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education.com asks:
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Our children are enrolled at magnet school, but we are wondering if the intensity is appropriate for children who learn at slower pace.

"Both of our children (a 2nd grader and a kindergartner) are enrolled at the magnet school across town that boasts the highest test scores in the county.  Lately we are wondering if the intensity of the environment is appropriate for our girls and their particular styles of learning.  The teachers of both children have mentioned that our children are performing at low levels and are in need of more help at home.  We make attempts to ratchet up our at-home studies, and the problems areas improve, but we are concerned that the pressure to be 'top' performers is going to adversely affect them over time.  They seem to perform on the lower side of average.  One child is very much aware of the fact that she is 'behind' and the other doesn't verbalize any concern about this at all.  They are conscientious and they do work hard, but they seem to fall short of the lofty goals of the school.  What environment is best for children who learn at a 'slower' pace?  We are agonizing over whether or not to put them in a more moderately paced environment."

Asked by Greta in commenting on the article, "Ask the Child Psychologist: Too Much Pressure On Young Kids": http://www.education.com/magazine/column/entry/...  
In Topics: School and Academics, Learning styles and differences
> 60 days ago

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Expert

BarbK
Apr 7, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

That's a good, but tough question.  There are many things to consider in making a school change like the one you've mentioned.  Here are just a few:

You say your children learn at a slower rate than their classmates.  Is that because they are the youngest in their classes?  Has the school tested them either formally or informally to see where they are academically?  Are they just bored and therefore don't pay attention? Is the school's view of normal higher than other schools in your area?  Do you know how your children learn best - their learning style (visual, auditory, tactile, etc.)?  How do the other parents feel?  Do your children have lots of activities outside of school?  Do they excel in certain areas and only struggle in one or two areas?

It sounds like when the teachers brought to your attention the areas they were struggling with, they were able to learn the material.  Do you see a difference in your children compared to other children their ages?  

If your one children who feels she is falling behind in school, ask her why he/she feels that way.  Was it something he/she heard the teacher say or maybe overhead you talking?  

Do your children like the magnet program?  If they are not attached to it, then maybe the move is not a bad idea.  

If you are considering making the move, go to the school where they would go to check it out.  Walk in unannounced and make some observations.  Watch the office staff - how they treat you, staff and the students.  Ask if you can have a tour.  Once again, observe - what are the students learning, is student work displayed, how do the teachers interact with the students.  Make sure that any services you like at the school you are now (other than the magnet program) are also provided at the neighborhood school.  If you do think your children may have a learning problem, ask them what they would do.

I know this doesn't answer your question, but hopefully it will give you food for thought.

Good luck!

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Additional Answers (1)

Developmentalist
Development... writes:
Hi.  I really agree with the expert response above.  There is a lot to consider.  As a Developmental Psychologist, in general, I believe the country has shifted to "too much, too soon, and too fast" when it comes to academic standards.  Some children learn to read early, others not until third grade simply because their physical brain is still developing.  The downside is that if a child is not developmentally ready for certain academic skills and concepts, they can get turned off to learning and school.  By fourth grade the developmental differences are not so great and most kids are reading to learn, rather than learning to read.  From what you have said, it looks like it might be a good time to look at all your options.  Bottom line, the love and care shown in your inquiry is always with your children and will be with them no matter what school you choose!  Parent support, involvement, and love is one of the best predictors of academic success.  Warmest wishes for figuring this all out.
> 60 days ago

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