Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Help a Mom Out

Something else that has been on my mind as of late has been the boys and their various academic achievements or lack there of. Parent-teacher conferences were last week and that always makes me contemplate how they are doing and what and if I should be doing something more.

Now for the most part the children are brilliant. The older two are getting almost all A's and where one of them isn't it's not because he can't but because he deems the work dull or beneath him or something - I have no idea what - but he has the ability. And as important as grades are and as much as we're trying to teach him that he needs to do his best even if he's not interested, I feel confident that with time, age, maturity he will do better. Again, the ability is there.

The youngest is excelling at school. He delights his teacher and surprises her with his abilities all the time. He teacher is also someone Alex had in 2nd grade and whom we love. She is enthusiastic and understanding and has 5 - yes, FIVE - kids of her own ranging from about 14 - 3. He's expected to be 2/3's of the way through the 1st grade reading program by the end of the year, his kindergarten year. He's doing mental math. He doesn't use his fingers - I used my fingers until I was about 34 - and when playing Yatzee with my mother he was able to add his dice and not count the dots. He just did it.

So far so good.

Then there is my Dyllybean. He's distracted. He's stubborn. He also has the ability. He's even been tested to make sure he has the ability. That statement right there should give you a clue to what we are dealing with. HE HAS THE ABILITY. Most days he doesn't use it. Most days he is contrary and demanding and drawing pictures of what he wishes life were like. A life that apparently includes him saving an old woman who falls into the ocean.

By: Dylan, age:7
Drawn on an index card
while he was suppose to be paying attention
to a lesson in school.

So while contemplating the conference I have started to panic. Ability is turning out to not be enough. He is falling behind in reading and writing (reading & writing = slooow). His math skills which he struggled with last year are going strong (math = quick). YAY! Did I mention he is falling behind in reading. READING. And by falling behind I mean he hasn't passed all of the exist skills in the 1st third of the second grade reading curriculum. This also means that at this rate he will not be half way through the 2nd grade reading program when he enters third grade. The ability part means he does not qualify for special services to get him where he needs to be.

PLEASE, do not say it. I would love to work with him at home. Or rather I'd sooner gouge my eyes out with a spoon and never read again then work with his stubborn self. Just getting him to do his homework is a struggle of epic proportions. His homework is usually math. The book reviews his teacher wanted done? Took HOURS. Really. A title, main character and a couple of sentences about the book took HOURS to complete. I don't have it in me to work with him. He wants to play and play and did I mention play and not work when at home.

My husband says he's just obstinate. My husband says he was the same way. When I ask when he changed he replies some obscene age that, well, I'll be dead by then. That is all you need to know. When I ask how we handle it he replies he doesn't know. I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO!

I was the mostly A student who got a B when I was bored and didn't want to put the time in. I did my homework in school so I wouldn't have to bother with it at home. I'm not proud of the fact I didn't get better grades when I could have if I'd just put in the time but I can relate. I can use that knowledge to try to inspire the other kids. I have a base of knowledge here. I know they will get into college and if, unlike me, they listen and major in a profession where there are actual jobs, they will be fine. Good Lord I hope they listen better than I did.

But Dyllybean... I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH HIM. Is it too much to hope he will turn out as well as my husband? Are hopes and dreams enough? Isn't second grade too young to start giving him doomsday scenarios about his lack of a future if he doesn't buckle down? Would it even make an impact? Do we have to just keep at it and hope he outgrows this? Anyone got any experience here? Anyone have any ideas? Come on, help a mom out.

**UPDATED TO ADD: The picture was never completed. He was going to draw himself saving the "old lady" but his teacher confiscated the drawing (and gave it to us at the conference).


Carmen said...

I have no idea, but one possible thought. He may just not be ready for second grade. I held one of my kids back, just because she wasn't ready to go on. It was the best decision I've ever made - she's FLYING through this year.

I have had this same conversation with my day care mom, and she's just convincedher child is lazy. She says that next year the work won't be so hard. Well, one year it might not be, but a few years from now, in middle school, she's going to really struggle.

Long story, all about me, but I'd really advise thinking aobut repeating.

cursingmama said...

I know that kid - got one just like him. All the ability in the world goes to pot while doodling his days away. GRRRR I wish I could give you a magic answer, but there hasn't been one for us - we made rules about school always coming first, no playing until the work was done, and break large projects into smaller ones that seem to make the tasks not so insurmoutable. Probobly all things you've tried. Hope it goes better soon.

Anonymous said...

We'll talk next week.
P.S.- I just got through my own conferences, (on the teacher side, of course!)

Tami said...

Heidi, what did the teacher recommend?

We did hold Ben back a year, but it was more to do with his shyness and social skills than anything. Still, he does well in class. He does not apply himself anymore than he has to though.

Sometimes, I threaten with summer school. Yep, I tell him that if he doesn't do all his work, or if he misses too many days, he has to make it all up in the summer.

I'm bad - I know. But I'm dealing with a kid who takes his temperature every single morning to see if he can stay home.

MoMMY said...

Let's see, I wanted him to repeat kindergarten thinking it would give him time for his maturity to catch up (the kids does have an October birthday so he is young) but his teacher felt his behavior would get worse because he would be bored since he has the ability to do the work. His social skills are great and he has lots of friends and gets along with almost everyone in his class. So as much as I'd love to just have him repeat 2nd grade and have all my problems fixed, I don't think it would work. I think it might even make things worse.

As for summer school, he did it last year and actually enjoyed it. All that extra attention. (The kid is an attention whore) And we (the teacher and I) spoke about him doing that again. Looks like a good possibility that will happen.

Thanks for all your thoughts. I'm always open for new ideas.

Oh, and we do the school first thing. No swimming lesson if the homework isn't done. On a day to day basis it's a little harder though.

GosMMY said...

do you remember your brother?????? Thats why my hair had become so thin. Talk about stress!! From 3rd to 8th grade it was a terrible struggle w/reportcards having alot of red. Sent him to trade school for H.S. so at least he could support himself. He suddenly realized that he would be doing the same sodering of pipes everyday of his life as a plumber and getting his hands VERY dirty.That was the first year there. He was the only student at Tech that got accepted at Perdue AND Umass.. Just look at him now! This will happen to Dylan..He has the intelligence to realize that he wants to do great things..he just needs to mature to the point that he realizes that anything worth getting you have to work for..that takes time. Just keep up with what you're doing and don't give up!!!!!