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#1 of 16 Old 03-09-2005, 06:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We have had a very difficult year this year in public first grade with my older dd. It is rather long, so I won't explain the whole thing, but although I won't be homeschooling longterm, I am considering removing my dd for the last 2 1/2 months of school & homeschooling for that timeframe & then re-enrolling her next year for second grade.

I really hate to make that big of a change for her this late in the year, but I am very concerned about her disengagement in learning (she hates school, doesn't like the teacher & is getting turned off to virtually every subject). I fear leaving her in a situation as bad as her current classroom is for her & what it will do to her longterm if she decides that all school is boring & stressful.

We have met with the principal & the teacher (multiple times w/ the teacher) &, as of our latest meeting, have a few changes in the classroom that will hopefully decrease the pressure level for her, but I almost think that it is too late at this point. Her teacher could morph into superman now & I don't think that she would care; she seems to have her mind made up about who this teacher is & how it works (or doesn't) for her. I am hoping that, in a few months of being out of that situation & learning about only stuff that interests her (read books that interest her, etc.), that she will recover some enthusiasm for school & then we can get going again in the fall.

However, convincing my dh of this may be a bit tough. Does this sound like a truly bad idea for such a short time?
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#2 of 16 Old 03-10-2005, 04:32 AM
 
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Christa,

Sorry to hear she is having a bad time at school right now. What exactly is upsetting to her? Is it just the teacher or specific other stuff? Is she advanced and bored? Is she having trouble lasting the full day (the first year of full day can be a big transition for kids - whether it is kindergarten or first grade). Do they not teach to her style of learning? Has she made friends?
If it is just the teacher, can she switch to another first grade class?

I understand that you don't want her thinking that school is bad - and reinforcing that for another few months by keeping her there. But if you pull her out there may be negative consequences too - might she think she "failed" and couldn't do it? Would she miss her friends and the parts of school she does enjoy? Art? Science Fair? School play?

Hope you find a way to figure this out. Is there a great second grade teacher you can look forward to?
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#3 of 16 Old 03-10-2005, 12:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sorry for not being too specific about what the problem was, but I was trying not to make it too long! Just a short rundown: she is probably somewhat advanced academically (reading at a fourth grade level according to the teacher). She's in first grade (6 y/o). She was in full-day kg last year, so the time hasn't been a problem.

The teacher just has a "drill-sargeant" style & my dd is very sensitive. The difficulty of work is fine, but the quantity is totally unreasonable. The kids miss recess on a regular basis to do more work, get extra work sent home if they don't get it done in class (there is a lot of pressure to work faster than she is really able to). They have 60 minutes of homework each night, book reports... If they do not complete all of the in-class work, they have to redo all of the same homework the following week as well as the same in-class work. They read the same book over & over each week (8-10 reading of the same book in a week). This has my dd hating reading & convinced that it is boring.

Anyway, we have a few concessions from the teacher that should make things a bit better, but she is really "tainted" in my dd's eyes at this point & I don't think that she would be willing to work for this teacher or enjoy learning with her regardless of what was changed at this point. The principal was not willing to consider changing classes, so that is not a possibility. We could do "half" homeschool & send her in only for specials - art, music, PE & computers & do only the academics at home, so hopefully that would help with the social part of it.
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#4 of 16 Old 03-10-2005, 12:53 PM
 
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I don't know if I have much advice for you, but I am in awe of the amount of work your daughter is doing. My third grader doesn't even do book reports. My first grader has a different "baggie" book to bring home every evening and very rarely has homework. My third grader is the only one with homework each night and it is usually one math assignment.
My son had a similar problem in second grade. He and the teacher did not get along. Neither one of them was willing to make adjustments. The first 3/4 of the year were very hard. I considered moving him to a different classroom, but I was worried he would think anytime he had trouble with a teacher he could just change them. The last 1/4 of the year improved a lot as both he and the teacher were finally willing to make some changes. He went from disliking the teacher to the point of telling his sister he hoped she didn't get her the next year to actually liking her. He stops by and visits her from time to time even now. I would recommend you talk with other parents to see what the teachers are like for second grade. Our school allows you to request a certain teacher and they will do their best to accomodate you. I actually went in to talk with the principal about my third grader going into fourth. There is one teacher who he just doesn't get along with (same kind of drill sargeant thing as your dd's teacher) and I knew it wouldn't work. The principal said she totally agreed and probably would not have placed him in that class anyway.
Good Luck. I hope my rambling made some amount of sense.

