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    #184872 - 03/14/14 11:06 AM advice for an unhappy 1st grader
    KnittingMama Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/04/12
    Posts: 267
    Loc: California
    DD6 (1st grade) is having more and more problems in school; I could use some advice. DD says she hates school, mostly refuses to do her homework, and has become an emotional, angry wreck at home. She has started misbehaving at school in subtle ways (e.g. she threw away her writing and math packets so she wouldn't have to do them; she hangs out in the bathroom on her way to science and PE so she can spend less time in those classes). However, DD adores her teacher, and her teacher thinks highly of her.

    She's in a 1st/2nd grade combo, and the teacher has mostly kept kids within their grades for their work. About a month ago, though, she ditched Everyday Math and divided the kids into two ability-based math groups. DD is with the 2nd graders, and now gets alternate math homework that is marginally more difficult. The teacher has encouraged DD to challenge herself, and says she is providing opportunities for DD to do so. The teacher seems to be willing to allow DD to go further, at least when that is possible. However, I suspect most of what is being taught she already knows, and there isn't time for much individualized attention, if any.

    When DD gets home, she is grouchy, belligerent, and mostly unwilling to talk about her day at all. I understand the need for decompression time, and I respect it, but the grumpiness sometimes lasts the rest of the day. Some days she'll do her homework, other days she stomps off if I ask her about it. This is a kid who is normally upbeat, cheerful, and ready to tackle problems. At school she apparently still has this facade (according to her teacher), but at home she explodes.

    Friendships are another problem DD has. She has none, or at least none that I hear about. There are kids she plays with occasionally, but not on a regular basis. She likes the kids in her class, she just doesn't seem interested in playing with them. While this doesn't seem to bother her, I imagine that it is not helping her enjoy school. That is, I feel that if she had even one good friend at school, she would be more inclined to go.

    On top of this, I am homeschooling DS8. This is our first year, and it's been rocky (i.e. I'm not sure I'm ready to take on a second kid). DD is starting to go down the same path DS did in 1st grade, and if she remains on the same trajectory, it will be a disaster. Her current teacher is much better than those DS had, and DD can be in her class next year, so she'll be better off. But I am concerned that even with a lot of intervention, DD is learning to dislike school and learning deviant behaviors.

    Ultimately, I think we are going to wind up homeschooling DD. But I would so love to at least get through the end of the school year without DD spiraling into an angry, depressed mess of a kid.

    I am hoping to have a meeting with her teacher next week. I know she has done a lot of advocacy on behalf of her own kids, so at least we are in agreement on that. I like this teacher so much, and yet I feel she is going to be limited in what she can do by the school system.

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    #184881 - 03/14/14 11:58 AM Re: advice for an unhappy 1st grader [Re: KnittingMama]
    binip Offline
    Member

    Registered: 03/10/14
    Posts: 96
    Does she explain why she hates school? Is it because she's assigned tasks and doesn't want to complete other-directed tasks? What was kindergarten like?

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    #184885 - 03/14/14 12:03 PM Re: advice for an unhappy 1st grader [Re: KnittingMama]
    puffin Offline
    Member

    Registered: 12/11/12
    Posts: 2035
    if she stays in the teacher's class next year will it still be a 1/2 grade class? I just ask because when my son was in that situation he ended up in the top group but it was working below him.

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    #184886 - 03/14/14 12:10 PM Re: advice for an unhappy 1st grader [Re: KnittingMama]
    ultramarina Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/24/10
    Posts: 3428
    Could there be a bullying problem? I wonder when I hear that a child loves the teacher but hates school.

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    #184887 - 03/14/14 12:13 PM Re: advice for an unhappy 1st grader [Re: KnittingMama]
    ultramarina Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/24/10
    Posts: 3428
    I would almost want to go in and observe given what you describe. It would be one thing if your child had a naturally resistant or prickly personality, but you say she is "normally upbeat, cheerful, and ready to tackle problems." HIding in the bathroom sounds alarming to me, too.

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    #184890 - 03/14/14 12:41 PM Re: advice for an unhappy 1st grader [Re: KnittingMama]
    KnittingMama Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/04/12
    Posts: 267
    Loc: California
    @binip - Kinder was pretty boring for her, and she had a less than stellar teacher. But it was only half day, we weren't yet homeschooling her brother, and she had the promise that "1st grade will be better." I think she mostly hates the fact that she knows much of what is being taught, and is really, really bored much of the time. And the stuff she does want to learn about (geography, Civil War, multiplication) obviously isn't offered.

    @puffin - No, next year the teacher will have a straight 2nd grade class. There will be a 2/3 class she could go into, but with an unknown teacher. Personally, I'd rather her be with a good teacher who is willing to accelerate her in some subjects than risk a teacher who may not. Although the reality is that eventually she's either going to get really fed up with the non-accelerated stuff, or she's going to get a teacher who doesn't get her.

    @ultramarina - I don't think there is bullying going on. I've asked the teacher to observe the playground, and she says that DD prefers to hang out on her own mostly. Actually, what DD wants is to spend recess in the classroom doing art projects, but that's not allowed. I think her personality meshes really well with her teacher's, but the stuff the teacher is presenting is "a waste of her time" (DD's words). It is worth asking the teacher about, though.

