stressed_dad's picture
stressed_dad

School not helping my child

Help ! I don't think my daughter's school can keep up with her and discussion with them is not constructive

Firstly, I apologise for possibly making the worlds longest post.

My 6 year old daughter has always been bright. She is currently at a small village school and last year was in the top half of Year 1 and due to the school structure was taught in a class with year 2. She rapidly established herself as one of the most able and completed the entire year working with the most able Year 2s.

She is happy at school when soaking up new learning, but things went wrong on 2 occasions last year.

Firstly when there was a change of teacher, it took 3 weeks and 4 visits from us to the school before the new teacher was willing to put her with the more able year 2s again. During this time she was bored, unhappy and develped obsessive compulsive behaviours

Secondly in July when the schools are backing off form academic work. This was horrendous. Hannah came home from school and all you could see in her face was fury. She was unable to get herself under control or to communicate effectively at this point. To give some idea how bad it was I frequently had to restrain her to put her to bed with her screaming "I hate my life. I wish I was dead". Her doctor wanted to dose her with Prozac.

It was only after the end of the school year that we were able to find out from her that it was due to boredom and frustration at school.

We have always been concerned about Year 2 as she will be staying in the same room and now be taught with the other children in her year group plus some of those from the year below. The school just keep saying they will make provision to deal with her.

First day back this year and the work consisted of writing the numbers from 1 to 20 (over the summer she was adding up 7 digit numbers) and writing a wish on a cardboard star. Her wish was "I wish I was in a higher class so that I could do harder work". That night we could start to see the effect of a days boredom on her.

We made an appointment to see her teacher and the head yesterday and we approached everything from the unhappy child point of view rather than as pushy parents. They offered nothing other than the same bland assurances that I no longer believe. I know the school will not move her up to the class containing Year 3 and some of Year 4 but I asked about the possibility of her just doing numeracy and literacy with the year 3/4 class and other subjects back with those in her own year groups.

This request was met with some pathetic objections all of which were shot down -

She will mark herself out as different from her peers which could result in bullying. [She has already marked herself out as different (but still has sme good friends) and she was bullied last year anyway to some extent]

She hasn't accomplished all year 2 objectives [Has any child that you have just put up to year 3]

If she goes up to the higher class then she will be pushed towards the year 4 objectives [Why is that a problem ? She likes to be pushed and she needs those tougher targets to aim for. i thought they were objectives and not limits]

She's not really that bright - her report was just a snapshot and doesn't reflect her true ability [if she was that capable when that snapshot was taken then it menas she must be AT LEAST that capable. Also the text of the report backs up the fact that she has left her year group well behind.

She only wants to go up to be with her friends [her 3 best friends are in her current year group and the bully is in the year above]

In short the school want her to repeat a year of her education and don't care about the effect this will have on her happiness or welfare.

I asked about facilities outside the school for gifted and talented children and were told that basically there are none.

The school has a gifted and talented policy but this is simply a waste of paper - apparently 10% of children in the school are marked as G&T but the choice does not seem to relate to academic ability and the policy does not mention anything that will be done for the children identified that is not already available for all children. In short a worthless policy obviously designed to put a tick in a box somewhere. Surprisingly though the head didn't even mention the policy.

I am at a total loss as to where to go next and would appreciate any help or advice. The web seems awash with sites offereing the sorts of bland statements that I heard too many of yesterday but nothing of real use.

Changing schools is going to be a big problem due to 2 schools in my area being closed/merged meaning that all but the absolute worst schools are at capacity.

We are looking at private schools but we have 2 other children (1 and 3) and the 3 year old at least is also very bright (already reading and doing simple maths) and we really can't afford 2 or 3 lots of fees. In fact its questionable whether we can afford 1 lot.

I really don't like the idea of home tutoring. However I would rather have a happy child lacking some of the social skills that are developed as school than the child I get home from school when she is bored. However I have no idea how to go about starting to home tutor. Can anybody point the way to some basic info ?

