Friday, October 08, 2010

2nd Grade is Killing Me

I have come to the conclusion that 2nd grade is going to be the death of me. Since Ruanita leaves for work before Lucas gets out of school in the afternoon and doesn't get home until he is fast asleep, all homework and other interaction with Lucas' school falls to me. Ruanita hated school as a child. I loved school. So initially it made perfect sense that I would handle all education-related tasks. When Lucas started kindergarten, I excitedly waited for any and all homework to come home. I diligently read with him, practiced his handwriting skills, and explained basic math concepts on a level he could understand. I intently watched him draw and color and cut and paste. I relished being a part of my son's education.

Now that we are three years into this process, I am feeling rather done. I am sick of homework. Listening to my son read exhausts me. When he writes, I have to fight the urge to grab the pencil out of his hand and do it for him. When he erases something on his page, he doesn't even brush away the tiny eraser and paper bits before writing over them. That is so very wrong. His half-hearted efforts frustrate me to no end. Lucas is the fruit of Ruanita's womb. Her genetic counterpart. I adored school as a child. Lucas, like Ruanita before him, tolerates it.

Because Lucas puts minimal effort into all things school-related, it falls upon my shoulders to make sure my son does not look like a complete moron. I organize his homework. I keep track of his paperwork. I beg him on a daily basis to tell me something...anything...about what he learned in school that day. For my efforts, I get grunts. I am rewarded with whining and obstinate hostility.

We have a sheet hanging on the side of our refrigerator that is a weekly reading log. Lucas is required to log the number of minutes he reads each day. The goal is 15-20 minutes five days a week. I try. I attempt to sit with him and read every day. It is an exercise in patience. The ultimate test of endurance. As if the reading log is not responsibility enough, he brought home paperwork yesterday indicating that the month of October is the Read-a-Thon at his school. Not only do we have to log his reading on the sheet hanging on the side of the refrigerator, we now have to mark the minutes he reads each day on a Read-a-Thon calendar we are to turn in at the end of the month. In addition, we have small slips that we have to turn in each week with his weekly totals listed. The class that logs the most minutes of reading for the month will be rewarded with a class pizza party. My son does not like pizza. Therefore, as you can imagine, his enthusiasm for the the Read-a-Thon is minimal to non-existent.

Last week, I received a note home from his teacher indicating that Lucas had trouble staying on task that day. I talked to him about it. He said that his friends were talking to him and distracting him. I explained that he needs to tell his friends he can't talk when he is supposed to be focusing on his schoolwork. Recess is for chatting with friends. I emailed his teacher to tell her about my conversation with Lucas and to assure her that I supported her 100%. Yesterday, I got the following email in return:

Dear Shannon,

Thank you for your email. Lucas is such a sweet boy and is very motivated. We really enjoy having him in class. We have noticed over the last couple weeks that he has had difficulty focusing and staying on task, which is why we wanted to bring it to your attention. He seems to be easily distracted in class as well as focusing during direct instruction on the rug. However, we did notice today that he was very engaged in the lesson on ch, wh, th, sh words and was extremely excited to share his ideas.

Does Lucas have difficulty staying on task at home? If so, do you have any tips we could use with him at school? We would love to partner with you to help Lucas have a great year in second grade. We are loving his personality and charm. Thank you again for your email, and please feel free to come in to discuss Lucas' attention further if you wish.

Kristi Alman

I am going to have to give myself the weekend to think about this and formulate a response. My gut reaction is to write the following:

Dear Mrs. Alman:

Yes, Lucas does have difficulty staying on task at home. As a matter of fact, unless I am standing directly in front of the television blocking the signal of his Wii controller, he has little interest in anything I say. However, his lack of focus is not limited to time spent in front of the television. His mind also wanders off into space when I ask him to pick up his toys or clean his room or take a bath or come to the dinner table. He will appear to be listening to what I am telling him, but a few minutes later will act as though he has no clue I ever spoke to him. In essence, my son is an airhead.

I have two basic tips for you.

#1-Move a television set into the classroom. Let him watch it for about five minutes to get fully engrossed. Then, when you need Lucas to focus on what you are telling him, stand in front of the television blocking his view. That will undoubtedly get his attention.
#2--Scream, rant, and rave like a lunatic (make sure the windows are open, so the neighbors can hear) until he finally is forced to pay attention to you.

These are the methods I employ at home. Best of luck.

Shannon Ralph

P.S. Since we are going to be "partners" in Lucas' education, I feel comfortable voicing my opinion that three separate sheets to track daily reading is a bit redundant. You won't mind if this partner tosses two of them in the trash, right?

Yea...I probably need to hold off on formulating a response.


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