how much should I expect 10 yr. old dd's 5th grade teacher to help her stay organized and keep us in the loop? - Mothering Forums

how much should I expect 10 yr. old dd's 5th grade teacher to help her stay organized and keep us in the loop?

hillary77's Avatar hillary77 (TS)
04:08 PM Liked: 18
#1 of 9
05-02-2012 | Posts: 138
Joined: Nov 2010

Hi folks,

 

10 yr. old dd skipped 4th grade this year into an accelerated 5th grade class at a public charter school with 15 students in the class. Her teacher this year is new and also is new to teaching 5th grade.

 

DD is a very forgetful and disorganized person naturally - to say it is not her strong suit is an understatement and I think it's genetic - her Dad (note - my XH) is very much the same. I have a very good memory and this drives me crazy to no end. I've been working with DD diligently since she was wee to help her find coping skills and systems to keep her organized.

This year in school, there is no real "process" for written down information regarding homework and special events. Sometimes there are handouts that don't make it back to me. The teacher writes down the homework assignments on the board and the kids are expected to record it themselves. This works well for things due the next day. This past month dd had a 5 page research paper assigned and "forgot" about it until a week from the due date. There is no process around first draft, revision, resubmit, final draft. The teacher assigns a paper and expects it to turn up on the date due. 

What ends up happening is that I feel I have to teach my dd how to write a paper - show her how to outline etc. and be sure she is pacing things correctly. This takes a lot of time and energy and if we were homeschooling - no problem, we'd have all day but as it is she is at school most of the day and when she has a paper due it seems I have to spend a LOT of time actively directing her in completion of it...it's all we have time to do together...which sucks.

There is no syllabus handed out to the kids - I'm often guessing at what is actually expected of her and she is not clear on it either. Her school is 50 miles away and we car pool - DP drives so it's rare I even get to talk one-on-one with teacher. We communicate by email. I keep addressing the fact I feel dd needs more clarity in direction from him and feel sort of peeved a simple thing like providing a syllabus would save so much headache for me and isn't done.

 

What do your 5th grade kids use for organization and assignments and how much does the teacher facilitate the kids keeping it together?

 

TIA


JollyGG's Avatar JollyGG
04:38 PM Liked: 1071
#2 of 9
05-02-2012 | Posts: 1,617
Joined: Oct 2008

First of all, the first year post skip is hard. Or at least it was for us. My son skipped 1st and is currently in 4th in a full time gifted program. It does get better. However, organization and executive function skills are still very very hard for my son. My son is actually currently being kept out of all after school activities while he gets caught up on work that he has let slip through the cracks this year. I do think it has a lot to do with age and maturity. My son is 2 years younger than a lot of his classmates as we are in a very heavily red-shirted area. I don't think that he should loose the chance to perform academics at his level because he has yet to develop the organization and planning skills yet. However, he often does.

 

It's not enough for my son, but our school does have a daily planner that the kids are supposed to fill out at the end of each school day. The parents are supposed to initial it and send it back to school for the next days assignments. In the planner is a small space for notes back and forth from teacher and parents. The teacher also emails us, but usually not until things have gotten bad enough that it's a major struggle to get caught back up and on track. Because this is an area that my son struggles with the school counselor will help him get all missing assignments from his teachers and work out a plan, but once again this is usually only once things have degraded significantly.

 

The school also has a color coding system for subjects that is supposed to keep the kids organized, but once again it doesn't fit my son very well. So the kids have a folder and a notebook for each subject and each subject has a color. So, ideally, every student in the class has a red notebook, and a red folder and all Math goes in there, etc. Having to keep track of so many folders and notebooks doesn't work for my son. So he has a giant binder. It has colored dividers that match the color coding system for the school. The dividers have pockets. The binder is required to come home every night and go back to school every day. Everything is supposed to go in the binder. That way even if it's not in the right spot we should be able to find it in the binder and put it in the right spot. He also has a retired work folder in the binder where work they are done with goes. That way if he is mistaken and still needs something it is still accessible, but is not cluttering up the subject specific spots in the binder. It does work for him, but we do have to tussle briefly with each new teacher each year and they don't care for the fact that his system differs from the school wide system. Once they see that he does stay more organized with it we usually don't hear much more about it.

 

While I do think it is a maturity issue, I do also think that it might be partially just how my son is wired and ma bey genetic. I have trouble keeping my life organized at times as well.


