Regressing Academically and Socially - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 01-31-2012, 04:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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DS is 7+ and has steadily regressed socially and academically the past one and half school years.

 

Partner blames us first, and school last. She likes to ignore the things that we don't control. But I tend to look at it objectively.

 

She: we don't give him enough lovin' and one-on-one.

Me: He spends all day at a MINO (Montessori in name only) with 1 teacher and 34 kids. How can the teacher possibly keep up with every kid's emotional, social and psychological development? Last year, it was 2 teachers in the class, making it more manageable, but they didn't acclimate the huge influx of public school kids.

 

She: he's acting so weird.

Me: he's learning this from kids in his class. You're forgetting that he's probably the only kid in his class, and maybe 1 of 2 kids in that entire school who doesn't watch TV. Those kids learn their shitty attitudes, how to dress, from TV. Now combine that with their rotten diet's resultant behavioral problems with DS's excellent nutrition - maybe he feels singled out for being very pro-organic. Rather than face backlash from 30+ kids, what would you do? If it were me, I'd try to fit in.

 

That's the gist of it.

 

Before this school year, there was snack week: parents brought mid-morning snack to school. Goldfish crackers, HFCS cookies, nothing organic. And then the birthday parties. We could always tell there was a birthday party that day when we picked him up.

 

DS is very social, very smart, and creative. We're moving him out of that MINO because he's regressed to the point where it's breaking my heart.

 

To me, it comes down to that 1:34 ratio. How can a 50+ teacher possibly keep up with that many kids???  How is that even allowable?? That's not fair to the teacher!!!  The other classes in his grade level have 2 teachers, and only a few new kids so that the Montessori culture dominates. DS class is 2/3rds new from public schools.

 

Not coincidentally, they also brought their race to the bottom academics with them. I couldn't be more frustrated. I'd totally tell the principal to go eff off for sacrificing the school culture and that horrible classroom for the sake of growth. Adding to my agitation is the Parent Handbook which explicitly forbids talking with other parents about school issues.

 

And they wonder why no one reads their MUST READ emails?

 

Anyhow, I'm sorry to rant, but I have to rant here at Mothering. It's the only place that can give me answers, encouragement and practical suggestions. I haven't posted in years because I haven't needed to.

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#2 of 6 Old 01-31-2012, 08:05 AM
 
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Rant away, this is a good place for it.  It's unfortunate that you are having a tough time right now. 

 

Reading your post, there's a lot of frustration and anxiety - very understandable. It sounds like there are serious issues with the school. A 1 to 34 teacher/student ratio for that age is not good. If the school won't improve the situation and it's no longer a good fit for your child then a transfer to a new school is a solution. 

 

 

You didn't really ask for advice, but if you post in public forum, you have to expect it. 

 

One thing that you may want to consider is the overall tone of blaming others - the public school children with atrocious diets - for his problems. I tend to agree with your partner that the focus of improving a situation is on the things we can control. There are likely going to be bad examples of behaviour and attitude in every environment and kids can't always make excuses that way. I encouraged my children to abide by their own standards and to never make excuses based on others' actions or attitudes. They learned a mantra that "you can only control yourself, you can't control others".  Even fairly young, they learned that it was better to adopt a positive attitude to change a bad situation, rather than to act as a victim without any control or power, blaming others. 

 

I know you are upset, so perhaps you don't realize how your references to "public school children" "race to the bottom academics" and "horrible classroom" are coming across. I'll point out that the traditional Montessori program is not focused entirely on academics only, although certainly by the Elementary level, academics are integral. Because the students are expected to work independently, Montessori classrooms are often larger than a typical school (30 or so students), but usually there is a directress and an assistant in each classroom. It sounds like the school environment has changed significantly from the time you chose it as the best place for your ds, so your unhappiness is understandable. The school itself may not be terribly far off from Montessori philosophy. Or maybe it is - I only know what you have written here and you know the situation best.

 

Whatever else, it sounds like your decision to transfer to a new school is a good idea. Best wishes with making the change.  

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#3 of 6 Old 02-02-2012, 12:59 AM
 
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The OP did make the point that with 2/3 kids new to the school, used to public school and not used to Montessori, and only one teacher, that there has been an unsurprising shift in the classroom culture. I am a big supporter of public schools (went to one, taught at one) and also a big fan of Montessori, and I think that sounds like a recipe for disaster, at least if a Montessori-style learning environment is a priority. Montessori schools around here seem to have multi-age groupings of at least 3 years, where only 1/3 of students are new at any given time...so that the majority of kids are demonstrating expectations for the new ones. And 1:34 is a terrible ratio even in a Montessori classroom (or especially in a Montessori classroom, assuming it's private and you would partly be paying for BETTER student/teacher ratios.)