    And she actually seems to enjoy hanging out in the bathroom. In addition to missing part of class, it allows her to watch other kids (this is an open campus, so the bathroom door faces the playground).

    DD *can* have a resistant personality, although this seems to be more recent. In fact, at home she is acting very much like a sullen teenager these days. Arguing *everything* (why should I have to go to bed/brush my teeth/put on shoes), moody, explosive, and full of "you don't understand!" Plus she had a major crush on a fellow classmate, who did not return her friendship. At school, however, she is a total people-pleaser. Any misbehaving she does is non-disruptive and stealthy.

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    #184894 - 03/14/14 01:01 PM Re: advice for an unhappy 1st grader [Re: KnittingMama]
    binip Offline
    Member

    Registered: 03/10/14
    Posts: 96
    "I think she mostly hates the fact that she knows much of what is being taught, and is really, really bored much of the time. And the stuff she does want to learn about (geography, Civil War, multiplication) obviously isn't offered."

    Hm, that's too bad. One thing we do with my children is home education, during which they get to learn about their own interests and challenge themselves in math at home.

    I also encourage my older daughter to read under the desk if she's bored.

    We've also talked about the purpose of school--how a lot of it is learning what others expect of you, NOT learning what you want to learn. Nobody will pay you to have fun, and school is your job when you're a kid. If you already know what they are teaching, fine, but what you need to show them is that you can perform tasks which are easy for you. That's it. It's your job.

    In other words, my kids do not expect school to be fun or stimulating. I think that's an unrealistic expectation. It's public school. The purpose is to make sure we have a population mostly composed of productive adults, not to realize one's full potential, have fun, or pursue your interests. That is what you do on your own time.

    Having appropriate expectations of what you are going to be doing is helpful because you can create coping mechanisms for yourself. You also feel understood. Nobody's telling you to enjoy something you don't enjoy.

    The whole "learning is fun" thing I think confuses some children. Learning IS fun. School is not fun most of the time.

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    #184895 - 03/14/14 01:01 PM Re: advice for an unhappy 1st grader [Re: KnittingMama]
    Dude Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/04/11
    Posts: 2856
    The scenario described sounds VERY familiar to me. It sounds as if your DD is being harmed in every domain by remaining in her current situation... cognitive, social, emotional, etc.

    We had to respond with homeschooling, as DD's behaviors began escalating towards self-harm.

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    #184897 - 03/14/14 01:21 PM Re: advice for an unhappy 1st grader [Re: KnittingMama]
    mom2one Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/29/12
    Posts: 128
    Quote:
    In other words, my kids do not expect school to be fun or stimulating. I think that's an unrealistic expectation. It's public school. The purpose is to make sure we have a population mostly composed of productive adults, not to realize one's full potential, have fun, or pursue your interests. That is what you do on your own time.


    Binip, do your kids ever complain or act out because school is not what they expect ? How do they cope ? Reading under the table is not allowed in my child's school -- it is actually seen as disrespect. Knitting Mama, my kid sounds like your daughter - he's happy enough to play by himself, he'll talk to other kids, but not really play with them. His teacher told me that he seems happy in his own company. This worries me, but does not really worry the teacher

    Quote:
    DD says she hates school, mostly refuses to do her homework, and has become an emotional, angry wreck at home. She has started misbehaving at school in subtle ways (e.g. she threw away her writing and math packets so she wouldn't have to do them; she hangs out in the bathroom on her way to science and PE so she can spend less time in those classes). However, DD adores her teacher, and her teacher thinks highly of her.


    My kid does the work, if he is interested. Is it at all possible to talk to the teacher and give more appropriate work ? My kid threw his writing in the recycling bin. I talked and talked with him, but some days are good, some days not so much.

    The hiding in the bathroom worries me. Is her teacher worried about this ?

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    #184909 - 03/14/14 03:08 PM Re: advice for an unhappy 1st grader [Re: binip]
    KnittingMama Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/04/12
    Posts: 267
    Loc: California
    @binip - We do plenty of education at home, and we always have, so it's not like DD isn't learning anything. But, spending 6 hours a day in a mostly unstimulating environment is taking its toll on her. School should be stimulating. I don't expect it to be laugh-a-minute fun, or even stimulating all the time, but bored learners don't learn much.

    @Dude - I don't want her behavior to go that far. I saw how emotionally damaged DS was; we should have pulled him out months earlier. While I am more comfortable with the idea of homeschooling than I was, say, a year ago, the fact that DS and I aren't quite in the groove yet makes me hesitate to bring DD home. But the downside to waiting is that DD is getting worse and worse. (Just out of curiosity, how old was your daughter when you pulled her out of school?)

    @mom2one - AFAIK, her teacher doesn't know about the hiding in the bathroom; she does it on her way to specials, and so far the other teachers haven't reported it to her primary teacher. I promised I wouldn't tattle on her, but warned her that eventually she would get caught and be in trouble.

    Her teacher has already started giving her more appropriate work in some areas (e.g. math and reading), and has said she will stop giving her work she deems too easy. I don't know how much this will help at this point, although it might allow us to delay homeschooling for a little while longer.

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