Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The trouble with school

J isn't in love with school these days. I think he enjoys parts of it, but overall, school --and homework -- just gets in the way of his free time. I don't think this feeling is atypical of 11-year-old boys. But it's becoming somewhat of an issue.

Last week, I received two emails on the same day (one from each of his two main teachers) about things that he wasn't doing. He didn't finish an assignment. He didn't do an assignment. He did poorly on a test. He isn't trying. He isn't showing effort. And so on.

So A and I talked with him very seriously about it. We took away video games during the week, to reduce distractions. We told him to make sure to write down all his assignments, not just some of them. And we are checking more to make sure he does what he needs to do.

But in addition to the things that he is and isn't doing, I think the teachers are pretty cranky, as well. I know that some of the 5th graders are very silly, and I'm sure it's hard to teach when kids are laughing and joking all the time. Apparently yesterday J and a friend were sent out of class for laughing. They met with an administrator, who not only chastised them for their behavior, but also chastised J for not being as good a student as his friend. It took J a while to tell me this story, but he finally did, and he cried. "My grades should just be between me, my teacher, and my parents! He shouldn't have told my friend." He was right.

We dealt with it, and the administrator has apologized, but I'm still left feeling...sad. I want J to feel empowered in school. I want him to feel good about school. He actually is a smart kid, very insightful, intelligent. His writing skills are excellent. His math skills are better than mine. His Hebrew is much better than mine was at his age. But his teachers are focusing on his deficits more than on his strengths, and it's wearing him down. It's wearing me down, too.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I ran across this post and I can relate all too well. Elementary school for my boy was exceptionally difficult and middle school started out the same way. Not because he wasn't as smart as the other student, but for some reason he really struggled to connect with the curriculum. As parents, my wife and I tried a wide variety of disciplinary tactics and to be honest, looking back I don't think any of them worked. What really upset us the most were the teachers. As you experienced with your son, my boy's teachers always seemed short tempered, curt, and to be blunt about it, awkwardly frustrated. Almost as if they were forced in to their profession.

At any rate, and hopefully to give you some positive reinforcement from one parent to another, my son grew out of his struggles and last week brought home his first report card noting him as an honor roll student.

Anyway, because you have a son close to my boy's age (he's 13 now), and are obviously an active mom, I wanted to send you a quick note to let you know about a campaign from the Ad Council that I am involved with called Boost Up. It’s a non-profit initiative that encourages people to support kids in their quest for a high school diploma. While you may think your son is still a bit young for such efforts, this campaign begins to reach out to middle-school students.

As my work with with Boost Up continues, I found out that the national dropout rate is now 31%, which is crazy to me. I noticed you're in Boston where the dropout rate is actually better than the national average at 23% so that's a good thing!

I know your blog mostly concentrates on other things, but it would be great if you wanted to mention Boost Up to your readers. Boost Up is a resource of information including national and local statistics, information on local schools, and provides people with information on how to help students and give them a Boost!

If you are interested in posting something, but don’t quite know what to say, I can certainly help you with that as well—I really believe in this cause. In any case, I really liked your blog ( I only shared it with 4 other parents in my office) and thought something like this would resonate with you where you might want to get involved. You can check out the site at www.boostup.org and I would love it if you could let your readers know how to give the students in their community a Boost.

Drop me a note back if you want some help putting a post together, though from what I see in your blog, your posts are quite engaging—I’d love to help however I can. I’ll keep an eye out for more posts from you as well—hope we can stay connected!