 

Also, big red flag--you can't discuss things with other parents? That school sounds like it has issues that are certainly leading to the academic regression. Hopefully when you move him out you'll see a positive change. 

 

As the PP implied, it's not really possible to totally screen your child from other kids' influences--they're always going to trade for Oreos at lunch or talk about TV or whatever...so you may need to make peace with that no matter what school he goes to. 

 

Good luck!

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#4 of 6 Old 02-02-2012, 04:37 AM
 
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Quote:

DS is 7+ and has steadily regressed socially and academically the past one and half school years.

 

Partner blames us first, and school last. She likes to ignore the things that we don't control. But I tend to look at it objectively.

 

She: we don't give him enough lovin' and one-on-one.

Me: He spends all day at a MINO (Montessori in name only) with 1 teacher and 34 kids. How can the teacher possibly keep up with every kid's emotional, social and psychological development? Last year, it was 2 teachers in the class, making it more manageable, but they didn't acclimate the huge influx of public school kids.  Why spend all that money for a crappy adult/child ratio? My son's first grade class has 20 children with a full-time assistant teacher. What is the school's rationale for not having a second teacher?

 

She: he's acting so weird.

Me: he's learning this from kids in his class. You're forgetting that he's probably the only kid in his class, and maybe 1 of 2 kids in that entire school who doesn't watch TV. Those kids learn their shitty attitudes, how to dress, from TV. Now combine that with their rotten diet's resultant behavioral problems with DS's excellent nutrition - maybe he feels singled out for being very pro-organic. Rather than face backlash from 30+ kids, what would you do? If it were me, I'd try to fit in. My children watch tv. Sometimes a lot of  it. My kids dress fine. Their attitudes are fine. And kids will have NO IDEA what food is organic or not organic. But eating junk does NOT mean that a child is going to have problems with behavior.

 

That's the gist of it.

 

Before this school year, there was snack week: parents brought mid-morning snack to school. Goldfish crackers, HFCS cookies, nothing organic. And then the birthday parties. We could always tell there was a birthday party that day when we picked him up. Sounds like you chose the wrong school. Organics are great but most families can't afford to eat an all-organic diet.

 

DS is very social, very smart, and creative. We're moving him out of that MINO because he's regressed to the point where it's breaking my heart. Sound like a good idea. But, my publicly schooled kids are also very social, very smart, and creative.

 

To me, it comes down to that 1:34 ratio. How can a 50+ teacher possibly keep up with that many kids???  How is that even allowable?? That's not fair to the teacher!!!  The other classes in his grade level have 2 teachers, and only a few new kids so that the Montessori culture dominates. DS class is 2/3rds new from public schools. Yes, that ratio sucks. It has NOTHING to do with a teacher's age. I'm 44 and I'm not much different than when I was in my 20s. Back when I was teaching, I had classes of 30 children (first and second grade.) Yes, it sucked but it was doable. As a parent, I would demand that they hire a second teacher. If the other classes have one, they should have one. Or the administrator should be the second teacher.

 

 

Not coincidentally, they also brought their race to the bottom academics with them. I couldn't be more frustrated. I'd totally tell the principal to go eff off for sacrificing the school culture and that horrible classroom for the sake of growth. Adding to my agitation is the Parent Handbook which explicitly forbids talking with other parents about school issues. Do you even realize that you are posting to people who's children often attend PUBLIC SCHOOL? Often VERY good public schools? I have not experienced any "Race to the Top" pressure at our school. Just a group of teachers who want each child to succeed.

 

And they wonder why no one reads their MUST READ emails?

 

Anyhow, I'm sorry to rant, but I have to rant here at Mothering. It's the only place that can give me answers, encouragement and practical suggestions. I haven't posted in years because I haven't needed to.

 

I 'put my comments in blue above.

 

This whole thread is incredibly insulting.

 

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#5 of 6 Old 02-02-2012, 12:31 PM
 
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Umm, so where to start.

 

First, yes, it's incredibly frustrating to see our children behaving in ways we wouldn't want them to.  It's also normal, especially for a social child, to pick up behaviors at school that we don't like. 

