General discussion


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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So what happened?

by amcol In reply to To be fair

After your son's dad talked with the teacher?

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by maecuff In reply to So what happened?

His teacher wasn't available Friday afternoon. So, it will have to be this afternoon.

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You've run into a problem a lot of gifted kids experience.

by sleepin'dawg In reply to Unreasonable pressure? O ...

Your son was tested and found to be more advanced than his chronological age would indicate. He is able to process knowledge better and faster than his peers and as a consequence school becomes boring and he could possibly become a disruptive influence in his search for things to occupy his mind.

Since it is a shame to see an intelligence being supressed, someone has suggested moving him up to a level where he will be called upon to learn at a level more in line with his intellect. All well and good, some kids can rise to the challenge but while everyone has recognized your son's intelligence everyone seems to have missed one very important strategic item. His intellignce is advanced by several years but he is seven years old and his emotional development may still be stuck in seven year old mode. He's in classes with older children who are either ignoring the "kid" or teasing him. I would bet dollars to doughnuts that they do not include him in many of their activites. Since he is now in these advanced classes he has had perforce to leave many of his friends behind. They have things going on where he might fit in but he isn't around and you remember the old expression, out of sight out of mind??? This really hits home with seven year olds. What nobody seems to be taking very seriosly here, is, during the school day, your son is feeling excluded and as a consequence very lonely. This will cause a lot of stress in the mind of a seven year old and he is not emotionally geared to handling it. In fact if you called him on it he would probaly try to **** it off but if he were interviewed by a qualified professinal, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if that would be the main part of the diagnosis.

I didn't know schools still were doing this sort of thing. While there motives and intentions mean well, I am astonished nobody has picked up on the stresses being applied to the child by this type of act. There is a solution but it isn't cheap. It calls for the establishment of classes for intellectually advanced kids but in the same age bracket. From our view point the emotional and intellectual development between a forty year old and a forty three year old appears to be miniscule but between seven and eight or seven and nine years old, there is a huge gap requiring a quantum leap to traverse it. Some kids can handle it; most can't. If you can't find or afford classes and/or schools for the intellectually advanced, then you are going to be called upon to provide even more patience and more support. The payoff comes, if you can get him through school, he will probably sail through university. With his mental capcities, it will be a walk in the park.

Anyway best of luck in resolvung this.

Dawg ]:)

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Penmanship, from my own expereiences.

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Unreasonable pressure? O ...

My handwriting was/is awful and like your son I was considered gifted, so my early teachers ignored my deficiencies in that regard. Bad handwriting is very very difficult to correct though. Once your body had learnt bad habits as soon as you get under pressure it's falls back on it's earliest learning.

Things that improved mine, it's at least legible now, were big fat pens and fountain pens with an angled nib. Made me relearn some things as many of my old actions wouldn't result in any writing on the page at all. It will slow him down though for a bit, no avoiding that.
Another thing that I attempted though with limited success was a calligraphy course, unfortunately I wasn't interested enough to follow that through.
One day I'm going to have another go at that though, probably with my other hand as I rarely write more than my siganture now.

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Some more random thoughts

by maxwell edison In reply to Unreasonable pressure? O ...

First of all, I'll admit my bias against the government-run schools that we both have to pay for and endure. (I'm assuming that your school is a government one, rather than a private one.) Of course, it goes without saying, that some communities and some schools are better than others. (So why did I have to say it?) The very nature of the system leans more towards a one-size-fits-all, rather than individualized approach. And to some degree, whether it be large or small, kids do indeed need individualized attention.

Some random thoughts:

I commend you and parents like you who both realize and accept that the child's education is ultimately a parental responsibility, not one that's automatically passed onto the government schools. Having said that, where the school is falling short, someone will have to pick up the slack, or let the kid fall through a crack.

If a teacher "yelled" at my 7 year old (especially for something that was not in the misbehaving category), I'd be absolutely livid. Not only is it mean, but it's counterproductive.

Perhaps you can help improve your son's writing skills. Write him letters and ask him to write back. Find a way to make it fun for him to write, and encourage him to improve that skill. There are a lot of resources available to help in this regard.

I think the key to dealing with kids, regardless of the issue, is expectations. But I cringe when I see situations in which the kid is almost expected to fail; and making excuses for one's failure is almost tantamount to expecting failure. If a school situation is anything close to this, I'd run as fast and as far away from that as possible. Kids seem to have a knack to live up to the expectations placed upon them, whether those expectations are high or low. Set the expectations high, and don't set him up to fail, but rather set him up to succeed.

I'm a firm believer in school choice for parents, regardless of how that's achieved or what it's called. Personally, I decided that the government schools (in my area) couldn't meet my expectation of placing high expectations, with the necessary support, on my son. So I've been biting the ~10 grand a year bullet for the past 10 years to put him in an environment where failure is not an option. He just turned 15, and he has a goal to attend Duke University. He knows that his current 3.2 GPA may not be good enough to make it, but the bar is indeed set very high. (But I think he'll make it.)

It's the hardest thing in the world to be a parent, not knowing what the right thing to do really is. And there is no one-size-fits-all answer.

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I totally agree, unfortunately ....................

by sleepin'dawg In reply to Some more random thoughts

the vast majority cannot afford private school and unless people are prepared and capable of handling home schooling, what other alternative do you have to government institutions???

Every time a proposal to increase education funding is put forward, the great unwashed screams like a stuck pig but these same people are the ones complaining about the quality of public schools. Politicians want reelection, so they vote with what the majority demands.

Dawg ]:)

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From a UK perspective

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to I totally agree, unfortun ...