Rebecca wife of Megan...moms to six crazy kiddos! Seth (15), Madison (13), Zachary (12), Trevor (12), Alex (10), and Nicholas (9)
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#5 of 16 Old 03-10-2005, 02:34 PM
 
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Well, that does sound like a rotten situation. Are the special classes (art, music, PE, etc.) taught by the homeroom teacher or other teachers? Does your dd want to stay home? The worst part of it is the principal's unwillingness to put her in another classroom - why not?

I would hate that style of teaching for my 1st grader especially!!! If I wanted drill sergeant I would have put her in military school! We left our beloved co-op preschool because I didn't find the 4s teacher to be "warm and fuzzy" enough. The 3s teacher was wonderful - so loving to the kids. The DS style may work for some kids but it wouldn't have been a good fit for me or mine.

It does sound like she has an overabundance of homework by anyone's standard. My 3rd grader has about 30 minutes a night plus another 20+ minutes of reading.

At the very least, I would explain to your dd that I understood the situation and sympathized with her frustration. AND I would definitely see about your choices for 2nd grade teachers next year. Some schools do not allow requests but others do so maybe? I would try to appeal to the principal's sense of fairness - my dd didn't do well in that style of teaching environment but we stuck it out because you didn't want her to switch classrooms. She had a year of feeling negative about school in general. Now you want a more positive and reasonable teacher for 2nd grade.
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#6 of 16 Old 03-10-2005, 02:44 PM
 
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Have you read the book by Elaine Aron about highly sensitive kids? The title escapes me at the moment. Might be a good read for you.

I think the half homeschool would be great. Your current situation sounds so academic (and tedious and dull) and even if she had a teacher more suited the academic expectations would probably be just as dull for her.
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#7 of 16 Old 03-11-2005, 01:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The "specials" are taught by different teachers, so she wouldn't have to deal with her regular teacher at all in those. I think that it would improve her attitude toward school to be going only for things that she likes. She really likes art.

The principal's reason on not changing classes is that it is too late in the year & too hard on the kids & teacher. Re requesting a teacher next year, there are two (of the four) who I would be very happy with. However, the school does not allow us to request specific teachers. We can say what kind of teacher we would like, though. I do plan on doing that as well as trying to talk the teachers that we would like into trying to get her into one of their classes.

We are vegan & I actually just found a really cool curricula that the Farm Sanctuary gives free to teachers (including homeschoolers, I understand). It is all about compassion to animals, but has some neat worksheets that teach math, word searches, reading, writing, etc. I think that my dd would really like learning about farm animals as a part of her school. I especially liked this lesson plan that they have on how a bill becomes a law; it follows the case of a downed animal & a bill that was introduced to protect animals in that situation. I think that this may work out without being as difficult as I initially thought. There are a lot more free worksheets & lesson plans out there for homeschooling than I would have initially thought.
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#8 of 16 Old 03-11-2005, 02:25 PM
 
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I think that teacher has very high expectations of those kids. If it is that high in grade 1 I'd be questioning what they're expected in the rest of the grades. Perhaps a change to a new school(if possible) would be better.

I think it is ridiculous that the principal says it's too hard on the kids and the teacher to move a kid into a different class. Does he/she deny new students throughout the year? Does the principal know you are thinking of pulling her from school?

IMO this is one of these cases where you have to take a stand and say no this is what's happening, if they don't like it pull her.
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#9 of 16 Old 03-11-2005, 03:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, the principal knows what it going on in the classroom, she knows that we are pulling her & she knows why. We had a meeting with the teacher & the principal a week or so ago following my dh & I sending a 2 1/2 page letter to the teacher & the principal outlining what the problems in the classroom are, & what we want changed. The teacher has agreed to a few changes, but it is really too little, too late at this point.

This teacher is new to the our school. I have spoken to parents with kids in all of the other first grade classrooms & parents who have kids in this class as well as kids in 2nd or third grade. Our classroom has expectations that are head & tails above any of the other first grade classrooms as well as many of the second-third grade classes. I truly believe that there is a problem with this teacher.