One_Girl's Avatar One_Girl
04:43 PM Liked: 2767
#3 of 9
05-02-2012 | Posts: 4,668
Joined: Feb 2008
My dd is only nine but her teacher provides a lot of support for all students. They have a planner to write in each day and parents sign the planner daily. She also keeps her grade book up to date and sends our a weekly alert on Mondays if a student is missing work. She switched school midyear though and her other teacher had no system and was very behind on her grade book so I really think it has more to do with organization than with what kids need.

When I student taught in a 5/6 combination class my mentor teacher signed off on the daily planner as an exit ticket, she had taught junior high also so her support seemed on level for what the kids needed developmentally. She also went over the writing process in a lot of detail and so did I when I took over. There is no way students would have been able to get away with forgetting about a research paper because we checked off on each stage of even the little writing assignments. It takes a while for a teacher to get to know her age group and it sounds like this teacher still has learning to do.
Emmeline II's Avatar Emmeline II
07:41 AM Liked: 141
#4 of 9
05-03-2012 | Posts: 8,558
Joined: Feb 2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hillary77 View Post

Hi folks,

 

10 yr. old dd skipped 4th grade this year into an accelerated 5th grade class at a public charter school with 15 students in the class. Her teacher this year is new and also is new to teaching 5th grade.

 

The teacher writes down the homework assignments on the board and the kids are expected to record it themselves. This works well for things due the next day. This past month dd had a 5 page research paper assigned and "forgot" about it until a week from the due date. There is no process around first draft, revision, resubmit, final draft. The teacher assigns a paper and expects it to turn up on the date due. 

What ends up happening is that I feel I have to teach my dd how to write a paper - show her how to outline etc. and be sure she is pacing things correctly. This takes a lot of time and energy and if we were homeschooling - no problem, we'd have all day but as it is she is at school most of the day and when she has a paper due it seems I have to spend a LOT of time actively directing her in completion of it...it's all we have time to do together...which sucks.


TIA

 

I'm wondering about this school. When I was in school it was all about the process of writing a paper (which also help teach time management) as that is a skill necessary throughout school, whereas knowledge about the particular topic of the paper is not. Here, it is the norm to work on organizational skills from Kindergarten starting with their "take home" folder. In 3rd or 4th grade the students start keeping an agenda book where they need to write down their assignments and that is checked, then in later grades they are expected to do it on their own. Some schools have online parent sites where assignments and grades are posted daily for the parent to view.

 

Since you say she is like her dad it may be more of an executive functioning issue than immaturity. Though executive function deficits are a hallmark of ADHD, a person can have an executive function deficit and not be ADHD. I would consider a 504 plan for next year, she may even qualify for an IEP since this is affecting her function in school.

 

Executive Functioning


whatsnextmom's Avatar whatsnextmom
07:59 AM Liked: 1582
#5 of 9
05-03-2012 | Posts: 1,971
Joined: Apr 2010

Both my kids got a lot of "training" in 5th grade (and earlier) when it came to organization. In our area, 6th grade is middle school and the expectations to be organized and self-sufficient are very high. They start planners in 2nd grade and so start writing down assignments daily as a rule. In elementary, parents have to sign planners daily to double check that their child is following through on this. They get very detailed letters home on big projects, lots of reminders, lots of focus on process. They also had online grades (well DS did in elementary... DD starting in middle school.) This is quite helpful if the teachers are good at entering grades regularly.

 

I will say that my youngest really struggled with organization through 5th grade. He WANTED to do well but he really just couldn't manage it on his own. He could do routine but anything unusual never made it home, never got done. He just couldn't remember it... period. However, I must say, he's really got his act together in 6th grade. It all just snapped into place... every assignment done without prompting, practicing both his instruments daily without reminding... it's just fantastic! Honestly though, in elementary, there wasn't an organization technique that ever worked for him. I resigned myself to asking all the same questions daily "what homework do you have, when is it due, let's look at your planner, have you practiced, ect."

