OK, let me ask you about kids and schoolwork

  1. First, a little "starter". My son is in the 6th grade. He is one of the youngest in his class with a birthday of Aug. 29th, so maturity has always been somewhat of an issue. He is also in an all day gifted education class meaning ALL 25 kids (and since there are two such classes) 50 kids are highly gifted. The school system has it divided, regular curriculum, gifted pullout for moderately gifted and then gifted center for highly gifted.

    THEN... we pretty much KNOW he has ADHD. We took him to a doctor last Spring who asked questions for 10 minutes, then put him on a drug. The drugs worked IMMEDIATELY (this one does, not all do) and his mediocre in school work turned spectacular. HOWEVER, this drug can suppress appetite and over the summer he started dropping weight as he just couldn't eat even with my insisting and pushing.

    Neither DH nor I liked the "ten minute interview" to diagnose him even though we KNOW he fits all the criteria, so in two weeks he is starting a lengthy diagnoses with a leading clinic on ADHD. They test for what AREAS are affected and how best to approach them with and without drugs and so on. Since we made this appt. in JULY and couldn't get in until November, we didn't start him on any new ADHD drug since all others take 4-6 weeks to become affective and they can't test appropriately if he is under medication. So, once again, he's dealing with his ADHD without drug help.

    OK, getting to the question really soon, I promise! Now, since he is highly gifted, it's easy to mask ADHD and we until last year thought maybe yes, maybe no. Schools aren't allowed to say "we think your child might have this", so that was no help either! (We didn't know that until last spring!) He was succeeding in school because he is smart, but life is/was MISERABLE because he can't remember SQUAT, gets so easily distracted and just coasts by. With work he brings HOME we can somewhat control quality - making sure he isn't distracted, reminding him to stay on target, making him redo sloppy work, etc. So, homework usually gets good marks (no we do not do it for him). However, SCHOOL work???? that's another story. If he's INTO IT, he'll get an A+. If he doesn't like it, he'll get a C. It's a constant battle and since we can't control his behavior, we just have to hope for the best. Teachers just don't have time to hand hold . ALso, on all test he usually aces them and on all standardized tests he is in the 99th perentile.

    But... this year he has a teacher that is well... very good, but... has some VERY strict rules we don't agree with. We have a parent teacher conference coming on on Monday and I want to bring it up, but don't know how.

    First, she sent home a spelling test for a signature. He had gotten an A, but wrote at the top "No more this, points off!" (Exactly like that). My son, under his real name had written his name in a foreign alphabet. We wrote back saying we felt that was harsh and instead of basically telling him that being creative and learning a new alphabet is a good thing. that if he wasn't messing up the test, what was the point of threatening points off? She responded that it was her rules and a test was not a place to do such things.

    The next week. Adrian came home with an assignment with an empty map and he was supposed to fill in the regions. She didn't say to use a specific map and we couldn't find one like she showed at school, but we found one that had all those regions plus more, so we used it. Next day he has a mark "not complete" and he has to redo it and this time she gave him a guide (copied map) to use. So, he did it again. It just came back with a grade yesterday of a C because he didn't write the names of each region on the map. Nope, he didn't he had made a legend with color guide naming them instead. Now, there was NEVER instructions with this either... Again, I think this is discouraging him for doing MORE than he needs to do by penalizing him for extra effort. The first map he did was MORE regions and detailed (not accepted even though it covered the regions she wanted) adn the second one got a C because he made a legend instead of writing the words on the map.

    Then, he was to do a A-Z geological picture. The BIG paper was folded so that it had 26 squares and he was to draw a geological word beginning with each letter. Adrian worked a LONG time on this and I even got online to find things for letters, but we couldn't find anything with an X and left it blank. For a grade she gave him a C because he left out X and because he didn't color the squares completely. Her exact words, "Very interesting geological terms, but I said to be sure to color the entire square". Again, there were NO INSTRUCTIONS, just his word to tell me the assignment. And again, what's more important? Excellent work or a good coloring job???

    The biggest beef I hae is the no instructions.In COLLEGE everything is written out, why not in elementary school? Am I wrong to be upset at these marks and her explanations? I TOTALLY GET IT if he gets a bad mark because he's being sloppy (of which one came home today that DESERVES a C)... but I think her "way" is just discouraging a kid who ALREADY has problems staying focused....

    How do I approach this? She never responded to an email about the first map having to be redone either.

    HELP!!! (Sorry this is long!)
  2. For this, I'd talk with the teacher straight out and voice your concerns. One thing I have learned is that in school the teachers expect the kids to listen to and pay attention to verbal instructions, much more so than college. So maybe you can explain that your son may have problems with the way the material is presented and to present it in an alternative way for his better comprehension.

    My son born in Sept is also one of the youngest in his class, and sometimes I have had issues with the teachers about how and when they tackle some problems.

