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Monday, October 24, 2011

Last week was our Parent-Teacher Conference. I know. Fun day, right? Oh so wrong!

At home TT1 does pretty well. He knows his sight words, spells decently and “gets” his math. Apparently, school is a whole other kettle for the poor kid.

To our utter astonishment and horror, we were told that, although #1 had begun the year reading over grade level, he is now not even reading at the level he started at. He is on sight words list #3, while 98% of the class is at list #13 or above. One over-achiever is on list 25 of 32! And as for math? Well, he has yet to finish a math facts addition sheet, nevermind moving up to subtraction.

His grammar skills are atrocious. At least according to his teacher and the class work we were presented with. I am appalled. I am embarrassed. I am sad.

Let me be clear. I. Do. Not. Compare. Children. I just don’t. Kids are each their own, unique animal, and it’s unfair to lump them all together. That said, I found it extremely difficult to believe that #1 could be quite so far below grade-level at the end of the first quarter of 1st grade.

So, we signed the nasty paper that says we understand that his work is not good enough for promotion at this time, but that he is not yet being held back. We had to sign in blood our promise to work with #1 every day (as if we weren’t already doing so)  on every thing the teacher had pointed out to us during our 15 minutes of hell.

In BLOOD I say.

We did not just sit back and idly absorb this information. Oh no. We made sure that this teacher was aware that #1 is a lefty and has had difficulties with writing from day 1, that learning disabilities run in the family and we had been made aware of the possibility of such during kindergarten, and that he really does need to sit front and center in order to keep him focused and engaged.

Of course, teacher is doing everything right. And she already knows everything we’ve told her. Of course. And she is going to be enrolling him in a reading intervention program due to his lack of progress.

So, we, being "good" parents, went home to the kids and laid down the law. No TV during the week, period. We would be morphing into “those” parents every night, and would drill the children in their studies (or make them color until their crayons were nubbins) every night until dinner, then quiz them on the drills during dessert. Hello Captain Von Trapp!

No seriously. That’s what we he decided on.

Then I had a weekend day with my child. Of course, we stayed home from church to drill him in the proper procedure for bedroom cleaning, as well as to continue getting him well, but we also talked. A lot. And we did a ton of school work. Really. And you know what? I was absolutely shocked when he was able to correctly identify 72 sight words, without apparent effort, when I tested him with flashcards. I was even more impressed when he seemed to recall fairly easily many simple addition facts when asked off-handedly. And when he was able to correctly spell (out loud) the spelling words from last week’s list.

But as soon as I formalized the process (i.e. asked him to sit down and finish some math facts, or sit down and write the spelling words), he became anxious, upset after just a few questions, and then he shut down and was unable to complete the task. HMMMM. Methinks a light bulb is flashing.

Today #1 is with Nana, because he still has ich. He mentioned to her that he was unable to see words and numbers on her computer screen unless he got very close to the screen. He also told her that sometimes he can see big things far away just fine, then he feels like he ‘goes blind’ and can just see a big blur. She let him put on her drugstore reading glasses, and (angels sing, God-light streams from behind his head) he could see the words/shapes/cartoons/etc perfectly.  Hmmmm. Another light bulb is flashing in my head.

So, being the proactive, involved parent that I am, I sent an e-mail to the teacher today, letting her know what happened over the weekend, and that after talking, we decided that we’d like to have #1 tested ASAP, as learning disabilities run in both our families, and we don’t feel that the wait-and-see approach will do him any favors in the long run. I also made him an appointment to get his eyes checked tomorrow.

The response from the teacher was not what I expected. Teacher emphasized that she feels her reading enrichment thingy will be best, and to wait and see in January how he is doing. She again pointed out that he is struggling to write, that he does not recognize simple sight words when working in small groups, that she always gives him extra time on his tests and yadda yadda. She still wants to wait. I also clued her in that several kids in the class have been making fun of him and calling him a dummy, which ain’t ok. I know how vile and vicious kids can be, me being a victim of emotional bullying my entire elementary and junior high school years. I don’t want that for him, and I’m going to do what I can to get the person in charge to nip that shite in the bud.

I’m conflicted now. My gut says to push for testing. I’ve already gotten him an appointment for an eye exam tomorrow, and that might give us one answer. But it’s not going to fix the underlying difficulties. I am beginning to get an inkling of what some of my SNC mom-friends have said for years: you have to push, become THAT parent, and keep on bucking the system until you get what you KNOW your kid needs, because to the school, it’s just another chore, another person to pay, another pain in the butt. Which is sad.

At this point, I guess I’ll talk to the other half of this parenting duo and get his take. But I still don’t want to wait for January.

1 comment:

  1. I'm very curious about his eye exam. I can imagine not being able to actually read the darn paper makes testing a tad difficult.

    As for pushing, I think you definitely need to go with your gut. Any chance you can get him tested outside of school?

    Thanks for your comments today on my Mommy Shorts guest post!

    Ninja Mom


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