We did request changes in the class and/or a change of classroom in our letter. In the meeting, we started with a request to change classes & the principal was totally unwilling to consider it, so we dropped it & moved on to changes needing made in the classroom. After considering it further, I have just come to the conclusion that changes in the classroom are just not enough. I suppose that I could have send another letter stating that we needed her changed to another class or we would be pulling her, but given that I have already told them that she will be leaving & why, it seems almost pointless at this point.
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#10 of 16 Old 03-11-2005, 03:47 PM
 
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I know that is what it can feel like.

I'm so glad you are in a position to pull her. I did similar as well.

I recommend you document everything and contact the school board and the superintendent of schools. Let them know what is up and why you are leaving.
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#11 of 16 Old 03-11-2005, 05:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Update: I did call the district & they said that it is entirely up to the principal whether to allow a request to change classrooms. Just to document it in writing, I will be dropping off the following letter for the principal today (I deleted identifying info regarding the name of the school & principal so as not to malign them on a public discussion board!):

Dear [principal]:

As you are aware, I have submitted paperwork to homeschool [dd] for the remainder of this school year. I am simply writing to document the reason for this decision and to reiterate our family’s need to have [dd] in a different setting for the remainder of this school year.

I understand your reasoning behind refusing to change classrooms for students who are having difficulties in a particular class; however, I did want to state that the only reason that we are removing [dd] from [school name] is because we feel that there are irreconcilable differences between her current teacher and [dd]. I truly do not feel that moving to a different classroom would present any greater difficulty for [dd] than leaving the school. I want to put this out there as one final effort to make a bad situation better for [dd]. None the less, I understand that it is your decision whether to allow a student to change classrooms.

Due to our inability to change our daughter to a classroom where she will hopefully feel successful and regain some love of learning, we will be removing [dd] from [school name] beginning the week following Spring Break. I am very disappointed that we were not able to make the situation work within the school and want you to understand that withdrawing [dd] from school is only a last resort. It is not a decision that we wanted to make, but we feel that we have no choice if we are to salvage any of our daughter’s self-esteem and interest in learning.

I do hope to return [dd] to [school name] in the fall and look forward to that finding a much better learning environment for [dd] next school year.
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#12 of 16 Old 03-18-2005, 08:31 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChristaN
Sorry for not being too specific about what the problem was, but I was trying not to make it too long! Just a short rundown: she is probably somewhat advanced academically (reading at a fourth grade level according to the teacher). She's in first grade (6 y/o). She was in full-day kg last year, so the time hasn't been a problem.
Oh, Christa, please pull her out of school. Please keep her out. I don't know if you remember how school was like for you, but if your daughter is gifted, you probably are too. B/c of NCLB, schools are less and less friendly to gifted students; the pressure is all on getting them to approach the subject your child has already mastered. Consider this too: if she's at the 4th grade level and she's in first grade, then that's like being a 9-year-old forced to endure classes with a bunch of six-year-olds. No wonder she is hostile, bored, and hates school.

The thing is, you have no guarantee that next year's teacher won't be WORSE.

Quote:
The principal was not willing to consider changing classes, so that is not a possibility. We could do "half" homeschool & send her in only for specials - art, music, PE & computers & do only the academics at home, so hopefully that would help with the social part of it.
I would do that.
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#13 of 16 Old 03-18-2005, 01:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Today is officially the first day of Spring Break & we do intend to homeschool after break. I have found some interesting lesson plans - even stuff from Save the Manatee Club like math along the lines of "if a 1,000 lb. manatee eats 10% of its body weight in plants each day, how many lbs. of plants does it eat?" Dd loves manatees. I would like her to learn the concepts behind things rather than just getting rote memorization, which seems to be the method of choice in her class.

Unfortunately, I got a call from my dept. at work to discuss increasing my relief hours to part-time as soon as we had turned in paperwork to homeschool -- of course! We will probably send her to the private school where her younger sister is in pre-k for the rest of the year if I do wind up getting the part-time position. I have complete confidence in that school; we just can't afford the tuition for two kids there permanantly. Two months should be doable, though.

