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21 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone.

First, I want to say thank you to everyone who has lended their advice to me. I truly appreciate every bit, and it has been a tremendous help emotionally because I have been dealing with these issues internally until now, without an outlet.

Second, I wanted to provide you with some additional details to make giving me advice easier. I know it is difficult to give advice when you don't know some details or some dynamics.

My daughter attends a public school, and the classroom structure is not flexible such as that with private schools. I cannot afford, at this time, to pay for private school or even tutoring outside of school, and I cannot afford a nanny or part time mommy's helper to home school her as my income is sooo low right now and I am doing so much to try to raise our standard of living, so I have been feeling stuck with what I have. My good friend told me today that there are schools of choice here that have a better learning setting, so I may be able to find one for Olivia to attend for 1st grade. I will look into that this week.

I am working full time and going to school, but I am also in process of enlisting in the National Guard so that can make more money for my family. I hope to put my daughter in Waldorf Education when I can bridge the gaps in my income.

If you need more details or have more questions about my dynamic, please feel free to ask.


I sat in my daughter's class room this morning (I usually do that around once or twice per month and help in class, this is when she has gotten green notes), but this time I had the intention of truly observing her without interfering, and writing down what I observed.

My daughter is very concerned about others; if they are on task, focused and doing their work, sitting in their seat, being quiet etc. She puts so much thought and energy into this that she neglects herself and gets in trouble for being out of her seat, for talking to other students about finishing their work, and other related issues. Her teacher tells her things like "Leave that to me O, you don't have to worry about that." because Olivia frequently tries to help students stay on task. It is sooo difficult to want to chastise her for caring so much about others. When everyone is in class, there are 27 students. Either the teacher or the teacher's assistant are out of the room at any given time, seeing about other students who need to "take a walk" or decorating the board outside the room, being called by the principal or other issues, and I think O takes it upon herself to help out, but ends up hurting herself instead with yellow notes.

The teacher started the morning with the Pledge of Allegiance, and then gave instructions on how to do the work. Olivia was looking around quite a bit and was covering her mouth with her sleeve.

She spent the first 5 minutes of work time talking to her classmate to the right of her about doing his work properly, and then got into a tiff with the student sitting to her left because he tapped her on her back with a pencil when she was trying to tell the student sitting behind her not to talk to her because it was quiet time (I'm way across the room by the way, observing). The issue about the pencil ended up taking about 6 - 7 minutes of work time to resolve because the little boy who tapped her was arguing with the teacher and my daughter. The boy ended up being sent to sit at the teacher's desk, and was subsequently sent to the principal's office and then sent home (he is 5 years old and confided in me that he takes a "blue pill"). She spent another 5 minutes talking to the classmate sitting to the other side of her about getting his work done, and he had to leave for a hearing test (children were being called 5 at a time for that).

I got the very strong feeling that Olivia got a green note today not because she was doing anything different, but because I was in the room and the teacher and teacher's assistant chose not to give her yellow. My daughter kicked a chair from under the table. She was rarely singing along with the school songs unless it involved the children standing up with hand motions etc. Most of the time she was looking around the room or looking at me or looking at other students. She is BORED!! She finishes her work quickly and becomes concerned with the needs of others.

If she wanted to say thank you for something (which she did on several occasions) she would get out of her seat and go over to the person she wanted to thank to thank them. She raised her hand for activities she was supposed to raise her hand for, such as reading on the board or picking a number or something while the whole class watched, but would not raise her hand unless prompted for things done at the individual tables.

When the 15 minutes for morning work was over, Olivia was busy talking to another classmate, and I thought she hadn't finished her work. She had actually finished it pretty quickly and was preoccupying her time by talking to the other children.

She was a part of a small group for reading and she was completely engaged in that activity. She made arts and crafts flowers out of straws and was completely engaged in that.

At home, I asked her what she thought about the work at school, and she said "I don't like doing the same thing over again." Essentially, she is telling me she is bored, and is definitely showing me in class that she is bored also. I left at lunch time and she stayed on green for the rest of the day. She isn't paying attention to herself because she believes she needs to help others stay on task and she is willing to "get in trouble" every day to do that. How do I tell her to "pay attention to yourself" without taking her compassion away? How do I show her how to be helpful while still instilling in her the values of making sure she is taken care of first?

The teacher was too busy to talk to me about scheduling a conference, but I will call in the morning and leave a message for her so that we can do that as soon as possible next week.

I am no longer taking these issues home, I haven't for nearly a month now out of not wanting to discipline her for something I thought was out of her control, as well as not wanting to discipline her for something I thought the teacher should be handling better. I ask my daughter generally about certain questions that I have to get her perspective if I feel confused about something, but other than that it stays at school. AND I am going to see if she can have the opportunity to redeem herself later in the day to go back to green when I conference with the teacher. I know they won't change that system for me completely, but they may adjust it for my daughter.

I am no longer punishing or spanking my daughter. I'm unhappy about the way it makes me feel and, especially with this situation, repeated offenses are EVERY DAY, going to find better ways to discipline her that allow her to make cognitive sense of what has happened so that she can avoid certain behaviors etc that are not good for her.

I am going to look into gifted testing for her and try to price and enroll her in ballet once per week to try to take some of the edge off. I have also considered taking her to the rec center with me when I am able to start that. There is free child care there for my little boy, and I think that will really help us to have bonding time also.

