Sunday, March 25, 2012

Borrowing Trouble?

Sara is having trouble at school. I wasn't naive enough to think she was entirely blameless. I live with the kid. I know her strengths and weaknesses. I know her faults and attributes. I was naive enough to 'hope' it was mostly social and due to her age. Being in the youngest kid in class is tough. She seems to enjoy school, loves her teacher and has a few friends. Some days are better than others. Some days are filled with grade school drama over who sat next to who and who got excluded at recess. But, now she is having trouble in the classroom and we can't blame it on age because these behaviors wouldn't fly in 2nd grade either. She doesn't focus. She gets distracted. She blurts out amd doesnt raise her hand. She blurts out random and unrelated comments. She doesn't give the other kids her full attention. Kids are not subtle. Kids are not patient. They don't hide their annoyance and impatience with her. Do we pull her from the local public school and find a school with a different approach? Her teachers have spoken to her about the rules of the classroom. She knows what the expectations are. An 8 year old in 3rd grade should reasonably be expected to participate in class and follow the rules. Is it a failing on our part? Have we completely failed to instill any sense of expected behavior or respect for authority? For the most part, she follows the rules at home. When she is distracted, we have to repeat ourselves. But, that is normal, right? Why does our kid think it is ok to consistently ignore the rules that everyone has to follow? Is it defiance? Is it lack of effective parenting? Can it be fixed? How do we fix it? Are we completely to blame? If we switch schools, it isn't because we are nave enough to think it is a magic pill. We know she will have to work on her behaviors and attitude. Will a different environment be better for her? Will a clean slate give her the opportunity to show what she is truly capable of?

Last year when she was bullied, we debated pulling her out of the school. What stood out to me was that she kept saying "I wasn't even doing anything to those girls. I was just playing and they came up and did this. Why would they do that?" We had no answer. How do you explain to a little girl that there was no reason. There never is a reason for bullying. Then came her questions about punishment and apologizing. "Why haven't they apologized? Why weren't they punished? Why haven't their moms and dads made them say sorry?". Ironically, one of the moms still emphatically denies her daughter's involvement despite multiple witnesses and a confession. Sara know when she is caught misbehaving, lying, hurting her brother in any way, breaks a rule or is disrespectful at home that there will be consequences- punishment and an apology. She couldn't understand why these girls got away with something so mean. Despite the incident, she seemed to enjoy school and her friends so we kept her there. Bullies are everywhere. Do some of her problems stem from her being in the wrong environment? I'm worried that moving her will send the wrong message to her. You don't run away from a problem. You face it and solve it. Maybe switching schools will make life easier for her. Maybe she will fit in better in a different environment. I know parents don't have all the answers but it sure would be nice to have some answers about the really big decisions.

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