 

Being disorganized naturally can put a real strain on an accelerated child. My DD skipped a grade but she is the most organized creature on the planet (outside of her room lol.) Hers was a mid-year skip and even though she was still much further ahead academically, it took the rest of the year for her to really transition into the new grade expectations and social situation. My DS didn't skip but is naturally young for grade (he started 6th grade at 10 just like DD.) In a school where most of the kids started school later and so a full year or more older, his lack of organization really stuck out. It takes skill but also maturity. It may be at this time, your child is going to need a lot of hands on parenting when it comes to schoolwork but age will likely help.


mtiger's Avatar mtiger
08:27 AM Liked: 438
#6 of 9
05-03-2012 | Posts: 2,309
Joined: Sep 2006

It strikes me that a conference with her teacher would be a given... have you had one?


Linda on the move's Avatar Linda on the move
09:24 AM Liked: 4226
#7 of 9
05-03-2012 | Posts: 10,636
Joined: Jun 2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by Emmeline II View Post
When I was in school it was all about the process of writing a paper (which also help teach time management) as that is a skill necessary throughout school, whereas knowledge about the particular topic of the paper is not. Here, it is the norm to work on organizational skills from Kindergarten starting with their "take home" folder. In 3rd or 4th grade the students start keeping an agenda book where they need to write down their assignments and that is checked, then in later grades they are expected to do it on their own. Some schools have online parent sites where assignments and grades are posted daily for the parent to view.

 

 

This. My kids are in 8th and 9th this year and both still got a lot of support for the process of writing. Longer papers had intern deadlines -- deadlines for a topic, deadlines for sources, deadline for an outline, deadline for a draft (which could just be a paragraph about how things were coming along), and then a due date for the polished paper.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by One_Girl View Post

My dd is only nine but her teacher provides a lot of support for all students. They have a planner to write in each day and parents sign the planner daily. She also keeps her grade book up to date and sends our a weekly alert on Mondays if a student is missing work. She switched school midyear though and her other teacher had no system and was very behind on her grade book so I really think it has more to do with organization than with what kids need.
When I student taught in a 5/6 combination class my mentor teacher signed off on the daily planner as an exit ticket, she had taught junior high also so her support seemed on level for what the kids needed developmentally

This was our 5th grade experience -- agenda book given by the school to each student, teachers signed off at the end of the day that the student had written everything down, and parents had to sign the book as well.

 

Also, the schools my kids have attended have a system where parents can check what homework has been assigned. At one school, it was a voice mail system and teachers were required to update by 4pm every day. At the other school, it is part of the web site and they are more lax about teachers keeping it up to date.

 

Based on our experiences, I find it odd that any school lacks a system for parents to check what homework has been assigned. Although these systems weren't around when we were kids, the amount of homework kids are currently assigned it a little nutty, and has surpassed what many kids are  capable of keeping track of on their own.

 

BUT -- I also wonder if the amount of support you expected your DD to need this year was unrealistic. She skipped a whole year, and went to an accelerated class. Most kids would need help to get through the work and expectations. Needing to write a paper in one week and needing lots of parental help to do so is kinda normal. I think there is a certain amount of "I need to go to the library right now" and "I need X for my science project right now" that is just part of raising a child.

 

This year is about over. I think the real question is what's on the horizon for next year.  What is the 6th grade teacher like, and how well prepared is your DD at this point for those expectations? If your DD needs more support for organization, is the teacher willing to be flexible? Even if the school doesn't hand out agendas and require teachers to sign them, then can you buy an agenda for your child and the teacher be willing to check it?


hillary77's Avatar hillary77 (TS)
12:48 PM Liked: 18
#8 of 9
05-03-2012 | Posts: 138
Joined: Nov 2010

Thank you so much for the feedback, ladies.

 

The teacher doesn't have any organization methods in place for the class but I do for DD. She has a binder with folders labeled "to turn in at school", "to bring home", "working on", "saving". She still rather frequently puts things in the wrong slot and forgets to turn things in to me or teacher or simply loses them in her desk or other places before they even make it into the folders, which I have to supervise her cleaning them out once a week or so. Her desk is a crazy mess also.

"Executive Functioning" problems sound right on the money. She is highly creative, as is her Dad, and of course - like all of us, remembers things better when she is really interested in them :) it's hard at times not to see her issues at times as being stubbornness.

I do so much to help her! Aside from the binder with the folders, she has a composition book with her favorite Hello Kitty character on it which she makes daily lists that she has to check things off on as she completes them. I check her list after it's been made for the next day, and when it's checked off. This includes getting dressed, brushing teeth, school stuff in her bag and by the door etc. including homework. If you asked her at any point during the day if she has all her stuff she would always say "yep"! with great confidence, if you asked her if she did all her homework she would also say "yep"  even if she had things she had forgotten at school.