I know I have more to add and more to say but this is already so long. I'll give you a chance to respond to this, and thank you again.

· Registered
10,098 Posts
Well, I agree that punishing her at home is not the answer. Being bored with her work is something you can try to address with the teacher, but the success of that will almost entirely depend on that particular teacher/school.

However, I would start to reframe the discussion from her "wanting to help others" to her "being a distraction in the classroom." My older son has a tendency to "help" others in class situations, and I have had to really be on him because it almost always not appropriate. In fact, I have stopped having his little brother take any classes with him because ds1 takes it upon himself to be the parent to ds2 instead of letting the teacher handle things. His intention may be good, as is your daughter's, but it is a distraction and needs to stop. Wanting to tell a joke and make someone laugh is a good intention, but not appropriate during worktime in the classroom.

Again, I don't think she needs to be getting in trouble or being punished. Rather, she needs to understand that it is not appropriate, that it is not helpful to the other children, and is a problem from the whole classroom, as the teacher's time ends up being spent on that rather than teaching. Maybe understanding the negative impact it has on others will be a bigger motivation for her than simply avoiding punishment.

· Premium Member
12,443 Posts
It sounds like you're really working hard to help her through school. That's great!

I would tell the teacher, when you meet, that you noticed that Olivia becomes most disruptive when she's finished her work and is trying to 'help' others. Maybe the teacher can find more challenging work for her.

I agree with the PP that the best way to have this discussion is to talk to her about whose job it is to 'help' the other students. It's not only that she's neglecting herself, but really, it's that she's taking over a job that's not hers. You might be able to help her to understand with an example from your own family -- how does she feel when her older sibling tells her what to do? I know in my family, nothing made me angrier than to have my older sister tell me what to do.

I fully understand the desire to make sure everyone is on task and is following the rules. (I have that tendency myself, and so do my kids!) But it is a very good skill to have to be able to discern what your job is vs. what someone else's job is. When she's helping other kids, she's not doing her job as a student because she's bothering other kids, even if she's trying to be helpful. If she had more things to occupy her mind, she might also be less likely to worry about other kids!

FWIW, 27 is really too many to have in a K classroom, especially full day. I suspect your daughter finds it somewhat overstimulating, and that probably wears on her reserves as the day goes by. So, I'm really glad to hear you've made the decision to leave the school stuff at school.

· Registered
270 Posts
First, I applaud you for choosing not to spank anymore and for taking such an active role in your daughter's educational life. I was interested in your classroom observation and I think that holds many keys for helping the situation. I used to teach second grade so I feel somewhat qualified to comment on what's going on in the classroom. First, it seems like the class size is too big, especially for that age group. Here in Texas we have a limit of 22 per class through second grade and depending on the personalities involved, sometimes 22 is too many. Is there a class she could be moved to with fewer students? It also sounds, from your description, that the class is maybe too structured for a kindrgarten class. It sounds like the children are expected to sit still and quiet most of the time and that just doesn't really work well for that age. Do they ever do collaborative activities? Are they allowed to discuss their work with each other? Are they allowed to get up when finished and select something else to do? If not, why not and is there a way that could change or is there another class that is set up more like that? When your daughter is finished, are there any extra jobs or classroom tasks she could help with? Plants to water, attendance to take to office, papers to sort, pass out, etc.? Can she self select books to read when she's finished or could she go on to another activity? Is there a buddy she could be set up with who she could help? Could she go to a Pre-K classroom and help or go to an older classroom and be read to by a student who maybe needs extra practice reading? Can she go to the library? Are there any activities she could do quietly in her seat- a memory card game or practicing handwriting, practicing spelling words, journaling, making words activity, etc.? There are so many different things that could (and dare I say should) be done by the teacher to help her be more successful. Have a conference with the teacher and ask her if she's offered amy of these things, and ask her what her plan is to help your daughter be more successful-after all, that's her job too.

Your daughter sounds bored and young, much like probably all the other kids in her class. There's nothing unexpected about her behavior, the classroom environment just isn't taking advantage of what kids do naturally it seems. And I totally agree with the other posters who said to leave all that at school and it sounds like you have, which is probably in itself having positive benefits.

Good luck! And if you can choose where to send her, do. Go observe all the first grade teachers in this or whatever school you consider and see how you would feel being six years old and talked to the way they are and asked to do the kinds of things they do. See if there's inspiring, interesting thinking going on or just boring worksheets and sitting with your head down until everyone else is finished. See if there's another kindergarten classroom in this school where you feel your daughter would fit better, they might not want to move her so late, but it is the school's jon to provide a stimulating learning environment using the best, developmentally appropriate practices.

Anyway, sorry this got so long, it just doesn't sound like the best classroom environment for various reasons. (And, I'm predisposed to like your daughter as she and I share the same birthday!)

Hope any of these suggestions help!

· Registered
3,663 Posts
I would contact your school district and try to find out about how to transfer to another public school or charter school.

I wish you had homeschooling as an option, but you may be able to find a homeschooling mom who would be interested in homeschooling another child (I would eagerly educate the right seven or eight year old girl right now for free, for various reasons). I know it sounds impossible, but it does happen occasionally.

Good luck, I hope it all works out well for you.

PS my dd was in a Texas kindergarten class with 23 children in it. Is that legal or were they pushing the limits (the school is desperately overcrowded, btw).
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