The Treasure Hunter

A blog by Joanne Yatvin

The “Treasure Hunter” Answers a Letter From a Mother Who Needs Help

on March 24, 2018

Today’s post is very different from anything I’ve written before, yet still relevant to the job of a “treasure hunter” in the field of education. In yesterday’s Oregonian I read  a piece  I couldn’t ignore that included a letter from a mother who was very concerned about her child’s school behavior and wanted some advice. It also included a response from the newspaper’s “expert”, who also writes for “The Washington Post” specifically.  She proposed several possible reasons for the child’s behavior and also some cures.  Since I did not agree with either one, I decided to give my own response. Whether you agree with me or not, I would love to receive your version of some good advice to the mother.

The Mother’s Letter:

My second-grader (almost eight years old) says he hates school. He cries every Sunday night. When he’s asked about his day he says that the only parts he liked were lunch and recess. and that the rest of the time he was bored. I have talked to his teacher several times, and it sounds as though he and six or seven other boys in his class are very chatty, distracting one another throughout the day. When we ask him to stay focused and avoid distraction, he says he can’t focus because he’s so bored. Despite all of this, his academic progress is on track or ahead, and his teacher says he frequently participates in class. Two other key points: He gets anxious about getting in trouble, and it sounds as if classroom management is a challenge this year. He only gets 20 minutes of recess a day—a real pet peeve for me. Is there anything we can say or do to help him feel more positive about school?

My Response:

After visiting your son’s teacher many times you must have a good idea about how helpful she can be in solving the problems facing him. If she seems cooperative, go again and emphasize the things your son has told you, such as the distractions from boys sitting near him and his need for more exercise. Then, ask if she could change his seat to a quieter part of the room. You should also mention the unusually brief recess time and ask if there is any chance of extending it. If not, what about a short break or two inside the classroom for student games or marching around the room?

If the teacher says she can’t help with more recess time, you might try the school principal, showing him/her how much time is allocated at other schools locally or in nearby school districts.

Finally, if all your suggestions for change are met with opposition, point out to the teacher that your son is doing well with his learning, and finishing early most of the time. TelI her that if he was allowed to read a book of his choice after he completed his assigned work that would solve his “chatting” problem. Maybe it would also work for the other students who are misbehaving.

All the actions I have suggested above are appropriate for you as a concerned and cooperative parent. Your son is doing his best to learn and rightfully feels bad about his misbehavior. Now it is the time for you to summon all your courage (and perhaps also the courage of other parents) to stand strong for student’ needs

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