Please, any help, advice or pointers to other information would be gratefully received. I know I should be happy and proud of my child but at the moment I am just scared for her happiness and mental wellbeing.

stressed_dad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



cris08's picture
cris08

I was also looking into homeschool as well.  Here is some info I found out so far this is a link it was givin on my states webpagehttp://www.connectionsacademy.com/ourschool/

this page tells you a little bit about the program this is for public home school which is paid by the state i dont know what state you are from but if you check that state web page it might give you some direction.  there are also private home schools but they cost money.

I hope it all works out for you and your family.

hmschlmomof2's picture
hmschlmomof2

Hi stressed_dad. I have 2 kids, both gifted & the oldest has severe ADHD (youngest might, not old enough for true diagnosis). I homeschool both my kids. My daughter (9 1/2) did attend public school for Kindergarten. She was bored out of her mind, not allowed to do any work that was challenging, expected to help teach the other kids, bullied constantly because she was smart, and ended up hating school by the end of the year. We have a Gifted Program in our public schools & it is a joke. It used to be good (I was in it when I was in school), but now no longer offers anything better than the regular program. We started homeschooling after that year. She is doing so much better now. If your only concern about homeschooling is socialization, then let me tell you that homeschooled kids, generally speaking, have just as good (if not better) socail skills as public/private schooled kids. It all depends on how much she socializes. If you keep her in the house all day, never letting her around other people, not allowing her to play with friends, then her social skills will suffer. But, if you enroll her in extracurricular activities, allow her to continue seeing her friends, etc. her social skills will be fine.

Homeschooling allows you to let her work at her own pace, on a level that is appropriate for her skills & abilities, not based on age. Gifted children are special needs children. Special needs  children are any children that have needs (academic, social, emotional, etc.) that are different from average children. Gifted kids need to be challanged, they need to work at their own pace & not do pages of review, on a concept they've already mastered, every day for months while everyone else catches up to them. Homeschooling offers this opportunity.

I'm not necessarily trying to convince you to homeschool. I just know, from personal experience, the benefits it has for gifted children. If you are really interested in homeschooling, do some research on it; check out books from the library, contact homeschoolers in your area, find a few homeschooling message boards. There are many options when it comes to homeschooling; different methods, a variety of materials, co-ops, tutoring, online schools, etc. There are so many ways it can be done, so you have the opportunity to find what works best for your child. Here are a few links to get you started:

http://www.homeschool.com/

http://www.homeschoolcentral.com/

http://homeschooling.about.com/

http://homeschooling.gomilpitas.com/

http://www.hslda.org/laws/default.asp

The last link is to the Home School Legal Defense website. Look there to find the laws for your state. I hope these links are helpful to you.

Whatever you choose, I hope you find a way to help your little girl. I'm sure you'll do what's best for her.

 

stressed_dad's picture
stressed_dad

Thanks for the responses.

As to what state we are in - England.

Encouraging words regarding homeschooling and its not something we are dismissing out of hand.

We have bought some time for now - we simply gave the head until the end of the week to start teaching maths and english in the older class or we would withdraw her from school immediately. The head is worried enough about the SATS scores and the finance per pupil to have given in.

Outside that we have been looking at the education system in this cournty to try to work out what is best for the long term.

A private wchool would happily place her with the year 3s class if that was what we wanted or just allow her to attend year 3 lessons for some subjects but stay with year 2 for others. However what after she reached secondary school ?

Assuming she slows down and stops powering ahead then she will still be a year ahead when she reaches 11. No secondary school will take her a year early.

No secondary school within 20 miles of our home will consider teaching her even for some lessons with older children. As far as they are all concerned she can just be bored working on her own.

So that pretty much forces us to assume she is goign to have to stick with private school until after her A-levels (at least a year early ?) But then after A-levels it seems that many universities won't want to know until she is 18.

