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#1 of 14 Old 10-12-2011, 08:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi Everyone, I don't know if you all remember me or not. I had a baby this summer and got super busy and we moved.  School just started and we ended up putting our son in a private school.  He skipped Kindergarten. A week after school started, his teacher expressed concerns that he seems to struggle with reading. I told her that I am very surprised to hear that. She recommended he be evaluated and if needed get some intervention. Shocked as I was I consented in case there was something they see that I don't. I'm not trained in these things so.. I thought maybe let's see.  So the reading specialist came and basically he scored at the top percentiles and mastered the first grade. She didn't have other grades with her so she couldn't do more testing. But basically there isn't any issue. She couldn't believe how well he did. He's shot right up there in reading levels/comprehension. She guesses he's around 4th grade reading level and comprehension. Next time she comes she is going to bring additional grades to test him.

 

Every week, when spelling words come home, I test him cold and he aces it. His writing is atrocious as some might remember but he's picking up ok. I think he'll be fine in a few months. I do his math tests and he aces those. They are doing simple things like Matt has 2 blocks, Sue has 4, and Jan has 8. Put the numbers in order from least to greatest etc. Of course this is no problem.

 

 

....but he is not doing well on this tests. He got 5/10 on his spelling and 6/10 on his math tests. He doesn't like to talk about it. He doesn't have much to say. He has been protesting going to school for the past 2 weeks. One day I thought I wouldn't be able to get him out of the van. He cries. He stomps. It's like he feels some anxiety about going or being there. I don't know what it is.  I remember one day when he missed some on his spelling test, the one before the last, he told me he did so well. Upon probing, in a loving kind of way, he admitted he didn't do well. But getting him to elaborate was very hard. 

 

So why does he do well at home but not at school?  I know he knows all of these things. I also know that he makes careless mistakes. 

 

He wasn't tested for giftedness but the Psychologist we took him too for his anxiety issue told me that he is likely gifted. The reading specialist told me he was able to do what hardly none of first graders and still very few second graders could do in the decoding skills section of the tests. She said she chatted with him and he's way above and beyond other children in second grade. I know these things but would these be factors in his test performance, attitude towards school, etc?  The lady asked me to get him tested for giftedness in the Spring. She said they won't test him due to his age until Spring. And I'm fine with that. I'm not in a big hurry or find it even necessary I guess. But perhaps if he has issues in school it would be helpful to identify all the components of his struggle.

 

Does anyone know what is going so wrong?


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#2 of 14 Old 10-12-2011, 11:08 PM
 
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This sounds to me totally like anxiety. (Though I suppose it's possible that he's being marked down because his handwriting is illegible?) 

 

What has been going on in his life? Was he in any sort of institutional schooling prior to this year? Academic, developmental, part-time, full-days? How old is he? How "young for grade" is he? How comfortable is he spending full days away from home and family? How did he seem adjust to the new baby? How 'attached' has he been in the past? Has starting full-time academic 1st grade meant a small shift in independence and expectations for him, or a monumental one?  Any other changes in your family? He may have plenty of reason to be plenty stressed.

 

I must live in some alternate reality because around here there are no numerical grades or tests like that for first grade: kids do work, the teacher looks over their work, points out the need for corrections, kids work on correcting. Overall the teacher gets a sense of their progress and ease, and reports on a rubric basis three times a year. (Except that due to job action by teachers even that reporting isn't happening, which doesn't seem to have fazed anyone.) All other assessment and communication is informal. 

 

Anyway, I have to say that frequent graded testing at age 5 would have made my kids, my ds especially, very anxious indeed. So anxious that he would have simply shut down. Am I reading correctly between the lines that your son had pre-existing anxiety problems? If so I can't say I'm surprised that he's not performing well on tests. I think they are a very inappropriate and unnecessary way of teaching and evaluating primary school kids. 

 

Then again, I think I live in an alternate reality here in rural Canada. What you describe may be totally normal where you live. 

 

Miranda


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#3 of 14 Old 10-13-2011, 07:03 AM
 
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Is there any possibility he's rushing in order to turn his paper in first? It is not an uncommon thing for kids that age to get competitive in that way. I know I can tell you who turned work in first in my class and it was the case in my mind that first=smartest. I'm wondering if it might be good to ask the teacher if he/she thinks that might be part of what is happening.

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#4 of 14 Old 10-13-2011, 07:18 AM
 
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Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

This sounds to me totally like anxiety.


agreed. It sounds like he has a history of anxiety, plus there is a new baby in the house and he just started a new school. That's a lot of stress for a little person.

 


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#5 of 14 Old 10-13-2011, 01:44 PM
 
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One big difference between school and when he's working with you or the psych or the reading specialist is that the first is independent but in a group work, while the latter is one on one. 

