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Unreasonable pressure? Or over protective parent?

By maecuff ·
I need some unbiased opinions as I am too close to this to see it clearly.

My seven year old son is in the 2nd and 3rd grade this year. His aptitude tests scored him over a 10th grade level for vocabulary, 9th grade for reading comprehension and 7th grade math. However, socially, he is like any other 7 year old. He has a problem with fine motor skills (which is a nice way of saying that his hand writing sucks).

After the first grading period, the principal and his teacher approached us with moving him up to third grade for math, grammar and reading and we agreed. He's struggling a bit because being in two different grades, he seems to have an over abundance of homework (at least 1 1/2 hours each night). That doesn't stress him out too much, although he doesn't like it.

This is the problem we are having now. His dad picked him up from school today and the poor kid lost it. He was sobbing and saying that his third grade teacher is putting him under a lot of pressure. They have been taking timed math tests. Joey KNOWS the problems, but when he tries to do the work within the set amount of time, his hand writing is so bad that it is barely legible. So he gets yelled at. He slowed down, took his time and made sure his work was neat and didn't finish the tests in the right amount of time. So he gets yelled at.

He's never been the kind of kid who liked to color or draw, but I'm thinking if I encouraged him to do more of that, it may help his fine motor skills. I am also going to talk to his teacher and ask what he suggests as it seems now, the kid is damned if he does or damned if he doesn't. As far as getting so stressed, does he need to just suck it up? (Remember, he is only 7) Or do I just go a head and slash his teachers tires?

How detrimental is this kind of stress on a kid? I don't want him to start hating school, especially since he has such a terrific mind.

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Yes it does

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Do you think

Yoo don't have to go mad, but neat handwriting is learned motor skill, it's much easier to do if you don't 'learn' how to do it badly in the first place.

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Not overprotective, Mae

by gadgetgirl In reply to Unreasonable pressure? O ...

Just looking after your own, as all parents do. You're not going OTT on this one, believe me, you're just doing the job of being a parent.

First, you know I'm in the UK, so I really don't understand your grades etc., so I'm purely working on age here.

Second, by working on age alone it brings me straight to something. Is this teacher expecting your son to work at the same speed as the rest of the class? That's unfair. At 7, he hasn't had as much practice as the others at writing. He is not as co-ordinated (hand/eye) as his class peers. Also, from what you've said about his abilities it would show that his mind is working far faster than his hands, which he hasn't properly fathomed out yet. His mind is still communicating at speed, so his hand reactions are doing the same, making his writing unreadable; he has shown that he CAN slow this process, but to do so needs extra time to complete the test. Surely his teacher can see this? Why isn't the teacher allowing him extra time? The main problem here is lack of practice.

Secondly, remember he is 7 years old. Sorry, but at 7, I would never have let my daughter do 1.5hrs of homework. 30 minutes, ok, even 45. But, Mae, remember they're just kids. They learn so much just playing (including improving their co-ordination and motor skills) that they NEED time to play. It is natures' way of ensuring learning. This could be part of the stress that he's feeling; he's doing the same as some of us do here, in the adult world: working at work, and working at home, too. He could be starting to see homework as more of a punishment, than a strand of learning.

Third - talk to the teacher. If any teacher shouts at a child, it causes problems. I have found that teachers who DO shout at kids, don't often have kids themselves - they don't realise how hard it can be to get them back to school after the event. If they do have their own kids, they have problems controlling them; they think screaming at them will get the control back.

Just remember, though, Mae, there are two sides to every story. Don't go for the jugular, or the slashing of tyres, until you've heard both. (I know you know I'm not getting at your son when I say that - both teachers and 7 year olds are capable of stretching the truth)

You say he likes to colour and draw? And you want to help his fine motor skills? Ok, I have a prospective mini solution for you - Calligraphy. I (sorta) used it as physio for myself after the last broken hand and arm. It's all about control, but is quite artistic in its own way. Have a look at the topic, but if you decide you'd like him to try it, peer mail me first, and I can give you some pointers before you actually purchase anything.

Finally: get him out of the pressure zone. At this age, if he's getting stressed, it could put him off learning for life. I got this type of stress at 14, and through that, didn't go to college until my late 30's and had to put up with (mainly) dead-end jobs till then.

Make sure your son knows he can talk to you about this, and make sure the lines of communication are always open for him.

Good luck, Mae, and let us know how it goes.

Have a virtual support hug from me - you sound like you need one............


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by maecuff In reply to Not overprotective, Mae

He doesn't like to draw or color, he's never been interested in it.

