Saturday, November 27, 2010

School

I've blogged in the past Meeting with the teacher, Smiley face charts, Reading problem about issues we have had at school. First grade was a nightmare but last year was the best ever! This year, we didn't get the teacher we requested but I was ok with the teacher that we got. She is kind of quite and very gentle, which would be great, if she had control of her classroom. She really doesn't. Her discipline style is to say "ok, guys, now settle down, shh, quite now" quietly and repeatedly throughout the day.

WF is about where he should be academically, but is just barely holding on to grade level. He has also had an issue with a bully at school, who has gathered several other kids to gang up on him. They have been cornering him out of sight of the teacher and taking turns pinching him repeatedly, until he falls down on the ground crying. I talked to the assistant principle about it and he said he would "observe the situation", which he did for a few days. I also went to school for a week or so at recess to keep an eye on it. Nothing happened while I was there but the AP called the kids in and talked to them about it so they knew they were being watched and likely didn't pull anything. He also complains about not having any friends. He says that no one wants to play with him and he spends recess alone.

Besides all this, he has started getting in trouble at school. A few weeks ago, there was an incident in class where a kid was talking to him and he spit while talking. WF turned to the kid and said "don't spit on me" and apparently spit while he was saying it. The kid then spit on him on purpose and they both ended up in the principal's office. They spent the whole afternoon there, not getting any of their work done. Then a week later, there was a problem on the playground. He was apparently playing basketball and lost control of the ball and it bounced into another kid. The kid thought he did it on purpose so he threw the ball back and hit him in the chest. WF stumbled backwards into another kid, who thought he did it on purpose and shoved him forward into the first kid. Eventually, they all ended up on the ground rolling around, possibly throwing punches and elbows (no one was clear on the story at that point). Because the details were "murky" WF earned an in school suspension for his part in it. He served that on Friday of last week.

Then on Monday, he was playing with the girls who have been picking on him. We have pointed out to him a million times that they are not the right people to play with, no matter how popular they are. They aren't nice people, aside from being bullies and he should just avoid them. They were playing tag and when he joined in, they changed it from regular tag to having to hold the person on the ground for 15 seconds. Can you see how this is a HORRIBLE idea in the making? Well, once he held the girl down for 15 seconds, they decided to keep him it that the rule was actually 17 seconds. After he did that, they again changed the rule to 20 seconds. While he was holding her for 20 seconds, he was holding her by her neck and accidentally choking her. The girls were yelling at him to let her up but he didn't realize he was hurting him. Once he let her up, she ran off crying and the other girls ran to the principal to say that he was hurting them.

So because he has a pattern of bad behavior, he got in trouble. No one bothered to take into account that he isn't a bad kid and wasn't doing it maliciously. No one bothered to pay attention to the fact that he was playing by the rules the girls set out for him and had no idea he was hurting someone. Nope, he was automatically the bad guy and got suspended on Tuesday for it. Not only was he suspended, Tuesday was the night of the Third Grade musical. The only performance opportunity he will have in that school since he was in first grade and the last one until he is in 5th grade, because the music department in that school sucks.

So now he is a bad kid, with a reputation. I feel like the school is failing (and has been failing) him academically, socially and emotionally. I feel like he has a label now and anytime anything happens, he will automatically get in trouble. My real concern is that if someone is bullying him (which we know has happened as recently as a few weeks ago), he has to simply take it. If he fights back in anyway, he will be accused of fighting and will get another suspension. I asked the school to assign him and aide to accompany him throughout the day. He is struggling with direction in the classroom (he has always had issues with being overwhelmed with too many choices and his teacher doesn't seem willing to say to him "you need to do this, then this" so she lets him flounder until he gets in trouble for not making good choices) and obviously has issues at recess. I told the AP that he needs someone to sit on top of him and derail those bad choices that are leading to bad behavior, before they get started. I was told aides are only available for kids with IEPs that the law dictates must have aides. I was told that during recess he could "check in" with the recess supervisor, who would then help him get involved in whatever organized activity was taking place that day (usually either soccer or basketball) so that he "stays out of trouble"! Seriously, not the answer to the problem but all the school is going to give him.