 

If he has written output issues (ranging from messy handwriting to dysgraphia; I'm not trying to say he has dysgraphia), it makes sense that he wouldn't be able to complete the work or to have his output match his knowledge.  Maybe it's too short a time for him to complete it, maybe he puts pressure on himself seeing his peers seeming to complete it faster, or maybe he has a problem processing information into writing.  I would talk to the teacher about accomodations.  When DS was in kindie, he got accomodations for written output because it was atrocious.  In his case, it is dysgraphia, or "disorder of written output." For DS, from 5-8 it seemed mostly a mechanical issue.  Now his handwriting is ok, but very slow and he actually describes himself as not being able to think while writing - this is a processing issue beyond his hand.  He still gets accomodations, but it makes school really tricky.


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#6 of 14 Old 10-13-2011, 01:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all! I think you're right about the anxiety.  I finally got a detailed email letter back from the teacher.  She said the reason he's not doing well on his spelling was because of his writing his letters backwards. She didn't count off in the first month but now she is. I do understand that.  We've been working hard on hand writing.  She said she thinks it's because he's younger and hasn't gone to school before and adjusting.  And these are a lot of adjustments, new baby, new house, new city, new friends, new school etc.  He went to prek so that is some kind of school though not academic oriented of course. So he's used to be gone all day and he's fine with that. Even my second child is ok with being gone to PreK all day and he'll be 4 at the last of December.  Yusuf will be 6 at the end of next month and he is in 1st gr.

 

So I think you're all right.  What are your suggestions for helping him deal with these transitions? The previous anxiety issues subsided, but I think he has this nature to feel anxious.


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#7 of 14 Old 10-13-2011, 02:03 PM
 
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Anxiety can be temperament based or situation based.  I would try to tease out which one it is.

 

If you think your son has written output issues, ask for accomodations.  That includes not being marked down on spelling tests for reversals.  How demoralizing must it be that he knows how to spell the word but he's marked off for a processing issue?  This can set up major issues for a child's self-concept about being a student, or being "good."   For kids with written output issues, the teacher needs to mark for content, not presentation.


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#8 of 14 Old 10-13-2011, 02:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The teacher isn't willing to make accommodations unfortunately. I don't think she is very happy he is in her class to be honest. She has first and second graders in there. She said she has to move at a moderate pace to accommodate the needs of the entire group as they are all in one room. There are a total of 15 students in one class.  She said there are 3  five year olds in the first grade class. I don't know if they are gifted but they are around the same level as Yusuf; she said all the 5 year olds have the lowest grades so far.  

 

How do you help a child pay attention to carelessness and not taking time to think through the questions? I think on a couple of his math questions he just guessed at what they were asking to get done, which could be like someone else was saying rushing/competition/   I don't know.  I asked him if he tries to hurry in his work and he says yes because he's 'too slow'  I think he's feeling something about his speed and writing difficulties. He told me once that all the other kids write well and his is the worst and slowest. I told him not to worry that we're working on it and it'll improve as we keep practicing and that for not having done it he's fine. Today he made a book for me of just a few pages. He wrote a story which said Lions are perfect to me because they run fast and jump high. The only problem was that he wrote all of it entirely backwards, even starting on the right side of the page like this:    me ot tcefrep  era snoil.   And of course some letters were going right directions and some wrong. I wonder if he has trouble separating reading languages we read because we read otherwise right to left.  But the reading specialist stated that he doesn't have any reading disorders.  What would that be about, do you think?


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#9 of 14 Old 10-13-2011, 02:22 PM
 
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Can you clarify - how old is your son, and what grade is he in?  What is the age range within the class and what is the grade range the teacher is teaching (ie is it multi-grade?).

 

Written output is related but different from reading.  This is all processing, with subtle and complicated interplays between systems.


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#10 of 14 Old 10-13-2011, 02:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Joemsally, I just googled dysgraphia to read about it. I am not sure he doesn't have this problem. He still can't button his shirts/pants. His teacher has to help him with his pants when he goes to the bathroom unfortunately.  

 

I actually wonder if I might have this problem. I say this because it's so painful for me to write. My writing is atrocious. I have to type everything or I don't get it down. Honestly I can't take notes by hand as I just can't coordinate it somehow. But I type crazy fast about talking speed so I can type everything without even thinking about whereas writing is just impossible and my letters don't come out right either if I don't take time. I get pain in my hands when I write. Is this inherited?? 

 

How would I get help for this or find out if he has this problem?


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#11 of 14 Old 10-13-2011, 02:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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He will be 6 on Nov. 23 and he is in 1st grade.  It's customary to start first grade if you're 6 by Sept 1.  He's not 'that' young is he? 


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#12 of 14 Old 10-13-2011, 02:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sorry, the age range is I guess the 3 five year olds up to second grade..maybe 7 and a few 8 year olds possibly due to birthday.   

 


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#13 of 14 Old 10-13-2011, 03:56 PM
 
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An OT or psychologist can assess for dysgraphia.  For DS, OTs confirmed it as dysgraphia, and his psych ed includes the diagnoses "disorder of written output" per the dsm.  It is a special need that schools are obligated to accomodate (the word accomodate is quite subject to interpretation), but I don't know about private schools.

 

Dysgraphia can be about processing (your brain) as much as about fine motor.  DS plays piano, lego and a bunch of other stuff, but still has dysgraphia.  He does lack coordination in a number of self-care areas.  It really needs to be assessed, where his functioning can be measured against standardized thresholds.  The testing is painless - often copying shapes and the like.  A kid's resistance or fatigue can form part of the assessment - he doesn't want to do it because it's hard.

