Over the last several years running our home daycare, I’ve heard from several parents venting their frustrations about the public schools in our area. Many parents have shared with me how their child is repeatedly in trouble or they’re falling behind academically and they aren’t getting the help they need.
I don’t claim to have the answers to solve any of the problems that schools and families face, but I do have some suggestions that might help. Our family has had our share of difficulties and here are some ideas from our own experiences…
Sit In On An Afternoon At Their School
Don’t be afraid to visit your child’s classroom to observe a typical day. I have crazy social anxiety and I survived! This might give you the most insight into what your child is experiencing that’s affecting their learning. My son’s teacher was very welcoming.
Here are the 5 shockers I learned when I sat in:
- Class Size. I knew they had a big class, but seeing it in person really hit home for me just how many kids per teacher.
- Classroom Management. His class was run like drill camp, no time wasting practices and no disruption tolerated. I don’t blame his teacher, she was managing her class as best she could(better than I could). But still not what I would call a comfortable environment for learning.
- Lots of ground to cover with less school days. They had so much material they needed to cover, the day’s pace was insane.
- Tests! They are testing or learning the test a lot of the time. (Not all classes are this way, but I do believe some are.)
- It was loud!
The day I spent at my 10 year old’s class was his last day in school.
Understanding Your Child’s Learning Style/ Does Their Teacher Know What It Is?
I was first introduced to different learning styles when I started homeschooling my older, adult boys. Everyone has a preference for how we are best able to learn. I’m a visual learner and so is Ryan.
I’ve kept these learning styles in mind while working with my 4 boys. If your child is a hands-on learner they may have a difficult time doing worksheets or listening patiently to their teacher’s instruction. When I read to my boys it helps them if they’re able to color or build legos to occupy their hands while they listen.
Are Their Social Issues That Are Affecting Their Performance? Such as bullying
We all need to be in a comfortable environment to learn. If your child is getting bullied or picked on by peers, this may be a great source of anxiety.
Social issues are a huge part of school. I remember that from when I was a kid, and I think it’s only become much worse. So again, sit in on a few hours of class and get a feel for what’s going on.
Understanding The Mandatory Testing For Your State
I was shocked to learn how many tests kids are required to take each year. It seemed like across the country it varied, but on average children will take about 112 standardized by the time they graduate from high school. That’s a lot of tests! Some states allow you to opt out of your child testing, so it can be helpful to know your rights as a parent.
My son was so bored with testing he just bubbled in answers. His teacher described him as “checked out.”
How Many Kids Are In Your Child’s Classroom?
I know not all schools have huge class sizes, but some in our district are almost at 40 children per teacher. In Oregon, on average I’ve read that average class sizes are around 25 students per class, but I’m not sure where that number comes from. Many parents have shared with me their is more than 30 students per class their child’s class.
What Options Are Available For Your Child?
If you meet with your child’s teacher could they make some adjustments to accommodate your child’s needs? I know in Joey’s class, his teacher gave him preferential seating for reading and tried to let him stand as much as possible.
In Jayden’s classroom he has a wiggle seat, a fidget and they can take a break whenever they need to for a few minutes.
IEP’s Vs 504’s
Individual Education Plans are available for students with learning disabilities and 504 plans are for students that may have a medical condition such as ADHD or anything else that would affect them during a school day.
I was told for Joey with his ADHD diagnosis he could have a 504 plan that would allow him to stand at his desk, sit in the front row or move away from distractions.
I don’t know a great deal about these plans but it’s worth looking into and knowing what is available for your family.
Other School Options; homeschooling, Charter Schools, Private Schools
If your feeling disappointed with your public school their are other options. Do a quick search in your area for private and charter schools. Charter schools can be a wonderful alternative because they are also publicly funded, with usually small class sizes. Private schools tend to have smaller class sizes too, but if funds are a concern I’d recommend a charter or even an online public school program.
My son Jared who is 21, he graduated from an online public school program(Connections Academy) and he had a great experience with it. This does require a parent to be home with them, similar to homeschooling, but material is provided. He was even loaned a computer for the entire school year and they paid a portion of our internet service costs.
If staying home is an option(and you have the patience). research homeschooling in your state. You’d be surprised how much material you can cover with just 3 hours a day of homeschooling. With Amazon finding the right material and curriculum is a click away. Their is a great homeschooling presence in our state, lots of support, not to mention online groups on Facebook. So don’t feel overwhelmed or all alone at the idea of homeschooling.
You Know Your Child Best
If you’ve approached your teacher or school about concerns your having and still feel like their not being addressed or taken seriously, don’t let it go. Speak up!
You know your child better than the school does. I suggest meeting with the school psychologist or your child’s pediatrician depending on what issues your facing. In Lane County we have advocacy groups that will help you approach problems with your child at school, they will even attend school meetings with you, which is awesome! When I went to my son’s first IEP meeting I was incredibly nervous.
However your child may be struggling in class, I believe their is a solution. Don’t settle for your child being labeled as a “behavior problem” or “checked out” as both of mine have been. Educate yourself on your rights and options as a parent to ensure your child’s success in the classroom.
Thanks for reading and showing interest in our family blog.
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