Sunday, February 26, 2012

Second grade will be the death of me. Or my son.

I am blessed to have a freshly-turned 8-year old son. He's happy, bright, friendly, energetic, and curious.  He loves legos, playing with his sister (even if he doesn't admit it), riding his bike, and is starting to love to read.

Unfortunately, some of those qualities don't translate well in his classroom right now. His energy is a tough thing to tame. He has a lot of trouble sitting still; there's something always moving.  He also has a lot of trouble concentrating on assignments when there's other stuff going on. And in a 2nd grade class, I'd expect that there's always something going on.

His teacher is a very nice soft-spoken woman (I've spoken with her several times on an informal basis at our church). At our first parent conference this fall I was shocked to hear that things weren't going well. His grades were ok (not as good as we thought they should be) but she emphasized his lack of attention in class.  He was constantly moving around the room (which has since been quelled, I think) and she was having issues with him "rocking" in his chair.  (I told him I'm ok with it as long as he isn't disturbing the kids around him.)  She told us that she didn't think he was paying any attention in class, though she's since told me she knows he is paying attention, he's just not looking at her when she's speaking (again, something we've been working on).

It's been a rough year. Part of the problem is that he had an awesome (male) teacher last year who pushed the kids academically and was able to keep them controlled, too. I think my boy is somewhat bored with what they're doing in class and is able to mess around some at school and still pick up immediately with whatever topic it is they're doing in class (and for homework).

Today I checked his updated grades on the computer and was happy to see all E's (90%+) in everything. except social studies. His grade there?  A 66.3% U. Basically, he's failing.  His past 3 grades were 77%, 35%, and 50%.  The 35% was an in-class 100 point packet on Abraham Lincoln. My first thought was that she entered the numbers wrong. My second thought was to ask him about it.

After several "I forget"s about what the assignment was, he told me that it was a bunch of questions they had to answer about Abraham Lincoln. I asked him if he'd finished. "I forget." I asked him if he knew all of the questions. "I forget."  My hunch is that he sat at his desk and stared at that assignment, thinking about anything but Abraham Lincoln. Or someone next to him was doing something else and he was totally engrossed in watching that person.  I really don't think he was messing around (his stoplight color for most of the week was green, which is good) but just wasn't doing what he was supposed to be doing at that moment.  If I asked him about Abraham Lincoln I'm sure he could tell me a lot.

So here's my query. Should his social studies grade reflect the fact that he wasn't working when he was supposed to be?  Or should it reflect his knowledge of the subject matter?

I'm not sure how to deal with it. I sent his teacher an email asking if she could tell me what had happened on those assignments.  Although I know his 3rd quarter 2nd grade social studies grade means squat in the whole school thing, I hate to see a U on his report card.  I'd love for her to send the assignment home so I could make him do it... either that or have him stay after school to finish it on his own. I honestly don't care if she changes his grade or not (thought it would be nice to see it changed) as long as he knows he's responsible for getting his assignments done.

Short term?  No TV and no legos.  Long term?  We'll see.


LSquared32 said...

Do you ever get to see him with his peers? Is he just wiggly in the way second grade boys usually are, or is he incapable of not wiggling (even when he should be sitting still)? My son was diagnosed as ADHD at about that age. It was hard to notice that there was anything unusual at home, but it was impossible to miss when he was with his age group at school or church (I took him to see the doctor after observing him at school).

Some lucky kids can be helped with the medication (I decided that my son was one of them when we were visiting family on a day when I hadn't given him the medication--usually it's just for school days--and he asked me if I had the medicine that helps him control himself).

Good luck--it sounds like you have a very smart son (that helps a lot)!

cheesemonkeysf said...

I wonder if your son would benefit from using a balance ball in place of a chair:

I have heard such great results about this, especially with boys in that age range -- better focus and concentration and also less energy to burn in the classroom. It seems to give their bodies and minds something better to do.

- Elizabeth (aka @cheesemonkeysf on Twitter)

KFouss said...

Lsquared -

I really think (hope, anyway!) that this isn't ADHD. I haven't been able to get to his school to see him in class, but he never gets in trouble in music or art. He actually spent 6 hours one day working on putting some crazy lego creations together... I can't imagine him doing that if he had ADHD. We do have a doctor's appointment coming up, though, so I may ask her for an opinion on that while we're there. Hubby isn't a "medicine" type person, so if it does happen to be ADHD, we may be stuck at a dead end.

Elizabeth - I'm checking into the balls! His teacher is on board, so hopefully something like this could help. :)


Fawn Nguyen said...

Noooo... Don't take away the Legos :) TV, yes.

You said, "he never gets in trouble in music or art," so could these subjects lend themselves to his energy level and not having to sit still? He really is so young, and I think ADHD meds are already over-prescribed at this early age. I like the balance ball idea but not sure if it'd be appropriate for the classroom (too much fun, ALL the kids would want one). Stress balls for kids are more common now.
I wouldn't rule out the teacher being a source of his lack of focus, no matter how nice she is. I think a visit to his classroom will give you a lot more insight.

KFouss said...

Fawn -

I let him have the legos. Not the tv. It was such a nice quiet week! I'm thinking we'll go that route again this week. :)

I wasn't sure how the exercise ball would go, but he took it in on Tuesday and used it all week. His teacher threatened to move anyone to red (big trouble) if they even touched it, an my son said there weren't any problems. Yay! Now just to wait and see if it helps his energy issues at all! He looooves sitting on the ball!