I'm seriously considering pulling him out for the rest of the year and homeschooling him. I feel like he is immature both socially and academically. I feel like he needs time to get ahead on school work and mature a little bit. Ideally, I would like to pt him back in at the beginning of 4th grade and let him finish out school there before going to middle school. We are having the same impulse control conversations with him I have with my preschoolers. No, it isn't ok to hug your friend until you fall on the ground or grab someone's arm during a game of tag and swing them into the tree. He just doesn't get it, despite having heard those same kinds of things since he was 2. RF is pretty against the idea of pulling him but I really feel like he needs the extra time and attention. I need to call the district and get the details on a temporary leave but I really think that starting second semester, we will be doing school at home.

7 comments:

Looseyfur said...

Oh man, this whole situation sounds extremely (I'll just use the word frustrating). It's all the things I'm worried about with my kid as he goes forward. He has no emotional control. Weird situations that were a series of accidents have a way of escalating ("No, that child didn't push you out of your place. He's two, he doesn't know what he's doing." Followed by throwing himself on the ground crying like a baby.)

I keep hoping Tae Kwon Do and redirection will somehow keep him on path until he's able to have the social-emotional control to keep it together until that developmental switch in his head flips -- but sometimes I wonder if it ever will. Then I wonder if my kid will need an IEP down the road. At what point does it go from normal 4 year old boy BS to special needs? I keep looking at the signs and symptoms, but nothing is concrete. It's like it could go either way.

More importantly, why is it a parent has to have a kid basically get hurt before someone officially calls something "bullying?"

And, of course, I totally support your decision to change what isn't a successful situation for your son. Has there been any discussion about trying third grade again next year which might help him gain a little confidence academically?

I had a friend growing up whose parents did that with her around this time for similar reasons. She was a year older, but she matured at the same time as those a year younger than she did and went from a low performing student to above average, and I don't think she had the benefit of Mom working with her for a semester, either. I think it just happened over a summer.

The Fearless Freak said...

We have talked about holding him back since he has struggled all along. I feel like if we were going to do that, it should have been in K (and we probably should have) because by 3rd grade, kids notice when someone isn't there anymore. He has made some friends and I think he would be really lost with a whole new group of kids.

~rachel~ said...

This makes me so sad. I'm kind of all about the homeschooling right now, and it really makes sense in this situation. I just feel like these young kids are too easily influenced...I could see Rowan doing something like that too- he is such a follower!
As for having an aide, at Rowan's school they don't even have full-time aides for the kids who need them. A boy in Rowan's class who has autism and is very low-functioning shares an aide with a 1st grader who has down syndrome. they both should have a fulkltime aide...they even told Rowan's class to yell at the teacher if they saw him doing something he shouldn't...that shouldn't be the kids responsibility.

Good Luck with everything!

Looseyfur said...

There's a woman on my street who homeschools all 5 of her kids ages 4-16. She loves it.

I don't think X-man and I would last a week, which is still much longer than I'd give him if MacTroll tried it.

Quigs78 said...

I have no constructive advice, but I'm so sorry this is all happening to you guys. If there's anything I can do to help, I'm here.

libbygirl said...

He is a good kid and I am sorry to hear that he is having such a bad year. A few things came to mind while I was reading your post. You can request an eval for an IEP, change his teacher, see about getting him a mentor or tutor either in or out of school He can also get Social Skills training and a Behavior Plan without an IEP. I am not a huge fan of homeschooling but I have seen it work out for kids in similar situations.

VeganLinda said...

As you know, we are pro homeschooling, so I highly recommend trying it. You don't have to do it forever. You could even change schools if you want to return, I would think. It is hard once your child has been labeled a trouble maker to break out of the cycle. He is a sweet smart kid and deserves to be able to learn without this stress of bullying. There are so many homeschoolers in this town, I am sure you could find support. Good luck with whatever road you go down. Hugs!