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My 8 yr. old has been placed in class with 50% of her peers since Kindergarten - some are bad influences she won't stay away from - what can I do?

My 8 year old daughter is an attention-seeker and a strong personality but at the same time, fun-loving.  She tends to be very dramatic and overreacts to things.  She has had difficulties in school with social issues and has remained with 50% of the same peer group since kindergarten (she's going into 3rd grade).  Her teachers were inexperienced, long-term substitutes for Kindergarten and 1st grade; and her 2nd grade teacher was ineffectual.  There seem to be at least 5 children with behavior/impulse issues and one who has a severe disability that requires a full-time 1/1 aide.  I requested that my daughter be moved to a different pool of children this year and my request was denied.  I am so concerned that she has experienced that gap in effective education for too long now... what do/can I do now?  The administration has been unwilling to compromise even after I agreed to place her in a peer group with the school psychologist (who saw my daughter for a year and did not see any social issues commenting that it could be her classroom environment causing drama).  
In Topics: School and Academics
> 60 days ago

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Expert

BarbK
Aug 6, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

Your concerns about your child's education are valid.  I hear two different things.  One you are concerned about the other children in your daughter's class, and two the teachers at this school.

The classroom environment can play a key role in how your daughter will progress in 3rd grade.  Before requesting again for her to be moved, set up a conference with the teacher.  She might be able to meet with you before school begins on a preplanning day or shortly after school gets underway.  Share with her your concerns - state just the facts.  Try not to be judgmental about the other students or teachers your daughter has already had.  Instead ask her how she plans to handle certain situations.  Ask her about her classroom behavior plan.  Ask her how you can be involved and what you can do to help her (or the class) out.  This third grade teacher might be very good and strong enough to keep the class under control.

If you feel your daughter is not up to grade level expectations due to poor instruction, have that conversation with the third grade teacher as well.  You can request her to conduct some informal evaluations such as a reading inventory, math pretest, or other academic screening that could shed some light on the situation.  You may even want to contact the school psychologist to see if she noticed any signs of academic struggling when she was with your daughter.

Try to keep an open mind going into the school year.  You might end up being pleasantly surprised.  If you don't feel things are changing after a few weeks, ask to set up a meeting with the administration and invite the classroom teacher, school psychologist, behavior specialist, and reading coach.  Maybe by talking about it, you can come up with a plan to help not only your daughter, but the other students as well.

Keep the lines of communication up between you and your daughter.  Talk to her about the behaviors that you find unacceptable and explain why.  Tell her how you would handle the situation.  These are teachable moments.  There are most likely some "good" kids in her class or friends she had in previous years.  Invite them over and foster those relationships.

Your daughter is lucky to have you on her side watching out for her.  Good luck!

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