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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Educational quandary

Hub-D and I are wondering what to do about Chebbles' second grade year.

The results from her first grade year so far are mixed.

First, she loves school. She wants to go on the early bus, even though it means she just reads a book (today it was "James and the Giant Peach") and waits for her class to begin. She adores everything about school: recess, lunch, playing tag with the boys on the playground.

She hates it when I pull her out for classes or appointments, because she's afraid she's going to miss something. She adores school so much.

But on the other hand, she has learned almost nothing in the month she's been there. The materials are very simplistic for her -- her spelling words are "she" and "hill" and "ate."

She's regressed in her math knowledge. In December she was adding 47 + 22 + 108 and now she's looking at 4-1 and wondering, really? That's my whole math lesson?

On one hand, she's six.

On the other hand, she tested yesterday with the reading efficiency of an 8th grader (191 words/minute). She scored 100% in a 5th grade reading comprehension exam yesterday as well. She stayed up late last night to finish reading "Tales From Africa," a book for much older children, and she was thrilled by the stories.

If she stays at school, she's eventually going to forget how to learn, forget what a challenge is, how to fail.

Hub-D and I met with her teacher, principal, and school psychologist on Monday to ask (beg) that she be given differentiated assignments -- something that would be at least a little challenging for her.

The push-back we got was amazing. Absolutely no differentiated work of any kind will be forthcoming. We should just let her be a "whole child." They truly think something is wrong with us that we want Chebbles to work on something that would be interesting to her.

This educational system is going to morph her already extant perfectionism into a monster. She will eventually eschew anything that looks difficult because she's terrified of not mastering it immediately. Not to mention the social pressure she'll have to "fit in" and do the same "work" as everyone else.

The only alternative that seems viable is to return to homeschooling so that she is allowed (yes, ALLOWED, she is not permitted to read James and the Giant Peach in her reading time in the classroom because it's above grade level) to read things that interest her.

She wants to know so much, and she learns so quickly when presented with information that is new to her. But the chances of her learning anything "new" are bleak in a classroom setting.

But she loves school.



Lacey Jane said...

Can you find a new school? Start a homeschool co-op so that it still has a "school" feel, but is more free? Because I know with three kids you have TONS OF TIME to start a homeschool co-op ; )

motormouth said...

The rabble-rouser in me wonders whether you'd be getting the same push-back if Chebs was a boy. Is she continuing her outside classes? It's great that she loves school but you're right to be concerned about what will happen if she's bored.

What if she skips a grade? Would that help?

Toffee said...

Gifted and talented program? Academic magnet?
Keep supplementing?

Pray for teachers that recognize her gifts!

Kate S. said...

What's interesting to me is that Chebbles sounds genuinely happy in school, yet you sound frustrated and anxious.

Though I understand your concerns about the curriculum, I do think there is value to the idea of encouraging the development of the "whole child," both in school and out.

You'll certainly continue to create a rich intellectual environment for her at home, and with ancillary activities. She definitely won't "forget how to learn etc.," but continue to evolve, and as she does, the appropriate paths will become more clear.

Sometimes the child really does lead us and in this case she's choosing to be on the early bus to a place that she loves. You'll know if she's unhappy, and adjust accordingly to find an appropriate balance between academia and positive personal development.

If you truly can't accept the public school system, you'll have to consider alternatives because it's important that you respect whatever institution you choose, as Chebbles will take her cues from you.

In the meantime, you have a six year old who is happy in school and loves to learn. That's extraordinary, that's the gift. That is a great foundation to build on.


Shaken Mama said...

Thanks for your comments everyone!

LJ: Yes, it looks like homeschooling is our next stop. G. and B. will be in preschool at the same time next year, so it's definitely a possibility.

Motormouth: I keep wondering the same thing! If she were expressing her boredom with violence, maybe people would pay more attention.

Toffee: Yes! All good ideas! Unfortunately G&T programs don't start until the kids are older.

Kate S: I get where you're coming from. I don't think I've explained what it's like to have to answer a set of questions that you already know day... after day... after day... after day... Perhaps the best equivalent for us adults would be going back to English 101 in college. It would be a fun, hilarious adventure at first, then by the fourth week, you'd be squirming in your desk thinking, "I KNOW this stuff..." and you'd be secretly playing Words with Friends under the desk.