    Some teachers are pretty patronizing and talk down to you, so try to make yourself and your standards pretty clear from the beginning. Once my son's teacher sent me a sheet of paper with some values written as percentages and no clear explanations as to what they were. I asked her what they meant, and she started by saying "Do you know what a percentage is?" Ouch!
  3. def. don't come in confrontational. be positive, and explain that you appreciate that your son has a good teacher, but stress that you are concerned about his lack of maturity, his adhd, and his desire to do well and need to focus on assignments. ask that the teacher give explicit directions for him to follow. if she does give them in class, and the students are supposed to copy them, ask that she walk by your son's desk to make sure that he is, infact, copying down the directions. ask how you can help your son so that he is successful.

    also, you seem to 'get' your son and are reasonable, so that is GREAT.
  4. I agree with the previous two posters. I teach in a middle school (grades 6-8), so feel free to pm me if you want more advice about things to ask/say at the conference.

    Also, since you mention the ADHD component, is it possible that the teacher did provide written directions for the assignment that your son might have forgotten to bring home or misplaced? I'd definitely ask him that before the conference. I have a student that sounds a lot like how you describe your son and I know that I personally staple/attach the directions for any assignment into his homework pad (the school provides one for each student and it is large- the size of a spiral 1 subject notebook) rather than having him put the directions into his binder or folder because his mother and I have discovered that the papers don't always make it home if he puts them away. This way when he starts describing the assignment to her, she knows that the written directions are in his assignment pad.

    Again, feel free to pm me. I'd be happy to help you in any way possible.
  5. Thank you everyone. I wouldn't go in confrontational, but she has an air about her - very abrupt, rules are rules, etc. I just KNOW she'll be condenscending.

    And believe me, I have ASKED my son repeatedly if he had instructions or if he was supposed to write it down and just didn't. He also knows that if I find out he LIED to me about that he's in big doo-doo. Of course, it's QUITE likely that he was given instructions and he forgot he got them and just stuffed them in his ever messy desk.

    Honestly, I quite worry about him when he is left to fend for himself some day. I don't worry about him making good decisions because he seems to have the ability to reason well, but as far as remembering homework or projects or actually DOING them without someone constantly pushing him? This is just NOT a skill he has mastered and we have tried almost everything - special notebooks, rewards, punishments, parent/teacher conferences outside of the regular ones. He is BY FAR much more work than my two year old and that just shouldn't be.

    I so hope that we can finally get him the help he needs with the ADHD. I think ALLLLLL of our lives would be better.
  6. Wanted to add, I know that ADHD seems to be the diagnosis for everything and BELIEVE me I don't WANT it to be his diagnosis, but I had two brothers - one that I think (we all did) was misdiagnosed and one that was right. But, their symptoms are so different. My brother basically couldn't function and he twitched and was behind in school. My son needs to constantly move, but he CAN (if he really wants to) concentrate and he's always done well in school (with a few homework grades here and there that are subpar).

    But when your kid is miserable because he just CAN'T do what normal kids can do, then you know something is up. When you give him a goal of bringing home all homework for a week and if he manages to remember FOUR days, he will get a prize he desperately wants (for him a book) and he STILL can't seem to remember all his homework, you know it's not because he is being lazy, but because he just can't get it all straight in his head. He got so frustrated last year with himself that he LITERALLY started bringing home EVERY folder and EVERY book to try to remember his homework. Of course, he couldn't do that, but that's how much he WANTED to succeed and the only way he knew how it would even be possible.
  7. have you guys tried modifying his diet yet? I mean like STRICTLY modifying it - removing sugar and artificial colorings, fatty/fried foods, etc. . . and making sure he gets enough fish, protein and calcium?

    I'd explain what you just explained to us to his teacher. Does she KNOW he has attention or sensory issues?
  8. Yep, he's NEVER been allowed much sugar, NEVER caffeine and we don't eat prepared foods, everything is homemade, so no preservatives and stuff. We work really hard at having a well-rounded diet and he has always been a GREAT eater (loves fish and beans and vegetables and salads). it's not his diet - I WISH that was an answer.

    And yes, she does know. I emailed her and it's in his files.
  9. berryblondeboys, I have no advice since I'm not a parent but I just want to say I admire your restraint in handling this teacher. I deeply detest the "rules are rules" sort -- I think they are, at best, simple-minded, and at worst, malicious. For your son to make a legend (a more sophisticated interpretation of her instructions) rather than simply writing country names out... well, he should get an extra gold star!

    I think a lot of elementary school work seems geared toward stupid instructions simply for the sake of teaching children to follow instructions. If that is the case, this teacher obviously needs to be more clear. I really commend you for not planning to be confrontational and I will learn a lesson from you in the future because I can imagine IntlSet's Mama Bear coming out when this kind of situation arises.

    If your child gets a string of C's from this teacher, will he be able to continue into the highly gifted program next year? If not, is it possible to transfer to a different teacher's class?

    My mom was rather fierce and quite an expert in getting what she wanted out of my school!