 

Are a number of kids red-shirted (deliberately held back) in the room?  That's the only reason (I think) that there would be 8 year olds in there, and it seems that the school is pretty soft on application of the age cut-off if there are 3 five year olds.  There are only 15 kids?

 

As the parent of a 2E kid - he's really, really "smart" and really complicated, and really sensitive, I highly recommend you pursue this.  School is really hard for complicated kids, and a huge part, to me, is keeping them feeling good about themselves, and feeling like they're successful learners.  When we've had poor accomodations, we've spent a long time making up lost ground and getting him back to feeling positive. 

 

I'm sorry for the atrocious sentences - my kids are right here being very noisy and distracting.  blahblah.gifwinky.gif


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#14 of 14 Old 10-13-2011, 06:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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An OT or psychologist can assess for dysgraphia.  For DS, OTs confirmed it as dysgraphia, and his psych ed includes the diagnoses "disorder of written output" per the dsm.  It is a special need that schools are obligated to accomodate (the word accomodate is quite subject to interpretation), but I don't know about private schools.

 

Dysgraphia can be about processing (your brain) as much as about fine motor.  DS plays piano, lego and a bunch of other stuff, but still has dysgraphia.  He does lack coordination in a number of self-care areas.  It really needs to be assessed, where his functioning can be measured against standardized thresholds.  The testing is painless - often copying shapes and the like.  A kid's resistance or fatigue can form part of the assessment - he doesn't want to do it because it's hard.

 

Are a number of kids red-shirted (deliberately held back) in the room?  That's the only reason (I think) that there would be 8 year olds in there, and it seems that the school is pretty soft on application of the age cut-off if there are 3 five year olds.  There are only 15 kids?

 

As the parent of a 2E kid - he's really, really "smart" and really complicated, and really sensitive, I highly recommend you pursue this.  School is really hard for complicated kids, and a huge part, to me, is keeping them feeling good about themselves, and feeling like they're successful learners.  When we've had poor accomodations, we've spent a long time making up lost ground and getting him back to feeling positive. 

 

I'm sorry for the atrocious sentences - my kids are right here being very noisy and distracting.  blahblah.gifwinky.gif


thank you for so much of your time. Does red-shirted mean deliberately held back?  I seriously doubt anyone is held back. I'm guessing though there might be an 8 year old or so in the room because of just where the birthday might fall. Typically it's:  5 for K, 6 for first, 7 for second. But if someone's birthday happened to come like say Sept 2 and they didn't let the child in for K at 5 then that'll put them over 8 for starting this school year I think. Our classes started I think on Sept 6. I might be miscalculating. But I seriously doubt anyone was ever held back and the reason I say that is because honestly the children who go to this private school are likely to be ahead academically due to all of the extremely positive home environments and attitudes about education. 

 

This is a small school. If I had to estimate, there are probably 80-100 kids total in the school and it's only PreK-5th.  We went with this school for a number of reasons. I wanted to homeschool but I am way to busy at home to manage it. The social environment at school is really good, the kids in his class who were in K with them already speak a second language half decently. My son speaks other languages but now he's acquiring this additional one this year. It has religious education and prayers and uniforms. Those sorts of reasons. Unfortunately I get all of this at a giant sacrifice of other extra curricular programs and assistance.  They don't offer any TAG til 2nd grade which is offered through the State despite it being a private school. The building isn't the greatest but they have what they need and plenty of space. They are short on teachers and don't have money for extra teachers. We're paying $665 per month for the two of the kids. I suppose that doesn't pay for an extra teacher. They had trouble finding teachers because who wants to work in a religious school that isn't that person's religion. Well, I think personally they must have taken someone likely had trouble. She doesn't seem very happy there and she's not particular nice. But ds says she's nice and if that's his perception then it's ok.  I think she's disorganized. The entire school is disorganized o m goodness it's a nightmare for me to deal with their lack of organization. I feel like i need more details in their curriculum for some reason. I don't like not knowing that tomorrow there's a test you know. But I know on the other hand that he feels very comfortable as a person there and he's learning good things other than just academic. That was important to us.  The public schools in my apartment area are horrible and there's no way in the world I'd send him there. They have ratings of 2. I don't need to go into that.  

 

I wish though still..that I could make homeschooling work. I hate it that I'm too busy.  Well we're moving next summer, so let's see what is in our future.  I'll give it to his first grading period and see how he does overall.  The teacher emailed again tonight and she said:

 

 

 

 

Quote:

Maybe he just had a bad week. I do give them plenty of time. I try to make sure they're all done writing before going to the next word. They can raise their hands if need more time. Now that I remember, last week he got a perfect on his pretest and didn't even have to take the test. We didn't do 1 this week bc of short time w half day.

 

 

Anyway sorry to babble on.  I'll keep working with him for the next 4 weeks and see if things don't take off and if not after that then I'll seek some help. I think 9 weeks, one grading period is reasonable.

 

 

 

 


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