If she is to stay in state school we asked about special educational needs. I am aware of a parent who's children are "not exactly academic" and they have been offered up to 20 hours of one-to-one tuition per week under some special educational needs policy. I have said that my daughter has special educational needs to prevent her getting bored and hating school. I have been told that nothing will be made available for her until after she has developed behavioural problems as a result.

At the same time we have been looking at nursery schools for daughter number 2. Apparently offsted will now not let nursery schools teach children to read or write. This shocked me and I assumed I had misunderstood but they have all confirmed it. The only nursery in the area that does teach them, can only do it because it has opted out of ofsted control and is basically a private nursery - ie cannot accept the government childcare vouchers.

Dumbing down our entire education system to hold the brighter children back to the speed of the slowest is ridiculous. Our house is on the market and we are searching for an appropriate country to emigrate to.

stressed_dad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

cschurm's picture
cschurm

This sounds like you are writing my story.  I was frustrated at
my last child's school and begged and pleaded with them to give her
more challenging work and I was told it would come and it never
did.  I watched my gifted first grader go from thriving to being
bored and doing average work.  At the risk of my husband losing
his job we moved outside of the district where we both work and settled
on a suburb school with high standardized test scores.  I was
upset to find out that it was far worse there!  My daughter is
also bored and has developed nervous habits. She does not like her
teacher and I can't blame her, I don't like him either.  She has
already had troubles adjusting to a new town, neighborhood, friends etc. or I would
move her out of his dead beat class in a heartbeat.  I worry day
and night about her.

      My suggestion to you as both a teacher
myself and a parent is to work with her at home and on weekends with
what she really loves.  Enroll her in educational camps and
classes in your community.  Involve her in playgroups with similar
kids.  Expose her to as much opportunity to thrive in the time she
is not in school and perhaps it will make up for the lack of challenge
there. Subscribe to kids educational magazines and read with her each
night and discuss them.  School is only one third of her day. At
the very least you might see her moods changing back to happy for part
of her days.  Eventually this might spill over to the rest of her
day at school, especially if she is allowed to write about her
activities outside of school or share about them.  Have her keep a
scrapbook of interesting things to her and refer to it when she is
feeling down.  Consider hiring a private tutor who is fun and
challenging for an hour a week who gives homework for a few nights the
rest of the week. She will still be gaining adult recognition which it
sounds like she is missing at school and an opportunity to keep her
advanced skills sharp.

      It sounds like the new teacher is being very
unreasonable.  Teachers are not Gods by any means.  Just
remember, almost anyone with an average intellect can get a teaching
degree.  I would try to educate him/her as much as possible about
the special needs of gifted children. Good luck and I feel your
pain.  I am making up for what the school lacks and so far it is
working. It is sad that you have to do that but it will pay off in the long run.

stressed dad's picture
stressed dad

My daughter has been working on her own in most lessons on separate work from the rest of the class. This is demoralizing her, setting her apart from her friends resulting in mild bullying and generally making her unhappy. The obsessive-compulsive picking at her arms and face has started again.

We have tried to work out what will happen to her if she is allowed to progress at the rate she wants to learn at. No secondary school (ages 11 to 16/18) will take her before she is 11. And even if she has covered the syllabus before she arrives, she will still have to work through it again with other children the same age. ie same problem we are experiencing with her current school.

So unless we hold her back now either she has to be held back from age 11 to 18 or we will have to deal with her outside the state education system until she is 18.

I've quit my job. I start a new one paying half as much that allows me to work from home with hours to suit.  

Hannah will finish next week at the current school then will not be going back after the half term break. from then we will be teaching her at home and I will work nights.

We have a buyer for the house which we can no longer afford to stay in due to my loss of salary. Hopefully the sale will go through next month with no problems. Then we can rent somewhere cheaper.

We have increased the number of out-of-school clubs that she attends so she doesn't lose out on the social interaction.

I just feel so grateful that my other two children aren't exceptional. How sad is that ? I just hope that in the future they don't resent the sacrifices we have had to make for just one child. This is not favouritism it is just dealing with the different needs of different individuals.