I've tried consequences with her to no avail (she doesn't remember why she can't play on the computer for 3 days so it has no effect on her!). 

I see 4th 5th and 6th grade as the years where children are taught to be organized to prepare them for larger responsibilities to come. This year DD has made strides...her work ethic is much stronger. But it's all happening at home and I feel almost in spite of school, where the teacher seems to care naught for systems.

I am just shocked at how little the teacher is teaching the kids about process. PP who talked about process, that's exactly what I'm talking about. I definitely feel it is my responsibility to facilitate homework, be available for questions...do things like proofread drafts and assist in topic, sources, trips to the library etc. But I am shocked the kids aren't being taught how to outline a paper in 5th grade - in class! And are simply being assigned a 5 page research paper to complete. There are no in-class writing exercises either. I think it's a real weak spot for the teacher.

There are other issues I have with this teacher. I found out DD missed lunch twice in 2 weeks. We usually send her with home lunch but she is allowed to choose one day a week where she can have school lunch. The teacher asks the kids at some point during the day (as a class) to raise their hands if they want school lunch. DD missed it both times and then was too embarrassed later to tell the teacher she didn't have lunch. I told her she absolutely needs to do this and her teacher can help her and she will not go without lunch. But I can't understand how he didn't know she didn't have a lunch that day? It's odd...there are only 15 kids in that class and they all eat lunch in the same room. 

With all of these issues I have talked with her teacher about ways we could collaborate on helping her. It's the end of the year but it's a 5th/6th grade looping class so he will be her teacher next year as well!. He says he's willing to work with me but I can't see how he doesn't already have more in place for these kids. It seems to me that these kinds of organizational skills should be a focus of this age group, with any subject. I have talked with met with and emailed with him and just don't think he "gets" it - which leaves me frustrated and anxious about next year.

PP whose son "got" it in 6th grade....that sounds great. I hope it happens! I do think some of it is developmental for her, but MUCH of it seems in the DNA. 

Anyone else want to weigh in on whether this is or was a component of their child's 5th grade education? I just don't know if my expectations are realistic of the teacher - if I should do more clamoring.

 

Thank you :)


beanma's Avatar beanma
09:55 AM Liked: 2618
#9 of 9
05-04-2012 | Posts: 8,097
Joined: Jan 2002

My dd1 is in 5th grade and very disorganized. Her teachers don't have the systems that other posters have described and sometimes she does misplace her homework, etc. However, they wouldn't just assign a 5 page research paper and not help the kids with organizing it. Actually my 5th grader doesn't have nearly that much homework. She has daily math homework and sometimes has some writing, but it's just a page or so. They do most of their writing in class with the teacher helping. She's not in an accelerated class, but the school system is highly regarded and serves a lot of gifted, highly gifted and probably some profoundly gifted kids (college town). That assignment seems like a lot to expect for 5th grade to me. 

 

We're looking at a small charter school for next year and they have the planner system other posters have described. The local middle school (highly regarded) has online assignments of homework so you always know what is due. I'd actually prefer the online system, but the planner could be good, too, as long as dd1 writes it all down.

 

In 5th grade we get monthly (or more frequent) newsletters, occasional emails (not many), and teacher/admin communication via the "Friday folder". The teachers put newsletters, requests for help, field trip forms, updates, etc in the red Friday folder each Friday and we return what needs to be signed on Monday morning. If there was a big assignment like that we would be aware of it thru the Friday folder communications if the kids didn't tell us. I don't think any of the teachers really gave us a syllabus although we may have gotten something at some point that described what units they would be studying, for example, "in Science in September we'll be studying animal adaptation, in October ecosystems, in Nov the water cycle", etc, etc, but not assignments.

 

And yes, I think the organization thing can be genetic. Dd2 is noticeably more organized than dd1 — not that either one is really organized, but dd2 is not the complete hurricane of disaster that dd1 is. Neither dh nor I are particularly organized people. We're not complete slobs, but we certainly have our challenges and no one would ever accuse either one of us of being neatniks. 

 

Good luck and I do agree that the teacher and the school as a whole should be doing more to help kids be organized. Maybe you should initiate the conversation on a school wide level. The systems I described are for the whole middle school (online system) and the whole charter school (planner).


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