Dear fellow parent-teachers,
This past year has been a painful experience as a parent. I have seen a bright inquisitive 5-year-old turn into a self-critical and disengaged 6-year-old. While before he would tell you, and almost brag, about how smart he is and how capable he was able to do his work, now if you ask him how he views himself he will give you hints that he is a trouble maker in class. Needless to say, I felt powerless, even after meeting with his teacher and speaking with the principal.
Now, I need you to understand that as a teacher and a mom, hearing my little guy say he doesn’t want to go to school and he doesn’t want to read is heartbreaking. It’s not that he isn’t capable. In fact, he was reading by the time he started Kindergarten and doing 1st grade math in Pre-K. My husband and I had been fortunate to be able to afford a private Montessori preschool for him since our lil’ guy was 2 years old.
There we saw him blossom. Every teacher had nothing but great things to talk about him. He was a model student both academically and behaviorally. He was shy but his confidence expanded during his last year there. My husband and I were concerned about switching him to our local public elementary school. Our neighborhood school was rated one of the best schools in our county, in fact, we bought our home in this neighborhood so he could attend this public school. We were worried about the transition, worried of going from a more self-guided environment to a more rigid structure as public schools are more likely to be.
We met with his teacher in several occasions to discuss his growth and his behavior. I was met with “your child is smart but he doesn’t want to do the work” and “he would benefit from expanding his social circle and participating in soccer or karate.” My husband and I discussed this in private, we talked with our son.
I understand that he needs to do the work, but I also wonder is he being met and challenged intellectually? As an educator, I know the demands of a classroom and the need to teach the curriculum, but most importantly I know that every child matters; and it is MY job to make sure I meet and challenge every kid, not just those that are below grade level.
So if for some reason, your child ends in my 1st grade classroom; here is my pledge to you:
Whether your child is above, on or below grade level, I will make your child’s growth my priority.
- I will meet your child where he/she is
- I will hold your child to high expectations
- I will advocate for your child to receive what your child needs
- I will be your ally, and root for your child from the same corner as you
- I will make him/her my priority just as much as the kid who can’t read.
- I will find ways to engage your child in learning that meets his/her needs
- I will not meet you with excuses for your child’s lack of growth
…and if I reach a wall, I will find away to go around it; because no matter what, I don’t ever want you to see your amazing 6-year-old child turn into anything other than an even more amazing 7-year-old.