Our search of the world for somewhere better to live continues.

stressed dad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

mrs.scrappy's picture
mrs.scrappy

I am very sorry to read your posts and all that you are going through. My family is in a similar situation here in New York State, in the U.S., with our 7 year old son.

In pre-school we were told he was brilliant. Yet, in Kindergarten and first grade we were told he had ADHD, which we knew was not true. He can sit still for ours when he is at home working on a science project or building things, cooking, reading, etc. We finally paid to have him privately tested, both for ADHD and IQ. All test results showed a highly intelligent child with no other problems except being bored nearly out of his mind. We knew he was smart, but we did not even realize ourselves, the extent. There have been two boards that really saved us, www.tagfam.org, a discussion group for parents from all over the world, and www.hoagiesgifted.com.

By utilizing those two boards we have been able to arm ourselves with information to present to our son's school, so that he can be appropriately challenged. This year, in grade 2, though we have seen vast improvements, we still have far to go.  We will be demanding a full year grade skip, as our son is still bored to tears despite the school's best efforts. He is reading at the 8th grade level, and doing Math at the 5th grade level, yet they send him home with worksheets to add 3 +9. Painful.

We are also having him tested by the John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth. This test will help us get him the grade skip he so desperately needs. There must be some similar programs in England. Don't give up. I did many hours of research at our local library and read dozens of books over the summer (many were recommended by the hoagies gifted webpage) and I am now an informed parent who will advocate to get the best for my child. This is very trying, especially with all that your family is sacrificing, but once your daughter is on her way to getting her intellectual needs met, she will be a happier child and your whole family will benefit. Good luck.

gail Hanson's picture
gail Hanson

Wow.  You are really invested in your children's well-being!  Schools are kind of like factories, and your daughter is just not meeting their criteria for raw material.  I've home-schooled most of my children off and on.  They are all in school this year--wait, the 30, 28, and 27 year old are graduated from college, and the 18 year-old is in college.  OK, the 10 and 16 year-olds are in school. 

Your child may or may not find a way to fit into school.  The Social Skills question--do you really think the best teachers of social skills are a bunch of children?  Keep her involved in community-based activities, sports, drama, arts, music.  The most important skill that she might miss learning is how to deal with  idiotic, unavoidable bureaucracies.   But you are modelling that skill, so, I think she'll be all right. 

And about jealousy from other children.  I have one child who is asthmatic.  I don't give the other ones steroids or aminophylline.   If I had a diabetic child, I wouldn't give the other ones insulin.  I think if it comes up, you could find a way to explain that to the others. 

concerned mom's picture
concerned mom

Hi there,
I've considered homeschooling my son as well. He was in a spec ed self-contained class since he was 3. At 4 yrs old we put our son in a mainstream pre-k class as a trial. This proved to be a setback for him. Last yr our son was put back at his previous school where he completed kindergarten and did quite well. Now the district wants him back at the public school for all the wrong reasons. B/c of the alternative given to us, we decided to try our town school again, this time given the added supports of a spec-ed curriculum and a smaller class size for math and reading. Still we worry about our son fitting in. Our previous experience at the public school was not a good one. Our son stood out like a sore thumb, and the other kids and their parents weren't very accepting of him. W/ the added supports, we're hoping things will be better this yr. I agree whole-heartedly that if a child feels he is not fitting in with his peers, his self-esteem will be damaged. This in turn will affect him both academically and socially. I know I don't want this for my child. For me, as hard as it will be to homeschool a child w/ a disability, I'm willing to try my hardest if need be. My son's happiness is more important than anything else the school has to offer. It's true that many schools really don't consider the emotional damage that can result from kids being mean. I admire those parents that dedicate themselves to homeschooling their children. From what I hear, there are many social oportunities and supports for homeschool families. If you have the dedication and the means to do it, do it. In many cases, it pays off in the end.