On the 6th day of school my son's emotions overflowed and spilled out.
It started out innocently enough. He came home from school talking about his homework. He was trying to explain something about having to read sight words, but the teacher said they couldn't turn it in tomorrow, but he already knew the words. After getting him to calm down and explain to me and show me the homework I got a clearer picture.
On the homework sheet was a picture of a tree with a bunch of apples all around that had sight words written on them. The instructions were to practice these words all week and color in the apples of the words you knew. That was it. But he said the teacher said something like, "And nobody should be turning this in tomorrow."
I told him to read the words on the sheet. Did you know them all? Yes? Good. Color them in. That is what the instructions are - color them in when you know them and you do know them.
I asked him if he was worried if he turned it in tomorrow that his teacher would yell at him and he said, "Not yell." Oops I didn't mean that literally. I asked him if he thought he would get in trouble. He said, "Well maybe clip down." He wanted me to write a note with his homework saying that he did read and know those words. I assured him I would and I tried to explain why I thought the teacher was saying nobody should turn it in the next day. I told him that the first week or so of school is usually spend reviewing what was learned the year before and maybe his teacher didn't think anybody knew all the sight words so she wasn't expecting it to be turned in the next day. Maybe she wanted to make sure everyone didn't go home and just color in the apples without really knowing how to read all of the words.
In the middle of all this I also read out loud the weekly newsletter about what they would be doing that week and the homework for the rest of the week. Reviewing #s 1-10. Matching #s 1-10 with the written words.
Then he started talking really fast like he sometimes does when he is upset and/or frustrated. These aren't his exact words, but it was pretty close to what he was trying to say, "Why do I have to just review everything? Why do I have to review everything that was in Kindergarten that I already know? Why did I have to review in Kindergarten everything that I already knew even before Kindergarten? It's just review, review, review." Then I noticed his eyes were red and a little wet at the same time he brought his hands up to wipe his eyes and exclaim, "Ahhh, and why do I feel like I just want to cry?" And with that exclamation and my arms enveloping him in a hug the tears came.
I pulled him on to the couch to snuggle with him and try to talk him through what was going on. I asked him what he was feeling. "I don't know." Are you feeling frustrated? "I don't know." A few more I don't know responses to my questions. Not wanting to put words in his mouth, or thoughts in his head, but trying to give him an expression to what he was feeling I asked, "Are you bored?" Finally a pause. "A little bit."
He told me about the "Crazy Color Creatures" book and his "...teacher read each page. Stopped. Told us to take out the pink crayon. Stop. Now underline the color word and any rhyming words. Stop. Same thing on each page. Take out this crayon. Underline this word." He was trying to explain that it was all done as a whole class following along. He said he just wants to get his worksheet and just be able to sit at his desk and do it. He wants to do things like that on his own. An example of the sentences in this little packet, "Sue Blue has the flu."
He is reading on a 2nd/3rd grade level. He read 30, if not more, books this summer - chapter books like Magic Tree House. I imagine it is so hard for him to sit and listen to a teacher read each page
and waiting to go over each page one-by-one like that.
He wanted to know when he could start AR books again. (Accelerated Reading books at the school library that he was able to start doing in Kindergarten). I told him the newsletter said after the first parent-teacher conference they would discuss whether the student was ready to do AR books.
For the number review of matching ONE to 1 and TWO to 2? It's not challenging enough for him.
He is doing things like this in a workbook we have for him at home:
"Write the number seventy-five thousand, two hundred and twenty-two" and
"Write the number that has 2 hundred-thousands, 7 ten-thousands, 7 thousands, 5 hundreds, 3 tens and 9 ones." and
"What is the place value of the digit 3 in the number 526,310" or "What is the place value of the digit 4 in the number 34,890."
I fully realize a number of things
- Teachers spend the first couple of weeks reviewing material from the previous grade because of loss of retention over the summer
- Teachers have a curriculum/lesson plan they have to follow
- The school year just started
- She hasn't done reading/math assessments yet to know where all her students are at so she can start differentiating instruction
- He is not the only kid in class who can read, or knew the sight words on that paper (he said several other kids also turned it in the next day)
- He is not the only kid in class that could be bored by reviewing #s 1-10 and matching the written word to the number
But what I do know is he is my child and he was upset and frustrated to the point of tears. What I don't want to happen is for him to get so bored with school he doesn't enjoy going and/or that the boredom will manifest in behavior issues - so far that has not happened as he clips up virtually every day - but it could be a possibility.
So when do I talk with the teacher about maybe giving him other things to challenge him? Something like matching words to their numbers through 100 instead of up to 10?
I think parent-teacher conferences are usually held before the first report card, so the first 9 weeks of school. Do I wait it out until the conference to talk to her about all of this? Tell him to suck it up for the first weeks of school while they review material? Talk to her now? Although this could all be a moot point since this week is just about over and they won't be matching words 1-10 to the numbers after this week. But the material still might not be challenging enough for him and he might still find himself 'bored' with reviewing things that he knows like the back of his hand.
If there are any teachers reading this - how would you like a parent to approach you not about concerns for their child falling behind, but concerns about their child needing more to be challenged? Is it too soon in the school year to mention this to his teacher?
There are some days I really get why parents homeschool. And days like this one make me seriously consider it.