I'm not sure how much funding has an impact aside from possibly ensuring we have enough good teachers. The big problem with government controlled schools is how one party or anothers dogma creeps and or storms in to our children's education.
Teachers were predominantly socialist with pretensions of liberalism, just after I left school. They had a big thing about competition being bad for children, how it was some sort of child abuse. This permeated through the entire establishment, from abandoning school football teams to mixed ability classes. Decades after this stupidity and we're still spending enormous amounts of money and turning out kids who are less intellectual than I was at twelve.

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Some School Facts (and opinions)

by maxwell edison In reply to I totally agree, unfortun ...

(Note: Some of the following was cut-and-pasted from the original source. Links will follow.)

By a margin of nine to one, Americans believe parents should have the right to choose their child's school, according to a report released by Public Agenda, a research organization based in New York City. Moreover, if they were given a choice of schools -- along with the financial wherewithal to exercise it -- a full 55 percent of parents who currently send their children to government schools would want to send them to private schools.

Average Private School Tuition for all K through 12 private schools is $6,779.

Tax dollars spent per pupil in the government schools averages, nationally, $6,835.

(Note: I've also seen averages listed at $6,857 for government schools and as low as $2,178 for private schools. I'm not sure why the discrepancy, but my guess is that this lower number is what parents might spend, not including what might be subsidized by grants, or a church, etc. Point being, however, is that private education does not cost more.)

New Jersey is $10,283; Utah is $4,331 - Guess which students do better? The Hoboken, N.J. school district is the highest (in N.J.), with per pupil spending surpassing a whopping $15,000. (And people in Utah are forced to help pay it!)

Students in private schools consistently score well above the national average.

Average teacher-pupil ratio in government schools is 16-1

On average, private schools have smaller enrollments, smaller average class sizes, and lower student/teacher ratios than government schools.


A personal note, speaking to dawg's suggestion that some people can't afford private school. I don't disagree with that comment, as the condition of the system stands today. However, I also know people who make more money than I do (much more in many cases) who suggest that they can't afford private schools for their kids. I guess it speaks to priorities, and what many people choose to afford. (My current car, for example, is 13 years old. My truck is 17 years old.)

Personal opinion: I don't care what you call it, how it's implemented, who gets the political credit, or anything like that; but I do believe that a parent not only has the right, but an obligation to CHOOSE the best school for his/her kids. I also believe that government should make it easier, not harder, for a parent to make that choice. It is true that many parents will not take-on that level of responsibility, and that is indeed very sad; but the parents who do (and the kids of those parents) should not have to suffer the same consequences. Planning for and/or teaching to the lowest common denominator is bogus.

Another observation: Out of ALL the debate over schools in America, I've yet to see any argument suggesting that the government can deliver a BETTER product (education) than the private sector, or deliver it cheaper. In fact, I've only seen the opposite. And with a little more "competition", the price would ONLY go down.

Disclaimer (and admission): In all cases in which "public schools" was used, I changed it to "government schools". (I call 'em like I see 'em.)

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On Private Schools

by TheChas In reply to Some School Facts (and op ...

Why is it that private schools have a better reputation for educating?

2 primary reasons:

Parental involvement.

Selective admissions.

I suspect that "IF" private schools had the same percentage of students whose parents didn't care, or were discipline problems, that the performance gap would be much narrower than it presently is.

On your apples and oranges comparison of New Jersey and Utah schools, (in another thread, you compared New Jersey and Iowa) the people in New Jersey are getting the results they deserve for underfunding their education system.

Further, the citizens of Iowa and Utah might just be over-paying for what they are getting.

Why do I suggest the above?
It costs a whole lot more to attract and keep quality teachers and administrators in large urban districts. Plus, the cost of running and maintaining the school buildings is much higher.

In Iowa and Utah, most likely, the tax dollars spent by the school district are only part of the equation. I am sure that those school districts have a lot of volunteers and donated goods and services.

As to subsidizing urban school districts, I suppose that both Iowa and Utah have a net lose of federal dollars spent on education. Still, since federal funding is only about 5% of all education spending, the subsidy is minimal.

Here we have limited schools of choice. Along with "charter" schools.

So far, I am not impressed by either.

The for profit charter schools so far, under perform the public schools on standardized testing.

Schools of choice has brought athletic recruiting to our high schools. Coaches and parents are pushing the talented athletes to attend the high school that offers them the best chance to stand out in their sport. The heck with academic goals.

Plus, the schools in the more affluent districts limit the number of students they are willing to take from the poorer districts.

Now, I do think it would be a good idea to have tax deductions, credits or incentives for those who wish to enroll their children in private non-profit schools.

But at the same time, we cannot afford to cripple the public school system. What will happen to those children who's parents don't care?


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Utah, Iowa and Nebraska

by maxwell edison In reply to On Private Schools

Those three states are continually producing students who score above the national average, and it's done at a cost that's well below the national average.

You are correct, however, in suggesting that other factors (such as cost of living, etc.) weigh into the cost difference. And you are also correct in suggesting that parental involvement is a factor. In fact, it's a HUGE factor, I freely admit, and always have. (But compare New Jersey to ANY state. Compare Washington D.C. to ANY city. It doesn't matter.)

Therefore what?

The subject of this discussion has shed light on the flaws in our government-school education system. And people like Mae are the ones who have to suffer at the hands of those parents who don't care. Mae should have a choice. You should have a choice. We all should have a choice, and our government should not be an obstacle in exercising that choice. The current system IS an obstacle in exercising that choice.

Everything you say may very well be true, but it doesn't detract from anything I've said. Your solution is to do the same thing, but only more of it. Why would you possibly expect different results by doing the same thing?

Private schools can deliver the education product BETTER and CHEAPER than the federal government and probably the state governments as well. And the private sector can do it with gifted kids as well as troubled kids. It doesn't matter.

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