or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at School › I need advice!!!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

I need advice!!!

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
This is going to be long, but I really need the advice of all you wonderfull mamas. My niece is 6 years old and is going through kindergarden for the third time! She has a very bad home situation that I feel is part of her problems in school and I don't think that things will change anytime soon. She is very bright and creative but totally refuses to do anything in school or even talk about anything having to do with school. She still does not know her alphabet or numbers and will not do her school work. My Mother-in-law has tried to help her but is really frustrated because nothing seems to be getting through to her. She has even tried to get A.'s parents to agree to let her come live with her, hoping that the stable home environment would help her, but her parents are now resisting the idea.
My sister in law spends most of her days sleeping on the sofa, and A. is left to fend for herself most of the time (her dad works lots of overtime and is rarely home). She is sent to school filthy and unbathed, wearing tattered clothes that are several sizes too large. I'm afraid that the kids are going to start picking on her, something that she doesn't need to deal with on top of everything else. They live in a trailer that is strewn with garbage, and her mother has a long history of mental health problems, often checking herself into hospitals for a week at a time. This is all putting a strain on A. (imagine having mommy disappear all the time). I apologize for this being sort of rambling, I'm really upset right now. I was wondering if any of you have some suggestions for ways to spark A.'s interest in learning amidst all the chaos in her life. I am just sick at the thought of this bright, beautiful little girl being treated the way she is, and seeing her educational prospects growing dim.
post #2 of 7
Well, I'm sorry, how is she suppossed to learn in such an abusive environment? The first thing on my mind, would be how to get her in a normal environment, can your mil try to get custody? Sounds drastic, but I don't understand why social services hasn't been called in by the teacher, if she arrives to school in such condition. Poor thing.

I am just editing this to add, that I don't mean to sound harsh. This just breaks my heart. I wish I had some real advice for you.
post #3 of 7
What an awful situation for all of you! I'm guessing talking to her dad doesn't help the situation? If not it really does sound like some kind of social services should be involved. In my experience as a teacher, they really do their best to help. I'm surprised the school hasn't already contacted them.

Aside from that, sometimes children in difficult home situations find school to be a refuge from the chaos at home. For that to happen the school has to understand the situation and go out of its way to be nurturing and address the child's needs. When we've had similar situations at my school, we gave the child a special mentor, the counselor cleaned her up whenever she was really filthy, we gave her clothes, etc. Unfortunately, you probably aren't in a position to work with the school but you might be able to let them know your concerns, just don't expect them to tell you anything since there are confidentiality laws involved. I think it always helps for a child to know that someone loves her and sees her potential. Research shows that even one person in an otherwise terrible childhood can make a big difference. Your niece is lucky to have you!
post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
Unfortunatley, I live in New York and my niece lives in Virginia, so I am not able to do very much personally except when I visit a couple of times a year. I don't think that my MIL would go so far as to try for legal custody, she is trying to convince the parents to just let A. come stay with her. My MIL has tried to work with the school, but they have generally given her the brush off. The school hasn't done much to help, a counselor has talked to my niece only once, and their game plan is to "watch the situation". What do they mean? Watch untill she is utterly lost! I have talked to my MIL about possibly looking into alternative schools such as Montessori or Waldorf, but I doubt that substantial change will take place untill her home life is more stable. Everytime I visit I just want to pack her up in my car and take her home with me. My husband went off on his brother and sister-in-law when we were there for thanksgiving, I don't know if anything got through to them or not.
post #5 of 7
my heart goes out to you...having a similar situation with my sister! Last year we took in my nieces for a few months, then their grandpa, then their mom with my grandpa, mom got a place of her own finally and is neglecting the kids again...so sad. My oldest niece is having trouble learning. No motivation! No wonder, her life is in turmoil! She refuses to learn things the correct way, like Gatorade is Alligator and toe nails are foot nails, those are a few examples...cute yes...but they will only be cute for so long! Artemesia hope things go good for your niece...so sad to hear of little kids being neglected....

post #6 of 7
It's heartbreaking to see a situation like this. Kids can't free up energy for learning, when basic needs for safety and nurturing are not being met. All their energy is tied up in getting basic needs met.Therefore, I'd agree that a change in schools will probably not help much, unless if by being in a smaller program she will get more attention.

Where does she go when her mom checks into the hospital for mental health treatment, if her dad is working all the time? Next time this happens, it would be a good time to intervene and have someone (MIL) petition the court to gain at least temporary guardianship. The courts are more likely to award this when there is a crisis going on than when there is just chronic neglect. I also agree that some sort of agency should be involved with the family to monitor the situation. Check with the local Community Mental Health Center in her county in Virginia. Hope this is helpful.
post #7 of 7
This doesn't soundto me like a schooling issue as much as a child protection one. While a child lives in an abusive/neglective environment, learning will be minimal. Precious time is being lost as this is the period when she should be learning rapidly, not to mention how she is suffering emotionally from the neglect.

Hard though this may sound, I think this is a matter for social services to deal with. Why haven't the school called in an outside agency? I honestl think that if they haven't, someone should.

Sorry if this sounds harsh, I know it must be hard if it is a relative, but I would contact social services myself and ask them to get involved and assess the family. Maybe they can offer the help that this family needs, and if not, place the child in a more nurturing environment - if it came to this, you may find that your MIL would decide to try for custody.

Until the chaos of her life is sorted out, she has little hope of developing a love of learning. If you are not fed, you focus on getting fed, if you are cold, you focus on getting warm. If you feel unloved, you focus on finding love. It is not until all these physiological and emotional needs are met that you can focus on learning.

I hope this doesn't sound too harsh - I have worked with many such children and have seen the effects if things are left and problems aren't addressed. Good luck, in whatever you decide to do - your neice is lucky to have you caring about her.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Learning at School
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at School › I need advice!!!