daughter's learning style and abilities.  Lots to investigate.

post #5 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalifornia View Post
 

Her first and second year at a public school were not excellent, but her report card were good and never had any issues with her teachers. I volunteered often in her class room and she really enjoyed having me there. Now, 3rd grade is different! I’ve been getting this “missing or late assignments” from her teacher and after 5 she gets a citation. After bringing it up to my daughter’s attention she started say she was not smart enough. I asked her what was going on at school that she is getting the missing/late assignments. 

 

This sounds like my DC. DC was not recognized AT ALL by her private pre-K or her K teachers as having any leaning issues. We switched schools in 1st grade and for 1st I only got brief comment that she wasn't grasping reading as well as some of the other kids. In 2nd grade she started seeing the reading specialist but it wasn't until 3rd grade that her mild learning delays really showed themselves. 

 

Your DC may not have any specific learning issues (my DC's were mild and I won't say they were a cake walk but in the grand scheme of things...).  If was in 4th grade that our DC's teachers requested an evaluation, which we declined in favor of some extra support at home. 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kalifornia View Post
 

I emailed her teacher to see what I could do to help my daughter. Since my daughter is from a different district, my concern is that her “interdistrict” transfer would be denied the following academic year to give priority to the district children.

 

 

I can see why you are worried about this. Can you check with the district or school to see about your rights as an out of district family. I'd be surprised if a public school can transfer a child currently in a school (even if they are out of zone) for reasons to do with behavior or academics. 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kalifornia View Post
 

I meet with the teacher who told me everything that was wrong with my daughter, she was short of calling her “stupid.” I was speechless and felt I had failed my daughter as her parent. After telling me that most of the time my daughter is in “lala land” she suggested I get her tested for ADD. 

Even w/o the implications that made you feel this teacher was calling your DC stupid, I think suggesting testing for ADD is out of the scope of what is appropriate (and maybe legal?) in this case. 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kalifornia View Post

 

I consulted a friend of mine who has a Masters in Child Development and is working as a teacher’s aide at a public school and I think I felt even worst after what she told me. She said that teachers don’t care and all they care is to bring up the numbers for their district and that my daughter was probably not making her look good. 

My guess is that your friend was reacting really strongly and perhaps protectively about what the teacher said about your DC but I would agree with the PPs who said that this is not good advice. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalifornia View Post
 

I am disheartened and I don’t want to label my daughter and have that follow her the rest of her life, and I refuse to medicate her. 

I can totally relate to this but it does sound like your DC needs some extra support in school right now. I think it's important for her to understand that not everything comes easily to everyone. I think it's 100% reasonable for you to talk to her teacher and make some sort of arrangement to try to work with your DC's struggles both at home and in the classroom and see if any adjustments can be made to improve the situation before moving on to evaluations. 

post #6 of 7

Every district is different, but here, the only kids on open enrollment who are not allowed back have had extremely serious and repeated behaviors that have resulted in unsafe situations for other students or are chronically absent. Kids with mild special needs, even those receiving pullout services, are welcome to continue attending.

 

What does your daughter say about her ability to focus during class? Did you get to the bottom of what type of assignments are not getting turned in?

 

As far as her not having problems in k-2 but having problems now, for some kids, as school gets more complex, they have a harder time keep up with the increasing demands.

post #7 of 7

How is your daughter's reading level? It becomes critical in third grade and if your reading is lagging she will have a hard time keeping up.

 

Speaking from experience (parent of a very smart, daydreamer) this can be a frustrating student to teach. LO gets the hard questions right, skips a page by accident, and then decorates everything with detailed drawings. He can be a much better student, he isn't truly disruptive, but his lack of attention is irritating. We are working on it. And no, he has no diagnoses. 

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