So... I know that this blog has essentially died, but I feel like I need to record a few things somewhere other than Facebook. Here we go...
I suppose the story I want to tell started when I met with D's teacher for Parent-Teacher Conferences at the beginning of February. We ended up talking for over an hour (sorry other mom who was waiting...). We talked about how D had surpassed every benchmark that he needed to meet by the end of the year (most with scores 3-4x the benchmark score) and we talked about some things we could do, both at home and at school, to enrich his learning. But mostly we talked about his behavior. We'd had a few meetings about his behavior previously, but hadn't seen any permanent changes. She told me that he was getting sent to time out and would end up sitting there for 20-30 minutes at a time because he wouldn't apologize or do whatever he needed to do to get out. (I as actually glad to hear he was being sent to time out, however. One of her previous punishments was to have him walk in circles around the classroom FOR OVER AN HOUR while the other students did crafts.) I talked to D about this later and he told me that he went to time out 2 or 3 times everyday. Thirty minutes 2 or 3 times a day means he was spending up to 1 1/2 hour of the 2 1/2 hours of Kindergarten in time out everyday. I could tell his teacher was sort of at the end of her rope with him. And then she said, "Ya know what we could do to really push his buttons? We could send him to first grade for a few days. Those kids won't put up with his attitude for one minute." And I replied, "Is this a real question?" She assured me that it was a real possibility and that we could come right back to Kindergarten after a few days. We finally parted ways, with promises to be in contact after the weekend with a decision. I thought, and thought, and prayed, and consulted with anyone I thought would have a valid opinion. And I decided against it. I decided that what D was struggling with was social interactions and that he should stay with his peers to work on that and that I would try to supplement him academically at home. I sent his teacher an email explaining all of this. AND SHE NEVER EVEN OPENED IT! (I hope my caps lock is adequately expressing my frustration with this woman.) So I thought we were dropping the issue.
Thursday of that week, I got a phone call after school from the principal. She said it sounded like D was ready for first grade and wanted me to come down to talk to her and the first grade teacher. So we went. I expressed all of my misgivings (Does this mean 2nd grade next year? He's so little! What will we do when all of his friends are 16 and he's only 15? What if kids are mean to him?) and they put me at ease quite a bit. They told me that we had lots of options to try if full day school was too hard for D but that we would find something that would work. I just fell in love with the first grade teacher and I think she fell in love with D a little bit, too. We agreed to try it for two weeks and then decide if it was going to be permanent. So we got him a lunchbox and a haircut and he went to first grade. For the first couple of weeks, he came home and would exclaim how awesome school is. He just blossomed before our eyes. All of his behavior problems evaporated, even at home. He's discovered that he loves math. His reading ability has just soared. He's made new friends. It was been a total success.
Even though his teacher has assured me that he is exactly where he's supposed to be now in every area (socially, reading level, writing ability, number sense), I still wonder if it was the right choice. This change will affect him for the rest of his life, or at least the rest of his school life. It seems like a very drastic move when his Kindergarten teach could have done more to supplement his learning and keep him interested. But then I also think that he would have been more work for every teacher he ever had if we hadn't moved him. But I'm so happy that he's finally happy. It really has made all the difference for him. It was really hard for us to see our sweet, smart boy hating school. And now he loves it and he's excited to be learning things. I don't know if it would be the right choice for everyone; kids grow up so fast these days as it is. But for D, he was ready. And I'm so grateful that he was given the opportunity.
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