 

I also see where school must be frustrating--34 kids with 1 teacher seems like way too many, ESPECIALLY with so many new to Montessori.  Have you asked why the classroom doesn't have an assistant? Can you push for one to be hired?  Can you have your son moved to a different class? Can you leave and go to a different school?  I know it's the middle of the year but you never know, something might be available elsewhere.

 

I also personally would feel all kinds of alarms going off with a handbook that tells me I can't talk to other parents. WTF? Nobody tells me who I can and can't talk to about issues I may have with my kid's school. 

 

But I have to agree that you are placing WAY too much blame on the school and the other kids.  99% of kids in this country watch TV.  99% of the kids don't eat all organic diets.  Are 99% of kids behavior problems?  It is just flat-out ridiculous to think that any kid who watches TV and eats something with HFCS is a bad influence.  My thought is that improperly supervised 7-year-olds can probably come up with a lot of stuff to do that you wouldn't approve of, regardless of what they eat or watch or went to school last year, and that's more likely to be the root of any bad habits from school.

 

Also, I do think your comments about public school kids are inappropriate.  My daughter does go to public school.  Sure, I'd love to send her to a private Montessori--we even toured several a few years ago and they seemed really awesome--but I don't have the equivilent of the cost of a brand new car to spend on her tuition every year.  None of them offered any financial aid, either, so I was disappointed that they were not only unaffordable, but also apparently take students from a very limited demographic. Your implication that only crappy parents send their kids to public school is, frankly, more than a little insulting. 


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#6 of 6 Old 02-02-2012, 03:57 PM
 
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When you say he's regressed, what do you mean? What specific behaviors has he shown?

 

It's impossible to know whether it's typical development (7 year olds can be mouthy, immature and act weird all on their own), whether it's the influence of the school, whether it's stress, or whether he's got behavior that warrants professional intervention. Most 7 year olds don't regress in academic skills, not matter what the environment. That would concern me.

 

It's clear you're not happy with the school, but please don't blame the other kids for your son's behavior. At the end of the day, he is still responsible for his behavior, and you, as the parents, are responsible for giving him what he needs to be able to behave appropriately. It might be more one-on-one time. It might be clearer boundaries and expectations at home and at school. It might be a different school environment where his needs are met better. It might even be a need for behavioral or psychological intervention (if he's got something like ADHD, for example). Our daughter is 7 and is um, highly opinionated. We work hard with her at home helping her understand and process her feelings, see things from another perspective, play games that reinforce self-regulation skills (which she's weak in), and reminding her of appropriate language and behaviors. "Take a deep breath and talk to me in a calm voice" and "that was rude, try again" are constant refrains around our house. When our son was 7, he'd just finished occupational therapy, and he did a social skills class at school because he needed more help in learning to interact with other kids. I advocated for this because I felt he needed it. Different kids, different needs. The school can't meet all the kids' needs. I as a parent have to step up and parent my child so they learn as well.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PAOUtah View Post

DS is 7+ and has steadily regressed socially and academically the past one and half school years.

 

Partner blames us first, and school last. She likes to ignore the things that we don't control. But I tend to look at it objectively.

 

You're not any more objective than your partner. You're putting all the blame on school. Is that really objective?

 

 

Quote:
 but they didn't acclimate the huge influx of public school kids.

 

....

he's probably the only kid in his class, and maybe 1 of 2 kids in that entire school who doesn't watch TV. Those kids learn their shitty attitudes, how to dress, from TV.

 

...

DS class is 2/3rds new from public schools. Not coincidentally, they also brought their race to the bottom academics with them.

 

As the parent of a child who is in public school, I'm highly offended by this. You're painting all public school kids as academically unprepared, ill-behaved, with inappropriate dress and with "shitty attitudes". From what I've observed, kids tend to pick up their attitudes from their parents, regardless of whether or not they're allowed to watch TV. If you're very unhappy with the school, your son knows that. How is that going to affect his behavior at school?

 

And for the record, my TV-watching, public school educated 7 year old dresses up in pioneer clothes and plays out elaborate, creative plays with either a Little House on the Prairie theme (from the books) or with a colonial American theme. Did she learn how to dress from TV? Um.. well, sort of, if you count watching Little House on the Prairie as inspiring her dress. But she wanted a petticoat long before she found the TV show. I respect families that don't watch TV, but watching TV hasn't ruined my kids. Please don't denigrate all families who make different choices than yours because you're unhappy with one classroom in one school.


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