Charles,

Yes, I was a "gifted" student as well. I tested at 12th grade reading level in 4th grade. I think that the main problem that it presented for me was that I breezed through school and developed terrible study habits since I never had to work. That was not good once I started undergrad school. By grad school I was old enough & mature enough to buckle down & develop some decent work habits. I would certainly prefer my dd not to have bad study habits, but the problem seems to be more excessive pressure for her at this point in time. Her best is never good enough for her current teacher. She must always do more, faster, etc. The difficulty of the work is fine, but the time given to do it is not enough. She takes timed tests on math, spelling, and so on. She just doesn't work fast enough to answer all of the questions in 30 seconds & she feels like a failure. The amount of repetition is totally ridiculous as well (who wants to read the same book 8 or 9 times?).
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#14 of 16 Old 03-18-2005, 01:25 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChristaN
...I really hate to make that big of a change for her this late in the year, but I am very concerned about her disengagement in learning (she hates school, doesn't like the teacher & is getting turned off to virtually every subject). I fear leaving her in a situation as bad as her current classroom is for her & what it will do to her longterm if she decides that all school is boring & stressful...
School is the only place that parents would consider leaving a child, knowing full well that it is a bad situation. I am SO glad you are taking her out for the rest of the year.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Baudelaire
Oh, Christa, please pull her out of school. Please keep her out. I don't know if you remember how school was like for you, but if your daughter is gifted, you probably are too. B/c of NCLB, schools are less and less friendly to gifted students; the pressure is all on getting them to approach the subject your child has already mastered. Consider this too: if she's at the 4th grade level and she's in first grade, then that's like being a 9-year-old forced to endure classes with a bunch of six-year-olds. No wonder she is hostile, bored, and hates school.

The thing is, you have no guarantee that next year's teacher won't be WORSE.
Sometimes this is hard to hear, but ITA. Good luck.
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#15 of 16 Old 03-18-2005, 02:34 PM
 
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You do not need to do so, but I think a further letter addressing the disservice this teacher is doing to ALL her students (not just your DD) is in order. 60 minutes of homework, even for an advanced student just IS NOT DEVELOPMENTALLY APPROPRIATE for a six year old. Period. The suggestions I have read are something like 10 minutes per grade level (so 10 minutes in 1st grade, 2 hours in 12th grade) which seems much more reasonable.

I'm glad you are able to get your DD out. Please visit over at the "Learning at Home and Beyond" board

 

 

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#16 of 16 Old 03-18-2005, 11:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChristaN
Sorry for not being too specific about what the problem was, but I was trying not to make it too long! Just a short rundown: she is probably somewhat advanced academically (reading at a fourth grade level according to the teacher). She's in first grade (6 y/o). She was in full-day kg last year, so the time hasn't been a problem.

The teacher just has a "drill-sargeant" style & my dd is very sensitive.
.
I wanted to offer my support to you mama. My oldest is 5 yrs old, in senior kindergarten full days every other day. (Catholic system) She is a late baby so she is the youngest in class usually. In JK last year she was at one school, loved every minute, and then that school closed and the entire student body was sent to another newer school....and within days of her SK class she was not the same child. She is a happy go lucky busy advanced child who suddenly was quiet and withdrawn and our instincts just said SOMETHING IS WRONG.

To shorten a very long story, I learned a valuable lesson in advocating for my children no matter what the consequences to me, or them, in regards to changes. Her then teacher was exactly as you describe your daughters' teacher. There wasn't the same workload, but the manner was there. My daughter was being forced to do things she couldn't yet do, she was feeling left out and pushed and forced to master things fast. The straw that broke OUR backs was when the teacher took us aside 3 days into school and said our parenting (read AP ways) was incorrect, she was babied, we were holding her back. She needed to grow up fast to survive the system, we needed to stop coddling her. I went straight to the principal to find him WORSE and defending the teacher and saying we parents are alwasy in some uproar and he refused to listen saying my child was HIS from 8-3.

Well, I pulled her out immediately. I had hummed and hawed over it, worrying about her, but as soon as I pulled her Dh and I assured her we'd find her a better school and teacher and we'd support her no matter what. Once she knew this she relaxed. We found her a better older school, told the teacher, principal etc the details, got the support of the school board easily (I am a fiesty mama when need be-short of being a beeatch I'd say) and today she is thriving, reading at a gr 3 level and is doing amazing.

I'd say to follow your gut instinct. Only YOU know your child and what is happening and what she needs to be happy and thrive and learn. Do what you feel you must. From what we endured, and reading your words, I would easily pull her out now.


Good luck.
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