Sunday, March 23, 2014

Third Grade

There's a natural tension between parents, teachers, and school administrators. Parents need to worry about their own child(ren), teachers need to worry about their class, and school administrators must worry about the whole enchilada. When all of these interests align, I imagine things are fantastic on all fronts. But I'm also guessing that for a fair number of people, the interests of these three groups aren't perfectly aligned, and the natural tension becomes more obvious. Ultimately, of course, the administrator wins. And you hope she wins in a way that isn't too costly for your particular child.

Back in first grade, I remember an off-handed comment that was made to me about third grade. I kept that in the back of my head, and did my very best to head the concern off during the first week of school. Now, many emails, appointments, and frustrations later - I am tired. I feel like there are simple solutions but the will to implement them is lacking.

I have, for all intents and purposes, an easy child to have in a classroom. Why? Because he knows how to sit still, pay attention, be quiet, and completes standardized tests with ease. The downside of this is that when there's someone in the class who demands attention, it's easy for my bookworm to settle into his desk, pull out a book, and read. I sense that he's allowed to do this because the teacher has more urgent issues to address. I don't want to contemplate the number of hours that child reads in class each week - but I will say that he finishes at least two, and sometimes three, books each week. Typical fare includes Hardy Boys, C.S. Lewis books, and Lemony Snickets. Is this normal? Is this appropriate?

It's the end of March. We have three more months of school. THREE. MONTHS. When people talk about "no child left behind", they often do so in the context of making sure everyone performs at or above grade level. But there's another group of children being left behind. And I'm pretty sure we can do better.


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