School Daze

I hope to get this out cohesively but I just need to get this out, I apologize if it doesn’t flow fluently.

When I first had Kirsten and was reading all the parenting books and magazines it was all about telling parents to calm down. There are ranges for children to do their firsts: crawling, walking, talking, potty training. It would all come on their timeline no matter what we did as parents. Fine, I accepted this. It was hard at first when I would see K’s peers crawling all over the place. Then she started and it was no big deal anymore. We moved on, looking forward to the next milestone.

As K got older I would notice things. She wasn’t focused like some of the other kids. She also was more focused than other kids. I let it go. I chalked it up to her age, her distractions at the moments, etc. When she entered kindergarten I was nervous. She did great in Pre-K but now she was in school and it was also the first year of a more rigorous curriculum, state wide.

She didn’t do horribly in kindergarten. She got extra help in reading. She didn’t seem to care, she loved going off and doing her own thing and reading more with the reading specialist. Cool, no big deal. Her teacher said she was holding her own. She wasn’t the best student, she wasn’t the worst student, she was average.

First grade happened and again, during the testing she came to below grade level on reading and this time math as well. Again, it was not big deal. She seemed to get right back on track as she worked with the extra reading/math specialist. She would ace her spelling tests, she seemed fine. We got the same report from her first grade teacher: not the best, not the worst.

Second grade is a whole other ball game. More testing, more rigorous, more emphasis on reading. Once again she was placed in the extra help for reading. Which, again, was fine. She seemed to be doing well. The parent/teacher conference P went to indicated that she is in the average/just below average category for reading. Math? She’s doing well in, she knows her math facts, she gets it with no problems. Her spelling tests are still coming in at grade level, doing well, maybe getting one or two wrong. Her handwriting has improved so far this year. The one thing the teacher did say is that K is one of, if not THE, hardest working student she has this year. Nothing comes easy for her, but she is doing all she can to stay afloat.

Then yesterday I came home and P was going over one of the weekly tests with K. She got almost all the questions wrong. Out of maybe 25 questions she got 3 right.

3.

It was reading comprehension and vocabulary. Her math test didn’t go much better. The math test had mostly word problems.
Do you see a theme?

It’s reading. She doesn’t have the confidence to read, so she doesn’t. It’s a struggle to get her to read because she dislikes it so much. Still, we read with her, she reads at school with her class and the reading specialist. She has extra reading homework. Still, through all of this, she is still struggling.

She did not try her best on those tests, her words. I have had a feeling for a while now that something is going on. She’s smart, she KNOWS this stuff, she learns it, she just doesn’t learn it as fast as the others. I think there is some test anxiety happening here as well. She may see her peers zooming through the pages and think she has to do the same. She guessed almost all of her answers because she didn’t take the time to read the passage and then read the questions. Same with math, the word problems… she doesn’t read the problem. She just reads the numbers and tries to guess what they are asking. It’s not laziness, it’s not because she doesn’t understand, she’s having some issue with tests.

We are in a good school district with teachers who care. We are going to work to help K get over this hurdle and succeed like we all know she can. United front and all that.

Then why do I feel like I failed her somehow. Why do I feel like this is my fault? We read to her every night, always have. We don’t allow a ton of TV time. We are an engaged family. Of course this has nothing to do with me, it’s about K, NOT me.

So, I’m sitting here saying the same things over and over in my head:

This is not about me, it’s about K
We need to find out how to help K
This is not about me, it’s about K 

When I see people post on Fac*eboo*k how their child is at the top of their class, that they are doing super-duper well and look how AMAZING they are… I feel bad. I feel bad for not being able to post the same things about K. At the same time, there are so many things that come so easily to K that other kids struggle with and I take for granted. She can make a new friend like no one else, she is an amazing artist, she’s great a math, she loves animals and music. She’s an amazing person and I want her to keep all that, just add reading.

The trouble is, for myself, when I’m doing poorly I tend to beat myself up before I bring myself around and start the upward path back to success. I cannot do this to K. I cannot tear her down and then try to build her back up, I know this. Which is why I bit my tongue last night and didn’t go off the total deep end in regards to her grade on the weekly tests. It won’t help her, reacting like that will only hinder.

It is so easy for me to congratulate and be there for K when things are going right. However, it is really hard to separate my own anxieties and offer her support when she needs it the most.

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