When he was in Kindergarten, we noticed that his fingers and thumbs were, well, extremely flexible. When he bears down on paper with a pencil or crayon his thumb will just keep bending backwards, which makes it hard for him to control. Not to bring up the dreaded EL thread or anything, but the kid is a good arguement for evolution. He has the fingers and toes of a monkey. :)

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tell him he's lucky from me!

by gadgetgirl In reply to GG

I have the opposite problem!

(arthritis + slightly webbed fingers = broken pencils!)


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by maecuff In reply to tell him he's lucky from ...

well, you make up for the arthritis and slightly webbed fingers with your wonderful wit! You can't have it all, you know. :)

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good parent

by Tink! In reply to Not overprotective, Mae

I agree with GG, you are not being overprotective Mae. You are simply being a good parent who wants the best for her child. Just remember to approach all possibilities, the teacher, the child, and the workload. It may be a combination of things too.

Sorry if my post yesterday doesn't make much sense. I wrote it as I was trying to get out the door from work. My point was that based on experience sometimes pushing a child as far as they can go academically, isn't the best for them emotionally or socially.

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I would

by CuteElf In reply to Unreasonable pressure? O ...

Sit down and make a long list of pros vs cons
Staying in this grade vs going back?

And go with your gut in the end :).

When I was in kindergarten, I was moved into 1st grade. I was bored stiff that I could already read, write, count, and do math.

I vaguely remember being a bit first grade, I was surrounded by a bunch of humungus kids! EEK.. and I had a longer class schedule.

Over the years, I stayed in regular classes, and was usually helping the other kids out as the assignments went.

6th grade got me transferred to a special class for gifted kids- one of the kids was doing college algebra, the others were playing D&amp (6th grade and writing it all!), heavier research and papers compared to 6th grades....

Sometimes I've regretted being in the gifted section. All due to social skills. My sister, who's an average person, had many many many more friends and boys compared to me! She knew how to talk to people and interest them...I'd go off about the 300pg book I just read, or the magic kingdom I had just built in the back yard.

I'm proud to be a geeky person, I'm glad my brain is the strength it is...but God Almighty, I'd just about give my left foot to get the social skills I need!

The hardest part here for your son will be to balance brains with social skills.

You may have to put him back in regular class, let him get the social skills, and challenge him OUTSIDE of school.
Like figure out a way to have him do more math.
More science.
More art.
More history.
More handwriting :)

This might mean you have to homeschool him a bit after school hours, or even add onto his chores.

Tickle his brain, keep him occupied, and make sure he learns good interaction skills.

Good luck


ps fine motor? give him a screwdriver and a dead alarm clock.

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My 2 cents

by DMambo In reply to Unreasonable pressure? O ...

Mae, It does sound like he's under some stress. But from my experience, 7 year-olds break down easily and bounce back pretty quickly. I think all kids freak out about school occasionally. And most say they hate school at some point.

If the major stressor is taking the timed tests, maybe you can strike a deal with the teacher. I would lean towards keeping him in the class situation he's in now. I might get some "hard-a$$" flames for this, but IMO it's never too early to teach a kid that he should finish what he's started.

Going forward, you should consider not pushing him up in grades, but letting him settle in. School is a nice place for socializing, but it's absolutely not the only place where learning takes place. Since it's his reading and vocab scores that are through the roof, encourage him to read close to that level outside of school.

Take him on weekend trips with stealth educational benefits. I had my kids computing ERA's in their heads at Fenway Park. It was a fun game to them, but in reality, I was brainwashing them to be math nerd Red Sox fans.

If you decide that it is too much, then ease off. A childhood only happens once. An hour and a half of homework each night does sound like a lot for a 2nd/3rd grader.

BTW - my 12 year-old son still has bad handwriting. I used to be all over him about it until I saw the writing of the other boys in his class. I had always compared it to his sister's, which is as neat as a pin. Now, I just tell him to try to keep it straight and somewhat small. He'd take half a page to write a single sentence if he could.

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by maecuff In reply to My 2 cents

I'm of the opinion that he should stay where he is and we'll help him handle the stress. Since I didn't actually HEAR the teacher yell, perhaps it was his perception. However, this kid doesn't rattle easily, so there has to be something to it.

As far as reading goes, he just finished "Animal Farm" on his own.

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Frustrating, isn't it?

by DMambo In reply to Mambo

To have a kid who's smarter than you? :) When my daughter was in 3rd, 4th grade, she'd holler to me to ask the definition of a word from a book she was reading. I'd end up having to look it up myself. I'd think, what the **** is she reading. One time it was "To Kill a Mockingbird."

Oh well, at least we can enjoy SpongeBob and Monty Python repeats together.

One thing that I struggled with when the kids were in the early grades was finding books that challenged their vocabularies, but were appropriate for their ages. That S-E-X thing is everywhere.

So far, one of greatest disappointments is that I haven't been able to interest them in "Gone With The Wind." I love that book.

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